Japan Travel

* * * * * * * * TERRIE’S TAKE – BY TERRIE LLOYD * * * * * *
A weekly roundup of news & information from Terrie Lloyd, a long-term
technology and media entrepreneur living in Japan.

General Edition Sunday, October 05, 2014, Issue No. 775


– What’s New — Tatemae and Dengue Fever
– News — S&P analyst hints at no additional tax rise
– Web Content/Tech Job Vacancies — Community Manager position
– Upcoming Events
– Corrections/Feedback
– Travel Picks — Tokyo: Cycling the Sumida, Sawanoya Ryokan
– News Credits

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On August 27th, a teenage girl was identified by the health ministry
as being the first person to become infected locally with dengue fever
in Japan in over 70 years. The teenager was reportedly bitten by a
mosquito at Yoyogi Park, and shocked local officials took immediate
action and closed the park the next day, subsequently undertaking an
intensive mosquito eradication campaign. Since then, the park has been
closed for almost 6 weeks and recent insect trap counts indicate that
the 800 liters of insecticide applied to the park have done their job
and there are no new adult specimens of infected aedes mosquitoes
(which carry dengue fever).

There has been no specific date given as to when the park will reopen,
but it seems that it will be sometime towards the end of this month,
October, as it gets cold enough to knock out any potentially remaining
adult population. Here’s hoping, because we like many other inner city
residents are going through “withdrawal symptoms” of our own, not
being able to go to our favorite big-city park.

Further afield from Yoyogi the dengue outbreak has had the Tokyo
Metropolitan Government health officials worried. 103 of the 153
dengue fever cases reported nationally up until October 2nd have been
Tokyo residents and most of the others were people who had been to
Tokyo parks recently. There have been no new related cases recently,
and no one has died from this outbreak, so all is looking good.
However, the widespread nature of the virus and an anomalous patient
way out in Chiba who had not been to Tokyo at all — make the
infection path all the more mysterious.

Indeed, it seems that the officially announced and much quoted
“50-meter flight distance” of the mosquitoes has been a rather
transparent piece of disinformation designed to preclude possible
public panic. In fact, while it’s true that the aedes genus of
mosquitoes (aedes albopictus is widespread in Japan already) doesn’t
like flying far, overseas they are regarded as being able to fly up to
200 meters (all the way to NHK and Shibuya city hall from the park) —
and that is not counting those mosquitoes who hitch a ride in the back
of a delivery truck, or who get blown eastwards by the wind (towards
Harajuku). Nor does it count the movements of human hosts of the
virus, who can travel around the country and transmit the virus back
to uninfected mosquitoes and thus start the infection cycle all over

[Continued below…]

—– [JapanTravel] Kyushu&Shikoku Hidden Gems Survey —–

Remember that survey we asked you to do for Isetan-Mitsukoshi last
year? Yeah, we apologize that it did turn out to be pretty long. We’ve
learned our lesson, and now we offer a much shorter survey that should
take about 2-5 minutes (in two stages) to complete. It’s all for a
good cause — your input helps us make Japantravel.com more relevant
to our readers, and more attractive to our sponsors. We also follow
our tradition of offering some great incentives to help you fortify
yourself for the task…!

GO TO SURVEY: https://japantravel.typeform.com/to/aRVvSo

The incentives?
A: Answer SECTION 1 and be in to win a JPY1,000 Amazon Gift
Certificate (20 total)
B: Answer SECTION 1 and 2 (the 5-minute course) and be in to win a
JPY10,000 JCB Gift Certificate (8 total)

Your input is very important to us and your data will be kept strictly
confidential. If you have any questions, please email

Thank you very much for your support!

[…Article continues]

In fact, after some early speculation by some web xenophobes that the
dengue outbreak was caused by an escaped Asian mosquito at a “ethnic”
(foreign) food festival, of which there are many every year in the
Yoyogi public B area located next to NHK’s main broadcasting facility,
it is now reasonably certain that the virus was spread by a human
carrier. Gene testing results released in September show that most of
the infection cases appear to derive from a single carrier and that
the person really likes parks around Tokyo (and possibly Chiba). So
far the authorities don’t seem to be sharing anything more specific
about the carrier’s genetic contribution, but you do have to wonder if
they have more information that they are not sharing — such as
perhaps data to show that the carrier is a tourist (or a Japanese)
recently arrived from SE Asia?

