Monthly Archive October 2014

ByMark Guthrie
Oct 30, 2014

Ebi Furai – Famous Nagoya Meibutsu

Ebi FryWhen it comes to meibutsu, food associated with a particular region of Japan, Nagoya is probably best known for miso katsu, tebasaki and hitsumabushi. Perhaps one dish that is closely connected to Nagoya yet has a further reaching popularity, is ebi furai.

Developed at the turn of the 20th century as a reaction to the growing popularity of other Meiji era yoshoku, western inspired dishes such as tonkatsu and omrice in the restaurants of Tokyo, Ebi Furai, or deep fried breaded prawn, is enjoyed all over the country. No matter where you go in Japan, you can probably find ebi furai on an Izakaya menu or in a bento box.

Many Nagoyans take for granted that the dish originated within their city, due to the fact that Aichi’s official fish is the tiger prawn, and that the fried prawns resemble the golden Kinshachi that adorn the top of Nagoya Castle. However, the most likely connection is a more recent one, thanks down to the popular sunglassed comedian and super-talent Taomri joking that Nagoyans pronounced it as ebi furyaa. This dig at the Nagoya-ben accent (despite being factually inaccurate as foreign loan words tend not to be affected by Japanese dialects) has since cemented in the national consciousness the connection between ebi furai and Nagoya.

Whether a result of a joke or not, Naogya now takes ebi furai as seriously as it does the other Nagoya-meshi, and you can find it in virtually every restaurant that sells yoshoku. However, for a more eclectic experience, you could try out these restaurants:

Maruha

Perhaps the most famous restaurant for ebi furai in Nagoya, on the 8th floor of the La Chic building in Sakae, you will find Maruha. Whilst you can find branches of this seafood orientated izakaya elsewhere in Nagoya, it is the views of the city and the airy atmosphere that makes this one stand out. More impressive, however, are the immense fried prawns, in particular the maki ebi furai, a deep fried prawn rolled and sliced in the style of maki sushi.

La Chic 8F, Sakae 3-6-1, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya

Konparu

This chain of small cafés dotted around the city is famed for one thing and one thing only, the ebi furai sand (fried prawn sandwich). While not particularly well known outside of the local community, for 930JPY, the sandwich in the house’s special sauce, is definitely worth seeking out.

Check website for your local cafe or head to the Mei-eki branch: Meieki 3-14-15 Nakamura-ku, Nagoya

Kitchen Oumi

When it comes to Nagoyan ebi furai, big is most certainly better. Nagoyans pride their fried prawns as being not in the slightest bit shrimpy, and at surely at nowhere else do they come as big as at Kitchen Oumi in Chikusa. Measuring in at a whopping 30cm (12 inch), that’s a lot of prawn for your plate.

1-9-23 Chikusa, Nagoya, Chikusa-ku

If you don’t fancy heading out to get your ebi furai fill, why not try making your own? While we are big fans of ebi furai here at Japan Info Swap, we do not profess to be great chefs. As such we will leave the recipes to the experts. Try clicking on one of the links below and get frying up your very own Nagoya delicacy.

www.justonecookbook.com

japanesefood.about.com

www.grouprecipes.com/

www.japanfoodaddict.com

 

By Mark Guthrie

Image: compfight.com "Ebi Fry" by Buck82 (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified
ByMark Guthrie
Oct 28, 2014

Dr Suwa Pediatric Clinic, Tokyo

Dr Suwa Pediatric Clinic – スワミチコ こどもクリニック

Branch of Medicine: Pediatrics

Telephone:  03-3444-7070

Address:  Royal Palace Hiroo #103, 5-16-4, Hiroo, Shibuya-ku

Website: www.suwa-pediatrics.com

Hours:
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday: 9:00-12:30, 14:00-18:00;
Wednesdays and Saturdays: : 9:00-12:00;
Closed: Sundays and public holidays

Notes:
– Dr Suwa speaks German
– NHI accepted
– Appointment must be set at least 30 minutes before closing time.

