culture

Fear of failure could be behind the extremely low happiness rate among Japanese men

Recently the world got a look at the busy world of salarymen in Japan via a viral video, but there were also some slight reassurances that these company men didn’t necessarily hate their lives. We may have been a bit too optimistic, however, because a study done last year found that less than 30 percent of Japanese man can confidently say, “I am happy.” Well… that’s some statistic.

What’s behind the unhappiness factor among Japanese men? Bad marriages, work problems, convenience store diets? Accomplished Japanese author Reiko Yuyama gives her two yen on the root of the problem.

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Meet Pyuri-tan, the new manga heroine who’s the literal embodiment of Puritan Christianity

For centuries, Christianity has had a role in the creation of some of the finest works of art. Any comprehensive discussion of art history has to include Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper, Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam, and a host of other important paintings and sculptures from artists who don’t share their names with one of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.

Speaking of comics, there’s a new manga that’s just started in Japan. Looking at its earnest, wholesome heroine, you might get the impression that it’s like any of a hundred other series the country has produced, but this manga lead has something that makes her unique: she’s the literal embodiment of Puritan Christianity.

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Modern take on Japanese fan dance has naked men, international appeal

Ah, the Japanese fan dance. In popular culture, its staid connections to Noh and Kabuki theater are put aside in favor of something more risque. Usually it’s a coy geisha slowly using her fans to seductively cover and reveal her face and body. But just as more businesses are capitalizing on male sex appeal these days, the modern Japanese fan dance has a hot, sweaty man version too.

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Six ways to spot someone who just moved to Tokyo

Spring is the start of both the school year and the business years in Japan. That means that right about now thousands of newcomers are pouring into Tokyo, as they move to the capital to start college or their professional careers.

But the hustle and bustle of Tokyo is on a scale unlike any other town in the nation. Even people who’ve grown up in Japan sometimes stick out like a sore thumb when they first move to the capital, as illustrated in this six-point guide to spotting someone who just moved to Tokyo.

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Stunning video of Tokyo shows the charm of how it mixes the traditional with the modern

As if you need more reasons to love Japan, 100 Tokyo, an online “curated cultural guide,” recently supported a beautiful video that highlights the perfect blend of traditional culture and modern technology of Tokyo, which makes it one of the most unique and charming big cities out there.

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Feeling the generational gap recently? The top 20 things that Japanese youth are distanced from

Have you ever felt worlds apart from the generations above you? 

The topic of Japanese youth distancing themselves (purposely or not) from “things of the past” is something that pops up every now and again on Japanese variety shows. Most recently, an online research group also decided to tackle the topic, asking 500 people what they felt like young people are becoming more and more separated from in today’s world.

Today, we present the top 20 replies for “Things that Japanese youth are distanced from.”

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Haruki Murakami answers the question, “What is the meaning of life?”

For the last few months, internationally celebrated writer Haruki Murakami has been fielding questions about, well, just about anything on his personal website. A lot of the inquiries sent his way are, predictably, about the creative writing process, but Murakami has also shown an amicable willingness to chat about such myriad subjects as romance, cats, baseball, and donuts.

From the beginning, though, Murakami said he’d only be keeping the question and answer portion of the site running until the end of March. With the project winding down, one fan decided to write in with a fittingly comprehensive query: What’s the meaning of life?

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Top 10 things Japanese people do that puzzle us (but we still want to hang out together)

“Wow you can use chopsticks?” “Your Japanese is really good!” “Geez, you’ve put on weight recently.” “It’s only 8:00 p.m., why are you going home?

Anyone who’s been to Japan before has probably been bombarded by something similar to the above. Every country is going to have different cultural norms, but we decided to blow cultural sensitivity out of the water and just go ahead and list the top 10 things Japanese people do that puzzle us (but for some reason don’t stop us from thinking they’re still awesome to be around).

