• なぜかわいいファッションは人気があるのか

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Nowadays, kawaii fashion originating in Japan is popular all over the world. “Kawaii” is a word to describe something lovable and charming, such as tiny objects, pets, children and young women. It’s often used by women in their teens and twenties. For them, it’s very important whether or not their clothes and belongings are kawaii. And now, women from outside Japan want kawaii clothes and small articles designed in Japan, too.

    Harajuku is a part of Tokyo where you can find a myriad of shops selling kawaii items. PUTUMAYO, a brand with three shops in the area, sells clothes featuring original designs as well as plenty of lace and frills. Lately, customers from a variety of countries come to the shops. “In the past two hours, we’ve had customers from America, Spain and Germany in our store,” says KATSUTA Hiroko, a spokesperson for HYPER HYPER Co., Ltd., which runs PUTUMAYO.

    Laforet Harajuku, a commercial building that houses quite a few stores selling kawaii outfits, also attracts a crowd of non-Japanese customers. 109 in Shibuya and Marui One in Shinjuku are other commercial complexes with kawaii clothing stores, and are much talked about among non-Japanese shoppers these days.

    Sofia LIM, from South Korea, says: “Japan accepts the cultures of many other countries. They start out by imitating, but before long they create special cultures of their own. That’s not imitation but progress. I guess the Japanese are open-minded.”

    More and more kawaii clothing Japanese brands are opening branches overseas. BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT (a.k.a. Baby), a brand whose items were used in the movie “Shimotsuma Monogatari,” opened a branch in Paris in February 2006 and another in San Francisco in August 2009. Baby’s clothes are characteristically adorned with plenty of lace and frills, like dresses from 18th-century Western Europe, a style called “Lolita fashion.”

    UEHARA Kumiko, a designer for Baby, says when their Paris branch opened, Lolita fashion in France was quite different from that in Japan. “Most of their Lolita outfits were black in color and very Gothic in style, which was unique to European fashion. They were wearing a jumper skirt without a blouse, showing some skin,” she says. “But the next time I went to Paris, they were all dressed in the same way as the Japanese. Not only had their garments become more colorful but they were wearing a jumper skirt over a blouse, with everything coordinated properly from head to toe.” When Uehara saw that, she realized that they had studied Japanese Lolita fashion.

    Uehara adds, “Lolita fashion is a style of clothes that is a dream come true for girls, because they can wear the clothes of princesses or the dolls that they admired in their childhood as modern outfits. Lolita fashion is not clothes that you wear to catch other people’s eye, but rather clothes that you wear because you want to wear them.” The whole point of wearing Lolita fashion, she says, is that it makes you feel happy.“Who’s going to feel unhappy to look at or wear something kawaii? Everybody can get a sense of happiness by looking at or wearing kawaii stuff. As far as I’m concerned, kawaii means happy,” she says.

    “Japanese people all have the sensibility to feel that something is kawaii,” says MASUDA Sebastian, owner and designer of a shop in Harajuku called 6%DOKIDOKI. “Behind that sensibility lies their desire to create a world of their own, put their sense of values in there and find their own form of happiness. However, when young people in Western countries say the Japanese word ‘kawaii,’ what they mean is more like cool, neat or fashionable. By using a word that their grown-ups don’t understand, those young people seem to express their antipathy toward adult society.”

    The items at 6%DOKIDOKI, which is located on a backstreet in Harajuku, are characterized by flashy color combinations such as shocking pink and black as well as fresh new designs, and are often described as “shockingly kawaii.” But Masuda’s job is not just designing products. He has acted on stage, and has also produced shows, doing everything from direction to writing scripts. “I wondered whether or not my work was good, but at the store, customers who don’t know me judge my designs in a visible manner, by buying them or not buying them,” says Masuda.

    At 6%DOKIDOKI not only the interior but also the outer walls are painted bright pink. Inside the store, you see a purple wooden horse, mushroom ornaments and a decoration in the shape of a merry-go-round, as well as gorgeous lighting. “Customers from other countries look at the interior and listen to the music played in the store, and they often praise those things as well as the products we are selling,” says Yuka, a store clerk. “Nowadays, earrings made by putting together the hiragana ‘A RI GA TO U’ and a brooch with the kanji characters ‘kakumei’ (revolution) are very popular.” This store is what Masuda considers the embodiment of “kawaii.” Masuda also holds workshops for learning how to move in a kawaii manner or have a kawaii look on one’s face, and takes part in fundraisers to help developing countries, with the motto “Kawaii saves the world!”

