February 19, 2020

Statistics: Part timers and contractors make up about 40 percent of Japan's workforce

Picture: Japanese enjoying summer fireworks

" In Japan, the focus of equal pay for equal work is on narrowing the gap between permanent employees and low-paid part-timers and contractors, who make up about 40 per cent of the workforce. Japanese firms tend to resist equal pay for equal work because it will mean raising the pay of lower-paid workers, analysts say"

Source: Corporate Japan wary of wage hikes as Abenomics splutters by Tetsushi Kajimoto, Australian Financial Review, 
Wednesday 19th February, 2020, page 14.

February 03, 2020

Foreign tourists in Japan spend the most in Shinjuku according to survey

Photo: Japanese crossing road in Shinjuku, Japan.

"Twenty-three percent of tourists said they spent the most money in Shinjuku, according to a survey by Life Pepper, a digital marketing firm in Tokyo. The Akihabara area, known for its electronics stores, came in next at 14%, while the upscale Ginza shopping district took third place with 13%."

Shinjuku takes crown as Tokyo's top spending spot for tourists
District's storied nightlife major draw for overseas visitors
JANUARY 24, 2020

January 30, 2020

Book Review - Newcomer by Keigo Higashino

Keigo Higashino’s novel is based in Tokyo in the summer and reveals a sinister secret. Detective Kaga a newcomer to the area along with a variety of colourful and eccentric characters he comes across in the murder investigation of a recently divorced woman who is found strangled in her apartment in Kodenmacho a suburb of Tokyo. In between iced coffees in traditional coffee shops, pastry stores and old stores that sell wooden spinning tops we gain insights into the crime. 

Best quotes


“ You know that old saying about how people who don’t work have no right to eat” p3

Mother in Law/daughter in law

“ At first Satoko was willing to overlook Naho’s various domestic missteps, but gradually they started to get on her nerves. Nothing her granddaughter did was right. Satoko criticized her and sometimes barged in and took control of things. Stubborn and quick-tempered, she had no idea how to avoid hurting Naho’s feelings” p9

Doctor/Sickness/Hiding information

“ The doctor admitted to issuing two different medical certificates, one listing your mothers actual condition, the other listing a false one” page 33


“ I’m a true born Tokyoite. I’d rather die than break a promise!” p35.


“ Shuhei had to sprinkle the sidewalk outside the restaurant…..People who choose to come to a restaurant like ours take atmosphere seriously. They love the sight of an apprentice sprinling water from a bucket” p41


 “What are you standing around daydreaming for? Can’t you see the glass of that gentleman over by the window is empty?” p44

Apprentice Chef

“ Katsuya, another apprentice who had started two years before him, had only just recently been permitted to help out with the cooking. Shuhei would have to put up with his present duties for a while yet” p44

Ningyo-yaki /Japanese sweet made of pastry and red bean paste

“ Ningyo-yaki, were small snack cakes, baked in moulds – a Tokyo specialty” p47

Graduate recruitment

“ Recently, some companies have even been cancelling job offers to new graduates before they start” p227


“ If she was talking to someone she knew well, then she would be very relaxed and informal. Conversely, if she was dealing with someone, she didn’t know well, she could be very proper an polite” p303

Other Reviews

"Classic yet inventive... Newcomer will appeal most to fans of classic detective stories by the likes of Agatha Christie and Georges Simenon. Higashino’s intricate plotting and a vivid setting come together in an absorbing mystery that will leave readers guessing until the very end." ―Bookreporter

"Kaga, a modern day Poirot, thinks even further outside the box than his Belgian predecessor, to the great delight of mystery aficionados" ―Bookpage

"Delightful... Fans of classic whodunits should introduce themselves to this newcomer immediately." ―Shelf Awareness

"Exotic, original... highly recommended." ―Japan Times

"Newcomer is a cerebral puzzler's delight that, like Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency mysteries, offers a thought-provoking take on the tension between modernity and traditional culture and leaves a trail of mended relationships in its wake." ―Booklist

"Rewarding... [readers] will appreciate Higashino's graceful prose and willingness to push the limits of the genre." ―Library Journal

"Clever and charming." ―The Sunday Times (London)