Kintetsu Railway To Roll Out New Express Train for Tokyo Olympics

Kintetsu announced a new “Meihan Express” train to debut in the spring of 2020, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. Wait a minute, won’t this luxury train run between Nagoya and Osaka? Indeed but what a great excuse for traveling down to Nagoya just to ride it.

Who knows, by then we might be able to purchase Meihan Express tickets in an app and use them in Apple Pay. Tokyo Olympic fever is in the air. This could be fun.


Funky Japanese Station Sign Tape Fonts

Keep to the left
Keep to the left sign at JR Shinjuku. The last kanji is a clue to the Tensho han (seal) style.

Shinjuku JR station is the O’Hare Airport of my youth, a never-ending construction project migrating from section to section in an endless loop. Japanese train stations like Shinjuku and Tokyo are never truly finished. Maybe that’s a good thing but I avoid both unless absolutely necessary.

Going down the platform stairs at JR Shinjuku the other day I did a double take because the signage looked like simplified Chinese characters not Japanese Kanji.

Stairs ahead
Stairs Ahead

On closer inspection they are Japanese kanji but very funky kanji made with tape instead of being drawn. The signs are in a construction area and obviously temporary. The font design appears to be in the ‘Tensho‘ style, highly stylized kanji designs based on ancient Chinese characters used for seals. And tape signs.

Even for a temporary station sign, it’s a very odd design choice. Perhaps the tape material forced the construction worker’s hand but the fonts display flair and creativity in a pinch. Check them out if you happen to be in Shinjuku JR station, they will not be around long.

Another Keep Left sign
Keep Left

Mt. Minobu and Mt. Shichimen Fall Colors

This year I had work related visits to Mt. Shichimen in the spring and fall. Both times I was blessed with good weather and many fine views. The work is not particularly hard but the only way up is a 3~4 hour steep hike.

Shichimensan is a holy mountain, Shichimen Daimyojin is the deity enshrined there, said to be the human incarnation of the daughter of the Dragon King described in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sutra. She transforms herself into a Bodhisattva leads many people to enlightenment vowing to protect all followers of the Buddha.

There is beauty and power you can experience climbing Mt. Shichimen.

All the Proof You Need that Apple Pay Suica is Changing Everything

Here is a Japanese secret: men don’t make a hit product. All those geeky guys who lined up at the Omotesando SoftBank store in 2008 to buy iPhone 3G didn’t mean a thing.

iPhone truly arrived as a bona fide Japanese hit when iPhone 3G S appeared in women’s magazines. Suddenly you saw lots of young Japanese women with beautiful nail art furiously texting on the trains. With an iPhone.

Japanese women make or break hit products. If this tweet is true, it’s all the proof you need to know that Apple Pay Suica is a huge game changing hit and mobile payments have truly arrived.

Translation: a high school girl says “That person is using Apple Pay Suica, how cool!”


Apple Music Japanese Radio Stations

Dear Naoko,

Congratulations on the new gig on Apple Music radio! Just love you on the Kayokyoku station. Honestly I was so tired of that Avex crap on J-Pop I had given up.

And what was that Korean TV Dramas channel coming first thing all about? I thought Japan was the second most profitable music market after the USA. It was Dentsu marketing bucks, wasn’t it? Well, I guess Jimmy and Dre changed their tune after Dentsu dumped them for Spotify Japan. Serves ’em right.

Hey I’m really really sorry about the iCloud Music Library kanji sorting not working. I told Jimmy and Dre about it like a thousand times but they never listen. Maybe they don’t have any Japanese working in Apple Music engineering, either that or the Japanese there are not really…well you know what I mean.

Don’t feel bad though, a lot of your fellow Japanese artists are in the “#” section too, Seiko-chan, Rumiko, Saori Yuki to name a few. I don’t think Jimmy and Dre are jilting you, so don’t take it personally. I guess that means Japan won’t get that Siri DJ thing. If Apple Music can’t sort your name how will DJ Siri ever find you?

Tell you what, next rainy day let’s go to the cinema. Just you and me, we can have a good cry. It won’t change anything but we’ll feel better. Until then!

Love and Kisses,
Your Biggest Fan