Let’s eat at a Kaiten Sushi!

Jun 14 | Evan | No Comments |

What you should expect when eating sushi at a kaiten sushi, converter belt sushi. 

Do you like sushi? Who is excited to go to Japan to eat fresh sushi? 

Well, sushi has become an internationally well recognized Japanese food in the 20th century. However, not everyone has been to kaiten sushi, the sushi that comes around on a converter belt! Today, let’s learn about kaiten sushi and what you should know before going to one so that you can prepare yourself for the photo tour of Japan, especially when you have an opportunity to venture out to eat! 

What is “kaiten sushi?” Is it different from regular sushi? 

So what is kaiten sushi? You all know what sushi is so what does “kaiten” mean? Kaiten in Japanese means “rotaining.” Thus, kaiten sushi is a particular sushi that comes on a converter belt, which rotates around the restaurant

Sushi comes in many different forms in Japan, which also varies in prices. In general, you can consider “kaiten sushi” to be a cheap option. In comparison to sushi where you eat at a counter seat, kaiten sushi is much more relaxed, casual, and accessible to everyone. The matter of fact, because of such nature, it is popular among families to go to kanten sushi. Of course it is a sushi restaurant, so you will have a lot of different sushi, but at kaiten sushi, many other options such as sides, soup, and desserts can also be ordered at an accessible cost as well. 

Make sure to pay attention to the colors of the sushi plates! 

One thing you might like to be aware of is the color of plates. Yes, kaiten sushi is much cheaper than other options, but depending on the colors of plates, some are more expensive than others so make sure you are aware of the colors of plates, thus prices. Otherwise, you could be eating all expensive options, thus at the end of the day, you will be paying a lot more than you were originally planning. 

In general, at kaiten sushi, the different colors of plates indicate different prices. It is usually 3,4 different colors of plates that are rotating so it’s not that hard to keep a track of the price. You also keep all your plates at your table where you eat so that staff can count the number of plates at the end to calculate the cost. 

This clear identification of price is so crucial and why kaiten sushi became so popular. For example, some or all of the items are market price so you may not know the price till the end at high-end sushi places like eating at a counter table. Kaiten sushi is created for its accessible/cheap cost and clear identification of price so different colors of plates is one of the key features of this venue. 

History of kaiten sushi 

So how did kaiten sushi come to life? Originally, sushi was an expensive food, which was not for everyone. However, everyone wanted to eat sushi and the idea of kaiten sushi came to life. At the beginning, it was more like “all 100 yen ($1),” but later on, different colors of plates, thus different prices of sushi, automatic tea dispensers, and sushi robots were introduced. 

Interestingly, the idea of kaiten sushi was born in Osaka at a beer factory in 1948. 10 years passed since the idea emerged, the first ever kaiten sushi opened in Osaka in 1958, called “Mawaru Genroku Sushi 1st Store.” Since then, the first franchise opened in Sendai city in Miyagi Prefecture in 1968, followed by the creation and placement of automatic tea dispensers in 1973. From 1975 to 1985, the kaiten sushi boom came to Japan with the introduction of sushi robots, major chains entering the competition of the industry. 

By 2007, kaiten sushi became a 500 billion yen industry and now it is becoming international. If you are around the Los Angeles area, you might have seen “KULA,” Japanese kaiten sushi chains. There are around 10 KULA stores around the LA area and is popular among American people. As well as KULA, another major chain “Sushiro” is focusing its international market expansion in Asia, opening stores in Korea, Taiwan, Singapore, and Hong Kong in recent years. In 2018, there were 12 stores internationally and in 2019, there were 13 more additional stores opened, a total of 25 international stores operating outside of Japan. Currently the international market is expanding more than Japanese market in that each international store produces more revenue per year than a store in Japan. 

close up cuisine delicious dining table

Conclusion

So who is hungry for sushi after reading this article? As you learned, there are different chains of kaiten sushi in Japan so if you are so keen, you can try different chains of kaiten sushi when you are on the photography tour of Japan to see, which one suits you the best. Each kaiten sushi has unique features that are different from one another so try a few and let me know what you like about each kaiten sushi! Of course, with COVID19, kanten sushi is most likely not the same today, but let’s hope that in 2021 when we are on a photo tour of Japan, we can go to a kanten sushi to enjoy fresh fish together!

Learn Japanese Today – “I want to go to Mt. Fuji.”

