Upfront Extra

The name Gari Gari Kun conjures images of, at best, suspect-flavored ice creams: corn potage, napolitana sauce and veggie stew to name a few. So it comes as no surprise that the makers of such wacky-flavored summertime refreshments would also come up with Gari Gari Kun toothpaste. Produced by Lion Corporation, the kid-targeted gloop includes nashi (Japanese pear) and soda flavors (¥195 per 40g tube). If nothing else, it’ll make it a breeze to get little ones to brush their teeth­—just make sure they don’t eat it.

By: Lisa Wallin | Aug 30, 2014 | No Comments | 174 views

Dear AMA,

My friend is going through a very difficult time and I’m not sure how to help him. He has been with his Japanese wife for eight years and it has been an unhappy relationship for a while. He has tried to end it several times, but she threatens suicide, so he goes back. I think she’s just manipulating him and I want to tell him to leave her, but fear that if I do and something terrible happens, I also would be responsible. —Concerned Friend

Dear Concerned Friend,

We passed your question on to the good people at TELL. Here’s what they had to say…

“You sound torn about how to best support your friend. Ending a relationship is never easy and a very stressful, emotionally challenging time for everyone involved. You are right to be concerned about your friend’s wife. One of the many false myths surrounding suicide is that people who threaten or talk about suicide are just seeking attention and won’t follow through with the act. People who threaten suicide should always be taken seriously. Most people who are on the verge of ending their life are hurt, depressed, lonely and/or feel like all hope is lost. They often see suicide as the last option to end their emotional suffering. Additionally, if the person feels you think they are just seeking attention, they may go out of their way to prove how much pain they are in and that they are serious.

Please tell your friend that getting professional help will be important for both him and his wife. TELL has numerous bilingual counselors who specialize in couples counseling in Tokyo. Their approach includes help with ending relationships. They can also give information about services in other parts of Japan. It will be important not to confront your friend’s wife, accuse her of being manipulative, place blame or get into power struggles. You can give the Lifeline’s hours and number to your friend; the line can help him sort through his feelings, talk through options and, hopefully, find a way forward. The police are another important source of support if anyone is actively threatening to kill themselves. They also have an English-speaking number (03-3501-0110) that operates from 8:30am-5:15pm Monday through Friday. Your friend is lucky to have your support, which will be important to him as he tries to navigate the end of his marriage. Please know that the Lifeline is also there for you yourself, as you may be feeling stressed and anxious. Sharing your concerns in a safe, confidential and anonymous environment can help ease the load.”

Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03-5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year, or visit their website at www.telljp.com

Following the death of Robin Williams, TELL has expressed concern about unsafe suicide reporting. See their full response here: http://meturl.com/tellwill

If you want to “Ask Metropolis Anything” about life in Tokyo, send your questions to askanything@metropolis.co.jp and we’ll find the most appropriate people to answer your queries.

Aug 24, 2014 | No Comments | 658 views

Copyright: frenc / 123RF Stock Photo

Unlike the West, Japan’s spooky season peaks in August with obon. This is a good time to let people know what you can or can’t handle when it comes to creepy situations. Don’t be afraid! Use the structure “(noun) ga (adjective) desu” to tell them what you mean.

Scary Sentiments

JP: Watashi wa yurei ga kowai desu.

EN: I’m scared of ghosts.


JP: Watashi wa gokiburi ga nigate desu.

EN: I can’t stand cockroaches.

Cinema Style

JP: Hora- eiga ga suki desu ka?

EN: Do you like horror movies?

City Safety

JP: Watashi wa Shinjuku no machi wo yoru dearuku no ga kowai desu.

EN: I’m scared of going out in Shinjuku at night.

Aug 23, 2014 | No Comments | 575 views

©和月伸宏/集英社 © 2014「るろうに剣心 京都大火/伝説の最期」製作委員会

Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno, the first half of a two-part follow-up to 2012’s Rurouni Kenshin, offers dynamic fight choreography in the style of Hong Kong cinema. It took the No. 2 spot at theaters this week, and can be caught with English subtitles once daily at Toho Cinemas Roppongi Hills.


