Japan Culture

Shigarakiyaki 信楽焼

By | Japan Culture

“Shigaraki ware(Shigarakiyaki 信楽焼)” is a large pottery production area in Koka City, Shiga Prefecture, Japan.

The history of pottery production dates back to the Kamakura period, 1,200 years ago.

A long time ago, this area was the bottom of Lake Biwa, so very rare and good soil is deposited here, so wonderfully colored pottery is produced.

The Japanese loved the beautiful colors of this region.

Shigaraki ware developed along with Japanese tea ceremony culture.

“Wabi-sabi” is the Japanese aesthetic sense.


Japanese Precious Wood of Mt. Yoshino, Nara Prefecture

By | Interior Coordinate, Japan Culture, Real Estate

This month we visited several timber-related businesses near the Yoshino River in Nara Prefecture.

The Yoshino River flows through the center of Nara Prefecture and the northern part of Wakayama Prefecture to the sea, but there are many lumber and furniture processing industries along this river. Geographically, I think the Yoshino River was used to transport trees cut down from Mt. Yoshino and the mountains of Wakayama Prefecture. It is believed that the lumber-related business has a long history.

We drove on the narrow and rough road of Mt. Yoshino and visited Tokuda Meiboku Co., Ltd in Kurotaki Village. When I called Tokuda office in advance, the lady staff kindly accepted our visit, saying, “Yes, please, please come on !.”

When I entered the building of Tokuda Meiboku, I was surprised to see a huge number of natural trees lined up. There are many companies in this area who are engaged in forestry and lumber industry, but they did not do the same thing, and they seemed to be different. Above all, the president of Tokuda Meiboku Co. Ltd has a management strategy that treats natural wood in a dignified manner, and I think it deserves special mention.

I think most of the people who visited Tokuda Meiboku will be surprised by the size and quality of the wood, but I was different from other people. Rather than the splendor of the wood, the natural wood, which is said to have 30,000 different shapes, was properly labeled with numbers in the warehouse and kept in order. I was impressed by the fact that Mr. Tokuda has a very high management ability. I think that the internal control of accounting is also excellent.

I completely liked it. Since I came all the long way to the mountains, I bought as much of this company’s trees as I could put in my car. I would like to make a dining table or shelf using these wood. Tokuda Meiboku Co.Ltd is a forestry, so they will cut good quality cedar and cypress from the mountains. What you do with the tree depends on the creativity of the buyer. It seems that there are also artists. Depending on the creativity of the purchaser, I think that the range of use of natural wood, “how to utilize it,” has great potential.

Wao!? Is this a product?!!

New Year’s card for Japanese

By | Japan Culture, Life in Japan

Japanese people don’t write much Christmas cards, but they write “Nengajo (New Year greeting card)” by December 25th and post it to the mailbox. The post office delivery staff will distinguish this New Year’s cards from other mails and deliver them to the destinations on January 1st, no matter when they are posted. Therefore, Japanese postal workers are quite busy this season.

Japanese people write about 100 New Year’s cards every year. The number varies from person to person, but my university professor receives 2,000 New Year’s cards in January. When Japanese receive a New Year’s card, it is normal to reply. However, it is difficult to reply to 2,000 people, so my teacher announced an apology and said, “I am very sorry that I could not reply to everyone.”

Writing 100 New Year’s cards is hard work. It takes me three days to write 100 New Year’s cards. It takes a lot of time, so Japanese people these days print using a personal computer. However, I am a little happy to receive a machine-copied New Year’s card, but to be honest, I feel that it is a little unsatisfactory.

On the other hand, Japanese people are very impressed when they receive a handwritten New Year’s card. Washi (Japanese paper) is the traditional paper in Japan, but if Japanese can get a New Year’s card of such paper, their happiness will be doubled. If you go to the stationery section of a Japanese department store, you can find good quality Washi postcards.

商品詳細|鳩居堂 はがき・カードの専門店 (

For Japanese people, New Year’s cards have a greater impact on the Japanese spirit than Christmas cards and birthday cards. This is because the history of the Japanese people is incorporated into the DNA of the Japanese people.

Japanese people write the following contents on New Year’s postcards.
“I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to those who took care of me last year. And I would like to thank you for your cooperation in the New Year.”

