I recognize that some of you have been to Japan.
Some are repeaters, and you know Japanese food very well.
I am often surprised that you know places I have never been to)
Living in Tokyo, Japan, I can tell you that the restaurant prices are in general not too expensive. Most of lunch is provided at less than 1000 yen, and dinner is not as expensive as you imagine.
And they have good service.
Actually, the restaurant business is very competitive, and employees work hard, but not get paid well. Yet, most employees provide good service, which I am proud of as a Japanese.
Most competitive may be the ramen business.
I want to introduce ‘Ramen Jiro’ in this blog.
It is located next to Keio University, which I graduated from, so I was walking to school while looking at a long line every day.
The portion size is large with bean sprouts/cabbage and pork. It is what students love. Shoyu, soy sauce, is special.
Menu is simple with only two kinds -しょう（Shou) and だい(Dai). Shou is small and Dai is big, lol. Simple is good)
There is a story that one American student, who came from Stanford and studied at Keio. He wasn’t able to read Kanji but was able to speak Japanese.
He came to Ramen Jiro every day to see the owner.
He came back to USA, and often comes back to Japan for travel.
He eats ramen everywhere in Japan, but he says Ramen Jiro is best.
If you worked for Ramen Jiro for three to four years, you can open your ramen Jiro shop on your own.
Actually, there is one in Boston,
I would not highly recommend this place LOL, as you need to wait in a long line, but if you are fond of ramen, and want to find a different ramen shop.
This may be it.
Thank you for reading,
I read an interesting blog by a foreigner living in Japan.
‘Entrepreneurs in Japan complain it is difficult to find a girlfriend. One reason is parents want their daughters to marry a man who works for a big respected Japanese company. If a boyfriend works for a small unknown startup, parental approval is usually denied.’
Personally, it not safe anymore to work for a big company. Yet, this is still a mentality of parents, and maybe daughters as well.
Another foreigner disagreed:
‘This is hardly representative of all Japan. Actually Japan is a much more fragmented country than one would initially assume. Besides, let us not forget this is a country of small companies and artisans, and historically a country of entrepreneurs. Hard work in small companies is highly regarded.’
This is also true. How about Kumano brush companies? Most of them are still operated by family members. (An artisan working for Koyomo)
Hiroshima’s most international company is Mazda, but I cannot name another big one easily. A local city is full of small companies, artisans, startups.
Both represent Japan well.
Knowing this fact, parents still want a daughter to marry a man working for a big company.
Working for a big company means ‘stability’ and small companies means ‘risk’ in Japan.
Maybe true now but I wonder how long this idea will last.
Also, I wrote about Konkatsu ( activity to seek for a marriage partner) before and received interesting feedback!
I will write more about it in coming newsletters)
Thank you for reading,
As you might know, Tokyo will have the Olympic in 2020. The last Tokyo Olympic was held in 1964, and maybe, for me, it will be the first time to watch it in my life.
I might be lucky to watch some of them, but I expect that people from overseas watch more and enjoy the rest of Japan.
I want to talk about one story. It is about Judo competition in 1964. It was the first time Judo was competed in Olympics, and Japan, as the Judo country at that time, was supposed to win all the 4 classes.
I mean Judo was not so international as now, especially now European countries are so good. Japan won three gold medals in a row, and the last day was the heaviest, where the match would decide the strongest Judo player in the world.
The opponent was a Dutch Judo player, called Geesink. He was good and he had been improving himself by staying in Japan many times before the Olympic to practice with Japanese.
Moreover, his personality and discipline were highly spoken of among Japanese players.
And he beat the Japanese finalist.
The auditorium became quiet, and the Japanese finalist seemed to be crying.
It was the next moment : when the Dutch coach tried to hug Geesink on the tatami, Geesink stopped him from coming.(the picture below) And he came back to the original position to bow to his opponent.
Judo as a Budo, which begins with Rei and ends with Rei, where everything begins and ends with a bow. A bow represents ‘courtesy’ or ‘respect’ to others.
He shocked many Japanese by his victory, but impressed Japanese more with his courtesy. His behavior is still highly spoken as a Judo sprit.
