Archive for the 'Economy' Category

Beach naming rights sold to cookie company

The maker of a popular pigeon-shaped cookie was awarded naming rights to three beaches in Kamakura, Japan. The beaches will be renamed in 2014 by the manufacturer of the Hato Sabure (pigeon sable) butter cookie. Toshimaya company opened the first Hato Sabure confectionary store in Kamakura circa 1897.

The Kamakura city government in Kanagawa Prefecture sold the naming rights to cover the cost of beach maintenance. Ten firms submitted naming rights bids. Hato Sabure will pay 12 miliion yen annually for 10 years. It is the first time beach naming rights have been sold in Japan.


Koshigoe, Yuigahama, and Zaimokuza beaches will share a single name. Hato Sabure officials have not chosen a name for the beaches but says it does  not intend to name the areas Hato Sabure Beach.  

Kanagawa prefectural outdoor advertisement regulations limit advertising displays to 2-meters in size.

Recipe: Butter Cookies 

: Zaimokuza beach; Yuigahama beach; Koshigoe beach.

Game arcades gaining elderly gamers

Elderly play medal game in Japan arcade game centerGame centers in Japan are making arcade-game-playing more comfortable for senior citizens and retirees. Almost a fourth of Japan’s population is over the age of 65, and amusement arcade operators are making changes to better accommodate the elderly.

A popular game among seniors is the "medal game" in which coins or tokens dropped into the machine may eventually push jackpot coins over the inner rim and out to the player.

Namcoland Aeon in Kyoto has access restrictions. Those age 15 and under cannot enter after 6:00 P.M. unless accompanied by an adult, and anyone age 18 and under must be accompanied by an adult in order to play a medal game in its "medal corner". The arcade’s theme is "Amusements for three generations."


Large text instructions for elderly medal game in Japan arcade game center Massage chairs at a US Land amusement game center arcade in Japan Blankets, gloves and umbrellas for elederly customers at game arcade in Japan


Namcoland Aeon’s aisles are wider to accommodate strollers and wheelchairs, there are no steps or other barriers, there are more chairs, and the outlet is easy to access from street level.

The in-store sound system volume has been lowered to make it easier for the elderly to hear and the text size has been enlarged on signs and displays.

The Namcoland Aeon staff has been instructed to speak clearly and to make the medal games more user friendly.

Some Adores game centers offer complimentary tea and sweets to customers over age 60 before 10 a.m. Free medal game credits to customers over the age of 60 are also offered by some Adores outlets. The chain also lends out blankets, gloves for wearing while playing medal games, and, if it’s started raining while the customer is inside, umbrellas, if the customer doesn’t have one for the return home.

Some of Konami’s latest arcade games have instructions in larger type to aid readability for senior citizens. Game instructions are also clearly indicated on the machines.

Many game centers have installed massage chairs, and provide reading glasses to customers upon request.

Other retail businesses are catering to the elderly market. The Ueshima coffee shops in Tokyo offers wider aisles an lower tables than the typical Starbucks, and Keio department store provides more chairs, and larger text on signs.


Crane claw game in Japan arcade amusement center Horse racing multi-player game in Japan arcade game center Taito-stat game center in Japan


photos: wheelchair; crane games; taito-station; horse racing game; massage chairs.

Meisters Eat Drink Drive Relax

Japanese women relax naked in onsen spa meister approved. Rice meister master Japan

In addition to the experts you can expect expect to find in Japan – such as  "rice meisters" – enterprises in many other fields are offering original in-house qualification courses. Employees attend courses in order to obtain "meister" certification. Local governments, business and trade associations, organizations, private extended learning and continuing education schools are also offering meister courses in various fields.

  Curry meister study book Japan How to be eco driver in Japan

Curry Meister – Learn the history of curry, spice characteristics and curry communication. Junior and Senior certificates.

Eco Drive Meister – Become expert in environmentally friendly fuel-efficient driving. Best for businesses with more than 50 vehicles. How to Kyoto.

Eco Meister – Courses and certifications offered by individual prefectural and city governments. Learn about the environment, garbage-related problems, recycling, global warming. Akita ecomeister.

Seasoning and food diploma Japanese meister Many Japanese spices and sauces.Japanese Food Meister – How to treat only the ingredient of harmony, how to cut only the dish of harmony, how to boil the fire, and how to apply it and how to dish up the taste. Also known as Washoku.

