Plain Talk


Tanabata - When Omiai goes Wrong! by Kevin Gray

“Tanabata”, Japanese version of Double Seventh Festival is a Japanese festival that celebrates the reuniting of two lovers once a year. It’s kind of like Japanese Valentines Day. According to an ancient legend, two lovers, Orihime and Hikoboshi were separated by the god of the sky Tentei (天帝) but in an act of mercy, were permitted to meet again once a year. They meet on July 7th on the form of two bright stars, Vega and Altair.

Orihime (織姫 ~ the Weaving Princess) was the daughter of the god the Sky(天帝) , and would weave beautiful garments for her father each day on the East bank of the Milky Way. After a while, Tentei decide it was time for her to marry, and as Nakodo (match-maker) he introduced his beautiful daughter to a handsome young Cow Herder called Hikoboshi who lived and worked on the other side of the Milky Way.

Tentei had no idea that his plan would be so successful. Orihime and Hikoboshi instantly fell in love and married, spending every moment together, so much so, that the weaving stopped and the cows ran away. Incensed at their lack of duty, he sought to teach the two irresponsible couple a lesson, separating them across the vast reaches of the Milky Way. Poor Orihime was inconsolable, and after seeing they were not mere crocodile tears, her father agreed to her plea, allowing them to meet once a year on the 7th day of the 7th month - Tanabata.

Whether this is a tragic story or a happy ending? You decide.
Japan's many Tanabata festivals often include dancing, competitions, parades and festival foods and people dress in yukata , and the romantic theme makes it naturally popular with couples. It's also a time for star gazing as couple seek to spot the reunited lovers and rejoice in their own love.

In modern times, it's usual to celebrate Tanabata according to the Gregorian calendar on July 7th, though some base it on the old calendar having it in August, or near enough -August 7th.Tanabata is celebrated by hanging long colorful strips of paper outside from bamboo branches (sasa). It's thought that the Universal force that reunites the two lovers will also grant wishes, hence many people write their wishes on the paper and dream they come true..

What will your wish be this year? Or even better... Who?
Good luck, Lovers!






今年はどんな願い事をする?ますます良くなるように...誰と? 良い恋が実るようがんばってね。

Plain Talk


Year of the Pig by Dean Mejia

On February 5, 2019 many people all over the world (mostly Chinese people) celebrated Chinese New Year. According to their traditional zodiac calendar it is currently the Year of the Pig (boar). What does this mean to a Westerner like me who doesn't place much faith in Eastern or Western horoscopes and astrology? Honestly...not much, but it is fun to seek meaning in the interesting customs of other cultures.

As an American when we think about pigs we tend to focus on the negative. Pigs are usually depicted as fat. They are seen as dirty. Greedy, lazy, and ugly are other words that are commonly used to describe pigs. When a human is exhibiting these kind of unfavorable traits or characteristics, we are quick to refer to them as “pigs”. Like a lot of stereotypes though, some quick research will prove these ideas wrong. Pigs are actually smart and social. They are relatively clean (they just look dirty because they roll around in mud, and they just do that to cool their body temperature because they are unable to sweat). If given the option and space, they also don't tend to use the bathroom where they eat. Besides, thanks the power of the Internet anyone can do an image search and find hundreds of images of cute baby pigs to break the myth of the “ugly pig”.

Obviously the Chinese zodiac would not choose an animal to represent one of its years if it was a creature only known for it’s negative characteristics. To the Chinese, pigs represent wealth. They are hard workers, energetic, and enthusiastic. Those who care to search for a deeper meaning will find that the Year of the Pig that individuals are born in may dictate what kind of “pig” they are in terms of personality and fortune. It gets a little complicated, but as an example, while people born in 1983 and people born in 1995 both share the “pig” zodiac sign, they actually differ from each other by being born under a different “celestial stem” and “nature element”. For those interested in reading further, thousands of years worth of research await you.

Most of us in the West don't get into the deeper significance of how different years relate to each zodiac animal. We just seem to go with the easy-to-remember phrase “Year of the (blank)” and insert whatever animal has its turn in the spotlight. The last year of the pig was 2007. In 2007, the world's first iPhone was released. Riyo Mori also won the Miss Universe competition for Japan. A lot of other good, bad, and so-so things happened that year.

I hope that 2019 will be even better.

Tokyo Fab



Started in Ibiza, Spain in 2014, "CORONA SUNSETS FESTIVAL" are global music festival series celebrating the transformational power of sunset in the worlds most iconic beaches, mountains, and city centers. It is now coming to Japan in Okinawa. Based on the concept of enjoying the corona and the finest music while watching the sunset on the beach, its themes are "Resort beach" "Music" and "Sunset". Many artists and DJs from all over the world including Hot Chip and Tuxedo will liven up the venue with their funky music. Escape from the concrete jungle and feel the breeze and chill at the relaxing resort whilst watching extraordinary sunset and enjoying some groovy music with extra chilled corona!

7/13 (Sat) & 7/14 (Sun) 1:00pm - @ Okinawa Chura Sun Beach
Special Outdoor Venue (5-1 Toyosaki, Tomigusuku-shi, Okinawa Pref.)



