How to Tell If Your Japanese Sucks

Japanese people are exceedingly kind. They’re so kind, in fact, that they won’t tell you honestly if your Japanese sucks.

Let’s take an example from my home country, the ol’ U. S. of A. If you walk into one of our fine fast food establishments and order your triple quarter pound meatwich with anything less than the most perfect American, the cashier is likely to lean toward you sneering and go, ‘HUNH?’ Continue reading

10 Things To Do In Tokyo

There’s an endless amount of things to do in Tokyo. It’s huge with probably about 10 different ‘downtowns’ and you can pretty much get lost just wandering around. But I’ve come up with the 10 things I recommend (the places I always take people) and a few of the common sites I think are skippable.

 Please feel free to add ideas or give your opinion in the comments!


 Asakusa is a really old temple complex in the heart of Tokyo. It’s very ‘touristy’ but it’s a great place to take people who are new to Japan. You can get the temple experience and there are a lot of places to buy good souvenirs and little gifts. Also, there is some awesome tempura nearby.

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Kameido Gyoza Is Absolutely Awesome

This weekend I went with some gyozafriends to Kameido (亀戸) Station, which is in an area of Tokyo known as Shitamachi. Shitamachi is kind of the old Edo-era Tokyo with its sumo arenas, old temples, and shady entertainment districts. Kameido is a mini-Chinatown, and it’s famous for… yup, Chinese food.

We went to a restaurant to eat the legendary Kameido gyoza (餃子 – Chinese-style dumplings). The place was a tiny closet (what do you expect) on a twisty, centuries-old road run entirely by crazy old Chinese ladies. There was one guy in the place and it was his job to fry plate after plate of gyoza. Meanwhile, the ladies walked around glaring at people, shouting at each other, and bringing plates of hot, crispy dumplings.
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How To Tell If You Paid The Wrong Amount At A Japanese Convenience Store

Here is how you can find out if you’ve given the wrong amount of money to a disheveled septuagenarian convenience store clerk in Japan.

First, she spreads the coins out on the little mat so that they’re all visible.  Once this is done, she counts them very slowly six times. 

That should tip you off.  They usually only count the money three or four times.  If she counts more times than that and the counting slows down slightly each time, this means something is wrong. Continue reading

Where Will The Next Big Japan Earthquake Strike?

We’re still getting some shakes here and there in Japan in the wake of the March 11th Japan-EarthquakeTohoku earthquake.  It’s been predicted that they’ll continue for the next year or so.  There are lots of predictions about where the next big quake will be, and much to my chagrin, my home of Chiba prefecture is one of them.

This is a map from the Quake Prediction site, where they use thermal temperature changes, tectonic plate heat, micro earthquakes and a number of other methods to make predictions.

If you look at the Chiba peninsula, it’s marked as a risk area for a 5 to 5.5 magnitude earthquake.  Places marked for bigger earthquakes are Hokkaido, Kyushu and Fukui Prefecture.  The area around Fukui has a number of nuclear reactors and also Lake Biwa, the source of drinking water for most of Kansai region.  That’s a little scary to say the least.

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