New changes at Happy House Herb

Our Happy House Herb shared house in Ekoda is undergoing some exciting changes! Conveniently located a 4-min. walk from Ekoda station that takes you straight to Ikebukuro, the neighborhood is filled with lovely gardens along the way. Our shared house is called Happy House Herb after all, so we decided to make it a project to incorporate some of those natural touches!

Stocking up on some incredible and inexpensive decor from Natural Kitchen in Ikebukuro’s Sunshine City. The area is great not only for clothing and gift shopping, but located nearby is Nitori Deco Home and 100 yen shops like Seria for some great decorations.

The herb trough is looking lush as ever!

The door is so colorful and and welcoming. We hope the residents like it too.

Bringing the garden inside with a festive spring wreath and some lovely vines.

We wanted to add a touch of garden elements throughout the house. It is feeling more cozy and bright.

Coming soon are some new lovely  curtains and bright table cloths too! The hallway walls will be getting some art posters and the kitchen will be having some touches of color added as well. Stay tuned for our next post on how we are revamping the house! To be continued..

 

 

 

 

Secondhand in Tokyo

We cant deny that  shopping is such an essential part of our consumer-driven economy. It is true around the world and even so clearly in Tokyo, Japan. The Japanese pay great attention in being proper in  appearance.  Being Tokyist is almost equal to being always stylish and in-trend that keep changing ever so quickly. People have new stuff all the times while the housing space is world-renownedly limited.  So it would not be so surprising to find perfectly good stuff got thrown away or in rare cases but for the better ended up recycle shops (リサイクルショップ) or second hand shop, both run by private section and government.

As a fellow women, we know the great joy of occasional indulging in shopping. Better yet for a wise shopper, second-hand stores and opportunities is a way to not only beneficially promote the economy, save the environment, and still satisfy your craving for unique clothes and items.

Here are some lists of a secondhand current running through Tokyo,  complied by , www.tokyocheapo.com

Recycle Shops

What are known as thrift stores or op shops elsewhere are called recycle shops (リサイクルショップ) in Japan. These can be anything from a little hole in the wall only a few meters square with a few tired blouses to megaplex chains with multiple floors with catch-all inventory.

There are some well-known chains are the shops run by Book Off, such as Hard Off (not porn; electronics and hardware), Off House (furniture and home goods), Mode Off (clothes), and Liquor OffKinji is another big secondhand chain, as is Treasure Factory, selling mostly clothing and accessories. And there are lots of independent shops too in in Harajuku, Shibuya, and Shimokitazawa.

 

Pawn Shops

If you’re looking for branded goods and higher end stuff, a few things can often be found at recycle shops, but the real deal for the expensive loot can be found at pawn shops. Daikokuya is a major chain with shops all over Japan, but look out for 質屋 (pawn shop) or just 中古 (second hand, literally says “medium old”).

Flea Markets

Flea and antique markets are a great way to find some serious treasures for rock bottom prices. And even more than in recycle shops, bargaining is possible. Since vendors are often eager to offload their goods that they’d rather not drag back home, there are some serious deals to be had: clothing items for 50 or 100 yen are quite common at some of the larger markets. Read more here.

Books

While the aforementioned Book Off chain is probably the king of secondhand books, music, and other media in Japan, Jimbocho is the district to go to if you’re looking for old tomes.

Bicycles

Where do all the confiscated bikes go when their owners have parked them illegally and then neglected to pick them up from impound? Well, maybe some to bike heaven but others are spruced up and resold at the used bike markets.

Cameras

Tokyo is heaven for shutterbugs – some of the world’s very best cameras are made in Japan and by Japanese companies, and people are constantly updating their gear, leaving a glut of really good second-hand equipment out there for people who want a deal or are looking for some classic clickers. A few shops are Nisshin CameraKitamuraMiyama CameraShimbashi Camera, andAkasaka Camera. A definite bonus to most of these places is the cool old signage, as well as the atmosphere of expertise you’ll find. Japan Camera Hunter has some great resources for photo nerds.

Secondhand Goods Online

For those who prefer shopping from home, there are a few outlets for you. Yahoo Auction is a popular site for picking up nearly-new goods (but you’ll need to make an account and be able to use the local lingo). Tokyo Craigslist and Japan Garage Sale (a Facebook group) are some good sources for English speakers, as well as classified rags like Tokyo Notice Board that have lots of “sayonara sale” ads.

