Phoenixikki comments

Posted in: New station on Tokyo's Yamanote line to be named Takanawa Gateway See in context

Gateway is wrong simply because this station is going to be no transportation hub. Being close to Haneda and Shinagawa means nothing - so is Tamachi and it's not a "gateway". As far as I know, this new station won't be connected to any other line which ranks it in the line of other famous gateway hubs such as Uguisudani, Shin-Okubo and Mejiro.

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Posted in: Abe vows further efforts to attract 40 mil foreign visitors by 2020 See in context

kohakuebisu: Well said, thank you. Just wanted to add that group package trips are rapidly becoming a thing of the past even for Asian visitors. The latest data shows that individual travelers are exceeding the 50% barrier for countries and areas like Taiwan and Hong Kong. This is particularly true for younger visitors.

Spot on about rental cars as well. Surprisingly, Western visitors prefer to use trains and buses, although many of them come with an international driving permit to do the Mario karts. Rental cars are mostly used by Hong Kong and Taiwanese, and to a certain degree by American visitors in Okinawa. Personally I don't get this. It's so much easier and more convenient, especially tourists from Australia and UK who are used to left-side driving should totally rent cars all the time.

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Posted in: Abe vows further efforts to attract 40 mil foreign visitors by 2020 See in context


Almost every countryside airport in Japan has direct international flights to Taiwan, China or Korea (some have flights also to Indonesia, Thailand, etc). In contrast, the only entrance gates to Japan for Westerners are Narita, Haneda and Kansai Airports. You use the excellent railway network to travel from Narita to Sendai or Hanamaki, while the Taiwanese arrive directly at those airports. It's immensely more convenient. This is why places like Kyushu and Shikoku get few Western visitors but a lot of Asian ones. Actually, many regions in Japan would have had no visitors if it weren't for those direct flights to Asia. The average travel duration for Asians is about 3-4 nights actually. They spend more but for shopping. If you look at the data per country, Asians spend their money mostly for shopping and very little on transportation (since they don't need to travel long distances within Japan and don't stay long), while Westerners spend mainly on accommodation, transportation and activities.

Do the hustle:

Almost none of this is true. Foreigners absolutely don't go to Saizeriya and Gusto, mainly because these places don't offer Japanese-style food. Westerners aren't here to eat pizza or pasta. If you actually go often to Saizeriya and Gusto you'll see how few foreigners eat there compared to any crappy kaiten sushi. Also, there is a huge demand for Michelin-starred restaurants and other high-quality (and expensive) Japanese restaurants. Lack of English menus has never been a problem at those places, because you're usually served a course rather than choose from a menu. Believe me, tourists are not missing out on Japanese cuisine. :)

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Posted in: Abe vows further efforts to attract 40 mil foreign visitors by 2020 See in context

As someone who's also working in the industry I can tell you that there are a lot of misinformed opinions here. And lots of false assumptions.

The government is actually aware of over capacity issues. That's why in the last few years the focus of promotion has been predominantly the countryside. This is bringing good results and the numbers are increasing (Shimane got 79% more overnight stays than last year, Kochi had over 200% more at one point). The reasons are several: 1) better promotion of the countryside; 2) more repeaters who don't want to visit Tokyo or Kyoto; 3) direct international flights to Asia from all countryside airports as well as cruises.

Tokyo is NOT just promoting its central stuff; on the contrary, its main focus now is "Tama-Shima", aka the Tama area and the Tokyo islands. Kyoto is promoting its sea and mountain areas (Amanohashidate, Miyama, etc). Just because you don't feel the above it doesn't mean it's not true.

The bigger problem is that unlike the Asians, the foreign travelers from the Western countries have no direct access to the countryside and few of them are repeaters. This results in very very few numbers of Western visitors in places like Tohoku, Shikoku, Kyushu, Sanin. I just spent 8 days in Kyushu, visiting all prefectures and all major spots, and for 8 days I saw a grand total of 6 Western travelers. Luckily, the government finally got aware of this around last year and have started targeting Western customers (particularly "luxury travelers", but their definition of luxury is hilarious and basically any traveler from the West fits). It's a well known fact that Westerners spend more.

Also, don't judge the level of services from a Western perspective. The vast majority of Asian tourists have absolutely no problem queuing up 3 hours for Universal Studios or a famous ramen shop.

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Posted in: Medical school exam scandal exposes bias against female doctors in Japan See in context


You misunderstood me completely. I was referring to the fact that it's a waste if you decide to dump so many years of hard work and never return to your job after investing so much into it.

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Posted in: Medical school exam scandal exposes bias against female doctors in Japan See in context


I'm just assuming based on the motives suggested by the medical school. Probably many of the ladies return to work, although I keep hearing conflicting opinions about whether the institution of sengyo-shufu is dying out in Japan or not.


Fair point, but somehow in Japan I can't imagine many independent doctors on stand by waiting to be called as a replacement whenever needed. Most of them don't have enough time even for their own small clinics.

Takeshi Hasegawa

You say "to eliminate the super crazy work custom", but how do you suggest to do that? Anyone who works in a company in Japan knows the flow is very congested and busy. Japanese companies are too big and constantly need to run a million projects and deals at the same time. If I suggest to my management "let's run fewer projects so that we're not so busy", the company will simply start earning less. It's pure capitalism at its purest form, and in my opinion that's the essence of the problem.

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Posted in: Medical school exam scandal exposes bias against female doctors in Japan See in context

"As often mentioned on these forums, dealing with absences is what staff management is supposed to do."

