Friday, May 30, 2008


Jeff lives somewhere in Japan, probably, somewhere in Shikoku, one of the main island in Japanese archipelagos.
I wonder how it is to be an expatriate in Japan.
Having spent more than half of my life outside Japan, I came to think that Japan is a theme park for adults.
A little like a Disneyland solely for fairly wealthy adults.
Why, adults only?
Because you need to have a certain level of understanding about the civilization to fully enjoy it. 
Besides, to do it, you need to have an ample budget.
Though our site Asakusa Underground advocates backpacking in Japan, I suspect that it would give you one dimensional idea about the country.
After all, you should spend a night or two at a fairly luxurious ryokan hotel in an onsen hot spring resort to experience a truly Japanese experience, and it is not cheap.

Jeff-san knows it well, and he and his Japanese colleagues will tell you how you invest your travel budget wisely.

But the best way to enjoy the Adult Only theme park is live there like him. 

Thursday, May 29, 2008


Mr Neculai Amalinei is a Romanian.
He studies Japan and Japanese culture in Romania.
He has a site about learning Japanese and Japan's culture in English and Romanian.
We placed the link to his site on the article about a Japanese legend.
Romania and modern Japan and ancient Japan sit next to each other.
How wonderful!
Without Internet we couldn't have met each other.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Lancaster Theory

Mon Chi-chi told me about Lancaster Theory.
It is about how you manage your strategy on various sites.
First, when you start managing sites, you concentrate on a niche.
You find a small category which other people pay no attention to and write about it.
Once it attracts a certain level of attention and is successful, you try to branch your activity.
Eventually, you diversify all of your sites.

In conclusion, it is too early for us to do more than two things simultaneously. I stopped translating the articles of Chi-chi's Paint Digital Art Meseum and Quit Your Job site. I postpone them until we have 100 articles and 1000 reciprocal links at Asakusa Underground.

Monday, May 26, 2008

Link Exchange and Paint Digital Art

In the morning I sent e-mails to 10+ site managers.
We don't really know how effective exchanging links is, but at this moment this is the only active way to promote our Asakusa Underground.
In the afternoon I traslated Mon Chi-chi's Paint Digital Art Museum.
It is a type of digital paintings created with Paint soft which comes with Windows.
It looks like naive paintings in the digital world.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Paint Digital Art Museum

Mon Chi-chi is a digital artist.
You can check his creation, but unfortunately at this moment only its Japanese version is available.
The English version is under construction.
Or, more precisely, I am translating the texts accompanying each picture into English.
I haven't done it yet, but it won't be long. 
You can read his profile at Asakusa Underground / About us.
He uses a naive style, but I hope that the visiors to his site can see the delicate balance of his calculation and wildness. It looks simple, but it is far from simplistic.

Friday, May 23, 2008


Being accepted to dmoz Open Directory Project is truly a emotional boost for us.
At the moment of doubt, we tend to think that nothing will work.
The news has changed our perspectives completely.
Today, I translated Mon Chi-chi's self-introduction and wrote mine.
He is going to draw digital pictures with them.
Besides, he has just told me that he started his blog with his digital art.
It is a little but important step for him. 
Asakusa Underground is proud of him, too.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Accepted to Open Directory Project

Sometimes we have a sign for good news to come.
This time it was a little message from Switzerland, a comment left on my blog.
Its words were really encouraging, something I truly needed.
Like anything else in life, when you manage an Internet site, you have to go through ups and downs.
We haven't had many visits at our site. After the three months of intensive work, I was not a little discouraged by the fact.
The moment I was about to abandon hope, a little voice came from Mila of Switzerland.
Thanks a lot, Mila.
She might not know how much she have helped me with her comment.
I really appreciate her kind words. People say that there are plenty of bad things on Internet, but I would like to say that there are plenty of good things as well, like Mila's encouragement.

Today, we have just been accepted to the prestigious Open Directory Project. Mila's words must have been a good omen for us.
Thanks again, Mila

Monday, May 19, 2008


I didn't know anything about site management.
The more links you have, the more visitors you have.
That is what I thought.
Chi-chi has been back from Thailand for a week.
The first thing he said was "Don't be too discouraged though we don't have many visitors at Asakusa Underground".
After all the time and effort since February, the fact that we have 4 visitors per day is not easy to swallow.
The lack of incoming link was the cause, I thought.
Mon Chi-chi said no.
As we increase the number of the articles, we will have better exposure at search engines.
It is enigmatic.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Japanese Poetry recital at Nice (rehearsal)

We had the first rehearsal for the Poetry reading.
It is about several Japanese female poets.
Because of that, I was not able to write an article for Asakusa Underground.
I got a phone call from Mon Chi-Chi, but was not able to talk with him, either.
He will be back in Japan soon.

