Weekly castle picture from Japanese Castle Explorer no1

The first thing I’d like to do is to say a big thank you to the Gaijin life blog for the opportunity for me to do what I love doing, and that is talking about Japanese Castles.
Who am I? I’m Daniel O’Grady of the Japanese Castle Explorer website
I’m an Aussie and have been living here in Japan since 2001.

Well, the cherry blossoms are blooming all over Japan right now, and I was lucky enough to get myself to Kurume Castle just the other day. The city of Kurume is located in Fukuoka Prefecture on the island of Kyushu and interestingly, it is also the home of Brigestone tire company.

Little remains of Kurume Castle today, just sections of its stonework and moat. No matter its current state, the castle ruins look stunning with its flowers of Spring, under the blue sky.


A new Karate Kid movie!

Karate Kid (2010)

I must say when I saw that title on youtube as a 2010 trailer, it kind a hit me. I know we are in the age of remake movies and sometimes I can not say it’s bad. There is a lot of remake that are really good or that have a lot of potential. So seeing the title Karate Kid made me go back in my childhood memories, think about Mr Miyagi. So a remake of this movie got me a bit exited, I thought about maybe new angles on Japan, nice pictures and images selection and a some what good story line or moral that the old version had.

Remastered original movie cover picture

But the world of hope I created in my mind with those 30 seconse of seeing the title got destroyed, torn a part and broken  in millions of pieces when I did press play.

The trailer started and you see a young boy leaving with is mom to China.

Ok Let’s stop there first: ”China?? Karate is Japanese it does have Chinese origins but still it is Japanese.”

”Ok ok what if there is a Japanese sensei so let’s go keep it going!”

The little boy end’s up getting beaten by some Chinese class mate or from a school not far from his, a bit much like the original Karate kid, and like in the original a sensei pop’s in and save the boy. ”That part is much like the real Karate kid”

Then comes the final blow,the one that killed me  for good

The sensei say’s ”I’ll teach you real Kung Fu!!!!”

WHAT??? Humm Is the title of the movie kung-fu kid or Karate Kid, did I miss read or something???

Here is the trailers if you would like to witness what im talking about

The original Karate Kid


The latest you got it all wrong Karate Kid

How come people can be feed so much non sense? I know movie are Hollywood creation but a remake is a remake do it right or just leave the classic in its grave or at lest in its VHS copy. This movie still has the potential to be a fun movie to watch plus the quality of the images are really nice, since China as so much beautiful land scape. But please respect things, Karate is Karate and Kung Fu Kung Fu.

I really don’t enjoy doing  post like that one, but I did have to share it with you all. And don’t get me wrong I totally respect any practitioner of any martial art in the world, I am my self a Kendo-ka and a traditional Japanese Jujutsu partitioner but this is wrong.

I leave you from a quote from MR Miyagi and Daniel San from the Original Movie

Daniel: What kina belt do you have?à

Mr Miyagi: Jc peny G19

The Geisha 芸者

The Geisha 芸者

Geisha are traditional entertainers in the field of Japanese arts and music. They mostly specialize in Japanese dance, singing, and a variety of instruments including hand drum, shoulder drum, shamisen or Japanese flute. They train throughout their lives, are very highly skilled, and some of the older geisha are even “living national treasures”, the highest status of artist in Japan. There is a really sad misconception about geisha being prostitute and it is seriously wrong to think about that. Of course in the Japanese culture prostitution always had a strong place but geisha were no part of that.

Geisha under the age of 20 or so are called maiko in southern Japan, and hangyoku in northern Japan. Contrary to popular misconception, girls only do five years of training if they begin in Kyoto at 15. In most other districts in Japan, girls who begin as hangyoku or maiko begin at 18, so only do two or three years, and if they are older than 20, they normally debut as ippon-san or geisha. Whether one debuts as a maiko or hangyoku, or as a geisha, it is rarely done without a year or so of training. After their years of preparation, new geisha debut either as hangyoku or as geisha depending on their age at the time they debut.

Geisha are called out to tea-houses or to events, functions and parties, to entertain. This kind of tradition of private entertainment was very common in the West too in previous centuries. Bach or Mozart would have been called out to play at the parties of lords and the nobility. In the West, this former tradition of private entertainment has largely evolved into large-scale public entertainment like ballet, or opera. In Japan, geisha also perform at large public events and annual dances, but the former tradition of small-scale private entertainment of customers having a private meal at a tea-house with friends or acquaintances and calling in geisha to entertain them as they eat and drink – has remained in Japan to the present-day. Geisha are very cultured independent businesswomen with their own customers, some of whom have been patrons for decades, and they often manage younger geisha too. Like any Western artist or musician or actress, they can and do fall in love and have relationships, but this is always entirely a private matter and never part of the job.

Is there any gaijin geisha!?

Yes there is one!

Here real name is Fiona Graham, she holds a PhD in Social Anthropology from the University of Oxford, and an M.B.A. from the same. Her first degrees was in psychology taken at Keio University, where she was the first Western woman to graduate. In 2007 as part of a social anthropology project she became the first gaijin geisha in the 400-year history of the geisha. For this she took the name Sayuki meaning transparent happiness. She work in Asakusa one of the oldest of Tokyo’s six remaining geisha districts. She has lived in a geisha house (okiya), and participating in banquets as a trainee for the past year. She has been training in several arts, and will specialize in yokobue (Japanese flute). Sayuki made her debut after a year of training which is normal timing in her district.Sayuki became a geisha initially with anthropological fieldwork in mind, but is currently planning to continue as an actively working geisha for some time. Sayuki has lectured at a number of universities around the world, and has published several books on Japanese culture. She is also an anthropological film director with credits on international broadcasters.

