Like the rest of my classmates in my first Japanese class, I was inspired by manga to start learning Japanese. Although manga is usually deemed as ‘leisure’ reading, there are some quality manga that deal with serious societal issues. In fact, at National Cheng Chi University, one of the top universities in Taiwan, there is actually a class in which you have to read manga. Mandatory manga readings? It’s no wonder the class is so popular that some students have to wait four years to get in!
That’s right, you can eat a polar bear in Japan. But before you start freaking out about animal cruelty or endangered species, we are actually talking about the funky dessert in picture above, not the big furry mammal. Meet the shirokuma or polar bear, a delicious treat of shaved ice, sweet milk syrup and fruit from Kagoshima.
Sushi, geisha, sumo – everyone knows at least a few famous things from Japan. But how many people actually know what the country looks like on a map?
Our Japanese writer asked six of his foreign friends with an interest in Japan to draw a map of the country to see just how good their knowledge of the country was. The following collection of decidedly poopy-looking doodles is what he got back.
For most, a trip to Japan usually involves hitting as many of the big sights as possible. Tokyo Tower, the ornate temples of Kyoto, Hiroshima’s Atomic Bomb Dome, the “floating” torii gate of Hiroshima’s Miyajima Island, and of course the famous Shibuya Scramble intersection are all top tourist spots. But what if you’ve lived in Japan for a while or already seen most of the more famous sights? The good news is, there are tons of smaller locations that, while they may not top many people’s lists of must-see spots, are definitely worth checking out if you have the time or are simply looking for something a little off the beaten track.
Thankfully, a handful of Japanese net users recently provided us with a list of locations that they’d personally like visitors to their country to know a little better. Join us after the jump for six smaller, but equally cool, spots to add to your sightseeing list.
By now you’ve probably read the earth-shattering, heart-rending news that Hello Kitty’s own copyright holder Sanrio recently alleged that the world’s most famous bow-sporting feline isn’t actually a cat. If, like me, you’re a huge fan of Japan’s unofficial mascot, you probably already started going through the five stages of grief, too.
I, however, never got past denial. Instead, I picked up the phone and called Sanrio’s PR department in Japan. My findings will bring your suffering heart some relief.
It’s the middle of August, and while the days we’ve been having recently aren’t quite as face-meltingly hot as those a couple of weeks ago, it is nevertheless still pretty toasty out there. Thankfully, just like when suffering with a cold or sore throat, the summer heat does afford us one very tasty luxury: a genuine excuse to gorge on delicious ice cream!
If you’re feeling the heat this summer, or are just curious about some of Japan’s go-to ice cream treats, join us after the jump for a special video featuring five of our frozen favourites.
As if the power of the sea weren’t terrifying on its own, a Brazilian artist managed to make the wrath of Poseidon even more fearsome with the addition of Japan’s most famous monster.
The next time someone asks, “What’s your favourite thing about Japan?”, I know what I’m going to say.
When I was growing up in England, the only thing you could buy from a cute little musical van that drove around the neighbourhood was ice cream, and for the approximately eleven-and-a-half months of the year when it was too cold to eat an ice cream, you had to make do with a “mix-up bag” (like pick ‘n’ mix, but without the “pick” part – that is to say, without the element of choice) which consisted of ten gummy sweets no one ever liked anyway.
Sure, in city centres and at events in England we have vendors selling fast food. But our burger and falafel trucks don’t drive door-to-door playing old-fashioned jingles like an ice cream van does. In Japan, however, there are a bunch of tiny vans, privately owned, that each specialise in one product and each have their own song. And it’s not just food, either. The things you can buy off the back of those little musical trucks are amazing.
We’ve always been told that stereotypes are bad, but there are certain cultural phenom that can be measured so widely that it’s safe to say that people from certain countries at least have a tendency to behave in certain ways.
The Japanese, for instance, are said to be orderly and conformist, while Americans are said to be cowboys that like to do things their own way, even if to the detriment of others.
While this survey sticker board from a Japanese hostel – which asks where visitors hail from – may actually prove the opposite about Americans, it pretty readily confirms that the Japanese are very organized.
Live in urban Japan long enough and, as shocking as it sounds, you’re eventually going to have the distinctly unpleasant experience of riding a train that hits and more than likely kills a human being.
Even if you aren’t experiencing it firsthand, walking into a Tokyo train station only to notice yet another train delay caused by what is euphemistically described as a “bodily accident” (jinshin jiko, or 人身事故) is at least a weekly occurrence. It’s enough to make you think Japan must be wrestling with one hell of a suicide problem.