Monday, May 5, 2008

Niche Top Only One

Having finished the article on selling & buying a second hand bicycle in Tokyo, I started working on an article about a small but innovative company.
They are called "Niche Top Only One" in Japan, they say.
The one I like is the company who developed syringe which doesn't hurt.
They made a needle which is as tiny as the one of the mosquito.
There are plenty of Japanese companies like this, and I want to introduce it to the rest of the world.
Asakusa Underground is not just a travel guide.
I want to promote small companies in Japan.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

To buy and sell a bicycle in Asakusa

It doesn't reduce your travel expense even if you buy a bicycle.
If you stay in Tokyo more than one month, it is definitely worth while.
If you stay there for a week, it is not, at least in terms of saving.
Nevertheless, I assure you that you can have totally different experiences in Tokyo with your bike from those of a tourist only using public transportation.
You are freer.

To buy a second hand bicycle is not at all difficult. 
You have various bike shops in Asakusa area. They often sell second hand bikes as well as new ones.
To sell one is another story.
Most of bike shops and second hand shops buy only expensive bikes, which you might not want to buy.

To sell your bicycle, you have to ride it to another district and return to your hotel by train.

Their selling price is between 5,000 yen and 10,000 yen. They don't disclose the buying price.

I will write an article about it now.

By the way, I just got a phone call from my collaborator Chi-chi in Thailand. He will be back in Japan a few day's time. He has taken more than 400 photos there and it is enough to launch another site.

He said, "A prodigious American site manager thinks that you don't have to have many accesses in one site. All you have to do is 1,000 sites with 10 accesses a day".

Saturday, May 3, 2008

Wealthy couch surfers

Yesterday we had unexpected visitors here.
He is an old client of my girlfriend's and she is his companion.
Because of good weather in Côte d'Azure, we have plenty of tourists.
So, they were not able to find a room in a hotel.
They knocked on our door for one night's stay.

Even though one has money, sometimes he has to spend a night in the car. The couple was lucky since my girlfriend was generous enough to spend the whole evening to clean the bedroom and the bathroom.

Then I thought about the same situation in Japan. 
When I saw the Couch Surfer site, I was quite surprised to find some Japanese names there.
I thought that Japanese houses were not big enough to receive guests and they were not helpful when someone was in trouble.
Pleasantly, I was wrong.

There is a TV program in Japan, in which a not-so-well-known actor or comedian tries to couch-surf in the country side.
Backpackers can do the same thing.

Even if you fail, we have plenty of McDonald's in Japan, and it is not difficult to spend a night there. (See "Sleep at McDonald's" section in Asakusa Underground)

Friday, May 2, 2008

To sell your dirty items in Tokyo

There are odd people. There are odd businesses, too.
Some people want to use something that other people do not want to use any longer.
That is why we exchange things, sometimes with money.
For something utterly valueless to someone, other people pay a hefty sum of money.
Would you believe that some people pay 50 to 100 dollars for your used underwear. The dirtier, the better.

Some people collect stamps, tin toys, or small figures of soldiers of Napoleonic era.
To them, authenticity is very important.
It is the same to our collectors of your dirty undergarments which have spent days and weeks at the bottom of your backpack.

You need to prove that you are the one who is responsible for the sacred stains. You will be gently asked to pose for a photo session. You don't have to undress completely. You just have to show that the object has been attached to your body.
Luckily or unluckily, boys cannot sell theirs.

However, this is a kind of information you should remember when you are in need of money in Tokyo.
It might be worth convincing your female travel companion to contribute hers to the collectors of the unusual objects.

I haven't finished the article yet, but it will be posted to Asakusa Underground in a few weeks' time when Mon Chi-chi is back from Thailand.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Selling your gold in Tokyo

When you travel, it is natural that you should want to have enough financial resources.
If you don't have them, what would you do?
Would you postpone your trip until you have enough money?
Are you good at suppressing your desperate desire to open your horizons?
It is easy to say, "Go, no matter what the consequence is".
We have some economical paradises like Thailand or Bali. 
So, if you just want to get out of your system, you can still travel with a limited budget.
However, if your desire demands you to go to an expensive town like London or Paris, will you hesitate?
Not long time ago, Tokyo was considered to be among those expensive first world capitals, but not any more.
Since our economy is sluggish for almost two decades, the Japanese society has equipped with some mechanism for the lower income people to survive.
You can sell your gold in Tokyo very easily now if you are in dire straits while travelling.
That is the article I write today for Asakusa Underground.

No links to add yesterday.
My girlfriend's site has as many hits as the day before.