Posted by: Andreas | March 3, 2009

Book Tuesday

Today’s book I’d like to promote is The Ninja by Eric V. Lustbader. Like the book before, this one is also fictional and only takes place in Japan but it does not have much more to do with Japan than that. Sure there are references to martial arts and post-War Japanese history, but those are only minor and the real treat in this book is the characters. The story takes place in both America, Japan and a few other East-asian nations and follows the half-Japanese, half-Western man Nicholas Linnear as he is plunged into a sinister plot that involves his past.

theninjaNicholas Linnear is the son of a British officer serving in the Far East during the rebuilding of post-War Japan. While growing up he spends a lot of time in Japan and familiarises himself with different martial arts. During his time there he also gets to know the woman of his dreams, Yukio, but also his future enemy, his cousin Saigo. Saigo is the son of the influential Itami family and practices in the same dojo as Nicholas during their childhood. Yukio is the girl that both want but who Saigo introduces to Nicholas.

It is only later in life, in New York that Nicholas realises what impact Yukio had on both his and Saigo’s lives as the two meet again. Nicholas, now living with a new girlfriend, Justine, and employed at her father’s company, is forced to think back on his past as a murder takes place. The act looks like the work of a ninja and Nicholas has to help the police to find the offender.

In the search for the murderer Nicholas finds that not all of his ties to Japan have been severed and that he too must also learn the way of the ninja to stop the murders from spreading. He realises that some paths in his life that began in Japan might come to a closure in America…

As far as the plot I think that Lustbader has depicted a very intricate story where all ends are explained in the last part of the book in a brilliant way. The basic story itself is quite simple and not a very unique composition. A boy meets a girl and his rival, they fight, the good guy beats the bad guy, the end. No, it’s the way Lustbader writes that makes the story come alive in a way that I haven’t read before. You get the feeling that behind the tragedy that befalls many of the people in the book, ranging from Nicholas to Saigo, from Yukio to Justine. The book also has a captivating way of protraying events as it is divided into five parts, each part depicting different time eras. I think these are the book’s strong points and the reason as to why one would read it again. It might be a book strong enough to keep in one’s bookshelf, though personally I would wait a few years in between reading it, so as to let the plot and other elements grow dim before picking this book up again.

Plot:                              7/10
Language:                     8/10
Re-readability:               5/10
Total:                            6/10

Posted by: Andreas | February 28, 2009

TV Friday

Well, today I figured I should do some sort of update. I do apologise for the lack of recent updates, but truth be told I have had a slight dearth of ideas these last days. I really didn’t think it would happen after such a short time with the blog. I do intend to keep the writing up though, and of course it’ll be easier to have things to write about once I arrive in Japan. For now though, I’m thinking of introducing TV Friday, just as I had Book Tuesday. Somewhat un-original yes, I give you that, but at least it’ll give me the chance to introduce some Japanese television which was one of the ideas with the blog.

Today’s show will be a comedy called Oyaji (親父), also known as “Father” or “Oh, dad!” in English translations. It was broadcasted in 2000 by TBS and was quite well received by Japanese viewers. The show is about the 55-year-old physician Kanichi Kanzaki, father of three and married with the housewife Miyako. He is an obstinate, self-centred man who doesn’t hestitate to lecture not only his wife and children, but also anyone else he sees on the streets of Tokyo, be it from throwing away chocolate wrappings on the street to kissing in public.

oyaji21It gets worse when Kanichi screws up his oldest daughter’s pre-arranged marriage and then finds out that his youngest daughter Suzu (Ryoko Hirosue) intends on getting married instead, without his permission. Unforgivable! Meanwhile, his son who has tried to get into a pre-college for Medical school declares that he doesn’t want to take over the private clinic that Kanichi runs.

The whole world crumbles in front of his eyes and Kanichi doesn’t know what to do. In order to relax he visits the local hostess-club where he has been before but never really taken pleasure at the ladies, complaining that they are irresponsible girls for having such jobs. This time though, he meets with the new girl, Machiko, and falls head over heels in love with her. While dealing with his unruly family and his new “lover” whom he must keep a secret to everyone else, one last plot unravels as the viewer is invited to speculate about the wife Miyako’s possible adultery…!

