2011/02/11 22:00

Gherkin, Agbar, Cocoon

I have travelled Europe for 3 months six years ago.
Firstly I went to London, and I saw this building many times.
240px-30_St_Mary_Axe,_'Gherkin'.JPG 200px-30_St_Mary_Axe_-_The_Gherkin_from_Leadenhall_St_-_Nov_2006.jpg

It's "30 St Mary Axe (the Swiss Re Building)".
With 40 floors, 180 metres tall, designed by Norman Foster, opened 2004.
Also known as "the Gherkin (the Cucumber Building)", due to its appearance.
300x300-RELISHES_C_GHERKIN.jpg image-cornichon.jpg

After travelled UK, I went to continental Europe.
In Barcelona, I really surprised when I found this building looks like the Gherkin!
118_385 Torre Agbar.jpg 16e0b936d2.jpg

This is a office building "the Torre Agbar".
With 38 floors, 144.44 metres tall, designed by Jean Nouvel, opend 2005.
Local people call it "el supositori (suppository)"... due to its appearance.

In Japan,
when I see "Mode Gakuen Cocoon Tower" in Shinjuku, Tokyo,
I remember above two buildings.
4398724865_f703c2d035.jpg images (1).jpg
It's a educational facility with 50 floors, 204 metres, designed by Tange Associates, opened 2008.
It was designed in the image of cocoon.

Well, well, I like these three cities :)

2011/02/07 17:54

Sato-chan and Satoko-chan

Do you know this elephant character?

This is the Sato Pharmaceutical Company’s mascots.
They stands outside of drug stores all over Japan.


The orange one is called "Sato-chan". He was born in 1959.
The pink one is a sister, called "Satoko-chan". She was born in 1982.


There is a "Sato-chan Museum" inside Shimizu Pharmacy in Ginza, Tokyo.
You can see many kinds of Sato-chan goods there.


Sato-chan official HP
Photo Fan Club on Flickr

2011/01/29 08:30

Chocolate-flavored Beer

The other day, I went a supermarket and I found this beer.
"Chocolat Brewery" (sale for a limited period in winter)


It was jointly developed by a major brewer SAPPORO and a high quality chocolate company ROYCE’.

Generally typical chocolate beer is made from chocolate malt.
But in this beer, not only roasted malt but also CACAO which is used for Royce's chocolate are included.
That's why it tastes realistic chocolate flavour.

They are selling two flavours, and the label says...

The beer goes well with meat dish such as beef stew.

You can enjoy this beer as though it were a sweets.
The beer goes well with ice cream, we recommend beer float.

If you are a chocolate lover, I recommend to try it!
Or how about giving someone this for this year's Valentine's day?

2011/01/27 22:15

General Cleaning Day in Sakura Hostel Asakusa

By our legendary manager TOMO's command, we cleaned up the hostel thoroughly today.

Sakura Hostel Asakusa is always clean thanks to the cleaning staffs, though.

What we did today is

Look !!
The beds are dismantled !!


Jack and Johrel are in charge of bed cleaning.
It's a tough job.
(ノ*>□<)ノ{ GANBATTE !! 〕



Tomoe is mending the wall painting of "STORIES OF SAKURA".
She is very good at painting.


Agu is vacuuming around the front desk.
The narrow space between wall and PC........Very very carefully


Aki is cleaning up the guest kitchen.
Now, you can use the kitchen comfortably.


Good Job, everyone !! It became nicer.

Now, we wait for your arrival.

2011/01/24 16:00

The 150th anniversary of Japanese-German relations (150 Jahre Freundschaft Deutschland-Japan)

2011 is the 150th anniversary of Japanese-German relations.
Because 150 years ago today (24th January 1861) the Prusso-Japanese Treaty was secured.
A variety of events will be held through the year both in Japan and Germany.


【In Japan】
・German Rock Festival at Embassy of Germany in Japan (August 2011)

・German Festival at Yokohama Osanbashi Pier (2nd and 3rd October 2011)
This is the highlight in the calender of events!

All Events in Japan;

【In Germany】
Japan Day at Düsseldorf (21.-28.5.2011)
Since Nowhere else in Germany live as many Japanese people as in Düsseldorf,
Japan day is held on Düsseldorf every year. This year it will be held for a week.

Japan Fest 2011 at München (17.7.2011)
Introduction in traditional Japanese culture, in costume, a fun Japanese festival.

The 36th Japan Week at Frankfurt am Main (05.-11.11.2011)
Since 1986, the event has been touring cities around the world,
this year it will be held in Frankfurt.
The exhibition introduce Japanese life, culture, traditional arts, music and fashion.

