Posted on August 15, 2013 | genkijacs

Today's topic is how to eat kaiten-zushi!


We often get students who want to eat at kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurants, but aren't sure how. So we thought we'd provide a handy reference!

First of all, every kaiten-zushi restaurant obviously has a different layout, but they all share the same basic features: when you sit down at the counter, you should see a holder for green tea (bags or powder), some cups, and a tap for hot water. Feel free to make yourself some tea - it's free! You may also ask for water if you prefer, and some places may have iced mugi-cha available as well.

Next, there should be a visual guide with some pictures of plates and prices written on them, taped to the counter or somewhere on the walls. You'll see each type of sushi come past on a different colour plate on the conveyor belt. Each colour signifies a different price, corresponding with the abovementioned guide.

There should be a tray with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger on the table. Use these in the separate bowls provided - not straight out the containers!

Now the fun starts. Grab a sushi plate off the belt and chow down! Generally it's considered bad form to drown your sushi in soy sauce, and if you soak it, the rice will fall apart anyway. Try to dip the fish only in soy sauce, then put the whole piece in your mouth at one time.

Most kaiten-zushi places also have other dishes to offer that aren't on the conveyor belt. If you see something you'd like in the menu, you can just order it from the chef directly. Don't worry if you can't read the kanji on the menu - you can generally just point to the dish you want, and they'll prepare it for you.

Stack your plates in a tower when done. When you're finished with your meal, restaurant staff will come and run a tally of how many different colour plates are in your plate tower and charge you accordingly. Easy!

Have you eaten at a kaiten-zushi restaurant and have some more tips or advice to share? Hit us up on Facebook or Twitter and let us know!

Famous people who speak Japanese

Posted on August 08, 2013 | genkijacs

We bet you didn't know these famous people, in addition to living the high life of a celebrity, also speak Japanese!

Natalie Portman
According to some sources, this Oscar-winning actress is fluent in several languages, and also speaks some Japanese! According to one source, in an interview with a Japanese newspaper to promote her movie "V for Vendetta", when asked if she could speak any Japanese, she answered "chotto dake". We think if she knows enough to be able to give that answer, it counts!

Jon Heder
This Napoleon Dynamite star is a man of many talents. One of them includes speaking Japanese! Heder served an LDS mission in Japan as member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and learned to speak Japanese for this cause.
Here is at Comic Con, speaking Japanese very briefly: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e75oTtB94fA

Gary Lineker
In the early '90's, this former English footballer made an unexpected move to Japan to play for Nagoya-based team Grampus Eight. As one of those sports stars who seem to be even more famous off the field than on, Lineker has appeared in numerous TV commercials, a few of which for Japanese TV, like this one, in which he can be heard speaking a little bit of Japanese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_EGv1WRPQz8

Scott Foley
You may know this actor from TV series such as Scandal, True Blood and Grey's Anatomy, but few people know Foley is also fluent in Japanese! He has lived all over the world, including in Japan for about 3 years. Guess it's hard not to pick up the language when you're surrounded by it 24/7!

Steven Seagal
Apart from being famous for his movies, Seagal made a name for himself in the martial arts industry, having become the first foreigner ever to run an Aikido dojo in Japan. So it should come as no surprise that he remains fluent in the language even now. If you've ever heard him speaking Japanese in his movies - he wasn't faking it!

Rivers Cuomo
Best known as the lead vocalist, guitarist and principal songwriter of the alternative rock band Weezer, Cuomo recently released a Japanese language rock album with Scott Murphy of Allister, who is also fluent in Japanese! He also collaborated with Japanese singer Hitomi on one of her albums!

There are also several famous Japanese-American celebrities who speak Japanese (apart from being fluent in English), including...

Masi Oka
First famous for his role as Hiro in the popular TV series "Heroes", Oka purportedly translated all his dialogue for the show into Japanese himself. Probably not surprising for someone who was born in Japan!

This famous actor was nominated for several awards, including an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for the film "The Sand Pebbles", but fans of Avatar: the Last Airbender probably know him best for his role as the wise Uncle Iroh. Mako was born in Kobe, Japan, but lived in the United States until he passed away in 2006.

George Takei
This much-loved film, TV and internet icon was awarded the Order of the Rising Sun, Gold Rays with Rosette, by the government of Japan in 2004, for his contributions to US-Japanese relations. He also inspired and starred in the broadway musical "Allegiance", which is mostly set during the Japanese American internment of World War II and is partly based on Takei's personal experiences.

Do you know of any other famous people who speak Japanese? Hit us up on Twitter or Facebook and let us know!

*Images courtesy of Wikipedia and IMDB

Fireworks festival and yukata wearing

Posted on August 01, 2013 | genkijacs


Our students wore yukata to the fireworks festival at Oohori Park last night! Yukata are the summer version of kimonos and can be worn by both men and women.


The fireworks went on for a full hour and a half and were pretty spectacular! Obviously they are very hard to capture on film, but we tried our best. Check out our Facebook page for more photos!