culture

Japanese netizens approve of Japan Railway’s cool yosakoi dance troupe 【Video】

If you’ve ever visited Japan, surely you’ve ridden on at least one of the many Japan Railway (JR) train lines, where you probably noticed the serious and stoic faces of the company’s conductors and staff. So it might be hard to imagine that JR Kyushu has it’s own very energetic, award-winning yosakoi dance oendan, or cheering squad, that frequently competes in some of the biggest yosakoi traditional dance festivals around the country.

This past weekend the JR Kyushu Oentai performed and won the top prize at the Sapporo YOSAKOI Soran Festival in Hokkaido (Japan’s northern-most island), and as soon as footage and pictures of their performance hit the internet, Japanese netizens were abuzz about just how cool the group looked.

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

Just in time for the peak summer travel season, website TripAdvisor has released its annual list of the highest-rated spots in Japan from its foreign users. With 30 amazing locations on the list, you’ll want to start your journey as soon as possible if your goal is to see them all, so let’s dive right in and take a look at this year’s picks.

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We find out if one trending phrase can make people from Osaka flip out

Recently a certain greeting has become popular over Twitter in Japan. According to internet legend these two sentences will cause someone from Osaka to “punch you in the face.”

It sounded like an outrageous claim and yet people seem to be latching onto it. The story goes that by approaching someone from Osaka with “Heee, Kimitte Osaka Hito nanda. Yoroshikudenganamangana” will cause them to lose their minds with rage.

Has this Twitter user stumbled upon an exposed nerve in the fabric of Japanese society, or is this just another drop in the bucket of specious internet claims? We conducted a small experiment to find out.

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10 Japanese quirks we could live without

As much as we at RocketNews24 love living in Japan, and have learned many life lessons here, we can’t deny that there are some things about the country that simply drive us crazy! It turns out some of these points are universally dreaded by foreigners living here–little quirky things that we just can’t really get used to no matter how long we’ve been in the country.

These are not things that are any big deal overall, but if you’re already having a “bad Japan day” where nothing is really going right, or you’re missing your family, food and cat back home, then encountering  just one of these things can be enough to push you over the edge.

After pooling some common quirky Japanese things we “love to hate,” now allow us to get a few of these things off our hairy chests!

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Me want Great Wave: Cookie Monster takes his cookies to 1830s Hokusai ukiyoe woodblock painting

The Great Wave off Kanagawa by legendary ukiyoe artist Hokusai is well-known around the world as one of Japan’s most iconic pieces of artwork. Featuring Mt Fuji in the distance, a smattering of ocean spray and a mammoth breaking wave, this is a scene that’s been admired by millions for well over a century.

And where there’s an audience, there’ll also be a star trying to steal the spotlight. Providing poof to the theory, we present you with Sesame Street’s Cookie Monster, who’s taken his favourite baked goods back in time, all the while singing, “Sea is for cookie, that’s good enough for me ♫ Cookie, cookie, cookie starts with sea”.

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Taiwanese schoolgirl uniforms getting insanely cute, we suspect anime, AKB48 influences

Apparently, there’s some sort of AKB48 contest happening right now in Japan. We think it’s to select the next round of girls to replace those who’ve “graduated” this year (read: become of legal drinking age or maybe those who refused to swallow a bug on television).

We’re not entirely sure what the “AKB48 Single General Election” actually entails, but the writers at our Japanese sister site got around to thinking about how schoolgirls in other Asian territories dress and turned their eyes to Taiwan, where they were surprised at just how cute the schoolgirl uniforms in the “All-Taiwan High School Girl Elections” – apparently also happening recently – have become this year.

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Century-old cosplay photo exists for a reason as bizarre as its dog vs. monkey sumo match

With the rise of otaku culture Japan is in its golden age of anime events, which means that cosplay is bigger than ever. But it turns out that even before there were Internet forums, prop suppliers, and even dedicated themed cosplay photo studio complexes, people in Japan were dressing up in fantasy costumes and posing for the camera.

