• 長距離移動が快適な高級夜行バス

    [From April Issue 2014]

    High-class overnight buses that resemble hotel lounges have begun trending. Characterized by spacious seats, the bus’ interior creates a calm atmosphere. Slightly more expensive than normal, but replete with a high-class atmosphere, these kinds of buses are on the rise and have been gaining popularity.
    Compared to using airplanes, shinkansen, or other rail travel, bus travel takes longer. In addition, some say that traffic jams add to the journey time and that it is tiring sitting in the same position for long periods. However, bus fares are cheaper and more economical than other means of transportation. To get more people to opt for taking the bus, bus companies have begun to move towards creating a more comfortable travelling space.
    Connecting Tokyo and Tokushima, “My Flora” of Kaifu-kanko Co., Ltd., Tokushima Prefecture, is popular. There are only 12 seats on a motor coach that usually sits 45. Each seat is self-contained, like a private room in a travelling hotel. A spacious restroom, where one can change clothes, is installed in the rear.
    It is common to use an airplane to get from Tokyo to Shikoku, but the fare costs 29,670 yen one way. However, My Flora costs 13,000 yen one way, less than half the price of the plane fare. Public relations officer, YAMAMOTO Hirofumi says, “Because the bus goes direct to its destination, it saves you the hassle of traveling to an airport. Also car rental arrangements are possible from the bus stop, making it convenient for sightseeing. We want to establish more bus stops in future.”



    Featuring high-performance seats – available depending on the vehicle – WILLER EXPRESS is an express bus laid on by a company called WILLER EXPRESS JAPAN Co., Ltd. (Osaka City, Osaka). The “Executive” in the first floor part of the double decker is especially luxurious and popular. The soft, fluffy seats are 80 centimeters wide and can be extended flat like a bed, making it possible to stretch your feet out as far as you like.
    Additionally, with seats arranged diagonally, “the Cocoon” has an atmosphere similar to a capsule hotel. Either seat is installed with monitors, so a movie, TV, or games can be enjoyed. On top of that, to secure privacy and safety, the seats can be blocked off with a partition. This is available mainly for the routes that link the Kansai area and Tokyo. If the bus departs Osaka at around 10 pm, it will arrive in Tokyo at around 7:30 in the morning the next day.
    Public relations officer, IKE Aiko, says, “You can discover a new lifestyle if you utilize the overnight bus effectively. Rather than waking up early to depart, if you have a good sleep on the bus the night before, the day begins comfortably.” Bus fares are from 8,000 yen to 12,000 yen, and, depending on the season, there are also discount sales campaigns.
    New high speed omnibus regulations were enforced last August. One of its provisions to “secure bus stops” is difficult, and in some cases, passengers must board the bus from a location distant from a train station. The issue now for bus companies is securing more convenient bus stops. WILLER EXPRESS bus stops have cafés adjacent to them; forgetting the inconvenience they are popular with users.

    Text: MUKAI Natsuko[2014年4月号掲載記事]


    WILLER EXPRESS JAPAN株式会社(大阪府大阪市)が展開する高速バス、WILLER EXPRESSは、車両によって選べる高性能なシートが自慢です。なかでも2階建て車両によって選べる高性能なシートが自慢です。なかでも2階建て車両の1階部分にある「エグゼクティブ」は、ぜいたくな気分が味わえると人気です。ふかふかのシートは横幅が80センチと広く、ベッドのようにリクライニング可能なので、足を思う存分伸ばすことができます。
    昨年8月に新高速乗合バス制度が施行されました。規定のひとつ「停留所の確保」は困難で、駅から離れた場所から乗車しなければならない場合もあります。バス会社は、より便利な停留所を確保するのが今後の課題です。WILLER EXPRESSの停留所にはカフェが併設されており、その不便さを忘れさせるほど利用客に好評です。