Jun 01 | Evan | No Comments |

Learn how to express when you want something and want to do something. 

When you travel somewhere new, you probably want to express what you want, such as where you want to go and what you want to eat. In this article, let’s learn how to use”want something” and “want to do something” in Japanese so that when you join the photography tour of Japan, you can express what you want and what you want to do! 

“I want this” and “I want that.” 

At this point, you already know how to say “this” and “that” in Japanese. When you are at a store in Japan and you want to point to something you want to get, which you can hold in your hand, you can use below.

Kore ga hoshii desu. 

これ が ほしい です。

これが欲しいです。

Here “hoshii” is “to want” in Japanese and means “I want this” in English. 

As you already know, when you replace kore to sore or are, you can indicate an item, which is far away from you. 

You also know a possessive, “no.” Thus, if you want to say “I want that book.” it looks like this below. 

Ano hon ga hoshii desu.

あの ほん が ほしい です。

あの 本 が 欲しい です。

Let’s learn how to say “I want to go to ~”

Let’s try something a little harder… Are you ready? 

When you visit Japan, I am sure you want to visit everywhere you have long been dreaming of. If you want to indicate where you want to go, you want to say like this below. 

Let’s say “I want to go to Mt. Fuji” first!

Fujisan ni ikitai desu. (In Japanese, the particle “to” is “ni.”) 

ふじさん に いきたい です。

富士山 に 行きたい です。

In Japanese, we indicate where we want to go first. Thus, you simply need to change the location you want to go by replacing “Mt. Fuji” to somewhere else you want to go. Why don’t we replace it with “Tokyo Disneyland?” 

Tokyo Disneyland ni ikitai desu. 

とうきょう ディズニーランド に いきたい です。

東京 ディズニーランド に 行きたい です。

*In Japanese, we do not need to put a subject like “I” all the time. If you decide to include “I” it is not wrong, but we know from the conversation that the subject is “watashi” so we can omit it. 

photo of castle during daytime

Ru-verb using want to

When you want to use an expression “I want to ~” using a verb is a little more complex. It is because depending on the type of verb, it conjugates differently. Let’s look at a possible scenario when you want to eat miso ramen in Japan while being on a photography tour of Japan! 

Miso ramen wo tabetai desu. 

みそラーメン を たべたい です。

味噌ラーメン を 食べたい です。

Here, the verb we are using is “to eat = taberu.” It belongs to a “ru-verb” and when you want to use “want to = ~tai,” you drop off “ru” and add “tai” to the end of a verb. Below are a few examples of ru-verbs and how to conjugate. 

Ru -verb (Drop “ru” add “tai”) 

Taberu Tabetai   たべたい
Shiraberu Shirabetai しらべ  しらべたい 
Tsukuru Tsukuritai つく つくりたい
Oshieru Oshietai おしえ おしえたい
Miru Mitaiたい

It’s a lot to learn how to conjugate verbs in Japanese all at once so let’s just stick to “ru-verb” for now and learn more verbs and how to conjugate in the next lesson. 

Before we conclude, here is another example of ru-verb with “to see = miru.” 

I want to see Mt. Fuji. 

Fujisan ga mitai desu. 

ふじさん が みたい です。

富士山 が 見たい です。

pasta dish

Are you now comfortable to express what you want and what you want to do? This lesson is probably more complex than the previous ones, but don’t worry! Since verb conjugation is challenging, we will continue with how to express when you want to do something with different verbs in the following lessons. Also, there are a lot of verbs to learn so I hope you can play with the ru-verbs I introduced to you today. Let’s pretend as if you are on a photography tour of Japan with your friends and family and use “ru-verbs.” You are now one step closer to travel to Japan with more knowledge of Japanese! 

Learn Japanese Today

May 01 | Evan | No Comments |

 

Learn how to make possessive sentences in Japanese! 

In the last “Learn Japanese Today,” you learned how to say “this” and “that” in Japanese. In this article, let’s expand your Japanese even further to learn how to make a possessive sentence using this and that in Japanese. This will certainly be beneficial on your Japan photo tour next year! Sounds exciting? Let’s begin!! 

This dog is Pochi! 

You all know how to say “This is ….” in Japanese now. What if you want to be more informative in Japanese sentences. Below is an example using possessive, “no

This dog is Pochi. 

Kono inu ha pochi desu. (*In Japanese, you write “ha,” but pronunciate “wa.”)

