Latest News from Japan Zone & Japan Store

Story Teller Project

Story Teller Project

I assume this has actually already been done before, but it strikes me as a clever idea: mix manga and pop.

Story Teller Project describe themselves as a “rookie masked band” whose style is “poetry reading and singing, combined with comic pictures!” The debut release, Hatsu Koi – My Aoharu Days, is a pleasant romantic ditty that features the voice of popular young actress Sakurai Hinako (22), so there’s presumably some big company and serious money behind them. But it’s all packaged very well on their official website and social media channels.

The quartet is made up of “Sentimental keyboardist” Kazekaze, “Red hair and blue-eyed vocalist” Soramaru, “Sailor blouse” DJ Umi, and “Ironic bassist” Moriyama-san.



The End of an Era

Emperor Akihito of Japan becomes the first in living memory, indeed in centuries, to abdicate from the throne, bringing the 30-year Heisei Era to a close. His son, Crown prince Naruhito, will formally ascend to the throne at midnight tonight, marking the beginning of the new Reiwa Era.

Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo
Emperor Akihito at the Imperial Palace in Tokyo (via Kyodo)

Akihito is widely loved and respected, both at home and abroad. His reign stood in contrast to that of his father, Hirohito, who is posthumously known as Emperor Showa and whose reign straddled World War II and saw an end to the emperor being formally revered as a living god.

Naruhito is expected to seek to be “close to the people”, following in his father’s footsteps and travelling across the country, particularly in the wake of the natural disasters which are such a common occurrence in Japan, and the “abide by the Constitution”, possibly a more tricky proposition considering efforts in recent years by the current ruling party to amend certain elements of the constitution.

Super Golden Week

Emperor Akihito is set to abdicate on April 30 and his son Naruhito will ascend to the throne on May 1, which will become a new national holiday. Combined with weekends and the existing series of national holidays in April and early May, this year’s Golden Week will extend to an unprecedented 10 days, a phenomenally long holiday by Japanese standards.

Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko
Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko plan where they’re going to spend their retirement!

Who doesn’t love a long holiday, right? Well, one worry about this long break is how it will affect businesses and hurt sales. Here at Japan Store, we will be unable to get stock from manufacturers or suppliers, so many orders placed during this time are likely to be delayed. But rest assured that we will do everything in our power to get all orders shipped as soon as we possibly can.

If you have an urgent delivery deadline, make sure to let us know. We will “upgrade” the shipping on urgent orders where possible and ensure that they are prioritized.

Japan Flooding Update

Flooding in Hiroshima (Kyodo)

As you may have seen in the news, torrential rain has caused massive flooding in parts of western Japan, leading to the loss of more than 100 lives, with many thousands more devastated, and evacuation orders for some 2 million people.

We deal with several manufacturers in the region. One of them, Marugo, is based in Okayama, among the hardest-hit areas. They have informed us that their factory is safe, but that we should expect delivery delays.

This will affect some of our customers, and we will keep you updated of any delays to individual orders. We apologize for any inconvenience, but we hope you will join us in keeping the people of western Japan in our thoughts.

Sad End for Tokio’s Yamaguchi

Tatsuya Yamaguchi Quits Tokio

Tatsuya Yamaguchi (46), a member of the veteran “boy band” Tokio, was recently in tears as he announced that he was quitting in the wake of a sexual assault scandal. After a meeting with Johnny Kitagawa, the ageing head of the hugely powerful and influential Johnny’s Jimusho (Johnny & Associates) talent agency, the other four Tokio members held a press conference on Wednesday to formally apologize to the victim and her family. Group leader Shigeru Joshima (47) said that the members met on Monday night. While Yamaguchi presented a letter of resignation and said he would leave the group immediately, no formal decision was made at the time.

Yamaguchi was referred to prosecutors in April on suspicion of forcibly kissing a 16-year-old high school girl, who he had met through work, at his Tokyo home in February. But after the girl reportedly agreed to a settlement, she withdrew her complaint and the indictment was dropped. According to his lawyer, the star was drinking alone on the day of the incident and invited the girl to his home in the evening.

Remaining Tokio members hold press conference
Remaining Tokio members hold press conference

Johnny’s Jimusho has had plenty of practice dealing with scandals over the years, and moved swiftly. All mention of Yamaguchi, who was the band’s bassist, has been removed from the agency’s website and the Tokio profile photo now includes only the four remaining members. Although ostensibly a band, the members have been regulars on TV variety shows since they debuted 25 years ago. They are due to release a 25th anniversary album later this year.

Interestingly, the case has been variously described as one of sexual harrassment, “indecent assault” (Japan News), “forced indecency” (Arama Japan), “sexual misconduct” (Washington Post), and the somehow trivial-sounding “kissing scandal” (Japan Times).

Yamaguchi divorced his wife and mother of their two sons, a former model, in 2016. He has reportedly had a worsening problem with alcohol, and is said to have been working from a hospital for the last few months, to “give his liver a rest.”

Happy New Year 2018

We’d like to wish all visitors to Japan Zone a very Happy New Year of the Dog in 2018!