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  • プロペラの技を生かした人工関節

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Nakashima Medical Co., Ltd.
    Our body has numerous joints: elbows, knees, shoulders, hips… If these parts become unusable because of disease or accident, it becomes difficult to easily bend and stretch the body. With this in mind, efforts are underway to recover damaged motor functions through using artificial joints made of metal or plastic.
    The world’s first artificial joint was made in 1951. About 90 percent of the artificial joints currently used for medical treatment in Japan are produced abroad. But Japanese people have smaller bodies than Westerners, and they regularly sit seiza style (kneeling with legs folded beneath the body). As a result, foreign-made artificial joints are not necessarily user-friendly for Japanese. This has led to the development of such products in Japan.
    One domestic manufacturer of artificial joints is Nakashima Medical Co., Ltd. (President NAKASHIMA Yoshio) in Okayama Prefecture. This young company was founded in 2008, but was formerly the medical operations department of a firm named Nakashima Propeller, a company that had been carrying out research for new products since 1987. Nakashima Propeller is a global corporation that manufactures propellers for motorboats, supertankers and various types of ships.
    Propellers and artificial joints are manufactured using similar methods. Both processes begin with “casting” (pouring molten metal into casts and leaving it to solidify), then continue with “machine processing” (filing down the material) and finish off with “polishing” (rubbing it until it shines like a mirror). Developed through the production of propellers, Nakashima Medical’s products are characterized by intricate three-dimensional manipulation techniques and skilled engineers’ attention to detail.
    Depending on the part of the body they are manufactured for, artificial joints consist of two to four components. As joints vary from patient to patient, the optimum combination of components can be chosen in a wide range of sizes. Production processes, from machine processing to polishing, in addition to final checks of the finished products, are all done in-house. Since these products are put inside the human body, their exteriors and measurements are rigorously inspected before being thoroughly washed and sterilized.
    Nakajima says: “We are focusing on developing artificial joints suited to the bone structure of Japanese people and to their lifestyles. That’s why we always strive to make products that even our employees and their families would feel safe using.” In cooperation with hospitals throughout Asia, the company has collected about 750 data relating to bone size. They are now striving to manufacture joints with an optimum size to suit each race.
    It is said that there are 400 million elderly people aged 65 or older in the world who are in need of medical devices. This number is expected to rise to 700 million by 2023. In turn, the number of people requiring artificial joints will increase. “Artificial joints will enable people in wheelchairs to walk, and this is something that really motivates us,” says Nakashima, emphasizing the importance of his company’s products.
    Nakashima Medical Co., Ltd.
    Text: ITO Koichi[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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  • 国際交流を目的とした歌合戦

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Global Community
    In Japan, every New Year’s Eve, a program called “Kohaku Utagassen,” (Red and White Song Battle) is broadcast on NHK TV and radio. In the program, female singers perform for the red team and male singers perform for the white team. Through hit songs and memorable topics, listeners and viewers reflect on the past year.
    Another “Kohaku Utagassen,” named “Kokusai Kohaku Utagassen,” is an international event that started in 2011. Aiming to promote international exchange and understanding, Japanese participants sing in foreign languages and non-Japanese sing in Japanese. Basically, regardless of gender, foreign students join the red team and Japanese students join the white team. It will be held again in November this year.
    After the Great East Japan Earthquake, not only Japanese, but also people from other countries visited the disaster hit region as volunteer helpers. An executive committee was set up in the hopes of “bringing foreigners and Japanese together in order to cheer up the people living in the damaged area.” The editing staff of Global Community, which runs the website for this international and multi-lingual exchange, is at the center of the project.
    They asked the Tourism Agency for support. As a result, MIZOHATA Hiroshi, then the secretary of the Tourism Agency, participated in the event as a singer in the white team. In this way, the first event was successfully completed. It was reported by the media in nine countries.
    Since then, the event has been held annually and is now also held in Osaka. Last year about 600 people in Tokyo and 900 people in Osaka took part in the event. Many participants wear their national dress, creating an impressive ambience at both the Tokyo and Osaka events. At the event, there is singing and dancing, a furisode (long-sleeved kimono worn by unmarried women) and cosplay fashion show, a performance by the Austrian Ballet and more.
    Some of guests are professional singers and some performers display incredible vocal ability. “Each time we have some people in the audience who were expecting nothing more than a ‘karaoke contest between overseas students who cannot speak Japanese well.’ They go home astonished at the high level of the performances given by the singers,” says executive committee member MIYAZAKI Kazumi, with a laugh. Prizes are given to performers who not only sing well, but who also get the audience fired up.
    The event is staged in a way that brings the audience and performers together. The audience can participate as judges and are given time to interact with the performers by doing things like having their photos taken together with them. “On the actual day of the event, we sometimes ask people who came to see the show to work as stage hands or as interpreters. Everyone gladly contributes. We want to keep it as an event in which everyone plays a leading role, says Miyazaki.
    Here, Japanese, alongside people of various nationalities, become one through singing. “Although there are more than two million foreigners living in Japan, there are not many opportunities for them to interact with those of different nationalities. For the finale, everyone, including the volunteers, joins the performers on stage and sings together. With all these people from around the world singing the same song, you really feel that the world is joining hands through song,” says Miyazaki.
    Global Community[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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  • リアルな日本食を動画で紹介

