Japan holds its breath on casino bill

With the Japanese lower house of parliament currently debating a bill to legalise casino gambling, the subject of gambling is a trending topic in Japan right now. The bill is the culmination of ten years of lobbying - not least by former Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara - and is seen by many as paving the way for the construction of some of the largest casino sites anywhere on earth.

A Matter of Trust

By Todd Wojnowski

“Trust me.” -- It’s perhaps the least-trustworthy sentence in existence—even children know to put their guards up when they hear it. There’s something diabolical in it that we connect with Hollywood villains and used car salesmen. Directly asking people to trust you is a sure way to tip off that they probably have no reason to, probably shouldn’t.

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Kishiwada Castle

By Bonson Lam

The Stone Garden in Kishiwada Castle brings together the present and the past in a symbolic way. It was designed by Mirei Shigemori; a famous architect and designer who also built the Kokuan tea house in Kyoto.

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The Customer Is God Delusion

By Philip Patrick

As an agnostic, I have never really felt comfortable with the whole “customer is God” philosophy. I know I’m supposed to feel charmed, but I can’t help experiencing mild embarrassment as I am showered with “welcomes” and “thank yous” and “I’ll be waiting for your next visits” by shop staff in Japan, often when I have only dropped into their store to get out of the rain. Basically, I don’t think I’ve really earned it.

Kyoto Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple

By Tomoko Kamishima

More than 800 stone statues sit close together at Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple. Splendid autumn leaves put their arms around the statues and give them a comforting hug. The location of today’s Adashino Nenbutsu-ji Temple (northwest outskirts of Kyoto) was once a location used for open-air burial.

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How to get free Wi-Fi in Osaka

By Bonson Lam

The best way to get free Wi-Fi in Osaka is to stay in a Wi-Fi enabled hostel or hotel. Surprisingly, you are more likely to get free Wi-Fi at the cheaper accommodation providers, like Hana Hostel or J Hoppers. A lot of business hotels, known for its compact, no-frills 3 star service levels, also provide free Wi-Fi. Hotels like Dormy Inn or Toyoko Inn are also known for its excellent connectivity in all its guest rooms as well as the public reception areas with no password requirements. . They also offer free internet computers at their reception or front desk areas. Higher up in the luxury stakes, Hotel Monterey and Fraser Residences also offer Wi-Fi in all their rooms, while Sheraton Osaka offers Wi-Fi in the reception area to registered guests.

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Sendai's Pageant of Starlight

By Dale A. Brown

The Sendai Pageant of Starlight is one of Japan's biggest winter illumination displays. Each year from December 6th through December 31st, 600,000 Christmas lights illuminate the zelkova trees along Jozenji-dori​ in downtown Sendai. At adjacent Kotodai Park (Kotodaikoen), accessed via the Kotodaikoen subway station on the Nanboku line, are several picture worthy light displays. Across from the park, a temporary ice rink is set up for anyone to enjoy.

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A Taste of Japan

By Joan Bailey

Melon-flavored ice cream from Hokkaido. Natamame (sword bean) tea from Hyogo. Mikan juice from Wakayama. Usually such unique regional items can only be savored by visiting the prefecture or city they are from.

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Left Behind

By Jane Kitagawa

“The gentleman was here on a holiday in January 2013 with his family,” explains Bruce Gherbetti, deputy chairman of Kizuna Child-Parent Reunion, discussing the case of a Canadian man who had reached out to their organization after his Japanese wife abducted their son.

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Yuriage Port Morning Market

By Andrew Kehohe

Fukushima, Miyagi and Iwate all bare deep scars from the 2011 disaster. Yuriage, the small coastal district of Natori city has taken steps to heal those wounds with the help of some friendly Canadians. Starting at 6:00AM every Sunday thousands of Japanese people head out to the coastal inlet of Yuriage to get fresh seafood and produce, breakfast, buy handmade crafts, see their friends, and even see some live music.

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