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Japanese and Tourists Living in Two Worlds

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发表于 5-22-2024 13:49:36 | 显示全部楼层 |阅读模式
本帖最后由 choi 于 5-22-2024 15:20 编辑

Yuri Kageyama, Japan's Economy Shrank More Than Expected in the First Quarter. Associated Press, May 15, 2024
("The Japanese economy contracted at an annual rate of 2% in the first quarter of the year as consumption and exports declined, the government reported Thursday [May 16]")

The reporter is female. The Japanese noun yuri is lily, but her kanji name 影山 優理.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Miho Inada, A Weak Yen Is a Gift for Visitors to Japan. Wall Street Journal, May 20, 2024, at page B1.
https://www.wsj.com/world/asia/j ... e-tourists-42be2a7b
https://www.msn.com/en-us/money/ ... ourists/ar-BB1mBxQw

Note:
(a) Japanese surname:
(i) Inada  稲田  (Usually Mho is female given name 美穂, but I can not confirm this journalist is such.)
(ii) Matsubara  松原
(iii) Maeda  前田 (The ma-e) is Japanese pronunciation of kanji 前.)
(iv) Matsuo  松尾
(vi) Sumitomo  住友
(vii) O-no-ue  尾上
(viii) Fujikawa  藤川

(b)
(i) Kobe beef  神戸ビーフ
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kobe_beef
("sandai wagyū" [三大和牛])
(ii) "Tokyo's luxury shopping district of Ginza and the Niseko ski area in the north"

Niseko
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Niseko
(iii) "Dai-ichi Life Research Institute economist Hideo Kumano said Japan could soon fall to No 6, overtaken by India and the UK. 'We must not forget that the trend of Japan's decline is still continuing,' Kumano said."
(A) Dai-ichi Life
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dai-ichi_Life
("Dai-ichi Life Insurance Company, Limited 第一生命保険株式会社, or Dai-ichi Life [第一生命] for short, is the third-largest life insurer in Japan by revenue, behind Japan Post Insurance and Nippon Life [日本生命(保険相互会社, where 相互会社 is mutual company, as in Boston, Mass-based Liberty Mutual)]"/ 1902- ; based in Tokyo)

Japan Post Insurance  (株式会社)かんぽ生命保険
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japan_Post_Insurance
(2007 privatization of a government corporation)
, where kampo かんぽ is hiragana for 簡保, short from 簡易保険.
(B) Dai-ichi Life Research Institute  第一生命経済研究所
(C) Hideo KUMANO is
経済調査部 首席エコノミスト 熊野 英生  
https://www.dlri.co.jp/members/kumano.html
, where エコノミスト is katakana for "economist," and the o in make given name Hideo usually is represented by kanji 夫,男,雄 -- by 生 is arbitrary (by his parents).

(c)
(i) "Hiroyuki Sasai, manager of a rickshaw [kanji 人力車 (pronounced ji-riki-sha)] business in the city of Kyoto"
(A) 一度は乗ってみたい! 「えびす屋」に聞く、人力車の魅力とは? Souda Kyoto そうだ 京都, undated
https://souda-kyoto.jp/blog/01171.html
(えびす屋 (name of the company, whose 嵐山總本店 -- 嵐山 is a neighborhood of Kyoto -- operates 50 rickshaws) 営業企画部・笹井啓行)

The title of the online article is, in English: I want to ride it once! What is the appeal of rickshaws, according to Ebisuya?

Ebisu (mythology)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ebisu_(mythology)
("is one of the Seven Gods of Fortune 七福神, and the only one of the seven to originate purely from Japan without any Buddhist [read: Indian] or Taoist [read: Chinese] influence")

Sasa 笹 is a genus of dwarf bamboo (about as tall as a man, and slightly taller than an average woman)
(B) Souda is romanization alternative to sōda, both meaning: "That is so," "This is so."
(ii) "The cheap yen is also good for exporters such as Toyota Motor, which just reported its most profitable year on record.

