Archive for JBMatsuri

Japanese how-tos: cheap coffee (and tea!) in Japanese cafes


Perhaps many of my Japan-resident readers will be aware of the presence of drink bars in many Japanese family restaurants, but they are difficult to enter alone when all you want to do is spend some quality me time. Fortunately there are alternatives that can save you a little money here and there:

Mister Donut coffee and doughnuts

1. Mister Donut does free refills. This doughnut chain has branches all over Japan, and they offer unlimited free refills on their hot coffees, and don’t seem to mind people camping out all day. Make sure you pick up their point card and sign up to their email newsletter (mobile phone only) or check their web site for frequent discount coupons. If you get in before 11 am you can get a coffee and doughnut for 300 yen and nurse it all day, and if you’re really lucky you can catch them giving out pass cards for 20% of all doughnuts and 300 yen coffee and doughnuts all day every day for the next six months or so. Pon De Ring Crunch Choco is excellent, but the fancy one in the middle of the photo above was a limited edition Nodame Cantabile Christmas 2009 offering!

2. Starbucks: If you must go there, order the filter coffee and at the bottom of the receipt is a token for a second cup for 100 yen.

3. Many posh hotel lounges will keep refilling your coffee. I’ve never tried this one out myself, but it was on a TV program a couple of weeks back. When they come to tidy up your cup, you can ask for a new one, which is all included in their service charge. In addition, many hotels have wifi in their lobby, and even a power point if you want to be really cheap!

4. If you prefer tea, places with teapot service (or hotel lounges again) will sometimes give you a new pot of hot water if you ask for 差し湯, sashi yu. The one chain I know for sure that does this is Cocorico, but there are quite a few individual places that also do this, such as the rather nice Ai-Ai Park’s Bumble Bee Cafe.

This has been my submission for this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri, organised by Philip Seyfi at NihongoUp, on Japanese how-tos.

Mister Donut photo from telepathicgeorge on flickr.

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The theatre – my favourite place in Japan

This month’s subject for the Japan Blog Matsuri is My Favourite Place in Japan, so here goes with my entry.

My favourite place in Japan is the theatre, and you can find me there about once a month, most often at Takarazuka. However, over the Golden Week holidays at the start of May I managed to experience the other side of the footlights. The less than four years old Hyogo Performing Arts Center in Nishinomiya, Hyogo decided to hold their very first public backstage tour for a hundred or so lucky applicants. Lets let the photos do the talking:

Me on stage!
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April Japan Blog Matsuri: Slow Times in Japan

Here is this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri, with a bumper haul of sixteen entries, including a few new-to-me blogs, so I hope you all can find something new too.

First out of the trap is a fellow Kansai blogger, sleepytako, a name that already suggests slow times! His relaxation is getting gently boiled in various hot springs around the Kansai area, and the story also serves as a pointer to his rather useful Kansai Onsen Guide.

Next up is another Kansai resident, Harvey, who submitted an older post, but it’s about a walk I’ve always wanted to do myself, as I find disused railway lines fascinating. He walked a portion of the old Takarazuka to Sanda JR line.

Jamie at Frugalista Japan posted on not really a slow time, more a downright boring year in Yokkaichi, which I suspect might be near Tokyo, but it sounds far too dull to even bother looking up!

Japan Blog Matsuri

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Don’t have too slow a time in Japan!

Japan Blog Matsuri

You now have less than twenty-four hours to get your submissions in for Slow Times in Japan, this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri theme, to be hosted here. I’ve already had lots of great submissions – many photo themed, so don’t forget the JapanSoc group on flickr – so I’m looking forward to a few more last-minute entries. Either email me the link or follow the link in the widget below to submit your slow time in Japan.

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Blog Matsuri reminder, and my own Slow Time

Nick posted areminder about the upcoming deadline, Wednesday the 22th, for April’s Blog Matsuri, so I thought I’d add my own reminder too. As he points out, I have over 2,500 subscribers and about 800 to 1,000 daily readers through my RSS feed, so if you want some free publicity, get your stories in soon! Thanks for the number of interesting submissions so far, and I’m looking forward to many more.

Also, just to toot my own horn and to leave a trackback with them, as mentioned last weekend I applied to attend the blogger tasting session for the Kobe Sweets Festa 2009 and fortunately I got selected, or I’ll be writing up about my own Slow Time there on Nihon Sun.

