• どんな国の占いも楽しむ日本人

    [From January Issue 2011]

    In Japan, there is a lot of fortune telling going on. Some TV stations, for example, broadcast “Today’s Fortune Telling” as a morning program, while some magazines and “free papers” contain articles featuring fortune telling. Fortunes are sometimes printed on packages of candy, and some department stores even have their own fortune telling corners. Walking along some busy streets, especially at night, and you can find fortune tellers counseling customers at little desks that they have set up.

    In Japan, various fortune telling methods from many different countries are on offer. As early as the eighth century, India, the birthplace of Buddhism, introduced fortune telling, while in Japan, the old capital of Kyoto was built based on Chinese influences. From the Meiji period (1868~1912) onward, Western astrology and tarot seeped in. Lately, there have even been methods of telling fortunes by using ancient Mayan calendars.

    Now, Japanese television programs and magazines often feature astrology, and fortune telling by blood type. Astrology tells one’s fortune based on the position of celestial bodies when a person is born. But, invented in Japan in the 1970s, blood type fortune telling uses the ABO blood group system (a blood-classification system based on red blood cell count), in order to divine one’s fortune, or to see whether or not two people are compatible with each other. Previously, there were also booms in the ancient Chinese art of feng shui (the ancient system of balancing aesthetics) and Doubutsu Uranai (animal-type categorization by birth date). However, lately, “power spots,” which are said to make people healthier and more energetic, are being given media attention.

    Some fortune tellers provide counseling by e-mail or over the phone, or meet their clients at coffee shops. “I tell people’s fortunes with tarot, so I need a rather big table that I can spread my cards across,” says fortune teller TAKAHASHI Kiriya. “Some people have serious troubles, so I make it a point of picking a quiet coffee shop where there is enough space between tables. My most popular client requests are first about their fortunes regarding love, then about their work.”

    Takahashi specializes in telling fortunes using the tarot, and Western astrology. She says: “As I had always liked fortune telling, I studied it on my own first, met a good mentor, and became a fortune teller at the age of 25. Since many tarot cards have beautiful pictures on them, I collect them for purposes other than just my work.” Takahashi recently wrote a book on how to become a fortune teller, titled “Uranaishi Nyumon” (A Beginner’s Guide to Becoming a Fortune Teller). “There is really a lot to learn about fortune telling. I continue to study by telling famous people’s fortunes and then checking to see if I was right about them, all while examining new theories,” she says.

    “Japan today seems to have become a society where it’s difficult for people to speak with one another, even if they are in trouble. In the olden days, people were able to turn to their family and neighbors,” says Takahashi. “Unlike in America, counseling is not common here. But people still want someone willing to listen to them, and to give them advice. I think fortune tellers are meeting those needs.”

    Some schools teaching handicrafts, art and languages, also offer courses in fortune telling. The Asahi Culture Center Shinjuku, which offers various courses including providing Japanese education to non-Japanese, has also been offering, as of October 2010, ten fortune telling related courses. One of them is the Shisen Suimei (Four Pillars of Destiny) Class taught by Kokumon, who studies Oriental fortune telling specializing in feng shui.

    “I don’t think Japanese people particularly like fortune telling. In my opinion, of all Asian peoples, the Japanese are the least enthusiastic about feng shui,” says Kokumon. “In India, for example, if a fortune teller says that you can’t marry someone because you are not made for each other, it may be impossible to do so. In China, businessmen are serious about making use of feng shui for work. In Japan, on the other hand, most fans of fortune telling are women. And it seems like they are just enjoying it rather than making use of it.”

    Kokumon continues: “Since the 1990s, more and more people in Western countries have become interested in feng shui, but generally they still don’t really know much about it. On the other hand, in China ordinary people believe in feng shui. Given this, the Japanese interest in it can be said to fall somewhere between Asian and Western countries.”

    “In America, feng shui is popular among Hollywood celebrities,” says American Suzanne BLESCH. When she first came to Japan, Blesch was very surprised to see “Today’s Fortune Telling” broadcast on TV just like a weather report. “In America, young women also like astrology, if anything, but not as much as Japanese women. Besides, there are some types of fortune telling that seem absurd. For example, fortune telling using the initials of people’s names has too little variation,” she says.

