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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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

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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


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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.

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