Plain Talk


SkateBoarding Rolls into Tokyo 2020 by Dean Mejia

I didn't grow up in an area where alot of people skateboarded. My area was way too urban/crowded and skateboarding didn't become popular in my neighborhood until many years later. I usually only saw it on television. It was depicted as something cool and potentially dangerous. This made it something that appealed to me and many other boys, but this also made it something that my parents forbid me from doing. I had a cousin that went to a suburban camp one Summer and his first skateboarding experience left him with a broken elbow and 2 broken ribs. That was enough visual evidence to keep me from even getting on one until I was already a teenager. I never did manage to develop proper balance on one though, and instead just stuck to bikes and scooters.

As the years went by, alot of other people did get on skateboards though. They fell and broke bones, but then they got back on and kept riding. They kept practicing and getting better. While I only did tricks like kickflips and aerials in video games like "Tony Hawk's Pro Skater", alot of young men and women were performing these awesome feats in real life.

There have been X-games competitions since 1995 and other tournaments where people are rewarded medals and prizes for their performances, but by-and-large the "art" of skateboarding is still mostly considered a hobby that is only practiced by punk kids that don't want to go along with society's norms.

This year things are about to change though, and it might usher in another boom period making skateboarding more popular than ever. The sport will be making its Olympic debut at the upcoming Tokyo 2020 games. This will be the first time ever that the sport has reached a level of such prestige.

There will be four different competitions in which athletes can win a Gold, Silver, or Bronze medal. These are Men's park, Women's park, Men's street, and Women's street. The park events take place on a hollowed-out course featuring a series of complicated curves − some resembling large dishes and dome-shaped bowls. The street events happen on a straight course featuring stairs, benches, handrails, etc. The different events are currently scheduled to be held at the Ariake Urban Sports Park in Tokyo. I will definitely be watching on TV and cheering on whichever skaters have the best skills. Hopefully a local Japanese athlete can win the gold in at least one of the 4 competitions.






Plain Talk


Cheap and easy way to learn Japanese by Olivia

When I just came to Japan, I didn't know any Japanese. I expected English to be enough to get me by at least at first. How wrong I was! Practically nobody I met at that time (almost 6 years ago) spoke or understood English. Now I meet many people who speak English, but Japanese people often speak only nihongo, and struggle when have to speak English. They may even hide or look away when they see a foreigner approaching with a question. As I live in Japan now, I would like to help Japanese people to master English for everyday communication. But in this article I would like to prepare you, my fellow foreigner, to live and prosper in Japan. And for that, knowledge of kanji and everyday Japanese is a must.

As much as I don’t like cramming and Rote method of learning that lies behind it, repetition is key when mastering a new language. Words are building blocks for your fluency. However, you don’t need to remember all the vocabulary of the Japanese language, just high-frequency words: words that are used in daily life, not in scientific magazines or at the university. Look them up online, there are about 100 - 1000 of them. Spaced repetition system (SRS) will help you to remember new vocabulary painlessly. Try smartphone apps such as Duolingo, Memrise, or Anki. They have great flashcards to help you remember words and phrases, and will teach you just the right amount of grammar in about 15-20 minutes a day.

Learn kanji, Chinese characters
I recommend workbooks for elementary school students, grade 1 to 6, from the local Daiso store. They all cost 100 yen plus tax, which is very cheap and cost-effective. Sometimes they are sold only at a big Daiso, but they are really worth looking for.

One of the best methods to activate your knowledge is to talk to real people. You can talk with people at the restaurant, shops, beauty salons, but those conversations are usually just a couple of standard phrases. They are just the beginning of real fluency.

Exchange lessons
To really practice your Japanese, you can find an online or offline exchange partner. If you are willing to pay, there are also community tutors or local grannies who will teach you at a very reasonable price. Don’t expect your partner or tutor to be a qualified teacher, but anyway you don’t need them to teach you more grammar or help you finish that old boring “Minna no nihongo”.

Very often students are already equipped with the knowledge necessary for communication (input), they just don't have sufficient practice (output). Let your partner practice a lot and gently correct his/her mistakes (not all the time, though), then ask to do the same for you.

Tokyo Fab


Tokyo Olympics in Shibuya and Kenzo Tange

Welcoming ‘Tokyo 2020 Olympics’ this year, this exhibition showcases Tokyo 1964 Olympics retrospective. Focusing on the National Yoyogi Gymnasium and its designer, Kenzo Tange, through drawings, models, and photos related to design, construction, and utilization of the facility. the National Yoyogi Gymnasium and swimming pool were designed by Tange for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics, which were the first Olympics held in Asia. Kenzo Tange was a Japanese architect, and winner of the 1987 Pritzker Prize for architecture. He was one of the most significant architects of the 20th century, combining traditional Japanese styles with modernism, and designed major buildings on five continents. His career spanned the entire second half of the twentieth century, producing numerous distinctive buildings in Tokyo, other Japanese cities and cities around the world, as well as ambitious physical plans for Tokyo and its environs.

Date:- 3/22 @ Shirane Memorial Shibuya Ward Local Museum
Closest Sta.: Shibuya Sta.

For more information, visit


JCII Camera Museum 30th Anniversary

The JCII Camera Museum, a museum that supports photography and film culture, was established to expose as many people as possible to cameras and the history of photography, and to educate people about the discipline. One significant characteristic of the JCII Camera Museum is that there are exhibits pertaining to all phases of the worldwide history of photography. In the Special Exhibition section, there are various types of cameras from around the world. Also included are “classic,” “masterpiece” and “curio” cameras. A new discovery every visit − that’s what you’ll find at the JCII Camera Museum.