 

Use this map to find German speaking medical providers in Tokyo

  1. You can click on any icon to get more information (this info is also listed below the map)
  2. Each location has its own page with more information about it.  You can access this specific location information (such as English ability, etc) by clicking the “JIS Info” link.

Key
Clinics=Green
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
Dentist=Purple
General Hospitals=Red

ByMark Guthrie
Oct 28, 2014

Toy Shopping in Nagoya

toysSo November is here and, for the more prepared of you, that means its time to get the Christmas presents sorted, particularly finding this year’s must-have toys for your kids.

While you can still order G.I. Joes and Barbies from online stores back home you may find that your child’s tastes in toys have changed during their time in Japan. Finding toys and games to suit their new tastes may be difficult, so Japan Info Swap has come up with a short list of toy stores in and around Nagoya that should fulfill your needs.

Toys R Us

Of course everyone knows the old American favorite, Toys R Us, and the Japanese variety is also an immense store stocked to the rafters of every kind of toy you can think of. There are two stores in Nagoya including a particularly large one in Nagoya Nakagawa as well as a further one in Nagoya Minato

Nagoyaminato

Address: 455-0056 Aichi, Nagoya, Minato Ward, Sunamicho, 1−5

Website

Opening Times: 10:00-21:00

Tel: 052-654-7651

Nagoyanakagawa

Address: 454-0972 Nagoya, Aichi Prefecture, Nakagawa-ku 1-24-21, Azupaku 2F

Website

Opening Times

Tel: 052-432-3480

Tokyu hands

Tokyu hands is a wonderful catch all department store in which you can find all manner of active stuff for kids. Whether it be handicrafts, face paints or bikes, you can find it in Tokyu Hands. There are two in the city including one in the main Nagoya JR Station, spread out over floors four to six of the Takashimaya department store. The other is near the Hisaya odori subway station in Central Park Annex.

Nagoya Station Store

Address: 4th thru 10th fl., JR Nagoya, Takashimaya, 1-1-4 Mei-eki, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi

Website

Opening Times: 10:00-20:00

Tel: 052-566-0109

Central Park Annex Store

Address: Central Park Annex, 5th thru 9th fl, 3-5-4, Nishiki, Nagoya

Website

Opening Times: 10:00-20:00

Tel: 052-951-2115

Don Quixote

Affectionately known as Donki by most locals, Don Quixote is another store with absolutely everything, from international foods to potted plants. Their toy store is quite extensive with bikes being pedalled (badoom tish) out the front, running through playthings and costumes. Be careful with young children around the fancy dress department as things can get a little risqué, with an adult ‘toy’ section curtained but not manned nearby.

Address: 4-5-5 Sanno Nakagawa-ku Nagoya-shi, Aichi, JAPAN, 454-0011

Website

Opening Times: 10:00-17:00

Tel: 052-324-4411 / 052-324-4422

BIC Camera

BIC Camera on the West side of Nagoya Station, as the name suggests, predominantly stocks electronic goods. However, on the third floor you can find various dolls, stuffed animals, board games, and a as well as action figures alongside  sporting goods. What it also has is an extensive cache of block based toys. If your kids love Duplo and Lego they are in for a treat, and if your older children still have the building bug, they can be building bugs as well as other animals with the impressive collection of the increasingly popular Nanoblocks.

Address: 6-9, Tsubakicho, Nakamura-ku, Nagoya-shi, Aichi

Website

Opening Times: 10:00-21:00

Tel: 052-459-1111

Joshin Kids Land

Perhaps the most striking thing about Joshin Kids Land is that there are very few kids. The first floor is chock-a-block with computer games and consoles, but the second and third floors are packed with models, figures and Gundam (robots) toys and accessories, and these are taken very seriously by the predominantly adult male clientele. However, if your child is mad on Transformers and the like, they may find Joshin Kids Land heaven on earth.

