University lecturer calls out his lazy Japanese students, praises his hard-working Chinese ones

Japan places a tremendous importance on education. Many would even argue that studiousness is part of Japan’s national character, and diligent students are seen as source of pride and an object of respect in Japanese society.

Nevertheless, a lecturer at one of Japan’s renowned universities is calling out the lazy Japanese youths he says he encounters in his classes, while praising his hard-working Chinese and Southeast Asian pupils.

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New study suggests Japanese people born in late winter at higher risk of suicide

While Japan is famous for its animationfood, pop-culture, it’s also infamous for its extremely high suicide rates. Many Japanese students and salarymen succumb to the pressures of school and work by taking their own lives. There is little knowledge about what factors increase the risk of suicide, but recent research has found that people, namely adolescents, born between January 1 and April 1, are 30 percent more likely to commit suicide

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What’s the difference between a “good” otaku and a “bad” otaku?

The word otaku has a long and complicated history in Japan. Originally, it was strictly a pejorative, a label used to mark those with an unhealthily intense interest in anime and other bits of minutiae-heavy hobbies. But while there are many who still use the word in that scathing sense, “otaku” has slowly built up another image as a badge of pride worn by those with a strong and enduring passion for the specific niches of art or technology that appeal to them.

That means that Japanese society, for arguably the first time, is starting to accept that being an otaku can be either a positive or a negative force in a person’ life. But what’s the difference between a good otaku and a bad otaku? One Japanese educator has an answer.

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In Japanese elementary schools, lunchtime means serving classmates, cleaning the school 【Video】

Last month, we took a look at how in Japan many children are expected to commute to school without their parents’ help starting in elementary school. That’s not the only amazing display of responsibility that’s part of everyday life for Japanese kids, though.

Not only do Japanese schools not have school busses, they also don’t have food-serving or cleaning staff. That means it’s the students themselves who’re responsible for distributing school lunches and keeping the building clean, and the diligence with which they go about their tasks would put many full-blown adults to shame, as shown in this video of all the things Japanese grade schoolers are expected to do during a typical school day in addition to studying.

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Japanese high school teacher’s scathing, two-foot-long note to students is nothing short of epic

Being a teacher is one of the most rewarding yet difficult jobs one can do; on the one hand, you’re helping to shape the next generation, and you get to help kids learn and grow. On the other hand, though, kids will be kids, and you’ll always have those one or two students who really know how to get under your skin.

Even the most patient teacher has their limit—they’re still human after all. Like this Japanese high school teacher, who apparently had it “up to here” with students spitting their gum out on the floor. So what did he do? Wrote a scathing note of epic proportions and pinned it to the wall for all to see.

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Five reasons Japan’s karaoke boxes are great places for group study sessions with your classmates

Odds are at some point you’ve been part of an after-school study group with your classmates, either to help each other power through a difficult course or cram for an important exam. Maybe you got together at a friend’s place or took over a corner of your local coffee house, but in Japan, neither of those of those is really a viable choice of location.

Japanese homes are generally too small to host a large group of visitors. Meanwhile, the coffee break-loving country’s cafes tend to be packed when schools let out in the afternoon, so it’s often a serious challenge to find even a single empty seat in a Tokyo Starbucks, let alone adjacent ones for all your study buddies. So in response, clever Japanese students thought outside the box and discovered a trendy new venue for group study sessions: karaoke boxes.

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Are Japan’s national universities actually getting rid of their humanities departments?

Earlier this year, news of a letter sent to presidents of national universities—purportedly telling them to get rid of or modify their humanities departments to better “benefit” Japanese society—spread across the Internet. Since then, it has even been picked up by some high-profile English sites, with considerable (and understandable) consternation. And you can believe there were academics in Japan who were incensed at the idea as well.

But is it actually going to happen? It turns out the short answer is a weak “probably not.” The long answer, though, is a bit more complicated.

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Paints Without Names: Japanese set of nameless watercolors seeks to free young artistic minds

While visual arts and linguistics are both creative fields, skill with one isn’t necessarily a prerequisite for the other. After all, as long as you can look at three hues and pick the one best suited for the picture you’re painting, it doesn’t really matter if you know whether to call it fuchsia or periwinkle.

As a matter of fact, some would argue that coupling names and colors limits the imaginations of budding young artists, which is why these two Japanese designers have produced a set of paints for children that have no names on their labels, only splotches of their base component colors.

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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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The awesome Nintendo and anime-inspired stairway art of Japanese high schools 【Photos】

Growing up in suburban southern California, my elementary, junior high, and high schools were all single-story structures. As such, my classmates and I went through our K-12 education without knowing the excitement of the romantic rendezvous and bare-knuckle showdowns that so often occur in the stairways of schools in TV shows, movies, and other works of fiction.

Still, we made do, as the student body just had to find alternate locations in which to swap spit or punches. One thing we definitely missed out on, though, was the opportunity to create awesome stairway art, like these students in Japan who decorated their school steps with the cast of Super Mario Bros., Love Live!, and Attack on Titan.

