Hooters Japan

Beautiful, talkative girls wearing tiny shorts and tank tops while waiting tables, a laid-back atmosphere with junk food and plenty of alcoholic beverages available are a few of the things one can expect for sure in any Hooters worldwide. This American restaurant chain plays up sex-appeal, a casual sports-bar like atmosphere and lots of interaction between the waiting staff and customers to make a successful business. Although Japan has plenty of hostess bars, bars where customers buy drinks for themselves and the attractive “hostesses” working there while engaging in conversation, the concept of an ordinary restaurant offering similar service was non-existent. So, what is Hooters Japan like?

First of all, Hooters Japan opened merely two years ago in the fancy district of Ginza. A second branch in Akasaka followed last year. So, I dare to say it is still in a trial phase. Its menu is pretty much standard for an American chain restaurant: plenty of sandwiches, chicken wings, Tex-Mex food, free refill beverages, lots of cocktails and of course, everything comes in big sizes. However, rice sides are included for almost every meal set, as opposed to fries in their US stores and other locations.

The Original One and Only Hooters

The Original One and Only Hooters

But, just as I said before, Hooters best selling point is their girls! Hooter girls not only have to look good, feminine and flirtatious, they also have to make sure you have a good time talking to them, so as soon as they come to get your order, they’ll be asking you all kind of questions. Needless to say, this is quite shocking under the Japanese service industry standards. Both my friend and I were surprised when the waitress asked us if we were students, if we had been in Japan for a long time, if it was our first time in Hooters and more since waitresses usually stick to a common series of polite words. But it doesn’t stop there, exactly at 5 pm, they started to play some loud, catchy tunes and all the girls danced a silly, but really fun choreography. Entertainment is assured here!

Hooters girl in a special stand in Odaiba

Hooters girl in a special stand in Odaiba. Picture from Hooters Japan official Facebook account

As for customers, most of them were naturally men in pairs or by themselves, but some women-only groups were also there. As an interesting note, there were even two middle aged ladies having lunch there and they were complementing the staff. I’m not sure if you get to see middle aged women in other locations, but you know how diverse Japanese customers and audiences can be. It wasn’t crowded at all when I got there (about 2:30 pm), but the place was getting busy when by the time we were leaving (5 pm). I suppose they’re the busiest during after-office hours.

After-lunch atmosphere

After-lunch atmosphere

Their lunch menu was fairly priced for an American style restaurant, with sets ranging from 1000 yen to 1500 yen, big serving of rice available for free. The 1000 yen sets change every week. It was “week C” when I went there so my options were Orange pork, Tandoori Chicken or Fried fish burger. I chose the Orange Pork set. It was actually very delicious.

Orange pork lunch set

Orange pork lunch set

I highly recommend going there for an unusual non-Japanese experience if you live in Japan. However, if you are just visiting here maybe it’s better to skip this and do something more essentially Japanese. Not that there’s something wrong about Hooters, but Izakayas, for instance, might be more interesting for short-term visitors.

Thanks to my friend John for the pics!

Eduardo H.

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Conquering Mount Fuji

One of the most thoroughly Japanese things you can do is climb Mount Fuji, Japan’s national icon and inspiration for proverbs (“a wise man climbs Fuji once, but only a fool does it twice”) and art.

Mount Fuji woodblock print art

Mount Fuji woodblock print art

I went with a bunch of friends from Waseda; all of them wanted to tackle Fujisan at least once before going back to their respective countries (we “graduated” from Waseda a few days ago). Our ascent was a little different than most climbers’ though. Apparently, many climbers stop halfway through the ascent, sleeping for a few hours, and resuming the climb, aiming to reach the summit in the early morning in order to see the sunrise. We, however, chose to do Mount Fuji in a single trip—an overnight climb—reaching the summit just in time for sunrise, and a daytime descent.

For the most part, the route itself was not extraordinarily difficult or anything, except that because of the way our group was organized—6 girls and 3 guys—it became a bit harder. The guys ended up carrying most of the weight as altitude sickness and fatigue seriously affected a few people (girls) in the group. Needless to say, the climb became considerably more difficult because of these factors; also, especially nearer to the summit, Fujisan became especially crowded, further slowing us down.

Some of the Mount Fuji wildlife. Climbers beware

Some of the Mount Fuji wildlife. Climbers beware

At times, parts of the route were very rocky; certainly, one can appreciate just how steep it is simply by looking back (or rather, down). These parts were probably very dangerous, as the wind kept hitting us, the poor ryugakusei group with what was probably a shortage of equipment (we didn’t bring walking sticks). Stories of people falling to their deaths or dying from hypothermia definitely did not sound highly encouraging.

Nevertheless, I still think that anyone living should try to climb Mount Fuji at least once! The view from the summit is extremely beautiful; all the more so seeing as how it seemed the climb would never end! A few people in our group became highly emotional and teary-eyed. As for the fear-of-death, do not worry too much; there are people with megaphones standing on tall rocks immediately outside of the main trail (rain or shine) whose whole job is to shout encouraging things to climbers: “Ganbare! Don’t give up! You are almost there!” This definitely added a touch of humour to an otherwise highly physically demanding climb.

