Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Kobe's International Radio Station

It's amazing how many things you miss even when you've been living somewhere for a few years. I just learned today that the city of Kobe actually has an international radio station. I suppose since we don't have a radio in our house, I never had a chance to come across it. It's also not a new thing. It's been in existence for 15 years. Radio FM YY is a foreign language station that has shows in 10 languages and is run by a staff of more than 100 volunteers. The station was born out of the Kobe Earthquake when there was no way for the roughly 45,000 foreign residents of Kobe to receive emergency information.

I learned about the station today while reading an article on Japan Today.

15 years after quake, Kobe radio station still serves foreign community
KOBE - The Radio FM YY studio looks like a miniature version of Kobe and the city’s more than 43,000 foreign nationals from about 120 countries.

“So, how do people in Latin America spend their holidays?” asks a DJ in Spanish in one recording booth, while in the booth next door a DJ welcomes a Thai dancer in Japanese and tells him to introduce himself through simultaneous interpretation.

The community radio station, which broadcasts music, news and other programs in 10 languages, is in a modern-looking church building near the waterfront in Nagata Ward that bears little resemblance to how the area looked after a magnitude 7.3 temblor hit the Hanshin region on the morning of Jan 17, 1995.

The site was an emergency shelter for scores of foreigners, especially Vietnamese living in the area, after the Great Hanshin Earthquake hit, leaving more than 6,000 people dead and thousands injured and forced into hardship.

The disaster was made worse for some foreigners because they couldn’t understand Japanese.
Read the rest of the article

Of course, Japan wasn't able to avoid the economic meltdown in 2009 that hit other parts of the world. With a bad economy comes less drinking money in one's pocket. How do you solve this problem? The 50 yen izakaya (50 cent pub).

50-yen 'izakayas' emerge for cash-strapped workers
TOKYO - These are hard times for the average salaried worker, with no pay raise and reduced bonuses. But the happy news is the emergence of so-called “50-yen izakayas.”

According to gourmet writer Ryuji Tazawa, “In recent years company employees have no more than 20,000 yen to 30,000 yen a month as allowance money. After deducting lunch costs and others, you have at most 10,000 yen for after-work drinks. If you spend 5,000 yen a night, you can only go out twice a month. That’s the situation. So this year, I expect an increase in low-budget izakayas to meet the demand of such people. A number of places already serve 50-yen appetizers, so a customer can eat and drink plenty for 1,000 yen. The 50-yen izakayas will probably become very popular this year.”
Read more