To me, this show is one of the better comedies that have been produced. It opens up strongly with a great Episode 1 where most of the action takes place and the viewer is presented with the family, their strongpoints and weaknesses but most of all Oyaji’s stubborness that will lead to many a fun situation in the later episodes. In the middle of the show, a lot of time is spent on developing the plot and less time is given to Kanichi to make situations completely chaotic, but in the last few episodes he’s back again and one can enjoy a fabulous ending with lots of laughter and a good closing of the series.

Fun facts:

  • Kanichi Kanzaki the character is 55 in the series, but at the shooting of the series the actor Masakazu Tamura playing him was 57. Meanwhile, his wife Miyako Kanzaki is supposed to be 53 but the actress Hitomi Kuroki was actually only 40.
  • Masakazu Tamura also plays a father in the 2002 TV series Otousan (おとうさん) in which also Ryoko Hirosue (the youngest daughter) plays his daughter again. Make sure you don’t mix these two series up if you’re buying either of them since both are called “Father” in English.
  • Another series starring Masakazu Tamura as the father and Hitomi Kuroki again as the mother, is Fuufu (夫婦) from 2004, also from TBS.
Posted by: Andreas | February 25, 2009

Book Tuesday

Today I did not really have anything to do, so I just kind of came up with this idea that I could introduce books that I have read that either are written by Japanese authors, or just take place in Japan. I’ll see if I can keep this up every Tuesday…

Today’s book that’s to be presented is one of the best books that I have read actually. It is quite long, but brilliantly written. Even though the story is fabricated the book is still loosely based on Japanese history, and I know from reading on forums that some people dislike the author because of the fact that the story is fictional. So if you do not like fiction, perhaps this is not the book for you. But if you do not care if it is fiction or not, and only want to read a book with a thrilling and captivating story, then James Clavell’s Shogun is definitely for you.

shogunShogun is set in the year 1600 and covers the build-up to the greatest battle in the history of Japan, Sekigahara. In the midst of the political turmoil of Japan enters the English pilot-major John Blackthorne when he capsizes on the shores of Izu. He is pulled into the power-struggle between the two lords Toranaga and Ishido who both are aiming at controlling Japan through the young heir Yaemon. Blackthorne ends up helping Toranaga while exploring the painful possibility of never returning home to England. Instead he is stuck in Japan and has to adapt to normal Japanese life as a samurai.

The book features several plots besides the main Toranaga – Ishido one, such as Blackthorne’s love with his female interpretor Mariko, the Christian influence on Japanese politics and trade, and also a lot of minor ones only visible through the thoughts of the book’s characters.

I find the language to be fascinating as Clavell’s style of writing has a way of captivating me while still holding back the important plot elements until the very right moment. It’s also easy to see who is talking or thinking (Clavell uses a lot of the book’s pages for the characters’ thoughts) since he adds remarks depending what language the characters are using. When it’s Latin he uses old English such as thou art, when it’s Japanese he adds neh at the end of nearly every sentence, and if it’s Portuguese Blackthorne always says Senhora to his beloved Mariko.

All in all, I believe that this is a book that can appeal to a lot of people since it has many different features, as I’ve explained above. For me personally, it took quite a while to read it because I wanted to really get as much out of it as possible, so I backtracked, re-read and all sorts of things to get all the plot twists right. Still, this one is already in my bookshelf and I’ll definitively will read it again at some later date. As soon as I’ve finished with Tai-Pan, King-Rat, Gai-Jin and the others in the same Asian Saga series, of course.


Plot:                              10/10
Language:                       9/10
Re-readability:                 8/10
Total:                              9/10

shogundvdThere is also a 1980s TV adaption of the novel starring Richard Chamberlain as Blackthorne and Toshiro Mifune as Toranaga. While the TV version only focuses on Blackthorne’s experiences it is still 9 hours long (12 hours if you watch it with advertisements) and is well worth watching in my opinion. It is available as a DVD box for a reasonable price.

The plot is still quite fascinating, but it really cannot compare to the book. There are so many things lost when only focusing on Blackthorne’s adventures. Still it has some great dramatic scenes, and I like this movie even more after realising that I’ve actually been to the castle they used as Osaka Castle when shooting this TV series, and walked across the same bridge as Anjin-san did when he went “mad”.


Plot:                               7/10
Photo:                            7/10
Re-watch’ability:             9/10
Total:                          7.5/10

Posted by: Andreas | February 24, 2009

I’m in Japan, but I can’t speak Japanese!

