culture

Seriously a lot of people want to marry this Paraguay soccer supporter

Seriously a lot of people want to marry this Paraguay soccer supporter

You know you’re pretty famous when you have your own Wikipedia page. Sure, some people just take the shortcut of writing their own Wiki and acting like they’re a big deal (I’m looking at you, weird Dungeons and Dragons extra with suspiciously specific and in-depth Wikipedia entry), but when other people write a page all about you of their own accord, you kind of know you’re a big deal.

That’s what happened with Paraguayan model and actress Larissa Riquelme when, in 2010, a photographer caught her celebrating a Paraguay team goal at the 2010 South Africa World Cup and the globe collectively paused, sucked in their breath, and shifted awkwardly in their chairs.

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Cheaters beware – 30 percent of Japanese women have checked their boyfriend’s cell phone

Cheaters beware – 30 percent of Japanese women have checked their boyfriend’s cell phone

What are the requirements of a happy romantic relationship? A set of shared values is important if you’re looking for anything more substantial than a fun fling. On the other end of the scale, common interests are good to have too, for those lighter dates when you and your partner want to do something other than discuss your life philosophies.

Many people would say the most critical element, though, is trust. After all, no matter how attracted you might be to a person, without the ability to trust one another, your collective jealousy and insecurity will eventually poison any potential you have to be happy together. Of course, building that trust can be a long, difficult, and sometimes scary process, but it’s something you eventually have to do, right?

Not if you’re one of the roughly 30 percent of Japanese women who’ve secretly checked the messages on their boyfriends’ cell phones.

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30 common characteristics of people who fall in love with Japan

30 common characteristics of people who fall in love with Japan

Chances are since you’re visiting our site, you probably already have an interest in Japan or other Asian countries. But have you ever had a friend who knows next to nothing about Japan, but you just have a feeling that they would come to love the island country given the right incentive?

If so, you may recognize some characteristic qualities of that friend in the following list written by Japanese blogger and all-around-life expert Madame Riri. This time, she’s come up with some common traits of foreigners who grow to love Japan based on her own observations from time spent abroad. 

Do you find yourself conforming to any of the following patterns?

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Ultra-enthusiastic Japanese Family Mart employee is the height of customer service

Ultra-enthusiastic Japanese Family Mart employee is the height of customer service

Growing up in the U.S., I had always been pretty jaded with customer service. At best, I’d get a cashier thanking me for my patronage (in response to which I would sometimes awkwardly say, “You too!”), and at worst I’d have to remind the cashier s/he was on the clock just to get them to lazily punch in some numbers and ring up my diet coke.

Things are different in Japan. People in retail and customer service jobs practically fall all over themselves to help the customer – when they aren’t busy taking Twitter photos of themselves in ice boxes, anyway. But this Family Mart employee may put them all to shame; he’s got the whole ringing someone up routine down to superhuman levels, snatching cash out of customer’s hands and tossing it into the register with ease and confidence like he’s some kind of teetotalling flair bartender:

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Disney’s Japanese breakfast in Hawaii probably tastes great, still looks weird

Disney’s Japanese breakfast in Hawaii probably tastes great, still looks weird

For generations, Disneyland and Hawaii have been two of the most popular destinations for Japanese travelers, so it only makes sense that Disney’s Aulani Resort in Hawaii sees visitors from Japan as a key demographic. But while the main appeal of travel is the opportunity to experience something new, Disney realizes that not everyone rolls out of bed at their most adventurous, and so offers a Japanese breakfast for those wanting to start their day with a taste of home.

It’s a considerate service, and for the most part, the resort’s done a great job. True connoisseurs of Japanese cuisine, however, will probably spot three odd quirks to Disney’s (almost) traditional Japanese breakfast.

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Unexpected Japan suicide facts are equal parts depressing and uplifting

Unexpected Japan suicide facts are equal parts depressing and uplifting

Live in urban Japan long enough and, as shocking as it sounds, you’re eventually going to have the distinctly unpleasant experience of riding a train that hits and more than likely kills a human being.

Even if you aren’t experiencing it firsthand, walking into a Tokyo train station only to notice yet another train delay caused by what is euphemistically described as a “bodily accident” (jinshin jiko, or 人身事故) is at least a weekly occurrence. It’s enough to make you think Japan must be wrestling with one hell of a suicide problem.