 

Tulip Real Estate would liek to thank you www.tokyocheapo.com for the useful information.

 

Girls ! enjoy your green shopping.

 

With love and care.

International Unit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

 

 

Reference

https://tokyocheapo.com/shopping-2/fashion/secondhand-tokyo-thriftin-guide/

 

 

 

Website:http://www.tulip-e.com/en

Facebook : チューリップ不動産株式会社 / Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

Follow us on Instagram @tokyotulip

https://www.instagram.com/tokyotulip/

 

How to Get Freebies When You Move in and Giveaway or Sell Stuff When You Move Out.

Moving in Japan either moving in or moving out is expensive. As most rental places in Japan require that you vacate the room when you move out and the room will be completely empty when you move in despite the very complicated , time consuming  process for throwing away the garbage and the fact that most people in Tokyo  don’t have easy access to a car. People very often end up paying large sum of money to get rid of good appliances, furniture and other equipment in their old place  and spend another big amount buying in new stuff upon moving in another place.  Unfortunately, some people either can’t afford or don’t want to pay for disposing fees, so unwanted appliances (sometimes containing toxic components) often end up dumped in scrub on the borders of urban areas. And even though they manage to pay up and  properly dispose many perfectly good and functioning  appliances and furniture end up being nothing but a land fill.

In big city like Tokyo where people move in and move out of somewhere all the time,  with a little more efforts we can avoid these tragic cycle and be more friendly to the earth by making the most in stead of disposing of our limited resources. Let`s give and share. Let’s care and adopt.  You are not only saving your own money but also the innocent polar bears. The world  is getting hotter and hotter. Let`s recycle. And here are the list of How to Get Freebies When You Move in  and Giveaway or Sell Stuff When You Move Out.

Facebook Groups

There are a number of groups on Facebook (all closed) for people looking to recycle, exchange or sell their used goods. You just need to click to ask to join the group and the admin will roughly look in you profile page just to check if there is any post that shows that you are actually living in Japan. Then you should be accepted withing a few days at most.  Make sure you read the rules for each before joining and posting your stuff.

  • Mottainai Japan  This group is only for giving away items. All ISO (In Search Of) posts will be deleted, possibly without further warning. If you are looking for something, there is a group called In Search Of- Japan, where you can ask for something you need.
  • In Search Of- Japan

There are also some Facebook groups that is  for both giving away , and also for sale / buy cheap second hand stuffs ;

Tokyo Freecycle

Freecycling is a system popular around the world which encourages people to gift usable items to anyone who wants them. In Tokyo this happens through a Yahoo! Groups mailing list.  Members send emails to the list either offering items or asking for items. Everything offered must be completely free—although if you want something, you’ll probably have to pay for the shipping.   Typically there are 3 to 4 posts per day, but occasionally, the rejects from a sayonara saleare put on the list and there can be a flood of good items available for free.

 

Gaijin/Foreigner Community website

Many  foreigner community websites also have a page  where you can post the item you want to giveaway or what you want to sell or what you are in search of.

  •  Tokyo craiglist    I also got my fully equiped good conditioned 6 geared bicycle from this website for 4000 JPY of the original price of 24,000 JPY from an expat who was moving back. The tips is you should check the post at least  twice around 1 am and 1pm that is when the fresh post will be updated.
  • Gaijinpot
  • Sayonarasale
  • Reddit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd. places importance on the creating the environment where independent women can live comfortably.  It is our mission to support the women who keep making efforts for their own future. We advocates a safe, comfortable and convenient yet affordable life in Tokyo so that women can save up and afford to invest in themselves and achieve their future dreams. That is the reason

why we remove the unnecessary expense/customs such as; non-refundable deposit, key money, renewal fees and broker’s commission.etc.

We hope this article will be another way to help women not only save up wisely but another step to be more friendly and responsible to our environment.

With love and care

International Unit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

 

Website:http://www.tulip-e.com/en

Facebook : チューリップ不動産株式会社 / Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

Follow us on Instagram @tokyotulip

https://www.instagram.com/tokyotulip/

 

 

Resident Interview: Happy House Asian, Nakano with Emi from Osaka

We had the chance to meet with Emi, a resident in our Happy House Asian shared house. We chatted with her over some tea about her experience there and strolled around the neighborhood.

Emi, what interested you to live in a shared house?

Well, I have never lived in a shared house in Japan before. There aren’t so many shared houses in Osaka, so I was interested in trying it out in Tokyo!

