Thursday, December 30, 2010

The Peak Condition Project

Patrick Reynolds had an interesting idea on self-improvment.

Patrick Reynolds writes:

"What IS The Peak Condition Project?
This program is an idea I've had for a long time, to stop accepting just being in "good shape" and challenge myself to be as lean, flexible, and strong as possible, just like my hero, Bruce Lee. When I met kung-fu trainer and fitness expert, Chen Zhaotong, I knew I finally had all the pieces ready and set out to change my body and my life."

One important facet of his program seems to be accountability. Reynolds published a blog
detailing his triumphs and setbacks. So success or failure was very public.

Seems like a good way to me. Plus he incorporated some very simple techniques including
diet from China that work. China of course, is still a very poor country on the whole,
so the equipment people use for training is usually little to none. They use their own
body weight. The Chinese diet on the whole is healthy too.

After meeting Chen Zhongtao a personal trainer from China, Reynolds training and life took off!

I met a student of Reynold`s at a party last night, and it inspired me to post this.

Read More

Monday, December 27, 2010

ESL Discussions, thoughts on Yukio Tsuda and English Study in Japan

ESL Discussions, thoughts on Yukio Tsuda and English Study in Japan

Yukio Tsuda is a professor at the University of Tsukuba. He earned a doctorate in speech communication at Southern Illinois University.

In his ESL Discussions, Tsuda argues:

“English has its dark side that represents ruthless power.”

Tsuda doesn`t feel that having English skills is important for Japanese, (even though, he himself went to a lot of trouble to get them.)

Though I am an English teacher, I have always felt that Esperanto the international language designed to bridge the gap between peoples, was the fairest way to go. It hasn`t been widely used, accepted, nor studied however.

What have people like Tsuda done to promote it?

Read More

Sunday, December 26, 2010

Cross Cultural Visual Communication Study Requires Japanese Students wanted for an Experiment

Give your university students a chance to receive 1000 yen for participating in a University of Wales online experiment. Participants must be university students (undergrad, masters, PhD), Japanese citizens, and have good English skills (TOEIC 500+ but they do NOT need to have taken the TOEIC test). Please email the researcher (Will REEB) today at: if you are teaching English to students who might meet this requirements and you are willing to give them an invitation. Each participant needs to be invited by a teacher.

The researcher will send you an invitation to distribute to your students. The research is a cross-cultural visual communication study involving China, Great Britain, Japan, and the USA. No questions are asked about sensitive or controversial topics. Students from universities in Japan have already participated and seem to have enjoyed the experience.

My Japan Stay...

Photo: Orange tree in Minamiashigara City, near Odawara

I was a woman in my mid twenties who was often alone. I have some great memories of the people there! I do not want to come off like I didn't have a good time. I did have a wonderfully good time while I was in Japan.

Read More

Friday, December 24, 2010

Japan and its standardized test-based education system

(Pictured: Dancing Yosakoi Photo by Devanshe Chauhan)

The Japanese Education System

by Kevin Burns
(Kanagawa, Japan)

The Japanese Education System

Japan and its standardized test-based education system

"Hensachi means `deviation value,` and is a quantifying method that determines one`s relative rank, not actual ability. Hensachi status, however, painfully suggests to many students that they are inferior to others. Its impact on them and on their attitude to life is so strong that it often lingers throughout their lifetime."

--p. 79, "Mental Health Challenges Facing Contemporary Japanese Society, The `Lonely People` by Yuko Kawanishi

The Japanese Education System

For some positives in Japanese education, one need look no further than the local kindergarten or the local elementary school. For everything other than English education, they are doing a good to great job of educating the children of Japan. Classes are creative, teachers are caring, on the whole, and students are happy and learning.

Were the whole education system to be like this from kindergarten to the end of university, the Japanese people would be happier, healthier and more productive, both in GDP and creative terms.

Read More

Dave Johnson wants to know about your favorite school in Japan

Pictured, Dave Johnson aka "Cowboy Dave." Sorry Dave, couldn`t resist!

Dave Johnson wants to know about your favorite school in Japan

Hi, I`m Dave Johnson and I would like to know about your favorite English schools, universities, colleges or other institutions that teach English in Japan. I want to thank Kevin for giving me the opportunity to gather more information about which schools you think are the best in Japan.

People should know! And people should be able to avoid the bad schools by applying to the good ones.

Tell us why they are good? Have you taught there or has your friend, or relative. What have you heard? Read More

Thursday, December 23, 2010

U.S. may up child custody pressure

U.S. may up child custody pressure

The Associated Press

NEW YORK — Japan and India are among America's key allies. Yet to scores of embittered parents across the U.S., they are outlaw states when it comes to the wrenching phenomenon of "international child abduction."

News photo
Left behind: Christopher Savoie is photographed with his son, Isaac, and daughter, Rebecca, at a park near their home in Franklin, Tenn., in June 2009. COURTESY OF CHRISTOPHER SAVOIE/AP

The frustrations of these "left-behind" parents run deep. They seethe over Japan's and India's noncompliance with U.S. court orders regarding children taken by the other parent to the far side of the world, and many also fault top U.S. leaders for reluctance to ratchet up the pressure for change. Read More

"Furikome Sagi"

Pictured: Boozer House, a bar in Kanagawa

"Furikome Sagi" is Japanese for the crime of impersonating someone on the phone in order to rob the person called, of money.