Address: 4-2-48 Naka-ku, Nagoya

Opening Times: 10:00-20:00

Tel: 052-262-1203

Gateway

Did you enjoy it in Joshin Kids Land? Maybe the toys aren’t for your children after all. Well, there’s no shame in that, we are in Japan, and if you are looking for classic toys and models for your own collection Gateway in Otsubo may be right up your alley. It is a traditional style Japanese toy store with the causeways crammed with all kinds of classic toys. There is very little (if anything) modern, but if you are in to models and toys from the 1960’s-90’s Gateway is well worth a look.

Address: 2 -17-01 Ōtsubo, Tenpaku-ku, Nagoya-shi, 468-0072

Opening Times: 13:00-20:00 (closed Mondays and Tuesdays)

Tel: 052-833-4356

Rakuten

If you can’t find what you are looking for in any of the above, it might be worth your while checking out Japanese Amazon-a-like e-commerce website Rakuten. With 1274443 Results in the toy section, you are bound to find your needle within that haystack eventually.

Website 

 

By Mark Guthrie

Image: flickr.com "My family" by Andrew Mitchell (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) – Modified
ByMark Guthrie
Oct 27, 2014

Tanaka’s Women’s Clinic, Tokyo

Tanaka’s Women’s Clinic – 田中ウィメンズクリニック

Branch of Medicine: Gynecology

Telephone:  03-3718-3181

Address:  5-25-1 Okusawa, Setagaya-ku, Tokyo

Website: www.tanaka-wc.com

Hours:
Monday to Saturday: 9:00-12:00, 13:30-17:00
Closed: Sundays and public holidays

Notes:
– Some staff speak German
– NHI – TBC

 

 

Use this map to find German speaking medical providers in Tokyo

  1. You can click on any icon to get more information (this info is also listed below the map)
  2. Each location has its own page with more information about it.  You can access this specific location information (such as English ability, etc) by clicking the “JIS Info” link.

Key
Clinics=Green
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
Dentist=Purple
General Hospitals=Red

ByMark Guthrie
Oct 27, 2014

Tokyo International Clinic, Tokyo

Tokyo International Clinic – 東京インターナショナルクリニック

Branch of Medicine: Internal medicine, cardiology, psychiatry

Telephone:  03-5798-3585  

Address:  4-18-19 Takanawa, Minato-ku, Tokyo

Website: www.tokyo-international-clinic.com

Hours:
TBC

Notes:
– German-speaking doctor: Dr. Thomas Nagano. E-MAIL: thomasdr@tokyo-international-clinic.com
– NHI – TBC

 

Use this map to find German speaking medical providers in Tokyo

  1. You can click on any icon to get more information (this info is also listed below the map)
  2. Each location has its own page with more information about it.  You can access this specific location information (such as English ability, etc) by clicking the “JIS Info” link.

Key
Clinics=Green
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
Dentist=Purple
General Hospitals=Red

By
Oct 20, 2014

Using Kerosene Heaters in Japan

Kerosene_HeaterOutside of Tokyo and other urban areas, central heating is not really a thing in Japan.  High end properties will off such amenities, but generally heating your entire home uniformly is avoided, as heating spaces not being actively used is seen as wasteful here.  Instead, rooms in the home are heated using a portable heater or space heater dedicated to that room.  Within the market for these smaller heating devices there are a lot of options, and the one that’s best for your needs will entirely depend on your circumstances.

In this article we will be discussing kerosene heaters, which are a way of life in many parts of Japan during the cold winter months.  They are popular options because they are cheaper than some other options and they heat up the room seemingly instantaneously, much faster than electric.  While these devices are popular options, it is important to be very cautious when using them, as misuse and neglecting basic safety precautions could result in serious damage and/or injury, such as carbon dioxide poisoning.

Below are a few important points to keep in mind when using kerosene heaters to help avoid undesirable situations.