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Cup of noodles for vegans! Japanese Zen Buddhist temple starts selling instant soba and udon

Upon coming to Japan, a lot of people are surprised to discover just how difficult finding vegetarian food can be. Many people imagine Japan as a country that eats very little meat, and while that’s definitely true in comparison to North America and western Europe, the flipside is that you’ll find at least a little bit of meat in just about all dishes, including salads and vegetable stews with surprising frequency.

Things get trickier still if you’re trying to stick to a vegan diet. Even something as simple as noodles are generally out, since almost all broths are made with meat or fish stock. But if you’ve got an aversion to meat coupled with a craving for soba or udon, you’re in luck, with two new types of vegan instant noodles produced by a Zen Buddhist temple.

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i-katana? Apple designer collaborates with traditional craftsmen to create Japanese sword set

Marc Newson’s versatile talents have led the industrial designer to work in a number of fields. While he first garnered critical acclaim for longue chairs and other pieces of furniture, the Australian native has also created watches, shoes, and cameras.

Since 2014, Newson has been providing his services to Apple, being involved with the design of the iPhone 6. For his latest project, though, he’s shifting from the cutting edge of consumer electronics to the cutting edge of bladed weaponry, as Newson is part of a collaborative team producing a set of traditional Japanese swords.

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Our Japanese reporter shares three interesting revelations he had after studying Korean

Hello, everyone! I’m a Japanese man who’s been studying Korean for three years now. I’ve been doing a language exchange with a South Korean study abroad student in Tokyo’s Shin-Okubo “Koreatown” district, learning about both the Korean language and culture.

During the past few years, I’ve discovered several points of interest regarding Japan and Korea. Today, I’d like to share with you three things that surprised me as a Japanese person studying Korean.

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Japanese men share the top 10 ways their weekends disappear

Monday: You drag your aching, sluggish body into work and begin the long countdown to the weekend. Tuesday: Is it really only Tuesday? This week is going to take forever. Wednesday: Halfway there! Thursday: Start making plans, we’re close. Friday: It’s finally here! The clock strikes six, and you grab your things and leg it out of there. What will you do first? The possibilities are endless!

Then Saturday rolls around and… suddenly it’s Monday again. Where did the weekend go?

It seems like more than a few adults are wondering the same thing, as revealed in a recent poll which asked 200 Japanese working males in their 20s and 30s the following question: “What are the top 10 things that leave you feeling you’ve wasted your days off?” Number five might just be too perfect for words.

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Facepalm News: Japanese Twittersphere thinks Tokyo Disneyland’s Alice might be a (male) imposter

The Japanese Internet thinks there’s something strange in Wonderland these days, if a handful of photos doing the rounds on Twitter are any indication.

A Disneyland enthusiast – of which there are a great many in Japan – recently uploaded several close-up photos of Alice in Wonderland‘s Alice standing atop a parade float with the open question, “Am I the only one who thinks Alice might be a man?”

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Japanese Netizens (and the rest of the world) confused by America’s imperial measurement system

Last year, one of our Japanese reporters went on an extended visit to the United States. While he had plenty of nice things to say about the country, he also had some complaints, and, as an American myself, I can’t really say that I blame the guy. Having to drive literally everywhere unless you live in one of maybe three specific cities is a major hassle and a huge drain on your budget, certain services seem staffed entirely by people who are barely even aware of your existence or what’s going on more than a few inches on either side of their smartphone, and yes, the police are a little on the brutal side and drunk on their own power a lot of the time no matter how you slice it (annnnnd… now I’m on an NSA watchlist. Hi, guys!).

But, there’s one complaint our reporter had that I just can’t relate to: how crazy America’s systems of measurement are.

I mean, I grew up with feet, inches, pounds and whatnot, so I can’t really speak to our reporter’s profound confusion. Is it really so bad? We had to find out, so we donned our troll-proof vests and dove deep into the smelly, dark recesses of 2chan to see what other Japanese Netizens thought of America’s wacky measurement systems:

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Experience Japanese culture in a new way, inside a glass teahouse at an ancient temple

Imagine yourself nearly floating in the sky, surrounded by green trees and fluffy clouds. Now you sip some green tea and feel completely at peace. Does this sound too good to be true? It isn’t, because now you can actually experience this in Kyoto.