Japan Economy -- State of the Art Yakuza

At their state of the art recording studio, the Kawaguchi Gumi branch of the yakuza (Japanese mafia), have a meeting and talk about how they will pull off this latest furikome sagi crime. Toshino kicks back in his chair. Piece of cake he thinks. He`s been doing this kind of crime for five years now. He`s a veteran. He can`t count how much money he has earned for his yakuza branch, indeed his boss is very proud of him. Read More

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Go Back to Sleep Vancouver

Go Back to Sleep Vancouver

Go Back to Sleep Vancouver

By Kevin R Burns


Since  I wrote this, they have announced an anti-gang task force comprised of more police and
over 100 citizens.   So it is a step, however small in the right direction.   What I object to is the apathy of Vancouver residents:

"It is the gang members killing each other."    This is one of their common quotes.
  Vancouver is the new Chicago - it is Al Capone time again, and it should be stopped and you
can stop it if you choose.    Or not if you don`t.    But it is in your power.    Unfortunately,
one day it may be your son, daughter, or mother who is caught in the crossfire or mistaken for
a gang member, or a gang member`s girlfriend.     I can`t count how many times people have
mistaken me for someone else.   And mistakes have been made quite a few times if you
have read The Vancouver Sun the past year or two.

It was just another shooting in the neighbourhood. I wonder if that onion really can beat Stephen Harper on Facebook? What if that pickle really is more popular than Nickelback? That would be funny eh?
Did you see the Canucks game? The Sedins were great!
Go back to sleep Vancouver, while your great city rots at the core. Ignore the Al Capone-like problems and be happy in knowing that your neighbourhood at least, has few if any shootings.
"It doesn't happen around here you say, we are rarely affected."
"It is the gang members that get shot."  Sometimes it isn't. Sometimes it is your innocent friend, or mother. Sometimes you buddy at work is mistaken for a Bacon brother or some other undesirable, and is taken out by a hitman. I can`t tell you how often I have been told I look so much like so and so. Who do you look like?
Ooops! Another innocent victim blown away in Surrey.
I lived in Vancouver until 1989 and I have gone back almost every year since then, and sometimes three times a year. I am blown away (even if you aren't) by the changes. And I am not talking about a revitalized downtown, the Olympics or the state of the Canucks, which are all good.
I am talking about the drug wars that really are not only decimating your city (even if you won`t believe that), but are decimating your reputation as a safe place to travel to and a great place to do business.
Vancouver if you don`t do something to stem the drug problems, you may find that tourists choose Calgary for tours, study and business.
When I left, Abbottsford was a quiet farming area. Now it is a hotbed (it would seem) of criminal activity.
Check out Wikipedia if you have the stomach to see the long list of murders just from 2009:
Martin Luther King and others have shown us what a small group of people can accomplish. Now is your time Vancouverites. It really is your time to take back your city. Enough is Enough! These drug wars have got to stop! This shouldn't be tolerated. Shootings on Oak Street should not be glossed over, no matter what time of day or night. It just should not happen.
The politicians will listen. They want to be re-elected, but you have got to show them with your letters, your protests, your comments on the street, that this has got to stop. You can do this. And it is important to your community and your children. Because in Abbottsford, they always thought their community would be a quiet, safe, farming community. If it can happen to them it can happen to your quiet, safe community.
Kevin Burns, formerly from Vancouver, has lived in Japan for over 20 years and owns a small chain of English schools in Japan, and teaches English at a Japanese university. He owns "How to Teach English in Japan,"
a website all about teaching in this very exotic and interesting part of the world. Teach English in Japan

Article Source:

Are The Failed Japanese Government Economic Policies And Obamanomics One and The Same?

Are The Failed Japanese Government Economic Policies And Obamanomics One and The Same?
 by: Walter "Bruno" Korschek

Robert Samuelson had an interesting article in the latest issue of Newsweek magazine, "Why Japan Fell And What It teaches Us." Mr. Samuelson reviews how Japan got into its current and long running economic slump, highlights of which include the following:

- Japan's economic problems started after several economic bubbles arose in the late 1980s including a tripling of their stock market's value from 1985 to 1989 and the tripling of its real estate values by 1991.

- However, by the end of 1992, the stock market had lost 57% of its peak value and land prices fell so low that they are still at early 1980s level.

- Banks weakened as the bubbles burst and they did not have enough collateral, with some banks going bankrupt.

- Economic growth stalled and grew only about 1% a year for the entire decade of the 1990s. This was a fraction of the annual 4% average growth in the 1980s in Japan.

- Despite implementing massive government stimulus spending programs, the economy is still stalled two decades later.

- They increased government spending while cutting taxes, resulting in massive budget deficits. Government debt as a percent of Japan's GDP went from 63% in 1991 to 101% by 1997 to 200% today.

- The Bank Of Japan, their equivalent of the Federal Reserve Bank in the U.S., cut interest rates all the way down to zero percent by 1999 with no discernible impact on the economy.

- Japan has an aging and shrinking population which tends to dampen domestic economic demand and growth.

All of these policies and facts have led to twenty years of anemic economic growth in what used to be a power house economic engine.

Do the symptoms of the Japanese experience sound familiar? They are almost identical to the economic policies of the Obama administration and Democratic Congress, policies that have been successful in only creating a skyrocketing national debt. Our political class and other arms of the Federal government never saw the devastating impact of the impending real estate bubble burst before it happened, just like in Japan. Our national bank continues to support very low interest rates with not positive results, just like in Japan. Our political class spends hundreds of billions of dollars on stimulus programs that do not work, just like in Japan. Our annual GDP growth has been steadily below the long term GDP growth rate, just like in Japan. Our national debt as a percentage of GDP is getting dangerously close to 100%, just like in Japan. We have an aging population, just like in Japan.

Sounds like we are going down the same road as the Japanese went through and that is not good. Everything that the Obama administration has done from an economic policy has mimicked the failed Japanese model with the same results: low growth, high unemployment, growing national debt, no apparent way out.

However, there may be some ways out if we look at our own history and some of the contrarian economic actions being taken by governments around the world:

- After Word War II, the United States faced an economic quandary. Much of the civilian workforce worked in the war factories making goods to support the war effort. Their current jobs were no longer needed once the war was over. Millions of military people were about to be discharged into civilian life, all of whom would be looking for a job. What did the Truman administration do? Did they significantly increase government spending to provide government jobs for everyone? Did they raise the national debt to frightening levels? Did they drop interest rates to near zero? No, between 1945 and 1948, the budget of the United States government was shrunk by over 60%.