Japanese Seasoning Meister – Become well-versed in seasonal seasonings and talk about charm of seasoning happily and plainly.

Delicious kelp seaweed konbu served in Japan. Okonomiyaki  pancake-like dish served in Japan

Konbu MeisterKelp is filled with the spirit of ecology, and is the ultimate eco-food, according to the Konbu Meister. Learn how to get the most out of your seaweed.

Awamori Okinawa sake liquor alcohol Japan

Girls and women nude in onsen spa Japan Okinawa Liquor Meister – Official Okinawa Prefecture Awamori distilled rice liquor expert certification.

Okonomiyaki Meister – The qualification levels: Instructor, Coordinator and Meister. What is Okonomiyaki?

Onsen Meister – Learn hot spring hygiene management, the benefits of hot springs, effective bathing methods, and thermal physiology. Japanese spa is called onsen.

Government Fears March Suicide Madness

Japanese government suicide prevention campaign poster Japanese government suicide prevention TV commercial


Suicides increase in March in Japan so the government has begun an emergency 3-month suicide prevention campaign. National Police Agency statistics indicate the number of people who commit suicide is highest in March. The fiscal year ends on March 31 and it’s believed poor financial situations at companies cause managers to commit suicide. The NPA data also shows the number of annual suicides was over 30,000 for the past 12 years. There were 32,753 suicides in Japan in 2009.

Japanese government suicide prevention TV adJapanese government suicide prevention TV adJapanese government official hands out suicide prevention tissue packs attrain  station in Tokyo


The government suicide prevention website also attributes the high suicide rate to long working hours, severe unemployment, bankruptcies, and being liable for multiple consumer loans. As part of the stepped-up suicide prevention effort, consultation counters have been opened at all Hello Work public job-finding centers throughout Japan

Government-sponsored public service TV advertisements show a daughter expressing concern to her sleepy father. The ad advises people who have difficulty sleeping for two weeks or more to consult a doctor.

Cats Eye Stationmaster Posts

Tama-chan cat station master in Japan Tama-chan cat station master in Japan Station cat promoted

Tama-chan, the cat stationmaster of a rural Japan train station, has attained the position of Operating Officer.

The stray cat was found in front of Kishi Station on the Wakayama Electric Railway Co. Kishikawa Line in 2007. Named Tama-chan, the kitty was offered the position of Stationmaster and held that post from 2007 until being promoted to Super Station Master in April 2008.

With the appointment as corporate executive Tama-chan becomes the first cat in the world to hold an executive post of a railroad corporation, a company official said.

Tama-chan, 10, will continue to perform stationmaster duties in addition to its responsibilities as Operating Officer. Those additional duties have not yet been determined.

The cat is responsible for an increase in passenger numbers. The company plans to rebuild Kishi Station into the shape of a cat’s face this summer.

Marron Chestnut the stationmaster dog in Japan Funeral held for Marron Chestnut the stationmaster dog in Japan memorial service held for dead Marron station master dog in Japan

 Station dog cremated

Maron, the 9-year-old Yorkshire terrier stationmaster for the Iwate Galaxy Railway Company died the evening of August 29, 2009. The cause of death was bronchitis. The dog had served as Station Chief at Oku-Nakayama Kogen Station, in Ichinohemachi since September, 2000. A funeral service for Maron was held on September 12, 2009.


Rena the blogging cat stars in Wii game in Japan. Dr. Evil expands into Japan railways?


With Tama-chan promoted, and Maron out of the way, cats are poised to pounce on stations throughout Japan. Cat-blogger and star of the Wii game Sukeban Shachou Rena Wii, "Rena" is likely to take over the position formerly held by Maron. Rena is currently CEO of Cat Queen Inc.

It is rumored CQI is a subsidiary of Virtucon Corporation. Following the mysterious disappearance of CEO "Number 2", leadership of Virtucon was assumed by "Mr. Wigglesworth". Police suspect Wigglesworth was involved in the Number 2 case and the sudden death of Maron. Police also link Wigglesworth to the quick promotion of Tama-chan. "We believe this Mr. Wigglesworth cat is the mastermind of these plots," said one police official.

Station employees had originally protested the latest promotion of Tama-Chan, but they denied they were threatened. "A hairless cat wearing a thick leather collar and flu mask did come to see us late one night after the last train had passed", said one employee who refused to be identified. "But the feline was very polite and did not hiss or scratch us," the employee said.