DO NOTs

  1. Do not use gasoline. Be sure to only use kerosene.
  2. Do not block the air vent with anything like clothing, paper, bags, towels, etc.
  3. Do not use the unit to dry clothing, as it might cause a fire.
  4. Do not use the unit near curtains or other combustible items.
  5. Do not sit in close proximity of the wind coming from the unit as to avoid dehydration.
  6. Do not sit or put anything on top of the unit.
  7. Do not let children operate the unit and keep them well away from the unit at all times.
  8. Do not attempt to take the unit apart of fix it. Take it to a certified technician.
  9. Do not use the unit:
    >>in confined spaces.
    >>in dusty and humid places.
    >>windy places or doorways.
    >>in direct sun light or high temperature conditions

DOs

  • Air out the room once or twice every hour
  • Turn the unit off when refilling it with kerosene.
  • Refill the tank well away from any fire.
  • Confirm that the kerosene is not leaking.
  • Keep the unit clear of all types flammable gas (gasoline, benzene, thinner, etc. )
  • Regularly clean the fan filter located in the back of the unit.
  • Turn the unit off when you out or to sleep.
  • After turning the unit off, be careful not to touch any hot parts.
  • When the unit is not in use for long periods of time or when storing it, make sure the unit is unplugged and there is no kerosene in the tank.
  • Please use a humidifier when using a Kerosene Heater.

Useful Vocabulary

The following vocabulary will be useful when purchasing kerosene.  Also, don’t forget to take your kerosene tank with you when going to get it filled. (duh!)

English Romaji Japanese Characters
Kerosene To-yu 灯油
Full Man-tan 満タン
1000 yen Sen-en 千円
2000 yen Ni-sen-en 二千円(2千円)
3000 yen San-zen-en 三千円(3千円)
Cash Gen-kin 現金
Credit Cards Ku-re-jitto Kaado クレジット・カード
Liters Rittoru リットル
Please Onegai shimasu お願いします
Please fill it up with kerosene. To-yu, mantan onegai shimasu. 灯油満タンお願いします。
I would like to pay by cash Genkin de onegai shimasu. 現金でお願いします。

*You are likely to be asked whether you would like to pay by cash (gen-kin) or credit card (kaado).

Image: Public domain from Wikipedia
ByMark Guthrie
Oct 14, 2014

English language bookshops in Tokyo

old_BookWith the advent of e-readers and smartphones, getting your hands on English language literature in Japan isn’t the challenge it once was. However, whether the book you are looking for isn’t available online, or you just like the feel and smell of turning pages, sometimes you just have to hold the book in your hands.

The following is a list of just some of the places where you can find English language books around Tokyo.

Good Day Books – Gotanda

While they may not be up against the strongest of opposition, Good Day Books’ claim to be the largest used English Language bookstore is hard to refute with a staggering 40,000 books on premesis. They stock new, rare and hard to find titles as well as trading or buying books you no longer have use for. There is also a community based around the shop with a series of author presentations by writers on Japan, as well as a book club.

Where: 3rd Floor Tokai Building, 2-4-2 Nishi Gotanda, Shinagawaku 141-0031

When: Mon-Sat 11:00-20:00, Sun and holidays 11:00-18:00

Web: http://www.gooddaybooks.com/contents/home/?language=english

Kinokuniya – Shinjuku

Another large (by Japanese standards) selection of English language fiction and non-fiction, Kinokuniya also focuses on audiovisual and stationary products. There are two stores in Shinjuku station, with the main eight floored one found at the east exit, but the Southern Terrace exit perhaps has a wider selection of English language fashion, style and current affairs magazines.

Where: Performing Arts Theatre 2, 5-24-2 Sendagaya, Shibuya, 151-0051

When: 10:00-20:00

Web: www.kinokuniya.co.jp

Cow Books – Nakameguro

If you’ve got a touch of the beatnik about you, Cow Books is a great place to check out. With a collective choice of reasonably priced oddities from the 1960s and 70s, you can find all manner of books on progressive politics and protest works as well as other more quirky titles on the likes of Timothy Leary, Underground poetry and hippy counter culture. Throw in a free cup of coffee when you make a purchase, and Cow Books might be just your idea of bookshop heaven. Keep an eye out for them On The Road in their travelling book mobile.