You can bet that if they do have this information, they won’t be
sharing it with the public, not after the government just passed a
consumption tax law allowing stores all over the country to offer a
wide range of tax-free goods to foreign tourists from this month.
Then, in December there will be an even bigger reason to withhold
information: being the influx of Indonesian tourists as they start to
receive, in massive numbers, relaxed tourist visas. The last thing the
government wants is right winger vans booming around the city that the
foreigners did it…

In any case, this whole event does serve to remind us of Japan’s
method of managing its massive population. It is less a practice of
rigid control and more one of packaged chaos. The “packaging” allows
the authorities to reassure their charges (us the public) that we’re
in their good hands, but the reality is that just underneath their
reassurances there is a severe lack of control and often logic to go
with it — a pattern otherwise known as “Honne and Tatemae”.

For example while the officials moved quickly to close Yoyogi Park,
they did nothing about the acres of leaves, trash, and containers of
stagnant water located on the other side of the park’s fence line —
from Meiji Shrine to Yoyogi park’s B area across the road. At Meiji
Jingu, even as the park is deserted, there are tens of thousands of
tourists visiting the shrine less than a hundred meters away. Then
there are the dozens of tramps who were kicked out of their usual
southeastern area shanty town and who now camped next to the fence on
the roadside, or just across the road in the B area. We cycle to work,
and riding past these encampments every day, we see dozens of places
that might be favored by aedes mosquitoes and which have not seen a
drop of insecticide.

Or, how about the long lines of kids standing outside Garrets Popcorn
store, 50 meters down the road from the Meiji Jingu entrance. Kids are
lined up there all day long every day to satisfy their candy
addictions and are perfect targets for bugs of all kinds. Oh, and
let’s not forget the 70,000-100,000 passengers waiting for trains at
JR Harajuku and Tokyo Metro Meiji-Jingu stations, who probably have
yummy veins as well.

Yes, now we understand why it was so important for the authorities to
come up with the fictitious 50-meter flight distance factoid. Although
quickly disproved by a check of any science website, because this
whole event took place in Japan, where stretching the truth to fit a
social need is well understood, there was no panic, no recriminations,
and most importantly shoppers kept the Harajuku stores full. As a
result, the crisis has passed and life goes on. It’s a good system
when it works — but that said, Japan is probably lucky it is just
dealing with Dengue, and not Ebola…

…The information janitors/


—— Social Innovation to Increase Food Security ——–

Are there really nearly 20 million people in Japan living below the
poverty line? Does Japan really destroy 3-5 million tons of perfectly
safe food each year? Is there really only one place in Tokyo where
needy households can access emergency food? We believe in a society
where anyone in need has access to safe, nutritious food. Join us and
other community leaders as we share our vision of using social
innovation to develop a food safety-net for those in need. This is an
opportunity for you to learn how together we can make a difference in

Cost: 3,000 yen (to cover drinks and food)
Time: 19:30 ~ 20:30 (doors open at 19:00)
Date: October 15th (Wednesday)
Location: Shangri-La Hotel
Reservations can be made here: http://2hj-social-innovation-night.peatix.com


+++ NEWS

– S&P analyst hints at no additional tax rise
– Yen headed to 150 to the dollar?
– Wearable futon
– Kid repatriation starts under Hague rules
– Indonesians to get visa exemption

=> S&P analyst hints at no additional tax rise

Although he’s not part of the government, by virtue of his company’s
role in determining Japan’s credit rankings his opinion is an
important part of the consumption tax equation… We’re talking about
Standard & Poor’s analyst Takahira Ogawa, who has gone on record
saying that Japan’s government should focus on growth, ensuring a
strong economic base, prior to raising the consumption tax. Given that
a common reason given for the government raising the consumption tax
is to ensure Japan’s economic rating stays strong, Ogawa says that in
fact the opposite is true and that if the second tax rise were to
break the economic recovery, then it would be a negative contribution
overall. He also further says that not raising the consumption will
not precipitate a negative market reaction. ***Ed: In other words, no
one is going to punish Japan for not raising the consumption tax and
therefore not achieving its budget deficit goals — ergo, we may not
have a second increase.** (Source: TT commentary from wsj.com, Oct 3,


=> Yen headed to 150 to the dollar?