Maybe this was the moment, when Judo began to be international from a local sport.
Thank you for reading again!
I woke up early today at 5 am. This time, I did not go back to sleep, LOL. Instead, I went to a gym, where many people were doing excercies before work. I was surprised!
Anyway, it is not what I want to talk about.
When I came back, I saw many high school students walking to school.
In Japan, most schools have uniforms, As a matter of fact, uniforms are important to students, and some students consider how attractive uniforms are when they select a school to go to.
Personally, I was not interested in school uniform, and I wore a typical black uniform with a stand-up collar for six years. Actually, the high school I went to did not have any school uniform. However, It was a boys’ school, and they did not care much and most of students wore black ones.
Years later, I read an essay Haruki Murakami, a novelist, wrote. I don’t remember it exactly but it was like this :
‘My (Murakami’s) high school had a vote whether students should wear a uniform or can wear anything we like. The result was that we should wear a uniform. I was disappointed at the result as we did not choose ‘freedom.’ We did throw away the right of having freedom.’
I am not sure if this is an issue of ‘freedom’ but rather Japanese don’t want to stand out from colleagues. Maybe most people feel comfortable when they belong to a community where they feel ‘same.’
At the same time, freedom is not something that is given free, history proves.
Well, when I see students wearing school uniforms, I recall that essay that Murakami wrote, and I think of ‘freedom’ or ‘culture.’
Thank you for reading again,
It is still raining and cold outside so today I bought a bento box for lunch.
It is the food section of the new building ‘Scramble Square’ I went to. Here are some pictures.
Have you ever head of bento box ?
It is a lunch box, and in Japan, it is common to have okazu and rice in a bento box.
Okazu is a side dish, with rice.
Side dishes could be chicken, beef, pork…
Rice is often provided in the form of ‘Onigiri’ with seaweed like these:
I had my bento made by my mother during Junior High and High schools. It was so much fun to open a bento, I remember. Maybe a students’ favorite time)
My mother ran a stationery store, so sometimes she was so busy that my grandmother made it.
Grandmother tried her best but how it looked was a bit old-fashion at the time, and I remember I was embarrassed when I opened it in front of my classmates.
And I did not thank her when I came home. Or I might have even told her not to make bento for me because I was not able to open it at classroom.
Now, when I am relaxed while taking a long bath, this bitter memory comes back to me.
If she was still alive and made me a bento, I would give her plenty of gratitude. And I should have proudly opened her bento box in front of classmates. I just did not have such courage.
In Japan, we say
‘By the time you wish to be a good child, your parents are long gone.’
In this case, it is my grandmother. I have many things to say to her.
For brushes, here are some sets for Christmas – Hakuhodo and Chikuhodo.
Please let me know if you are interested)
Thank you for reading,
I want to talk about one story right after Word War II.
I get some good feedback on writing about Japan itself. I am going to learn makeup and brushes more to give you more useful information!
In Japan, we are supposed to respect old people. We help senior people. We have seats in all trains for old people, pregnant women, and others but any kind of seats would (should ) be given to old people by younger people.
I was always spending time with my grandmother when I was a kid as my mother owned a stationery shop and was seldom at home. So even now I like watching happy grandmothers with their grandkids on the street. Not grandfathers, lol. They seem to be happy but I am sure they have many experiences, good and bad. Especially during and after the war.
I asked many questions about the war of my grandmother – she did not tell me much .. She was in Taiwan and the ship she took was wrecked by a storm on her way back to Japan in 1945. She thought she would die but survived. That may have been the only thing she talked about. She had a painting in her room which looked like so wet.
This is the story of an American soldier and a Japanese boy at that time.
In 1946, after Japan surrendered, the Allied forces came to Japan from USA and the British Common Wealth. My father told me he spoke with an Australian soldier in Hiroshima, where those from British Common Wealth stayed. He somehow acknowledged Australian accents)
USA occupied Tokyo.
There was a 20 year -old soldier who came to Tokyo. His name was George. George worked at GHQ, General HeadQuarters in Tokyo, as an interpreter.
George met a Japanese boy, who polished shoes of American soldiers at GHQ. The boy looked so hungry that George made a sandwich with jam and butter and give it to him. He bowed and thanked to him, but did not eat it and instead put it into a box.