 What is your favorite thing about living in Happy House Asian?

I love the house because it is a very traditional Japanese style. Most people wear slippers in other shared houses, but it suits this house to walk around barefoot and feels very relaxed. I also really like that when I come home, I pass by the other dorms and can have a conversation with the housemates at the end of the day. We also go out and have a drink together sometimes.

How would you describe the surrounding area you live in? Do you have any favorite spots?

This area of Nakano is very quiet and serene. I love the neighborhood cats that walk around, it feels like I am in a Ghibli movie. Of course there are many cafes around but there are also a lot of bento shops, a coin laundry nearby, and a great public bath too. I’d say that it’s pretty easy to live in this area. My favorite place to eat here is a yakitori restaurant. I often go by myself, actually.

Emi’s favorite spot in the area

What are your favorite things to do in Tokyo?

 I mostly like to do indoor activities such as going to the gym or reading books, so it doesn’t really matter what city I am in, haha! There are a lot of nice big parks and art museums in Tokyo too and I like to go and spend time enjoying them.

 Has living in a shared space help or change you in any way? How so?

 I’m sure it has! I’ve definitely been more aware of myself and how I utilize space.  I’ve also been able to meet people of different lifestyles and cultures. It makes me think, “Wow, there are people that do things or see things this way,” that I was able to experience for the first time.

Traditional Japanese snack shop

Have you had any challenges in the house that you were able to overcome or resolve?

There isn’t any obstacle that comes to mind. There was a time that hot water didn’t come out! It was fixed quickly afterwards so that was great. But for the most part, all of the housemates really respect the space and keep it very clean so we don’t have many issues at all.

 Do you have any other plans in the future while you are in Tokyo?

 Hm…The idea of owning a business is interesting perhaps? In Tokyo, the image of business workers is rather uptight. Go to a local bar and you can get a glimpse of what I mean. That’s not my personality at all so I’m not too sure. In the past, I myself was a bit more uptight and I think that living in a shared house has helped me become more at ease.

Goodies from the local bento and sweets shop

Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers about your experience in your shared house?

 If you want to come to Tokyo, you can really do it! You can find lots of different locations to live in this city. Especially in a shared house; it’s convenient, affordable, and if you are a foreigner, it may be even more hassle-free to move into a shared house.

How to set up a bank account in Japan?

A bank account 銀行口座 ginkô (bank) + kôza (account) basically works the same as in any other country in the world.

There are several possibilities for you to set one up- depending on the visa you are in Japan with, as well as your Japanese language abilities. As a tourist it seems to be impossible though.

Why would you need a bank account? 

  • Most employers want to transfer your salary directly to a bank account.
  • You rather park your cash in a safe place.
  • You can pay bills by having the money taken from your bank account automatically.
  • Many mobile phone providers demand you having one.

What do you need to apply for a bank account? 

  • A registered address
  • A personal seal (Inkan 印鑑)
  • Your Japanese ID and better bring your passport too.
  • A mobile phone would be good, but it works without it as well

Which banks are best?

From experience we know that many Japanese banks do refuse foreign customers for several reasons, mainly visa- or language ability related. The friendliest are those two:

The Japanese Post Bank Yûchoginkô ゆうちょ銀行 is very friendly and even with a Working Holiday Visa it is rather easy to set up a bank account. You find it within the post offices.

Mitsui Sumitomo Bank Mitsuisumitomoginkô 三井住友銀行seems foreigner friendly, but you must speak and write Japanese enough to be able to understand the staff and fill the forms correctly. The big ones in the main tourist areas also provide a currency exchange service. The one in the pictures is right at Kaminarimon in Asakusa.

Beware, some while ago a new rule had been established. One is that transferring money from abroad to Japan or the other way around will not be allowed until you are here for 6 months already, but you may set up a bank account right on the day you are arriving in Japan if you are not on a tourist visa. Ask the bank if you can do transfers within Japan already.

