“But we’re speaking Japanese!”: Humorous video confronts lingering stereotypes in Japan

One of the most frustrating parts about living in Japan was when I would go out to dinner with my husband. No, it wasn’t because I wasn’t able to read the menu or because I don’t like Japanese food – it was because more often than not, the server wouldn’t speak to me.

Since my Vietnamese-American husband cannot speak or read Japanese, I would always do the ordering. What the servers saw was a woman with a caucasian face speaking Japanese and what appeared to be a Japanese man not ordering for himself. After placing my order in Japanese, the server would turn to my husband (who couldn’t understand anything she was saying) and ask follow up questions about our drink order or any add ons. I would in turn, translate for my husband in English, and then answer our server in Japanese, but any remaining questions would be directed once again to my husband. This language triangle would continue until all the ordering was completed.

Of course, this didn’t happen every time, but enough for both my husband and I to take notice. When relating the story to my friends, many would confirm that they have encountered a similar situation. Some would posit that the server thought my husband was letting me practice my Japanese and was looking to him to confirm that’s actually what I wanted. But no matter the reason, I was always left a little frustrated.

A recent video on YouTube titled, “But we’re speaking Japanese!” confronts this exact situation, bringing light to a lingering stereotype in Japan.

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Terrible advice for making college friends involves cold shoulders, weird stockpiles

Academically speaking, most Japanese students don’t have that much trouble with the transition from high school to college. University entrance exams are notoriously difficult, and compared to the diligent studying they had to do to get into college in the first place, most find their educational workload, especially as freshemen, to be pretty easy to handle.

Making friends, though, can be tough. Rural Japan isn’t peppered with college towns in the same way some other countries are, and many students have no choice but to move far away from home to one of the nation’s big cities to pursue higher education. And while many students abroad can look forward to meeting new people in their dorm, very few Japanese universities provide any kind of student housing. Even in the rare case that they do, having a roommate is unheard of.

So it’s no surprise that many students are keen to pick up pointers on how to make interpersonal connections in their new surroundings. Unfortunately, not all advice is good advice, as one Japanese freshman recently found out.

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Hong Kong saw this video of westerners gaming their women and went berserk 【TomoNews Video】

Meet David Campbell and Ditlef Alexander Aasom Diseth, Asia’s latest internet sensation. A video showing one of them apparently stealing a girl from a Chinese guy in Hong Kong went viral.

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Slow News Day Special: We cook pasta with Tokyo Bay seawater

Given that there were no murders, Abe gaffs, North Korean human rights violations or major Attack on Titan events today, we decided we’d do something a little fluffier and… saltier with our reporting today. After hearing that professional chefs claim pasta should be boiled in a combination of water and salt that closely resembles seawater, we wondered: Why not just use, you know, actual seawater?

Since it’s essentially an unlimited and free resource, it seems like a waste to go out and buy pure water and sea salt and combine the two when you can just head on over to Odaiba on Tokyo Bay and fill up an empty bottle with real seawater.

One of our Japanese reporters did just this, with… somewhat mixed results.

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Panda and tiger face packs protect endangered species while they beautify your skin

It’s kind of ironic that face packs, which are designed to make your skin healthier and more beautiful, actually look pretty ghoulish when they’re in use. Often, the price of eventual beauty can be spending a half-hour or so looking like either The Phantom of the Opera or Texas Chainsaw Massacre’s Leatherface.

Stepping up with an alternative is a Japanese company that’s selling face masks that promise to temporarily transform their wearer into a cute panda or tiger.

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Customer reviews on Amazon Japan are more priceless than the expensive items they’re about

Usually people search on Amazon to find the best deals, and not to spend a ton of money. But apparently there are people out there with a little too much cash to blow, as you’ll see after reading these hilarious Amazon Japan customer reviews for two ridiculously expensive products. We’re a bit worried for their sanity, but they sure can write some funny reviews!

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Let’s talk about cleavage: A mini Japanese lesson for the weekend【Photos】

Have you been neglecting your Japanese studies recently? Maybe you’ve been struck down with a case of the May blues? We have just the ticket to get you right back on track!

We’ve scoured the dark depths of the Japanese internet to bring you this brand new mini-lesson: how to talk about boobs in Japanese on internet forums. Don’t worry, reader – just like last time, there are pictures too. Just to double-check your understanding, of course.

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Darth Vader makes Japanese pro baseball debut with killer home run 【Video】

Darth Vader is a multi-talented guy. From choking subordinates with an invisible force to performing impromptu amputations on members of his family, he can perform all kinds of amazing feats. But did you know he’s also a major league slugger?

It’s true! As part of a collaboration between Lucasfilm and Japan pro-baseball’s Pacific League, Vader stepped up to the plate to show how the game should be played: with light-saber bats!

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Thumbs up! Extend your thumb with totally lifelike silicon digit

Extend your thumb by 15 millimeters! Why? So you can use your phone more easily! With its completely life-like design, no one will even notice! Rakuten is currently offering this stylish thumb made by Rare Mono for just 1,480 yen (US$14.50). It could change your life.

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Elsa comes to the world of Minecraft in Japanese fan’s shot-for-shot Frozen video

Years after its first version was released, Minecraft is still captivating gamers around the world. By giving players access to a plethora of Lego-like building blocks, plus a consistent set of rules for how materials interact with one another, the title simultaneously challenges and inspires its fans, who’ve gone on to recreate both real and fictional locations within the game.

Now, one Minecraft enthusiast in Japan has combined his skills in the game with his love of Disney by recreating an entire scene from the animated hit Frozen.

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Enjoy the perfect glass of beer anytime, anywhere with the “Premium Beer Server GOKUREI”!