    But now, Blesch too enjoys fortune telling. She admits that “On a morning that I hear today’s lucky color is green, I look for green items or clothes to put on. If I hear that I should be careful about human relations, I act more cautiously. I think Japanese fortune-telling is fun, amusing, and instructive. But when I hear that something bad is going to happen, I try not to believe it.”


    John ZHEN, another American, was amazed to see a fortune telling corner at a Japanese department store. “Of course, we have fortune tellers in the USA, and some of them are very famous. But generally, fortune tellers operate somewhere out-of-sight such as in the back streets. Also, American fortune tellers try to stress how scientific their methods are, but in Japan people seem to prefer it if fortune telling is mysterious,” he says.

    SUZUKI Ai, a Japanese woman living in Tokyo, loves consulting fortune tellers. She says, “I’ve read many books especially on astrology, and what they say is really true. The fortune teller told me things like, ‘You have a good fortune, but it will run out unless you make efforts’ or ‘Something bad might happen to you, so you should try to enhance your fortune by doing a good deed.’ Hearing those things allows me to think positively, like ‘Okay, I’ll try hard and do good things.’”

    Of course, there are some Japanese who can’t be bothered with fortune telling. However, most it seems, either like discussing it or enjoy trying it.

    TAKAHASHI Kiriya
    Asahi Culture Center

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo



















    文:砂崎 良

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  • ペットのために手作りする服とアクセサリーが人気

    [From January Issue 2011]


    These days, it is common to see pets wearing outfits and accessories such as miniature Dachshunds in T-shirts and cats with ribbon collars. During the summer, some puppies wear shoes to protect their feet from the heat of paved streets. Some pets are even more dressed up than their owners. However lately, more and more pet owners are making their pet’s clothing and accessories by themselves.

    The clothing sold at Tokyo pet shops can cost from 3,000 to 5,000 yen per item, and for some kinds of dogs, the number of items is limited. But, if you choose a material that suits your taste and then sew it yourself, you can, for a low cost, make a great piece that perfectly fits your pet.

    OHSHIMA Yumiko is the representative of, and designer at, Ruri’s Dog in Tokyo’s Setagaya Ward, a shop that specializes in selling dog-wear. In July 2010, she released a DVD instructing viewers on how to easily make dog outfits. On it, you can see her actually making clothing. It starts by discussing the materials, the necessary tools and how to take measurements, all using close-ups of her hands at work, making the DVD very well-received. A beginner can make an item in about an hour with 1,000 yen-worth of material.

    MIYASHITA Sachiko, who made a T-shirt for her beloved dog with the help of the DVD says, “My friends now ask me to make clothes for their dogs. When I’m walking my dog, many people praise us. And that has resulted in me making new friends.” Ohshima adds that “your affection for your pet deepens after you make clothes for it. And the joy that your pet brings you also increases.”

    SUZUKI Keiko and MURATA Naomi, who both live in Hiroshima City, opened Favrile Art, an Internet shop selling pet accessories, five years ago. ABE Chiho, a regular customer of theirs says, “Of course their designs are attractive, but on top of that, the needlework is tight and reliable.”

    Suzuki says, “There were not many shops selling pet accessories, and since I could not find any preferred items, I started making accessories and small articles for my pet by myself. When I also gave them as presents to my friends, they were quite happy.” This eventually lead to the opening of the shop.

    According to a 2010 Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living survey, 54.4 percent of people consider their pet as “a member of their family.” According to a 2009 survey regarding the actuality of dressing pets, it was found that 42 percent of pets in the Tokyo Metropolitan and Kansai areas wore some kind of pet-wear.

    “Only an owner knows what color and design best suits his or her pet. The most important thing is to enjoy making it. Your pet will surely feel your affection through your handmade, one-of-a-kind outfit,” says Suzuki.