Date: Till 3/22 (Sun) @ JCII Camera Museum
Closest Sta.: - Hanzomon Sta.

For more information, visit

What’s App With You?



Welcome to Discord, a cross-platform chat app for text, video, and voice comms designed specifically for gamers. Used by over 250 million gamers around the world, it creates secure chat channels to play games with friends, organize squads, find teammates, LFG, and participate in gaming communities. Whether you play Battle Royale or MOBA, FPS or RPG, or if you follow streamers or esports, you can easily start a group chat for everything you and your gaming clan want to talk about. Even if you are not a gamer, if you want to set up or are looking for a chat group for a bunch of like-minded people, then Discord is the way to go. It’s fully cross-platform, so you can go from your phone to the computer, and back again without losing a second of banter, and it has all the features you expect from a chat app. It even has voice chat, You can join groups easily through a link, making it simple to join your friends!

Marco Polo:

Marco Polo combines the best of texting, social media and video chats - all in one private, easy to use app. It is a video chatting app for busy people. Rather than waiting until a bunch of you are ready for a call, Marco Polo gets you to record your video and send it out whenever you have a moment. Your friends can then watch it live, or if they’re busy, they can watch it later. An excellent group chatting tool, Marco Polo is brilliant for staying connected when normal text chats just won’t do.


Tokyo Voice Column


Boy Interrupted by Esteban Lopez

It is not very often that one gets a second chance in life; however, in my case I have been afforded the opportunity to live in Tokyo again after an eight-year gap. I’m originally from Austin, Texas and the hustle and bustle of Tokyo got to be too much for me. I worked in Shinjuku before I left and the throngs of people rushing to and fro and the buildings that loomed overhead started to suffocate me. I remember one instance of just looking up into the sky to find a sense of serenity amidst all the bedlam that surrounded me. It was at that moment that I decided to go back home.

I initially thought that going back to America and getting a job would have been a cinch. I was in for a rude awakening. I couldn’t even get a job as a waiter because I had an eight-year gap in my resume. I told the interviewer that “I was overseas working as an English teacher,” and he just rolled his eyes at me, “Do you think we are going to call all the way to Tokyo to check out your references for a job waiting tables.” He slid my resume across the table and wished me luck. I ended up being a part time English tutor at my local college. But all people would ever ask me is why I left Tokyo and if I had the opportonuty to go back again, why wouldn't I.

So I returned last year in 2018 and I can honestly say that in many ways Tokyo has stayed the same and changed at the same. I think the largest difference from 2010 is the amount of foreigners now. I don’t remember there being so many foreigners here before. Particularly in convenience stores and the fast food industry; just the other day I was in Burger King and the entire staff behind the counter were foreign. And even though I study Japanese every day, I succumbed to my mother tongue and ordered completely in English, knowing full well the foreign staff would understand me. Which she did and promptly rang up my order. I had mixed feelings about what had just occurred, but understood that this was the new landscape of Tokyo.

So even though my life in Tokyo was interrupted for eight years, I am more than happy to be back and pick up where I left off in 2010.






Party at a Lighthouse!

A dream come true for Fraggle Rock fans! Remember Fraggle Rock show began with a clip of an impressive lighthouse? Well, prepare yourself for an amazing news! The lighthouse is now available to rent! The 1980s show was created by Jim Henson - most famously known for his work with The Muppets - and soon became one of most loved children's TV shows. And now, Sally Port Cottage at St Anthony's Lighthouse in St Mawes, Cornwall is available to rent from Rural Retreats at an unmissable price. The holiday home sleeps four, and with its sweeping sea views, it makes a perfect place to spend a few nights away. There are two bedrooms, one en-suite shower room, and one bathroom, as well as a sun-trap patio area and detached observation room with fantastic views. However, you will need to embark on a steep 300m cliff path from the car park to get there. Why go abroad when you see everything here and reminisce Fraggle Rock Shows!

Embraced by an Elephant

A new listing on Airbnb is sure to be a hit with anyone obsessed with elephants - or history. That's because a new giant elephant-shaped property is opening for overnight stays, and it has a pretty fascinating history. Lucy the Elephant is somewhat of a local legend in her hometown, New Jersey. Located in the heart of Jersey Shore, the landmark spans a history including hosting a US President, serving as a tavern, and even a residential summer home, since first opening in 1902. Other notable events included a storm in 1903 which left Lucy standing knee deep in the sand, with local volunteers digging her out to move her farther back from the sea. Now, she's being transformed into an Airbnb rental which can host up to two people - and it's not just her exterior that makes for quite a unique stay. Guests who bag a stay will be transported back into the Victorian era thanks to the antique furniture (including a trunk where you can store clothes), a huge bed, and various sculptures. Other highlights to enjoy include some seriously enviable views of the Jersey Shore and the beach from the Turkish Pavilion sitting on her back, as well as a stocked bar cart with heaps of refreshments. To celebrate the stay, Airbnb will make a donation to the Save Lucy Committee.



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AirNet Travel

We'll cut you the best air ticket deals anywhere.

Fun Travel

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No.1 Travel

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JR Tokai Tours

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Matsuda Legal Office

All kinds of Visa, Immigration & Naturalization, International Marriage etc.

Futaba Visa Office

Licensed immigration lawyer & certified public tax consultant.

American Pharmacy

English speaking pharmacy since 1950.

Tokyo Skin Clinic

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Tax-free AKKY

Japanese Appliance, Watch, Souvenirs

Tokyo Speed Dating

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50 Shades of Yikess