(d) "At Osaka’s 200-year-old Kuromon Market, a seller called out, 'Sushi, sashimi,' while another shouted, 'Cheap, cheap!' in English. At $2.60 for a can of Coke and $6.50 for eight octopus balls, a local specialty, the prices hardly seemed cheap for locals.  Rino Sumitomo, who runs the octopus-ball stand, said she started the business in March"
(i) Kuromon Market  黒門市場
https://kuromon.com/en/

https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/黒門市場
(photos only)
(ii) For octopus ball, see takoyaki
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Takoyaki
, where tako (usually no kanji) is octopus.

(e) "Japan Research Institute economist Shinichi Nishioka"
(i) The Japan Research Institute, Ltd (JRI)  日本総合研究所 (株式会社) (日本総研 for short; a think tank (2002- ; based in Tokyo) under the umbrella of Mitsui Sumitomo Financial Group 三井住友フィナンシャルグループ傘下)
(ii) Shinichi NISHI-OKA  (調査部 上席主任研究員) 西岡 慎一
https://www.jri.co.jp/page.jsp?id=38458

(f) "Outside the Kobe beef steakhouse in Osaka, tourists lined up for cubes of barbecued high-grade Wagyu beef on a stick. * * * [Japanese] Chefs at the restaurant can hardly afford Kobe beef themselves.   'I often go to McDonald's or Sukiya after work at night,' said Katsushi Onoue, one of the chefs, referring to a cheap beef-bowl chain."
(i) A photo online that does not appear in print shows the steakhouse is Wa-no-miya 和ノ宮.

(Yesterday I gad a posting which mentioned princess Kazu-no-miya 和宮. The kanji 和 has one Chinese pronunciation wa (and two others), and kazu used in name only.)
(ii) Sukiya (restaurant chain)  すき家
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sukiya_(restaurant_chain)
, which does not explain name of the chain. But ja.wikipedia.org does, which says that the founder 創業者 Kentarō OGAWA 小川賢太郎 had been 牛丼チェーン吉野家の出身 (working at 牛丼-chain Yoshinoya for four years from 1978 to 1982, and that the chain name Suki had two origins: sukiyaki 鋤焼 (a one-pot dish served in shallow earthen container AND Japanese verb "すき suki" for "to like" (in the hopes that customers would like his ware).
-------------------------------print edition (which omits the first 1 1/2 paragraphs of the online version)
A historically weak yen is helping Japanese manufacturers get stronger—the part that irked Trump—but is also wounding the nation’s self-image and widening a perceived prosperity gap with the U.S.

Andrew Wong, a 38-year-old tourist visiting Japan from Singapore, recently enjoyed the finest cut of Kobe beef, grilled for him in front of his eyes by a chef. The dinner cost the equivalent of about $175, and Wong said it was worth the splurge.
Just a few blocks away, at a restaurant operated by the same company, Tsutomu Matsubara, a Japanese educator in his 60s, was dining on a lesser grade of beef at a lower price. He said he would never go to the pricier restaurant.

“That’s for foreigners,” Matsubara said. “It would still be cheap for them because of the weak yen.”

As recently as early 2022, a dollar bought around 115 yen. Today, even after apparent market intervention by Japan’s government to prop up its currency, the dollar buys about 155 yen, the most since 1990.

Japan is becoming two nations: In a few enclaves, foreigners wielding dollars and euros live the high life, while in most of the country, locals who hold only the weak domestic currency make do with less.

Tokyo’s luxury shopping district of Ginza and the Niseko ski area in the north have become playgrounds for wealthier visitors from abroad, with Japanese people there mostly in lower-paying jobs to serve and clean up after them.

That description makes Japan sound like a developing nation —a status it left behind in the 1960s when it became the world’s second-largest economy behind the U.S. Now it is No. 4, trailing the U.S., China and Germany.

