Japanese entertainer getting laughs and friends overseas with hilarious English performances

Japan has an incredibly rich history of traditional performing art forms that have lasted through the centuries. It has noh, kabuki and bunraku, all of which provide classical entertainment even if you have no idea what is happening. Another popular form of Japanese entertainment is rakugo, which involves a lone storyteller sitting on a stage, telling comical stories with only two props traditionally: a fan and a small cloth. So while the rest of the world has stand-up comedians, Japan has sit-down comedians. All of these performances though have one small problem for foreigners, though: they’re almost always in Japanese.

That’s where Showko enters the scene. A brilliant entertainer who has traveled the world with her hilarious Rakugo performances and ventriloquist acts has been taking the comedy world by storm. Learn more about some of her performances and where to see her after the jump.

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“Why do I have to study?” Japanese educator’s answer to kids is half kind, half harsh, all wise

Japanese society may greatly value education, but it’s not like every kid in the country is born with an innate attraction to long division or vocabulary lists. Given the choice, even Japanese kids would much rather be playing video games or watching cartoons than doing homework, and given how active the country is in producing content for those two entertainment sectors, steering your children away from such tempting distractions and back towards their studies can be a tough challenge.

So what do you do when your kid declares he’s sick of school, and asks “Why do I have to study?” One Japanese education expert has an answer that’s half kind, half harsh, and entirely wise.

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Domestic culture shock – 30 things people from Hokkaido experience when they move to Tokyo

When foreigners first move to Tokyo, they’re often amazed and overwhelmed by Japan’s biggest bustling metropolis. But sometimes culture shock can be more localized, and just because you haven’t left the country doesn’t mean there aren’t any surprises in store when you move to a new town.

Hokkaido has more than five times the area of any other Japanese prefecture, and the lowest population density in the country to boot. So when someone born and raised on the northern island moves down south to Tokyo, which is more than 90 times as crowded as Hokkaido, he’s sure to be surprised by a lot of things, and here are 30 of them.

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Pepper the robot is coming to America with an upgrade in snark!

SoftBank’s emotional robot Pepper could be considered a hit in Japan ,with the first wave of 1,000 bots selling out in a minute and another 1,000 ready to move at the end of this month. But is Pepper’s popularity peculiar to purely people in one part of the Pacific? Perhaps.

We may soon find out according to a report in MIT Technology Review. One of their writers visited Aldebaran Robotics, the company which made Pepper along with SoftBank, and learned that an American Pepper is already well into development and has been given a significant attitude adjustment of the smart-ass kind to better fit in there.

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Idol ordered to pay management company 650,000 yen after going to hotel with male fan

Idol singers exist in an extremely specialized, and often contradictory, corner of the already specialized Japanese pop music industry. Successful idols are expected to walk the fine line between having a polished, attractive appearance and an approachable, unassuming aura. Even more ironic is that while their songs’ lyrics are often focused on love and devotion, it’s practically unheard of for an active idol to openly be in a romantic relationship.

Every now and again, though, word gets out that an idol secretly has a boyfriend, or had an illicit liaison with a guy. The revelation is usually followed by a solemn apology to fans, and often the offending member being removed from the group. But this time the story of an idol’s amorous activities coming to light has something we’ve never heard about before: a court-ordered fine equivalent to several thousand dollars for breach of contract.

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Poll asks for the top 10 times Japanese men are disappointed in their adult daughters

No matter how much you love your kids, no matter how strongly you want to protect them and guide towards what you believe are the best decisions, at some point they’re going to grow up and lead their own lives. Past a certain age, you just have to face the reality that your while they’ll always be your children, they’re also now adults, and you have to accept them as the people they’ve chosen to become.

Or, alternatively, you could harbor resentment towards them, like the men polled for this survey of the top 10 ways Japanese fathers are disappointed in their daughters.

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How honest is Japanese society? So honest this train station is fine with a non-closable “gate”

A while back, we talked about how it’s common in Japan for people to place dropped property in a place where it’ll be easy to spot when the owner retraces his steps looking for it. There’s hardly any fear that anyone else will take it, whether the item in question is as cheap as a mitten or something much more valuable.

