lifestyle

Gogatsu-byou: The “sickness” that strikes Japan each and every May

As well as being the start of the new business and academic year, April in Japan also marks the time when new graduates make their first forays into the world of full-time employment and many companies rotate their staff both to keep them on their toes and help them acquire new skills. It’s a fun, frenetic time of year, and everyone from kids in their new school uniforms to fresh-faced employees wearing crisp, black suits looks tremendously smart and presentable as they hurry to their place of education or employment, eager to make the most of their day.

In May, however, it all comes crashing down. Reality sets in and people start to realise that everything is just as awful as it was before, albeit with a few quirks and a shiny new name badge or lunchbox. The fire in kids’ bellies goes out, the twinkle disappears from new employees’ eyes, and they start to approach their work with all the enthusiasm of a pot-smoking snail going through a serious emo phase.

This, dear reader, is gogatsu-byou; the phenomenon that occurs every May and affects millions of Japanese to some degree or other.

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Survey reveals that secretaries in Japan say ‘no’ to these types of husband

Rakuten Research has released the results of an online poll about the kinds of men women in Japan do not want to marry, and as a result the heads of lonely trolls are exploding all over Japan.

Collating results from 100 female secretaries between the ages of 30 and 49, the survey had three possible answers for each prompt: “I’d be OK with marrying him,” “I’d be hesitant to marry him,” and “I absolutely would not marry him.” Only the 10 list of undesirable traits in potential husbands were published, and only three qualify as being so bad that the respondents said there’s no way they’d marry them.

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You know you’ve been in Japan too long when…

So you’ve been living, lounging, working, or studying in Japan for a while now. The feelings of homesickness you first experienced are but a distant memory, and whenever you Skype with your family, you unconsciously use the word “home” to refer to your place in Japan rather than your home country. Not only that, you can finally navigate the Tokyo Metro without getting flustered, barely even notice when a girl dressed in kimono passes you in the street, and you think nothing of visiting a convenience store two or three times a day, sometimes just to flick through the magazines.

But what about all of the things you do unconsciously or that seem so normal to you now but would make you stop and stare back home? Today, we bring you a list of 10 moments that, if and when they happen to you, you can safely say, “Wow, I’ve been in Japan too long.”

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Japanese women share 10 reasons why they take so (so, so) long in the bathroom

It’s a question that has tormented men for generations. As we wait outside the bathroom dying for a pee or needing to shower, shave, or brush our teeth; as we sit alone in restaurants busying ourselves with our mobile phones, worried that people will think our dates have simply given up on us and gone home; as we stand around shopping malls holding shopping bags while our wives, girlfriends, or female friends “run to the restroom for a second” and are nowhere to be seen for what seems like aeons, the question on our minds is always the same: What, in the name of sweet baby Jesus and his shepherd pals, are women doing in the bathroom that could possibly take so, so long?

Finally, we have some answers in the form of a series of 10 surprisingly frank quotes direct from the women of Japan, as gathered by popular Japanese website Naver Matome. If you’ve ever wondered why girls spend so long in the bathroom, this may prove to be enlightening reading.

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One for the guys: 3 gross habits to shake before moving in with someone

Relationships are something that have to be worked at rather than simply hoping will go well and complaining about when they’re not everything we dreamed. That honeymoon period where you’re first getting to know your partner and learning one another’s little quirks is fun and exciting alright, but it eventually ends and before you know it you’re having to think about things like whose turn it is to hang out the laundry or clean the sink.

One thing that really puts relationships to the test is whether two people can stomach one another’s little habits and quirks. Sharing your home means letting your partner see you at your most natural, rather than just freshly showered, shaved and looking good for dates. Farting in your sleep, trimming your toenails, popping off to the bathroom for a number two; these things all have to be done and there’s no way of hiding them forever. But there are certain behaviours that we all really ought to get in check before signing a lease on an apartment or agreeing to cohabit, as exhibited by the following three tales from gentlemen (and we use the term loosely) in Japan…

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Survey reveals that Japan’s kids would rather bake cakes and score goals than cure illnesses

Kids’ hopes and dreams for the future can change from one minute to the next and very often depend on the TV shows they watch and whatever their friends are talking about on any given week. But a recent survey conducted by human resource consulting company Adecco has revealed some interesting information about the future aspirations of children from Japan compared to those of kids from other eight other Asian countries.

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“Extreme going to work” looks to change the way business is done in Japan

Ever consider going having a meal with friends or watching a movie on your way to work? While many of us can’t help reaching for the snooze button in the morning, there is a growing number of people who are waking up hours earlier and having a social life before they go to work.