Police continue to investigate possible foul play among the cats. "It is highly unusual to reach a management position in such a short time. Especially for a cat," the police official said.

Virtucon Corporation did not respond to inquiries. In addition to assigning cats to oversee train stations in Japan, it is believed Virtucon Corporation desires to take over the world.

Top Japan Monthly Laughs of 2009

Canon Japan employees leave early to make babies

Canon lets workers leave early twice a week to encourage them to have more babies. The 5:30 p.m. lights-out program at Canon addresses the declining birthrate problem while also reducing employee overtime costs.

‘Doorplate mania’ man arrested.

A 42-year-old Tokyo man is arrested for stealing about 290 nameplates from house entrances. "I loved to collect plates of rare names. I repeatedly stole nameplates in Tokyo, Chiba and Saitama prefectures from about five years ago," the man told police March.

Teacher forced student to wear maid costume

A 51-year-old male high school teacher in Odate, Akita Prefecture forces an 18-year-old female student to wear a maid costume in the school’s art club and makes other club members take pictures of her.

Doctor admits lacing tea with sleeping powder

Kyoto University Hospital doctor arrested on suspicion of putting a sleep-inducing drug in a female graduate student’s tea. The doctor said he was fond of the student and wanted to attract her attention.


Horror-themed Toilet Paper from Japan Puts You on the Edge of Your Seat

Novel printed on toilet paper rolls. Written by Koji Suzuki, who also authored the horror novel "Ring".

Dead tadpoles fall from sky

Ishikawa Prefecture, located on the Japan Sea Coast experiences raining tadpoles. One resident finds 13 dead tadpoles each around 3 inches long, on and around his car. Another reports hearing a strange noise in a nearby parking lot, then finds 100 tadpoles covering cars in the lot.

Love hotels not touched by recession.

Japan’s love hotel industry thrives while other businesses suffer. (Love hotel finder.)


Elderly American tourist jailed for holding small pocketknife

Man asks Tokyo cop for directions. Cop asks if man has a knife. Man says yes. Man jailed for 10 days.

Blue lights soothe suicidal in Tokyo train stations

Blue lights installed on train platforms in Tokyo to prevent people from jumping into oncoming trains. "Blue lighting was selected because there are claims the color blue calms emotions," an official from East Japan Railway’s Tokyo office said.

Airline passengers told to use toilet before boarding

All Nippon Airways positions staff near the boarding gates in terminals to ask passengers waiting for their flight to relieve themselves before boarding the aircraft. ANA claims empty bladders means lighter passengers, which in turn means lighter aircraft and lower fuel use. ANA said that it may expand the October toilet-trial if results are positive and it is well received by passengers.


Dead pets come back as bracelets

A Shiga, Japan company advertises it will pickup a dead pet, mix its ashes with the clay from the bed of nearby Lake Biwa, and bake the ashes into jewelry for the owner of the deceased pet. The clay from Lake Biwa is commonly used to produce traditional Shigaraki pottery and stoneware.

Hotels with train view entice train spotters

Hotels near stations try to attract railway fans with rooms marketed as having a "rail view". There are estimated to be 20,000 railway buffs in Japan. (Odakyu hotels rail fan stay plan; Keikyu hotels rail fan stay plan.)

Recession Robbers Steal Food Not Cash

People who have lost their jobs and do not have money for food seem to be responsible for an increase in convenience store robberies in Tokyo.

The Metropolitan Police Department said food is being targeted instead of cash.

In September, a man armed with a knife stole onigiri (rice balls) and flavored carbonated alcoholic beverages (Chu-hai) valued at about JPY 2600 from a Tokyo convenience store. "I lost my job due to restructuring late last year. I was hungry," the 42-year-old man told the MPD.

In October, a man threatened a convenience store clerk with a box cutter and stole a cigarette lighter. The 26-year-old man told the MPD he wanted to get caught so he could have a bath and get food.

Convenience store robbers steal rice ball onigiri in Japan. Chu-hai carbonated distilled beverage is target of robbers inJapan.


Police are calling food-snatching robberies "Life distress thefts".

According to the MPD official, there were 67 convenience store robberies in Tokyo as of the end of September. There were the 31 robberies during the same period in 2008.
Security camera photo of convenience store robbery in Japan.


 The MPD reports the number of convenience store robberies began to rise following the "Lehman shock" of October 2008 and the global recession. According to the MPD, in at least 4 robberies only food or drinks was stolen. The robbers only glanced at the cash. About 60 percent of the convenience store robbers were motivated by extreme hardship the MPD said.