Do you love nice, cold beer? If, like us, you’re not averse to enjoying a frosty glass of beer now and then (if not more often), then this gadget may be something you’d want to check out. Takara Tomy A.R.T.S, a subsidiary of major Japanese toy and children’s products manufacturer Takara Tomy, proudly presents the super-cool “Premium Beer Server GOKUREI“. While a beer server may not exactly seem like a conventional product to come out of a toy company, the GOKUREI (literally meaning “extreme cool”) will ensure that you can have the perfect glass of beer at anytime, wherever you are!

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Lotteria’s new gum-flavored drink — refreshing treat or over-adventurous experiment?

We recently brought to you the news that fast food chain Lotteria will be offering their new Tsukemen Burger (dip-in-the-sauce noodles burger) later this month. Now, they’re following with another, shall we say … unique creation. This time, it’s a gum-flavored shake, and it comes in a bright green color!

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Imōto Paradise! 2 manga to be restricted as ‘unhealthy’ in Tokyo

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government decided on Monday to designate the Imōto Paradise! 2 manga as an “unhealthy publication,” and the resulting restrictions will go into effect on Friday. The title was designated under the revised Youth Healthy Development Ordinance due to its “glorification of incestuous acts.”

The publication will be the first to be formally restricted as such by the government since Bill 156 revised the law in 2010.

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Company’s smoking regulations cover all bases with math, technology, psychology, and courtesy

While progress has been slow and begrudging, anti-smoking movements are finally starting to gain traction in Japan. For example, smoking is largely banned in train stations, except for in designated enclosed smoking spaces, and even many of those are being removed.

Likewise, when smartphone advertising firm Adways moved into a new office, management saw it as a chance to rethink how to make the workplace more comfortable for nonsmokers, and came up with a solution that uses a mix of technology and simple common courtesy.

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Time to procrastinate! A cat fights its way through a door and other videos

Oh cats, how we love you. We would try to count the ways, but we know you have better stuff to do than listen to us…like taking a nap in the sun, taking a nap on the couch, or taking a nap in a nabe. So, we’ll just say that of all the reasons we have to adore your fuzzy faces, perhaps the top one is your intractable nosiness. While we’re not entirely convinced that curiosity killed the cat–it might have Schrödinger for all we know–we are certain that watching our feline cuties get up to no good is one of the best ways to kill a few minutes while putting off work. So if you have a big project looming or some housework you’d rather be ignoring, check out these six adorable cat videos!

After all, you really don’t need to do that work today, do you?

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Adult and occult books given government support as part of Tohoku restoration project

Back in 2012 the Japanese government earmarked one billion yen (US$9.8 million) for the Kindigi project which grants subsidies to publishers so that they can digitize their works to sell online. The ebooks are intended to allow people in regions affected by the Tohoku Earthquake to get easier access to information. As an added bonus it was hoped this would give Japan’s ebook market a shot in the arm all over the country as well.

However, one year after the digitization of 64,833 works was completed with tax money having paid for half the cost, a group of people involved in the publishing industry have been distributing flyers and organizing meetings over the handling of Kindigi. They found that among the thousands of ebooks were several that they deemed controversial including 100 “erotic” works such as Aan… Ecchina Kaikan Ai (Ughnn… Dirty Pleasure Love).

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Earn up to $5,000 per month with a side business in ‘independent’ vending machines

Vending machines are ubiquitous in Japan. You’ll find them on most street corners, outside office blocks, lined up at bus stops, and even on the top of Mount Fuji. Prices vary, but the lowest you’ll find in Tokyo is usually the ‘one coin’ machines where everything costs just 100 yen (US$0.98). How can they sell them so cheap? Are they actually profitable? The answer is yes, and many ordinary business-minded folks are taking advantage of the opportunities they offer to put away a nice chunk of cash each month.

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Perv caught pleasuring self in front of dead girl’s photo at a morgue【TomoNews Video】

A man surnamed Chen from Taiwan’s tech center of Hsinchu has allegedly had been spending the wee hours of the morning sneaking into a local morgue so he could ‘choke his chicken’ in front of a pretty picture of a deceased girl.

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Nosebleeds, food, and fear: How a popular manga became the centre of a debate about Fukushima

In the West, comics are often considered predominantly for younger audiences, and adults who spend more time scrutinising the contents of speech bubbles than printed paragraphs might be looked down on by some. But in Japan, comics are considered a perfectly acceptable pastime whatever one’s age.

More often than not, comics, or manga to use the Japanese term, provide their readers with a break from reality, much like a TV drama or soap, and allow readers to peek into the kinds of worlds that they might not ordinarily be able. But there are times when fiction and reality come together, and real-world events become fodder for a writer’s imagination or in some case the main focus of a story. In the case of popular manga series Oishinbo (美味しんぼ), one particular plotline has raised not just eyebrows but objections on a national level, and what was once just a comic about food has become the centre of a debate about health, radiation, and whether the Japanese government is telling the truth about Fukushima.

Today, we delve a little deeper into the “Oishinbo Nosebleed Problem”, as it has become known, and consider whether, after the resulting backlash, this controversial topic is one that the manga’s writer perhaps ought to have left well alone.

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Attack on Titan creator says he didn’t write crazed, raunchy rant in manga’s latest chapter

This week, we brought word of a half meaningless, half vulgar message that sharp-eyed Attack on Titan fans found hidden in what looked to be a mass of scribbles. Owing to artist Hajime Isayama’s creation being the hottest serialized comic in the world, the news quickly spread around the globe. Confused and concerned parties looked to publisher Kodansha for an explanation, and now it seems they have one.

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