1. Stand By Me: Doraemon

2. Rurouni Kenshin: Kyoto Inferno

3. Transformers: Age of Extinction

Top Japanese Singles

1. Eightranger—“ER 2”

2. Jin Akanishi—“Good Time”

3. SKE48—“Bukiyo Taiyo” (En: “Clumsy Sun”)

Top Manga

1. Shingeki no Kyojin vol. 14 (En: Attack on Titan)

2. Naruto vol. 70

3. Haikyuu!! vol. 12

Top Karaoke Songs

1. Takako Matsu—“Let it Go Ari no Mama de

2. AKB48—“Koi suru Fortune Cookie” (En: The Fall-in-Love Fortune Cookie)

3. Sayaka Kanda, Sumire Morohoshi & Hazuki Inaba—Yukidaruma Tsukurou” (En: “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?”)

Movie rankings from Eiga.com. Music and manga rankings from Oricon. All rankings as of August 15.

Aug 20, 2014 | No Comments | 115 views

Copyright: akiyoko / 123RF Stock Photo

Summer is the season of beer, fireworks, kakigori (shaved ice) and bon odori dance festivals. So throw on your yukata, get out in the sun and use “-tai desu” to express a few of your hot-weather desires!


JP: Watashi wa beeru wo nomitai desu.

EN: I want to drink some beer.

JP: Beeru wa oishii desu-ne. Edamame mo tabetai desu.

EN: Beer tastes great, doesn’t it? I want to eat some edamame, too.


JP: O-matsuri de kakigori wo tabetai desu.

EN: I want to eat some shaved ice at the festival.

JP: Hanabi taikai ni iku node yukata wo kitai desu.

EN: I’m going to see fireworks, so I want to wear a yukata.

Lesson by Meros Language School (www.meros.jp)

Aug 16, 2014 | No Comments | 882 views

Copyright: xtockimages / 123RF Stock Photo

Dear AMA,

I’m an American and I’ve been married to my Japanese wife for about four years, happily for most of it. We’ve just recently returned to Japan after an unsuccessful attempt at going back “home” to the States. My wife didn’t adjust well at all and was often anxious or depressed. It got so bad that we returned to Japan late last year before she gave birth to our baby boy. Now the issue is that I’m back in a country where I feel I can’t give my new family the financial support I would be able to back in the U.S. I’m beginning to feel stressed out and fear this issue will end up tearing us apart—something I absolutely don’t want with a new addition to the family. I don’t want to keep teaching English forever, but I feel stuck. What should I do?—Not a Salaryman

Dear Not a Salaryman,

We passed your question on to the good people at TELL. Here’s what they had to say…

“Feeling stressed and pressured about your financial situation is understandable, especially given you and your wife are new parents. Becoming new parents is one of the most challenging times for any relationship, but it sounds as if your stress is also being compounded by the cultural differences you have both been experiencing. Understanding and managing these issues are why many people call the Lifeline. All relationships are different; what works for one couple may not work for another and intercultural marriages are no different. However, they also bring their own unique set of challenges, and it is not uncommon for these differences to become more acute when the relationship is placed under stress, such as moving countries, getting married or becoming new parents.

There are so many rituals and customs we develop as we grow up that we never stop to think about. We all use these as a basis to feel competent and correct with our interactions with others. It is often not until we are living in another country or with someone from another country that we bump into opposing or different views, which can bring the best of us tumbling to the ground. Some people feel they have failed and become homesick or depressed, while others can get angry and complain about the differences, over-idealizing life back home. Sometimes it can feel frightening or challenging to bring these issues up and some couples find counseling helpful in negotiating these hurdles. TELL counseling has a number of bilingual therapists who specialize in relationship counseling.

Learning to recognize your own values and customs—along with those of your wife—and being able to discuss these and support each other will be important as you adjust to being new parents and deciding which country is the best option for your family. Developing a support network, perhaps friends from your home country or other intercultural couples and being patient with each other will also help. You might also like to know that many intercultural couples do successfully manage these hurdles, and your cultural differences can make for a fun and interesting relationship.”

Answer courtesy of TELL. If you need to talk, they’re here to listen. Call the TELL Lifeline at 03 5774-0992 from 9am-11pm, 365 days a year or visit their website at www.telljp.com.

If you want to “Ask Metropolis Anything” about life in Tokyo, send your questions to askanything@metropolis.co.jp and we’ll find the most appropriate people to answer your queries.

Aug 12, 2014 | 3 Comments | 1,174 views

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