いぬ は ポチ です。

犬 は ポチ です。

When you want to make a possessive “this,” you add “no” and subtract “re” from kore to make “kono.” Here you are providing the dog’s name. 

Let’s do another example using “This dog is…”: 

This dog is a Shiba inu.

Kono inu ha shiba inu desu. 

いぬ は しばいぬ です。

犬 は 柴犬 です。

As well as explaining the name of this dog, in this example, you can describe a type of dog, which is Shiba Inu. By the way, in Japan, as well as Shiba inu, you will hear Shiba ken for the same dog type.  

shiba inu dogs wearing party hats

Interesting fact

Pochi is a well-recognized dog name in Japan, but in more recent years, following names are gaining popularity as dog names in Japan: Maron, Leon, Coco, and Moka to name a few. As for cats, Tama is an equivalent of Pochi, but in more recent years, following names are gaining popularity as cat names in Japan: Mugi, Momo, Hime, Chachamaru to name a few. So when you are in Japan on your photography tour of Japan, pay attention to dogs and cats names. Maybe you can find a new trend in Japan’s pet names? 

“I am Lisa.” and “My name is Lisa.” 

So using possessive, “no” let’s try another one. To introduce yourself, you can do below. Let’s pretend that you are Lisa. 

I am Lisa. 

Watashi ha Lisa desu. 

わたし は りさ です。

私 は 理紗 です。

AND 

My name is Lisa. 

Watashi no namae ha Lisa desu. 

わたし なまえ は りさ です。

名前 は 理紗 です。

To introduce yourself in Japanese, you can use the “watashi wa… desu” form with your name at the … spot. This is simple and totally makes sense in Japanese, but you can also use the example above with the possessive tense using “no.” Even with simple sentences like these, Japanese would always appreciate it if you try using their language so don’t be shy, but try your best to introduce yourself when you meet new people on Japan Photo Guide’s photo tour of Japan! 

Additionally, when you want to say “That is mine” in Japanese, you can do below using “no.” 

That is mine. 

Are ha watashi no desu.

あれ は わたし です。

あれ は 私 です。

As you know “kore” “sore” and “are” in Japanese, depending on the location of the object you are talking about, make sure you use the right one. Furthermore, if you replace “watashi” to “Lisa” in the above sentence, you can say “That is Lisa’s” in Japanese. 

Are ha Lisa no desu. 

あれ は りさ です。

Finally… 

Learning about the possessive “no” gives you more freedom to play with Japanese. You may not have a lot of Japanese knowledge, but by 3 lessons we have had so far, you can say simple sentences to navigate yourself to have a small conversation with Japanese people on the Japan photo tour. If you also know more variety of Japanese nouns, you can also use the above structures to figure out how to say “That is my dog.,” “This is your cat.,” and “That is Lisa’s horse.” etc. 

Only in Japan? Snow Monkeys that enjoy a hot spring

Apr 15 | Evan | No Comments |

The most famous group of monkeys in Japan can easily be said to the group of monkeys at the hot spring at Jigokudani Monkey Park in Nagano. If you don’t know which group of monkeys I am talking about, these are the monkeys you might have seen in the photographs of monkeys relaxing at the hot spring in Nagano, Japan. Does it ring a bell? If not, take a look at the Jigokudani Monkey Park official website here to see what I’m talking about. 

They are the only monkeys in the world, which are known to bathe in the hot spring to keep themselves warm during cold winter. The park opened in 1964 and there are currently around 160 monkeys in the area, which come to bathe only during winter. Yes, this scene of monkeys bathing in the hot spring is a rare view only seen at this park. So, if you are not sure winter is a time to travel to Japan, this could be a good enough reason for you to join Japan Photo Guide’s photo tour of Japan to witness and capture the rare scene of monkeys relaxing in a hot spring.

What is “Snow Monkey?” 

So let’s learn more about the monkeys at Jigokudani Monkey Park. As already stated, the park opened in 1964 and there are 160 or so monkeys living in the area to use the hot spring. However, they do not all come down to the hot spring at once, but they come down in a group of 40 to 50 monkeys. The reason the monkeys come down to bathe is just like us humans, they want to warm their cold bodies during winter. 

The term “snow monkey” is a term created by international media. Even before international media came to this spot, it was a popular destination for Japanese, but ever since the international media gave a spotlight to these one and only monkeys, the number of foreigners visiting Jigokudani Monkey Park has increased tremendously. For example, back in 2012, the total of 130,000 tourists visited the park while 30,000 of them were international visitors. 

