Japan: Buying train tickets

Believe me, buying train tickets in Japan is not as complicated as its railways. If you’re a worrier like me and you’ll be visiting Japan soon, let go of that worry! Even if you have zero Nihonggo skills, buying train ticket in Japan using their (all-Japanese) ticketing machine is as easy as 1, 2,3. 🙂

Here, I quickly filmed it.

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Japan in 15 days (Project Sakura)


3 years ago I was wondering how does it feel to stay in Japan. That time, I was working in a Japanese Lifestyle & Travel Magazine in the Philippines, arranging partnerships and selling advertising spaces for the magazine and website. I was very new to the corporate world and didn’t understand business since I just moved from TV Production and everything that I told my clients about the Japanese market (culture and behaviour) were all taught by my boss, nothing was from my experience and personal knowledge. It was good but I wanted something more- experience the culture.

This year, cause I wanted to tick off a few in my bucket list before 30, I gathered courage to travel Japan from Kansai to Kanto area. I didn’t have a chance to prepare and plan cause my family visited me in Singapore a couple of months before the trip but I think how my trip happened is quite a good itinerary for those who want to spend 15 days exploring Japan.

DAY 1. OSAKA (Familiarising & Shopping)
Namba, Shinsaibashi, Dotonbori, Amerika mura, H&M,

DAY 2. OSAKA (Sightseeing and Eating)
Osaka Castle, Osaka Castle Park, Umeda Sky Building

DAY 3. KYOTO
Kyoto Sky Garden, Kyoto Tower, Arashiyama, Hanami in temple near Gion

DAY 4. KYOTO
Gion, Maruyama Park, Shimogyo, Nakagyo, Shijo, Rokakku-do

DAY 5. KYOTO
Kiyomizu-dera, Nishiki Market, Honno-ji, Museum of Kyoto

DAY 6. NARA
Oji
Fushimi Inari Taisha- on the way back to Kyoto

DAY 7. KYOTO
Nijo Castle, Kinkakku-ji, Ginkakku-ji (+ Philosopher’s walk)

OVERNIGHT BUS FROM KYOTO (KANSAI) TO TOKYO (KANTO)

DAY 8. TOKYO
Marunouchi for Imperial Palace and standing sushi
Shibuya for Monja and (Kyushu) Ramen

DAY 9. TOKYO
Hamarikyu Gardens then waterbus to Asakusa
Ryogoku, Shiodome, Shinagawa

DAY 11. TOKYO
Shibuya

DAY 12. TOKYO
Harajuku, Shibuya, Akihabara

DAY 13. TOKYO
Tokyo Disneyland
Shinjuku

DAY 14. TOKYO
Odaiba- Rainbow Bridge, Tokyo Dive Center
Roponggi

DAY 15. TOKYO
Breakfast at Tsukiji
Departure

Tokyo was longer because I wanted to meet some friends whom I didn’t see for a long time. But you can squeeze in a few days to see Kobe, Nagoya and even the places near Tokyo like Yokohama, Ogasawara, Izu islands and Tama area.

Japanese Free Papers in SE Asia


I am a media person.  I grew up watching TV, reading magazines and listening to radios that led me to pursue some works in the media industry. I then got very passionate to advertising, marketing and to the platform that doesn’t limit information only in tri-media, the world wide web.

But being exposed to publishing in the Philippines for quite a long time, I can say that ‘free papers’ are becoming a  trend now and unlike the former notion that since they’re-free-they-don’t-have-good-info, I noticed that they are now becoming ‘glossier’ and thicker. 

But as I started working for the Philippine Primer, I got more and more exposed to a several Japanese free papers in the Southeast Asia and I started to wonder if this trend is from Japan just like the famous Hot Pepper. What do you think?



When I had a short chat with Philippine Primer’s President, Hiromichi Fujita, I realized that Japanese people are having a hard time doing business abroad because of the language and since there are many of them who are interested in investment and business in developing countries like the Philippines, the more they need information in their language that can truly assist them to maximize opportunities in business and life. 

