Feel Like You’re In The Army At This Self Defense Force Center Just Outside Tokyo

The Ground Self Defense Force Nerima Garrison (10 minutes walk from Tobu Nerima Station on the Tobu Tojo Line) is a place I used to regularly cycle past about eight years ago on the way to one of my workplaces and, as someone with a military interest, I one day circled the place in search of some kind entrance for the public to enter. There wasn’t one though. Little did I know that a further six kilometres up the road was the Japan Ground Defense Force (JGSDF) PR Center which does have a museum open to the public for free.


I only found out about this place earlier in the Summer and so decided to cycle the 10 kilometres or so from the Tokyo Fox Global Operations Centre on what was a ridiculously hot day (around 35 or 36 degrees celsius) back in mid-July. Cycling in such conditions isn’t as bad as some may think as you do still get a bit of wind but I really Continue reading

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This Doll Temple In Shizuoka Prefecture Is Like No Other!

Everything about this temple looks pretty much like any other……except for the two six-metre tall red and blue daruma dolls sitting on the wings of the main hall. For those who don’t know, daruma is a traditional Japanese buddhist doll deemed to bring good luck when given as a gift of encouragement. I saw a large one in the far flung western part of Tokyo called Ome a few months ago, and these ones were probably of similar size.


On a Sunday morning back in August, I took the local train for a few hours to Hamamatsu Station having spent the previous night at my in-laws place (on my own) in Izu. It took about three hours to reach Hamamatsu and I quickly hopped (or jumped if you prefer! Reality is that I just stepped on to it of course!) on to the number Continue reading

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Hidden Treasures Along The Keio Line #4 – Earth Tech Char Sub-One

The Keio Line principally connects Shinjuku to the western side of Tokyo with seven different lines running through to the likes of suburban city Hachiōji and the mountainous area at Takaosanguchi. All of it’s stations actually lie within the boundaries of Tokyo and, thanks to regular free tickets, Tokyo Fox has dug deep to come up with a few places worthy of visit beyond perennial favourites like Mount Takao and Tama Zoo……

#4 – Earth Tech Char Sub-One @ 2-30-4 Continue reading

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Review: Films Set In Japan – Batman Ninja (2018)

It was really nice to see Batman in animated form for a colourful, witty and entertaining movie……but that’s enough about last years ‘The Lego Batman Movie‘!! This Japanese-produced film is a distant second to that though and I really do emphasise the word distant!


It’s common practice to begin films reviews with a plot synopsis but that is a little difficult to do with ‘Batman Ninja‘ as I really found it hard to work out what was actually going on for the 85 minute duration. By movie standards, it’s a Continue reading

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An Egyptian Pyramid Amidst Japanese Forest! You Better Believe It!

The most popular place in Africa for Japanese to visit is definitely Egypt with the 4,500 year old Pyramids the prime reason for them travelling there. That’s no surprise of course but very few (from the people I’ve spoken to since this trip!) seem to be aware that they need only travel as far as Tochigi prefecture to see such a wonder of the world!

Of course you can’t really compare the ancient, historical emblem of Giza with this bright yellow pyramid that appears rather abruptly in a forested area of Nasushiobara city. The techniques used for constructing the former were well beyond those of human civilisation at the time. The latter though has only been around for a small fraction of that time which basically means I have no idea when it was built!


Nishi-Nasuno is the closest station but be aware that it really is not near at all! There are buses which go in the direction of the pyramid but they are not regular and it is still a further 2.8 kilometre walk from the nearest bus stop. As a result I decided to just Continue reading

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A Japanese Ogre In Oga, Akita Architecture & Train Travel Tales Through Yamagata

Way too much time was spent on local trains during this six day trip in the northern parts of mainland Japan but that was the basic idea of it all really! Day five began at Odate Station in Akita prefecture (with Hachiko bidding me farewell of course!) on what was to be an epic day travelling just over 400 kilometres south.

There were a couple of interesting places I wanted to see along the way before ending up in Koriyama in Fukushima prefecture at the end of the day. Namahage is a Japanese ogre tradition originating in the Oga Peninsula area of Akita Prefecture. I believe there are some daily performances but they were in places which were really difficult to get to without a car. I was just happy to see these awesome figures (below) outside Oga Tourist Information Centre.


The nearest station is actually Continue reading

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The Birthplace Of Shibuya’s Beloved, Faithful Dog Hachiko Is Actually In Akita Prefecture

Anyone who has ever been to Shibuya will no doubt be aware of the story of Hachiko; the loyal dog who continued to wait for his master each night for many years after his master had died. The statue that sits outside the Hachiko exit of the station is one of the most famous meeting spots in all of Japan. It’s a story that has been immortalised in a few film adaptations with the most internationally famous one being ‘Hachi; A Dog’s Tale‘ (2009) starring Richard Gere albeit with the story moved to America instead.

Back in 2015, a new Hachiko statue was unveiled at the University of Tokyo in Bunkyo ward which also included his master Professor Ueno. It far better resembles the rejoice and excitement they both felt when they met after each work time. I thought this and the Shibuya one were the only statues of the famously loyal Akita dog but that’s not the case as there is another one outside Continue reading

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