Unemployment, despite this high influx of new workers, never got about 4.5%. Economic growth, even without massive government stimulus and deficit spending, was robust every year. In other words, they did the exact opposite what Japan did and Obama, and the got outstanding economic results.

- In Europe, France has taken the bold step of increasing its retirement age by two years to alleviate the financial pressure on their national retirement system caused by its aging population, i.e. they are cutting government spending. England is making substantial cuts in its military budget and is cutting nearly half a million government employees from its payroll, i.e. they are cutting government spending. Other western European countries are also cutting government spending, contrary to what the Obama administration budget busting spending is doing.

- Other countries outside of western Europe are also shrinking its itself by selling off government assets. According to an article in the November 1, 2010 issue of Businessweek, the Russian government is selling some of its government ownership in over 900 government companies, India plans to sell some government stakes in at least eight companies in the next five months, Poland is selling shares in its energy, insurance, copper, telecom, and power companies, and Malaysia is selling government interests in its postal system, its national chemical company, and other companies. In other words, while the Obama administration is becoming more and more entangled with U.S. businesses, e.g. General Motors, Chrysler, banks, the rest of the world is trying to shrink its government footprint in its domestic industries and shrink its national debt.

While the rest of the world is trying to get its government spending under control, the Obama administration has ruled over astronomical growth government spending, just like in Japan. In fact, everything that this administration is doing on the economic front is just like what did not succeed in Japan. Albert Einstein once said that the definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting the same results. Japan has been doing the same thing over and over with a failed twenty year track record. Could the Obama administration be fulfilling Einstein's insight?

Mr. Samuelson concludes his article with the remedy for our ailing economy and a way to not follow Japan down the failed rabbit hole of economic policy. He is one of many Americans, most of whom do not currently hold an elected office, who recognize that lasting economic prosperity and employment opportunities lie not with governments and politicians since governments and politicians do not create jobs. Only the private sector creates true, lasting jobs and wealth. Unless we reduce the thicket of business regulations, create a viable and low cost tax policy, reduce government spending and, most importantly, remove uncertainty from the equation, Mr. Samuelson predicts, probably correctly, that we will follow the path of a faltering Japan.

Removing uncertainty is the key. The Obama administration has introduced never before seen levels of uncertainty in the economy. Uncertainty as it results from a 2,500 page health care reform bill, uncertainty as it applies to the delay in finalizing tax rates for small business, historically the engine of this nation's economic growth, uncertainty from what would happen if cap and trade ever occurred, uncertainty from a financial sector regulation bill that left all of the details to unknown Federal government bureaucrats, etc. No wonder no American businesses are hiring, they have no idea what the future holds due to Obama's uncertainty factor but understand that the future is starting to look like Japan's past, and that is plain stupid.
About The Author
Walter "Bruno" Korschek is the author of the book, "Love My Country, Loathe My Government - Fifty First Steps To Restoring Our Freedom and Destroying The American Political Class," which is available at and online at Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Our daily dialog on freedom in American can be joined at
The author invites you to visit:



Empowering and enriching orphans in Japan

Our organization exists to support children living in children’s homes in the Tokyo area—and eventually throughout Japan—on their path towards becoming responsible, confident and empowered young adults.
By working closely with the children’s home staff, we develop a detailed needs assessment profile for each individual home. Deeper understanding of the homes helps our organization to foster appropriate and advantageous programs for these children. Centered along the “LAST” principle (Learning, Arts, Sports, and Technology), long-term and regularly occurring programs are developed under each category to help improve a child’s overall motivation and confidence. Ultimately, each program and opportunity crafted for a home must match their needs and schedule, while also working to “enrich, encourage, and empower.”
For more information about our organization’s objectives and existing programs, please review our Annual Report and feel free to contact:
Interim Managing Director: Amy Moyers-Knopp
Director of Homes Communications: Miho Walker

Read More

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Japan Living Homepage

I redesigned the homepage, hope you like it!

What is Japan Living like?

"Living in Japan will change you, you will never be the same...
Welcome to the Land of the Rising Sun!"

At our site you will learn all about living in Japan, facts about Japan, working in Japan, and Japan food.

Daily life in Japan is interesting.

We will explore Japan culture, interesting facts about Japan and more.

Japan can be incredibly beautiful, be it her raven haired, almond eyed people, Mount Fuji, an old temple, a gateway protruding like magic from the ocean, or a green and breezy rice field on a summer day. Read More

Monday, December 13, 2010

How To Negotiate With The Japanese

How To Negotiate With The Japanese
by: Richard Stone

Japanese managers are organized for their discussions with Western associates by way of concentrated discussion exercises. Their negotiating technique, on the other hand, often presents difficulties to European managers. Therefore this is an accepted topic on sales training courses.

This style, says the management consultant and Japan expert Joy Golden, is a result of the extreme cultural and national homogeneity of the Japanese ('Negotiating with the Japanese', in European Business Review, Vol. 91).

Japanese people always start an arbitration with a set collective view; they loathe noisy and fierce negotiations. Their way of solving problems is a slow, quiet and very thoughtful process. A Japanese negotiating partner will never express displeasure or rejection and will never publicly distance themselves from the collective opinion. What is entirely bizarre to the Japanese is the oral negotiating and problem-solving approach (argument + counter-argument = compromise) of the West!

A Japanese negotiating delegation will appear therefore at the initial meeting with a set opinion on fundamental points. You should always expect your negotiating partners to have informed themselves thoroughly about your company, its products and services, its connections and its financial position. Never imagine that you can shift your interlocutors from their standpoint with logical arguments.

The following recommendations apply to the different phases of discussion:

The Opening Phase

The Japanese prefer a gradual and gentle opening to a discussion. Always start off with a non-business, but also non-personal, subject in order to create a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere for discussion. For example, sport is a highly appropriate subject matter.