Starting with Texan fund manager Kyle Bass, a number of high-level
investors abroad are now starting to signal warnings over Japan’s
steadily weakening yen, and the increasing possibility of an overshoot
or even investor panic. This Bloomberg article interviews Albert
Edwards, a top ranked London-based analyst, who says that a melt-down
in the Japanese yen may trigger a general market collapse. Edwards
points out that the U.S. stock market has already been in expansion
for 66 months, about 12 months longer than average. He is expecting a
major correction, which may even lead to a market rout. Albert’s
thesis is that China will soon have to devalue to stay competitive
against Japan and its superior automation and new product flow. This
will squeeze other emerging Asian economies and start another regional
financial crisis, which will spread to Europe and the USA. ***Ed: Not
all other economists agree with Edwards, and in a recent survey, only
one other economist put the yen at 120 to the dollar by June 30th next
year.** (Source: TT commentary from bloomberg.com, Oct 3, 2014)


=> Wearable futon

Perhaps riffing off personal sleeping bags with arm holes, which are
so popular at Don Quijote, office supplies company King Jim has
introduced a wearable futon. The unit, which is one size fits all,
sells for just JPY4,500. The unit comes with a pump to inflate a
backing panel, making it comfortable to sleep on the floor. The new
clothing/accessory appears to be targeted at salarymen who are stuck
in their offices overnight, and gamers who are overnighting in game
cafes and karaoke rooms. ***Ed: Hard to beat JPY4,500 as an
alternative to paying for a hotel room.** (Source: TT commentary from
kgw.com, Oct 2, 2014)


=> Kid repatriation starts under Hague rules

The foreign ministry has announced what it is calling three success
stories involving kids caught between two parents feuding
internationally. In the first case, which actually happened in July, a
7-year old was returned by a Japanese mother to the Japanese father.
In the second case an 8-year old was returned to the Japanese mother
after the American father took the child to Switzerland. And in the
third case, a Japanese mother and a 3-year old returned to the
Japanese father. The ministry says it is currently dealing with 57
different child custody disputes. ***Ed: We note that so far not a
single multinational child has been returned to a foreign father from
a mother in Japan — the true heart of the abduction challenge. When
we witness such a case with a favorable outcome, only then we will
then believe that the government really is committed to changing its
previous unflinching support of mother-initiated child abductions to
Japan.** (Source: TT commentary from globalpost.com, Oct 3, 2014)


=> Indonesians to get visa exemption

A long-awaited announcement by the foreign affairs ministry confirms
that Indonesian nationals will be able to enter Japan visa-free for 15
days, or alternatively receive a 5-year multiple-entry visa — longer
than the current 3 years. The expectation is that the new program will
open up Japan to at least as many new travelers as Thailand, but given
the four-fold population it could be the source of as many as quarter
of million tourists a month. ***Ed: No wonder the government has been
galvanizing the restauranting industry to start supplying Halal
menus.** (Source: TT commentary from thejakartapost.com, Oct 2, 2014)


NOTE: Broken links
Some online news sources remove their articles after just a few days
of posting them, thus breaking our links — we apologize for the


———- ACCJ Chubu: Important Diversity Summit ———

Join the ACCJ Chubu Chapter for a half-day summit titled, “Diversity
in the Workplace: Broadening Culture and Empowering Women.” While many
key industries in Chubu are heavily male-dominated, they are also
global players instrumental in forging the economic recovery of Japan.
This combination makes the Chubu region an ideal place to carry on the
mantle of expanding diversity, employment for women, and global
mindedness towards a more robust Japanese workforce. Join us for
discussions and presentations featuring Dean Foster (President and
Founder, DFA Intercultural Global Solutions), and Monica Merz
(President and CEO, Toys”R”Us Japan).

Registration/Cancellation Deadline: Mon, Oct 20, 2014
Speaker: Dean Foster (President and Founder, DFA Intercultural Global
Solutions), Monica Merz (President and CEO, Toys”R”Us Japan)
Hosting Committee(s): Chubu – Business Programs, Chubu – External
Affairs, Chubu – Mobility Manufacturing, Chubu – Women in Business
Venue: The Westin Nagoya Castle MAP
Member Fee: ¥3000
Guest Fee: ¥5000
Extras: Meal included

More details at: bit.ly/1yFrnDq. The first 3 people to contact Noriko
Kato at nkato@accj.or.jp will receive free entry to the event, care of
the “H&R Group”.



=> Are you in web content, sales, or engineering- If so, this section
is for you.