    OHSHIMA Yumiko
    Favrile Art
    Hakuhodo Institute of Life and Living Survey

    Text: MUKAI Natsuko





    東京都世田谷区で犬服専門ショップRURI’S DOGの代表で犬服デザイナーの大島ゆみこさんは、誰でも簡単に作れるようにと、2010年7月に作り方を収録したDVDを発売した。実際に大島さんが作っている様子が収録されている。材料と道具の説明、サイズの測り方から始まり、手元のアップもあってわかりやすいと好評だ。初心者でも1,000円程度の材料費で、約1時間で出来上がる。


    広島県広島市在住の鈴木啓子さんと村田尚美さんは、5年前に二人でペット用アクセサリーグッズショップFavrile Artをネット上でオープンさせた。「デザインが素敵なのはもちろん、しっかり縫ってあるので安心です」と、何度も利用している阿部千穂さんは話す。




    Favrile Art


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  • 都会のオフィス街を盛り上げる「ネオ屋台村」

    [From January Issue 2011]

    Workstore Tokyo Do Co., Ltd.

    A t a square in front of an office building in Otemachi, Tokyo is a cluster of small food vans known as Neo Yatai Mura (Neo Stall Village). Each van sells its own special kind of takeout, such as curry, Chinese, or Japanese food. Operating only during lunch time on weekdays, these food vans are gaining popularity among those working in the area. The business is run by Workstore Tokyo Do Co., Ltd.

    Company President UKAWA Kiyoharu himself used to sell hot dogs from a van that he had taken over from his father. He says, “At first, I was selling hot dogs at music and other such events. But before long, I started my own company supplying food vans to similar events. Then one thing led to another and I established Neo Stall Village in several business districts.” Now, the company operates in more than 20 such locations around Tokyo. However, when the second location opened in Marunouchi after the initial one was well received, it didn’t attract many customers.

    “I discussed it with the shop owners and then printed 40,000 flyers with coupons. For two weeks I handed out the flyers by walking around office buildings near Tokyo Station. As a result, so many customers came that they had to wait in line,” Ukawa recalls. Currently, 200 food vans are registered to his company. “There are over 100 kinds of dishes available. Take curry for example; we have Thai curry, Indian curry, and many others,” he explains.

    One characteristic of Neo Yatai Mura is that each stall (van) has special dishes that it’s proud of, including local specialties rarely found in Tokyo, unique dishes full of original ideas, and authentic foreign cuisine prepared by shop owners from abroad. Moreover, the meals are cheaper than those from other local eateries in the area, and since different stalls are set up on different days, it offers various options to choose from, which Ukawa thinks is another reason why there are so many repeat customers.

    The company recently launched two new projects. One is Neo Ponte (Neo Style Store), which is run inside a shopping center in Chiba Prefecture. Requested to build stalls indoors, “we ask business managers who own shops elsewhere to open stalls for a limited period of time.” With shops changing every three months, this system can keep offering new items, which is its strongest selling point.

    Another project was the establishment of a department specializing in sales and repairs of food vans. Ukawa says, “I had wanted to help prospective owners to start up their own food van business, which led me to start this project. Rather than just selling and repairing food vans, I always start by telling customers about the challenges and risks involved in this business. We are also planning to rent out vans so that people can first try experiencing this business for themselves.”

    Through its food van business, the company has contributed to revitalizing some areas and re-energizing the local people there. This past summer Ukawa held the Kitchen Car Championship, conducting customer surveys that asked which Neo Stall Village shop was the best. “I have been able to conduct this business thanks to the support of the people I’ve met. It’s such a wonderful thing when pleasing others is your job. In the future, I would like to open a food stall museum. My goal is to accomplish something that will go down in history,” he declares.

    Workstore Tokyo Do Co., Ltd.











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  • かぶとえびのあんかけ

    [From January Issue 2011]

    Ingredients [Serves 2]

    • 2 to 3 turnips (250g)
    • 6 black tiger prawns (180g)


    • 1 tsp sake
    • a pinch of salt
    • the rind of a small yuzu (citrus junos)


    • 1 cup water (mixed with 1 tsp granulated broth)
    • 1/2 tbsp usukuchi shoyu (mild-flavored, pale golden soy sauce)
    • 1/2 tbsp mirin (low-alcohol content rice wine)

    (Katakuriko Dissolved in Water)

    • 1 tsp katakuriko (potato starch)
    • 1 tsp water
    • From Winter through Spring turnips are soft and can be quickly heated, which tend to make them easily break into pieces. Since they continue to soften with residual heat while still in the pot, keep them on the firm side by heating them in short spurts.
    • Seasonal flavoring can be attained by thickening the broth on colder days to make it a warming dish, and by thinning it on warmer days to make it more refreshing.