The Presentation Phase

The business part should start with a short statement: a brief outline of your company's history, a few details about the Japanese company (by doing this you show you have done your homework!), a laudatory review of the superb dealings and relations so far, and an optimistic glance into your future together. Speak slowly here but without emotionalism.

As a next step, give a rough sketch of the negotiating points on the agenda, the negotiating positions up to now and potential problems that will have to be cleared up. Never presume, without checking, that you have been understood during your presentation. Nodding heads, busy note taking or even the presence of an interpreter are no guarantee of this! If you are fortunate, misapprehension will only postpone the negotiations. If the worst happens the contract will be lost.

The Western European perception of rational argumentation methods as dealt with on numerous sales training courses will not be successful with your Japanese contemporaries. Many Japanese have only a limited knowledge of English so ask the interpreter whether any further explanation or detailed exposition is desired.

If possible, support your presentation with diagrams, tables and charts. Pass your associates copies of these papers so their concentration will not be broken by taking notes. Japanese people rate precise information.

The more detailed and precise your presentation is, the fewer doubts your partners will have about the carefulness of your preparation and your sincerity.

The Negotiating Phases

In many negotiations with Japanese a great deal more concessions were made by the Western side than originally planned. Why?

We rely too much on our ability to convince the customer with logical arguments. Inexperienced people are continually surprised by the stillness and immobility of Far Eastern negotiating partners. Instead of opposing arguments with counter-arguments in the Western manner, they maintain a thoughtful silence.

The Japanese are never the first to make concessions: they are only prepared to make compromises when their negotiating associate has moved a stage.

Japanese hate pressure of time! They strictly refuse to conclude their negotiations by a set time or date. They negotiate unsystematically and take a long time. Our style of ticking off points one by one is alien to them.

These different conceptions often lead to serious annoyance or even anger. Always remain calm and composed, even if the other side are even now demanding a 25% reduction in price! Agitation and consternation are regarded as personal weaknesses in Japan. Partners in business who fail to keep a grip on themselves in negotiations are judged to be unreliable.

Never deliberately attack a member of a Japanese delegation! The Japanese feel and act as a group and have no sympathy for this kind of thing.

The Concluding Phase

The basic prerequisites for a successful conclusion are therefore a very good preparation with broad background knowledge, patience and self-control. Even more important, though, is the realisation that you will not be able to convince the Japanese with strict logic! As taught on good sales training courses, flexibility and the accurate understanding of non-verbal signals and a controlled manner that is fitting for the circumstances, are much better than any logic!

About The Author
Richard Stone is a Director for Spearhead Training Limited that runs management and sales training courses that improve business performance. You can view more articles at =>
The author invites you to visit:

Thursday, December 09, 2010


Darth Maul Lego Japan - ダースモールレゴ スターウォーズファンに賞賛されているブロック


Read More

Monday, December 06, 2010

Corruption in the Whaling Industry in Japan

Japan urged to protect right to protest after anti-whaling activists convicted

Amnesty International has called on the Japanese government to preserve the right to legitimate protest in the wake of the conviction of two Greenpeace activists for the theft of a box of whale meat.

Junichi Sato, 33, and Toru Suzuki, 43, were convicted on Monday of theft and trespass by a court in the northern city of Aomori and were each sentenced to one-year jail terms, suspended for three years.

The pair admitted the theft of the 23kg (50lb) box of whale meat, officially deemed to be for research purposes, but say they took the box to help illustrate the much wider problem of similar thefts by whaling ship crews who then sell the meat on for substantial profits.

Read More

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Book Donations

Have books cluttering up your apartment? Donate them!

Donate them to a worth cause! A library in Nepal!

You can send the books to the following address:
Ashish Chandra Shrestha
Post box no: 20306

Thank you for your concern.

Ashish Prakash Community Library

Thursday, November 25, 2010


How can I improve my English? Part 1:英会話の学習方法について

by Kevin Burns

英会話の学習方法について by Kevin Burns, owner of Kevin`s 英会話スクール日本に居ながらにして英語が話せるようになるのはなかなか難しいことです。だけど、できないというわけではありません。英語を習うに当っては「ローマは一日にしてならず」という諺があてはまるのを忘れないでください。 Kevin & Friends 英語が流暢に話せるようになるには時間がかかります。英会話を習うのはちょうどクラシックピアノを習うようなもので、自転車の乗り方を覚えたり水泳を習ったりするのとは訳が違います。例えば水泳を習う場合はその成果が短期間に分かります

Read More

Local improv comedians keep things fast, furious and funny

Local improv comedians keep things fast, furious and funny

By David Labi


TV changed Kenichi Tada’s life. Well, more like one particular show. The life insurance salesman was on a trip to the States when he caught an episode of improvisational comedy program “Whose Line is it Anyway?” When he returned to Tokyo, he ditched the suit and set about liberating his inner performer.

“In Japanese culture, people are so afraid of making mistakes that the idea of performing without a script terrifies them,” he explains. A “very accepting and supportive” workshop helped him overcome his own fears, and he now regularly performs with the Xpot improv group. Along the way, he quit the day job for a full-time career under the lights.

Was his family worried about such a radical move? “They’re still worried,” he sighs.

Tada is one of a small but growing community of improvisers in the capital, both Japanese and foreign. At the upcoming Tokyo Impro Festival, which he helped organize, 80 local performers will be doing their thing in both English and Japanese, alongside visitors from Los Angeles, Boston and Seoul. The main aim of the event, he says, is to reach out to a Japanese audience unaccustomed to on-the-fly hilarity, showing them that not everything in life must be scripted and prescribed. Simply put, it’s to “encourage people to experience improvisation for the first time.”Read More

Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration

Group Appeals for Overhaul of Japanese Immigration
Thursday, November 25, 2010

A powerful group of politicians, academics and business leaders is set to launch an unusual campaign to urge Japan to pry open its doors to foreigners, saying the country’s survival hinges on revamping its immigration policy.

