Enjoy the Fireworks in Japan’s Summer Fireworks Festival – Hanabi Matsuri

Japan has a tradition of holding a fireworks festival during the end of july-start of august period which is smack right in the middle of summer. It is a huge celebration in every part of Japan that has Yatai (street food stalls and games) covering the roads for miles and miles. And sure enough, you can expect thousands of people to be there.

Most men and women would dress in their respective kimono or yukata and would carry a fan (as the weather is very hot.. and also, it’s part of the style!) as they walk around eating, playing games and stand around the river watching the boats sail pass. These boats are usually sponsored by several companies or universities and would have their staff or students sit on it and make a lot of noise.

Most people would be accessing the festival area via train and it is very common for trains to run extra-late and more frequently due to the high volume of passengers. Do expect an extremely huge crowd and that cellphone service might have some complications as well. It is also a known fact that pickpocketing will be a little more common in such situations, so be sure to keep your belongings safe.

There will also be a designated time for the fireworks to start, and you will see people reserving spots on the grass where they will drink beer, eat grilled meat and watch the fireworks with their loved ones. Do save a spot early (around 4-5pm) if you wish to have a picnic under the sky.

Difference between Sento and Onsen

Many people seem to misunderstand these two different bath houses in Japan which is a common topic among travellers. One is the Sento and another will be the popular Onsen.

A sento is a communal Japanese Bath house that is most popular in cold weather. The common misconception is that it has natural spring water coming out from it, but it is actually just normal water. The exception is, that they have many different type of baths/pools like a jacuzzi type and jet water type.

There are certain Sento where you will have to pay 50/80 YEN to use the hairdryers. And of course, an entry fee is required for any Sento. You will be given a locker to keep your personal belongings in. Sentos are split into a male and female section, and yes you are required to go naked in front of others. Sentos are usually used for bathing, instead of relaxing.

An Onsen is a communal bath house that has water originating from natural hot springs. People go to an Onsen to relax as they believe that it is good for clearing their minds and improving their skin. Some Japanese even believe certain onsen to be magical and able to cure illnesses! Most Onsen now are seperated into male and female sections, but some still are multi-sex. So be sure to check ahead if you are uncomfortable in co-ed situations.

Many Onsen come hand in hand with a Ryokan (Traditional Japanese Inn) where there will be a package for lodging, food, and of course, use of the Onsen. It is a great retreat for both foreigners and Japanese alike.

Selling/Buying Manga in Japan

Many people know that buying and selling of 2nd hand Manga is a very popular culture in Japan. Buying 2nd hand manga is not only a cheaper alternative, it is also usually still in pristine condition. Selling of your 2nd hand Manga is called Kaitori (買取). You are not only able to do this with Manga, but CDs and DVDs as well!

Places to sell/buy 2nd hand manga:

-Tsutaya
-BOOK OFF

Somtimes they have the option to buy a bundle at a discounted rate which is a steal for customers! Do keep a lookout for these deals.

Watching a Movie in Japan

Watching movies in Japan is almost the same as any other cinema in the world. However, prices may differ for everyone. A popular cinema in Japan would be Toho Cinemas which can be frequently found in O1O1 shopping malls.

Special Prices:

-Wednesdays are the usual “ladies days” where movie tickets for ladies can be purchased at 1000YEN.
-Every 1st of the month, tickets are all 1000YEN.
-Senior citizens above 60 years old can also purchase tickets at 1000 YEN.

A normal ticket price can be 1500YEN-1800YEN.

Popcorn and the like can also be purchased for around 1000YEN with a drink.

Please take note:

There are usually two choices for American movies/English Speaking Movies. Those that are dubbed over in Japanese. Or those that are in English and have Japanese subtitles. It is important to clarify that before purchasing tickets, especially for non-Japanese speaking people.

Standing in different sides on the escalator

Please kindly note that I will be dis-continuing post on this blog for the Japan side as I have shifted it over to my new blog at Osaka? A~ Souka!


 In Osaka, Photo credit: All Over Japan

You can see that Japanese are always systematic, even in taking escalators. They would not horde around the escalators like some other countries, but dividing it into two “lanes”. One will be the normal lane which you can stand until you reach the top or bottom, while the other is an fast lane, especially for the salaryman.

In Tokyo, Photo credit: gutereise09

This general rule applied all over Japan but there is a difference between Osaka and Tokyo on the side on the escalators. Osaka normal lane is on the left while in Tokyo it is on the right.

way of counting money & returning changes

IN SINGAPORE

The most common way Singaporeans counts the bills is by folding all of them into halves and count using two fingers brushing the notes upwards. (Too bad, I will find a illustration soon !). If you go to any part of Singapore, most of the vendors will first keep your note and return you the change later.

IN JAPAN

Just as what the Singaporeans are doing, most of the shops in Japan will give you the change first before keeping the note. Perhaps it is a way of politeness and service so that the customers does not need to wait too long for the change. Also, they have a particular “counting money in your face”, to make sure you got all your changes. Well, watch the 2nd method of counting in the video, it is exactly the way they count the monies.

Disposal of used items

IN SINGAPORE

When there is something which is unwanted, you can just sell it to the Garang guni man that “patrol” around the neighborhood, who will sounds a bell while on the patrol. The Garang guni man will then examine the used items and will offers you an unexpectedly low price for the goods, which in most of the case we will accept as the used items means not value to us anymore. Perhaps a dollar or two.

IN JAPAN

The scenes are quite different as compared to Singapore. Japan has a set of recycle laws that prohibits it people from throwing off used items unnecessary, especially on electrical appliances. Instead of getting paid for your used items, you would have to pay certain amount of money, considerable high to get rid of it. For instance, a 60cm x 60cm x 60cm mini refrigerator would cost around 2,500 yen to be disposed, while the refrigerators alone cost only 5,000 yen. Weird ?

What Japan HAVE, Singapore DON’T #1 Cigarettes & Alcohol Vending Machines

Perhaps one of the most interesting things you will find in Japan that they live their life surrounded by vending machines, including those selling cigarettes and alcohol.

It is a common sight on the streets in Japan that vending machines are lined along the roads, within bars, disco and even hotels. Hey ! We can’t even smoke in place where there is shelter in Singapore, not forgetting those specially “SDPC” marked cigarettes.

Dfferent Culture on Valentine’s Day

Looking back the Valentine’s day which I have spent in Singapore, there was quite a different culture happening in Japan. Roses are not as that expensive as it seems in Singapore during this day, and there isn’t much sales or promotion in shops as well, except for tonnes of chocolate flooding the store.

In Japan, things seems so different. Guys do nothing, instead gals are the party who will buy chocolates and give it to the guy whom she likens. And on the 14th March, which is exactly a month later, the guy party would show their appreciation by perhaps a little present or maybe again chocolate.

I was around the store this week and you could see the gals swarming around the chocolates and making their finest selection present. Would that be happening in Singapore, apparently no or maybe there is still minority I supposed.

Hey, do you think that Singapore should have this kind of system as well ?

Tamade Supermarket

For those living in Osaka, you should know Tamade supermarket スーパー玉出 because it can be found nearly in all corners of Osaka. It is the only well-known supermarket that operates 24-hours and had a great variety of food products.

I was talking with my landlord and she said that she seldom frequent this supermarket. What I heard from her was that those food products, including poultry and seafood are bought over from other supermarkets because the products are due to expiry.

Don’t know if it is true, but seriously to say, I am one of the loyal customer, lol.