As a matter of fact, this photo from more than a century ago shows that the roots of cosplay predate Japanese animation itself. But with no anime conventions or social media outlets through which to show off their outfits, why did this group bother? Suffice to say the reason for this photo shoot is about as unexpected as the costumed scene itself: a giant monkey about to sumo wrestle a biped dog.

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Just when you thought you knew it all – 17 life-changing lessons learned in Japan

When you first set foot in Japan, it’s hard not to be impressed by the efficiency and social order. The streets are clean, trains run on time, and the people are quiet and polite, yet possess enough of the bizarre to be intriguing (cosplay, line-ups for chicken ramen-flavored ice cream or Lotteria 5-pattied tower burger anyone?).

Living in Japan, or even just visiting, can be a life-changing experience. No one returns to their country the same person as when they left. Here are some of the things that make such an impression on foreigners, they cause us to think a second time, and alter the way we think, act, or view the world. In short, they prompt us to make life changes. Just when you thought you knew it all…

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“Don’t touch my moustache!” Japanese that sounds like English but isn’t, and vice versa!

When you start learning another language, like, say, Japanese, it’s common to come across certain words that sound like English words, but aren’t. For example, the Japanese word “hai” which means yes, sounds a lot like the greeting “hi” in English. Another example might be that “ohayou” meaning good morning sounds a lot like the US state of Ohio.

But, naturally, this goes both ways. There are also plenty of examples of Japanese speakers finding “Japanese” meaning in English words that a native English speaker would never think of…

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Maiko beauty secrets: Skincare tips from Japan’s apprentice geisha

Just as with full-fledged geisha, it’s customary for maiko, as geisha apprentices are known, to wear a layer of white face powder, called oshiroi. But those who’ve seen one of Japan’s traditional entertainers close up often marvel at their smooth, healthy skin, remarking that they would be just as beautiful with all of those cosmetic coverings washed away.

But in much the same way that their polished speech and refined mannerisms are the result of years of training, maiko also have a careful routine they follow to keep their skin looking as delicate and pleasing to the eye as it does.

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Sayonara, sushi: 21 little things that people miss after leaving Japan

As a reader of RocketNews24, chances are you already have a pretty big soft spot for Japan. You may even already be living in the Land of the Rising Sun or have plans to fly out just as soon as circumstances allow.

But sometimes, even when we love a place with every fibre of our being, we just can’t stay forever. Family anxiously awaiting our return; work commitments; financial constraints and more mean that, at some point or other, many of us have to wave goodbye to Japan and return to our respective homelands.

Some of the things people miss about Japan will be immediately obvious, but others tend to sink in only a few weeks or months after returning home. Today, we’re taking a look at 21 of the little things, in no particular order, that Japan does so uniquely or so incredibly well that foreigners really start to pine for them once they finally say sayonara and head home.

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The Steeds of the Gods: The Shinto horses that no mortal may ride

Somewhere around the 500th step on the long approach to Kompira-san shrine in Kagawa Prefecture, you’ll find a small stable housing two special horses. They are pretty as a picture, but don’t get any ideas about hopping on for a ride, feeding them a little carrot, or even giving them a friendly pat.

These thoroughbreds are shinme, the steeds of the gods, and they are not for mere mortals like us.

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Run for the hills! “Breakup Prevention Kits” complete with condom hole-pokers on sale in Japan

Hey, guys! So… sex! Pretty great, right? Feels good. Increases feelings of closeness and intimacy with your partner. Relieves stress. Probably lengthens your lifespan, too, unless you’re into something super kinky. Yup, intercourse is one of the few enjoyable miracles of being alive that we get to experience in this dark, lonely existence as inconsequential pinpricks amidst a vast and uncaring cosmos.

Too bad I’ll never be doing it again. Not now that I’ve learned this Japanese “Breakup Prevention Kit,” complete with discreet condom hole-poker, exists anyway.