Surely, blogs are helping (like the blog of my wonderful CEO, Motokatsu Sunagawa and the one from guy with the small eyes, Takuya Oka) but I think free papers are still the best for the Japanese to maximize their stay in the country or for the local entrepreneurs and brand to take advantage of these high-end market. I looked for some of the helpful Japanese free papers in Southeast Asia:

LAOS

They have Taste of Laos for Laos!

VIETNAM

Photo is from http://aab.co.jp

According to AAB Inc., Vietnam Sketch is the first Japanese information magazine in Vietnam that is issued monthly. The main targets of the magazine are travelers from Japan and Japanese people residing in Vietnam. It covers highlights of Vietnamese trend, cultural information and living information. The magazine is distributed to 500 and more places for free in addition to distribution to travelers via travel agencies. Their websire has obtained the wide range of readership in both Japan and Vietnam.



Heritage Japan is a media that appeal to tourists and business people who travel to Vietnam. The magazine is distributed to 1,400 Japanese companies in Vietnam and it is considered a reliable medium among local Japanese publications. 

Wise Weekly free paper is also now being distributed in Ho Chi Minh. IT was first distributed in Bangkok.



Photo from http://fujisan.co.jp

CAMBODIA




Krorma Magazine is a bi-monthly magazine in Cambodia for the Japanese residents and tourists.









SINGAPORE

There are many Japanesse in the lion city but I’m more familiar with JPlus, the Total Lifestyle Japanese Magazine published by Comm Pte Ltd. According to its CEO, Connecting People, Communicating with the World” Through our media, COMM strives to foster the relationship between Singapore and Asia through creating “Communication Platform”. We, as a leading Japanese media in Singapore and Asia, believe in bringing people together, introducing good quality businesses for the people, and creating a lifestyle that enables people to have better, and more enriching life.”




But aside from Jplus, Singapore also has Mangosteen Club, a monthly Japanese magazine.












INDONESIA



Indonesia is also one of the favorite SE countries of the Japanese. In Bali, Japanese travelers and investors are flying back and forth. I was awed when I had a vacation there and noticed that most of the locals even speak Nihonggo making a vacation so much easier for the Japanese. And of course, Api Magazine always make their lives easy-riffic!




THAILAND

According to Fujita san, maybe the SE Asian country with the biggest number of Japanese is Thailand with an estimated count of 40,000. No wonder they have around 14 Japanese free papers there! And here to name a few:


Wise Weekly is a very popular weekly free paper that captures the biggest percentage of Japanese in Thailand. The information that they give is concentrated in Restaurants, Beauty, Schools, and several other industries that help businesses. They also circulate in Vietnam now in Ho Chi Minh city.



WOM is one of my favorites for its petite size and beautiful layout.





DACO is also distributed in Thailand every month.

















PHILIPPINES

Philippine Primer is monthly lifestyle Japanese magazine in the Philippines that connects local entrepreneurs to the Japanese market. Launched in 2008, it works closely with the Philippine Department of Tourism in publishing various information about F&B establishment, beauty and learning info, the updates on art, sport, business, history and culture. The magazine and website are published ad moderated by Primer Media, Inc. and aims to assist the Japanese expats, residents and tourists in the country.

I don’t have information on free papers in MALAYSIA, BRUNEI and MYANMAR so if you know some, just please leave a comment on this post! But in addition, there’s also a Japanese free paper in INDIA, Chalo. Chalo is a free monthly free paper in Japanese in New Delhi.
Photo Source: kyodonews.jp

JPy Magazine is a lifestyle magazine for Asian women in Southern California. It was established in 2006 and the first issue was launched in 2007. Their motto is “Happiness is Infectious” in which it acts as an innovative portal connecting global women working towards achieving their goals and dreams in LA with real success stories of actual people. In addition, the quarterly issue of JPy offers the latest tips and information for enriching the lifestyle of LA’s women.

