Japan’s Matsuya restaurant chain debuts Massaman Curry, we find it Thai-rrifically tasty

Matsuya is branching out beyond typical Japanese curries, and we couldn’t be happier!

While Japan’s own sweet, mild curry is making a splash on distant shores, one of the country’s homegrown restaurant chains, Matsuya, is taking a leaf from various other countries’ curry cookbooks. Though Matsuya serves a perfectly adequate spicy curry of its own– the Gorogoro Chicken Curry — it’s a seasonal item and is cycled out frequently like most of Matsuya’s ever-evolving menu.

There’s a spicy, delicious light on the horizon, though. Matsuya has turned to Thailand for inspiration for their latest addition to the roster, with a new Massaman curry option being tested at a limited number of their stores. A regular serving costs 730 yen (US$7.05), a pricey option when contrasted with the 490 yen standard Japanese curry. The banner promoting the curry does bill it as “allegedly the most delicious food in the world”, though, so it seems like a reasonable price in that context.

While the true origins of Massaman are still hotly debated, as it’s argued that the dish contains considerable Indian and Malay influence, it’s commonly associated with Thai cuisine. The name “Massaman” itself is a corruption of the word musulman, an old Persian word for “Muslim”. Due to its Islamic origins, the dish is most commonly cooked with chicken as the main meat, but variations with beef or goat meat are popular too.

Our Japanese-language reporter, Tasuku Egawa, headed to one chain that was serving the curry and promptly placed an order.

▼ Matsuya’s version uses chicken.

It arrived promptly, on one of Matsuya’s typical lacquered trays. His curry was, naturally, accompanied by a healthy serving …continue reading


Tokyo office tower could be up for grabs for US$2.9 billion

Advertising and public relations giant Dentsu Group is considering selling their head office building in Shimbashi, Tokyo. With an estimated price somewhere around 300 billion Yen (approx. US$2.9 billion), this could end up as Japan’s most expensive single-building sale. Several potential buyers are apparently already lined up.

The group’s headquarters typically has 9,000 staff on-site, but only 20% are commuting into the office due to the pandemic. The abundance of empty floorspace has led the company to reconsider their real estate holdings. After the sale, they would continue to lease space within the building. Dentsu’s advertising revenue has fallen since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, with the company expecting to post a loss for the second year running.

The 210-meter tall, 48-story office tower was built in 2002 as the Caretta Shiodome mixed-use redevelopment on the site of the former Shiodome Freight Terminal. French architect Jean Nouvel designed the office tower, while American architect Jon Jerde designed the retail component.

The complex includes restaurants, retail, museum, and a theatre. The total floor area is 231,700 sqm (2.49 million sq.ft), which may explain the high estimated price. It had a book value of 181.4 billion Yen as of December 2019.

According to JLL, the largest single-building transaction in Japan’s history was the sale of Pacific Century Place Marunouchi in 2006 for 200 billion Yen to Davinci Holdings.

Up until now, the major office buildings in Tokyo’s prime business districts have been tightly held by Japan’s conglomerates, making this current environment incredibly enticing for foreign funds seeking a once-in-a-lifetime chance to get acquire some rare assets. Bargain sales, however, are still not apparent.

There is the looming risk that office demand may not fully recover should the telework trend become permanent. Major corporations are reconsidering their floorspace requirements both from a cost-cutting perspective and …continue reading


Man arrested after refusing to wear mask on a plane refuses to wear mask in custody

At least he’s consistent.

A couple days ago, we reported on the arrest of Junya Okuno on charges of obstruction of business, assault, and other violations of aviation laws. To recap, a flight he was on had to make an emergency stop when he refused to wear a face mask in the close quarters of the cabin, and while causing a ruckus on his ejection, he allegedly injured the arm of a flight attendant.

You might think this would be a lesson in humility for Okuno, but as news footage of his arrest shows, old habits die hard.

Despite repeated requests by police to put on a face mask during arrest and interrogations Okuno refused, saying it was “Because I’m a mask-refusing guy.” He also reportedly is not cooperating with authorities and, rather than admitting or denying the charges, told the police: “It’s true that I boarded the Peach flight, but please see my blog for the rest.”

It’s not only the epitome of clickbait he just pulled, but overall Okuno seems dead bent on branding himself as not just “a mask-refusing guy” but “THE Mask-Refusing Guy” of Japan. In fact, his belligerence is so over the top that many netizens are doubting his authenticity.

“We’ve done it. We’ve reached the limit of stubborn old men.”
“He’s clearly trying to become the Internet’s newest plaything.”
“He found the stupidest way in the world to become famous. Pathetic.”
“I’m not even angry. He knows what he’s doing.”
“He should wear a mask just because he’s ugly.”
“They should call him the ‘Refused-by-Society Guy’ instead.”
“He’s working hard to be the most famous idiot of Reiwa. We’ll keep seeing him on all the talk shows once he gets out.”