Dai-ichi Life Research Institute economist Hideo Kumano said Japan could soon fall to No. 6, overtaken by India and the U.K. “We must not forget that the trend of Japan’s decline is still continuing,” Kumano said.

The weak yen raises the price of imported food and fuel, which has hurt consumer spending and contributed to a contraction in Japan’s economy in the first quarter of this year.

Hiroyuki Sasai, manager of a rickshaw business in the city of Kyoto, said he was doing fine himself but worried about his country. “If the value of the yen represents the value of Japan, it’s just too low,” he said.

Sasai said more foreigners were willing to splurge on a full-hour rickshaw ride for two, which costs the equivalent of $130.

On a recent afternoon, one of his drivers clenched his teeth pulling a rickshaw, which alone weighs about 176 pounds, as well as two visitors perched inside.

Noriyuki Maeda, a Japanese tourist, watched the scene uneasily. “It looks like hard work,” Maeda said. “But it cannot be helped, because Japan won’t be prosperous without foreign visitors.”

Not far away, Kyoto street singer Masaharu Matsuo, 67, took the long view. “Don’t you know how poor Japan was before the war? There is no one dying of starvation now,” he said. Matsuo, though, said that those who tipped him generously were always foreigners.

In April, Japan received more than three million visitors, nearly matching a monthly record set in March. Visitors spent the equivalent of some $11 billion in the first quarter of the year, setting a record in yen terms though not in dollars.

The cheap yen is also good for exporters such as Toyota Motor, which just reported its most profitable year on record. Toyota is racking up sales of hybrid cars in the U.S., where people pay in dollars, while manufacturing many vehicles in Japan where workers earn less-valuable yen. Japanese stock prices are near a record high.

Trump recently said on Truth Social that the dollar’s rise versus the yen was “a total disaster for the United States.” A strong dollar, he said, “sounds good to stupid people, but it is a disaster for our manufacturers.”

President Biden said in April that the U.S. has “the best economy in the world,” and he has previously suggested that a strong dollar reflects healthy U.S. growth compared with other countries.

Japanese merchants know who has the spending power these days. At Osaka’s 200-year-old Kuromon Market, a seller called out, “Sushi, sashimi,” while another shouted, “Cheap, cheap!” in English. At $2.60 for a can of Coke and $6.50 for eight octopus balls, a local specialty, the prices hardly seemed cheap for locals.

Rino Sumitomo, who runs the octopus-ball stand, said she started the business in March and it has been going well. “People say we’re ripping off customers,” Sumitomo said. “But I don’t think it’s too expensive for inbound tourists.”

Still, Sumitomo, a 40-year-old mother of two, said the weak yen made her worried about the future of Japan. She said she wanted her children to learn English and planned to take them to a summer camp this year in Australia. She wants to move there someday and has urged her husband to train as a sushi chef so he can get work abroad.

Japan Research Institute economist Shinichi Nishioka said the yen’s weakness was hurting workers’ real wages because they have to pay more for imported goods such as fuel. But he expressed optimism that the situation would be self-correcting.

“If Japanese businesses can take advantage of the yen’s weakness and make more sales to foreigners, the yen will naturally turn stronger,” Nishioka said.

Outside the Kobe beef steakhouse in Osaka, tourists lined up for cubes of barbecued high-grade Wagyu beef on a stick. Wagyu refers to beef from select breeds of cattle native to Japan, with Kobe beef a particularly prized kind of Wagyu.

“It was only $35,” said Junell Barron, 24, an American in Japan on a monthlong military deployment, as he polished off the last piece. “This is a great deal!”

Chefs at the restaurant can hardly afford Kobe beef themselves.

“I often go to McDonald’s or Sukiya after work at night,” said Katsushi Onoue, one of the chefs, referring to a cheap beef-bowl chain.

Megumi Fujikawa contributed to this article.

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