The most important vocabulary concerning banks:

  • 送金する sôkinsuru transferring money
  • 引出す hikidasu to draw money from the bank
  • 預金する yokinsuru to deposit money in a bank
  • 通帳 tsûchô bank book
  • 貯金 chokin savings
  • 残高  zandaka balance
  • 金利 kinri interest
  • 借金 shakkin debt

and yachin 家賃 rent, you may want to transfer to your shared house company. (^_^)v

 

 

Riding a bicycle in Japan

Riding a bicycle, 自転車 jitensha, might be not a big deal in many countries, in Japan instead we have rules to follow. Here we go:

  • Register! Buying a bicycle, you have to properly register it with the 警視庁 keishichô, Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department – ask the bike shop or go to a police box, 交番 kôban.
  • Better enter an insurance! Accidents are not only hurtful but expensive too!
  • Wear a helmet even if nobody seems to do it!
  • Get to the bike shops for inspections, they even let you use the air compressor!
  • Have functioning lights at least at the front and back!
  • Drive safely and obey the rules – by law you are not supposed to ride on the sidewalk!
  • If you buy a bicycle from or sell one to a private person, make sure that you write and sign a paper as a prove and go to a police box close to your home, re-registering the bicycle to your own name.
  • Stay on the correct side! In Japan we have left-hand traffic!
  • Never ride tandem on one bike, never wear headphones or use your smart phone or hold an umbrella while riding! (Again, don’t do as the wrongdoers do!)
  • Don’t drink and drive!
  • Never ever take an old bike you think of being abandoned and ride on it – if the police catches you, it will be dealt with as theft. That thing did belong to somebody once.

If you buy a new bicycle in a bike shop, you will receive paperwork to register it and the seal above will be placed on your bike right away. It contains a number, a QR-code, as well as the name of the area you register in. In my case 向島 Mukôjima. Since the process does take some time, you should keep the receipt for the registration in your wallet, my bike shop man has advised me.

  • Better leave your bike in designated areas only!
  • Always take care of elderly people and mothers with kids on bikes. They are the majority.
  • Don’t speed too much! Especially in living areas there are always people, especially children coming out of buildings.
  • Learn the meaning of the traffic signs!

Even more detailed about rules and even fines you can read here.

Happy cycling everybody! Stay safe! 🙂

What Should I Do Before, During, And After An Earthquake?

 

Japan is a country that is prominent in the world for having earthquakes. During the period of one year of my stay in Japan I have had experience approximately 10 , big and small earthquakes or so.  However, as according to Japanese people who know their home the best it is not necessary to always feel anxiety when it comes to “earthquakes”.

That is because  just as much as there are earthquakes, schemes have been made in order for Japan’s architectural structure to be able to withstand earthquakes. Almost all of Japan’s buildings are made to be able to withstand earthquakes to a certain extent.

And if anything, panicking just because an earthquake occurs can be more dangerous. It is best to get your self well informed and prepared. And here below are some basics and useful information that Tulip Real Estates Co., Ltd. has compiled for you.

What to Do Before an Earthquake

  • Make sure you have a fire extinguisher, first aid kit, a battery-powered radio, a flashlight, and extra batteries at home. For Tulip Real Estate Co, Ltd.`s share house , we provide fire extinguishers,flashlight, and extra batteries and other emergency equipment at all houses. Every resident must be taught how to use the fire extinguisher and locations of the emergency kit upon move in procedure.
  • Learn first aid.
  • Learn how to turn off the gas, water, and electricity.
  • Make up a plan of where to meet your family after an earthquake.
  • Don’t leave heavy objects on shelves (they’ll fall during a quake).
  • Anchor heavy furniture, cupboards, and appliances to the walls or floor.
  • Learn the earthquake plan at your school or workplace.

What to Do During an Earthquake

Stay calm! If you’re indoors, stay inside. If you’re outside, stay outside.

  1. Protect yourself

If you’re indoors, stand against a wall near the center of the building, stand in a doorway, protect your head with a helmet or cushion, and hide in a safe place, such as under a table. Stay away from windows and outside doors. Running outside is potentially dangerous, because roof tiles and glass may fall on you.

2. Extinguish flames

Major aftershocks can come after the smallest earthquakes. Calmly extinguish any nearby flames.

Caution!!

If you are cooking, oil or boiling water may spill during the quake. Under such circumstances, you should immediately distance yourself from the oil or water and extinguish the flames after the quake stops.

Don’t use matches, candles, or any flame. Broken gas lines and fire don’t mix.

What to Do After an Earthquake

Open your door and secure an escape route

Earthquakes can warp buildings, especially apartment buildings, making it impossible to open doors and escape. Open doors and windows to secure an escape route and prevent yourself from becoming trapped.

 

Be careful of broken glass

You may injure your feet on broken glass and other objects. Prepare a flashlight and slippers near your bed so you will be able to move safely.  Be careful around broken glass and debris. Wear boots or sturdy shoes to keep from cutting your feet.