The movement is called Extreme Shussha (extreme going to work) and as of this summer it has been getting increasingly popular in Japan. The rules are simple: Don’t be late for work; don’t bother anyone; and don’t fall asleep when you get there. Beyond that you can do whatever your heart desires.

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They’ll see London, maybe visit France, but young Japanese guys aren’t into seeing ladies underpants

Pop quiz, fellas! You’re standing on the street and a very attractive woman is walking across a subway grate when, wouldn’t you know it, a gust of wind blows her skirt up revealing her underwear. Would you consider this an especially good day?

If you answered “yes” then guess what? You’re old!

At least that’s what a survey conducted by a Japanese erotic game company is suggesting, and I’m inclined to trust them since their livelihoods depend on this kind of info.

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10 things Japan gets horribly wrong

It should come as no surprise to our readers to hear that we’re big fans of Japan. Pretty much everything here works as it should, the food is amazing, the culture rich, and people are on the whole likeable and friendly. But there are times when Westerners, and Japanese who have spent any amount of time abroad for that matter, realise that Japan gets some things not just wrong but horribly wrong.

So join us after the jump as we redress the balance no doubt offset by our constant admiration of Japan by discussing the 10 little things that drive us nuts in this otherwise great country.

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Uphill both ways: Japanese kids weigh in on the difficulties of the past, adults just laugh

“Well, when I was a kid…” is often one of the worst things to hear someone begin a sentence with at a family gathering, isn’t it? Inevitably what follows is half-remembered, half-exaggerated grouching about how easy kids have it these days with their Cell Boys and Game Phones. Unless you’re starting to get old, like us, and then you’re the one grousing!

But either way, it’s been long-established that kids these days have it far too easy–so easy in fact that they can’t help feeling bad for their counterparts of days gone by. Curious as to what the current crop of children thought must have been worst about being a kid a long time ago, someone decided to conduct a survey! We’re sure it’s probably not scientifically accurate, but the results were almost as entertaining as the response on Twitter!

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Japanese customers are raving about a bath mat made from soil

This bath mat is so popular that it’s sold out on many of its retail websites. The reason for its popularity? It’s said to feel so good and absorb moisture so well that it surpasses anything that’s come before it. Oh, and it’s made entirely from soil.

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Not your average game of hide-and-seek: Japanese kids go high-tech!

Although some kids’ games will always be more popular in certain parts of the world than others – rock, paper, scissors is probably played more times in a single day in Japan than in the U.S. each year, for example – there are a handful of classics that kids all across the globe enjoy equally, one of them being hide-and-seek.

According to chatter between Japanese Twitter users, however, the classic game of hide-and-seek is evolving in the digital age, and where once the game was all about speed, stealth and cleverly planted decoys, mobile technology now has a role.

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5 ways for foreign girls to attract Japanese guys

Wandering around Tokyo it’s not at all unusual to see foreign men with Japanese girlfriends, but it’s much rarer to see foreign women with Japanese men. Some people think that foreign girls simply aren’t into Japanese guys, but when Japanese site Madame Riri checked out some English-language websites and forums, they found that there were plenty of girls out there who were interested in Japanese men, they just didn’t know how to go about bagging one.

On the forums of a Japanese culture site aimed at foreigners there were plenty of threads with titles such as “Are Japanese guys not interested in white girls?” and “How can I get a Japanese boyfriend?” These girls were all wanting to discuss how to make themselves appealing to Japanese men, and thankfully they were treated to a handful of great tips for how to do just that from one especially worldly-wise love expert.

Read on for five ways to get a Japanese guy.

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Swank is key! Most young Japanese part-timers wish they worked at Starbucks

Japan has a few really helpful resources for those in search of jobs. Besides their useful Hello Work program, they have a very popular website and magazine called an, publicized by pop idol Kyary Pamyu Pamyu herself. The site lets you search want ads and find places that are hiring in your area and field of expertise. In particular, a lot of college students and people new to the workforce turn to an for help finding employment.

an recently conducted a survey of first-time part-timers to try to find out what places are happenin’ in the modern world of fresh-faced young workers. The results were interesting, to say the least. Who knew how many people longed to become a Starbucks barista??

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“Smoking Café” last oasis for increasingly ostracized Tokyo smokers

Japan has a long way to go when it comes to eliminating the public health hazards associated with smoking, but recent public policy efforts have caused a serious change in attitude toward smokers.