    “Young people choose kawaii items to express their feelings of not wanting to be adults. Young people these days think ‘becoming an adult’ equals ‘giving up.’ So by wearing colorful clothes, they say no to wearing gray like adults and assert that they have their own culture and lifestyle,” explains Masuda. “I think that the kawaii culture is even radical, as it is an expression of the young generation’s vast energy. The kawaii fashion in Harajuku is about pursuing what one loves regardless of rules and genres. I believe that the free, flexible ideas and styles in the fashion are what make it so popular outside Japan.”


    Text: SAZAKI Ryo






    日本のかわいい服のブランドが海外に支店を出すことも増えています。映画「下妻物語」にも取り上げられたブランド、BABY, THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT(通称ベイビー)は、2006年2月にパリ支店を、2009年8月にサンフランシスコ支店を出しました。ベイビーの特徴は「ロリータファッション」と呼ばれる、西ヨーロッパの18世紀頃のドレスのような、レースやフリルが多くついた服です。


    上原さんは続けます。「ロリータファッションは女の子の夢を現実にした服です。子どもの頃あこがれたお姫様やお人形の服を、現代の服として着られるのですから。人の目を気にして着る服ではありません。自分が着たいから着る服です」。ロリータファションは着るだけで幸せな気持ちになれると上原さんは話します。「かわいいものを見たり着たりして、不幸せに感じる人はいるでしょうか? かわいいものを見たり着たりすると、みんな幸せな気持ちになります。『かわいいは幸せ』と私は思います」。






    文:砂崎 良

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  • 行列の好きな日本人

    [From October Issue 2010]

    In May 2010, approximately 1,200 people lined up in front of the Apple Store in Ginza, Tokyo, on the day the iPad was released. Some of them were even queuing the night before. In other countries this might have been something of a one-off, but in Japan, it is not unusual to see a long line of people waiting in front of a store on opening day or if it is popular.

    For example, at GRANSTA in the underground level of Tokyo station there is a variety of famous shops, many of them selling food items. At one of them, the Nihonbashi NishikiHorin, there is a long line of customers daily. These people are waiting to purchase the karintou (traditional deep-fried sweet made of wheat) snacks. Before, it used to be a two-hour line-up during the afternoon to evening business hours. However ever since the shop added a second cash register, the line-up has gotten shorter, but you still have to wait about 15 minutes. Because the shop is located within the terminal, the line starts a short way from the storefront to avoid obstructing pedestrians. Staff then come and guide you to the storefront when it’s your turn.

    At Mensoubou Mutekiya in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, the long line full of students and young couples surrounding the store is an everyday sight. The weekend and holiday lunchtime period is the busiest, with approximately 50 people in line waiting anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour.

    SASAKI Daisuke, a college student waiting in the line with a friend says, “I wanted to try this popular ramen at least once. If you’re in line with a friend, you can talk while you wait, so it’s stress free.” Many people in line found out about the ramen on a weblog or by word-of-mouth.

    How do non-Japanese see these long waiting lines? Steve WHITE, a Canadian says, “Westerners are often not as patient as the Japanese, and not as interested in new things. So these long lines seem very peculiar to us.” Japanese people have a tendency to feel comfortable when doing the same thing as everyone else. However, you need to have a clear reason to join a line. It may be to confirm a friend’s recommendation, or to acquire a limited edition product. Recently, there are some people who even “enjoy the wait.”

    Ca, an office worker who lives in Kanagawa Prefecture, introduces shops that are the talk of the town on her weblog “Oishiimon! Essay Ver. 4.” The entries are written in simple and easy to understand text, and the clear photos are mouth watering. Ca says, “I would like to try the places that I found for delicious things even if there is a long line.” The places that she introduces always have a long line. Ca’s weblog is so popular that it has even been introduced on television, while recording 1,000 page views in just a few hours.

    TANAKA Chisako is an office worker who uses Ca’s weblog for reference. “Weblogs are just one source of information, but I would like to go and see for myself. I enjoy discussing whether the wait was worth it or not with my friends,” she says.

