family

Three years of character bento, Part 3: Countdown to graduation and everyone’s final reactions

Since March is the month for graduations in Japan, the final part of this series will focus on the character bento mom’s “Countdown to Graduation” bentos made for her younger daughter in high school, along with another round of familiar characters! (If you missed the past two posts, you can find them here and here).

As the telltale cherry blossoms get ready to bloom, and as young folks all around Japan prepare to close a chapter in their lives so that they can embark upon a new one, Kaori cooks up lunches that are full of not only protein and attitude but also parental advice for the future! We’ll also share some information on her book, her last thoughts regarding the immense project, and—wait, is that a token of appreciation from her laconic yet demanding daughter?!

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Three years of character bento, Part 2: Loving, hilarious mom continues to pester teen daughter

Do you remember last month’s piece which chronicled single mom Kaori’s three-year character bento spree? On the surface the project seemed to be about harassing her kyaraben-hating teenage daughter, but we learned that in the end, it was an incredible (not to mention eye-catching!) feat of parental love and dedication.

In Part 2 of this series, we’re going to put the spotlight on more of Kaori’s entertaining creations in tandem with some of her thoughts. And next week in Part 3, we’ll wrap up with the mom’s reaction to her long-awaited book, her “Countdown to Graduation” bentos, and a surprise from her daughter. So, before we get to this devoted mom’s moving, seaweedy words of wisdom and love, let the drool-fest begin! And keep your eyes peeled, you may even find your favorite character!

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Miso soup anime ads are so touching they’ll warm your heart as the soup warms your tummy

There’s something about a home cooked meal that, even if it’s not Michelin-starred fare, is incredibly delicious. It may be because every bite was prepared with love or perhaps it’s just the nostalgic flavor from your childhood. For many Japanese people, miso soup is one of those comfort foods. While it’s an everyday staple for many, the taste of your mother’s or wife’s (or other favorite cook’s) miso soup is second to none.

Miso and instant miso soup foodstuffs company, Marukome, has come out with some heartwarming commercials that really encapsulate the idea of food bringing people together. While you may not be crying at the end, you’ll at least really want to share some comfort foods with loved ones.

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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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Three years of character bento: A single mom’s quest to connect with her cheeky teen【Pt. 1】

A decade ago, when blogger and single mom Kaori used to work nights at an izakaya (Japanese-style pub) and didn’t have time to spend with her two little girls, they would leave letters by her pillow, telling her about a fight they had with a friend or how school was that day. Fast forward a few years, though, and her cute younger daughter became your regular moody, demanding teenager.

So what did this amusing mom decide to do? Kaori chose to annoy her second-born every day with something she hates: character bento! See mom yearn for a Starbucks, remind her girl to throw out empty bottles, and moan about making bento while hung over—all with the help of an X-Acto knife, some nori seaweed, and dollops of ingenuity.

While it’s impossible to showcase the entirety of her achievements in one article, here’s a “highlights version” that ultimately reveals a heartwarming tale of a hardworking mom trying to communicate with her adorable yet exasperating teen. And if you don’t care about that, then just gawk at the awesome photos!

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“He lies because of me”: Touching commercial about a father’s love will make you cry

When we’re kids, we usually don’t realize how much love and support our parents give to us; they’re just being mom or dad. It’s only until we grow up that we appreciate and are able to recognize the many things they sacrifice for our well-being.

A commercial from MetLife Hong Kong featuring the heartfelt letter of a loving daughter highlights one particularly large sacrifice her father makes every day…and it’s sure to bring you to tears.

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Japanese educators call for twice monthly No Video Game Days, recommend kids go fishing

Compared to some other countries, video games enjoy a fairly high standing in Japanese society. Nintendo’s Mario is seen by many as not only a symbol of wholesome fun, but an example of how innovation and craftsmanship can lead to sustained economic prosperity. The world of Final Fantasy isn’t just a great setting for an epic quest, but for lunch or dinner, and some particularly stylish game characters even go on to leave their mark on real-world fashion.