Indeed, Okuno has been popping up on discussion shows since the disturbance on the plane last September. On clips from an Abema TV show …continue reading


This Week: At Home And Around Tokyo For January 25-31

Online Event: Ballet The Nutcracker and the Mouse King

Sophisticated Pas De Deux

Online Event: Ballet “The Nutcracker and the Mouse King”

The National Ballet of Japan’s beloved production, The Nutcracker and the Mouse King, is available for streaming on Vimeo. The production by Wayne Eagling features splendid, fast-paced choreography with a sense of humour while the rich colours of the set and costumes describe the world of reality and a dream. The video will only be available 72 hours after purchasing it so make sure to get your viewing ticket when you’re ready to watch.

Online Event: Nobody Knows

Japan’s Heritage

Online Event: Nobody Knows “Satsumasendai”

Enjoy local history, culture and traditional performing arts from the comfort of your home. Nobody Knows offers virtual tours that guide you through Japan’s heritage sites and their local traditional performing arts. Originally offered as in-person tours, from 2020, Nobody Knows has shifted its focus to a digital program that can be accessed on their Youtube channel.

ONLINE (SEE “MORE INFO” LINK) – to get it listed!

Attending any of these events? Send us photos through Facebook or Instagram for a chance to be published on the site. #SavvyTokyo

…continue reading


Recycling Clothes in Tokyo

Recycling Clothes in Tokyo

Until relatively recently, used clothes in Japan have had one fate: burnable garbage. If you’re from a country with a collection bin and a few secondhand shops in every neighborhood, this just feels wrong. Some people take suitcases full of cast-offs back home rather than throw them out. Happily, the Japanese concept of mottainai (avoiding wastefulness) is catching on and leading to more options.

Sell it!

Do you have too many designer clothes and accessories in like-new condition? You’re in the right city. There are many brand-conscious secondhand shops that will buy your things.

Komehyo or RagTag

Start with Komehyo or RagTag, both of which have some half dozen outlets throughout Tokyo. Be prepared to take a number and wait a while if you go on a busy day, but if you can read Japanese RagTag has a wonderful online option. Through which you can send in a box of clothes free of delivery charges, and you’ll get an email within a week or two telling you how much the store is willing to offer you for them. If you accept the price, a deposit will be made to your bank account, and if there are any items whose prices you disagree with, they’ll send them back to you at no charge.

Pass the Baton

Pass the Baton in Omotesando sells items that fit its quirky aesthetic on consignment (they call it “relighting”), but the store requires an appointment for anyone wishing to sell items, during which you’ll have to explain the “story” of each piece. Expect to spend at least an hour with a staff member, even for a small number of items, but you’re likely to get more cash for designer clothing and accessories that sell than you …continue reading


McDonald’s Japan brings out a new chicken burger with rice buns

Fried chicken sandwich, Japanese-style.

Last year, McDonald’s made news when it released its first-ever burgers with buns made from rice instead of bread in Japan, following in the footsteps of local fast food chain Mos Burger, who’s been serving their own range of rice-bun burgers for years.

The new burgers proved to be so popular that McDonald’s has decided to re-release one of the best sellers, the Rice Chicken Tatsuta, and bring out a new version this year as well, called the Rice Chicken Tatsuta Setouchi Lemon Tartar.

Like last year, the new burgers will be available as part of the chain’s “Yoru Mac” (“Night Mac“) range, a special dinnertime menu first introduced in March 2018 in Japan, which goes on sale at 5:00 p.m. until closing (or until 4:59 a.m. at 24-hour branches) every day.

Both burgers are made with 100-percent domestic rice, which has been boiled to plump perfection and seasoned with a fragrant soy sauce. The Rice Chicken Tatsuta contains a juicy piece of fried chicken flavoured with ginger and soy sauce, along with crispy shredded cabbage and a creamy, slightly spicy sauce.

The Rice Chicken Tatsuta Setouchi Lemon Tartar also contains fried chicken with ginger soy sauce flavouring, but adds grated lemon from the southern Setouchi region, famed for its lemon production, to the burger, with a dollop of tartar sauce for extra zing.

The plump, savoury soy sauce-flavoured rice is said to pair beautifully with the Chicken Tatsuta pieces, but if you’d like to try the burgers with traditional bread buns, there’s the option to do that too, as the regular burgers, <a target=_blank …continue reading


Biden needs balance and engagement in Asia with China

A TV screen shows news of US President Joe Biden after his inauguration, in Hong Kong, China, 21 January 2021 (Photo: Reuters/Tyrone Siu).