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“Pop” daruma dolls so popular you’ll have to wait three years to get one

Daruma are a kind of roly-poly wishing doll in Japanese Buddhism. You draw one eye in while making a wish, and then fill in the other when your wish comes true. Given their sweet purpose and blob-like shape, traditional daruma are already pretty charming, but a woodcarving shop in Kagawa Prefecture has found a pop makeover makes them even more attractive, so much so that there is a 3-year waiting list to get one!

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Combine your love of Godzilla, ukiyo-e and fashion with these fresh kicks from TeeFury

Recently, we brought you the news that you can now view an online animated sketchbook version of works by famous Japanese Ukiyo-e artist Hokusai. But what if you’re not content just looking at beautiful art online? What if you could see it every time you look down at your feet? Well, with these awesome printed sneakers from TeeFury.com, you can get some culture into your wardrobe while still looking cool!

Oh, and as an added bonus, they’ve stuck Godzilla’s ugly monster mush into the design, too!

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The most crowded place in Tokyo? Might be the Kanda Matsuri festival, but it’s still awesome

Even in a city as packed with people as Tokyo, some places, and times, are more crowded than others. So when and where can you find the largest, densest mass of humanity? Some would say the Yamanote loop line during the morning rush hour. Others would vote for Shibuya’s scramble crosswalk intersection on a Saturday night.

But before you go awarding the crown to either of those two candidates, take a look at the massive crowds that came out for the Kanda Matsuri festival last weekend.

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Japanese farming simulator rewards players with actual crops delivered to their door

Remember back in the day when all of your older relatives and the kids you knew from school but never speak to any more would send you invites to play Farmville? Remember how seeing a new notification on your Facebook toolbar that just turned out to be yet another invitation to play f’$%ng Farmville would fill you with impotent rage?

Well think about how different your reaction might have been if your “friends” hadn’t been backhandedly asking you to help them raise their not-actually-existent virtual ducks and cabbages, but were in fact asking you to help them put real, actual food in their mouths.

One Japanese startup, Telefarm, is hoping that the future is online games that reward players for good performance with actual products delivered to their door. And they’ve been running a farming simulator prototype for a little over a year now to test that model’s feasibility.

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For chivalry, Japanese man tells female store clerk “I aint got nothing to say to you!”

Japan has a reputation for outstanding customer service, and as such you’ll usually find courtesy and pleasantness on both sides of retail transactions. As polite as clerks are, most shoppers are just as respectful towards the hard-working individuals who’re ringing their purchases up.

Still, not every customer is a joy to deal with, and one young women working at a convenience store thought she was encountering an extremely rude male customer who refused to be served by her. As it turns out, though, the man she’d mistaken for a chauvinist was simply following his own particular code of chivalry.

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Stirring animated version of Hokusai paintings is like watching anime from the Edo period 【Video】

If there’s one Japanese artist just about everyone is familiar with, it’s Hokusai. Even if they don’t know the late Edo-period painter by name, his landscape series Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji is instantly recognizable, with The Great Wave off Kanagawa and South Wind, Clear Sky, better known as Red Fuji, perhaps the most famous works in all of Japanese painting.

Hokusai passed away in 1849, meaning he never got the chance to work in the mediums of motion pictures. Had he been born a bit later though, and had the desire to move into animation, perhaps the result would have looked a little something like this video.

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Japan celebrates Children’s Day by flying beautiful carp streamers 【Photos】

While people in Japan put up decorations to celebrate different holidays, most of them are placed inside the home, such as the dolls for Girls’ Day/Hina Matsuri in March or the vegetables displayed during Obon in the summer. Out in public, though, though, you’d be hard-pressed to tell one Japanese holiday from another, with the exception of Children’s Day/Kodomo no Hi on May 5.

That’s because when Children’s Day rolls around, all you have to do is look up at all of the beautifully awesome carp streamers flying overhead,

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