By all means, please send the New Year’s card to the Japanese with all your heart, not by copying, but by handwriting. I’m sure Japanese people will feel very happy for your card.

Forests in Japan

By | Japan Culture

(The  Land of Golden Ears of Rice/ Japan  photo by Fukai)

Mountainous area account for 70 percent of Japan. Urban areas like Tokyo or Osaka are mere fractions. Much of this country is still covered by a forest now.

There are few treeless mountains in Japan. Everywhere in Europe there are treeless bald mountains, and on top of that every European tree is very poor. On the other hand everywhere in Japan there are a lot of huge trees.

There are huge trees on the mountains and there are rivers from the mountains. In the lower part of rivers there are an abundant crop of rice field.

In Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples there is a giant tree without exception. Please visit Koyasan in Wakayama prefecture.

If you visit Koyasan, I think  you could find the most wonderful thing in Japan. The forest is the object of worship for Japanese. So Japanese feel fearful of the forest.

(Photo: a pilgrimage walk to Koyasan by Fukai)

(Photo: Koyasan by Fukai)

Rainforests are being destroyed at an increasingly fast pace. In 2050 all 100% tropical rain forests over the world will be exterminated.

I walked all 1400 km where Priest Kobo Daishi walked 1,000 years ago. It was  the pleasurable time of my life.

On the one hand Japan pursued rapid industrialization, but on the other Japan has a historical culture that people protect forests.

Please actually experience and enjoy Japanese beautiful culture in Japan.

Conflicts of interests ~exclusively for foreign expats

By | Japan Culture, Real Estate

One of a real estate agent services is a property management.

(A) A property management is that a real estate agent  receives a commission from a building owner and manage the owner’s apartment or house. The real estate agent maintains the building and must attract tenant customers. That is, a property management is a service for owners.

(B) On the other hand a real estate agent receives a request from foreign expats and search for the most suitable apartment or house for the foreign expats. In this case the real estate agent must stand on the foreign expats’ side. That is, searching for an apartment or house is a service for foreign expats.

These two services (A)(B) are mutually exclusive.

“Conflict of interests” is a popular legal term in the United States.
However Japanese do not understand clearly the legal concept of this word “Conflict of interests”

When a creditor and a debtor contend at law, a lawyer for a creditor work for the creditor and a lawyer for a debtor work for the debtor. There are two different lawyers in charge for different interests. If a lawyer for a creditor is the same person as a lawyer for a debtor, there is no doubt that it is illegal because of “Conflict of interests”.

Therefore foreign expats should not trust a real estate agent who receives a commission from owners.



Please enjoy your life in Japan~Discoveries through comparative culture

By | Japan Culture, Life in Japan

(Photo: Mt. Fuji climbing by Masahiro Fukai)

I would like many of foreign expats customers to experience and enjoy life in Japanese culture and society. If you scratch a little deeper you will find Japan is really unique country in the world. International students have interests in Japanese language and culture to some degree. However foreign expats  customers’ purpose is business in Japan. So I am under the impression that foreign expats are not so interested in Japanese culture.

To tell the truth, this always makes me regret very much.

Japan is actually very unique country. Japan is very different from neighbour China and Korea.  There are very many differences between Japan and Europe and US, too.

Geographically Japan is an island which is separated from the Asian continent. This geographical conditions make the dead end where people cannot go through. Therefore people didn’t visit Japan from ancient times before the age of the airplane.

People in Sicily Island of Italy eat a fish dish, though European eat a meat dish. Sicily has a cuisine like people living in the East Asian region.  Sicily also isn’t conveniently accessible. So  culture peculiar to that region has been formed as well as Japan.  Portugal is not an island country, however Portugal has also an unique culture because of its geographical position in Europe.

Japan is extremely unique culture country compared to any other country in the world.

Please try to walk in cities, provinces,  rural communities. It would make you discover invaluable things for your life. It is surely a valuable experience. When you compare your mother country with Japan, Japan will be “the miller“. Then I believe you could obtain a deeper understanding of your own country. If you really don’t like Japan, it is very good. Either, however, will do just fine. For you to understand your country well, please experience Japan.

That’s all I wish for.