Police train convenience store clerks in Japan
Convenience store clerks trained by Tokyo police.Convenience store clerks in Japan being trained with blackboard.


Free food distribution to homeless by charity in Japan.


photos: Chu hai; Onigiri; Hello Work; training white gloves, reporters; training blue shirt; training pink shirt; blackboard (Moka city); food handout Kansai, Tokyo. related: Homeless in Japan photo series.

Economy Cancels JAL Cabin Crew Calendar

January 2009 Japan Airlines desk calendar.January 2009 JAL Japan Airlines wall calendar.  2009 JAL Japan Air lines wall calendar.


After 20 years, Japan Airlines has stopped publication of it’s calendars that feature pictures of cabin attendants. The wall and desktops calendars were first offered in 1989 and have been sold in bookstores, on the internet, and in JAL catalogs. Demand peaked in 1993, with about 100,000 copies printed. For 2009, JAL printed 50,000 of the flight attendant photo calendars. JAL cancelled future editions due to the low demand. The status of JAL’s "World of Beauty", "Fleet" and other calendars is unclear. The cabin crew calendar costs JYP 1500.
Japan Airlines 2009 calendar months.NHK public TV in Japan 2009 newscaster calendar NHK public TV in Japan 2009 newscaster calendar


NHK public TV in Japan 2009 newscaster calendar Sae Nakarai weather girl.. For calendar collectors who cannot obtain the final JAL flight attendant calendar, public TV channel NHK sells a 2009 calendar featuring NHK-TV female news anchors, for JPY 1600. Our favorite NHK weathercaster Sae Nakarai appears in the NHK calendar.
related: NHK announcer profiles (J).

Railways Put Pets To Work

Maron the dog stationmaster in JapanA tiny dog is the honorary stationmaster at Oku-Nakayama Kogen  Station, in IchinohemachiIwate Prefecture.

 Maron, a tiny 8-year-old Yorkshire terrier, wears a tiny uniform and tiny hat and serves as a tourist attraction for the Iwate Galaxy Railway Company. Since 2000, the dog had been accompanying its owner to work at the then-named Oku-Nakayama Station. In June 2008, the president of IGR officially proclaimed the dog as stationmaster at the renamed station. 

Lets Japan provided extensive coverage of Tama-chan the hat-wearing cat stationmaster.

Railway employees-as-attractions in Japan is a developing trend. A Lets Japan investigation discovered two other non-human stationmasters: Yuji-chan the cap-wearing beetle stationmaster at Kabutomushi station, and Maki-chan the frozen tuna stationmaster.


Beetle stationmaster at Japan railway.Maki-chan the frozen tuna stationmaster inJapan.

Railway Kitty Keeps Cash Coming

Report: Tama-chan Boosts Business

Tama chan the trainmaster kitty July 2008 photoKishi station home of Tama chan the station cat

For only the price of cat food, a kitty in a train station in rural Japan has benefited the local economy.

In April 2008, Lets Japan wrote about Tama-chan (Cat in Hat Can’t Quit), the official hat-wearing stationmaster feline at Kishi train station on the Kishigawa Line in Wakayama Prefecture.
Tama-the-cat was appointed in January 2007. Since then, railway officials say 55,000 more people used the line than would normally be expected.

Front of Kishi train station home to Tama-chan the catTama drops candy from stationmaster cat

AFP reports on a study by Katsuhiro Miyamoto, a professor at Kansai University’s School of Accountancy.
The research released earlier this month shows sales of Tama-chan picture books, DVDs, and other goods, brought the local economy as much as 1.1 billion yen (10.44 million dollars) in 2007.

Tama-the-kitten was found on the street and brought to the station by the owner of a nearby shop, then kept by the owner of a grocery store next to the station, before becoming the cat-in-residence at Kishi station.

Strawberry train Wakaya Kishi JapanStrawberry Photo and Sketch

Tama-chan has recently been promoting the railway’s "Strawberry Photo and Sketch" contest for its "Strawberry Train". The contest deadline is October 30, 2008. The strawberry-themed train debuted on the first anniversary of the  establishment of the Wakayama Electric Railway. The line had been part of the Nankai Electric Railway until April 1, 2006.
 Tama chan the station cat DVD
Strawberries are grown throughout Japan. Wakayama is not especially known for strawberry production.