    Nihonbashi NishikiHorin
    Mensoubou Mutekiya
    Oishiimon! Essay Ver. 4

    Text: MUKAI Natsuko




    東京・池袋のラーメン店、麺創房 無敵家も、店を囲むように長い行列ができているのはいつもの風景だ。学生やデート中のカップルなど、若者が多い。特に休日の昼時がピークで、多いときで50人ほどが並び、30分から1時間ほど待つことになる。



    神奈川県に住む会社員Caさんは、自らのブログ「美味しいもん!エッセイ Ver.4」で、話題の店を紹介している。記事はわかりやすい文章で、あざやかな写真は食欲を誘う。Caさんは「自分で見つけたおいしい店は並んででも食べたいと思います」と話す。Caさんの紹介する店はどこも行列ができている。Caさんのブログはテレビで紹介されるほどの人気で、数時間に1000アクセスを記録したこともあるという。


    麺創房 無敵家
    美味しいもん! . エッセイ Ver.4


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  • 進化するデジタル写真立て

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Nowadays, most cameras are digital. Many photo frames have become digital and multi-functional too.

    Sharp Corporation has developed the “InteriorPhone” JD-7C1 and JD-4C1 phone systems which combine a cordless phone with a digital photo frame. If the corresponding phone number and photo are registered within the “InteriorPhone” directory, the user can make a call just by touching the photo. Conversely, when there is an incoming call from a registered number, the monitor will display that caller’s photo. The unit can also be used as a regular digital photo frame when the phone is not in use. The JD-7C1 also has a function that allows all incoming faxes to be displayed as images on the machine’s monitor.

    The InteriorPhone uses high-speed, infrared communication (an infrared, data exchange system) as well as accepting photos from cell phones and digital camera memory cards. Photos can be viewed as a slideshow, or arranged as a calendar or clock form. The countdown function (4C1 only), which includes messages such as “x days until parents’ school meeting” while displaying the child’s image in the background, is useful because it helps remind people of important dates and events.

    “Today many people have cell phones. So, after pondering what their home phone needs might be, we came up with this phone that displays photos. To make an even more convenient product to be placed in the living room, we added a timer (JD-4C1 only) and some other functions while keeping the touch-panel simple,” says MOTOYA Tamon, the person responsible for Sharp’s product planning.

    FUJIFILM Corporation has also developed a digital photo frame, the FinePix REAL 3D V1. Images taken with the FinePix REAL 3D W1 digital camera can be displayed in 3D form using their specially designed frame. No special 3D glasses are necessary.

    This digital photo frame doesn’t show just one image, but can be programmed to display a succession of images or a number of images simultaneously. It also has an easy search function, enabling the viewer to quickly find their preferred image. You can display 72 small size images at once and search by image category. Additionally, it can also reproduce moving images with stereo sound.

    SAITO Hiroyuki, FUJIMOTO S h i n i c h i a n d MAT SUDA Norihisa, all part of FUJIFILM Corporation’s Department of Research and Development, conceived this idea together. They said that “in order to make a 3D system that can be enjoyed by anybody, anywhere and anytime, we had to take away the need for 3D glasses. With the eyeglasses, 3D images can be seen rather easily, but we wanted them to be seen without them, which took a lot of effort for us to develop.”

    So far this year, many 3D TVs and 3D PCs have been released for family use. Soon, we can expect both photos and films to become even more interesting.

    Sharp Corporation
    FUJIFILM Corporation

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo



    シャープ株式会社は、インテリアホン「JD‐7C1」「JD‐4C1」という製品をつくりました。コードレス電話と一体化したデジタル写真立てです。写真と電話番号をインテリアホンの電話帳に登録しておくと、写真にふれるだけでその電話番号へ電話がかかります。反対に登録している番号から電話があったときには、画面にその写真が表示されます。もちろん、電話を使わないときには、通常の写真立てとして使えます。JD-7C1 にはファックス機能もあり、ファックスを受信すると、その内容を画像として、写真立ての画面に映すこともできます。

    インテリアホンは高速赤外線通信(赤外線を使ってデータをやりとりする仕組み)やメモリーカードを使って、携帯電話やカメラから写真を取りこみます。そして取り込んだ写真を次々に映したり、カレンダーや時計などに加工して表示したりもできます。特にカウントダウン機能(4C1 のみ)は、子どもの顔を背景に「父母会まであと何日」などと表示することができ、予定を忘れないですむと好評です。

    「今は携帯電話を持っている人がたくさんいます。それでは家庭の電話には何が求められるのだろうか、そう考えて写真の飾れるこの電話をつくりました。リビングに置いて便利な製品にするため、タイマーなどの機能を入れ(JD-4C1 のみ)、タッチパネルの使い方も簡単にしました」とシャープ商品企画部の本谷太門さんは言います。