Right, so you got yourself to Japan. You’ve landed with your plane at some airport and the first thing that greets you is 成田国際空港 and you wonder what it actually says. Don’t worry, it’s happened to us all the very first time we encountered a new language. Now, the question is, how do we remedy it? It’s quite simple actually. If we take a small step back in time, purchase a few items, and spend some 20 minutes each night, you’ll be speaking and reading Japanese in no time.

The first thing I’ve noticed when trying to learn a language is that people want to take the easy way out. They hop onto the highway of learning thinking that the faster they get there the better it’ll be. Well, I don’t want to tell those people they are doing it incorrectly, but I certainly think that taking the slow path might be just as rewarding.

So what is the highway then? Well, to me it’s one or several of the following:

  1. Learning through Internet. Watch a few YouTube clips, search for “learn Japanese for free” at Google and then join some beginners’ Japanese course where the only thing you’ll actually learn is hiragana, a few animal names and a very limited dose of grammar. Because everyone hates grammar right? No need to answer that, it was a rethorical question. I’m a university graduated language teacher and yes, people hate grammar. So to make their website popular amonst the ones who want to learn Japanese, they quickly go through the easy grammar and then that’s that.
  2. Learning through TV. This could either be watching some 80’s show where a lady in a tacky suit and grey hair tries to explain in a painfully slow voice the difference between kore, sore and then ask the viewer to wait with are until later, or where one would desperately trying to pick up as much Japanese as one can from shows like anime or other drama series.

So, what is it that I want to get out of this? Well, it just happens to be that I favour the reading kind of study and I just so happen to have a few suggestions for books that work splendid. Now I know that not everyone learns in the same way. Some might actually pick up Japanese via Internet courses but then there’s the problem that these courses often only go so far. The TV might work for others and I would not object if there were textbooks included, but if there is none, then how will you ever learn how to read and write? Also, you must have quite long episodes to cover something that could fit on one page in a textbook. Making a TV series isn’t just about teaching, you must do it “hip” and fun to learn, and that takes skits, funny excercises and the like. With a real textbook, one can still have short listening exercises via CDs, reading and writing and quick but efficient grammar walkthroughs.

Anyways, now I’ve talked enough about that. I believe it is time to present the textbooks instead. I am going to list them all, with the ISBN number. When searching a bookstore online (or when ringing a bookstore) you can search for the ISBN instead of the title or author, making the search much faster since there might be several publishers in some cases, but if you go by ISBN you’ll get the exact version instantly.

Textbooks beginner level:
Minna no Nihongo 1
ISBN 4-88319-102-8 C0081
Minna no Nihongo 1 Translation & Grammatical Notes
ISBN 4-88319-107-9 C0081

Minna no Nihongo 2
ISBN 4-88319-103-6 C0081
Minna no Nihongo 2 Translation & Grammatical Notes
ISBN 4-88319-108-7 C0081

The Minna no Nihongo books have been published by the 3A Corporation (for English, look to the top-right) and unfortunately the easiest way of getting your hands on these books is by being in Japan. There are however a few online stores that handle the Minna no Nihongo books. You should check out their information page about handling books outside of Japan. Please note that the ISBN that I have supplied are for the Japanese-English versions for the textbooks. There are also German, Spanish, Korean and Chinese versions to my knowledge. There are also CDs available for the listening excercises.

Textbooks intermediate level:
New Approach Japanese Intermediate Course
ISBN 4-931315-15-1 C0081
New Approach Japanese Intermadiate Course Work Book
ISBN 978-4-931315-16-7 C0081

New Approach has been published by 日本語研究社 教材開発室 – Nihongo Kenkyuusha Kyouzai Kaihatsu Shitsu and while I recommend the book I must confess I am having trouble finding out how to get it. The homepage supplied in the textbook does not seem to have been updated since 2005 and the sister site(?) cannot find New Approach when I search for it. If you do get a hold of the New Approach books, there are at least 2 CDs that are included in the deal.

