See this tanuki? Aren’t his balls cute? Welcome to Japan, where raccoon-dog genitals are universally admired.
14 Japanese volunteers tell us about moments in their lives that seemed to come straight out of an anime.
Growing up with brothers and sisters can be bad enough sometimes, but what if “playing nice” meant having to tie the knot? If you’re a twin in Thailand, it could happen!
What would be the ultimate luxury in personal service for a highborn aristocrat? Someone to draw your bath? Peel your grapes? Fan you with palm fronds? How about a servant whose job it is to take the blame for your farts.
Hello Kitty goes blue collar for her latest job in downtown Tokyo.
After these passengers got stranded, they walked the rest of the way in such a precise line they practically became a train themselves.
Despite Japan’s relative safety, abundance of delicious food, fascinating culture, and friendly people, the country still lags behind as a tourist destination for foreign travellers. So the upcoming 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games are the perfect opportunity for Japan to show off its famed omotenashi hospitality to the droves of foreign visitors who’ll be pouring into Tokyo to spectate.
As foreigners who’ve been living in Japan for a while, we think we might have some pretty good ideas about certain things Japan could do in order to make things a little easier on this influx of foreign guests…
Earlier this month, we looked at a collection of photos taken by the late Kusakabe Kimbei that showed the cityscapes of Japan as they looked in the late 1800s, right before the country’s rapid modernization. But Kimbei didn’t just photograph Japan, he also photographed the Japanese, so today we’re taking another trip back in time, but with a more personal touch, with dozens of photographs that show what daily life was like for the people of Japan generations ago.
In the past few months the Japanese word mottainai, which conveys a sense of regret over waste, has begun to spread into the Western world. While Japan is ahead of the game in terms of conservation in many ways, the concept of mottainai can be seen most clearly in every bowl of rice. YouTube vlogger Kanadajin3 shares how in her vlog, “Gaijin Tip #16- Eat all your rice in Japan,” explaining Japan’s cultural relationship with rice.
Transplanting yourself into another country can help you learn the language, but it doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll absorb every bit of the culture. This image is a perfect example of that: Your understanding will depend entirely on how familiar you are with Japanese culture and history. So, we’ve broken this package down into five degrees of cultural awareness! And don’t feel bad if you don’t “get it,” because quite a few Japanese people were lost as well.
Take a trip back to 1800s Japan with this collection of breathtaking photographs.
Most schools expect their students to attend classes punctually and students are commonly penalized when they fail to do so. At a certain school in China, a teacher used to punish his students by making them write English sentences when they were late for class, until he came across the “most complicated” Chinese character, which now has become an effective measure in keeping his students on the ball where punctuality is concerned.
If you’ve ever faced such a punishment and felt that writing “I will not be late for class again” over and over again was a dreadful experience, try writing this!
Any expat, exchange student, or anybody who has otherwise spent a long period of time abroad will tell you that, while the local food is exciting and fun and delicious for a while, eventually you’ll start to experience intense urges for the comfort foods and products of your native land. For some, these urges may be occasional, mild pangs, but for many, the urges are so strong they can’t resist stocking up on boxes and boxes full of their favorite items from home every time they head back.
Recently, a Japanese female expat who has been living in America for years introduced our sister site to the top 10 items that she likes to stock up on when she visits Japan:
If you thought having to send a couple of Christmas cards to close friends and far-flung cousins during the holidays was annoying, wait til you get a load of the nengajo (New Year’s card) tradition here in Japan. Not only is one obligated to send nengajo to family and friends, but you’re also obligated to send them to co-workers, bosses, anyone who regularly provides you a service, anyone whom you regularly provide a service to, your landlord, your mother’s landlord, Crazy Uncle Jeb over at the asylum, the stray cats in your neighborhood, and your mortal enemy (just to let him know you’ve got your eyes on him).
In fact, you’ve gotta send these things to so many people, it’s not uncommon to drop by the Japan Post near you and see people purchasing stacks of hundreds of these things. And unless, like me, you avoid any and all human contact, you’ll probably also come home one winter day to find your mailbox stuffed to the brim with the things. So, given their ubiquity, it’s no surprise that Japan Post (who prints and distributes loads of nengajo every year through both their yubin-nenga.jp website and physical post office locations), occasionally tries to mix it up with some very nontraditional designs.
