How the meaning of “quality” differs between the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China

How the meaning of “quality” differs between the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China

Quick, what color means “go” at a traffic signal? If you speak English, odds are you just said “green” (and if you don’t speak English, why are you here? The articles with pictures of cute girls and cool robots are in a different part of the site).

On the other hand, in Japanese that same light is considered ao, which translates as “blue.” Crazy as it may seem, the Japanese concept of the color extends all the way down to the hues of traffic signals and mountain forests. It’s just one example of how the same word can have different meanings in different cultures.

OK, so that may be true for artsy fartsy things like colors, but surely this kind of linguistic flatulence isn’t present in the world of business, right? Wrong. Even seemingly simple things like the term “quality” can have vastly different meanings depending on the nation, as one expert demonstrates by explaining the differing definitions consumers in the U.S., Japan, Korea, and China have for it.

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This store’s attempt at encouraging students preparing for entrance exams creeps us out

This store’s attempt at encouraging students preparing for entrance exams creeps us out

Ah, it’s almost that time of the year again: the dreaded high school entrance examination season. In Japan, high school and college entrance exams, held in early March before the start of the new school year in April, are the bane of every student’s existence. To get into a top-notch school or university, students need to pass a grueling entrance examination, for which they will study months on end until they essentially become zombie slaves with no social lives.

However, Sofmap, a retailer of new and used electronics in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, is apparently using a different tactic to cheer on stressed-out students before their exams. The following twee, which shows a rather inappropriate sign found in the store, almost makes us question the sanity of the store’s employees.

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Why deciding whether or not to help a crying girl is complicated in Japan

Why deciding whether or not to help a crying girl is complicated in Japan

Last week, I was riding the train home from one of the luxurious adventures that define my jet-setting expat lifestyle (swimming at the public pool, which had been half-filled with elderly women doing water aerobics). As I sat down on the bench seat, I noticed a girl sitting opposite me, wearing the uniform of either a middle or high school student.

After a few stops, a man in his 30s entered the car and without hesitation sat down next to the girl and began talking to her. The girl turned her face away and did her best to ignore the man, yet, undaunted and now leaning closer to her, he continued jabbering away, occasionally pausing and waiting in vain for some sort of response. At this point there were at least a half-dozen other people on the train watching this uncomfortable scene unfold, and yet no one had made a move to intervene.

This internal struggle between lending a helping hand and not getting involved in others’ business isn’t an entirely unusual problem in Japanese society, as illustrated by a recent Twitter debate that flared up over one man’s quandary about how far to go in helping a distraught little girl he saw wandering the streets alone at night.

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Japanese university seating plan meme submitted to web for approval

Japanese university seating plan meme submitted to web for approval

The internet is a vast ocean of small infographics, flow charts, and images with the aim to succinctly present the truths of life to the masses. However, not every clever doodle is worth being held in our hard drives to be pulled out during a relevant discussion later on. These images sink into the deep abyss of the internet ocean, only to be found when James Cameron finally gets a good enough sub.

Let’s watch as one humble netizen submits their typical Japanese university seating arrangement to others. Will the chart hit home with other students, or will it fall flat? First let’s look at an English translation of it.

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Shonen Jump’s J-Stars Victory Vs. game video features theme song

Shonen Jump’s J-Stars Victory Vs. game video features theme song

Namco Bandai Games began streaming the fourth promotional video for its J-Stars Victory Vs.”team battle action” video game on Tuesday. The 158-second video features the new theme song “Fighting Stars.”

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Our reporter tries “Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Hot Pot” in China

Our reporter tries “Häagen-Dazs Ice Cream Hot Pot” in China

Häagen-Dazs is one of the most luxurious ice creams you can find in a grocery store freezer. It doesn’t matter if you eat it as is or pile on a bunch of toppings, the dessert is always delicious. But did you know that in China, you can actually order Häagen-Dazs hot pot? How can you have cold, meltable ice cream and hot soup? We just had to send one of our reporters to check it out.