But such admirable conduct isn’t limited to private citizens’ interactions with one another. A recently tweeted snapshot of a train station ticket gate has been getting laughs in Japan for its unusual design, and while it is kind of funny-looking, it also shows the extremely honest character of Japanese society.

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Twitter users share 16 heartwarming moments of kindness in Japan

It’s far from the happiest place on earth, but Japan certainly has a reputation for kindness and hospitality. Most foreigners that visit the country return home with starry-eyed tales of over-the-top customer service and even random acts of kindness from total strangers.

But, this isn’t just a case of the Japanese putting on a good front for visiting foreigners: heartwarming acts of kindness in Japan are pretty commonplace (although this isn’t a Japan-exclusive thing; let’s be honest). If you’re in need of a Japan-flavored pick-me-up today, check out these stories of people being awesome, via Japanese Twitter users:

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Foxy kitsune socks will have you looking Shinto-chic

Much like “humdinger” and “roughneck,” “foxy” is one of those words that’s far past its golden age. But really, why shouldn’t it be used to describe an attractively fashionable woman, especially is she’s sporting a pair of these cute knee-high socks decorated with Shinto-style kitsune fox spirits and other culturally quirky touches?

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Four Western gestures that are difficult for Japanese people to understand

Earlier this week, a Twitter user turned to the masses in the hope of learning the meanings behind four common gestures she had often seen in Western cartoons. While many, if not all, of these may be instantly recognizable to our readers, in Japan they are seldom seen and for that reason look understandably odd.

We’ve already examined some Japanese hand gestures; now let’s see how the other half lives as Japanese Twitter users try to unravel the meanings behind licking our fingers and touching someone or “crab-like movement and bending fingers“.

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Google Street View now lets you tour the glowing samurai, dragons of the Nebuta Matsuri festival

Just about every community in Japan puts on a local festival in the summer, but few are as spectacular as Aomori City’s Nebuta Matsuri. For almost a solid week, gigantic floats topped by lanterns shaped like samurai and dragons are paraded through the streets, accompanied by dancers and musicians.

But while Aomori is one of the largest cities in the largely rural Tohoku region of Japan, its relatively remote location in the northeastern corner of the country’s main island of Honshu means not everyone can make it out to see the festivities in-person. As long as you’ve got an Internet connection, though, you can get a taste of the fun with Google’s awesome Nebuta Matsuri Street View that lets you see the amazing floats even closer-up than spectators standing on the sidewalks the towering works of art are carried by.

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Part of the family – Tokyo Shinto shrine’s blessings for children now available for pets too

Every fall, parents in Japan who have children that are three, five, or seven years old celebrate something called Shichi-Go-San (literally “Seven-Five-Three”). The family heads to a Shinto shrine, where the priest performs a blessing for girls aged three and seven and boys aged five, praying for them to have long and healthy lives.

But since some pet owners will argue that their animal companions are their children, certain shrines now offer Shichi-Go-San blessings for pets, too, some of whom show up wearing delightful pet kimono!

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Top-selling guide for picking up women in Hong Kong becomes the target of petition

Women of Hong Kong are none too happy about a bafflingly best-selling book that purports to teach men tips and tricks for picking up and having promiscuous sex with women in the Chinese autonomous territory. Get Laid in Hong Kong (at least the title is to the point) is a “sex tourism guide” of sorts for visiting western males that the pseudonymous author says is “guaranteed to get you laid.”

The book, perhaps in a sad reflection of the state of humankind, apparently hit No. 1 for Amazon sales in the “Asian Travel” category before it was briefly taken off virtual shelves due to backlash from Hong Kong women and an ongoing petition.

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These amazing Furoshiki Shoes from Vibram are designed to literally wrap around your feet!

Before we had bags in Japan, we used furoshiki — elegant cloths that come in various colors and decorative patterns that can be used to wrap and carry various items. While you don’t really see them in daily use now, furoshiki are quite useful in their own way, as they can be folded and tied in different ways and be used to wrap items of varying shapes and sizes, in addition to being eco-friendly.