All Events in Germany;

【In both countries】
・Jointly issued Commemorative Postage Stamp go on sale (on 24.1.2011 in Japan, 3.2.2011 in Germany).


Ich muss Schluss machen.
That's all for today! See you.

2011/01/17 22:03

MOCHITSUKI (the pounding of rice cakes)

A popular annual winter event in Japan is "mochitsuki" (the pounding of rice cakes).
It requires many hands, long hours, and physical labor.

After soaked overnight, the glutinous rice is cooked
in the wooden frames which placed over a kettle of boiling water.

The hot cooked rice is pounded with a wooden mallet in a wooden mortar.
Two people will alternate the work; One pounding, and the other turning and wetting the rice.

When it becomes smooth (with no discernible individual grains of rice),
the mass of rice cake is then quickly formed into small portions.

The rice cake is eaten with several toppings.
starting from the left...
Sweet bean paste
Soybean flour mixed with sugar
Grinded sesame mixed with sugar
Soy sauce and wrapped in dried laver
Grated radish and soy sauce

Freshly pound rice cake is extremely delicious than store-bought one.
So this is a traditional winter event that is still popular today in Japan.

2010/12/19 16:00

The Standing Daibutsu!!!

Have you ever seen Daibutsu (Great Buddha)?
Normally Daibutsu is sitting like this.

But! Today I introduce you standing Daibutsu. Here.

This "Ushiku Daibutsu" is the world's second tallest statue.
The hight is three times taller than the Statue of Liberty.
Left: Ushiku Daibutsu,  Middle: Statue of Liberty,  Right: Daibutsu of Nara

Surprisingly, the elevator takes visitors up to 85m off the ground, where an observation floor is located.

I have been there once, because two of my friends told me "It's really moving to see it".
I thought they were joking.
But when I went there, I was moved....!!! I'm serious.

【How to get there】
From Asakusa, take TX-line to Kitasenju sta. (2stops/5min/200yen)
Then change the train to JR Joban-line, go to Ushiku sta. (8stops/45min/820yen)
From there, take a taxi (15min) or bus (20-30min) to the Daibutsu.

Also big outlet mall is situated nearby. Ami Premium Outlets
After seeing Daibutsu, how about shopping there?

2010/12/10 16:15

The most popular name for babies in Japan!

The other day, the most popular name for babies in Japan 2010 has released.

【for boys】
No.1 大翔 (Hiroto)
No.2 悠真 (Yuuma)
No.3 翔 (Sho)
No.4 颯太 (Souta), 歩夢 (Ayumu)
No.6 颯真 (Souma), 蒼空 (Sora), 優斗(Yuuto)
No.9 大雅 (Taiga), 颯 (Hayate)

大翔 won first place for the fourth consecutive year.

No.3's 翔 is the same name with the idol group Arashi's Sho Sakurai.
Mothers of his fan naming his name for her childlen...???!

【for girls】 Attention to the No.1!!!
No.1 さくら (Sakura)
No.2 陽菜 (Hina), 結愛 (Yua), 莉子(Riko)
No.5 美桜 (Mio)
No.6 美羽 (Miu)
No.7 葵 (Aoi), 結衣(Yui)
No.9 美咲(Misaki), 結菜(Yuna)

Yes, same as our company's name "Sakura" returned to the No.1 for the first time in 6 years!
Sakura (cherry blossom) has been the most beloved flower in Japan since ancient times :)
Sakura and Tokyo Sky Tree in Spring

During the months of March and April, many people all over Japan go out to admire the cherry blossoms in full bloom!
*Staff blog about Hanami Party 2010*

2010/11/11 22:00

Japanese words of German origin

In the Meiji era (from 1868 until 1912), Japan had extensive contact with Germany,
and gained many loanwords from German.
It's particularly for medicine, because the Japanese learned it from the Germans.
All medical records had been written in German before.

Many words of German origin remain in use today in standard Japanese.
For example...