Never return to your house

Once you have evacuated, never return to the house to get money or possessions. You may become trapped under debris or caught in a fire. Try to avoid entering your house until safety is confirmed.

Walk to your refuge area

Many emergency vehicles, such as fire engines and ambulances, will be using roads during disasters. Obstructing emergency vehicles immediately increases the damage caused by a disaster. Never use cars during an earthquake.

Where is My Evacuation Area in Tokyo?

Evacuation tips

Avoid phone calls after a disaster

Turn on the radio. Don’t use the phone unless it’s an emergency.

Phone line usage jumps up during disasters because of people trying to confirm the safety of themselves or others. This can obstruct emergency phone calls, such as 110, 119, and utility information.
Please avoid unnecessary phone calls. When you want to confirm the safety of a person, try to use the NTT Disaster Telephone Message Service (171) or make conversations as short as possible.

Calmly obtain accurate information

False rumors and information can spread during disasters, leading to further confusion. Obtain accurate information from the TV or radio and don’t get tricked by misinformation.

What should I do in these stituation?

When walking outside
Take caution against falling objects, such as signs and broken windows. Tools and construction materials can fall down at a construction site. Protect your head with your bag or coat and keep at a distance from tall buildings.
Stone walls and pillars can also fall down and are potentially dangerous.
When driving a car
Firmly hold the steering wheel, gradually reduce speed, park your car on the left side of the road, and stop the engine. Listen to information on the radio and find out what is happening. If you need to evacuate, leave your keys, keep the doors unlocked, and walk away with your car documents and valuables.
When underground or in a subway
The shaking you feel when you are underground is about half of what you would experience over ground. Additionally, underground areas have strong structures and are safer than high-rise buildings. Calmly evacuate, following instructions from shop clerks and subway staff.
When in high-rise buildings
Elevators with earthquake sensors will stop at the nearest floor. Immediately leave the elevator. If you get stuck in the elevator, use the intercom to contact someone outside and wait for rescue.
When you evacuate from buildings, never use elevators, listen to announcements, and use the stairs to leave the building.
When near the ocean
Head for higher ground and carefully listen to tsunami information. Do not go near the ocean until tsunami warnings have been cleared. Don’t even think about going to watch tsunamis!

 

What`s More

Important Information and Communication Tools

1. Yurekuru Call is an app available for iPhone and Android that sends you a warning if an earthquake might occur in your registered location, which is part of the nationwide early warning system. Many Japanese telephones have this function already built into the phone, so it’s worth asking your mobile company about this if you decide not to go for a smartphone.

For android , please click  here

For Iphone, please click here 

2. The Disaster Emergency Message Dial (171) is a voice message board for communication when a disaster such as an earthquake or volcanic eruption occurs and telephone traffic to the disaster-stricken area increases making it difficult to transmit calls. By entering your landline phone number as a pin code, you can leave a message on the system where other family members who share the same landline number can listen to your message and record theirs as well.

For both channel,  the system prompts are all in Japanese, but if you follow the steps you can still use this valuable tool even if you don’t understand Japanese.

Continue to think about how our residents will have a peace of mind and enjoy Japan and Japanese culture that have so much to offer, we hope that this article would be more or less helpful. And  we hope that you will love Japan, including its difficult natural environment.

With love and care.

International Unit

Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

 

 

Website:http://www.tulip-e.com/en

Facebook : チューリップ不動産株式会社 / Tulip Real Estate Co., Ltd.

Follow us on Instagram @tokyotulip

https://www.instagram.com/tokyotulip/

May a foreign girl carry the Mikoshi at a Matsuri?

 

YES!

Matsuri are the wonderful traditional (shrine) festivals in Japan. The Shinto Gods are believed to sit inside and be carried around in portable shrines, Mikoshi, for their satisfaction. This weekend on May 14th and 15th, one of the biggest ones in Japan will be held in Asakusa. Sanja Matsuri 三社祭. We have spotted foreign ladies carrying the Mikoshi, just like the Japanese folks, and wondered how that comes and if YOU might be allowed to join too.

To learn more, we interviewed well known expert Sasagawa Hideo in Asakusa. He runs a shop for Wagara 和柄 (Japanese textiles), Matsuri supplies and has a Matsuri Museum worth visiting in the second floor. Everybody is welcome. Now let him speak for himself.