    富士フイルム株式会社は、立体映像を楽しめるデジタル写真立て「FinePix REAL 3D V1」を開発しました。3D写真や動画を撮ることができる同社のデジタルカメラ、「FinePix REAL 3D W1」で撮った映像をこの写真立てに入れると、立体で見ることができます。特別なめがねをかける必要はありません。



    今年に入って一般家庭向けの3D テレビや3D パソコンが増えました。写真や動画は今後、さらに楽しくなりそうです。


    文:砂崎 良

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  • 歴史ブームを支える複製技術

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Marutake Sangyo Co., Ltd.

    In Japan, the number of “rekijo,” women who take an interest in the military commanders from the age of civil wars and know a lot about history, is on the rise. Castles and museums are receiving more visitors and history books are selling well. The “Japanese Traditional Armor” exhibition held in January 2010 in Tokyo, attracted 65,000 visitors. The armor and helmets exhibited were precise replicas of those worn by military commanders 500 years ago in the Sengoku Jidai, the age of civil wars.

    The company that made them was Marutake Sangyo Co., Ltd., established in 1958 in Satsumasendai City, Kagoshima Prefecture. They initially made bamboo fishing rods. “One day, my father, the founder of the company, TANOUE Shinobu, sold a piece of armor he had repaired for pleasure for quite a high price. After that, he decided to accept orders to repair and make copies of armor and helmets. He also started making replicas,” says representative director TANOUE Kenichi says.

    Before long, the company started to receive orders for armor and helmets for actors to wear in historical TV dramas and movies. They also started receiving inquiries from history museums around Japan. Real armor and helmets are rarely exhibited, and even when they are, the exhibitions tend to be short and the items cannot be touched. This opened the door for a replica armor business.

    The company conducted years of research, sometimes dismantling armor and helmets to learn how they felt and how to make them. In the factory, the iron sheets are cut one by one with metal scissors. Then the sheets are bent and welded to make the parts, which are put together to make the basic structure. From painting and weaving to finishing, 50 craftsmen are involved in the numerous phases of the process.

    The craftsmen’s finished products are delivered to individuals, companies and public facilities, or rented out to local festivals. On Children’s Day, traditionally a holiday where people pray for the growth of boys, armor is displayed at home. Recently, Marutake Sangyo is receiving many orders to make small pieces of armor and helmets that can be worn by children.

    NISHIDA Toshiyuki, one of Japan’s leading actors, plays the role of a ghost of a warrior killed in battle in the movie “Suteki na Kanashibari” (Once in a Blue Moon), which will be released in the autumn of 2011. Marutake Sangyo made special armor that would be good for NISHIDA, who was suffering a pain in his lower back. Kenichi says, “Nishida was very happy with the light and easy-to-move armor.”

    Kenichi is always keen to take on new challenges. In 1990, he opened a tourist facility called “Sengoku Mura” in Satsumasendai City and, since then, has opened a company branch office in Tokyo. In 2006, he started “Armor Wedding,” which lets the groom appear in armor in front of the guests at his wedding reception, an effect that is well received. “Now, I want to do business making T-shirts and accessories with designs of armor and helmets,” he says.

    Marutake Sangyo Co., Ltd.

    Text:Southern Publishing Co., Ltd.
    Photos: TOMIOKA Miwa












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  • 愛される盆栽をつくりたい

    [From October Issue 2010]

    OSHIMA Megumi,
    Owner of Midoriya Nicogusa

    Bonsai (tray cultivation) is a type of cultivation that was born in China and brought to Japan during the Heian period (794 ~ 1192). With bonsai, you grow plants in containers of varying widths, usually measuring 30 or 50 centimeters (cm). At the bonsai shop Midoriya Nicogusa in Kichijoji, Tokyo, they mainly sell small-sized bonsai trees of about 15 cm in height and potted moss of about 5 cm in diameter.

    Shop owner OSHIMA Megumi enjoys answering customers’ questions about bonsai, while also teaching bonsai classes at various cultural centers. She is both a licensed color coordinator and interior decorator. Oshima even designed her shop’s Japanese-styled interior.

