culture

Flyer for May dōjinshi fair brings together beloved childhood anime… Tokyo, here we come!

It’s been a little over three months since the fantastic Comiket 87, which certainly didn’t fail to disappoint with everything from toilet plunger cosplay to the usual slew of dōjinshi. Yet, just as with Christmas, the end of such a big event can leave one feeling empty in the aftermath. “I have to wait until August?” you moan as you count down the months to the next Comiket.

We think the wait just got a little easier, thanks to a recent flyer advertising an upcoming dōjinshi fair. Featuring all our favorite childhood anime, including Yu Yu Hakusho, Soul Hunter, and Rurouni Kenshin, the flyer is sure to set dōjinshi fans scrambling to book tickets to Tokyo in time for the May opening.

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Five things expats wish Japan had, and why it’s sometimes a good thing it doesn’t

For the most part, Japan is a pretty great country to live in. Among a host of other positives, it’s clean and safe, with good infrastructure and reliable transportation.

Still, some people move to Japan and find that even if they like the overall package, it doesn’t quite have all the comforts of home. Today, we’re taking a look at a list compiled by blogger and internationalist Madame Riri of five things expats wish Japan had, plus adding our own explanation of why it’s sometimes a good thing that it doesn’t.

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Suntory encourages responsible drinking with bizarre guide to declining party invitations

There are two types of people that, no matter how much they love the culture, are ultimately going to have a bad time in Japan: Vegetarians, and teetotalers.

Basically every meal in Japan has some type of meat in it, and the more strict you are with your vegetarian/vegen diet, the more difficult it’s going to be to find something to eat. Even supposedly vegetarian options sometimes contain pork or chicken broth or other sneaky animal product additions. And when it comes to those who choose not to drink, or can’t because of medical conditions, it’s almost as hard to get by, if not harder.

Thankfully, Suntory is here to help. Sort of.

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Strapped for cash, 1,400-year-old Kyoto shrine leasing part of its grounds for condo development

One of the things that makes Japan such a compelling place is the country’s long cultural history. The upkeep of centuries-old buildings can be extremely expensive, however, especially since traditional Japanese architecture is mainly wood, reed, and paper, which aren’t exactly the sturdiest building materials.

As we’ve seen before, sometimes even sites of historical significance can struggle to make ends meet, and Kyoto’s famous Shimogamo Shrine is no exception. That’s why in order to raise the funds it needs, the institution, which was founded some 1,400 years ago, is planning to lease a section of its grounds for the construction of a condominium complex.

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Japanese people share their family mottos, from “Eat first, think later” to “New Year, new pants”

Kakun (家訓) literally means “family precept”, and refers to the principles that an individual Japanese family lives by.

These might consist of a list of rules for children to follow – run-of-the-mill stuff like “treat others as you would like to be treated”, “don’t tell lies”, and “respect your elders” – or, a family’s kakun might be a single defining motto that applies to all family life. Kakun might be written on parchment and framed on the wall; or it might just be a phrase your mother (or father!) yells at you when you forget to put your socks in the wash again.

Japanese site Naver Matome recently put together a collection of Japanese Twitter users’ interesting and unusual family mottos. Here’s our pick of the bunch!

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Did you know Japan actually provides some of its own supply of this surprising natural resource?

It’s no wonder that nuclear energy has kind of been dominating the news about Japan ever since the March, 2011 earthquake and nuclear disaster.

As one of Japan’s proudest domestic resources, Japan has long been an advocate for nuclear energy. Even following the 3/11 disaster, many domestic factions still push for even more nuclear energy in a country that largely imports many of its resources.

But there’s at least one more resource that Japan is capable of producing energy domestically and, in fact, it’s been doing just that for a while.

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What do Japanese women want for White Day and how much do they hope a guy spends?

With the exception of the girls at a few high schools with especially generous male student bodies, women don’t usually receive presents for Valentine’s Day in Japan. Instead, it’s the guys who get gifts, returning the favor one month later on March 14, White Day.

But while guys’ Valentine’s Day aspirations are pretty standardized (just about everyone wants homemade chocolate), the options are a little more flexible for White Day. A recent survey asked Japanese women just what they hope to receive, and how much they envision guys spending.