Kanji learning textbooks:
Minna no Nihongo Japanese Kanji Workbook
ISBN 4-88319-291-1 C0081
Minna no Nihongo Kanji 1 (English Edition)
ISBN 4-88319-147-8 C0081

The Kodansha Kanji Learner’s Dictionary
ISBN 978-4-7700-2855-6

The Kodansha is a dictionary that uses a method of looking up strokes of kanji called SKIP. I have found it to be an extremely useful tool when not only learning kanji but when looking up meanings of several kanji in a row. It is published by Kenkyusha Limited and can be found here for sale.

Grammar studies:
A Dictionary of Basic Japanese Grammar
ISBN 4-7890-0454-6 C3581
A Dictionary of Intermediate Japanese Grammar
ISBN 4-7890-0775-8 C3581

These dictionaries have been published by The Japan Times where you can in addition to the two dictionaries I’ve posted, also find the Advanced Japanese Grammar, a newly published one that wasn’t around when I was in Japan and bought my Basic and Intermediate. There are also other sorts of books for learning Japanese at that page, but they are quite expensive.

Ordinary dictionaries:
Japanese-English English-Japanese Dictionary
ISBN 0-345-40548-X

This dictionary is published by Random House and comes in many versions. Mine is from 1996 and it still works great. There are newer versions available though. This dictionary’s strongpoints are that it is fairly small, paperback pocket-sized but still houses more than 50,000 words and expressions. It is more than enough for getting around Japan while still outclassing the travel-dictionaries such as Berlitz’s and the like (in my opinion).

Posted by: Andreas | February 24, 2009

How do I get to Japan?

So, let’s start by checking how to even get to Japan. I will write this from my own experiences and if there is anyone else who has done it in a quicker way, know that you are most welcome to post a comment about it.

The first thing you should do is figure out what you actually want to do in Japan:

Holiday: It might not be the very first destination that comes to mind for holiday (I’m thinking from a European view here), but Japan sports beaches, shopping, and cultural and historic monuments just like other popular destinations such as France, Spain, Italy, Greece or Turkey.

Study: From personal experience I know that there is a widely spread interest in studying Japanese or other subjects in Japan. The country has quite a few interesting universities, with Tokyo University at the top I believe, but also specialised language schools which are basically designed for foreign-only students for them to learn Japanese.

Work: Japan is a place that fascinates many people and I amongst others want to work there. You can find work easily through various sources, with Internet being probably one of the few available if you are outside of Japan. Once in Japan however, you can apply for a job directly through companies, or via magazines which advertise job-opportunities.

Once you have decided on what to do, it’s time to get to work. What you should do and how much work you need to put in depends entirely on what you chose above.


1. First visit your nation’s Japanese embassy or consulate-general online. If you are having trouble finding it, have a look to your right in my LINKS bar. I have listed most countries’ embassies and linked to them there.

2. Look at the Visa section and check how many months someone of your nationality can stay in Japan on a Tourist Visa. Most countries have a period of 90 days and some have even 180 days. I believe there are very few exceptions to this that would limit the days to less than 90.

3. Secure a flight both to and from Japan. Once you are in Japan you will receive a Tourist Visa. You are *not* required to secure a visa before entering Japan [source for fact, 090223]. Your visa will be issued at the airport of your arrival instead. This however, only applies if you are going on holiday. If you intend to study during your Tourist Visa visit, please look at the Study section. The reason why you need to have your flight back booked already is that if you do not possess a return ticket, you will not be allowed to board the plane to Japan in your own country.

4. Also, make sure that you have some money. The officers at the Japanese airport will not search you for it, but it would be good to at least be able to give them reassurance that you have enough money to make it during your stay.

5. Pack your bags and go!


1. First visit your nation’s Japanese embassy or consulate-general online. If you are having trouble finding it, have a look to your right in my LINKS bar. I have listed most countries’ embassies and linked to them there. See to it that your nation has an agreement with Japan that people of your nationality can study in Japan (i.e. apply for Student Visa). If you intend on studying on a Tourist Visa, please see #9 of the Study section.

2. Find the school that you want to apply to. This might be harder than you might imagine. Applying for a Student Visa is not done by you, you see, but by the school that you want to attend. Please note that the Student Visas I will mention are not eligible for people under the age of 18. If you want to know how to apply to a Japanese Upper Secondary school (High School), then please contact your local Embassy. I do not provide any such information.

Also, very important(!). You will want to make absolutely sure that the school you will apply for are official members of the APJLE (Association for the Promotion of Japanese Language Education). If they are then you know that the school has official support from the Government.