    1. Cut the leaves off the turnips, leaving some stems. Pare each turnip into 4 ~ 6 pieces. Clean the soil from the stems with a bamboo skewer.

    2. Deshell and devein the prawns, then season them with (A).

    3. Peel off a thin slice of yuzu rind about 2 cm long, and then cut it into fine strips.

    4. Put the broth ingredients into the pot, add the turnips and heat over a high flame. When it comes to the boil, lower the flame, cover and let simmer for 5 ~ 6 minutes. When the turnips are hot, add the prawns and let it all simmer for 1 ~ 2 minutes.

    5. Dissolve the katakuriko in water. Move the cooked ingredients to one side of the pot, then add the dissolved katakuriko to the broth and stir immediately. Stop the fire when the broth has thickened.

    6. Serve the cooked items pouring the thickened broth over top. Sprinkle some yuzu rind for the final touch.



    • かぶ 2~3個(250g)
    • えび(無頭のブラックタイガー) 6尾(180g)


    • 酒  小さじ1
    • 塩  少々
    • ゆずの皮 少々


    • だし(顆粒小さじ1) カップ1
    • うすくちしょうゆ 大さじ1/2
    • みりん 大さじ1/2


    • かたくり粉 小さじ1
    • 水 小さじ1
    • 冬から春のかぶは柔らかく、早く火が通り、煮くずれしやすいです。予熱で柔らかくなるので、少し固めに仕上げます。
    • 寒い時期はあん(とろみがついた汁)の濃度を濃くして体があたたまるように、暑い時期はさらっとさせるなど、とろみ加減で季節感が出せます。

    1. かぶは茎を少し残して葉を切り落とし、皮をむいて4~6つに切ります。茎の間の土は竹串を使って洗い流します。

    2. えびは殻と背わたをとり、(A)をふって下味をつけます。

    3. ゆずの皮は2cm幅くらいに薄くむき、せん切りにします。

    4. 鍋に煮汁の材料を入れ、そこにかぶを入れ強火にかけます。沸騰したら弱火にし、ふたをして5~6分煮ます。かぶに火が通ったら、えびを加えて1~2分煮ます。

    5. かたくり粉を水で溶かします。鍋の具を片寄せて、煮汁に水溶きかたくり粉を加え、すぐ混ぜます。とろみがついたら火を止めます。

    6. 器にこんもりと盛り付け、あんをかけます。ゆずを散らして出来上がりです。

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  • 7つのドラゴンボールを探す冒険物語

    [From January Issue 2011]

    Dragon Ball: The Path to Power (Directed by YAMAUCHI Shigeyasu)

    Originally created by TORIYAMA Akira, Dragon Ball is an adventure-story manga that ran in a weekly manga magazine for nearly a decade, starting in 1984. In 1986, Dragon Ball was adapted as an animated TV series, as well as into film. This work was the 17th and final film in the series and released in 1996. In 2009, a Hollywood live-action version was also made.

    Son Goku is a boy with a monkey tail who lives deep in the mountains. His grandfather, Son Gohan, taught him kung fu, giving Goku superhuman skills with matching powers. The story opens with Goku living alone after his grandfather has passed away. He continues to lovingly treasure the orange ball his grandfather left him. Then one day, he is visited by a girl calling herself Bulma.

    Bulma is seeking the seven orange balls, called “Dragon Balls,” of which she already has two. Goku’s ball is one of them and she explains to him that “when you collect all seven of the Dragon Balls and chant a spell, Shen Long (the Eternal Dragon) appears to grant you a wish, but only one.” Goku refuses to give up his Dragon Ball, but agrees to accompany Bulma on her quest as a part of his training.