Author: Editorial Board, ANU

Responsible adults are back in the White House. President Joe Biden sent a clear message in his inauguration that his priority is to heal a divided United States of America. He went on to immediately sign a series of executive orders including one that has the United States rejoin the Paris climate agreement.

So begins the hard yards of repairing America’s international standing and undoing the damage from four years of Donald Trump’s America First agenda. The United States didn’t just vacate global leadership for four years but was itself a source of uncertainty and instability. The domestic sources of America First persist with inequality and division magnified by failure to manage the response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whether Mr Biden and his administration can reclaim global leadership while attending to America’s great domestic fractures is still a question.

The biggest challenge on the international stage will be managing the China relationship. The United States has never faced a big power rival like China that already has a larger economy by some measures and is deeply integrated into the global economy.

China policy under President Trump — to be tough on China, frame it as a strategic rival and start to decouple the economies — had a large measure of bipartisan support. Secretary of State-designate Antony Blinken emphasised continuity on China policy in his senate confirmation hearings. But there will be differences. Where a Biden administration will differ most is on how it engages allies and partners in its strategy.

The Biden administration is starting to reveal its thinking on China and Asia policy. Kurt Campbell, Mr Biden’s ‘Asia tsar’ and the architect of President Obama’s Asia pivot (later rebranded the Asia rebalance), has outlined a strategy of working with allies to curb China’s assertive behaviour and restore …continue reading


What you need to know about getting a work visa in Japan

With around two million expatriates currently residing in Japan, the idea that Japan is closed to or very difficult for foreigners to find work is becoming more and more dated. With the right visa, there are many work opportunities in Japan. The right visa however is the key, as Japans visa system is somewhat bloated with bureaucracy and can be complicated for new arrivals, or even veterans of the system. The good news however is that this is Japan after all, and so long as you follow the procedures correctly, things usually go fairly smoothly.

Today let’s have a look at these procedures, and answer some questions such as “What kind of Visa do I need for this job”, “Do I need a university degree for a visa in Japan” and more.

How to get your first Work Visa in Japan

It is often said that the first work visa is the hardest to get in Japan. This idea comes from the fact that more companies would rather hire someone who is in country, and already has a work visa, rather than go through the sponsorship process. Whilst this advice is still true, it is getting easier to find a position that will sponsor the first visa. The good news is that there are many inroads to a work visa in Japan, and changing work visa type is easier than starting from zero (more on work visa types later).

One of the most common first visa’s for people from English speaking countries is as an English teacher. English schools and public schools in Japan are constantly on the hunt for new English teachers, and such jobs that offer visa sponsorship are plenty. The Jet Programme is also another such inroad to a visa in Japan. However English teaching jobs are not the only …continue reading


2021 Top Jobs in Japan Week 4

Source: Gaijin Pot

If you’re looking to work in Japan, check back here each week as we look through our database of top jobs in Japan posted to GaijinPot and showcase some of the most interesting ones. You can apply directly to these companies by creating a profile on GaijinPot Jobs!

Waseda University Public Relations

Waseda University Public Relations / Web Communications

  • Company: Waseda University Public Relations
  • Salary: ¥242,000 ~ ¥262,000 / Month
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • English: Native level
  • Japanese: Fluent
  • Application: Must currently reside in Japan

Waseda University, one of the most prestigious universities in Japan, is looking for a PR person to maintain its website by creating original content and managing its social media assets.

You must be fluent in Japanese to fit the working environment. The ideal candidate will have experience in using WordPress and social media platforms.

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Apply Here

Keywords International

Team Coordinator, Player Support

  • Company: Keywords International
  • Salary: ¥380,000 ~ ¥380,000 / Month
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • English: Business level
  • Japanese: Fluent
  • Application: Must currently reside in Japan

As a team coordinator, you will be joining the customer support team and responsible for supporting the popular mobile game Supercell.

You will ensure each agent is providing the best customer service and help improve player experience for titles such as Clash Royale, Brawl Stars, Clash of Clans and Hay Day.

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Apply Here

Edge International


  • Company: Edge International
  • Salary: ¥3.0M ~ ¥4.8M / Year
  • Location: Tokyo, Japan
  • English: Native level
  • Japanese: Business level
  • Application: Must currently reside in Japan

Edge International, providing corporate management services in Japan, …continue reading


Sights and sounds from a dystopian Japanese drinking alley

Source: Tokyo Times
a dystopian Japanese drinking alleyway

With trains regularly rattling by behind us, and lots of people walking past, this ramshackle old alleyway was definitely an unusual place to drink. In fact, its unique characteristics made it feel like the absolutely best place to drink — no two ways about it. A spot so special that the photos really don’t do it justice, so I’ve also included a bit of audio to try and better recreate the atmosphere.

…continue reading