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Kochi high school set to launch Self-Defense Force training course, government totally unaware

In a recent interview, the head of Kochi Chuo High School, Masahisa Chikamori, announced that the school would be starting a Self-Defense Force Course in 2016. This course would provide students with the skills and knowledge needed to join Japan’s armed protective organization, including some combat training.

However, both the Ministry of Defense and Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology admitted they were unaware of this training program when questioned about it.

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Short documentary explores the significance of Japanese children being independent from a young age 【Video】

Many foreigners in Japan are shocked to see young Japanese schoolchildren walking to and from school by themselves, or even taking the trains or buses alone. While these sights would probably lead to more than a few concerned stares in many countries overseas, they’re perfectly typical scenes in Japan.

Australian TV channel SBS 2 recently shared a mini-documentary titled “Japan’s independent kids” on YouTube, which gives a brief look at the differences between one young Japanese girl’s commute to school versus that of a young Australian girl, while examining some of the societal factors that lead to differing expectations regarding independence for children in each country.

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Japanese teacher sick of hearing about anime Love Live! forbids students to write about it

After coming back to school from summer vacation, it’s customary for teachers in Japan to ask their students to write a short essay about what they did during their break. Many of the youngsters no doubt spent their extra leisure time watching TV and movies, and rather than upbraid his students for wasting their time on such idle activities, one Japanese educator even asks his students for their impressions of what they watched.

At first, this teacher sounds refreshingly flexible and in-touch with contemporary youth lifestyles…at least until he singles out one anime series he expressly forbids students from writing about.

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Takara Tomy’s new “Color Catch Pen” is amazing, but also looks kind of like a vibrator

…There. We said it.

As technologically cool and fun-sounding as the “Mitsukete-miyou! Iro Kyachi Pen” (lit. “Let’s Find it! Color Catch Pen”) appears to be, it also has the unfortunate appearance of a “massager,” which in Japan, is code for…Well, look, it’s code for a vibrator. Literally no one uses a “massager” for their back or any other non-genital area (and anyone who says otherwise is a dirty, filthy liar and probably also says they never pee in the shower, which we all know is a lie, too), so parents be warned: You and your child may have lots of fun playing with this fantastic, educational toy, but you will also never, ever, ever be able to shake the image of your nine-year-old holding something they might as well have found in your secret fun-time drawer out of your head for as long as you live.

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Japanese college has specialized anime song program, scholarships for international students

Even within the world of Japanese pop music, anime songs are their own special breed. Unabashedly sentimental, bombastically energetic, or sometimes both, not just anyone can grab a mike and belt out a performance that will capture the hearts of legions of otaku, which is why one Japanese music college has just announced a brand new course, aiming to provide students with the education and training they need to become anime vocalists.

Oh, and the school also offers a scholarship for international students.

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You might think the job of high school textbook editor might just be one of the most mind-numbingly mundane around, but it turns out such a career can be risky business indeed. There’s constant updating required, plus you have to keep a keen eye out for the occasional bonkers writer that might try to slip in some historical revisionism now and again, plus test questions and whatnot need to be challenging without being overwhelming, etc.

And now, it looks like you can add “making sure no one secretly slipped an image of a Japanese porn star into the review questions section” to the list of high-stakes tasks facing the humble textbook editor.

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New action manga stars… anthropomorphized blood cells?

If there’s anything we learned from the 1980s sci-fi classic Innerspace, other than that young Dennis Quaid was super dreamy, it’s that there is tons and tons of untold drama taking place amidst the complicated inner workings of our bodies. Also, it taught us that probably you shouldn’t sign up for mysterious medical experiments, lest you end up shrunk down to the size of a microbe and find yourself hurtling around someone’s rectal cavity at breakneck speeds.

Recognizing that there’s a lot of potential for action and adventure in a story set inside the human body, a Japanese manga artist has introduced a new manga series which follows a team of red and white blood cells trying to protect the human body they call home.

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Kyoto Gakuen University entices students with TV ads featuring official anime character

Thinking of applying for higher education in Japan but don’t know where to start? We’re sending our applications off to Kyoto Gakuen University, the education providers with an official anime character called Sono Uzumasa, who features in TV commercials, billboard advertising and even on city transport cards.

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Kumamoto preschool designed to become a giant puddle when it rains

Kids will be kids. And being kids, one of the things they are inevitably going to do is play in rain puddles. No matter how they might be scolded later, the sheer joy of splish-splashing through some nice big puddles exerts an irresistible magnetic force on little feet.

Rather than trying to reign in that youthful inclination, one preschool in Japan is embracing it through a central courtyard designed to collect water when it rains.

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People in Japan are tearing up over these two cram school commercials【Videos】

Love it or hate it, cram school, or juku in Japanese, is one part of Asian academic culture that looks like it’s here to stay.

Although most cram schools tend to advertise before entrance exam season begins and towards the end of the Japanese school year in March, recently more and more children are starting to attend summer study courses as well.

Gearing up for summer vacation, Waseda Academy put out two promotional commercials highlighting the determination of spirited youth, which have left Japanese viewers so moved they couldn’t help but shed a few tears while watching.

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