But it turns out that the traditional cloths have recently served as the inspiration for a completely new and unexpected product — Furoshiki Shoes that wrap around your feet!

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Japanese high school baseball players are all class, immediately clean stadium after road loss

Any good athlete obviously needs some measure of speed, strength, and stamina, but the list of necessities starts getting much longer if we’re talking about good student athletes. Youth sports are supposed to be as much about developing character as physical skills, so any proper high school athletic program should want its players to be just as dedicated to sportsmanship and integrity as they are to on-the-field performance.

That’s why we think Fukuoka Prefecture’s Kyushu International University Senior High School (called Kyukoku for short) is doing a fine job with its baseball team, since after a heartbreaking loss on the road, players from Kyukoku immediately started cleaning the stadium.

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Cat destroys owner’s Japanese sliding door, tells the world he couldn’t care less with his smile

One of the most elegant touches of classic Japanese architecture is the use of shoji, traditional sliding doors. Built on a wooden framework with translucent paper used instead of panes of glass, the resulting mix of natural materials and light is both refined and relaxing.

But while they look nice, shoji aren’t really the sturdiest portals to have in your home, since the paper can tear pretty easily, and even the frame can snap, if the doors aren’t handled carefully. Among the most common causes of shoji damage are clumsy drunks, careless kids, and indoor pets.

Not that this Japanese Twitter user’s cool cat is fessing up to the crime, though.

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How to tie a women’s summer kimono sash 【Video】

It might seem a little odd to hear that yukata, the lightweight kimono worn at summertime festivals, fireworks shows, and bon dances, are in the middle of a revival in popularity in Japan right now, but it’s absolutely true. After several years in which young Japanese found yukata to be too expensive and troublesome to bother with, they’re back in fashion with teens and young adults in a huge way.

Part of this is no doubt due to more and more manufacturers offering reasonably priced yukata, as you can now often find sets that include the robe and sash for around 6,000 yen (US$48). And as for not knowing how to put everything on and tie it properly? That’s also a problem of the past, thanks to online explanations like this pair of videos from fashion and yukata retailer Uniqlo.

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Bon dances have been a Japanese tradition for centuries, but one neighborhood’s stopped the music

At this time of year, if I’m walking around town in the evening, I’ll often hear rousing taiko drums and joyful traditional music. Believe it or not, this isn’t an impromptu concert put on by the revelers that always greet my arrival wherever I go, but the sound of a bon dance, (“bon odori” in Japanese).

Part of the summer Obon festivities, bon dances have been held for centuries, and have a spiritual significance in some localities. Even where they’re held for purely festive reasons, they’re a way of fostering a sense of community and preserving cultural heritage.

But while to most Japanese people the sound of bon odori music brings a welcome and warm rush of nostalgic summer memories, one neighborhood in Japan performs its dance with no music at all, and it’s not because all of the dancers have innately perfect rhythm.

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Satirical one-panel comics show how ridiculous idol otaku can sometimes be

Japanese comics and cartoons, also well-known as manga, have long been considered an important aspect of Japanese culture. Those of your reading this article today will almost certainly be familiar with the likes of Naruto and One Piece, the kind of manga that are usually full-length works spanning multiple issues and telling one, over-arching story.

But there is another kind of manga that exists, one called called “yonkoma manga“, which is a comic-strip format and consists of just four panels…

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Disney’s Japanese Twitter account calls anniversary of Nagasaki bombing “Nothing Special Day”

It’s hard to overstate what an excellent job Disney does with its marketing in Japan. In a country that produces more mainstream animation than anywhere else on the planet, Disney still manages to stand out from the domestically made competition, winning the hearts of Japanese audiences and turning them into life-long fans.

At least part of that success is thanks to the company’s willingness to adapt to local tastes, as Disney’s two Tokyo-area theme parks put a greater emphasis on shows, parades, and seasonal events than their counterparts in the U.S. On the merchandising end, there are not only high-class items created specifically for Japan, but entire retail divisions.

Still, everyone makes mistakes, and Disney made a big one when it sent out a message from its official Japanese Twitter account declaring the date of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki to be Nothing Special Day.

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