Still, not everyone in Japan is a fan of video gaming. The Hokkaido Board of Education would rather see kids with schoolbooks or fishing poles in their hands than game controllers, and to that end is calling for parents to institute twice monthly No Game Days, and not just for the kids in the family.

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Japanese sixth-grader calls out smartphone-loving parents over anti-video game lectures

I understand that an important part of parenting is setting boundaries for children. Until they reach a certain age, kids just don’t have the kind of foresight necessary to fully understand the consequences of all their actions, and letting preteens eat as many cookies as they want or stay up as late as they like probably isn’t the best idea.

That said, another important part of parenting is setting a good example. Fail to do that, and your kids are likely to just tune out everything you’re saying. Actually, that might be the best case scenario, since if you’re flagrantly guilty of not practicing what you preach, your kids might call you out for it, like one Japanese elementary school girl who pointed out her parents’ logical inconsistency in lecturing about keeping her video game playing to a minimum, even as they were glued to their own electronic devices.

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French artist gives us a case of the feels with his video game & superhero family illustrations

In the world of fiction, some characters have detailed, complex families and backgrounds made known to us, while others have rather vague and obscure origins, which isn’t totally a bad thing because that gives viewers plenty of room to imagine and fantasize.

Ever imagined Superman as a dad? Or, what if, after being rescued for the gazillionth time, Princess Peach actually marries Mario? Check out these beautiful families of various fictional heroes and heroines after the jump!

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Japanese mothers react to being called by their first names after years of just being “Mama”

It might sound strange, but in a lot of Japanese households, the use of first names tends to become increasingly rare after the arrival of children and grandchildren. Although plenty of parents in the western world will also refer to each other as “Mommy” or “Daddy” in an effort to help their newborn or toddler pick up the words, or sometimes just to be cute, a man calling his wife “Mama” or “Okaasan” even after their kids have long flown the nest is perfectly common in Japan.

But what happens when a husband suddenly starts calling his wife by her first name, just like when they first started dating or had not long been married? Japanese cosmetics company Pola recently conducted an experiment to find out how simply being called by their first name can affect the health and physical appearance of young women who have over the years come to be known simply as “Mama”.

Promo or not, the effect was surprisingly powerful.

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Time zone quirk lets expat in Japan share opposite side of the sunset with parents in U.S.

For expats in Japan, one thing that takes some serious getting used to is the time difference. With several time zones’ worth of ocean separating Japan and the U.S., for example, a quick calculation of the local time is always a necessity before calling home. Even then, there’s often a twinge of sadness that comes from that vague disconnect of knowing that it might be afternoon where you are, but the middle of the night where the rest of your family is.

But while the times on the clock might never match between Japan and Florida, an American in Japan discovered that there’s one time a day when things are close enough.

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Hacker Mom takes on Gamer Son in China, erases his accounts for the sake of education

For hardcore video gamers, life is a never-ending series of battles as they try to overcome the next boss, unlock achievements, or climb up the online leader boards. And for some of their parents, life is a never-ending series of battles as they try to get their kids to stop doing all that and study.

While more honorable gamers limit themselves to utilizing the best in-game equipment, some give in to the temptation to use hacks to gain an advantage over their adversaries. Recently, one education-minded mother in China adopted the same tactic by hacking her son’s online gaming accounts, then deleting them.

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New ad from Thailand about a mother’s love will inspire you and bring you to tears【Video】

Life insurance commercials from Thailand have been doing the rounds on social media lately, impressing everybody with their beautiful images and moving storylines. Now there’s a new ad from Thailand pulling at our heartstrings, but this time it has nothing to do with life insurance – this is a touching message from the makers of a fibre food beverage.

The short clip shows us the benefits of weight loss, by focusing on the true story of a mother who was determined to lose weight – not for herself but for her son. Why? Make sure you’ve got some tissues handy because the reason will touch your heart.