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Yummy Japan
    Japanese cuisine is known throughout the world for being tasty and rich in variety. It’s one of the main sightseeing attractions in Japan now. A series on the diversity of Japanese cuisine has been presented to the world via YouTube. “Yummy Japan” produces these videos and is, so to speak, a broadcaster dedicated to Japanese cuisine.
    KUSABE Shiori, production manager says, “During the Tokyo Olympics in 2020, we’d like foreign tourists to discover where’s good to eat. Hospitality was our motivation for getting the ball rolling. Japanese traditional cuisine has been registered as one of intangible cultural heritages of the world, but we also have simple home-cooked food. In our series, we present real food that Japanese are eating.”
    You can watch all kinds of videos here. There are videos about how to prepare packed lunches that resemble animals or animation characters, restaurant reviews by an American who is crazy about ramen, as well as series about restaurants that have extra-large helpings, extremely spicy dishes or barbecue meat on their menus.
    The izakaya series, “Deep in Japan,” is of particular interest to foreigners. From ninja restaurants to a cosplay cafe in Akihabara, it recommends unusual restaurants and drinking establishments that are not well known to the foreign community. You can also enjoy the lively conversation of two French lady reporters.
    Director KANDA Hiroaki says, “Other countries have videos introducing recipes, but we haven’t see any introducing restaurants. We got started with the idea in mind of Japan-specific videos.” They upload a new video onto YouTube every week. Soon the day will come when the world will know about Japan’s “real culinary culture.”
    Yummy Japan[2014年4月号掲載記事]

    Yummy Japan
    日本食はバラエティーに富み、おいしい料理として世界に知られています。今や、日本観光の大きな魅力の一つです。その多様な日本食をYouTubeで世界に向け発信しているシリーズがあります。これらの動画を制作している「Yummy Japan」は、いわば日本食の放送局です。
    中でも居酒屋シリーズ「Deep in Japan」は外国人の興味を引いています。ここでは、忍者レストランなど風変わりなレストランや秋葉原のコスプレカフェから、外国人にもすすめたいあまり知られていない飲み屋まで紹介しています。二人のフランス人女性レポーターのゆかいな会話も楽しめます。
    Yummy Japan

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  • サンシャイン水族館

    [From April Issue 2014]

    This popular aquarium is located above the rooftop in a 40-meter-high building. In its outdoor area there is a two-meters and 30-centimeters-tall donut shaped water tank in which sea lions can be seen swimming overhead. Also fun are the underwater displays of divers feeding fish and up close sea lion performances. There are also plenty of indoor tanks in which coral reefs and jellyfish are displayed.
    Nearest Train Station: Ten minutes’ walk from Ikebukuro Station (JR, Seibu Line, Tobu Line)
    General Admission: 2,000 yen (for high school students and above)
    Business Hours: November to March 10 am to 6 pm
    April to October: 10 am to 8 pm
    Latest admission one hour before closing
    Sunshine Aquarium
    Text: KAWARATANI Tokiko[2014年4月号掲載記事]

    営業時間:11月~3月 午前10時~午後6時
    4月~10月 午前10時~午後8時

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  • モスバーガー

    [From April Issue 2014]

    MOS BURGER is a chain of hamburger restaurants that was established in Japan in 1972. Now they have more than 1,400 outlets countrywide and more than 300 outlets overseas. They specialize in dishes that incorporate Japanese cuisine, such as the Teriyaki Burger in which miso (bean paste) and soy sauce is used, and MOS Rice Burger, in which rice is used for the bun.

    [No. 1] MOS Burger 330 yen.

    Popular for combining savory meat sauce, the sourness of tomato and fresh onion. Since Mos was established this has been representative product of MOS BURGER.

    [No. 2] Teriyaki Chicken Burger 330 yen.

    This burger contains a chicken leg slathered in a soy sauce marinade that is grilled in store over a hot flame so that the excess fat drips from the meat creating a crispy skin and juicy meat.

    [No. 3] Teriyaki Burger 330 yen.