George said, ‘you can eat it here, you must be hungry’
The boy said, ‘Yes. I am hungry, but my 3 -year old sister is waiting at home. She is the only family member. I am going to eat it with her. Thank you very much’ He bowed politely. ’Her name is Mariko.’
George, a Japanese American, at the time of the war, felt inferior to his American colleagues. He met this boy, was actually encouraged by this boy, who lived in a dignified manner in the devastated land and poverty.
George helped him for two months, but he decided to come back to USA to study law.
Later, he came back to Japan and looked for the boy and his sister Mariko, but was not able to find them. Those brother and sister would be around 80 years old now if they were alive.
His last name is Ariyoshi.
George Ariyoshi became a lawyer and politician after he studied law and later became Governor of Hawaii in 1974.
Those were tough times, not only in Japan, but everywhere in the world, and I remember this story when I see old ladies ( and men) who must have had a hard time. Hard times that I cannot imagine. But they look happy now.
Thank you for reading again!
I follow several youtube where I can learn good things about life.
One of them is made by DaiGo, who talks about research findings done by universities all over the world.
It is only in Japanese, so I am not intending to introduce this youtube here, but I want to introduce an interesting concept of ‘Giver’ he talked about the other day.
It is a book called ‘Give and Take’ written by Adam Grant, a professor at Wharton Business School.
Giver, in the context of Give and Take, gives people more than she or he receives. So Giver loses most. That is true.
But who gets most?
That is also Giver. It is called ‘Top Giver.’
Top Giver also gives more but makes the size of a transaction bigger by involving more people and gets more and gives more. So it is a win/win. People like Givers so they gather around Givers. This also works in the long run.
I was thinking about this when I went shopping the other day.
Yes, people are nice when I buy. That makes sense.
But there are also a few people who welcome me even if I say I only want to ask a question and don’t buy.
This person in Dior Shibuya is a good example. He smiles at me when he sees me from a distance, and expresses joy when I visit. He says, ‘ you don’t have to buy. I just want to talk’
I don’t buy Dior as much as Hakuhodo or SUQQU or others.
So I feel sorry for him but it doesn’t seem to bother him that I don’t buy.
He knows products, and even if he doesn’t, he calls me later after he checks and informs me of what it is.
When I talked to him the other day, two lady visitors came to him for help even though there were other employees available. I can tell that he is popular there)
Not sure if he is a top Giver, but definitely, it works with me for a long term. When I have an order for Dior, he is the first person I call and ask.
I can think of those Givers at SUQQU, Laduree and Jill Stuart. Those people make me a fan of the brands, and they are the people I call. And it benefits them in a long run.
Small examples but the Giver theory works at least here.
Thank you for reading!
Now it is raining and gets really cold this week, though it was warm yesterday, and some tourists wore half-sleeved in Tokyo!
I receive good questions about brushes almost every day and it is interesting for me to investigate the brush world. It is always a learning experience.
Today, I was asked if the brushes of Rae Morris, an Australian makeup artist, are made in Japan. Brushes with magnetic.
My source told me it is made-in-Japan, but he did not reveal which company. Maybe some of you have an idea.
Have you noticed that Kumano brushes are applied by the Kumano sticker?
Some brushes are copied and produced so this sticker proves that a brush is produced by a Kumano brush company. More exactly said is that it proves to be produced by a member of the Kumano brush union.
Union members can claim that they are Kumano brushes (Kumano fude). Interestingly, Hakuhodo is not a member of the union so it is not called ‘Kumao brush’ or Hakuhodo cannot claim to be ‘Kumano brush.’ Maybe they don’t need the Kumano name any longer as they are already well known.
The union has an annual fude festival (fude matsuri) in September, where you can buy brushes by a discount. You might have noticed that Hakuhodo doesn’t have a shop at the festival.
I checked the Fude Union page, and there are about 50 companies in the union, publicly. Maybe more. Some companies are not known for makeup brushes because they focus on calligraphy and painting.
There will be an opportunity for you to explore brush business with so many companies)
Thank you for reading!