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April’s Japan Blog Matsuri

Japan Blog Matsuri

It’s my turn at the controls, and after an entertaining Fast Times in Japan hosted by freedomvw/THEGHOST. As a few people perhaps had trouble thinking about what to write, let’s try the opposite in April:

Slow Times in Japan

How do you kick back and relax? A favourite hiking spot, a quiet bar, bonsai? For those of you not in Japan, choose something Japan-related. Submit stories through the widget below or email me directly.

Just to spread the link love, here’s the entries from March again:

Billy at Tune In Tokyo offers up a interesting tale of being mistaken for trying to smuggle a little pot into the land of the raising sun.

Shane at The Nihon Sun shares a slightly painful experience of trying to talk a Japanese taxi driver into stopping at the right place.

Loco at Loco In Yokohama reveals an experience on the train involving some dirty pervert and a school girl.

McAlpine from the Soul of Japan shares with us all his love of being a bully to just about anyone. Even if they did nothing to him at all.

Nick over at the long countdown offers up a collection of off beat experiences he has had over the years in Japan.

John Turningpin at Mad Tokyo shares the oddity of a night out on the bar scene.

Kanmuri from Turning Iwatean had the pleasure of being asked Does this ramen have human flesh in it?

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February Blog Matsuri and Google Friends Connect

First, Deas over at Rocking in Hakata has an epic edition of the Japan Blog Matsuri, with a pretty massive set of 26 entries to the Foreigh Food Matsuri. Enjoy!

Second, I’ve signed up for Google Friends Connect for some reason:

Feel free to add yourself to the list and… I’m not really sure what happens after the and, but there must be some good reason why everyone at is signing up!

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Baseball, skating and football top sports in Japan

Will Japan qualify for the 2010 South Africa World Cup? graph of japanese statisticsWith the Olympics over for another four years and the South Africa World Cup still two years away, this is a good time to take a look with MyVoice at sports, their third look at the subject. Incidentally, if you want to find out more about sports in Japan, be sure to check out this month’s Japan Blog Matsuri on sport in Japan!


Over the first five days of October 2008 14,560 members of the MyVoice internet community completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 54% of the sample were female, 1% in their teens, 15% in their twenties, 37% in their thirties, 30% in their forties, and 17% aged fifty or older.

I don’t have time to watch sport on the television, especially with wall-to-wall baseball, in which I have zero interest, and even if I had the time, the wife owns the remote control…

I used to be a big Formula 1 fan, having attended Suzuka thrice, but even though last month I came across the start of the Japan Grand Prix live on television, both Hamilton and Coulthard piled up on the first lap and the Fuji circuit was totally unfamiliar to me, so I gave up and did the hoovering instead.
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Poorly-understood job titles in Japan

Here’s a quick ranking survery from goo Ranking to squeeze in as my entry to the September 2008 Japan Blog Matsuri on poorly-understood job titles in Japan. As the theme of this month’s Matsuri is language, I’ll list the original Japanese too. I’ll bet many of my readers will be stumped by some of the translations too!


Between the 25th and 28th of July 2008 1,072 members of the goo Research online monitor panel completed a private internet-based questionnaire. 50.3% of the sample were male, 5.7% in their teens, 14.4% in their twenties, 31,0% in their thirties, 28.1% in their forties, 10.5% in their fifties, and 10.4% aged sixty or older. Note that the score in the results refers to the relative number of votes for each option, not a percentage of the total sample.
It’s interesting that most of the confusing job titles are English ones. Number 7, Vice-President, refers not to people like Dick Cheney, but to something I notice in start-ups, where everyone in at the founding and/or with substantial shareholdings gets an honorary vice-presidentship for their troubles. I’m not sure what number 14 is doing on the list – an orchestra conductor is a 指揮者, shikisha – do they mean bus conductor?

I used to have an unofficial job title of Transcontinental Code Monkey (I might even still have the T-shirt somewhere), but that’s another story.

Oh, and for the Blog Matsuri I though this or this would have been much more appropriate, but the translation defeated me!
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The Japan Blog Matsuri lives!

You may remember last year there was an ill-fated attempt by me to start up a blog carnival for Japan. The good news, however, is that Nick over at Long Countdown has ressurrected the idea over at the Japan Soc Community Blog.

So, the first host is Shane at The Tokyo Traveler. She’s looking for Impressions of Tokyo, so please feel free to join in. You can submit your story through the widget below. The due date is the 20th of August, so don’t delay!

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