    This burger is stuffed with lettuce – that as far as possible has been domestically produced without depending on pesticides and chemical fertilizers – and contains a teriyaki sauce made of miso and soy sauce.
    *The prices are for this point of time, March 20, 2014, tax included.
    MOS BURGER[2014年4月号掲載記事]


    【No.1】モスバーガー 330円。


    【No.2】テリヤキチキンバーガー 330円。


    【No.3】テリヤキバーガー 330円。



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  • フランス人の自分にしかできない落語を

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Cyril COPPINI
    This is the 17th year since Cyril COPPINI, born and raised in Nice, France, began his career in Japan. In October 2011, while working at the Cultural Department of the French Embassy in Japan, he made his debut as an amateur rakugo performer. He currently performs once a month at nursing homes, temples, and special cafes that put on rakugo performances.
    Rakugo is a traditional form of comic storytelling that developed during the Edo period (17-19 centuries). A single performer in a kimono sits on a zabuton (a floor pillow) and acts out conversations between multiple characters by changing his voice, manner of speaking and facial expressions. Coppini started learning Japanese in high school, and while studying in a college in Matsumoto City, Nagano Prefecture, he grew to enjoy rakugo and wanted to be able to perform it himself.
    However, he realized that it would be difficult to train as an apprentice to a professional rakugo performer while holding down a job. It was then that by chance he met the professional rakugo performer HAYASHIYA Someta, who said to him, “Amateurs can do it, too.” And so, he was instructed by Hayashiya for a year, and took on the name “Shiriru Kopiini” – his real name creatively written in kanji.
    When introducing himself on stage, he explains his name in fluent Japanese by saying, “‘Shiri-ru’ means ‘shiri ga nagareru (flowing from the bum).’ Kopii combines the Japanese word ‘fukusha’ (copy), and ‘ni’ – the kanji for the number two.” This is greeted by roars of laughter from the crowd. Rakugo stories are typically tear jerking emotional dramas, or entertaining ghost stories, but Coppini is more skilled in the comedic form of rakugo.
    For his latest performance “Becoming an Apprentice” –which centers around a Japanese sushi chef and his French apprentice – Coppini has come up with a setting that is unique to him. The exchanges between the stubborn sushi chef and the apprentice, who mixes up recently learned complex Japanese vocabulary with inappropriate slang, elicits bursts of laughter from the audience.
    To bring the joy of rakugo to a wider audience, Coppini also acts as both a translator and coordinator. In France, in 2011, Coppini performed alongside SANYUTEI Ryuraku – who tours internationally in European countries such as France, Germany and Italy, where he performs in the local language – at the professional rakugo artist’s request. The following year he also held performances in Switzerland and Belgium – both French-speaking countries.
    “For these past ten years I’ve been introducing French culture to the Japanese, but now it’s high time I do the reverse,” says Coppini. While kabuki and noh plays have already been introduced to France and a Japanese anime and cosplay subculture exists, “rakugo, a traditional theatrical performance which sits between these things, is not yet well known,” explains Coppini.
    Coppini says that he is going to continue his activities as an amateur rakugo performer. While working at an agency that aims to promote cultural exchanges between France and Japan, he says he wants to promote rakugo in France as a Japanese performing art. Released in France this March, the rakugo themed manga “Doraku Musuko” (The Disciple of Doraku), was translated by Coppini. He will be performing rakugo at the “Avignon Festival,” the world’s largest theatrical festival, held in July. Coppini says that his dream is that “if rakugo becomes more popular and people want to study it, I’ll open my own rakugo school in France.”
    Cyril Coppini Office[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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  • スポ根まんがの先駆け

