In just about every major train station in Japan, you’ll find a stand selling boxed lunches called ekiben. A combination of the words eki (“station”) and bento (“boxed lunch”), ekiben serve as a tasty, convenient meal for travelers to dine on as they watch the scenery slip by outside their window.
Given that trains are terrestrial transportation, and that Japan is an island nation, until now you’ve generally had to come to Japan in order to get your hands on authentic station bento. That’s changing soon, though, with the opening of an ekiben stand in a rail station in Paris.
There are many different reasons to visit Japan, but something that should be on everyone’s bucket list are the matsuri, or festivals. Summer is a big time for festivals, especially in August when the Obon festival is held, during which many people travel back to their hometowns in order to honor their family and ancestors. With so many families together in their hometowns, it is the perfect time for a matsuri full of songs, dancing, and long-standing traditions.
One of the biggest Obon celebrtions in all of Japan is the Awa Odori festival in Tokushima Prefecture, which over a million people attend each year. The dancers who are dressed in their traditional clothing and musicians that pound out the beat in tune with your heart are truly a sight to behold, but if you can’t experience the traditional festival in Japan, why not try to bring it to your country as one French journalist did?
With so many traditional arts, customs and practices, it’s not hard to fall in love with Japanese culture. For one French couple, it was a night of origami paper-folding with a Japanese friend that left a big impression. Intrigued by the art, they set upon a journey to recreate the folded designs in metal and not long afterwards, a gorgeous jewellery collection was born, featuring delicate animals, birds, crustaceans and dinosaurs.
Back in April we saw legendary Japanese singer Gackt face discrimination while abroad in France. He managed to handle a frustrating situation with class, and his incident sparked a conversation online about racial discrimination.
Emiko Kaminuma, a well-known Japanese media personality, found herself in a similar spot while in France. She faced discrimination in a Paris restaurant, and she has been making a huge deal about it on her TV shows. However, her story seems to be a little different from Gackt’s….
Some people may think that video games are a mindless way to pass time, but anyone who’s spent a decent amount of time holding a controller knows that it can be so much more. Not only can games be mentally challenging, but you can even get pretty emotionally involved. You’ll always remember that moment when you beat that boss or finished that game for the first time.
One French artist is trying to preserve these memories for gamers around the world by creating beautiful art pieces that capture such special gaming moments in one-scene shots.
Japan is becoming known worldwide for its natural hot springs and public bath houses. Lately, bathers have more and more soaking options with specialty baths popping up all over. We’ve seen snow-covered baths, tea baths, sake baths and herbal baths.
Every November however, a bathhouse near Tokyo has a unique 10-day wine bath to celebrate the release of France’s Beaujolais Nouveau wine.
Kagurazaka is one of the most attractive and interesting enclaves in all of Tokyo. Its name in kanji, 神楽坂, literally translates to “God Music Slope”, referring to kagura, the spiritual music traditionally dedicated to Shinto gods. Located at what used to be the outer edge of Edo Castle, the gentle slope that still runs through Kagurazaka today was once filled with the sounds of music emanating from the Imperial Court.
Today, this is one of the few remaining areas of Tokyo where you’ll find exclusive geisha houses hidden off the main street and kimono-clad women shuffling through narrow cobblestone alleyways. It’s also the best place to experience a taste of France, as it has the largest concentration of French restaurants in Tokyo, and a vibrant French expat community. You’ll even hear the strains of accordions as they pipe Parisian music through speakers on the street!
Join us after the jump as we take a stroll through the area and reveal why a visit to Kagurazaka should be on your list of places to see in Tokyo.
The Pokémon video games may have been created in Japan, but there is no lack of Pokémon fandom in the rest of the world from redesigning sports logos to pokéball engagement rings. And to showcase France’s Pokémon love, a pop-up Pokémon Center has opened up in Paris this month featuring original art, limited edition goods and even a special pokémon sent directly to your Nintendo 3DS.