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Stunning montage takes viewers through Japan’s own hidden wine country: Koshu, Yamanashi

With the long Golden Week holiday only a couple of months away, many residents of Japan may well be wondering where best to use their precious vacation days. Tokyo? Kyoto? Perhaps a traditional Japanese hotel? How about Koshu City, Yamanashi Prefecture?

A new video introducing the relatively small city of Koshu might just make people reconsider their travel plans. With stunning views of Mount Fuji, world-famous vineyards, and a wealth of cultural events, Koshu is the perfect place for both escaping the bustle of big city life and getting a glimpse of traditional Japan.

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Itami-kawaii: Cute gets depressing, inspires Japanese Twitter users

Perhaps one of the first words Japanese language-learners pick up is “kawaii,” which makes sense considering how often you’ll hear it in everything from TV shows and anime to a stroll down Takeshita-dōri. However, “kawaii” isn’t just “kawaii” anymore–there’s also kimo-kawaii (“gross but cute”), among others.

And now there’s a new kawaii that’s spreading through the Japanese Twitterverse: Itami-kawaii, or “painful but cute.” It might be hard to visualize, so check out some pictures below and get ready to groan “kawaiiiiiii” in agony.

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“Wotagei” otaku dance style made “cool” with choreographed dance remix of pop song

If you’ve been reading RocketNews24 for a while – or are yourself a mega otaku – you probably already know that “Wotagei” (or sometimes “Otagei”) is a type of dance style performed almost exclusively by “Idol Otaku,” or otaku who are specifically really into girl idol bands.

It’s generally seen as a niche oddity by the Japanese public and even less-hardcore otaku, as evidenced by the fact that even I only understood about half of the above paragraph even as I typed it and I write about this stuff for a living.

But, take heart, all you idol otaku – your time in the limelight may have come, as a cool choreographed Wotagei performance is making the rounds and entrancing the Japanese Interwebs.

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The top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyo residents would like to move to

There’s a widespread belief in Japan that if you want to achieve educational or economic success, you come to Tokyo. As a matter of fact, it’s such a common move that Japanese even has a verb for it, joukyou, or to “move on up to the capital.”

But for some people, always-lively Tokyo is just too bustling. It’s not just the elderly who feel the appeal of a rustic lifestyle, either. Even some residents in their 20s find themselves wanting to move away from the constant hum of the big city, and a recent survey reveals the top 10 rural regions of Japan that Tokyoites would like to move to.

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Competitive zen garden-building board game looks awesome, despite conflicting themes

The Zen garden is probably just as important a Japanese cultural export as geisha and sumo. While Zen gardens are certainly less conspicuous than the other two – the whole point of them being to encourage relaxation and personal reflection and all – they’ve arguably had a bigger cultural impact abroad. A lot of major cities, like Chicago, feature carefully curated Zen gardens, after all, but when’s the last time you saw the local sumo club practicing in Central Park?

Westerners appreciate the more subdued, meditative qualities of “old Japan” culture, even though they wish they could find some way to appreciate it while also earning bragging rights by kicking their friends asses’ in a game of wits. That’s why we can’t wait to get our hands on this strange but awesome-looking competitive Zen garden-building board game.

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Cats in places they shouldn’t be, humans and spirits just have to deal【Photos】

If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth repeating hundreds of times over, cats own everything. It doesn’t matter what an object’s original purpose was, or who it was built for, because according to the cat, it was built for them.

It’s said that cats are also spiritual animals, that they can see spirits and beings that we humans can’t. Which is why, when you think about it, a cat moving into a shrine set up specifically for spirits, doesn’t makes a lot of sense. Because if cats can communicate with the other world, wouldn’t the two of them have a debate over who is the main tenant?

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Expats give their opinions on Chinglish, China’s garbled English translations 【Photos】

We’ve talked before about Engrish, the often humorously garbled form of English that peppers products and signage in Japan. The phenomenon isn’t unique to Japan, though, as the expat community in China also often comes across similar blunders, which the local community sometimes refers to as Chinglish.

But are these botched translations a sign of callous disrespect, or the end result of earnest effort coupled with sub-par linguistic skills? That was the question put to users of China Daily’s Internet forum, and here’s what a few had to say.