Pocket Page Weekly is the famous Japanese free paper in HONG KONG.

And I’ve found out that there’s a Japanese Media Network and the association of Southeast Asian Japanese free paper, Asia Furipe Editors, that help each country’s free paper to share and recommend information about their respective countries. 

There are also magazines like Domo, J-Style, Move, Concierge, G’day Japan, KauKau, You Maga, etc which I find interesting as well. 

I wonder if there are some Filipino free papers abroad since there are so many Overseas Filipino Workers.

As I trace and research on the famous titles of free papers in the Philippines, I adulate how most of them are owned and managed by Hinge Inquirer, the magazine arm of Inquirer Group of Companies. Free papers based on interests, location and lifestyle..name it, Hinge Inquirer has it!

Note: All photos were taken from the internet.

Ohanami (お花見)

Photo taken by Tomomi Endo (April 2012)
Thanks for your never-ending support sensei!

I haven’t experienced “four seasons” (since The Philippines has only rainy and sunny days) and lately, since I’ve been surrounded by a lot of Japanese friends, co-workers and even Taku, I’ve seen the appreciation of the Japanese in the change of seasons that I find very admirable. I’ve received some emails from friends sending me photos of how beautiful the changes are and even when Taku went to a business trip in Japan last week, he sent me an email saying that he had seen “cherry blossoms.”

But my admiration to the Japanese traits and values was supported by the little fact that I’ve learned lately, that they even have the traditional celebration/party for flower viewing which is called Ohanami or less formally, Hanami (comes from the kanji for flower, hana and the kanji for “looking” or “to see,” mi which means exactly what it sounds like: looking at flowers). According to my friends, it takes place on no specific day which can be practiced any time during spring where they simply observe and appreciate the sophistication of spring – particularly sakura ume and momo blossoms (cherry, plum and peach, respectively). Japanese people do their good old parties under the picturesque cherry blossom trees with bento lunches and mats. They party with different groups- family and friends, and it usually involves a lot of sake.  I was amazed with the story that it is a job of the lowliest grunt in the office to go out early in the morning to the place where his bosses want to party later on that evening with a mat and stake out of a choice spot under the trees where he’ll sit all-day. How families try to teach the kids to appreciate spring is adorable also especially since cherry blossom don’t last that long.

Here’s the brief history of Ohanami by EastAsia Travel@Suite101:

Ohanami actually started as umemi, or plum blossom-viewing. That’s because back in the Nara period (710-784) – when flower-viewing is said to have first become a tradition – plum blossoms were gaining favor as symbols of culture and nobility. Ume trees had been introduced to Japan by envoys returning from China, who’d been enamoured with the Chinese spectacle of blossom observation and sought to impress Japanese nobles. By the Heian period (794-1185) ohanami had become a regular practice among the higher classes and was observed by eating and drinking outside. We also know from Lady Murasaki Shikibu’s Tale of Genji, a classic novel from the period that by then cherry blossoms had overtaken plum blossoms in terms popularity and become the primary flower associated with the ohanami tradition.
By the Edo period (1603-1867), the practice of finding a spot in the blossoming fields to enjoy sake and special bento had become a pastime for the common people.
Many plum blossom-themed poems appear in the Manyoshu, Japan’s oldest poetry anthology, and the fleeting beauty of both ume and sakura are recurring themes in classic Japanese literature. Along with singing, reading such poetry has become common practice in today’s ohanami celebrations.

                I like how Justhungry.com talked about the cherry blossoms and its leaves as food.

                I appreciate how Japanese people (especially my Japanese friends and colleague) appreciate little things and every natural process in our environment. I guess it talks a lot about how sophisticated and humble people they are.

It’s officially on my list of “30 Things Before 30” now; Cherry Blossoms are way too beautiful.

Reasons why you would want to tap the Japanese market in RP.



With all the panic in what’s happening in Japan nowadays, efforts of penetrating the Japanese market in different industries are now being withdrawn.   