Japan has one of the most restrictive immigration policies in the world, and the debate over whether to allow more foreigners to settle in the country has long been a contentious, politically charged issue for the nation. But recently, calls to allow more foreign workers to enter Japan have become louder, as the aging population continues to shrink and the country’s competitiveness and economic growth pales in comparison with its neighbor to the west: China. A minuscule 1.7% of the overall Japanese population are foreigners, compared with 6.8% in the United Kingdom and 21.4% in Switzerland, according to the OECD. Read More

The Scrunchies

The story of old Japanese men in Japan.

Friday, November 05, 2010

How can I improve my English? Part 1:英会話の学習方法について

Pictured, My friend Matt White on the Aeon Poster)
How can I improve my English? Part 1:英会話の学習方法について
by Kevin Burns
英会話の学習方法について by Kevin Burns, owner of Kevin`s 英会話スクール日本に居ながらにして英語が話せるようになるのはなかなか難しいことです。だけど、できないというわけではありません。英語を習うに当っては「ローマは一日にしてならず」という諺があてはまるのを忘れないでください。 Kevin & Friends 英語が流暢に話せるようになるには時間がかかります。英会話を習うのはちょうどクラシックピアノを習うようなもので、自転車の乗り方を覚えたり水泳を習ったりするのとは訳が違います。例えば水泳を習う場合はその成果が短期間に分かります。 Read More

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Japan Living Links

Monday, November 01, 2010

Humor about Japan: Comedy about life in Japan

Humor about Japan: Comedy about life in Japan

(Picture of "Rocker," by Ian Griffin)

If you enjoy comedy about Japan, poking fun at life here, you have come to the right place! While we enjoy living in this interesting country, everyone needs a joke or two, and laughing at the absurdity of life keeps us going!

If you have a funny story about Japan share it below! Also you can upload a funny photo too. We love YOUR stories!

When we find a video that is helpful for our visitors, like a well done English lesson, we have to share it!

The Cost of Living While Working in Japan - What Can You Expect?

The Cost of Living While Working in Japan - What Can You Expect?

The Cost of Living While Working in Japan - What Can You Expect?

By Adam Claydon-Platt

(Photo of drying onions by Ian Griffin)

Working in Japan can be an exciting adventure where you live out some of the most memorable moments of your young life, but how do you know if you have enough money saved up to live comfortably while you are there? How much money you need ultimately depends on the type of lifestyle you are accustomed to, how you plan to live while you are there, and of course how long you are going to be working in the country.

To give you a rough estimate of what the cost of living in Japan may be, let's consider some of the more common expenses that people who vacation and work in the country typically have to pay. There of course may be some other things not listed here that you will want to spend money on yourself, but these basics should have you covered.


Eating is a universal need, and is something you will need to concern yourself with every day that you live and work in Japan. The expenses in this area vary from person to person, but you will generally save a lot of money if you cook most of your meals at home for yourself, as many of the restaurants can be pricey.

For a single person cooking meals at home every day, you should expect to spend around 50,000 yen every month you are in the country. This will go up quickly if you eat out with others occasionally, or if you decide to eat your lunch somewhere near your work.

If you enjoy dining out while in Japan you can expect to pay around 3,000 yen for an average meal out. Fine dining restaurants that serve the best will be considerably higher, so that might be an extra expense that you save for if it interests you.


What makes working in Japan so exciting is the ability to leave your ordinary life behind for a given period of time and live in a new environment. This of course has its downfalls, such as relying upon public transportation, since your vehicle will be back at home, and Japan's streets are too crowded to even think about purchasing a car.

Commuting to and from work, you can expect to pay approx. 20,000 yen for each month you are in the country. This can be reduced drastically if you live close to your work and can walk or ride your bicycle back and forth. It can also be considerably higher if you are going out shopping, dining, or mingling with others on a consistent basis.


Of course, you are going to want to explore Japan and experience the entertainment industry while there, and the prices are not unreasonable. A day of sightseeing and touring may cost around 5,000 yen while a single beer runs around 500 yen.

If you enjoy shopping and want to purchase Japanese fashion, items for your home, and gifts for your loved ones, the prices will vary depending on where you shop and what items you are purchasing. Contrary to what you may think, not all stores in Japan are expensive - in fact many are quite cheap compared to other countries.

Living Expenses

Finally, you will need to plan for your basic living expenses while in Japan, just as you would back home. Most visitors working in the country pay around 70,000 yen per month for their living space, with an extra 10,000 yen each month being due for utility bills. The housing amount can be lower or higher depending on where you live, if you live alone, and how much space you need to have.

I hope this article has been informative in teaching you of the potential costs of living and working in Japan.

If you're looking for Work in Japan, try something different, and work in a Japanese Resort this year! Resort jobs allow you to experience the culture, learn about the Japanese workplace, and have the time of your life!

Article Source:

Friday, October 08, 2010





視界に入りましたが、止まらなかったのです。Read More

Thursday, October 07, 2010

Eco Life party at Tokyo HackerSpace

Eco Life party @ Tokyo HackerSpace

10 October 2010 - 10:00am - 9:00pm

On 10/10/10, TokyoHackerSpace will be hosting a DIY party!
Our site is
Go there for all the latest info.

If you would like to register to come to our event, please go to the Tokyo HackerSpace event page to reserve:

Here is a brief outline of our schedule:

DIY schedule
Window Farms
10:30 a.m. - 2 p.m.
2000 yen / limit 6 students
In the morning, we will be offering a class on window farming. Take a look at
A window farm allows you to grow small vegetables in a window. It's perfect for small Tokyo apartments! You can grow lettuce, herbs and spices (such as basil and mint), and even cherry tomatoes!

The class fee is not set, but will include all materials to build your first tower. I will update this site soon with final costs, but I imagine it to be about 4000 yen.