– Community manager

www.japantravel.com‘s “special sauce” as a travel website is its
community. We are recruiting a bilingual person with an outgoing and
friendly manner to manage our 3,000-person community both in Japan and
abroad. The person will be involved in recruiting, contracting,
managing, and motivating the key leaders in the community, as well as
assisting with troubleshooting of downstream contributors and other
participants. Ability to multitask, show empathy, and yet maintain
discipline in terms of results are important attributes for this
position. Location of the job for the first 12 months will be in
Tokyo. Some travel around the country is also anticipated. JPY4M –
JPY6M base + incentives. We are interested in both Japanese and
foreign applicants. For language fluency, ability to listen, speak,
and read emails in your non-native language are necessary.

Interested individuals may e-mail resumes to: info@japantravel.com.




————– BizDo Introduction Seminar —————–

Discover The Secret of Leadership Success : Gyoku Shin

On November 7th, during the height of Kyoto’s beautiful foliage
season, we will hold our next BizDo Introduction Seminar which
introduces the secrets of Leadership success hidden in the philosophy
and principles of the Japanese Martial Arts. This event is exclusively
for senior executives and only 20 seats are available.

To hear what other top Executives in Japan say about our Seminars and
to reserve your seat, visit: http://www.bizdo.co.jp/seminars/terrie/

—————— ICA Event – October 16th —————

Speaker: Rei Hasegawa, Head of Corporate Communications, Japan and
APAC Social Media at LinkedIn Japan
Title: “Branding You”
Details: Complete event details at http://www.icajapan.jp/

Date: Thursday, October 16th, 2014
Time: 6:30 Doors open, Buffet Dinner included and cash bar
Cost: 4,000 yen (members), 6,000 yen (non-members) Open to all. No
sign ups at the door!!!!!!!
RSVP: By 10am on Monday 13th October 2014, venue is The Foreign
Correspondents’ Club of Japan



=> No feedback or corrections this week.



=> Cycling along the Sumida, Tokyo
Seeing Tokyo from a bike seat

Fresh sea air, wind in your face, and freedom in your hands, that’s
what cycle touring is all about. “The World Looks Different from a
Bicycle Seat”, I am definitely in agreement with that quote. Cycle
touring gives you the opportunity to see and feel a place, its people
and all its surroundings. My tour along the Sumida River gave me an
incredible experience that will be a treasured memory.

I started my tour at Sumida Park, a riverside park that is famous for
its sakura (Japanese cherry blossoms) in spring. The park is not far
from the famous Asakusa Sensoji Temple. To my surprise it turns out
Sumida Park also has the best view of the Sky Tree tower. I had some
time to enjoy the view with some locals and a few tourists until 3 big
tour buses unloaded their cargo. At that point, I made my escape,
cycling south along the bank of the Sumida River towards the ocean.

The Sky Tree was still with me for some time and then I saw an unusual
building that is famous for its golden beer foam (or something else
easily imagined), the Asahi Beer Tower. At one point I could even take
a classic photo both of them separated by the Shuto Expressway No. 6
and the Sumida River below.


=> Sawanoya Ryokan, Tokyo
Try the traditional Japanese way of life in Sawanoya

If you would like to experience staying at a traditional Japanese
ryokan while not giving up modern luxuries, Sawanoya Ryokan is the
place for you. The rooms are beautifully traditional. There is a futon
bed, a tea set complete with English instructions on how to enjoy
Japanese tea, and a set of yukata that guests can change into after a
bath. There are traditional sliding doors and a futon cupboard. My
room also had a very nice Japanese painting on a scroll.

Sawanoya Ryokan is run entirely by the Sawa family. I experienced
their kindness first hand when I arrived at Sawanoya at 10 pm one
stormy night, drenched from head to toe. The staff quickly offered me
towels and wiped down my dripping-wet luggage. The Sawa family’s
service is not only thoughtful but makes one feel right at home.

At the lobby area, there are computers with internet access that can
be utilized by guests at no cost. There is also a homey dining area
where breakfast is served every morning at a small cost of
JPY210-JPY420 yen. The breakfast options are usually “Western”. The
simplest option is a couple of pieces of white bread with fresh
unprocessed jam. A choice of scrambled egg or sunny-side up eggs is
also available. [***Ed: If you have foreign guests headed for Japan,
this sounds like a great place to put them up.**]




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Written by: Terrie Lloyd (terrie.lloyd@japaninc.com)

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