At the Blue Dragon Hall of Shorenin Temple, artist Tokujin Yoshioka has designed a clear glass teahouse sitting amongst the trees of Higashiyama, one of the city’s famous mountains.

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Survey asks Japanese people where they’d most like to “live” after death

Whenever people ask me what I want to happen after I die, I always tell them I want a Super Mario-themed funeral where, at the end of the ceremony, the Mario death music plays and my casket is launched a few feet up in the air, then allowed fall down into the earth. I’ve always thought that would be a pretty cool way for friends and family to send me off, but the actual location of the funeral – or even really what happened to my body afterwards – has never been all that important to me.

Westerners have surprisingly little ritual when it comes to death. There’s usually a wake or a funeral, and then, if you’re lucky, every couple of years Solid Snake comes by to stand in front of your grave, look grim and deliver a two-hour monologue about the horrors of war. The Japanese, on the other hand, make a point to visit and pay respects to the dead every year through somewhat ritualized ohakamairi, so the location of your grave is an important thing to consider.

So important, apparently, that specialty online grave retailer Ohakamagokorokakaku (“ohakamago”) is considering offering a service to move the graves of loved ones, and recently conducted a survey among Japanese people asking: “Where would you most like to ‘live’ after death?”

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Japanese “History Geek Girls” snapping up copies of mega-popular book about Japanese swords

I think we can all agree that it doesn’t take much to convince people that Japanese swords are all-around pretty cool. The sweet, curved blade of the katana just has a natural artistic beauty, plus we hear they’re pretty good at slicing fruit.

But apparently Japanese teen and 20-something boys these days just aren’t that into it. Girls, on the other hand, seem to be driving a renewed interest in the historical weapons, if sales of a new series of books are any indication.

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Seven things we’ve learned from Haruki Murakami’s quirky “ask me anything” project

Back in January, author Haruki Murakami launched his very own agony uncle website, inviting questions from readers on a range of topics from relationship advice to questions about cats to his favourite baseball team, the Yakult Swallows.

In just two weeks, the website Murakami-san no Tokoro (“Mr. Murakami’s Place”) received over 30,000 questions from readers keen to hear the celebrated author’s answers to their burning questions. And since the end of January, Murakami has been diligently answering those questions, sometimes replying to more than 30 queries a day.

As the project draws to a close, we look back on what we’ve learned from Murakami’s musings, from pragmatic advice to a would-be writer to the author’s thoughts on the afterlife, gay marriage, and anthropomorphic fantasies.

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Seven facts about Japanese chopsticks to help you win friends and influence people

We’ve been seeing a lot of articles recently about how to use Japanese chopsticks correctly. For those of us who grew up using forks and knives, it may seem a bit silly to obsess over holding two sticks at the correct angles. If you plan on visiting, living in, or especially working in Japan at some point, though, it may be a good idea to get out a protractor and practice those angles to save yourself a lot of embarrassing moments with friends and coworkers later.

To help you out, we here at RocketNews24 have compiled seven facts about chopsticks to help you along in your quest for perfect Japanese table manners. Even if you’re a seasoned chopstick expert, you may learn a thing or two from our advanced-level tips.

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Skills of the fastest mochi-pounding pros in all of Japan leave us dumbfounded 【Video】

The making of mochi, traditional Japanese rice cakes, is a traditional activity for many Japanese families around the time of the New Year’s holiday. The term for this important ritual in Japanese is mochitsuki (餅つき), which quite simply means “mochi pounding.”

While there are dozens of mochi specialty shops scattered throughout Japan, one particular shop specializing in yomogimochi (mochi mixed with mugwort, giving it a distinctive green color) in Nara Prefecture boasts much more than delicious sweets–its second claim to fame is that it employs the fastest mochitsuki champions in all of the country!

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