Garden Solar Lanterns
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
1000 yen / limit 6 students
Akiba from Tokyo HackerSpace has been hard at work designing a cool circuit board. It fits inside the lid of a Mason Jar! On top sits a solar cell. Inside the lid sits the circuit, with battery storage, and a multicolor LED.
When assembled, you have a very attractive garden or table lantern!During the day, it charges up the battery via the solar panel. Once it is dark, the LED automatically turns on, and illuminates the jar with beatuful transitions of red, blue and green. Fill the jar with gel or rock salts for a stunningly attractive light.

He will teach a one hour DIY kit building class from 2pm to 3pm.
(additional classes may be added later)

Presentation schedule
Solar Car Racing
2 p.m. - 3 p.m.
John Helwig is chemist and hacker. Before moving to Japan, he took part in the college solar car racing league. He will give us the inside scoop on how it all got started, how a team works, and the nuts and bolts of a competitive solar racer! This media rich presentation will appeal to and inspire enviromentalists and hackers alike.

Facts about Global Warming: All the things you never knew
3 p.m. - 4 p.m.
John returns with back to back presentations. This time around, his chemist side shines through, as he reveals a lot of interesting points that most have never stopped to consider. John will take you on a guided tour of thought experiments, which explore the hidden contributions to global warming. Many of them can easily be controlled or stopped outright, once we become aware of them.

Keeping an Energy Journal: How to monitor your usage
4 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Emery and Akiba will present several tools available on the market for monitoring electrical energy usage. Using such tools, we can develope a strategy of monitoring, predicting, and ultimately REDUCING our electrical energy usage. If everyone in the world were to reduce energy usage by 10 percent, we could all litterally SAVE THE WORLD.

For those of you willing to get to work, today, we will provide energy monitors for purchase.

ECO Bar-Camp
6 p.m. - 8 p.m.
A Bar-Camp is a sort of "un-conference." Essentially it works like this:
1:) The time will be divided into blocks of 15 minutes, on the white-board. (8 slots)
2:) Anyone who wishes to talk, present, or lead a group discussion may write their name and topic in the block/s
3:) When it is your time slot, you have the floor for 15 minutes!
4:) You may yield the remainder of your time to allow for additional topics on the side bar.

Our only rule is that we keep with the overall theme of 10/10 (Environment, aid, education and community organization). It is not just about the environment (although that is a primary topic).
* Environment
* Grass-roots organization methods
* The future of
* Ways to help local community organizations
* Disaster relief
* cool projects that somehow relate
* A presentation on your group and what you are about

Event Website:

How to Get Involved Planning the Event: We have weekly meetings at the HackerSpace, which are open and free to all. Come to THS on Tuesday nights, from 7 pm to 10 pm.

Event Host: Tokyo HackerSpace is a multinational technology and art collective focusing on creating projects that help communities and people. We focus on education, green technology, and social art. We encourage multinational membership, seeking to bridge social gaps between MAKE cultures.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Teaching English in Japan

If you are interested in teaching English in Japan
be sure to check out our main site which is all about teaching
here: where to get a great job, how to teach well, great resources
and advice for teachers.

Teaching English in Japan

Friday, June 04, 2010

"I'm Not Color Blind!"

"I'm Not Color Blind!"

by Kevin Burns

Photo by Devanshe Chauhan

"We understand color-vision deficiencies better than we used to," a school official explained. "It's no longer necessary to test all children because most educational and occupational restrictions have been eliminated."*

*From the article, "Ending Discrimination, Colorblind schoolkids can see clearly now," The Japan Times

Me at 13: "Dad, that carpet down there is brown. See I`m not color blind!" Dad shakes his head, "Kev, sorry but it is green." Looks disappointed. There is something unstated, some kind of unstated tension.

Damn! Even logic won`t lick this thing I think. Why would a carpet be green? My attempt at proving I wasn`t color blind (or somehow deficient in some way) had failed again. "Dad what is the big deal? Does it really matter if I am color blind or not?" "No not really, just your life will be a bit tougher is all."

Maybe that was all there was, but I felt there was a shame attached to it. I failed the tests. Everyone elementary school could see the thing in the ink blot except me. It seemed so anyway.

It started in grade one, I was drawing Mauro Grespan a Canadian of Italian descent, and I drew his face light green. All the kids laughed at what a great joke I had pulled. It was no joke. That light green crayon looked light brown to me. Mauro Grespan never looked green (except perhaps) in his college days. But that day he looked brown to me, but so did that light green crayon.

That was how I found out I was somehow different. It isn't such a big deal as some things are, yet it was a shock just the same and it has been with me throughout my life. It is a funny kind of unstated thing where in a way you pretend to be something you are not--to hide the fact.

In Japan where I live and teach English now, I was told to never tell anyone I was color blind. My first employer in Nagoya, told me to never mention it to anyone other than him. He was a Scotsman and told me to not mention it to the Japanese staff. He said I shouldn't teach any units on color unless I was sure about how to do it, without making mistakes. Fair enough.

It had been seen as a major "handicap" here. I think things are changing but it happened partly at least, due to an incident concerning the Japanese royal family:

"In 1920, Field Marshall Yamagata Aritomo tried to block the engagement of Hirohito, then crown prince, because colorblindness ran in his fiancee's family. Ultimately, the effort failed, and the couple married in 1924. But the publicity left the general public with the impression that colorblindness is a grave disability, according to Motohiko Murakami, professor emeritus at Keio University School of Medicine and author of a book on color blindness."*

*From the article, "Ending Discrimination, Colorblind schoolkids can see clearly now," The Japan Times

Indeed Japanese place emphasis on bloodlines and any kind of abnormality is cause for shame. But let`s be honest, us western folk are not beyond that kind of thinking either. There is a lot of toxic shame all around about various things. I'm not bitter. I'm just being honest.