    “If you give it enough care, a bonsai will live for decades,” says Oshima. “It will continue to grow and its trunk will get thicker every year. Knowing that it will last, taking care of the tree becomes enjoyable. Even after many years, you will always find pleasure in it.” However, Oshima was not always a bonsai dealer. Initially she worked at an electrical appliance manufacturing company. “It was a stable but predictable job. And I kept wondering if I should continue doing it.”

    Then she encountered bonsai. “I was given a lovely bonsai from a friend but soon let it wither. The regret made me study why it happened and, in the process, I became fascinated with bonsai,” she recalls. Oshima went to bonsai classes and started to sell her own bonsai at flea markets. Before long, she was asked to sell bonsai at a department store. Although her bonsai continued to sell there, she was dissatisfied with some of the conditions and the care given to them. “It’s better to have regrets about something after trying, than not to try at all,” she says. Oshima then decided to open her own shop.

    However, in her shop’s first year, not much sold. “I thought it would be difficult to attract customers with only bonsai so I started the shop as a place to sell bonsai and other variety goods. The problem was that there were already so many variety shops in Kichijoji. Those goods didn’t sell at our shop, and the dead stock just kept accumulating.” But soon after she changed it into a bonsai specialty shop, her number of regular customers increased.

    Some bonsai trees are said to be more than 1,000 years old, with some costing more than 10 million yen. The bonsai sold at Nicogusa, however, only cost around several thousand yen each. “There are various ways of thinking about bonsai,” says Oshima. “Some people are conservative, while others do as they like in cultivating their bonsai. Some say that you should take the time to study proper bonsai technique. Others prefer to leave bonsai to professionals and just enjoy looking at them. There are even those who criticize bonsai as unnatural gardening that forces plants to grow in small flowerpots.”

    For Oshima, it is fine to have various ways of thinking. “I want people to enjoy bonsai more casually. A tree that seems lonely actually has living strength. Some trees endure nature’s severity yet grow quite large. I think the expression of nature’s power is what small-potted bonsai is all about.”

    Midoriya Nicogusa

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo


    みどり屋 和草オーナー
    大島 恵さん

    盆栽は中国で生まれ、平安時代(794~1192年)に日本へ来た園芸です。通常は30~50センチの鉢の中で植物を育てます。東京・吉祥寺にある盆栽の店「みどり屋 和草」は、主に小さな盆栽を販売しています。高さ15センチほどの木や直径5センチほどの鉢に植えられた苔などです。







    みどり屋 和草

    文:砂崎 良

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  • 琵琶湖と感動的な史跡の数々―滋賀県

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Shiga Prefecture has a lot to boast about. Not only does the area treat visitors to fine food and a collection of impressive historical sites, it also lays claim to the largest lake in Japan – the stunning Like Biwa.

    With an area of some 670 square kilometers, Lake Biwa accounts for one sixth of the prefecture’s total area. Since the water from Lake Biwa is used as drinking water for people in the Kinki region’s cities such as Kyoto and Osaka, the lake is known as “The Water Jar of Kinki.”

    Many people visit Lake Biwa to enjoy leisure activities such as swimming and boating. You can also sail around the lake on a cruise ship. A short course covering only the southern part of the lake and a course around the northern part, featuring Chikubushima, a small island in the lake, are also popular.

    Being rich in nature thanks to the lake and its rivers, Shiga Prefecture produces delicious food. In particular, fish called ayu (sweetfish) and funa (carp) are local specialties of the prefecture and can be enjoyed grilled and sprinkled with salt or as sashimi. But ayu is also tasty as “tsukudani,” where the fish is boiled in soy sauce and sugar. This is very popular as a souvenir.

    Funa, on the other hand, is often enjoyed as “funa zushi,” a local specialty of Shiga Prefecture, in which the fish is pickled with a mixture of rice and rice kouji (made by fermenting nuka or bran from polished rice with fungi and other bacteria). Since this dish has a strong smell, however, some people don’t care for it.

    Otsu City, where the prefectural government office is located, serves as the gateway to Shiga Prefecture. Since Otsu City is only a 10-minute train ride from Kyoto, many people visit the city while touring Osaka and Kyoto. Boat trips on Lake Biwa start from Otsu Port located in Otsu City. Traveling by train for one hour from Otsu City takes you to Hikone and Nagahama cities, where a number of historic sites are situated.

    Nagahama Castle, in the northern part of the prefecture, was built by TOYOTOMI Hideyoshi in 1576. A follower of warlord ODA Nobunaga, who tried to dominate Japan, Hideyoshi succeeded in ruling Japan after Nobunaga’s death. The tenshukaku, the highest part of the castle which also serves as an observation tower, has been restored as a history museum. Also, the grounds of the castle have been developed into Hou Park, which is a place of relaxation for locals.

