Apr 152014

imageFrom man-about-Osaka, Urano-san:

In Japan, we often see people taking a walk with their dogs. Almost all the dogs wear very colorful clothes. Why is this?

Sometimes owners walk with their dogs in their arms or transport them in a baby carriage, which looks very humorous to me.

Every owner carries some bags and papers to collect the droppings of their own beloved dogs and never leave them on the road, even in the park. Owner’s manners are always very good, something which we Japanese can be proud of.

In Japan, smaller sized dogs are prefered, because they are taken care of within the narrow Japanese houses common in urban areas.

Near my flat, there’s an animal hospital, a pet shop and a doggie salon. That animal hospital accepts patients for medical care 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. It’s equipped with a very high level of medical instrumentation including an X-ray machine, a MRI scanner, and more. We’ve heard that medical treatment costs are very high at this hospital, however it looks very busy.

At the pet shop, many kinds of animals are sold: dogs; cats; fish (in fresh and salt water); birds; squirrels; crocodiles; snakes and many other species. The price of dogs or cats is typically more than 100, 000円 per animal. During the weekend, that pet shop is full of visitors.

It sells not only animals but also all the goods necessary for keeping one’s pet healthy, comfortable and stylish. Goods for dogs are especially plentiful; ball shaped feed, canned food, snacks, cakes(!), ice cream(!!), diapers(!!!), clothes and more; almost all the goods are similar to the ones necessary to take care of human infants and toddlers. I truly feel that I ate rather inferior quality food when I was a child living in a much poorer Japan compared to the kind that today’s pampered Japanese dogs eat regularly.

The hair salon for dogs seems to be always busy, though the cost is far higher than my typical bill at the barbershop.

In spite of the fact that there are many areas where people starve to death in the world, what is the current Japanese situation? I once heard a trusted veterinarian’s opinion that dogs kept within a house are not so happy, because they are confined in limited-sized rooms and therefore under greater stress than is natural. In addition, they are not allowed to have contact with fellow dogs of the opposite sex.

Are they truly happy?

Jan 022014

Osaka Ali has been told that religious scholars have counted up to 8 million gods in the Japanese religion. That may or may not be true, but it sure feels like there can be 8 million passengers crowded on some local trains on a normal weekday commute in Osaka. That is why I enjoyed the winter holiday in Japan, a time when people here pressed a collective national “pause” button, and close down offices, businesses, schools and other work places to relax, spend time with family and reflect on past and future.

O.A. particularly likes the sparsely populated trains during the days following New Year’s. The train ride can be so calm and stress-free. With this peace and calm in mind,  it was a great  opportunity to take up wise and well-read VIP Urano-san’s invitation to visit Hozanji Temple on Ikoma Mountain, west of Nara. The journey took a couple of changes of train lines from my home, including a ride on a cable car up the mountain. In all, the journey lasted about an hour.


Being shortly after the 1st, there were some visitors, but not the throngs that might have been flooding the temple courtyards and stone pathways. Stone lanterns lined stairways led to the beckoning Torii gate. Everything about the day lent itself to a pleasant and refreshing tour.

A temple can be experienced culturally, aesthetically, spiritually, and philosophically, but we prefered a recreational pilgrimage, giving ourselves a chance to renew body and mind. Hozanji Temple’s mountain location provides great views of the city and the sheltering presence of a Japanese cedar forest clears the head and respiration. The fragrance of Japanese incense and the crisp air were enlivening and the architecture and decorative details beautiful and engaging.

My friend shared interesting stories about Japanese history and we had a great conversation about our dreams, plans and aspirations for 2013 over hot udon noodles. This year feels like it is off to a great start.




Oct 272013

Any Naruto fans out there?

PRE-ORDER – PRE-ORDER These will be shipping in mid to late November. This will be the first Japancast brand t-shirts we offer! All Naruto fans know this symbol. In our version we have a distressed version of the Uzumaki Clan symbol, which is worn by all chuunin or jyounin level shinobi o – Online S…

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Oct 242013

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