Under the midsummer urban sky, gathered are beach markets & music from all over the world and ocean lovers! OCEAN PEOPLE aiming to provide the opportunity to connect with the ocean amidst the downtown Tokyo. 'Enjoy', 'Feel' and 'Connect' with ocean through this festival by enjoying the beach culture; food, music, sports and more as well as by learning the environmental problems the ocean is facing including marine pollution and sea level rise. Come and rediscover the love for the ocean and let this be a start to be active about marine pollution,

7/13 (Sat) & 7/14 (Sun) 1:00pm - @ Yoyogi Park
Closest Sta.: JR Harajuku Sta

For more details and concert schedules, please visit

What’s App With You?


1Blocker X:

Ads have become a total disaster on many sites by ruining the browsing experience. No one likes to see ads that pop over the entire screen. On top of that, ads slows your internet experience! Is there any way to block those unwanted ads? Yes! there is! Independent tests by Wirecutter, NY Times, and BrooksReview confirm that 1Blocker cuts data loaded by sites on average by over 50% by blocking annoying ads! Also, it protects you online. Many corporations track your behavior and what sites you visit, and online ads are not safe and may serve you malware, even on major sites. While most other adblock apps block content by filtering elements of an already downloaded page, 1Blocker uses native Safari content blocker technology (API) to tell Safari in advance what should be blocked. This vastly improves efficiency, doesn’t slow down Safari, and saves battery life!!

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Tokyo Voice Column


The Iconic Tokyo Skytree Tower by Jacqueline C. Sarmiento

Last summer, we went to the historic Tokyo Skytree Tower, the second-tallest structure in the world and one of Japan’s newest landmarks with its height of 634 meters high.

The Tokyo Skytree includes two observation decks that are believed to provide tourists with a spectacular view out over the city. Both observation decks, Tembo Deck and Tembo Galleria, offer visitors a panoramic views of Tokyo.

The Tokyo Skytree Tower is open daily from 8:00 am to 10:00 pm, but last admission is until 9:00. pm. As for the price, first observatory, Tembo Deck, costs weekdays:2,100 yen and holidays: 2,300 yen (regular ticket) and 3,200 yen (fast ticket-single) and 4,200 (fast ticket-combo) which is only available at the Fast Skytree Ticket Counter, whereas, the second observatory deck, Tembo Galleria, costs weekdays:1,000 yen and holidays: 1,100 yen (regular ticket). Children aged 3 years or under are free. As for visitors, book your tickets in advance as to avoid extremely long queue when you walk in.

After visiting the Skytree Tower, there are plenty of sightseeing spots to enjoy in the Solamachi complex right at the foot of the tower. Besides a decorative Planetarium, the Sumida Aquarium and pocket-sized Postal Museum, you will also find many shopping areas for your souvenirs and dining options which is located in the middle floors. Many of the snack/sweets stores, a cafeteria and restaurants even have delectable dishes and wine that resembles the tower. For visitors traveling with young children, you should visit the huge ball pit on the 5th floor, artfully decorated that is similar to a traditional sento public bath.



東京スカイツリーの開場時間は、8:00〜22:00。入場時間は21:00 で閉め切られる。天望デッキへの当日の入場券は、平日:2,100円、休日:2,300円。海外旅行者用の待たずに登れるチケットは3,200円。天望デッキ+天望回廊のセット券は、4,200円で、「Fast Skytree Ticket Counter」でのみ買える。「天望回廊」は、平日:1,000円、休日:1,100円。3歳以下の子供は無料。前売り券もあるので、列に並ぶのを避けるため、前もって入場券を購入しておこう。

東京スカイツリーを堪能した後は、隣接するソラマチ複合施設で観光スポットを楽しもう。プラネタリウム、すみだ水族館、郵政博物館に加え、中層階ではカイツリー限定のギフトが揃うショッピングエリアがあり食事もできる。限定スナックやお菓子を売る店、、カフェテリアやレストランでは東京スカイツリーをイメージした料理やワインボトルまである。子連れで訪れるなら、5階にあるスペース634 に巨大ボールプールに行くといい。本当の銭湯のような作りになっていて楽しい。

Strange but True


Are You Growing Horns?

Excessive use of smartphones has led to an increase in young people developing a "horn-like" bone growth at the back of the skull, research has found. These bone spurs, also known as enthesophytes, are abnormal bony projections that can form at the attachment of a tendon or ligament. The study by researchers at the University of the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia, involved more than 200 X-rays of people aged between the ages of 18 and 30. It found that 41% had developed a 10 to 30 millimetre bony lump at the back of their skull. Further testing, including MRI scans and blood tests, ruled out the possibility that the growths were the result of genetic factors or inflammation. Researchers explained that, in this case, the abnormal growths appear to have been caused by long-term pressure on the skeleton, as the head shifts forwards while we use smartphones for extended periods...

No More Bath!

According to new research commissioned by National Citizen Service (NCS), thinking about environment issue is top of the list for today's 11-16 year olds. The study revealed that the environment and air pollution top the list of concerns for Brits aged 11-16, and as a result, 87 per cent of them have already made changes in the last year in a bid to combat climate change. Unsurprisingly, plastic bags, plastic straws and plastic bottles take the top three places for things younger people are giving up, but some of the other sacrifices on the list are a lot more usual. Baths and aerosols both also feature as things people have given up to help save the planet, as well as face wipes and cotton pads also taking some of the top spots. But sadly, it seems as if the acts aren't contagious, with nearly half of parents confessing that their children have asked them to make changes to save the planet, which they have not made.


50 Shades of Yikess