Worries that it’s not a good timing to introduce or reintroduce their products and services to that very niche but rich market are in everyone’s discussion. But it’s different with Japanese, for them, Time is really gold. There’s no point of holding back, business is business. This explains why despite of what happened and what’s happening in Japan this month, Japanese arrivals in RP increased by more or less 1,000 and why the World Bank said that they expect the economic impact of the disaster on the East Asian region to be fairly short-lived.

Marketing and advertising with Japanese is quite different. They’re more into details and so much into maps (I was surprised how objective they are!). Here are some descriptions of the Japanese Market:

o   High Barrier entry due to language (English language capability is very limited)
o   Closed society with high potential but not yet fully tapped
o   Prefers and trust Japanese source more than English source
o   Conservative and do not take action unless familiar with the company  or recommended by a Japanese
o   Strong tendency to gather and want information as much as possible before taking action.

And the description of the Japanese Travel Cycle:





The total number of inbound visitors for January and February 2011 reached 668,625 for 17.88% growth compared to the arrivals for the same period in 2010.  This feat may be attributed to the growing confidence of the international market on the Aquino Administration.

In the first two months, Korea maintained its position as the biggest and top source market with 165,868 arrivals, with a share of 24.81% to the total visitor traffic, and growth rate of 35.22% vis-à-vis the previous year.

This market is followed by the USA with 17.05% share for 114,022 arrivals, Japan with 9.83% share for 65,755 arrivals, China with 5.77% share for 38,590 arrivals and Taiwan with 4.26% share for 28,461 arrivals.  Combined arrivals from these top source markets constituted 61.72% of the total inbound traffic.

India, Russia, Australia, and Canada were the fastest growing markets during the period with 74%, 36%, 22%, and 21% increase in visitor arrivals compared to 2010.


European markets, on the other hand, accounted for 11.08% of the total visitor traffic for 74,073 with the United Kingdom posting 8.48% growth and Germany recording 4.67% increase in arrivals.   The Scandinavian markets showed double digit growth while arrivals from France modestly increased by 4.67%.

The ASEAN market expanded by 13.70% for 49,634 arrivals with Malaysia and Singapore registering 20% and 16% growth rates, respectively.  The ASEAN market accounted for 7.42% of the total visitor arrivals during the first two months of 2011.

There are 17, 757 registered Japanese residents and expats in the Philippines according to Japan Embassy and there’s a growing number of Japanese tourists, who would not want to be known to the hard-to-penetrate-rich-market?

Japan & Interdependence.


Though I find the title a bit vague and shallow, I opted to put it because it will look good in the layout of my blog: simple. Sometimes, that’s how we are. Because of the complexity of our lives, we miss thinking about the real essence of what we do or the things we have, sometimes, when it looks good or appear good to others, it’s valid.

This morning, since I work in a Japanese company which publishes a Japanese magazine about the Philippines, Philippine Primer Magazine, we had an emergency meeting regarding the “real” situation in Japan and how we can help the Japanese community.

Our plead is to please refrain from retweeting of UNCONFIRMED Information, especially the avenues to help and find missing people, because it’s affecting those who are sincerely willing to help and who are dying to find their missing loved ones. I came to the realization that (our company’s President is right) in the Philippines, when these tragedies happen, we usually have our Church to trust our donations aside from the government and its agencies. But in Japan, the LGUs (Local Government Units) are the ones who do these kinds of activities, thus there are some organizations who are taking initiatives to help and it’s very annoying to know that there are some misleading organizations that are trying to deceive people about their donations.

If this kind of catastrophe happens in the Philippines (Lord, please don’t let it happen), I think it will be worse.

I remember last 2009 when the typhoon Ondoy hit the Philippines (Manila area), I was working in ABSCBN’s News & Current Affairs and saw how bad is the country’s facilities and preparation in such disasters. 

seeing this and hearing their stories melted my heart.