I would like to deepen the discussion on this point if possible. I'm in no way endorsing the practice of discrimination, which is fundamentally unfair (however, let's not forget that a private university can set its own admission rules, by deciding the quota for men and women, accepting only those they want, etc). I feel sorry for all the girls who were snubbed due to the bias (on the other hand, I personally think it's pointless to devote so many years and efforts into such a demanding and high-level profession only to decide to become a full-time sengyo-shufu for the rest of your life a couple of years later... but this is just my opinion).

However, I'm trying to see the situation from their eyes and understand the underlying motives behind the discriminatory selection. I don't believe the explanation is as simple as sexism and disregarding the skills of women. Some of the best doctors I've met in Japan were all women. I actually think the hospitals are indeed worried over highly likely resignations or long-term maternity leaves that will render them understaffed. Probably more of a worry in the countryside than Tokyo, but still a valid worry.

My question is how is this type of situation solved in other countries? Maybe I've lived in Japan for too long, but I can somehow relate to why many employees are hesitant to take long time off work. In my work, for example, if I go away, there's literally no one else to substitute me and take over my tasks - either because my co-workers have no idea or expertise on what I'm doing, or because they physically cannot take double load. I schedule my vacation time half a year in advance to make sure everyone is prepared. But if something unexpected happens and I have to take time off suddenly, I really don't see how my management would cope with it. Probably will be forced to tell our clients and partners that we can't complete the projects in time - something unacceptable in Japan. So how do managers in other countries solve this? By hiring more people than necessary?

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Posted in: LDP gearing up for leader's race; Abe eyes constitutional revision See in context

Japan doesn't hold its own independence the way people imagine it. As a semi-occupied country, its politics will always be decided by the US. Parties which propose improving relations with China or cutting on the number of US bases have obviously no chance. I don't think it's fair to lament the inertness of the locals for something they have little say about. Abe and the LDP are like the appointed governor of this territory, they're not going to change in foreseeable future, and I must admit Abe was very smart to be the first one to go and flatter Trump after the US elections. This literally guaranteed his seat.

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Posted in: Diet OKs law to allow up to 3 casino resorts See in context

"Friends and relatives of the LDP" is a mild way to say it. There is one particular person who is behind this and many other government decisions, especially those concerned with large infrastructural projects targeted at "increasing the number of foreigners". He is not Japanese, he is very close to the LDP and he is extremely influential. Practically, most of his wishes become government strategies.

In regards to the above, one of the casino resorts will be in Hokkaido, but not in Sapporo. It will be in the east, within a national park purposely selected as one of the national parks that will be developed to reach international recognition and attract high-end foreign visitors. Everything is linked together and nothing is a coincidence.

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Posted in: Fruit picking grows in popularity among foreign visitors to Japan See in context

I don't quite agree with the opinions here. Fruits picking is a great experience and much more delicious than buying crappy-tasting fruits in central Tokyo. Nothing in the stores can really compare to an all-you-can-eat grapes in Yamanashi or strawberries in Tochigi. Surely, you pay around 1500-2000 JPY, but 30 minutes is enough to stuff yourself with lots of fruits. Problem is, Japanese don't really understand the concept of all-you-can-eat; they spend the time taking photos, posing with cherries and not really eating much, so for them this experience is indeed a rip-off. When I got into a strawberry greenhouse, it doesn't have much left after 30 minutes. After all, that's the point of driving all the way to the farm, isn't it?

As for the foreign travelers, the data is quite skewed. Fruits picking appeals only to some particular countries, namely Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong, a bit from Taiwan, but virtually no one from the Western countries and very few from Korea/China go for fruits picking. It's a specific-target activity. Plus, the accessibility problems make it difficult to reach the farms without a rental car.

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Posted in: ‘Jisa Biz’ campaign to ease overcrowding on Tokyo trains starts Monday See in context

I'm not convinced countryside trains are as empty as portrayed here. Here is a list of train routes on which I've had the discomfort of standing for long in a crowded car:

Fukuoka to Saga

Kanazawa to Fukui

Kurashiki to Okayama

Matsusaka to Nagoya

Chitose to Sapporo practically every time

In central Tokyo you are still with a good chance of getting a seat within 10-15 minutes after everyone gets off at Shinjuku or another major station. But on those countryside routes especially at commute times you stand for an hour or so as there is no major station along the way.

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Posted in: ‘Jisa Biz’ campaign to ease overcrowding on Tokyo trains starts Monday See in context

Reading the comments here makes me wonder how exactly is everyone integrated in the Japanese society. So many opinions, remarks and conclusions about "the companies", "the employees", "commuters", as if no one is part of the system. If you're not, it would be great to share interesting insight about how you managed not to be among "the employees" of "the companies"; if you are, then please tell us how you've dealt with the issue described in the article and whether you have suggested any of the solutions to your management. Personally, I'm more amazed at how foreigners adopt far too quickly and far too earnestly all the well-known criticized habits of the Japanese work culture. I've seen a good number of foreign employees (and I don't speak about Chinese low-skilled workers at all) who master the defects of the work-life balance without a hint of disappointment. We may criticize the Japanese work system all we want, but as long as foreigners come and eagerly adopt the practices instead of bringing fresh air of change, things will indeed remain the same.

As for the crowded trains, in Tokyo this is more of a morning rush hour issue. In the evenings it's not really that bad as everyone leaves office at a different time depending on how much zangyo they do. The company I work at starts at 10 am, and around 9:30 am the Yamanote Line is already not so crowded. I usually ride the last car and most of the time find a seat. In my opinion, it's a better idea to introduce later starting time rather than earlier - another reason being that earlier hours are bound to have more employees or travelers going for the Shinkansen/airport with suitcases that occupy space in the trains.

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