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Fancy a change? Magazine survey picks Japan’s 10 best towns to live in

The idea of living in a high-rise condo in downtown Tokyo makes for a nice daydream. Between the high cost of housing and the inescapable hustle and bustle of Japan’s capital, though, when it comes time to actually pick a home, many people decide they’d rather live in one of Japan’s other cities, or one of Tokyo’s suburbs at least.

Underlining this trend are the results of a survey by newly formed magazine Aene which asked Japanese housewives which town they’d be happiest living in. Central Tokyo failed to crack the top 10, although the number-one pick isn’t too far away from the capital.

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Artist paints Totoro, classic Japanese artwork, and more, all on pregnant women’s stomachs

In Japan, there’s a long, proud tradition of drunken men drawing faces on their bellies, then contorting in order to make them appear to talk or sing. Wait, did we say proud? We mean embarrassing.

This doesn’t mean all abdominal art is automatically silly and repulsive however, as one artist is helping enhance the radiance of pregnancy by painting beautiful works of art on the stomachs of mothers-to-be.

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Chinese game addict sells his son (twice!) to traffickers to fund his gaming expenses

With the widespread use of computers and smartphones these days, I doubt it will be an exaggeration to say that most people have played an online game at some point, be it on their mobile gadgets or computers. Thousands of freemium games – a term coined for game models that are free-to-play but offer premium add-ons that can be purchased in-game – provide consumers with a wide range of titles to choose from. Most freemium game players choose to play for free throughout, but some are willing to shell out a few bucks for in-game items such as weapons and special power-ups to boost their game.

There’s nothing wrong with purchasing items, but if you’re selling your children to get money for your game, then things have definitely gone out of hand. A young couple in Guangdong Province, China, were recently arrested for selling their son to traffickers in exchange for some quick cash, which the dad used for his gaming expenses.

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Life’s not perfect? Says who? This woman’s life is too perfect to be true!

What does it take to become a winner in life? Some may say money is the key, while others may think that good looks can take you places. Let’s not forget the romantic ones who swear that love conquers all.

People often lament that life is unfair. Well, life really is unfair because while many of us are struggling just to get one of the abovementioned factors fulfilled, this lucky lady in China has it all, and she’s only in her twenties! Chinese netizens have unanimously agreed that this is probably what it looks like to be a true winner in life!

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Retired soldier and his wife finally get their wedding photos taken after 68 years!

These days, many engaged couples usually choose their gowns and suits, and take a beautiful set of pre-wedding photos before solemnizing their marriage during their wedding ceremonies. In the past, however, not many couples had the privilege of having lavish weddings.

An elderly couple in Hunan Province, China, have been married since 1946, but it is only now, 68 years later, that they put on their wedding dress and tuxedo for the first time!

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Chinese granny and her adopted mixed-race son finally recognized as family after 15 years of care

How far are you willing to go to save a life? While some people think twice about helping a shabbily dressed man lying in the street, an elderly woman in Shanghai didn’t hesitate to bring home a baby she found abandoned in the bushes, nurse him back to health, and eventually adopt him into the family despite racial differences.

Join us after the jump to read the story of this Chinese granny’s incredible selflessness and compassion.

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Who do Japanese women want to care for them when they get sick? (Hint: it’s not their boyfriends)

As the new business and academic year takes its toll and Japan collectively sniffles with a case of the May blues, people all over the country are hiding under their blankets and calling in sick (probably using paid vacation days rather than actual sick leave, but that’s another story). When you’re feeling under the weather, it’s always nice to have someone to fluff up your pillows, cook you comfort food and generally feel sorry for you.

Japanese website My Navi Woman surveyed Japanese women in their 20s and 30s, asking them: “When you get a cold, who do you want to be by your side looking after you?” You may – or may not – be surprised to hear that boyfriends came in at a measly third place, with only 22 percent of women saying they’d want their man to care for them.

Let’s take a look at the rest of the rankings, and at what reasons Japanese women gave for wanting (or rejecting!) someone’s love and attention.

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