Another reason to stick with beer...

Good morning everyone,

It's another gorgeous day out there. I'm going to go for a run and then after that...I haven't decided yet. Tomorrow will see clouds roll in and then we may see rain on Wednesday.

Suntory’s beer may not have achieved the overseas success of competitors Asahi, Kirin, and Sapporo, but when it comes to whiskey, the company stands above all of its Japanese rivals. Connoisseurs around the world sing the praises of Suntory’s whiskey, but soon they might have to settle for fondly remembering certain varieties.

Suntory’s best-known whiskey brands are Hakushu and Hibiki (often marketed as “The Hakusu” and “The Hibiki”), and they’ve become so popular that the company is running out. Specifically, it’s Hakushu 12 Year and Hibiki 17 Year that are becoming scarce, with Suntory citing unexpectedly high demand from Japanese customers as the reason why (implying that overseas demand is about what they’d predicted).

There isn’t much time until the company’s reserves dry up, either. Suntory says that Hakushu 12 Year will likely be disappearing from stores sometime next month, and you’ll have to toast farewell to Hibiki 17 Year around September.

Those of you who don’t drink much whiskey (or, alternatively, those of you who’re drinking a lot of whiskey right now, and thus have your brain working in an inebriated/reduced capacity), may be wondering why Suntory doesn’t just whip up more of the popular spirits. But the “12 Year” and “17 Year” designations aren’t just marketing buzzwords or subtle attempts to encourage underage drinking. Those are the minimum amounts of time the Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 have to age during their production process, and Suntory has been caught short after underestimating demand over a decade ago. Ramping up an immediate supply following a demand spike simply isn’t possible.

On the bright side, Suntory says it has no plans to halt sales of its Hakushu 18 Year or Hibiki 21 Year. There is the possibility, though, that unsatisfied demand for Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 will push customers to buy the 18 and 21 alternatives, and that extra demand could in turn, theoretically, cause a shortage for them as well.

Thankfully, we’re probably not going to have to wait 12 and 17 years for the two Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17 to return, since production is carried out on a continual basis. Once again, though, we could see a situation in which their absence has buyers ready to snap up as many bottles as they can once they’re on sale again, which would trigger another shortage since, as mentioned above, supply at any moment is based on demand predictions from 12 or 17 years ago.

While Suntory has given us a timeframe on when it’s going to stop selling the Hakushu 12 and Hibiki 17, it’s released no timetable for when they’ll return to stores, so if you’re keen to score a bottle of either, you’ll want to act now. And if you happen to already have a some Hakushu 12 or Hibiki 17, cherish might be the last one you can drink for a while.

Unlike beer which never runs out!

Have a great day!

I may close my school and do this instead...

Good morning everyone,

It's going to be a gorgeous day today with mostly sunny skies and a daytime high of 24C, the best news is that tomorrow is looking the same.

As time passes, technology advances, and economies evolve, certain industries will shrink. For example, electronics manufacturing used to be a huge part of the Japanese economy, but it’s been in contraction for many years, with Casio’s exit from the digital camera game the most recent example.

But on the other hand, some industries can see huge growth due to socioeconomic trends. So if you’re hunting for a job in Japan, and you want to be part of a rapidly expanding field, you might want to consider a position in tokushu soji, or “special cleaning” industry.

What makes the cleaning special? Well, tokushu soji companies come in and clean the homes of senior citizens who have died alone. Back in the old days, this is something that was almost always handled by surviving relatives, often the deceased’s children, and in fact it used to be far more common than it is today for elderly parents to live with their offspring in multi-generational homes.

Things have changed, though. As families become smaller and more people move farther away from home to seek out academic or professional opportunities, the number of seniors in Japan who live alone has been steadily increasing, from roughly 4.1 million in 2010 to 6.55 million in 2016 (according to statistics from the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare). In response, there are now over 5,000 companies offering special cleaning services in Japan, which is 15 times as many as there were just five years ago.

Aside from recycling or otherwise disposing of the deceased’s possessions, special cleaning companies have to clean and disinfect the home. Sometimes a significant amount of time will have passed before someone discovered that the resident had passed away, and in addition to using professional-grade cleaners and pesticides, special cleaning staff often wear protective clothing to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

While cleaning and waste disposal are the primary services offered, some special cleaning companies have expanded their role to coordinating funeral services. Many also believe that respectful treatment of surviving relatives is part of their duties, and the Special Cleaning Center, and industry group formed in 2013, offers training and certification programs to ensure high-quality service in both the technical and human aspects of the job.

With Japan’s birth rate steadily falling, demand for special cleaning services is likely to continue to grow, as families get smaller and the population gets older. It’s no doubt a difficult job, but it serves a valuable purpose for society, especially when someone passes away and leaves behind six tons of porno mags (which happened in Japan last year).

What do you think? Could you do this job? I guess it would depend on how much I could make...

Have a great day!

I haven't been to the beach in ages, but I might go this year...

Good morning everyone,

Well, it now looks like we can expect today to be sunny and warm and it'll continue through tomorrow and Monday before turning cloudy again on Tuesday with rain likely for Wednesday....but I'm sure that'll change between now and then.

As part of a fashion-conscious society that’s not averse to a splash of playful sexiness, Japanese swimsuit designers draw inspiration from a number of sources, such as Japanese school uniforms (both women’s and men’s), Shinto shrine maidens, and anime characters. But for its latest creations, Japanese fashion label M Kigyo (also known as Emu Project) is taking its cues from Western sources, with a trio of bikinis based on the fairy tales of Little Red Riding Hood, Snow White, and Alice in Wonderland.

The Little Red Riding Hood swimsuit bundles a hooded parka, bikini top, skirt, and bikini bottom together in a four-piece set that enables the wearer to mix and match the components for various looks.