    The road running north-south across the town of Nagahama used to be called the Hokkoku Kaido. Connecting Gifu and Shiga prefectures, it was an important road that was busy with travelers. In the Meiji period (1868~1912), a bank with black walls was built along this road. Today, old stores stand in a row in this area known as “Kurokabe (black wall) Square,” a part of an effort to preserve the traditional landscape from both the late Edo and Meiji periods.

    Driving west from Nagahama for about 20 minutes, you can get to Hikone City, where you’ll find Hikone Castle. The castle is also a 10-minute walk from JR Hikone Station. The tenshukaku of Hikone Castle is designated as a National Treasure and famous for its beauty. The 15th lord of the castle, II Naosuke, became the Tairo (Great Elder) of the Tokugawa Shogunate in the late Edo period and led Japan to end its isolation from the outside world, however he was eventually assassinated by people who were opposed Japan opening its borders to the outside world.

    The town that flourished around Hikone Castle is now a busy shopping district called Yume Kyobashi Castle Road, where you’ll see many shops selling Japanese sweets and folk crafts. The street is lined with buildings with white walls and black wooden lattices, a scene reminiscent of the Edo period. Here, even banks have been built in a way that allows them to blend in with the surrounding landscape.

    There were many other castles in Shiga Prefecture. The stone walls for these castles were constructed by a tribe of people called “Ano-shu.” Ishiku (stone masons) living in Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, built the stone walls for Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple. It is said that Nobunaga set fire to the temple in 1571, killing not only priests but also children. Although the temple was burned down, its stone walls didn’t collapse.

    This led Nobunaga to call upon stonemasons of the Ano-shu guild to work as construction workers when building Azuchi Castle. Until then, castles in Japan had neither high stone walls nor a tenshukaku; instead most of them only had low stone walls and mounds of dirt. But after Nobunaga built high stone walls and a tenshukaku for the first time, many new castles followed his lead. In building those castles, the Ano-shu were recognized for their great skills, and were requested to build stone walls across the country.

    The precincts of Hieizan Enryaku-ji Temple cover the entire area of the 848-meter Mount Hiei, which lies on the border between Shiga and Kyoto prefectures. Originally, the temple was an iori (a small monastery for Buddhist monks), founded in 788 by Saicho, who introduced the Tendai-shu (a school of Buddhism) to Japan. However, it later became a large temple after many monks came to live there. The main hall of the temple, Konpon Chudo, designated as a National Treasure, houses “the Fumetsu no Hoto” (Everlasting Lamp), which has been continuously burning for 1200 years, attracting numerous of visitors. Historically, it was known as a temple to protect Kyoto, where Gosho (the Imperial Palace) was once located.

    On their way to Kyoto, the site of the former capital, many people used to travel through Shiga Prefecture. Still today, the road used in those days remains, with rows of houses standing thoughout the surrounding areas. Shiga Prefecture also has some of the bedroom suburbs for people working in neighboring Kyoto and Osaka.

    Shiga Prefecture has good access to public transportation, with JR Otsu Station only two hours away by train from Kansai International Airport or Osaka International Airport (Itami Airport). From Tokyo it takes 3 hours by shinkansen, with a transfer at Kyoto.

    Biwako Visitors Bureau
    Awata Construction Company, Ano-shu Stone Walls Institute

    Text: KANASAKO Sumiko



















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  • 日本人に多い名前は?

    [From October Issue 2010]

    In Japanese, “namae” usually means a person’s “full name” (given & surname), however, it can also refer to just your given name, a similar concept to English. Generally, Japanese call one another by their surnames, although among close friends they may use given names.

    In Japan, it is said there are about 300,000 different surnames, of which 7,000 comprise 96%. It was only in 1875, after the beginning of the Meiji Restoration, that ordinary Japanese people were permitted to use their surnames. Everyone could freely have a surname, in order to distinguish themselves from other families, and as a result, many people used names derived from where they lived, such as near a mountain, valley, tree, river, rice field, field, hill or the sea.

    The top 10 surnames in Japan are: 1. Satou, 2. Suzuki, 3. Takahashi, 4. Tanaka, 5. Watanabe, 6. Itou, 7. Yamamoto, 8. Nakamura, 9. Kobayashi, and 10. Saitou. The most common, Satou, is used by nearly 2 million Japanese, while the 10th most frequent, Saitou, is used by nearly 1 million.