Needless to say, the climb cemented our already strong friendships into lifelong ones. It truly is the best way to finish a year of living in Japan.

The Rising Sun

Once you reach the summit, you’ll truly understand why Japan is called “The Land of the Rising Sun.”

Kaze Tachinu “Wind is Rising”, Ghibli’s latest anime movie

I don’t watch anime movies very often, but when I do I just love them. I’m sure there are many studios out there, but one of the most beloved ones, both abroad and in Japan (especially in Japan) is Studio Ghibli. As soon as Studio Ghibli releases a movie, movie theaters get packed and discount tickets sell out quickly. A few days ago I went to one of my favorite cinemas, Wald9 (here’s an old post about my favorite movie theaters http://ameblo.jp/chappe-town/entry-11293511798.html), and watched their latest release: Kaze Tachinu, which translates as “Wind is Rising” or “The Wind Rises”.

Official poster. Studio Ghibli Copyright.

Official poster. Studio Ghibli Copyright.

This movie is based in between 1905-1940, a time in which Japan militarization reached its peak, Tokyo was struck by the disastrous Kanto earthquake and, well, as we all know, Japan joined World War II. I would say this is an unusual setting for a movie, but the war topic isn’t the main one.

As it’s usual in Ghibli movies, every background is very detailed. If you’ve read books or watched other movies based on the same period, you will notice how accurate the settings in the movie are. Nagoya station, the countryside, the big fire after the earthquake, everything looks very real and I’m sure most Japanese people would agree.

As for the story, well, it is a fictional biography of Jiro Horikoshi, a Japanese engineer who became a very notorious character during WWII because of his plane designs. Of course, we’re talking about fighters, not regular planes. However, as I said before, they don’t really focus on the war ambitions on Japan, but just on Jiro’s personal ambitions and dreams of designing the most beautiful planes in history. Sadly, his most famous design, the Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter was the most advance air war-craft when it was first introduced.

Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, the best aircraft of its time.

Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter, the best aircraft of its time.

It’s a hard time for Japan to talk anything about WWII. As you know, tensions among China, Korea and Japan have been a big issue this year, but, I honestly believe that this movie doesn’t really relate to the reasons why Japan joined the war or anything, but instead, shows a neutral point of view from people who didn’t start the war after all. It is worth watching and I won’t say much about the plot since I don’t want to spoil it for you guys!

Long time ago, I wrote a brief post about my experiences watching Ghibli movies. Check it out. Makes me feel nostalgic even though it was 7 months ago, hehe. http://ameblo.jp/okonomiyaki-chappe/entry-11450460966.html

Eduardo H.

English teaching volunteer in Dongri no Mori

Let’s teach the local kids English!! English teaching volunteer in Dongri no Mori

If you like kids, if you like teaching English, if you want to have a cultural exchange with Japanese children… Well, this is your chance!

Why don’t you come and let the kids have a unique experience communicating with foreigners and learning English!

CHAPPE English Volunteers last year, in Chiba prefecture

CHAPPE English Volunteers last year, in Chiba prefecture

We’re going to “Yotsukaido playpark Dongri no Mori”

Dongri no Mori is a play park full of trees and wildlife(^∀^)♪. Dongri means “acorn” in Japanese and as the name suggests, we can find them here. I wonder if it’s the right season?

Donguri no mori, literally "Acorn forest"

Dongri no mori, literally “Acorn forest”

Below are a few of the many activities we will be doing

★Painting name plates & sign boards in Japanese and English

★Exchanging each other’s outdoor activities from back home

★Using marbles to create kawaii accessories

We plan to make this a special and fun experience for both students and children!

<Details>

Time&Date: August 23rd Friday (it will be postponed to the 30th in case of rain)

10:00 – 13:30 (Meeting up at 9:30 at the Yotsukaido station entrance)

Place: Yotsukaido play park Dongri no Mori

690 Warabi Yotsukaido-shi Chiba-ken

HP: http://www.dongrinomori.net/

Application: TEL: 03-6683-0584

E-mail: chappe@cue-group.co.jp

If you have any questions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

*The application will be closed as soon as the number of participants reaches the limit.

Operating company: CUE Co., Ltd.

3-3-24 Minami-Aoyama Minato-ku Tokyo

TEL: 03-6683-0584

URL: http://www.cue-group.co.jp/

Okutama/Elie’s Last Post

As our year of study abroad is coming to a close, the ryugakusei bros decided to take one last overnight trip away from Tokyo together. We considered climbing Mt. Fuji but decided that it would be too crowded on the day we had available (David actually ended up climbing it and will be writing a blog post about it). Our next choice was the island of Izu, which has both beautiful beaches and cool, forested, hilly areas. After much debate, we decided on a third option, Okutama, another scenic, hilly area with a river to swim in. Okutama has the advantage of being closer than Izu and thus easier/cheaper to get to, and we also just wanted to try a place that most of us had never been to. My German friend Robin reserved an inexpensive bungalow, (or “bangaloo,” as he called it in a facebook message) we threw a bunch of drinks and bbq ingredients in a cooler, and “men’s retreat Okutama 2013” was on!