Unlike Japan’s eight Pokémon Centers, which usually focus on the series’ merchandise, the highlight of this pop-up show is the Pokémon gallery where you can sip champagne, munch on Pikachu macarons and appreciate the amazing artwork, including some amateur fan art. Click below to take a peek inside the “Pokégallery” and find out which Pokémon is France’s favorite!
Japanese netizens are bursting with excitement about Manuel Valls, who was appointed as France’s new Prime Minister this week. But what are these Twitter users so astounded about? Well, the newly appointed Prime Minister supposedly bears a striking resemblance to evil genius Colonel Muska, from Hayao Miyazaki’s 1986 movie Castle in the Sky.
And what’s more, in Japanese his name sounds just like barusu or “balse”, the incantation from Castle in the Sky. So this new guy not only looks like a character from the classic animated movie, his name also happens to be the movie’s most important word – which, incidentally, is a record-breaking Twitter meme in its own right.
Who doesn’t love a good vacation? Particularly for working adults, it’s the only time we can take a step back from our hectic work lives, unleash the wild-child within us, and perhaps do something silly without worrying about (too many) repercussions since we’ll be jetting off in a couple of days.
But wait, hold your horses! The last thing you would want to do on an overseas vacation is to unknowingly breach the law, right? Some of the things that we normally do in our homeland might be illegal in other parts of the world. Things as normal as ladies wearing pants. Strange, huh? There’s more coming up!
This is Tobi and Miya. Together they make up the music duo, Les Romanesques, whose intriguing stage performances have made them a huge hit in France. Their appearance on France’s Got Talent became the most watched YouTube video in all of France, and the 4th most watched video worldwide. Since then, they’ve appeared in French TV commercials for Mazda, and even helped promote the Paris International Film Festival with Jane Fonda and the Mayor of Paris. Their entertaining performances and music videos have just the right mix of talent and zany Japanese appeal that’s got audiences around the world asking for more.
Okay, this is a question for you francophiles out there. Where should you go if you’re in Tokyo and you want to eat and feel like you’re in France? Ask Tokyoites, and chances are they’ll say Kagurazaka, where the official Institut français du Japon–Tokyo is located and where you’re liable to find many French nationals as well as numerous French restaurants. But according to an article that appeared recently on Japanese news site Excite Bit, there’s another rather unexpected area of Tokyo with a surprising concentration of shops offering a taste of France.
And just where might that be? Well, the article informs us that quite a few famous French gourmet establishments have set up shop in Shibuya, that mecca of young pop Japanese culture. Read More
Following Japan’s 1-0 victory over France in the friendly football (soccer to our North American readers) match last week, a French variety show host made a joke that has touched a nerve here in Japan.
Alluding to Japanese goalkeeper Eiji Kawashima’s impressive skills on the field, the show presented an edited image of the player, showing him with four arms.
The show’s presenter then suggested that Kawashima’s additional limbs might be the result of “the Fukushima effect” and that they had grown after exposure to radiation leaked from the nuclear plant damaged by the earthquake and tsunami in March 2011. While the joke went down well during the show, many Japanese are understandably very upset…
What do you think of when you hear the word Zen? For most people, “organized religion” probably isn’t a phrase that pops up immediately. This can be a bit of a predicament for Zen Buddhist missionaries working in places like Europe and North America.
The word, which comes from a Japanese translation of the Chinese word chán, literally means meditation, and has developed a romantic sense of being purely in the moment and devoid of all thought. This concept has been focused on by various artists in Western culture like Jack Kerouac, with a diminished emphasis on the less sexy doctrines and worshiping of Buddha that are very much a part of the whole religion.
This image dichotomy is something that the Headquarters of Missionary Work for the Soto School of Buddhism in Europe has to deal with all the time.
Excite News Japan recently went to interview them on the state of modern Soto Zen Buddhism abroad. Check our rundown of their findings below!
Fresh off the most recent stint of Big America burgers released in McDonald’s restaurants across Japan like the Texas Burger, Idaho Burger, and Broadway Burger, the taste of the month now has turned its eye toward France.
This time though McDonald’s Japan has completely copied one of French McDonald’s sandwiches, the Le Grand. To see if it lives up to the original I tried one in France and Japan for a tête-à-tête taste test.