In my twenties; though I well knew I was colorblind, I decided to give it a shot and see if I could be a commercial airline pilot. My father had flown a bomber during World War 2, and two of my uncles had been pilots as well, one of whom captained for CP Air.

I took CP Air's pinhole test where they test you with different colored lights in a huge room. You have to identify green and red lights. I knew I was green/brown color blind, but thought I might have a shot with green/red and I knew if given the chance, I would be a great pilot.

I seemed to get through the first half of the test, but was taken into a huge room and asked to identify the colors of various pinhole lights. I failed. Failing wasn't fun, but the look of disgust by the tester was annoying.

I think colorblind people face that. It isn't like being called a bad name. But there is this undercurrent that not just your color vision is deficient, but YOU are.

Perhaps the tester was just hoping I would pass. Perhaps he knew my uncle. Who knows?

Indeed color-blindness rarely affects job performance. In some cases it is actually an advantage. Colorblind recruits are prized in the military as they are not confused by camouflage. They pick out objects by shape and not color--these are some of the skills of a good sniper.

Sports: I am a good amateur tennis player. I occasionally play with Canada's former number 1 singles player Tony Bardsley. I am known for my exceptional volleying ability. Green ball--green background. Are there any studies about how many of the world`s top tennis players are color blind? How about some of our war heroes?

As a teacher, I have had to be sure I can teach a unit on color. One way around that has been to have another teacher write the names of the colors on the back of the color cards, so I can read which color it is as I am showing the students. Plus if they say green when it is brown, I can quickly note that and correct them.

When dressing I like to have my wife confirm that what I am wearing looks good. I have had some horrible experiences of wearing green socks with brown pants and things like that. Now my wardrobe is pretty simple and I am known for being a good dresser. I have worked at it though. Yet I still have a lingering doubt about how I am dressed.

I don't feel that being colorblind is a big deal. I don't feel I am color deficient. I feel that we simply see the world in different ways. There are many people who see the world in exactly the same way that I do. Another way of naming us, if you want to, is simply calling us a minority, or a vision minority.

What gives the majority the right to call us deficient? Perhaps in fact, being "colorblind," is a gift.

Colorblindness an Evolutionary Advantage?

It could be that in evolutionary terms, people like me were necessary to spot the saber toothed cat more easily. Having 5% of us, protected the other 95% from being cat food! &nb sp; I think my theory has potential, yet I am not aware of anyone else espousing it. I think that we should think outside of the box a bit more about all of these things.

Sometimes what we call a deficiency, a challenge, or God forbid--a handicap, turns out to be an advantage. In 100 years will we even be discussing this? I wonder. I hope not.

To see how color blind people view colors see:

About the Author
Kevin Burns is married, has three great kids, teaches English in a Japanese university, and owns an English school in Kanagawa, Japan called Kevin's English Schools,

He loves to write and does this at his many websites. You can visit Kevin's sites:

# How to Teach English in Japan
# Japan Living at
# A site he does with his two young sons on his love of Lego at

Afterword: In Japan at least, while discrimination at universities has greatly lessened, 94 universities were found to restrict entry by colorblind applicants in fields of study such as dentistry, my very own--education, and engineering.

Why? If I am not sure of a color I simply ask. Just as you do about certain things. Totally blind applicants could enroll while colorblind could not!

While I can understand not wanting me to fly your commercial airliner in case an emergency light goes on, I don't see why I cannot be a dentist, teacher or engineer. Let's not go too far with this.

Discrimination in hiring still persists in Japan: colorblind are barred from certain public service jobs such as the police force or fire department, and some private companies.

"If you ask them why, they have no scientific justification."--Yasuyo Takayanagi, opthamologist and activist (conducted survey on colorblindness and Japanese universities and employment)*

--The Japan Times, Alice Gordenker*

Glean some Lessons from other Countries and Start Thinking Outside the Box

Glean some Lessons from other Countries and Start Thinking Outside the Box

by Kevin Burns
(Odawara, Japan)

The smog warning had been broadcast on the radio, Mom called me in. I would not be playing outdoors that afternoon.

A vision of the future? No, just routine life in Long Beach, California (a suburb of LA) in 1966. I was too young to know what a "smog warning" meant, but it bothered me just the same.

I wake up to telephone poles. I am lying in the back of Dad`s 1963 Chevy Impala and I see miles and miles of telephone poles. We are back in Canada, Delta, BC to be exact.

Our town, Tsawwassen is approximately 45 minutes by highway from Vancouver. The summer is hot but dry. I remember a few summers like that back in the late 60's and early 70's.

Now in Vancouver it can be sweltering and seems to swelter every summer. When I was a kid that summer, no-one owned an air conditioner in Delta. Few cars even had them. Yet, some people now have air-conditioners in their apartment or condominium.

The weather has definitely changed. Palm trees now proudly grow in downtown Tsawwassen, where none could have survived 42 years ago.

Al Gore is right, things have changed.

I`m 47 now, and I suffer from allergies and asthma. Is that related to our time in "smog city?" Who knows?

In L.A. and Long Beaches's defence, they have cleaned up their act big time. The air is much cleaner now than we remember it. I think increased filtering of factories and cars, plus some of the new hybrids have done that, and I am confident it will only get better as green technology comes more to the fore in the 21st century.

This really will be our green century, I feel.

Indeed the weather changes naturally, but if you put so much carbon into the air, an amount of carbon never seen in the history of the earth, it has to affect us somehow.

I get a kick out of Canadians in so many ways. Though I am a Canuck myself, I have lived in America, and for almost half my life in Japan. I have travelled to many countries too. What surprises me, is a certain kind of thinking that occurs. I think this is natural.

If you are surrounded with many people who like ice hockey, you probably will too. Some don't, but many many do. Group think occurs and this often involves the car in Canada I feel.

In Japan we have electric train lines everywhere. I think they are a very practical and efficient, and much more environmentally friendly way of moving people than the car. More efficient and better for nature than even hybrid cars I will argue.