Which is true. But it’s not quite as bad as the Western media would have you believe. Here are five facts about suicide in Japan that are about as uplifting as we have any right to expect from facts about suicide:

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Western media ranks the toughest women in animation, list unsurprisingly anime-heavy

Western media ranks the toughest women in animation, list unsurprisingly anime-heavy

While TV and movies seem to have a hard time grappling with the evolving role of women in society, animation has been delivering strong female leads for decades.

Sure, some of their empowering swagger is tempered with skimpy clothes and breasts so large they’re almost certain to cause major chiropractic problems, but animation has been surprisingly progressive when it comes to depicting women in comparison to film and live action television.

So it was only a matter of time before someone put together a list of the most badass female characters in animation, and it makes sense that the list is heavy on the anime; Manga and anime artists infamously have a bit of a fetish for strong female leads, after all.

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Hungry for love – 10 dishes Japanese men want their girlfriends to cook for them

Hungry for love – 10 dishes Japanese men want their girlfriends to cook for them

Men are, in many ways, simple creatures. Our two greatest desires in life are, without question, women and food.

While a tasty meal or a good-looking lass with a nice personality are both things to be thankful for on their own, it’s hard to top the bliss that comes from eating a home-cooked meal made by the girl you like. Still, just as guys have preferences in women, they’ve also got preferences in food, as revealed in a poll that asked Japanese men what dish prepared by their girlfriend makes them the happiest.

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Cute Western girl without makeup baffles, fascinates Asian Internet

Cute Western girl without makeup baffles, fascinates Asian Internet

You know you might be running out of things to be outraged about when a girl without makeup makes you lose your mind.

Recently, a ballet dancer from Denmark made waves in China when she appeared on a talent show to perform an interpretation of the classic fairy tale, The Ugly Duckling. So captivating was the girl’s beauty that apparently the cameramen filming the performance just couldn’t help but focus on her from start to finish.

The already-rapt Chinese Interweb users apparently couldn’t get enough of the girl’s beauty, which led to frantic, borderline-stalker web searches for more of her pictures. Eventually, users then stumbled across photos of her sans-makeup on her personal Instagram page and the Chinese Internet promptly exploded.

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Soccer: Made in China?

Soccer: Made in China?

It’s easy to trace the roots of American football and basketball, as they’re both comparatively recently developed sports. Things get a little more difficult with soccer, though.

While the world’s most popular sport got its first set of standardized competition rules in 1863, courtesy of England’s Football Association, the game had existed in various forms for some time before that. Several countries have since claimed to be the birthplace of soccer, but one now has the official recognition of the president of soccer’s international governing body.

According to FIFA President Sepp Blatter, soccer originated in China.

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On a small island of 570 people, 92 are named “Amano” But, why?!

On a small island of 570 people, 92 are named “Amano” But, why?!

When we think of an Asian country where many people have the same last name, Korea usually comes to mind. With just 250 surnames in use, half the Korean population bears one of three names: Kim, Lee or Park. Compare that to Japan that has over 100,000 surnames. So when we hear of a place in Japan where over 20 percent of the people share the same last name, it’s enough to pique our curiosity.

Meet the Amanos: Amano-san the ferry port manager and Amano-san the grocer; Amano-san who owns the liquor shop and Amano-san who serves curry lunches; Amano-san the plumber and Amano-san the carpenter. They’re all different people who live on the same small island and who, believe it or not, are not related.

How can this be? We bet you can’t guess why!

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Tomonoura: Where Ponyo and Wolverine crossed paths

Tomonoura: Where Ponyo and Wolverine crossed paths

With her unique mix of weird and cute, you’d be hard-pressed to find an animation fan who doesn’t recognize Ponyo, the fish-girl from legendary director Hayao Miyazaki’s 2008 film of the same name. On the other side of the Pacific, just about anyone with even a passing interest in comics at any point in the last 40 years knows who Marvel’s Wolverine is.

While one character is a symbol of innocence and whimsy, and the other of machismo and toughness, Ponyo and Wolverine’s paths have actually crossed, in a small fishing port called Tomonoura, where the mutant superhero made such an impression on the locals they named a rose after him.

And no, this isn’t fanfiction we’re talking about.

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Akihabara’s first rental nerd looking to cash in on his jobless status

Akihabara’s first rental nerd looking to cash in on his jobless status

In a lot of ways, the NEET social phenomena is something that could only happen in Japan. The term stands for “not in education, employment, or training,” and refers to those individuals who are neither earning a living nor officially doing anything to approach that basic goal in life.