Where:1-14-11 Aobadai, Meguro-ku, 153-0042

When: Tue-Thur 13:00-21:00, Mon closed

Web: www.cowbooks.jp/english.html

Aoyama Book Center – Roppongi

Aoyama Book Center has a particularly impressive selection of magazines, with special attention paid towards arts and design. In fact ABC seems to cater particularly well to denizens of the art world, stocking plenty of books on the subject on top of the usual (though expensive) English fiction

Where: 6-1-20 Roppongi, Minato-ku, 106-0032

When: Mon-Sat 10:00-17:00, Sun 10:00-22:00

Web: www.aoyamabc.co.jp

Book Off – Everywhere

Depending on where you live, Book Off can be a little hit and miss. As part of the ‘Off’ recycling empire found all over the country, they stock second hand goods. This means the more foreigner friendly your shopping area is, the more likely you are to come across something you want, with the bigger stores such as the one in Shinjuku having an extensive English language stock. This however does not mean that the smaller stores won’t throw up the odd gem. You never know where you might get lucky.

Where: All over the city. See website for details of your nearest store.

Web:www.bookoff.co.jp

Shibuya Publishing Booksellers – Shibuya

Despite being just five minutes from Shibuya train station, Shibuya Publishing Booksellers is hidden away on a quiet little street meaning you can forget about the city’s hustle and bustle as you browse their incredible selection. The staff are helpful and just the right side of chatty and will help you find what you are looking for amongst their choice of books, magazines and even the odd record. If you own a record player that is.

Where: 17-3 Kamiyamacho, Shibuya, 154-0047

When: Mon-Sat 12:00-00:00 Sun 12:00-22:00

Web: www.shibuyabooks.net

Tower Records – Shibuya

You kind of know what you’re going to get with Tower Records: plenty of pop culture books and magazines. In recent years the English selection has been slimmed down but UK customers can occasionally get the Guardian Weekly or The Times. However it is the massive collection of Lonely Planet tourist guides that makes Tower Records the ideal spot for adventurers.

Where: 1-22-14, Jinnan, Shibuya-ku, 150-0041

When: 10:00-23:00

Web: www.tower.jp

 

This article is for informational  purposes only.  Inclusion is not an endorsement!

By Mark Guthrie

Image: By Lin Kristensen from New Jersey, USA (Timeless Books) [CC-BY-2.0], via Wikimedia Commons -Modified
ByMark Guthrie
Oct 14, 2014

Japanese Fairy Tales You Can Read with Your Children

Read with childrenIf you have children there is perhaps nothing more rewarding than reading them bedtime stories. But let’s face it, there is only so many times that you can read The Gruffalo or Little Red Riding Hood. As such, why not add an extra layer of interest to your quality time, for both you and your little ones, by introducing fairy tales from Japan. As you an probably imagine, folk stories from Japan are filled with marvel, invention and magic. Below is just a sample of the many stories that Japanese children have been told throughout the ages, and your children too, are sure to love.

Warning: This article contains spoilers

Urashima Tarou

With its origins in the Nara period (8th Century) Urashima Tarou is a tale of a young fisherman who rescues a turtle being tormented by others and releases it to the sea. The following day a giant turtle arrives to tell the fisherman that the turtle he saved was in fact the daughter of Ryūjin, the Emperor of The Sea. Given gills Urashimatarou is taken to the sea where he again meets the turtle he saved, now a beautiful princess, and they fall in love. After three days he returns to land to inform his mother that he is to be wed.

Upon arriving he discovers that he is now 300 years into the future and absentmindedly opens a box given to him by the princess under the proviso that he never does so. Urashima Tarou turns into an old man as the box contained in it his old age.

Get it here

Issun-bōshi (The Inch-High Samurai)

In this story with comparisons to Tom Thumb, an old, childless couple wishing to have a child “no matter how small” are blessed with Issun-bōshi. Upon realizing that he will grow no taller than one inch, and fancying himself as a samurai, the boy sets sail to the city to find his way in the world, his sewing needle sword by his side, sailing in his soup bowl ship. Derided for his size, he is eventually given work as the play pal of the daimyo’s daughter.

One day the pair are attacked by an Oni demon who swallows the boy. Issun-bōshi escapes by fighting his way out from the inside of the oni who spits him out, dropping the powerful Uchide’s mallet in the process. Out of gratitude the princess uses the mallet’s power to enlarge the boy, and they eventually wed.