2017 was an up and down year for us at Japan Zone but we’re really looking forward to the year ahead. 2018 is a year of the Dog in the 12-year Chinese zodiac, and specifically a “Brown Earth Dog”, which means it should be a good year in all respects, but it will also be an exhausting year.

You can read more about the Chinese zodiac (also very popular in Japan) here.

SIRO-A – That’s ZENtertainment!

Siro-A - That's ZENtertainment!

“That’s ZENtertainment!” is non-verbal performance for people of all ages and nationalities. The world-famous performance group SIRO-A presents their amazing mix of cutting edge technology blended with traditional Japaneseculture. A brand-new entertainment fully packed with dance, comedy, illusion and acrobatics will be sent out to the world from Asakusa, Japan!

■It’s Fast Entertainment!■
The show only lasts for 30 min. and costs only 1,200JPY per person! You can enjoy the show as you enjoy McDonald’s or H&M. We offer 6 shows a day, you can come to theater wherever you are free, in between shopping and sightseeing.

■Headline Acts■
・”Ninja” projection-mapping battle
・”Geta” tap dancing
・”Kanji” Shadow puppetry.
・ Percussion performance with “Buddhist altar fittings”
・ Interactive sessions with audience

■Important Notice■
・Our service is available in English. We welcome tourists from abroad!
・Take photos during the show! Help spread the word on your social media.

[Show Dates and Times]
March 9th (Thu.) – 12th (Sun.)
* No show at 9PM on the 12th (Sun.)


[Entrance Fee]
1,200 JPY/person
*Drink fee: from 500JPY/Person
*Group Booking Discount
You can get a ticket at 1,000JPY with a booking of 4 or more persons.

Online booking is available on Peatix! Website: (English)

In-person booking is available at Tickets today in Asakusa. Website:
Opening hours 10am-7pm

30 min. (Doors open 30 min prior to showtime)

For more information, follow us on

Official website

Happy New Year 2017

Happy New Year 2017

We’d like to wish all visitors to Japan Zone a very Happy New Year of the Rooster in 2017!

There are many reasons to want to put 2016 behind us, but no doubt there are many things to look forward to in the year ahead. 2017 is a year of the Rooster in the 12-year Chinese zodiac, and specifically a fire rooster, and people born in this year (the last one was 1957) are described as “trustworthy, with a strong sense of timekeeping and responsibility at work.”

Australia Strike Action

This is a notice for all Japan Store customers in Australia.

We have been informed that the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP), which oversees the Customs clearance for all inbound products into Australia, has announced they will be on strike on Friday 12th August 2016.

This will cause delays on all inbound mail, both 12th August and on the days following the strike, until the backlog is cleared.

So if you’re ordering from Australia, please allow for delays. And if you have a delivery deadline, we strongly suggest that you select Express shipping at checkout. In addition to being fast, this allows full online tracking of your package. For some reason, Australia Post does not track items sent by Registered Airmail.

There’s Life in the Old Monster

Pikachu and Pokemon Go are all the rage

All three of my kids were born in Japan, but the youngest has always had the strongest affinity for Japan’s popular anime characters. As a toddler, his world was filled with Anpanman and his weird array of bread-themed superhero buddies. In recent years he’s been obsessed with Pikachu and the 739 other “pocket monsters” that populate the Pokémon universe. Even though they’ve been around since 1995, well before my kids were born, Pikachu and friends have ridden the wave of anime’s global boom and managed to stay relevant and popular. Along with Hello Kitty, they are known worldwide on a par with Disney’s most famous characters.

At school, my son and his friends collect, trade and battle with their bulging packs of Pokémon cards. All very analog and 20th century and relatable to what I did as a kid. But the times have changed, and my case for refusing to let my son have a smartphone has just got a lot harder to defend.

Pokemon Go integration on a smartphone
Pokemon Go integration on a smartphone

An augmented reality smartphone game created by the San Francisco based Google-spin-out Niantic Labs – a joint-venture between Google, Nintendo and The Pokémon Company – Pokémon Go has been getting big headlines worldwide recently (both good and bad). Its popularity has been such that release in the UK had to be postponed for fear of it literally breaking the internet.

Although created and owned by The Pokémon Company, Pikachu & Co are generally associated with Nintendo, who published the original Pokémon games on their Game Boy platform. And there seems to be hope that Nintendo is finally in a position to reverse the steady decline in its fortunes since it enjoyed a massive revenue boom in 2006-2009, and that’s thanks to the little yellow monster. Nintendo’s market cap has risen from US$20 billion on July 6 to US$31.5 billion on July 13, 2016. The Pokémon Company has estimated the world market for its characters at US$48 billion.

But back to those bad headlines. They generally relate to cases where smartphone users get so caught up in the augmented reality that they walk (or skate!) into accidents. Or the game is used by criminals as a trap to lure unsuspecting victims with the promise of rare characters at a certain location. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, of course, so these incidents will just be added to the long list of Pokémon-related controversy – some ridiculous examples of political correctness, like the manji (reverse swastikas) and six-pointed stars on cards, or “Pokémon evolution” upsetting creationists; and others more real, like the flashing images in a 1997 TV episode that caused epileptic seizures in hundreds of Japanese kids.

One thing is for sure – Pikachu, Squirtle and pals are back in business, and business is good.