As a special reference for Swedish students who want to study in Japan, know that if the school is not part of the APJLE you will not be able to apply for CSN support during your visit in Japan. To be absolutely sure, you should also ring the CSN and ask that they check if your APJLE-approved school actually is registered in the CSN data base. I can only guess that this applies to other nations’ equivalents of CSN (Student funding association).

3. The first thing you must do is send the school (I assume that by now you have found one, if not, check below for tips) your application form.

If you are applying to a Japanese University then you must do two things; get in contact with the University in Japan and look at their homepage for application procedures, and get in contact with your own University. In the case that your University is already in touch with the Japanese University then your application procedure will be an easy one. Most likely, your own University can take care of the application. If they are not in contact then you must take care of the application details all by yourself and make sure that a transfer from your University to the Japanese University goes smoothly. Perhaps you could even be the first student to set up a connection between them, making it easier for future students to make the same transfer, who knows?

If you are applying for a Japanese language school, then you need to contact the school to receive their specific application form. In most cases these are already available online on their homepage so that you can print it right out. If you do not have a printer, then the school can send you the application form by mail. It should take about 7-10 working days.

4. Choose whether you are applying for a Pre-College Student Visa or College Student Visa. Most Japanese Language schools are at the Pre-College Student level so that once you have graduated from the school, you can continue to a College or University by applying for the College Student Visa.

5. There is always going to be a processing fee for the application form. Also, when sending your application you might (but not necessarily) need the following items:

  1. Six 3 cm x 4 cm photos of you. These photos must be taken without a background, and you should look straight into the camera. Do not turn your face to the left or right. In some countries (such as mine) it is standard procedure to show one ear as well in photos used for ID or passport, but for this you should look straight ahead.
  2. Medical assurance. A statement from a doctor where it says you are at full health and do not suffer from anything. The statement must not be older than three (3) months from the time you received it and the time the Japanese Immigration Bureau receives the application.
  3. Insurance. Some schools can offer you a necessary insurance, some won’t. But if you are going to study for six months or more you are required to have at least some sort of insurance. You should contact the school for exact information on this.
  4. Proof of previous education. You need a certificate of your latest educational accomplishments, such as Upper Secondary school- or University degree.
  5. Proof of current employment. A certificate proving your employment status at your company. If you are unemployed you obviously do not need to supply any such information.
  6. Proof of financial situation. If you do not have enough money to pay for tuition and the living in Japan, you will most likely be denied entrance to Japan on a long-term Visa such as a Student Visa. You need to provide a statement of your bank account’s balance (not the bank account number as I’ve heard a few people believe, just the balance of it) and also a note from your job or bank of your monthly income that proves that you are able to pay for any incidents that might arise. (Note that if you are not the one who will be paying the expenses, perhaps your parents will, then they are the ones who must supply all this information).

6. Send your application with all the necessary documents to the school, *not* the Japanese Immigration Bureau. You will need to get the school’s address in other words. For example:

Japanese Language Institute of Sapporo
2-7, Nishi 26-chome, Minami 6-jo, Chuo-ku, Sapporo Japan

7. Once your application has been accepted, your school will send all your personal documents back, such as the proof of previous education. Then you need to wait. Once the application procedure is done, the school will send you another mail containing the Certificate of Eligibility. Now you must take the Certificate of Eligibility to your local Embassy of Japan who will then give you your Student Visa.