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Tokyo art museum to hold exhibition on the links between anime, video games, and Japanese society

Over the past quarter century, manga, anime, and video games have surpassed their former status as nice hobbies. Not only have all three become extremely lucrative industries, they’ve now been such integrated parts of popular youth culture for long enough to have had a significant influence on a large portion of Japan’s adult population, too.

With that in mind, one of Tokyo’s most prestigious art museums has announced an upcoming exhibition that examines the way comics, animation, and games have been affected by, and in turn have affected, Japanese society over the past 25 years.

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This 300-meter water slide is set to unfold in Japan this Golden Week

Many of you might have fond memories of summers spent cooling off on a backyard water slide (and possibly not-so-fond memories of friction burns). But surely a few daredevils were always left wondering, “Is that it?” as they landed in the splash pool. Enter Slide the City, the ultimate in childhood wish-fulfillment. The people of Japan will soon have a chance to experience the enormous water slide for themselves when it opens on Golden Week, a run of consecutive public holidays which this year begins on April 29.

As seen in the screenshot above, the slide spans at least a couple of blocks, measuring a whopping 300 meters, and makes good on its name by running through the heart of various urban locations. As such, it’s not hard to see why the July 2014 unveiling in Salt Lake City was such a success, with some 6,000 people participating in the event.

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The most annoying people you’ll meet at a Japanese fitness gym, illustrated (badly) 【Pics】

Before we even get into this, there’s something I have to say in the interest of full disclosure: I’m a bit of a gym rat and I have more than a little bit of a bone to pick with Japanese gym etiquette, so apologies if I sound a little harsh or gripe-y, and/or you feel the strong wind of me chucking dumbbells in frustration throughout this article.

Having experienced the joy and wonder of numerous American gyms – often 24 hours, never too crowded, always sprawling and well-equipped, cheap and usually never exceeding more than two elderly men gleefully prancing naked through the locker room at any one time – you can imagine the soul crushing disappointment I felt upon coming to Japan and realizing that even the best gyms routinely exceed US$150 a month to use, rarely stock all the equipment you’ll need, and are generally populated exclusively by old dudes who spend 10 minutes chatting up their buddies while sitting on the only bench in the place, and the rest of their “workout” enthusiastically blow-drying their testicles in the locker room.

The only small consolation I have is that, apparently, one of the gym-frequenting writers at Japanese sister site is similarly miffed by the myriad annoyances of Japanese gyms… and he’s even been kind enough to sit down and badly sketch out all the craziest folks who’re likely to ruin your workout:

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“Dogs out! Luck In!” These cosplaying pooches are the cutest Setsubun “oni” you’ll ever see

While North America has its silly Groundhog’s Day festivities on February 2, Japan counters with even sillier Setsubun celebrations on February 3. 

Festivities take place at temples, shrines and family homes. Usually the oldest male in the house puts on an oni (ogre or demon) mask and the rest of the people throw fukumame, literally “fortune beans” but really just dried soy beans, at them, then slam the door in the oni‘s big red face, while shouting “Demons out! Luck in!” to ceremonially expel demons from their homes and welcome good fortune for the coming year.

Some Japanese dog owners altered the celebrations a little this year, making their dogs the oni and thus creating the cutest little “demons” you’ll ever see. 

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Russian beauty talks about troubles foreigners face when first moving to Japan 【Video】

Japan attracts foreigners of all kinds and people decide to come here for all sorts of different reasons. But, as with any culture different from one’s own, there can be some aspects of Japanese culture that are hard for foreigners to wrap their heads around or get used to, such as deciding if you should help a crying girl.

Ashiya, a beautiful Russian expat, recently shared some of her difficulties upon coming to Japan on her YouTube channel*. We have a feeling that these will strike a chord with many other expats and internationalists interested in Japan as well, Russian or not.

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Beautiful works by French street artist disappear from Shanghai demolition site

Street art, whether it draws criticism or praise, is widely ephemeral in nature. After appearing overnight on a blank wall or beside a forgotten drainpipe, once it makes its début in a public space, street art belongs to the community and the elements, where it’s free to be defaced, altered or torn away at any given moment.

The fleeting beauty of the art form was seen in Shanghai recently, where a number of large-scale murals by French street artist Julien Malland were destroyed almost as soon as they were discovered. Join us as we take a look at the before and after photos of some of his beautiful works, now gone but captured forever on camera.

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