Sasagawa: I love nothing more than Matsuri. Sanja Matsuri is one of the most important ones and people from all over Japan are gathering here. They come to Sensô-ji from as far as Hokkaido in the North and even Okinawa in the South.

SASAGAWA Hideo  shows a photograph of the old Kaminarimon 雷門

Tulip: How can all those people participate, there must be a system, right?
Sasagawa: Yes. Each local area has a contingent of participants they may send, they are numbered.
Tulip: How can a foreigner enter a Matsuri as a participant?
Sasagawa: In the area you are living in / where the Matsuri will be, you must go to the local elders, traditional shops or the town council, Chôkai 町会, and tell them that you are interested. If they are fine with it, you get on the list.
Tulip: How about the traditional clothing all participants wear? Do you just buy any?
Sasagawa: You must wear clothing, like a uniform, from the very area sending you there. A Happi or Hanten (the jacket he wears in the pictures) for sure. They differ from place to place due to the symbols of the area or group on the back. Also dark shorts, Tabi and a headband.

Since people come in different sizes, ask if they got something that fits you. Ladies may wear long trousers, like the Jin-Rikisha pullers here, instead of the shorts men are wearing.

Tulip: Ladies may carry the Mikoshi too?
Sasagawa: Absolutely! Traditionally, ladies had been not allowed. The Shinto-religion sees them as unclean. But nowadays they sure can. As far as I know, the change has started when ages ago a Geisha house one day decided to participate in a Matsuri. People thought that this was kinda cool. From that point on more and more ladies joined and now it is pretty normal.
Tulip: Can foreign ladies also enter other Matsuri as participants in Japan, let’s say in Kyôto?
Sasagawa: That depends on the area. If she is part of the neighborhood and / or asks the people in charge it is possible I believe. Some might not allow it though.
Tulip: Thank you so much for all the information!
To enjoy Sanja Matsuri, get to Asakusa from around 10am this Saturday and Sunday, don’t be much later.

You can visit Sasagawa-sensei and have a seat with him at the museum-floor. He is happy to tell and show you much much more.

和柄ショップ 雷門日興店
〒111-0033 東京都台東区花川戸2-19-6

Tokyo-to,Taito-ku, Hanakawado 2-19-6

Wasshoi Wasshoi! (Yelled while carrying the Mikoshi.)

Edit: Today in Asakusa

 

Must Have Android Apps for Living in Japan!

 

I`m definitely not qualified to be a tech guru. Before coming to Japan I did not even care to use google map. And I have been using Facebook just to let my close friend and family know which countries I was in now and when I would be back to my countries which means 1-3 updates a month max. I was the type who believe more in eye contact rather than screen.

But…things have changed every since I got in Japan. The first moment I have to figure out the train from the air port to downtown….[Shoot .. I should have given my handset a little more loving and ….a lot more apps!].

Here are some of the apps I would recommend you to have before coming to Tokyo.  

Hyperdia

App for finding train times and locations the good thing about this apps is that it compares the ticket price for  you so you can pick out the most time and cost efficient route. It works both English (Romanji) and Japanese.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.hyperdia.android.activity

 

Japan Trains

Japan Trains is the first application for Android in Romaji that allows us to find train routes and schedules in Japan. The good thing about this app is that if you do not know or  not sure about the spelling of the name of the station or if you cannot find desired station, you can use % character as wildcard. For example: AZA%BAN will display AZABU-JUBAN station. SHIN%KOBE will display SHIN-KOBE.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=bside.extremeambient.net&hl=en

 

MapsOn Free: Offline Map

An app that caches selected maps for offline access when no signal can be reached. Recommended anywhere in the world you go.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=coderminus.maps

Google Japanese IME

Japanese keyboard with character input that features auto-fill.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.google.android.inputmethod.japanese

JED

Offline Japanese/English dictionary with handwritten kanji input (note: developer has ceased to update)

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.umibouzu.jed

Aedict

Offline Japanese/English dictionary with handwritten Kanji input

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=sk.baka.aedict&feature=search_result#?t=W251bGwsMSwxLDEsInNrLmJha2EuYWVkaWN0Il0.

Kanji Recognizer

Dictionary/kanji study tool that integrates with WWWJDIC and recognizes handwritten kanji (even with the wrong stroke order) .

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=org.nick.kanjirecognizer

LINE

The most popular and widely used free texting/calling app in Japan

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.naver.line.android

 

Yurekuru Call

An early warning app for earthquakes (customizable to magnitude and area).