    Children’s names also reflect the times. In the year the present Emperor married, many girls were named “Michiko,” after the new princess. Then, when MATSUZAKA Daisuke set great high school baseball records, many boys were given his name.

    Until roughly the 1970s, kanji symbols for male names included男, 夫, 雄 (these are read as “o”) as 秀男 (Hideo), while for girls in kanji symbols such as 子 (ko) as in 秀子(Hideko) were generally added to the end. This is similar to English names ending in “o” like Antonio and “a” like Antonia.

    In the 80s and after, the number of parents giving their children unique names increased. According to the Meiji Yasuda Life Insurance Company, which conducts yearly name surveys, 2009’s most popular name for boys was Haruto, while for girls it was Yuna.

    Since 2000, the three most popular boy’s names have been: Haruto, Yuuto and Yuuki. while popular girls names included: Ayaka, Yui and Yuna. However, many different kanji are used for those names. They use various uncommon Japanese kanji characters, making them very difficult to read even for Japanese.

    大翔 (Taiga / Hiroto and other readings), was the most widely used kanji for boys, embodying the image of flying high. For girls it was陽菜 (Hina / Haruna and other readings), which embodies the image of flowers and the grass gleaming in the sunshine. These names seemingly imply the Japanese wish for optimism and a bright future for their children.

    Previously, traditional Japanese boy’s names included Kiyoshi and Makoto, while traditional girl’s names included Kazuko and Ai.




    多い名字のベストテンは次の通りです。1.佐藤 2. 鈴木 3. 高橋 4. 田中 5. 渡辺 6. 伊藤 7. 山本 8. 中村 9. 小林 10. 斉藤。1位の佐藤は200万人近く、10位の斉藤も100万人近くいます。







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  • きんめの煮付け

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Ingredients [Serves 2]

    • 2 pcs kinmedai (alfonsino/sea bream) (240g)
    • 1 small pc ginger (5g)


    • 1/2 cup water
    • 1/4 cup sake
    • 3 tbsp mirin
    • 1 & 1/2 tbsp soy sauce


    • 20g seaweed
    • 5-6 (30g) banno-negi (konegi, young leeks)


    • Kinmedai: With a knife, make one or two cuts on the skin of the fish. This is to make it easy for the flavor of the sauce to soak through. It also prevents the fish from arching.
    • Ginger: Keep the skin and cut into thin layers.
    • Seaweed: Wash and leave it in water for 2 to 3 minutes then cut into pieces of 2 to 3 cm.
    • Banno-negi: Cut into 5cm lengths.

    1. Put the ginger and the ingredients for the sauce into the pot then over a high flame. Dry the kinmedai and put into the sauce when it comes to a boil.

    2. Pour the sauce over the kinmedai with a spoon. This makes the surface of the fish solidify in a short time and will ensure the fish retains its flavor. It also prevents the skin from sticking to the small lid that rests directly on the fish.

    3. When it returns to a boil, skim the sauce, lower the flame to medium and place a smaller lid on the fish. To prevent the fishy smell from filling the pot, do not cover the pot.

    4. Simmer for about 10 minutes, basting the fish a couple of times along the way.

    5. Remove the smaller lid, turn the flame to high and boil for 2 to 3 minutes. When the kinmedai has become shiny, and while there is broth still left at the bottom, turn off the flame.

    6. Since the fish crumbles easily right after it is cooked, let it cool for 1 to 2 minutes before carefully removing it. Put it in a deep saucer with the skin facing up.

    7. Add seaweed and banno-negi to what is left of the broth and boil it for less than one minute. Place it to the right front side of the kinmedai. Pour the remaining sauce over the fish as the final touch.



