|Kitty-chan and the black egg from Owakudani in Hakone. The egg looks surprisingly cheerful for one with a cracked head.|
Living in Japan
Number of flu patients surpasses 1.11 million as epidemic spreads (Japan Today) - Be careful!
How to direct emergency services to your house from (Tokyo Weekender) - Some useful phrases and information if you ever find yourself in (hopefully not) such a situation.
Japan’s best-selling home appliance brands of 2011 (世論 What Japan Thinks) - In case you're planning to buy a rice cooker or water purifier or some other appliance, this may give you an idea of what customers liked best last year (if you even care about that).
Health ministry aims to get smoking rate down to 10% (Japan Times) - Will they succeed? I'm doubtful. Not that I don't think it would be beneficial.
New 'Big One' forecast: four years (Japan Times) - Be prepared for the next big quake, Kanto folks! Now, what is their prediction for the Tokai quake? They keep saying it's "overdue," and that's it.
What to call baby? (Japan Times) - All about choosing names and name kanji in Japan. I find the methods and thoughts behind choosing names for children really interesting, so it's certainly worth a read if you're into that as well. (We chose a Japanese first name for our little one and a more western, though uncommon, middle name).
Meteorological Agency says pollen will come later than normal (Japan Today) - Allergy sufferers, supposedly the pollen will not only come later than usual, but is forecast to be at lower levels than last year.
Platform doors (Japan Times) - What's the point of the barriers on train platforms? Most of us might think to prevent accidental falls, and you'd be right! Aside my facetiousness, this article is an interesting read. Did you know there were 119 platform accidents in Japan last year between April and September?
Visa Worldwide (Japan) Co Ltd (Japan Today) - Boring title, yes, but some good-to-know info about getting a credit card as a foreigner in Japan.
Travel and Recreation
The Tears of a Cat: Hello Kitty’s Guide to Japan, English and Japanese / ハローティの英語で紹介する (Japan Subculture Research Center) - Kitty-chan will teach you all about Japan in this guidebook, from culture to cooking to lifestyle. It may sound childish, but the reviewer didn't think so (sounds neat to me, anyway).
Book Review: Tokyo On Foot (zonjineko!) - A nontraditional take on Tokyo guidebooks, this "graphic memoir and sketchbook" offers probably the most visual experience of any tour book. Just seeing the hand-drawn maps and handwritten type was enough to pique my interest.
Foreign tourists to get fixed-rate expressway pass (Japan Times) - In an effort to promote tourism, the Central Nippon Expressway Co. will offer a fixed rate toll pass for visitors between March 21 and June 30.
Foreign visitors log sharpest decline ever (Japan Times) - This was one of the most "retweeted" from the past two weeks. Apparently the worst decline since 1950.
7 Unique Winter Activities in Japan (BootsnAll) - Some of these you can do all year round, and some aren't unique to Japan at all (well, maybe most), but still some good ideas if you're trying to think of something else to do.
Maru no Uchi Tanita Shokudo – Eating for the Patient (The Blog Side of Life) - I previously shared this article on a new restaurant that offers healthy, low-calorie meals and free nutrition advice, and asked on Facebook and Twitter if anyone do something like this. Well, fellow Japan-blogger @franeymoon visited recently and wrote a great post about it with pictures.
Fresh nabe ideas bubbling up (Japan Pulse) - Some yummy ideas if you're into nabe but tired of the same flavor(s).
Working in Japan
JET Program Application Process: How Does JET Select Candidates? (Constantine in Tokyo) - An not-so-new post from 2010, but still an informative read regarding the JET Program and how participants are chosen, the application process, among other things. Worth a read if you plan to apply for JET (although I found it interesting as a former JET).
Selling a school or eikaiwa business (Japan Today) - Obviously not applicable to everyone, but I'm sure there are quite a few people out there who own an English school or eikaiwa.
36 national universities in Japan are considering or will consider shifting undergraduate enrollment to autumn (Daily Yomiuri) - This is school-related, but would likely have some effect on the job system here.
Fukushima Nuclear Crisis/Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami-related
Fallout from Fukushima No. 1 on rise (Japan Times) - Apparently January numbers were higher than December numbers.
Photohoku Project Provides Smiles And Memories (Japan Trends) - A great project designed to "give back" photos and memories to those who lost precious photos and albums.
Dairy firms to do own fallout checks (Japan Times) - Large dairy companies plan to do their own radiation checks and disclose this information to consumers.