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Astro-cat is ready for take off with this DIY “kitty backpack”!

Astro-cat is ready for take off with this DIY “kitty backpack”!

Pets are wonderful. They liven up the house, bring us warmth and love, and help us keep in touch with our human side after a long day of toughening ourselves up in the harsh world out there. Sometimes, they even inspire us to be creative!

Check out this space-age “kitty backpack” designed by a cat-loving Chinese netizen! This might very well be how pet carriers will look like in the future!

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Epic win for live-action Attack on Titan video made by German fans【Video】

Epic win for live-action Attack on Titan video made by German fans【Video】

Live-action adaptations of your favorite anime series are sometimes painful to watch. On rare occasions, they’re actually pretty decent, even though stories with supernatural or sci-fi elements tend to be especially difficult to reproduce faithfully in real life…or so we thought until now. Before now, many people have commented that a live-action version of the insanely popular Attack on Titan (進撃の巨人) would be impossible to execute well. But a group of enthusiastic German fans have proven everyone wrong with their amazing video which runs like a movie trailer! This production has truly raised the bar for fans around the world. One more important detail: they have real horses! 

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Chinese pickpocket technique avoids fingerprints by using chopsticks【Video】

Chinese pickpocket technique avoids fingerprints by using chopsticks【Video】

Pickpockets are famous for their nimble fingers, but the drawback of that approach is that they have to actually get close enough to get their grubby fingers in your pockets. Unless, of course, the pickpockets are using chopsticks to grab the goods. Or at least they are trying to…

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Talented artist imagines what Game of Thrones would look like in feudal Japan

Talented artist imagines what Game of Thrones would look like in feudal Japan

Having learned the hard way that some TV series exist simply to keep viewers hanging for years (yes, Lost, I am looking at you), I have to admit that I gave the TV adaptation of Game of Thrones a wide berth for quite some time after it first aired. A few months and the contraction of a very nasty cold later, I found myself in bed with a heap of medication, a DVD box-set and little else to do. By the time I was back on my feet, I was a huge fan of the series (and may have run “Game of Thrones blonde girl” through Google a couple of times) and swallowed, along with the last of the medicine, my usual stubborn pride by telling friends that I was ready to join in their nerdy conversations and even read the books that they had all finished with years ago.

Little did I know, though, that the TV show could be made all the more awesome by recreating some of its more memorable scenes in the style of Japanese ukiyo-e woodblock prints, with all of my favourite characters looking like they reside in feudal Japan rather than Westeros.

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Pokemon radish discovered in Japan, just as cute as the original

Pokemon radish discovered in Japan, just as cute as the original

Daikon radishes have been really stepping up their game lately and upping the cuteness to a solid 11. First, we saw these adorable mounds of grated daikon capybaras swimming in soup. Now, a little old lady has grown a daikon that bears a striking resemblance to a Pokemon character. More on where the little guy was found and how it came to be after the break!

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Hacker group “Anonymous” takes down Japanese prefecture’s website to protest dolphin killing

Hacker group “Anonymous” takes down Japanese prefecture’s website to protest dolphin killing

International hacking group “Anonymous” has stated that it breached and shut down the official Wakayama Prefecture website earlier today as a taste of what may come should local fishermen continue to hunt dolphins. The prefecture is home to Taiji, the coastal town that shot to infamy in 2010 following an exposé in the film The Cove, which documented the mass slaughter of thousands of dolphins that takes place in the area each year.

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Lumpy laundry from diaper washing mishap? Try this parenting lifehack!

Lumpy laundry from diaper washing mishap? Try this parenting lifehack!

Mothers and fathers of the world, have you ever had a washing machine accident where your laundry ended up, well, incredibly lumpy? That lumpiness might have been caused from accidentally putting in a disposable diaper, which has superabsorbent polymers that can be great for soaking up wet messes from your kids, but can be a real pain in the wash. Recently, a Japanese twitter user put out a very handy lifehack for parents out there. Click below to find out this nifty little trick to get your laundry back to normal!