Japanese: KARUTE (カルテ)
German : Karte
means "medical record" in Japan, "card" in German

Japanese: SHALE (シャーレ)
German : Schale
English : petri dish

Japanese: NOIROZE (ノイローゼ)
German : Neurose
English : neurosis, emotional breakdown

Japanese: MESUSILINDAR (メスシリンダー)
German : Messzylinder
English : measuring cylinder

Japanese: SHUPUREHIKOORU (シュプレヒコール)
German : Sprechchor
English : speaking choir

Japanese: GELENDE (ゲレンデ)
German : Gelände
English : ski slope

Japanese: SUTOKKU (ストック)
German : Skistock
English : ski pole

Japanese: ARUBAITO (アルバイト)
German : Arbeit
means "part-time job" in Japan, "labour" in German

Japanese: GASUBONBE (ガスボンベ)
German : Gasbombe
English : gas cylinder

Japanese: MERUHEN (メルヘン)
German : Märchen
English : fairy tale

Japanese: RYUKKUSAKKU (リュックサック)
German : Rucksack
English : backpack, knapsack

Some Japanese people are not aware of the origins of the words in their language.
So sometimes they (including me) may use the "loan words" in English.
For example, Japanese people may use words like "TEEMA" when they speak English
although it's not English.

Japanese: TEEMA (テーマ)
German : Thema
English : topic, theme

And, one of the most popular pastries in Japan, Baumkuchen (バームクーヘン)!!

2010/11/10 14:34

Buildings in GINZA

Have you been to Ginza?
Ginza is the most prestigious and fashionable shopping/dining town in Tokyo
and is home to numerous higher end brand shops.

I like to see the buildings in Ginza though I just looking outside of them ^^

This is my favourite building "Tiffany & Co."

ティファニー.jpg ティファニー昼間前景.jpg

"Hermes" is my favourite building, too.

エルメス入口.jpg エルメス夜前景.jpg

"De Beers" curved building

デビアス全景小.jpg デビアス夜.jpg

"Chanel" LED screen building

シャネルマーク.jpg シャネルもみじ.jpg

"Cartier" gold building and "Mikimoto" pink building have a distinct design.

カルティエ昼間前景.jpg ミキモト.jpg

Lastly, this is the landmark of Ginza, "Wako".


These buildings are just a little bit of them.
Please find out your favourite buildings in Ginza!

2010/10/23 16:44


Do you like comedy show?
There's a place that you can see Japanese comedy show in Asakusa.
It's YOSHIMOTO ASAKUSA KAGETSU, where is 3 minutes walk from the hostel.
YOSHIMOTO is the most famous comedian management company in Japan.
Because the head office is in Osaka, almost all comedians speak Osaka dialect.


Our guests had extra two tickets for today, and they gave those tickets to us.
It is too good chance to waste the tickets.
Aki & I went to see the comedy show.


When we got there, the show had already started.
We could only see one comedian pair, who were "NAKATA KAUSU BOTAN".
They are experienced comedians, who are famous especially in Osaka area.

Many people guffaw, and we also enjoyed the show very much.
We really appreciate our guests who gave the tickets.

If you study Japanese, it's going to be a good experience to hear Osaka dialect.
If you simply love comedy, it's interesting to compare Japanese comedy with the one in your country.

2010/10/22 16:26

Japanese Popular Songs

Are you interested in Japanese popular songs?
Now I introduce some of those.

【Album sales ranking in 2009】

The best selling album in 2009 is "All the BEST! 1999-2009" by Arashi.
view video
Arashi, which means “storm” in Japanese, debuted in 1999 as part of Johnny’s Entertainment.
They consist of 5 boys whose musical style covers a wide range,
which includes pop, hip-hop and influences of rock.

The 2nd most selling album in 2009 is "SUPERMARKET FANTASY" by Mr.Children.
Mr.Children is a famous Japanese rock band group formed in 1989.
They are one of the most popular bands in Japan.

The 3rd most selling album in 2009 is "SALT and PEPPER" by GReeeeN.
GReeeeN is a J-Pop band consisting of four members. Their major label debut is in 2007.

The 4th is "AISUBEKIMIRAIE" and the 5th is "BALLAD BEST" by EXILE.
EXILE is a Japanese pop group consisting of 14 members formed in 1999.

【The ranking of best selling artist (total sales of Albums, singles and DVDs) in 2009】

No.1 is Arashi

No.2 is Exile

No.3 is Tohoshinki
They are 5-member Korean male group.
Its five members specialize in the areas of dance, a cappella, acting, and pop with a R&B vibe
as well as other various genres ranging from electronica to ballad and even elements of rock.

No.4 is B'z
view video
B’z is the most popular rock group in all of Japan.
They have produced a consecutive string of number one hits since their fifth single was released in 1990.

And No.5 is... The Beatles !!

2010/10/04 17:54

How much is this

We often get this question from our guests.
"How much is this?"

This is 5 Yen.

Japanese can tell it just by looking.
But non-Japanese would not know how much it is, because there is only 'kanji' written on the coin.