British Columbia, Quebec and other provinces are rich in electric power, power that can be used to power trains. Even solar powered trains should be explored. We have solar cars, why not solar trains? The Prairies are very sunny places, for example.

When I went back to Delta one summer, the people there were up in arms over the fact that traffic had gotten bad again, and they wanted another ring road, and another crossing of the Fraser River. What blew me away however, was that no-one in the newspaper even mentioned the possibility of a train line. Even the intelligent friends and relatives around me argued it couldn't be done, that it couldn't make a profit.

And yet not five minutes from my home in Japan, is a train line. It is in a very small city much like Tsawwassen, and it has less people than Delta, and yet we have a privately owned and operated train line, that makes a profit every year.

They have advertising space at all the stations, they of course sell tickets, and the train line even stimulates business along the line.

I think if a concept works in one country, you cannot argue it won't work in another. True, maybe it will need some tweaking for the Canadian context, but it can be done.

Indeed in Japan the roads are narrow, and this encourages train use. And we could try that in Canada. Or, we could simply refuse to build new roads in favor of train use. Train lines also create jobs, so you will get the business-minded types backing an environmental initiative.

I think some of what we need to do to make this world a better place for our children and grandchildren, is to get our head out of the box. We need to open our eyes and ears to new ideas from other countries, as ideas that work there can work in ours--think outside the box!

I too have been concerned about the change in the weather. I used to find the thunderstorms and even the typhoons of Japan exciting, however things have changed and the power of these storms is much scarier than twenty years ago. I don't call them exciting anymore. I am now concerned for the safety of my family.

Japan has few natural resources. However, she has a vast knowledge about technology and robotics, not to mention is an expert train making country. Canada can learn from Japan. Canada can learn from Europe and other countries too.

Even "so-called" third world nations have ideas we can benefit from, if we stop thinking we are superior and know it all already.

Your children, and their children, will thank us for thinking of them, and for doing all that we could.

About the Author:

Kevin Burns takes the electric train to the university in Kanagawa, Japan, where he teaches English.

He owns Kevin`s English Schools, the Canadian schools in Japan!

He writes for his website Japan Living, "Learn about living and working in Japan from those that do!"

Japan Living

How to teach English in Japan, "The straight story on getting a good teaching position, in this very exotic country."

How To Teach English In Japan

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Japan and her Standardized Test Based Education System

Japan and her Standardized Test Based Education System

For some positives in Japanese education, one need look no further than the
local kindergarten or the local elementary school. For everything other than
English education, they are doing a good to great job of educating the children of Japan.
Classes are creative, teachers are caring on the whole, and students are happy and learning.

Were the whole education system to be like this from kindergarten to the end
of university, the Japanese people would be happier, healthier, and more productive, both in
GDP and creative terms.

Unfortunately this all ends at age twelve. Those are the years that exam
hell starts and students never really recover. The standardized test based education system
of Japan that starts in the junior high school years kills any kind of initiative, creativity
and especially thinking outside of the box. Unfortunately, these last three are what Japan
especially needs in the 21st century; perhaps Japan`s most challenging 100 years

For many years now Japan has employed this test based education system and
passing the all important tests is what educators and students―not to mention parents,
are focused on. The result of all this test taking and stress, is a nation
of order takers who have trouble making decisions, let alone stating an opinion.

Don`t believe me? When you next meet a Japanese, just for fun, ask them
their opinion on something. If they are able to give an opinion then do this:
Ask them why?

Why do they feel that way?     In many cases, they will be stumped.

In spite of this standardized test hell that most Japanese find themselves
in during their school years, a few would be Michael Angelos manage to slip through. Most
however have their creative thoughts stripped from them or numbed into oblivion.

Recently, one of my bright, light Japanese students returned from North America to
once again study at his old university in Japan. He was shocked at the passivity of the
students. He hadn`t realized how passive, non-responsive, and void of opinions Japanese
university students were.

He said that in America, he studied with students from all over the world
and he enjoyed hearing and expressing his opinion with others. He couldn`t
understand how the students of Japan were so passive and quiet. He expressed the desire to
go back to America as soon as possible to study there. Many Japanese who have lived
abroad have said the same thing.

In the news, Japan`s prime minister Hatoyama has been dubbed "loopy," by the
American press and his lack of decision making on the Okinawa bases issue.
Once he made a decision, he then turned around and reneged on it, and apologized to
Okinawans for his backslide. The lack of decision making ability is not restricted to
the general populace, it occurs in all ranks of Japanese society. Hatoyama of course is
a product of this education system.

It is not only the students who are having a difficult time, the teachers
are too. Many have to be off work due to stress, the stress of having their students do well
on the test. Many teachers teach to the test, in order to keep their jobs,
but they create a life of drudgery for their pupils. Many Japanese seem to have lost their love for
education and learning once they enroll in junior high school. Indeed too
much test taking may result in shallow learning and a negative feeling towards

For the future, Japan needs to ask herself:

Are we creating the people we need to solve the problems of the future?

If the answer is: No!

Then this is a recipe for disaster.

I feel that Japan needs creative thinkers, people who can think outside of
the box. These will be the people who will solve Japan`s problems of
immigration, an aging population, unemployment, off-shore employment, trade,
and of course the environment. However,
perhaps the most pressing problem is the psychological health of her citizens.

For this latter, and the other problems mentioned above, I think there are
valuable lessons held in kindergarten.

For more articles on ELT in Japan visit our homepage:

Monday, May 03, 2010

Are we preparing young Japanese for tomorrow?

Japan Update: Are we preparing young
Japanese for tomorrow?
Are we helping them to be creative, flexible, imaginative, computer
and internet savvy, and all the other skills that will be necessary for
their future?

Saturday, May 01, 2010

The Sakura Blog

Our Sakura Blog has been updated plus the homepage has received a complete
makeover. As well we will have a professional designer redesign the site.
So check it out!

Japan Living