This year, bizarrely, the running theme seems to be… moe. As in those super-cute anime girls and dreamy, slightly effeminate anime guys who are all the rage in Japan.
A while back, we had some fun talking about five of the more noteworthy types of foreigners you’ll meet in Japan, based upon observations drawn from our time spent working and living here in the Land of the Rising Sun. Whether you’re a Plastic Sensei, Hateimus Japanicus, Secret Ninja, Bubble Dweller or Kid in a Candy Store (or indeed, all of these at different times), we reckon there’s probably quite a lot foreign residents can find to nod their heads at when considering each of those five extreme types.
But what about the flip side of the coin? Spend enough time as a foreigner in a country like Japan—a place that’s 98.5% ethnically Japanese—and you’ll be sure to notice that Japanese people will approach you, the foreigner, in a number of different ways. Today we’d like to share our thoughts on six kinds of Japanese people foreigners might meet during their time in Japan. See how many of them you’ve come across during your time traveling or living in the country!
Since even before the phenomenally popular documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi put the idea up on the big screen, there’s been a belief in Japan that it takes a long, long time to become a skilled sushi chef. As a matter of fact, properly preparing slices of raw fish atop morsels of vinegared rice has traditionally been considered such a complex skill that when conveyor belt sushi restaurants and other low-price opportunities to enjoy the dish first appeared in Japan, they were scoffed at by gourmands as “not real sushi.”
But are attitudes changing? Kaitenzushi restaurants, as revolving sushi joints are called in Japanese, are more popular than ever. What’s more, some people are no longer convinced that it’s as difficult to make sushi as the old masters say, including one of Japan’s most famous entrepreneurs, who’s been calling the whole idea that preparing good sushi requires several years of training a scam.
Any proper itinerary for a trip across Japan should include stops in its three most famous Shinto shrines: Hiroshima’s Itsukushima Shrine, Kyoto’s Heian Shrine, and the Meiji Shrine in Tokyo. Those, however, are just the tip of Japan’s iceberg of breathtaking sacred Shinto spots.
Even if you’ve got no pressing interest in Japan’s indigenous religion, its shrines are often sites of breathtaking natural and architectural beauty, and here are four that, while off the beaten path, are not to be missed.
Japan is a country that really values tradition, but that doesn’t mean that traditional culture is completely sacrosanct either. Giving something old and iconic a tongue-in-cheek modern twist is a popular approach in art and commerce, with results at once familiar and jarring enough to be eye catching.
Like these daruma, spotted at Tokyo Design Week, with outrageous paint jobs and wearing some rather tasty-looking headgear.
The fujoshi (“rotten girl”) subculture is well-established in Japan with its sizable population of girls and women who enjoy the past time of homoerotic fan art. Its members are often a contentious presence on the internet for their particular passion of sometimes corrupting young men’s adolescent heroes into love interests. Don’t get me wrong, that’s not to say Goku and Vegeta cuddling and making out itself isn’t right. It’s just not right for them.
Depending on your own parenting aims you may want to steer your young girl away from drawing pictures of unrealistically well-groomed samurai lying naked beneath the sheets together, or you may find it a relatively harmless pastime compared to something like airplane glue sniffing and thus want to encourage fujoshi tendencies in your young one.
Either way, one Twitter user claims to have unlocked the environmental conditions (seven in total) that make a young girl go fujoshi and presented it for peer evaluation on Twitter. But do they hold up to the scrutiny?
As we’ve seen, Japan is really psyched about Halloween. The holiday has been steadily growing in popularity for the last decade, and with October 31 falling on a Saturday in 2015, this year’s celebration is likely to be Japan’s liveliest Halloween ever.
But how did Halloween become Japan’s second favorite foreign holiday, right after Christmas? And also, is Japan staying true to the spirit of the holiday, or is forcefully pressing it into its own domestic mold, as the country is wont to do with cultural imports?