There are two coins that has a hole in the middle in Japan.


The reason why there is a hole in the middle,.
50yen … To know the difference from 100yen coin made by the same material.
5yen … This coin was made in 1949. Japanese had to save the material by inflation after the end of the World War.

My friend got a 5yen coin and the hole was a little bit off from the center..
It's very rare and you would not see it often.


My friend checked how much these "rare coins" or "error coins" worth.
They said that those coins worth from 1,000 yen to 10,000 yen!

50sonota.jpg 50sonota2.jpg 50sonota3.jpg

The other error coins... (These are sold for over 100,000 yen...

5-yen called "GOEN" in Japanese and the word also means that you can have a good relationship
with the one you like.


2010/09/17 20:16

Sumo trivia

Q: How large is the ring?
A: The ring in the middle has a diameter of 4.55 meters.
In the centre of the ring there are two white "face-off lines" of white enamel paint.
They are with 70cm between them.

kokugikan's dohyo.jpg

Q: When is the Kokugikan ring made?
A: All "yobidashi" (ushers) assemble to make the ring.
The project takes 3days. Only the top 20cm of dirt is replaced.
The yobidashi use a number of special tools for the job, but no machinery.

dohyodukuri1.jpg dohyodukuri2.jpg

Q: Are women allowed in the ring?
A: No. According to custom, the ring is sacred, and no women are allowed in it.

dohyo woman.jpg

Q: Why do "rikishi" (sumo wrestler) wear a topknot?
A: In 1871, all men were required to cut off their topknots, but the sumo world was exempted,
and rikishi were allowed to retain the ancient hairstyle.


Q: When do rikishi wash their hair?
A: There are no rules, but they rarely wash it daily.

Q: Can rikishi compete even if they do not have enough hair for a topknot?
A: A rikishi would probably retire if he were no longer capable of achieving topknots.
No rikishi has ever listed this as a reason for retiring, but there have been rumors.


Q: Do rikishi wear anything under their belts?
A: No, they don't. They are not allowed to wear anything under their belts.


Q: What is strength water?
A: Water symbolizes purification.
Rikishi must rinse out their mouths to purify themselves before stepping into the sacred ring.


Q: What is the meaning of the salt?
A: It is a prayer to the gods to purify the ring from evil sprits and protect the rikishi from injury.
it also disinfects cuts. It is used 45kg a day.


Q: How much are bout incentive prizes worth?
A: Each sponsor pays 60,000 yen. The JSA deducts 5,000 yen for handling and 25,000 yen for income tax.
The winner receives the remaining 30,000 yen.


Q: Are there any foreign sumo wrestlers?
A: As of August 2010, there are 56 foreign wrestlers from 11 countries registered in Japan.
Mongolia(33), China(7), Russia(3), Georgia(3), Brazil(2), South Korea(2), Bulgaria(2), Czech(1),
Kazakhstan(1), Estonia(1), Hungary(1)

(reference: Sumo 258 key questions & Official Grand Sumo Homepage)

2010/09/16 15:16

Sumo Tour Report on Sep 15th

Our sumo tour was held on Sep 15th.
This time, Naoto and Aki were in charge of sumo tour.

They went to Ryogoku with 20 guests by bus.

photos 100小.jpg

Before entering sumo stadium called Kokugikan, they had lunch at Chanko restaurant.
The restaurant they went is Chanko Edogawa.


Unfortunately, they don't have English page.
Just take a look at what Chanko is.

They were satisfied with yummy Chanko, and got in Kokugikan with happy smile.
Ring entering ceremony started around 4:00.

photos 104小.jpg

One of the most famouse sumo wrestler, Yokozuna Hakuho, won the match yesterday.
He succeed in 51 continuous winning so far.
Awesome !!
This record is the third in sumo history.

We have sumo tour again on Sep 22nd.
At that time, he might update his record and become the first in sumo history!?
It's going to be so exciting, isn't it?

2010/09/01 15:11

Farewell Party for Ryoko

We had farewell party for Ryoko last night.
She worked in Sakura hostel for a half year, and took charge of our staff blog.
I think you enjoyed her blog a lot.
Now, she decided to start her new life in the U.S.
She will work in Disney Land in Florida for a year!!
We believe she do a good job over there as well as in Sakura hostel.

Here are some photos we took last night.

with her best friend Enocchi


Sakura Girls!!


We gave her message card.
Was she so happy that she couldn't help crying!?


We will miss you, Ryoko!!
Come to see us when you come back to Japan!!