Nihonzaru = Japanese Monkey 

The kind of monkeys you see at Jigokudani Monkey Park is Japanese monkey, Nihonzaru. They live over a broad area of Japan except for Okinawa and Hokkaido. If you want to see them, you simply need to head to the mountains. The matter of fact, when I was a child, I saw Nihonzaru in my town as my town is surrounded by mountains in Kanagawa Prefecture just south of Tokyo. They came down to human habitations and there was even a week-long town alert to warn us to be careful not to engage with monkeys when going home and after school. During that week, a group of us saw monkeys at the park, which had a back to the mountain. Even today, I hear that my town and surrounding towns have monkey sightings regularly. 

Japanese monkeys are really everywhere in Japan except for Okinawa and Hokkaido. You get to see them at the zoo as well as randomly in mountainous areas. However, they are wild so you cannot easily spot them by simply heading to the mountains. A park like Jigokudani Monkey Park was created so that anybody can come and observe the monkey for pleasure, but also for research purposes. The truth is, Japanese monkeys have very high social ability, thus the zoo does not showcase everything for us to fully understand them. 

Let’s learn more about Jigokudani Monkey Park! 

Jigokudani Monkey Park is located in Yamanouchi town in Nagano Prefecture, which is at the altitude of 850 meters. During winter, the temperature drops as low as -10 degree Celsius/14 degree Fahrenheit and snow accumulates up to 1 meter/3.3 feet. Yes, the winter in this area is very severe and tough for monkeys as well as humans. 

The park is a cage free park, where Japanese monkeys can come and go as they wish. It was created in 1964 and 1st received international recognition back in 1970 when it was covered by US magazine, LIFE. However, the biggest media exposure was in 1998 when the Nagano Olympics took place. This is when the park received a lot of visitors from the Olympic players, Olympic spectators as well as media. 

The reason the monkeys return to the park is because they are fed in the park. However, the park is just a part of their entire life, thus they go in and out of the park freely. As stated earlier, the Jigokudani Monkey Park area is very cold, thus the monkeys come down to the hot spring to warm their cold bodies. This scene is unique to winter as the monkeys are not so keen to hop in the hot spring during other seasons. So if you want to capture monkeys in a hot spring, you want to visit the park during the cold winter. 

Dos and Don’ts when visiting the park! 

They are wild so please remember the points below when you visit the park or whenever you encounter wild monkeys in Japan. Below points are listed on the official website in Japanese, but they are not translated to English so hope you spend some time before you make your way to the Jigokudani Monkey Park! 

  1. Don’t feed them 
  2. Don’t touch/frighten them
  3. Don’t look straight into their eyes at close distance 
  4. Don’t get too close to them 
  5. Can’t bring in dogs and cats 
  6. You can do photography & videography even with flash 
  7. Can’t use a selfie stick

At the park, even photographing using flash is allowed, but when photographing using a phone, please be careful not to get too close. Additionally, a selfie stick is not allowed in the park as it can potentially frighten monkeys as they could look like a weapon to them. People often tend to lose the idea of distance when using a selfie, thus it’s not safe to use around the monkeys. 

When visiting the park, you need to always remember that they are wild. Little monkeys are curious, thus they may get close to you, but if that happens, please remove yourself away from them so that you can avoid any harm. They can call adults to help if anything happens. Also, looking straight into their eyes means an indication of hostility as well as opening your mouth big. Don’t get too close, always keep distance from them. 

Lastly, since you cannot get too close to the monkeys, bringing a binocular is a good idea suggested by the park to observe them from a distance. 

Finally… 

After seeing photos and videos of monkeys bathing, you might be thinking “I want to go to a hot spring too!” Well,l don’t worry! Even though the park is away from any human habitations, in the same town, there is Shiga Kogen Snow Ski Resort where you can enjoy skiing/snowboarding while warming up your cold body at the hot springs. Going to see the monkeys in the wild is exciting, but if you get to enjoy other aspects of Japan when visiting Nagano would be a bonus, right? By the way, if you want to learn more about Japanese monkeys before you head to Japan with Japan Photo Guide’s Japan photo tour, follow the park official Instagram here and/or watch the live camera of the park so that you can dream of the day to visit and capture the snow monkeys! 

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