This Week In Japan #15 (July 17th, 2020)

This Week In Japan, Japan’s Go To Travel campaign announces travel reimbursements, and a 17-year-old becomes the new Shogi champion.

July 18, 2020
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Japan’s “Go To Travel” Campaign to Begin from July 22nd

Starting from July 22nd of this month, Japan will begin its “Go To Travel”  campaign in an attempt to revitalize the tourism industry. Since the outbreak of Corona and the closing of the border, tourism and travel in Japan have been some of the heaviest affected industries. The campaign will encourage Japan`s residents to travel, by providing a subsidy equaling 35% of your total travel expenses. This will include the costs of transportation and accommodation. There will also be a 15% coupon available that can be used for any shopping, making your total travel coverage around 50%. 

The subsidy will be applicable from the 22nd of this month. However, in order to check for things like forged coupons, the coupon for shopping will be applicable after September. To further encourage travel, many eastern bullet trains lines will be halving the prices of their tickets. For those that want to ride in style on the bullet train for an affordable price, reservations will have to be done through the official website about a month in advance.

For those who have already made plans to travel, canceling and then re-booking will not be necessary. Even trips that have already been planned will be able to receive the subsidy by applying through one of the many campaign operators such as the Japan Association of Travel Agents. While promoting tourism is the goal, the Japan Tourism Agency also plans to stay wary of increased cases of Corona. According to the agency, if cases are shown to increase, the promotion will be limited and governmental guidelines and regulations will be upheld. Since the announcement of the campaign, there has been a multitude of criticisms from citizens who are concerned about a spike in corona virus cases as metropolitan areas like Tokyo, which is currently seeing record numbers, are encouraged to travel.

A New Shogi Master is Born?! The Youngest Title Win in Shogi History

Fujii Sota (pictured on the right) concentrating during a match.

17-year-old Fujii Sota has just made history, becoming the youngest ever to win the Shogi title of Kisei, which translates to ‘great master of Shogi’, a game that is also known as Japanese Chess. He cemented his win this Thursday in match 5 against his opponent, fellow Kisei Akira Watanabe. After the match, Fuji commented on his game saying “it was difficult to find a balance. It was hard to follow all the way until the end.”

This win marked the first time that the Shoji record has been updated in 30 years. Fujii first professionally entered the Shogi scene in middle school back in 2016, he was only 14, the youngest in history. Fujii’s merits don’t end there. He holds numerous records in Shogi including the most consecutive wins ever at 29 wins. Within the Shogi fanbase, Fujii has gained quite a following, but still remains humble about his victory. Upon winning the title of Kisei, Fujii stated that “it honestly doesn’t feel real yet. I will be in a position of responsibility now, so I want to dedicate myself even more.”

He is planning on participating in the Ryuou (which means King of Dragons) tournament later this year, a large Shogi tournament with a “big title.” He is expected to progress until the finals by his many fans.

The Biggest Host Club in Tokyo Is Shutting Down

Japan`s “King of Hosts “Roland

In Tokyo, host clubs are some of the biggest industries for night life in the country. Big drinks, big hair, and most importantly, big money. Depending on the popularity of a single host and the day, one person can make over $10,000 a night. However, the life of a typical host in Japan is, if anything, inconsistent.The primary source for hosts and host clubs depends on their clientele and the huge purchases they often make while in the clubs. With the corona virus and social distancing looking to stay around for the long-term, the industry built on intimacy is starting to see cracks.

The most successful host club in Tokyo, known simply as “The Club”, has announced that it will be closing down this week. The most successful club is of course owned and operated by the most successful host, Roland. Often called “The king of hosts”, Rolands club has the record for highest sales in a single day, a month, and a year. However, even with it s apparent success, owner Roland has decided to shut down the club. The king of hosts gave a statement on his Instagram announcing that his decision to close the club was based out of “the safety and well-being of the employees and clients.”

While “The Club” is closed for the unforeseeable future, Roland plans on keeping ties with his club. He will continue to pay rent for the now-empty building in the hopes that he and his hosts can one day come back and reopen after “the world has calmed down a bit.” As for the many hosts who have since been displaced, there is some assistance on the way.
For those who have been infected with the Corona virus, the Shinjuku ward office is planning on handing out another 100,000 yen. This supplement is to support the many workers, including many hosts and other night-life workers, who are unable to make an income while being infected.

The Former Emperor of Japan Discovers a New Species

Retired Emperor Akihito and his wife feeding some Koi.

When you imagine the emperor of Japan, what do you think he stays busy doing? Activities such as traditional ceremonies, public appearances, and hanging out in a palace may come to mind. However, would you consider an emperor of Japan discovering a new species of animal? Well that is exactly what retired Emperor Akihito has done. 

Believe it or not, Emperor Akihito has been a respected researcher by the marine biology community for years, conducting research on Goby fish even back when he was crown prince. This new species of Okinawa Goby marks the 9th new species discovered by the emperor. Scientific papers on the species are expected to be published later this year.

The specimen was actually first obtained by the emperor`s research crew around 10 years ago, however after studying the fish`s patterns and sensory organs, it was found to be an entirely new species of Goby. 

The emperor has continued his research on Goby fish from 1960 and has published numerous papers concerning the species. Hopefully in his retirement, emperor Akihito can continue to be successful in his research.

Tokyo Schools Ban Undercut Hairstyle for Boys

 Some Tokyo schools have recently banned the popular undercut hairstyle, also known as ツーブロック、for boys. The hairstyle refers to when the head is shaved quite close on the sides and left long on top.

During a recent metropolitan school meeting, questions about the controversial decision were raised by a concerned citizen of the Machida city counsel. He began by sharing the results of asking many students why the hairstyle was banned in schools, to which many simply replied “because that is the rules.” So what is the real reason behind banning this haircut? According to a representative of the board of education, the decision to ban an undercut hairstyle was for the sake of the students, as the hairstyle leads to accidents and trouble. 

Hosts of This Week In Japan

Julian Domanski

Born in England, Julian is a writer, videographer & musician living in Tokyo. When he’s not drinking copious amounts of English Tea, he can be found studying Japanese or trying to master the surprisingly complex basics of the Jiuta Shamisen.

Yasuharu Matsuno

Founder of Japan Insider (Former Ryu Tokyo). Japanese-born entrepreneur. Yasu spent his life around the globe – Japan, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, and the U.S. He hopes he had more time to play Japanese RPGs. MBA from Columbia University in the City of New York.

Christian Dakin

Christian Dakin is an editor, designer, and video game director currently based out of Tokyo, Japan. Originally from a small town in Georgia, he studied in Japan for a year in college before returning again for work. Christian enjoys studying Japanese and the outdoors. In his off time, he is most likely to be found adventuring to a castle, belting it out in karaoke with friends, or in a gym somewhere.

More articles by Christian Dakin

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