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“I think I love you…”: Romantic confessions from around the world

“I think I love you…”: Romantic confessions from around the world

Declaring your love, or even just your like, for a boy or a girl in Japan can be a pretty big deal. While we don’t think most people’s stories are quite as dramatic as in anime, with characters struggling for seasons just to admit their fond feelings for another, it’s certainly true that many Japanese people are pretty shy about asking each other out.

While it’s kind of cute and kind of frustrating if you’re used to a more forward culture, is it really that different from other countries?

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Go, Super Alloy Kitty! Hello Kitty takes robot form and stars in original animated video

Go, Super Alloy Kitty! Hello Kitty takes robot form and stars in original animated video

You may be aware from our past articles that Hello Kitty has a very special year ahead of her with her 40th birthday coming up on November 1. Well, it so happens that Japanese toy maker Bandai’s popular chogokin (super alloy) series of mecha and robot toys is also turning forty this year, and never one to miss an exciting business opportunity, Ms. Kitty has joined forces with Bandai to celebrate both their anniversaries the way she knows best — with a collaboration, of course! This time, she’s turned herself into robot action hero, Super Alloy Kitty, and she’s even come out with a super-cool, short animated video to promote the collaboration!

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In Japan, capybaras not only bathe in hot springs, they swim in your soup

In Japan, capybaras not only bathe in hot springs, they swim in your soup

We’re sure most of you have already seen photos of the little capybaras bathing in their own private onsen hot spring at the Izu Shaboten Park in Shizuoka, Japan. Now with a little creative food play, you can put your very own capybara in hot water…and eat them too. But what are they made out of?

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Fresh-faced teen idol Hatsume captures Japanese netizens’ hearts

Fresh-faced teen idol Hatsume captures Japanese netizens’ hearts

The world of idols is a fast-paced one: A performer may achieve success in a matter of months and lose it in a fraction the time. New faces appear every day, but not all of them have the impact they might have hoped for.

Hatsume Motomiya, however, doesn’t have to worry about getting catching the attention of the online masses–it seems like half of the Japanese Internet is already in love with her!

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Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

Japanese experts and expats react to parenting norms from around the world

I was on the subway one morning during one of my very first trips to Tokyo when I spotted two unaccompanied elementary school-age girls riding through downtown together. How could two kids who weren’t old enough to drink even a sip of coffee without freaking out be traversing the country’s densest urban center all by themselves?

In Japan, though, very young kids commuting to school without any kind of adult supervision isn’t anything unusual, and as such no one paid the two unaccompanied tykes any mind.

Likewise, sometimes things that seem like the most natural way of raising kids to parents overseas might seem totally bizarre to Japanese adults, as this collection of reactions to parenting around the world by Japanese experts and expats shows.

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Shinjo City shares its love with anti-smoking poster

Shinjo City shares its love with anti-smoking poster

Although, Japan is still something of a smoker’s paradise compared to other developed countries, there are signs that times are a’changing with an increase in prices and no-smoking areas sprouting up across the land.

Anti-smoking groups often use dramatic stories and images to try and frighten or disgust people out of smoking tobacco. However, one simple poster hanging in a smoking section in Shinjo City, Yamagata Prefecture sends a chilling message of love to all their nicotine addicts.

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How cute does a girl have to be before she’s forgiven for using a stolen iPhone? This cute

How cute does a girl have to be before she’s forgiven for using a stolen iPhone? This cute

Not so long ago, if you were travelling overseas and someone swiped your bag or camera, you pretty much had until you left the country to crack the caper. Unless you happened to be carrying a cargo of priceless gems in your tote bag, the local authorities weren’t going to coordinate an international search and recovery operation with you once you’re back in your home country.

Things are different now, when so many of the gadgets we take with us on vacation are linked to cloud storage services and social media accounts. Such was the case of one Japanese traveler who goes by the Twitter screen name Matsumoto Hiroki. Matsumoto, who lost his iPhone on a trip to Bangkok, was able to track down the person using it through iCloud, which is when his story got really interesting.

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