    • きんめだい 2切れ(240g)
    • しょうが 小1かけ(5g)


    • 水 カップ1/2
    • 酒 カップ1/4
    • みりん 大さじ3
    • しょうゆ 大さじ1 1/2


    • わかめ 20g
    • 万能ねぎ 5~6本(30g)


    • きんめだい:皮に1~2本切れ目を入れます。これは魚に味をしみこみやすくします。また魚のそり返りを防ぎます。
    • しょうが:皮付きのまま薄切りにします。
    • わかめ:水で洗って水に2~3分つけもどし、2~3cmの長さに切ります。
    • 万能ねぎ:5cmの長さに切ります。

    1. 鍋に煮汁の材料、しょうがをいれ、強火にかけます。きんめだいの水気をふきとり、煮汁が煮立ったところに入れます。

    2. スプーンで、煮汁をきんめだいの上にかけます。こうすると魚の表面が早く固まり、うま味が逃げるのを防ぐとともに、皮が落しぶたにつきにくくなります。

    3. 沸騰したらアクをとり、中火にして、落しぶたをします。生臭さがこもらないように、鍋ぶたはしません。

    4. 途中2回ほど、きんめだいに煮汁をかけながら、約10分煮ます。

    5. 落しぶたをとり、強火でさらに2~3分煮詰めます。煮汁が鍋の底に残り、きんめだいのつやがよくなったところで火を止めます。

    6. できたては形が崩れやすいので、1~2分おいて少し冷まして(あら熱をとる)から、そっと取り出します。深さのある皿に皮が向こうになるように盛りつけます。

    7. 残った煮汁にわかめと万能ねぎを入れ、さっと(1分弱)火を通して、きんめだいの右手前に添えます。煮汁をかけてできあがりです。

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  • 永遠の命とは何かを問うSFアニメ映画

    [From October Issue 2010]

    Galaxy Express 999 (Directed by RIN Taro)

    This film is based on the science fiction, manga masterpiece written and drawn by artist MATSUMOTO Leiji. It was serialized in manga magazine format for about four years starting in 1977, and was later adapted for an animated television series, a musical and has appeared in many other forms. The film was released in 1979, and was followed by two other movies.

    The story is set on a future Earth, where the hero, HOSHINO Tetsuro, is a boy whose mother is murdered while they travel to Megalopolis. From there, wealthy people become cyborgs, gaining immortality along with mechanical bodies. Some cyborgs hunt humans for fun. One day, Tetsuro tries to steal from a passenger a pass for the Galaxy Express 999, a train that travels between planets, but fails. While fleeing from the police, he is rescued by Maetel, a mysteriously beautiful woman who is the spitting image of his dead mother.

    “I want to get a mechanical body and live an eternal life and travel in the Sea of Stars forever,” Tetsuro tells Maetel, adding that he will also kill Count Mecha, the character responsible for his mother’s murder. But in order to accomplish all this, he needs to board the 999 to the planet where mechanical bodies are given away for free. Maetel offers Testuro a pass for the 999 if he travels with her. And this is how their journey begins.

    Their first stop is Titan where they are attacked by bandits who kidnap Maetel. Given a gun by an old lady, Tetsuro sets out for the bandits’ lair. Antares, the bandit leader, returns Maetel after he finds out that Tetsuro is a human like him. Learning of Testuro’s plan to fight Count Mecha, Antares advises him to, “Shoot before being shot. If you hesitate or flinch, you are done for.”

    Emeraldas, a female pirate whom Tetsuro meets during his journey, informs him that Count Mecha’s Time Castle is located on the planet Heavy Melder. While wandering around planet, Tetsuro meets up with Tochiro, the only son of the lady who gave him the gun. But Tochiro soon dies, having been severely weakened by years of fighting. The villains then suddenly appear and attack Tetsuro. But fortunately he is saved by the pirate Captain Harlock, Tochiro’s best friend.

    After Testuro sneaks into Time Castle, Antares comes to his rescue. Antares then sacrifices his own life to save Testuro, who eventually kills Count Mecha. However, Tetsuro soon realizes that happiness is not just about living forever, and that one can work hard and be considerate and kind to others only when life is finite. With that in mind, he is determined to destroy planet Andromeda, where mechanical people are created.

    Finally, Tetsuro and Maetel arrive on Andromeda where he learns that it is ruled by her mother. Tetsuro feels betrayed by Maetel, who cannot forgive her. With the help of Emeraldas and Harlock, they all destroy the planet and return to the Earth on the 999. Tetsuro bids farewell to Maetel, who sets out on another journey.




    近未来の地球が舞台。主人公は、メガロポリスに向かう途中に母を殺された少年、星野鉄郎。金持ちは機械の体とともに永遠の命を手に入れて機械人間になり、なかには貧しい人間を遊び半分に殺す者もいた。ある日鉄郎は宇宙の惑星を行き来する 999 号の定期券を乗客から盗もうとするが失敗する。警察に追われる鉄郎は、死んだ母そっくりな謎の美女メーテルに救われる。






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