Get it here

Momotarō  (Peach boy)

As the name suggests, the boy Momotaro came to earth in a giant peach, and was found in this Edo period story by another old, childless woman washing clothes in the river. Having been raised by the old woman and her husband Momotarō leaves to fight a group of rampaging Oni demons. En route he befriends a band of talking animals – a monkey, a dog and a pheasant – who help him capture the chief demon and take from him the stolen bounty with which he returns home to his family.

Momotarō is perhaps the best loved of Japan’s folk tales, and was particularly popular during the Pacific war when Japan’s government was often portrayed as the young boy, the Japanese people as the animals  and the United States as the Oni.

Get it here

Kaguya hime (Princess Kaguya/ The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter )

An early example of proto-science fiction, the tale of a bamboo cutter again features an old childless couple finding a child, this time a tiny girl of exceeding beauty, within a silver bamboo stalk. From that day on the bamboo cutter discovers a small nugget of gold within every bamboo shoot he harvests and they become wealthy. As an adult the girl Kaguya’s beauty becomes well known and she is proposed to by five princes, proposals she rebuffs by setting them each an impossible task. Learning of her beauty the Emperor too proposes marriage, but Kaguya also rejects the advances.

Eventually, as her behavior becomes erratic, it is revealed that the girl is a princess of the moon and she is to return to her home. Before she is taken by her celestial family she leaves notes to her foster family, as well as a drop of the elixir of life for her friend the Emperor. Not wanting to live eternally without his beloved Kaguya, the Emperor has the elixir and the letter sent to the mountain “closest to heaven” where it was to be destroyed. The mountain now bears the name immortality (不死), Fushi or, now Fuji.

Get it here

Tsuru no Ongaeshi  (The Grateful Crane)

An old man heading to town to sell firewood, discovers a crane caught in a hunter’s trap. Feeling sorry for the bird he releases it. That night, during a violent snowstorm a young girl arrives at their home seeking shelter. After taking care of the old couple she asks to be taken as their daughter, something the old couple happily agree to do. One day she requests that the couple buy her some yarn with which she can weave. Being handed the yarn she takes it to her room requesting that the couple never watch her at her work. Soon she returns with a beautiful blanket which she bids the couple to sell and purchase more yarn.

Again the girl retires to her room and returns with another blanket of outstanding beauty which the couple sell for a great price. This they repeat making the family wealthy, but overcome with curiosity as to how the girl can weave with such elegance they open her door. Instead of finding a girl, they instead discover a crane weaving its now partially-bald wing weathers to make a shimmering cloth. The crane’s identity now discovered she is forced to leave. She returns to her crane form and flies away.

Get it here 

 

By Mark Guthrie

Image: flickr.com  "2007-1106-dg-SFfun020.jpg"  by Groovnick  (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) - Modified
ByMark Guthrie
Oct 03, 2014

Dr. Okada Clinic Kanagawa, Yokohama

Dr. Okada Clinic – 岡田クリニック

Branch of Medicine: Ear, nose and throat

Telephone:  045-621-9881

Address:  1F, 12-22 Honmokuwada, Naka-ku Yokohama-shi, Kanagawa-ken 231-0827

Website: https://medical.yahoo.co.jp/hospital/10d6c222e766fdd5a74bc96339c18ccffb0ef3b9/ (Third party website)

Hours:
Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Fridays – 9:30-12:30, 15:00-18:00
Saturdays – 9:30-12:30
Closed Thursdays, Sundays and public holidays

Notes:
– Languages spoken: The doctor speaks English and Italy, though the staff may not.
– NHI accepted
– Appointments are recommended, but not required

 

Use this map to find medical providers in Yokohama

  1. You can click on any icon to get more information (this info is also listed below the map)
  2. Each location has its own page with more information about it.  You can access this specific location information (such as English ability, etc) by clicking the “JIS Info” link.

Key
Clinics=Green
Ladies Clinic/Child Health=Yellow
Dentist=Purple
General Hospitals=Red