There’s also a black version, which we guess would make this Little Black Riding Hood.

Less extensive, but also less expensive, than the 23,950-yen Little Red Riding Hood is the two-piece Alice in Wonderland set, for 19,900 yen.

This swimsuit actually provides a lot of coverage, with a blouse-like top connected to a high-wasted skirt-style bottom by a pair of overall straps with frilly shoulder accouterments, which are removable if you’re worried about getting cross-shaped tan lines on your back.

While Alice is usually depicted in storybooks and cartoons wearing blue, the suit is also offered in red and black.

Finally, the three-piece Snow White set is priced at 16,970 yen, getting you a white-colored top with a chest ribbon, removable skirt, and bikini bottom.

▼ Alternate colors this time are all-navy and sky blue.

All items can be ordered directly from M Kigyo, with delivery scheduled for mid-July, right as Japan comes out of its rainy season and prime beach weather begins.

What do you think? Which Disney princess would you like to be at the beach this summer? I'm looking forward to Disney prince swimsuits...I think I'd like one modelled after 'Beast'...ha ha!

Have a great day!

I guess I won't be going to the Opening ceremony of the Tokyo Olympics...

Good morning everyone,

They are saying we may see some rain tonight and tomorrow and it'll remain cloudy and grey for Sunday and Monday with a chance of sun both days. The grey weather will be with us for most of next week from the look of things...

With the Tokyo Olympics and Paralympics just two years away, sports fans are already looking forward to the finest athletes in the world coming to Japan. And if those same fans want to be at the opening ceremony, hopefully they’re already saving plenty of money for the privilege.

On Monday, the 2020 Games’ Organizing Committee announced preliminary pricing for tickets at the Games, and said that the most expensive will likely be 288,000 yen for the Olympics’ opening ceremony, so the real Olympic challenge might be scraping up enough cash to attend its start.That figure is comparable to the one for the 2012 Olympics in London. As for the Tokyo Paralympics, once again the most expensive ticket is for the opening ceremony, costing 144,100 yen, roughly double that of its London counterpart and more than three times as much as for Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

The committee has yet to release details on whether or not less expensive tickets will also be available for the opening ceremonies, but did describe them as “for general attendees,” which doesn’t sound like it indicates luxury boxes or other high-end seats.

As for competitive events, the most expensive for the Tokyo Olympics will be 108,000 yen, for unspecified track and field events, and 6,500 yen for both the Paralympics’ track and field and swimming.

Thankfully, there will be more affordable ways to attend the Games. While it didn’t specify which exact sports they’ll be for, the committee’s preliminary pricing plan has tickets for Olympic competitive events starting at 2,000 yen (slightly more than the cost of a movie ticket in Tokyo), and Paralympic event tickets from just 1,000 yen. Finally, since ticket prices are yet to be finalized, there’s a chance those numbers could come down by the time the Olympic flame reaches Tokyo, but you probably shouldn’t keep you fingers crossed that they’ll change all that much.

Hmmm...I guess I'll be paying up my NHK subscription...ha ha! That'll be the only chance I have of seeing the Olympics...

Have a great day!

What do you think of this list?

Good morning everyone,

I hope you didn't just buy a new pair of sunglasses, because you won't get any chance to wear them this week. We're looking at cloudy weather today, rain tomorrow and Saturday and then back to cloudy again for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday. Highs will be in the mid 20s, so at least it will be comfortable.

For any personal relationship to continue, you and the other party have to see eye to eye on a lot of things, and those shared attitudes become even more important if the relationship is a romantic one. So when someone recently shared a list of promises couples who can stay together for five years make to each other, it got a lot of attention by those looking for hints to cultivate a happy love life.

The list’s bullet points are:

● If we’re gonna have a fight, let’s have a fight! But let’s also make up the same day.
● Let’s enjoy our lives right now.
● Let’s share with each other! Our plans, joys, and worries.
● Let’s be open and honest in putting our feelings into words! Sometimes you can understand how your partner feels about you without being told, but isn’t it nice to hear it?
● When we have an idea, let’s make it happen!
● Let’s warn each other if we’re making a mistake or causing a problem! Always biting your tongue because it’s the “nice” thing to do is no good.
● Let’s like each other’s faults too.
● Let’s never tell lies that hurt each other! But it’s OK to fib if it’s setting up a happy surprise.
● Let’s hold hands, no matter how many years we’ve been together.
● Let’s have an open, honest side of ourselves that we only show each other.
● Sometimes, we have to put up with things we don’t like.
● Let’s never forget to appreciate each other, no matter what else is happening.

The list has pulled in over 55,000 likes so far, with those in agreement leaving comments such as:

“Whether the message is a happy one or not, if you want someone to understand you, it’s important to tell them. Attitudes like ‘You know, right?’ and ‘I shouldn’t have to explain any more’ don’t work.”
“Couples that stay together for a long time never forget to appreciate each other. The ones that break up right away are the ones are the ones that lose that feeling of gratitude.”
“Writing all this down for future reference.”

However, the list also caught the attention of more than a few cynics, who said

“What a pain in the butt.”
“That all sounds really difficult.”
“I can’t survive being so pure-hearted.”
“I think the list sounds more like a couple that’s dated for five years but not married yet.”
“Making all those individual promises really kills the mood.”

The last detractor does have a bit of a point, since such a lengthy list of promises could start to sound like a lift of demands. One middle-of-the-road commenter had an idea about that, though:

“I think the couples that really last are the ones who already subconsciously agree on those points before they explicitly make the promises to do them for each other.”

In other words, a mix of preexisting compatibility and a willingness to communicate and verbally reassure each other makes for a pretty good framework to build a happy relationship around.

What do you think? A fair basis for a healthy relationship? Or way too much to ask for?

Have a great day!