Tsukiji fish market 築地市場

Tsukiji fish market 築地市場

Did you know Tokyo holds the biggest fish market in the world?

Yes the Tsukiji fish market is the biggest whole sale fish and seafood market in the world.

The market is located near the Tsukijishijo Station on the Toei Oedo line and Tsukiji Station on the Tokyo Metro Hibiya line (that’s my home line). I love this market, if you are a sushi fan its heaven. You can eat delishously fresh sushi’s of any kind and witness the live auctions if you’re an early bird.

There are two sections at Tsukiji market: the Jonai shijo and the Jogai shijo
In the Jonai shijo section you will find all the whole sealers, this is where the action takes place in the morning and when I say morning it’s early around 5h30 am because that’s when the auctions starts. The actions normally stop around 8h00 am but the market is open till 3h00pm. I must say, if you can go there around 5h30 6h00 you will witness and live a quite nice experiance.There is approximately 1000 wholesale dealers so i let you imagine the action that this section of the market can pack up during the early morning!

The second section of the Tsukiji market is the Jogai shijo. In this section you will find some wholesale and retail shops. In these shop you can find of course fish and seafood but also find Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies and groceries. For the sushi lover in you this section is also home of many Japanese restaurant many of which that serves sushi.

For all of you intrepid early birds, that are willing to visit this market I would like to give you some little rules of conduct at the market. Why rules super simple the wholesale section of Tsukiji Market is where business is conducted and it is really really important for visitors not to interfere with those sales or activities. In 2008 the market, especially the famous tuna action was close to the public because of bad behavior form visitors. If you want to enjoy this wonderful sight of Tokyo here are those rules:

You should visit the tuna auction between 5:00am and 6:15am
Don’t use your flash during the auction if your taking a photo
Do not enter restricted areas
Don’t obstruct traffic or the operations
Do not bring large bags or suitcases
Do not wear high-heel or sandals!
Don’t smoke in the market
And of course don’t touch the fish!

A  little History about the Market and the fish industry in Tokyo

Tokugawa Ieyasu was the one to establish the first fish market in Tokyo. Since he was the shogun he wanted a stable source of fish and seafood for the Edo castle. He there for invited fisherman’s from Osaka to Edo so they could provide fresh food for the castle. All the fish that was not taken at the Edo castle was sold near the famous Nihonbashi bridge. So the first Tokyo fish market was created, it was called Uogashi, many more markets were created along the rivers and canals near Nihonbashi. The Tsukiji market was then created in 1935. The condition as for why it was created were not so pleasant, in September 1923 Japan was struck by a devastating earthquake refered as the Great Kanto earthquake. This event destroyed most of Tokyo including the Uogashi fish market.

I hoe you enjoyed this post. Feel free to comment.

Shinjuku 新宿区

Shinjuku 新宿区

Shinjuku, is a ward or if you would like a mini city inside Tokyo. Durring the Edo period, Shinjuku was major area for shrine’s. Since the Tokugawa shogunate was building the Edo castle many shrines in the castle area were move on the out skirts of Shinjuku. A daimyo named Naito Shinjuku had a mansion or small castle in this area where now stands the Shinjuku Gyoen.
Japan was struck by a major earthquake in 1923 also known as the Great Kanto earthquake. The shear devastation caused by this quake motivated the construction of the current Shinjuku we know.
In May to August 1945 Tokyo and Shinjuku alike were destroyed again by the U.S. air force raids, to yet again rise up for the ashes.

As for today Shinjuku is a major commercial and administrative center. You can find the busiest train station in the world used by an average of 3.5 million people per day. Shinjuku also has the highest numbers of registered foreign nationals of any community in Tokyo.

Shinjuku is also known for its famous district called Kabukichō 歌舞伎町 This district is an entertainment and probably the biggest red-light district in Japan. Tourist love to go explore this district of Shinjuku, but I must say it’s not one of the most beautiful place in Tokyo. You can find many hostess bars, host bars, love hotels, shops, restaurants, and nightclubs in the Kabukicho. Most Japanese often call it the “Sleepless Town”. The district’s name comes from late-1940s plans to build a kabuki theater: although the theater was never built, the name stuck.

Shinjuku is a place to visit if you’re in the Tokyo area. It should be visited at anytime but I would recommend going there at night.

A wonderful video

A wonderful video

This morning I was on @agaijinlife on twitter and one of my followers posted this video! I seriously needed to share it on Gaijinlife. It is a wonderfully directed video shot in Tokyo at night. The Image quality is insane and the video is beautifully made.

Go visit http://tokyoglow.com/hd.html to see it!

Japan performance in the Olympics

Japan performance in the Olympics

Tonight will be the last day of the Olympics. I must say I was lucky to be in Canada for the Olympics, It gave me the chance to follow the games live on Canadian TV. Now I have to go back home to Japan but It has being a wonderful experience to be back in Canada for something like the Olympics.

The closing ceremony will follow just after what will maybe be one of the most impressive hockey game in a long time. Canada will play against the USA for the goal medal.

For this Olympic I did follow the Japanese Olympic team and of course the Canadian one. I was really sad that Japan could only get 5 medals during these Olympics. Japan got 3 silver medals and 2 bronze medals. Every Japanese athletes gave their best and gave use a wonderful show!

Here is a resume the event where Japan won:

One silver in Speed Skating – Ladies’ Team Pursuit
Tabata Maki
Hozumi Masako
Kodaria Nao

One silver in Figure Skating – Ladies
Asada Mao

One silver in Speed Skating – Men’s 500 m
Nagashima Keiichiro

One bronze in Figure Skating – Men
Takahashi Daisuke

And one bronze in Speed Skating – Men’s 500 m
Kato Joji

I would like to congratulate all the athletes that gave their best in the Olympics.