Smoking sections in restaurants and cafes are becoming smaller and increasingly more isolated, while fleets of bike-mounted enforcers hand out humiliating fines to those caught smoking on designated no smoking streets.

Finally, however, smokers can indulge in their pastime in peace at the Koshigaya Laketown shopping mall in Saitama Prefecture. A new specialized café, Smoking Café Briquet, caters specifically to tobacco connoisseurs with a variety of smoking merchandise and cigar and cigarette selections, with every seat in the house safe to light up in. It’s almost like being a character in Kaze Tachinu

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Five things that keep Japanese people chained to their jobs

Japanese workers are famous for their seemingly inexhaustible dedication to their companies and ability to work long, long hours. Japanese even has a specific word for death from overwork: karōshi (過労死). But is this work ethic something that Westerners ought to admire, or is Japan in need of a holiday?

Japan Today asked foreigners “Why do you think Japanese work such long hours?” and received a huge amount of comments from people who had experienced life in a Japanese company. The responses were overwhelmingly negative about the Japanese work ethos, and many believe a shift in attitudes towards work right across society is necessary. Five points in particular stood out as particularly problematic.

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Hey, Starbucks laptop guy, whatcha doin’ over there?

Starbucks and virtually every other coffee shop worthy of faux hipster attention (the real hipsters having moved on to places that use siphons and play accordion music) have become synonymous with scenes of people using laptop computers in recent years, with rows of patrons sipping from paper cups while idly clicking, scrolling, pinching to zoom and staring lazily at their screens. Some even make temporary offices out of their few square feet of space, paying their rent in cups of joe and watched by hawk-eyed staff whose warm smiles drop a millimetre for every second a small cafe latte is nursed just that little bit too long.

For the rest of us, though, these table-hogging laptop luggers are a source of genuine intrigue. “What on earth could they be doing?” we wonder to ourselves, irked that they’ve taken all the good seats. “Are they actually working over there or are they just scrolling through photos on Facebook and tapping LOL into comment boxes?”

Japan’s My Navi News too was keen to know exactly what the folks who camp out at Starbucks are actually doing while the rest of us are engaging in conversations or staring awkwardly at the floor after making eye-contact one too many times with the cute barista, and put together a survey to find out. Let’s take a look at their findings.

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“That’s one large cafe latte to go. Would you like a boyfriend with that?” A Japanese coffee shop’s dating recipe

In Western countries, they say that “the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.” Oddly enough, Japan uses the similar phrase: “Otoko gokoro wo tsukamu ni wa ibukuro kara,” or “you can snatch a man’s heart if you start with his stomach.” A local Twitter user managed to find a store in the Okubo area of Tokyo that might have taken this phrase a step too far, however.

Included on the store’s outside sign board, where normally you’d find today’s specials, was the coffee shop’s secret recipe for catching a man:

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Japan and the rise of the male parasol: They’re not just for Lolitas anymore!

Foreigners visiting Japan for the first time might be taken aback by how widespread the use of umbrellas is. Sure, during rain storms umbrellas make sense, but even during pleasantly sunny days you’re likely to see enough women putting up parasols to make you think the Bauhaus were in town.

Even this is understandable as “the Land of the Rising Sun” is not just another pretty name. In the middle of summer the often cloudless skies leave us at the mercy of the sun’s unrelenting rays. Combined with a lack of trees in many urban areas there’s simply no escape. And with pale skin traditionally considered to be a sign of beauty and elegance, it’s no wonder so many women still carry a parasol, but it would seem that the heat is getting so bad these days that men, too, are bit by bit turning to a once exclusively feminine accessory for relief and protection.

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10 Twitter users in Tokyo who know how to make the best of a bad situation

At around 6:15 p.m. on Monday, August 12, the Tokyo skies were ripped apart by streaks of lightning, and rain the like of which few urbanites have ever seen flooded the streets. Umbrellas were abandoned, taxis pulled over to the side of the road, and crowds of commuters–many having only just finished work and anxious to get home after yet another swelteringly hot day–ducked and winced with each clap of thunder above their heads. Unable to go any further, many sought refuge in shops and cafes, while those who made it to their respective stations were met with bad news: the trains had ground to a halt. Instead of being well on their way to a shower, clean, dry clothes and maybe a meal with their families, Tokyo office workers were packed into stations, hot, dripping with rainwater and sweat, and becoming increasingly irritable.

But then there were the heroes. The everyday men and women who, refusing to be beaten, said “Screw this!” and went for ice cream. And cake and beer and a whole lot of other good food while they waited for the rain to stop and normal service to resume. These are the people we salute today.

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