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Frank Lloyd Wright's Japan

Frank Lloyd Wright's Japan
Wall Street Journal - May 27, 2010

For Frank Lloyd Wright, Japan was a muse and possibly a savior. The architect's love of ukiyo-e woodblock prints is well-known. But his 1917-22 residence in Japan, where commissions such as the Imperial Hotel helped revive his flagging career, is not so widely documented. Nor is his huge influence upon generations of Japanese architects. So a tour of Wright's Japan -- the place where he regained a foothold on the way to becoming "the greatest American architect of all time" (according to an American Institute of Architects survey) -- offers fascinating insight into this eccentric genius. (Wall Street Journal)
(The Tazaemon Yamamura House near Kobe, built as a summer place for sake brewer Tazaemon Yamamura)

(The salon of the Yamamura house includes ventilation doors in the upper
part of the wall, called the clerestory. The furniture is not by Wright.)

Narita airport to ban smoking in all restaurants from June
AP - May 27, 2010

Narita International Airport is to ban smoking in all restaurants at its two passenger terminals from June 1, the airport operator said Thursday. However, restaurants with smoking areas that are completely enclosed can continue to operate them for the time being, Narita International Airport Corp. said. The operator will also retain the 34 existing smoking areas at the airport. (AP)

Nemuro otters charm tourists, vex fishermen
Japan Times - May 27, 2010
News photo News photo
(Otterly voracious: Empty urchin shells lay on the seafloor in a fishing ground in the Sea of
Okhotsk in March, testament to the voracious eating habits of sea otters)

Tourists and residents in Nemuro, eastern Hokkaido, love watching the local sea otters float on their backs and use stones to crack open clams on their stomachs. But the marine mammals are a headache to fishermen and are even threatening their livelihood. The fishermen say the otters in the Sea of Okhotsk have ruined three of seven fishing grounds, eating about 18 tons of "uni" (sea urchins) and causing a loss of about ?31 million. (Japan Times)

Japan's new food trend -- dirty but delicious
Wall Street Journal - May 25, 2010

(Andrew Joyce/The Wall Street Journal
Tokyo’s next dining hotspot?)

The floor's sticky, the paint's peeling from the walls, and when your meal arrives there's a greasy thumbprint on the plate. But don't worry - the food at this restaurant lives up to its three stars. No, not from Michelin. These stars are awarded by Japan's latest hit TV show, "Kitanachelin," in which Tokyo's cheapest, filthiest, but most delicious eateries are visited and rated by a bunch of comics and TV stars dressed in evening wear more suitable for dinner at The Ritz. The title combines the Japanese word for dirty (kitanai) with the name of the hallowed French foodie guide, which launched a Tokyo edition in 2007. (Wall Street Journal)

Japan's 'slowest train' has best views
BBC - May 24, 2010

Japan is known for its high speed bullet trains, but one of the most spectacular lines in the country has a top speed of only 20 kilometres an hour. It runs through a gorge in the north of the country, an area which is so mountainous and snowy, the service can only run in the summer. (BBC)

Ugly seafood just doesn't get better
Japan Times - May 23, 2010
(Ugly seafood / Image)

A mong the highlights of any visit to Ibaraki Prefecture could well be Kita-Ibaraki in its far northeast - specifically the towns of Otsu-ko and Hirakata-ko, which offer perhaps the best opportunity in the nation to sample the great winter seafood delicacy of anko (anglerfish). Otsu-ko can be reached in around 2 hours from Ueno Station in Tokyo by taking the Hitachi Express train to Mito (about a 60-minute trip), then changing to the JR Joban Line for another hour's ride. (Japan Times)

Ibaraki's hidden lure
Japan Times - May23, 2010
News photo
(The way it was: Hobiki-sen fishing trawlers on Lake Kasumigaura in Ibaraki Prefecture, where they were
the only vessels allowed to fish commercially until 1967)

Barely an hour north of Tokyo by road or rail, Ibaraki Prefecture is a place few people may consider for a day trip or an overnighter. But with its wealth of history and natural appeals, it's surely time it took its rightful place on the traveler's map. Lake Kasumigaura, with a surface area of 220 sq. km and a 252-km shoreline, is Japan's largest lake after Lake Biwa in Shiga Prefecture, near Kyoto (674 sq. km). The greatest attraction of the lake, besides the sport fishing it offers for alien species such as channel catfish and large-mouth bass, are its hobiki-sen trawlers with their gorgeous and unusual sails. (Japan Times)

By T.S. on June 11, 2010
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Author:T. SATOH