We all know how “unprepared” the Philippines is compared to Japan. During that time, I volunteered in Sagip Kapamilya’s project and answered the calls for all the concerns of people who would like to help or look for their missing family members and I’ve noticed that many Filipinos are very pessimistic and dependent on the government and other people. If want to progress, I think this is one thing that we have to change: mentality.


Japan will definitely recover from this one.  

As compared to what happened in Kobe (which affected 4% of the country’s GDP), the March 11 earthquake just affected 2% of Japan’s GDP because it was in the northeast part of Japan that is rural and the population is small.

Let’s all pray for the safety and recovery of the Japanese people and for our own safety as well.

Media is sensationalized at some point, I had a glimpse of that industry and that’s what I’ve studied for four years. I know that at some point there will be a time that they’ll prefer to give emphasis to the more dramatic. Sometimes, media is just a PR. But it’s a good thing to have these brave reporters because we know “something” but we should be vigilant and keen in discovering the other bits and pieces of the story.  

My boyfriend is in Tokyo now and during breakfast with my Dad while watching TV, we worried a lot about him but maybe, his blog is a breath of fresh air also for all of us who sees things just through the media and hesitant to help. 
I also got this info from him that a Japanese created a Facebook account to cheer up the victims: HOPE
You may also want to read some of Greenpeace thoughts.

Simple steps from ordinary people. I believe we all know how to contribute in our own little ways; we just need to believe that it will make a difference even to a single individual.


It is indeed true that no matter how knowledgeable we are in the world we’re living in or how technical we are with reference to earthly things, there are some things that are out of our control. Don’t wait for the time that disasters will happen in your life for you to realize that relationships matter.

 We don’t need to live alone. After all, all we need is LOVE.

** Just for your info, as of today, here is the information regarding our (Philippines) safety and current situation:

Turning Japanese: Celebrating Hina Matsuri!



Our Client Services team is an all-girls team. Luckily, I have BEAUTIFUL girls in the team and they’re all SINGLE. When our lovely president put the Hina Dolls at the top of the fridge and she said that we should be reminded to remove the dolls on the 3rd of March, everybody was so cautious because we know that according to their belief, if we’ll forget to remove them, we’ll not be able TO MARRY 😦


That is scary, I know. 


I just arrived from a business trip (from Cebu) when we celebrated the all girls’ day then, we had the “how to handle rejection” training. 
Definitely, ALL OF US WILL MARRY SOMEDAY. LOL.

It’s fun to wake up looking forward that you have new things to discover & experience.



We ate Chirashizushi made by our President, Ms. Jeri.


Here’s a gist of the festival’s history:


March 3 is Hina Matsuri (Doll Festival or Girls’ Festival), when people pray for the happiness and healthy growth of girls. Families with young daughters mark this day by setting up a display of dolls inside the house. They offer rice crackers and other food to the dolls.


The dolls wear costumes of the imperial court during the Heian period (794-1192) and are placed on a tiered platform covered with red felt. The size of the dolls and number of steps vary, but usually the displays are of five or seven layers; single-tiered decorations with one male and one female doll are also common. 


The top tier is reserved for the emperor and the empress. A miniature gilded folding screen is placed behind them, just like the real Imperial throne of the ancient court. On the second tier are three ladies-in-waiting, and on the third are five male court musicians. Ministers sit on either side of trays of food on the fourth step, and the fifth row features guards flanked by an orange tree to the left and a cherry tree to the right.

The practice of displaying these dolls on the third day of the third month on the traditional Japanese calendar began during the Edo period (1603-1868). It started as a way of warding off evil spirits, with the dolls acting as a charm. Even today, people in some parts of the country release paper dolls into rivers after the festival, praying that the dolls take people’s place in carrying away sickness and bad fortune. Most families take their beautiful collection of dolls out of the closet around mid-February and put it away again as soon as Hina Matsuri is over. This is because of an old superstition that families that are slow in putting back the dolls have trouble marrying off their daughters.