In many other countries, most people would conclude that a dose of tough love, or a few swift kicks to the backside, is in order. And while that’s the strategy Gundam creator Yoshiyuki Tomino would recommend, in Japan, a large number of parents are willing to support their adult children’s NEET lifestyles for years on end.

Now, though, one man is putting a twist on the “not in education, employment, or training” label by renting out his services as a professional NEET.

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Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

Japan’s 30 best travel destinations, as chosen by overseas visitors

It’s time once again for travel website Trip Advisor’s list of the best places in Japan, as chosen by overseas visitors to the country. One of the things that makes Japan such a fascinated place to travel is its extreme mix of historical and modern attractions, both of which are represented in the top 30 which includes shrines, sharks, and super-sized robots.

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Suicides drop for second year in Japan, still leading cause of death among young adults

Suicides drop for second year in Japan, still leading cause of death among young adults

The Japanese government recently released its 2014 white paper on suicide in the nation. While the continuing downward trend in the number of people taking their own lives is encouraging, the statistics also revealed the sobering and troubling fact that suicide is the leading cause of death among Japanese aged 15 to 34.

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10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

10 things Japan does better than anywhere else, according to the international community

Advertising agency Dentsu recently released the results of its annual Japan Brand Survey, in which it asks people from around the world for their opinion on the country. This year’s study involved 3,600 men and women living in 17 different countries, whose responses were used to compile a list of 10 things they feel Japan does better than anywhere else in the world.

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Can these swimsuit clad cosplay waitresses interest you in some “Shaved Leg Hair Pasta”?

Can these swimsuit clad cosplay waitresses interest you in some “Shaved Leg Hair Pasta”?

It’s not really a secret that Japan can sometimes get a little carried away with its youth obsession. Look no further than the abundance of pre-pubescent, yet disturbingly sexualized, anime characters and girl idol bands with shockingly young “retirement” ages – around 21 in many cases – for proof.

It’s one thing to have a creepy countdown to when Hermione Granger turns 18, but it’s kind of way creepier to just lose all interest in celebrities altogether when they reach official adulthood.

Anyway, a new Japanese film called Sweet Pool Side and a limited run promotional cafe for the film may have just set a new precedent in youth-obsession creepiness. The film, according to the trailer, is lightly related to the trials and tribulations of being on the high school swim team but also focuses on a young boy’s decision of whether or not to shave the pubic hair of one of the girl’s swim team members (at her request). He then at one point appears to eat some of the girl’s body hair.

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New video shows the link between the Force and Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces

New video shows the link between the Force and Akira Kurosawa’s masterpieces

Anyone who is a serious Star Wars fan knows that George Lucas drew heavily on old Japanese Samurai movies, mainly Akira Kurosawa, when making his space opera. Even if you aren’t that into Star Wars, just from watching the movies you can see the samurai imagery screaming out at you. Just take one look at Darth Vader and his stormtroopers and you can see it. But it isn’t simply that Lucas drew his inspiration from those movies, the whole story behind it actually has a few more moving parts then that. A new video from the YouTube channel Film School’d has illustrated that connection with some pretty sweet white board art to boot!

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Takehiko Inoue helps make record-breaking sheet of Japanese Paper

Takehiko Inoue helps make record-breaking sheet of Japanese Paper

Takehiko Inoue, the creator of manga such as Slam Dunk, Vagabond and Buzzer Beater, helped craft the world’s largest sheet of washi (Japanese paper) on May 23. Working with a team of 20 other people, he produced a sheet measuring 3.3 meters x 10.7 meters (or 10’10” x 35’1”) at the Ueyama Paper Mill in Echizen, a town in Fukui Prefecture known for its washi artisans. The sheet of paper was dubbed the Heisei Choujaku Daishi, or “Long Great Paper of Heisei” (the current Japanese era).

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France vs Taiwan: Which country has more warm-hearted and helpful citizens?

France vs Taiwan: Which country has more warm-hearted and helpful citizens?

Earlier this month, YouTube user NorniTube uploaded a controversial video of a social experiment which looked at how a person’s appearance can affect the responses they get from the general public. One two different days, he pretended to collapse on a Paris street to see if anyone would come to his aid, on one occasion wearing shabby clothes, on the other dressed in a smart suit. (We’ll leave you to watch the video to find out how it went!)

After watching NorniTube’s video, YouTuber Hei Nan decided to test the reactions of his fellow Taiwanese citizens by doing a similar experiment on the streets of his city. Were the Taiwanese more or less likely to help out that the Parisians in NorniTube’s video? Find out after the jump!

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