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=jp.co.rcsc.yurekuru.android

 

McDonalds Coupon App (Japanese)

For those who looking for cheap place for reading at night or emergency pace to charge your mobile phone for free McDonalds is great help as there is always one near every station and mostly open 24 hrs. And with this app you can save up a bit.

https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?i

 

Hope these will be helpful. And if you have any recommended apps, please drop a comment and  share with us : )

Enjoy Nihon!

 

 

 

Sumo, anybody?

The two secrets about how to watch Sumo live, sitting in the first row and paying only for the most affordable tickets!

kokugikan
Kokugikan, the Sumo stadium next to Ryougoku-station and Edo-Tokyo Museum

The real fun watching Sumo is preparing lunch at home, packing it up and spending the day eating and drinking with friends or family at the Kokugikan. This is what most people in Japan do once in a lifetime. Now is your chance, since tomorrow a 2-weeks long tournament starts there in Ryuogoku, the east-part of Tokyo!

iri3
The wrestlers  of the first and second league are wearing something looking like an apron, the Keshoumawashi 化粧廻し, made from brocade. Some cost a million yen or more.

Buying tickets is rather complicated, especially for a foreigner. Most are not even available on the market and can only be received through good contacts. Some are held by big companies sending employees to enjoy this very traditional form of entertainment. The tickets on the market get on sale about a month before the actual tournament and are sold out almost immediately. If you are lucky, you can purchase tickets still in a convenience store like seven eleven.

BUT …here come the two secrets! (*-_^*) 

Secret No. 1: On each of the 15 days the tournament lasts, people line up from around 6am in front of the sales window of the Kokugikan and try to get one of the day-tickets (Toujitsuken当日券) . Depending on the day, there are up to 200 available, only one per person, to be paid in cash. They cost 2200 yen for an adult. Those are the cheapest tickets for the last row in the second floor…

BUT

Secret No.2: What most people do not know is that from 8:30am until around 1pm you normally can sit in the first floor, as close to the ring as you please, until the real owner of the expensive seats (40.000 yen is a bit much…) are coming. Usually not before 3pm, but if earlier, just politely change the seat. The real action goes on in the lower leagues, before the big stars show up in the afternoon.

maezumo
Shindeshi 新弟子, the beginners not having a rank yet, fighting in Maezumo

Being close, you can see all the details, smell the hair wax (the same stuff the Geisha are using) and feel the tension of the young wrestlers who usually join a team at the age of only 15!

You can bet that they enjoy a little support from you. You may shout “Ganbatte!”  頑張って, roughly translated as “do your best”. In the early hours the hall is quiet empty.

 

start.jpg
Two wrestlers right before the start of their bout. Sumo starts and ends with a bow, no matter if you win or lose.

We are talking about Japan’s over 2000 years old official national sport, hence the name of the Sumo stadium Kokugikan 国技館, the “hall of the national sport”.

Is there a foreign wrestler from your country? Maybe! 

The Japanese youth is not too interested in many traditional things, probably the same in your country, that means that the older generation as well as foreign tourists are the main audience. Depending on where you are from, there might even  be a professional sumo wrestler from your country! See a list of all foreigners in Sumo HERE. If there is no date written under “intai”(retired), he is still active and you can cheer for him in the hall!

Currently the top-ranked Rikishi (term for sumo wrestlers) are from Mongolia. We also have Russians, Bulgarians, Georgians, Filipinos, a Canadian, Egyptian, Brazilian, Chinese, some from the USA, Korea and so on.

If you ask around, most people in Japan have seen it on TV, but going there watching one of the 3 tournaments per year happening in Tokyo (the other 3 are held in Osaka, Nagoya and Kyushu) is something a normal person hardly ever does. Your next chance in Tokyo will be in September, or after that in January next year.

Hints:

  • Make sure you do not eat or drink, sitting on the cushions close to the ring, this is allowed in the boxes farther from it. You must be able to run away if a wrestler is flying towards you, falling from the Dohyou.
  • Better wear trousers, in the first floor you are sitting on the ground.
  • Bring enough food and drinks
  • All friends watching with you must be waiting in front of the ticket window too
  • Be early enough, otherwise the day-tickets are sold out

Believe it or not, several of the high-ranking wrestlers are very popular and have especially many female fans. Let us know if you get hooked!

Ozzz! (Greeting the wrestlers are using.)