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Kyojin no Hoshi (Star of the Giants)
    “Kyojin no Hoshi” was published in Weekly Shonen Magazine between 1966 and 1971. During the period it was serialized, an animated TV version, movie adaptation and theatrical version were released. It all begins when HOSHI Hyuma, the main character, sets his sights on joining the Yomiuri Giants – a professional baseball team known as Kyojin-gun.
    Hyuma, who lost his mother as a small child, lives with his father and older sister. His father, Ittetsu, once played for Kyojin-gun, but gave up his career as a player because of a war injury. Ittetsu tells Hyuma to “become a star with Kyojin-gun” and gives him specialized baseball training. To develop his muscles so that he can throw fast balls, Hyuma is constantly forced to wear a device called a “major league ball training brace.”
    Raised with the aim that he becomes a major league pitcher, Hyuma grows to hate Ittetsu and baseball. Before long he has an encounter with his future rival, HANAGATA Mitsuru. Through this, he discovers what a great sport baseball is and decides to join Kyojin-gun.
    Upon entering Seiun Senior High School, Hyuma meets BAN Chuta, who becomes a good friend. Later on they form a battery (a collective term for pitcher and catcher). They enter the National High School Baseball Tournament during which Hyuma breaks a nail while pitching against SAMON Hosaku, another rival. Although Hyuma directs powerful pitches at Hanagata – despite his bleeding finger – he loses the final.
    Hearing about this injury, Hanagata praises Hyuma for being a formidable rival. He vows to beat Hyuma fair and square the next time. Hanagata and Samon join different professional teams in order to play against Hyuma who has joined Kyojin-gun, his dream team. However, it turns out that, as a pitcher, Hyuma has a fatal flaw. The ball lacks impact because of his small stature, so if the batter makes contact he can make a big hit.
    Hyuma is devastated that he is too small to become a professional baseball player; this is a problem that can’t be overcome with effort. After an agonizing period, he comes up with the “Major League Ball No. 1;” a curve ball which deliberately strikes the bat to get an out. This technique is only possible for Hyuma, whose ball control is second to none thanks to the training he’s received from childhood. Meanwhile, Ittetsu becomes a coach for another team and stubbornly gets in Hyuma’s way.
    Ittetsu sends Ozma, a former Major League player, to strike and beat the Major League Ball No. 1. Ball No.2, developed subsequently, beats Hanagata and No.3 beats Ban who has now become an adversary. Exhausted from his efforts, Ban falls to the ground and Ittetsu accepts Hyuma’s victory. By then, Hyuma’s left arm is damaged for good. With his career as a player cut short, Hyuma disappears off somewhere. Though he has burned himself out as a true “Giants’ star,” his achievement still sparkles to this day.
    Text: HATTA Emiko[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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  • 日本のサッカーにヨーロッパスタイルを取り入れたい

    [From April Issue 2014]

    Robbie SERVAIS
    Dutch native Robbie SERVAIS came to Japan through “The Executive Training Programme” (AKA ETP) five years ago. With this programme, trainees from various European countries visit Japan. Then, for approximately one year, the trainees learn Japanese language and culture while enrolled at Waseda University. The object of this program is to promote trade between Japan and Europe through cultural exchange.
    Robbie had studied in Niigata 14 years ago. After returning to the Netherlands, Robbie was looking for a chance to return to Japan and asked an acquaintance if an exception could be made allowing him to visit Japan through the ETP program as a soccer coach. Robbie is now coach to the J-League junior team, Omiya Ardija.
    To learn Japanese, Robbie uses an app called “imiwa?” The app searches for corresponding Japanese words and related vocabulary from alphabetic input. You can also save previous search words, making it a convenient way to review vocabulary. By making sure he checks every word and kanji he does not understand, Robbie doesn’t slack off in his efforts to memorize vocab.
    Work related to soccer is extremely popular, and the competition is fierce. Therefore, Robbie says he wants to perfect his Japanese and give himself an edge with his linguistic ability. In addition, he emphasizes that it is important to grasp the difference between Japanese and European soccer styles. This is because European soccer style, practiced in countries such as the Netherlands, is totally different from Japan.
    “European players like to stand out and don’t show any restraint. This is because, in order to thrive, it is important for players to show off their individual appeal. On the other hand, the mainstream playing style of Japanese is to avoid risks and this means that outstanding players are not created. They do not openly express their joy at winning because they are considerate of the feelings of the losing team,” says Robbie.
    “The plus side of Japanese soccer is the strong mindset to ‘win as a team,’ and disinclination for selfish plays. In addition, Japanese players perform the practice routines without complaint. Because they do not dislike performing the same exercises over and over again, their technique improves. In the Netherlands, players immediately get tired of performing the same exercises, so it is always necessary to explain why the exercise is indispensable,” Robbie says, explaining differences between the two cultures.
    In February this year, Robbie became the coach of the official soccer school of Arsenal Football Club, one of the most renowned clubs in Europe. Robbie says that someday he would like to coach a top professional soccer team. Robbie dreams of becoming an assistant to a famous manager visiting Japan from Europe.
    Robbie says he wants to convey the merits of European soccer while retaining the merits of soccer in Japan. “I don’t lecture the children; I let them think for themselves. Then I allow them to put into practice the play that they’ve thought up themselves. It means that they take the responsibility for their own play, and this is the way of thinking necessary for playing European style soccer.”
    Waseda University
    Text: TSUCHIYA Emi[2014年4月号掲載記事]


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