image from virtualtourist.com

image from virtualtourist.com

After two hours on trains, we were ready to go swimming when we arrived, so we rolled to a campsite about five minutes away from the train station that featured both cabins and a rocky beach (not as uncomfortable as it sounds) to set up tents on.  There was a pretty cool crowd at the beach bbqing, chilling, drinking beer, and jumping into the freezing cold river water. I was also impressed by some particularly creative campers who were making bbq-like firepits and even a kiddie pool in the river out of the beach rocks. We had a good time at this beach, and If I were to go to Okutama again it seems like it would be a fun and social place to stay. campin

Located a little further down the river, our bungalow was managed by an extremely kind and extremely elderly Japanese couple. In contrast to the campsite we spent our afternoon at, there were very few others staying in the area and it felt isolated. We spent the night barbecuing kalbi and yakisoba on one of the communal grills and playing a German drinking game that Robin calls “swimming.”bbq

The bungalow itself was actually just a tatami room with a short table and a couple of chairs in it. Figuring that futons or some other sort of sleeping arrangements would be provided, my group hadn’t brought any sleeping bags, and we ended up sleeping with our bags as pillows and towels for blankets. The night was pretty cold and I think I can say we all felt stupid about it.

Our morning consisted of swimming in the river while playing music through my buddy’s waterproof speakers and taking in the lush nature scene. It felt great to be away from the crowds of Tokyo relaxing in the mountains with my friends.

The last thing we did before returning to the city was bathe at Moegi-no-yu Onsen near Okutama station. In my opinion, if you travel in Japan without bathing publicly in the numerous hot springs, you aren’t doing it right. Even though it cost 750 yen, taking a relaxing soak in a rotemburo seemed like a fitting end to our ryugakusei experience.

For those who are staying in Tokyo, I definitely recommend Okutama due to its relative proximity, inexpensiveness, cool weather and  natural beauty. It is probably best to go in the summer to escape Tokyo’s oppressive heat especially because the river water is so cold and refreshing. I also have heard that there are nice hiking trails and a large lake in the area. Check it out if you have the time!

As for studying abroad in Japan, I would have to recommend that as well. It is not always the easiest thing to do, but if you are open to new experiences you are certain to find great ones and you will probably make lifelong friends from all over the world too. If you have the opportunity to do this, make sure to take it!

As I will be returning home to America to finish school, I will no longer be writing for the Ryugakusei Town Blog. I hope some of you have enjoyed my articles and maybe even gotten some useful ideas from them. Thanks for reading!

mens retreat okutama

MENS RETREAT OKUTAMA 2013!!

Japan’s favourite police officer, “DJ Police,” strikes again; this time, a hanabi festival

The Katsushika Noryo Hanabi Taikai, a popular fireworks event (hanabi means fireworks) took place recently in Tokyo. To pre-empt spectators from creating a disorganized chaotic mass of people, police officers were dispatched to the scene in order to sit everyone orderly. However, spectators were amused by the rather witty and sarcastic tone in which they were being ordered about—an officer whose mannerisms and frank phrases gained him the moniker of “DJ Police” (think of a hip hop DJ) by Japanese netizens, was the one in charge of the operation.

 

DJ Police urging Japanese gentlemen to aid their damsels in distress

DJ Police urging Japanese gentlemen to aid their damsels in distress

Some quotes from DJ Police:

“Gentleman, please gently escort out the as-beautiful-as-hanabi, yukata-wearing (summer kimono) ladies.”

“Sir, I advise you, seeing as how you are the father and [thus the] leader of your family, to take them to the open space to the right. Your family will be proud of you.”

“For the sake of the important and special hanabi [photos], do not run out of data storage space in your cell phone cameras, please.”

 

Despite the event being eventually shut down due to rain, hanabi attendants did not seem upset, precisely because of the presence of Japan’s soon-to-be favourite public servant. In the words of one “as-beautiful-as hanabi, yukata-wearing” lady: “Because I could see DJ Police, I was happy!”

DJ Police's number 1 groupie: a as-beautiful-as hanabi, yukata-wearing lady

DJ Police’s number 1 groupie: a as-beautiful-as hanabi, yukata-wearing lady

Japan’s largest daily news

690-1GJ36.AuSt.55     TOKYO —  22 July 2013  (9:19 a.m.)  (JR Minami-Urawa station )

    Tokyo is known as one of the busiest city in the world. You can see people are fighting with their time every day. And for those who have an experience of taking train in Tokyo, you may know that most of the people in the train who will pretending like they didn’t see sexual harassment, sleeping in priority seats or ignoring people who may actually need a seat… etc etc

But,

for this time, these people are trying to save a woman who got stuck in the gap between the train and the platform during rush hour. They could actually take other lines to go to work, but they didn’t. I’m sure there was something more than that in people’s heart.

After a few minute ago, the women was then pulled out uninjured to applause from onlookers. After just an eight-minute delay, the train went on its way.

[LIKE]