Which is true. But it’s not quite as bad as the Western media would have you believe. Here are five facts about suicide in Japan that are about as uplifting as we have any right to expect from facts about suicide:
Gotta find ’em all! should be the catchphrase for the campaign attached to the new The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya animated video. Even though it’s the first new Haruhi animation in four years, its creators aren’t just screening it for free–they’re making fans actually work to see it! That said, the campaign is actually more like a treasure hunt than anything else. Introducing “Haruhi Hunting,” in which the residents of Japan must work together to unlock the new promotional video.
Do YOU have what takes to find all 707 missing frames of the animation?
Few who have not visited the country would ever imagine that Japan is practically overrun with bakeries. When people think of food in Japan, they usually think of things like rice, sushi and ramen, but the truth is, while Japanese supermarkets may not carry anywhere near as many varieties of bread as those in the West, dedicated bakeries can be found all over city centres, with pretty much every station, shopping mall and supermarket having its own shop or dedicated corner offering up freshly baked pastries, and the variety is astounding.
Check out this video to see 30 typical pastries available at Japanese bakeries.
When people visit Japan, they often marvel at how great the service everywhere is. Trains run on time; a guy pops out of a little hatch like a station ninja when you’re struggling with a ticket vending machine; packages come precisely when they’re supposed to, and even if you miss them you can just call the driver on their mobile phone to arrange a new delivery time.
Day in, day out, stuff just works. And yet, unlike the many foreigners who live here, native Japanese take this all completely in their stride. Take this video, for example, which was taken by a foreigner living and uploaded to YouTube a couple of weeks ago…
An insect collector learned the hard way last year that you should never send stag beetles in the mail, because being stuffed in a box and shipped across the country unsurprisingly kills them.
A specialist apparently sent 240 stag beetles to be delivered to the collector’s Okinawa home. When the box – supplied by the Japanese Postal Service’s “Yu-paku” goods shipping service – arrived, the collector opened it to find all 240 of the beetles decidedly un-alive, prompting the man to sue for compensation; because, come on, if you’re shipping beetles, you expect a certain amount of care to be taken.
Not that we didn’t see it coming, but it was announced on Monday that Disney’s Frozen has officially surpassed 19.8 billion yen (US$194.6 million) in total box office revenue in Japan. Released on March 14 in Japan as アナと雪の女王 (“Ana and the Snow Queen”), months behind its original stateside premiere, the film has held onto its number one position for 11 consecutive weeks.
So how does that stack up with other successful films in Japanese box office history? Keep reading to find out its current ranking plus a list of the highest-grossing films of all time in Japan!
The lack of both L and V sounds in Japan’s language hasn’t kept Canadian musician Avril Lavigne from achieving widespread popularity here. As a matter of fact, given the country’s affinity for female solo acts, and its decades-long ready acceptance of “girls’ rock” music, you could make the argument that Lavigne has an even broader fan base in Japan, or at least one that’s split more evenly across the gender line.
So when Lavigne recently revealed she’d filmed her latest music video in Japan, maybe it wasn’t so surprising, even if a few of her choices for representing Japan were.
Google operates hundreds of domain names for different regions around the world, from Australia (google.com.au) to Zimbabwe (google.co.zw). And searching for the same keyword throws up different results depending on which country Google thinks you’re in.
So what happens when you search “Japan” in different countries’ Google Image Search? To find out, a curious Japanese netizen did exactly that. The image results reveal a little bit about how each country sees Japan – some just might surprise you!
Well, good afternoon/evening/morning/day everyone! Today we’re going to talk about Japanese greetings and what they really mean.
Just as in English, “Konnichiwa” or “Good day” is a greeting that is technically an idiom with a complex and near-forgotten past. Just as English language greetings tend to stem from bastardizations of foreign loan words and/or full sentences that have been gradually shortened over the years, “konnichiwa” is actually a shortened version of a full and meaningful greeting, because, if anything, human beings are a lazy sort with a bad habit of cutting corners whenever possible.
Last summer, I was riding the subway with some friends from home who were visiting me here in Nagoya, Japan. Suddenly, my friend pointed at a sticker on the window behind us. “What’s that?” he asked, staring wide-eyed at the image of a smiling cartoon golden dragon wearing a train conductor’s uniform. “That’s the mascot of the Nagoya Transportation Bureau,” I replied, happy to be imparting local knowledge. “Oh,” he said. “And why does the Transportation Bureau need a mascot?”
You see, it’s the little things that can be most surprising about a culture that’s not your own. Today, we bring you a list of 10 quirky things that you probably didn’t know – or may not have realised – about everyday life in Japan.