    Using Bulma’s “Dragon Radar” the two search for the remaining Dragon Balls. Soon after, Oolong, a pig with the power to transform into other animals and objects but only for five minutes, joins their troupe. The threesome fight various enemies including Yamcha the kung-fu bandit and his accomplice Puar, and the notorious Red Ribbon Army. Goku uses his “Nyoi Bou” red fighting stick and his kung fu skills to defeat the barrage of enemies.

    When Goku and his team help a tortoise that was lost in the mountains, find its way back to the seashore, the turtle hermit Master Roshi, an elderly man who lives with the tortoise, appears in front of them. They learn that this hermit is Gohan’s kung fu master. And, to show his appreciation for them helping his turtle, he gives them the flying cloud “Kin-Ton-Un (Flying Nimbus).” Everyone tries, but only Goku succeeds in riding the flying cloud, something only the pure-hearted can do. Goku then also quickly masters the “Kamehameha” (the Turtle Devastation Wave), which took Master Roshi over 50 years to develop.

    By now, Bulma has collected four of the seven Dragon Balls. But, during a battle, when Goku is knocked unconscious, the enemy seizes them all. Bulma and her friends are then taken hostage. After regaining consciousness, Goku tries to fight an army-controlled robot. But he is no match for it and is knocked unconscious again.

    Soon after, Android #8, nicknamed “Eighter,” whose life Goku has saved before, comes flying to his side. Eighter sacrifices himself to save Goku. Regaining consciousness once again, Goku defeats the robot using the “Kamehameha.” They finally retrieve all the seven Dragon Balls and then Shen Long appears. Goku’s wish is to “bring Eighter back to life.” So Shen Long replies, “It shall be so,” as the movie comes to an end.


    ドラゴンボール 最強への道(山内重保 監督)








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  • 印刷の常識を変える技術

    [From January Issue 2011]

    Printing is the process of reproducing text or images, usually on flat surfaces such as sheets of paper. However, new printing technologies challenging that concept are now available.

    Shu Hou Co., Ltd. in Fukui Prefecture has developed a technology for printing on three-dimensional objects. They can print complex patterns on eye glass frames, cell phones, steering wheels, and more. For instance, even though cell phones bodies have many detailed parts, the applied patterns stay in position even around the edges. They also have the technology to thicken ink to resemble a leathery finish.

    “I was formerly a bank clerk and knew nothing about printing. That’s the reason I could come up with ideas that people in the printing business could not,” says company President MURAOKA Kouji. “The traditional method of three-dimensional printing is to print the pattern on a film, have it float in water and transfer it to the target item using water pressure. At Shu-Hou, we put ink on an original plate and print it on the three-dimensional object using our own special method. By this method, we can accurately print at any desired position. We also developed various original inks of our own.”

    Shu Hou has also developed a printing technology using electrical conductivity (the measure of a material’s ability to draw electricity). Using this technology they have succeeded in printing on the surface of an external cell phone antenna measuring 0.001 mm. “New technology should put importance on space-saving (being smaller, thinner and lighter). Therefore, from now on, I think printing will become more useful in making such things as semiconductors,” says Muraoka.

    Another company, Kyoto’s Newly Corporation, has succeeded in printing with a three-dimensional feel by developing the scanner, or “Scamera.” Company President IDA Atsuo says, “There are many companies that have tried to improve printing technologies but no one has tried to improve the scanner. It was fortunate for us that we are scanner manufacturers.”

    When printing an image captured by Scamera, the result will seem three-dimensional even though it is reproduced on 2-D paper. The image’s texture will also resemble the original material’s feel. “Usually when we scan an uneven surface, we scan from above, being careful not to touch the object. But, (with the Scamera) we don’t scan from just above, but from a bit of an angled position, according to the nature of each object,” explains Ida. “When we scan flat objects like pictures and metal, we scan from various directions to catch the “feel” of the object, giving it a more-than-three-dimensional touch.”

    “Scamera is not a technology that tries to make a good image out of something bad. It is a technology that catches the good part of a good thing,” says Ida. “I don’t consider printed pictures made by Scamera as fake. To me, they are rather new works of art made from the original.” So, Japan’s concept of printing will keep evolving as people develop new and interesting technologies like these.

    Shu-Hou Co., Ltd.
    Newly Corporation

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo










    文:砂崎 良

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