8. Secure a flight to Japan. Pack your bags, you’re on your way to 6 months+ of intense Japanese studies!

9. If you have decided on studying on a Tourist Visa instead, this is what you could (not necessarily should) do:

  1. Apply to the school. You do not need to send a lot of application details since that’s mostly for the Student Visa, not the actual school application.
  2. You might still need a few things in the list above at #5, such as a few photos and proof of your financial situation. Please contact your school for further details about studying on a Tourist Visa.
  3. Tourist Visas are often only given for a 90 day period as can be seen at the Holiday section. This forces you to take a few inconventient steps in order to stay in Japan. There is no problem studying for only 3 months at most schools, but if you want to progress with your Japanese I recommend at least 6 months worth of studies. One way of staying in Japan for 6 months rather than 3 is to leave for another country, say Korea or China, apply for a new Tourist Visa at the local Embassy there, and then return the next day to Japan. Now, I haven’t actually tried this, so I do not know exactly how or if it works, seeing you must have your flight ticket back to your country with you as you go *in* Japan. This means you have a ticket that you have bought but cannot use, unless you bought a ticket that can be rescheduled after you’ve entered Japan. Also, there is no guarantee that you will be able to get into Japan the second time, but I have heard of people who managed last time I was in Japan. However, after discussing this “strategy” with my own Embassy they told me it was a very risky way of extending one’s stay. I have also been in contact with my previous school and they say that one person actually managed to stay a second time on a Tourist Visa but when he tried to do it a third time, he was denied entry at the airport itself and deported back to his country. So I definitely do not recommend a third try.
  4. Pay the tuition fee to the school. Once they’ve given the green light, secure a ticket to Japan and pack your bags!

Tips section:
If you plan on attending a University, you must find the homepage by yourself unfortunately, as I have not attended such a school in Japan and thus do not have any idea which school is good or not. If you are not planning on studying at a University, but rather at a Japanese language school, there are a few that stand out. There are a lot of language schools in Tokyo, but personally I prefer to stay away from the big city since it is extremely expensive and it is hard to find a suitable home. Instead, first and foremost you should check out these schools:

The Yamasa Institute (Okazaki, Aichi prefecture)
Japanese Language Institute of Sapporo (Sapporo, Hokkaido prefecture)

Now these schools are hardly the only language schools you can find out there, besides the ones in Tokyo, but as I have attended Yamasa and am currently applying to JLI of Sapporo, both schools have given me a good impression. I can vouch for Yamasa as being extremely good, low-priced yet great quality, and you definitely get your worth in money back in education and lodging. For the moment I cannot say much about JLI but they also seem to have some comfortable doorms, or in my case, school-related apartments for rent.


Getting a Working Visa is pretty much like getting a Student Visa.

1. First visit your nation’s Japanese embassy or consulate-general online. If you are having trouble finding it, have a look to your right in my LINKS bar. I have listed most countries’ embassies and linked to them there. Look up what types of Working Visas that are offered and make sure your profession is covered.

2. You should most likely apply for a job in Japan before even attempting to apply for the actual Working Visa. 10 out of 11 Working Visas [source] show that you must already possess the Certificate of Eligibility in order to get the Visa. To get a Certificate of Eligibility one must be sponsored by the workplace (or school in the above case Study), thus making it basically impossible to go to Japan to work before you’ve secured employment at a workplace. Not a good idea to get everything ready before getting a job confirmation first in other words.

3. To apply for a job, you might search the Internet. I am not sure how reliable these sites actually are in securing you a job position as I have not tried any of them myself, but it might be worth a shot. Please be careful when browsing though. I do not take any responsibility whatsoever for anything that happens. I am merely trying to inform people of what I find when making a quick Google-search with the keywords “jobs in japan”. The biggest sites containing job information seem to be:


If you are already in Japan, searching for a job is easy. Just find a catalogue or read the newspapers like any ordinary Japanese. Easy.

4. Once you have a Certificate of Eligibility, get to your local Embassy and collect your Working Visa. Pack your bags, you’re heading to Japan and 14-hour-long working days and 10 days of holiday per year!

Posted by: Andreas | February 23, 2009

Hello world, the blog’s been reborn.

Greetings everyone and welcome back in the case you read my last blog before!

My last blog was active during the years 2005-2006 and covered mostly my visit in the small town of Okazaki and my life at the Japanese language school I attended.

My current blog will however have a different focus since I grew tired of recording my daily activities for other people to read. It was fun at first but then it just felt like a hazzle and I spent less time with it as each month went by.

I have therefore decided that this new blog will only cover personal life if there’s something really exciting or some major event that goes off. Other than that, I would instead like to talk about Japan in general this time, and especially inform people who are planning on travelling to Japan in the near future, or people who are already visiting Japan about interesting destinations, restaurants, cultural events, Japanese music, literature & TV, and the like.

My main focus in the beginning will be to try to explain and help people with that exactly they need in order to apply for a visa, things to think about when entering Japan and that stuff. Later, I’ll get into the sightseeing-things once I’ve set myself up.

I am hoping that anyone planning on leaving for Japan will find this blog not only interesting but also helpful. With the help of Buddha and my own ego, I hope to keep this blog running for some time.

See you in Japan!