Izu reveals its 'silver lining'

Jan 23, 2004

Izu reveals its 'silver lining'

For most Japanese, mention of the Izu Peninsula in Shizuoka Prefecture conjures up an image of a coast lined with onsen (hot-spring) resorts and blessed with good seafood, drawing hordes of visitors from the Tokyo area. However, speak to the okami-san (proprietress) at any ...

From mourning to 'magic'

Jan 4, 2004

From mourning to 'magic'

It may be only mildly surprising that Japanese translations of the first four “Harry Potter” titles have racked up 16.5 million sales to date. It is, though, quite astonishing that the publisher is not an industry giant, but a small Tokyo firm with no ...

Candy firms jump on CD bandwagon

Dec 19, 2003

Candy firms jump on CD bandwagon

Giveaways attached to packets of candies and chocolate are nothing new in Japan. Recently these omake have commonly taken the form of wonderfully detailed little toys and figurines in themed, collectable sets such as animals, anime characters, dinosaurs, birds, cars or motorbikes. This year, ...

Dec 19, 2003

In praise of a 'brilliant idea'

Even a cursory check of convenience store shelves these days shows how the omake giveaways that makers once offered as lures to buy certain candies have now become the main selling points themselves. After all, how many people would pay 300 yen just for ...

Poring over all tea's attractions

Oct 24, 2003

Poring over all tea's attractions

Kenji Takano’s tea room fills the light and spacious basement of a building in Jinbocho — an area that’s best-known for its shops crammed with old books, prints and posters, and for the number of small publishing companies based there. But a light and ...

Tips from the top

Aug 31, 2003

Tips from the top

Feeling lucky? This time, you’re certain, you just know the takarakuji is as good as yours. So you go to what is widely acknowledged as the luckiest sales booth in town and join a line of other hopefuls. You’ve also researched precisely how to ...

Lottery yarns of yore

Aug 31, 2003

Lottery yarns of yore

For at least 300 years, lotteries in Japan have been the stuff of dreams — and nightmares. This is most evident in the stories about tomikuji (fortune lotto), a lottery that flourished in the Edo Period (1603-1867). These tales are found in the repertoire ...

Aug 21, 2003

Mars attacks

As the day draws near when Mars makes its closest encounter with Earth for 60,000 years, Japan’s astronomical observatories are launching “Mars Week” on Aug. 22 in an effort to get “more than 100 million people” across the country to go outside and see ...

Lost pet? No sweat -- except in the tub

Aug 10, 2003

Lost pet? No sweat -- except in the tub

You may think you’ve got just about everything for your pet — from brand-name waterproofs and jewelry to its weekly trips to a pet cafe and yoga classes. Now, though, there’s a new out-of-this-world accessory for the pet owner with everything: the no-hiding-place collar. ...

We can work it out

Jul 13, 2003

We can work it out

“Naze hatarakunoka (Why Do We Work?)”; “Hatarakutte nanda (What Does Working Mean?)”; “Daisukina koto wo shite okanemochi ni naru (Become Rich Doing Things You Really Like)”; “Yappari kaisha wa yametewa ikenai (Don’t Quit Your Company So Easily)”; “Tenshokuo (Job-switching King)”; “Kaisha wo yameru jikokuhyo ...