new year

19 Chinese expressions with amazing literal translations

The Chinese language is widely regarded as one of the most difficult languages to learn.

There are more than 80,000 Chinese characters in existence, although a non-native speaker can get by with 1,000 of the most frequently used.

To make matters more complicated, the characters that make up each word or phrase individually carry different meanings based on the context in which they’re used. For example, the Chinese character 吃 could mean “eat,” “drink,” “bear,” or “take,” depending on the phrase that surrounds it.

As hard as the language is, it can also be incredibly poetic when translated character by character into English, and sometimes hilarious.

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700-year-old swordcrafting ceremony lives on in Gifu Prefecture【Video】

While many people immediately think of samurai when Japan is mentioned, you might not expect to find many swordcrafters still working in the modern-day. And certainly not out in public for everyone to see!

However, the start of every year sees a gathering of swordcrafters in Gifu Prefecture where they ceremonially pound a piece of steel in a centuries old traditional ceremony. It looks cool and must be great exercise to work off all the osechi calories too!

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Otoshidama: How kids in Japan get rich once a year

With Christmas being just a regular day and the exchanging of gifts something of a rarity, we often feel that kids in Japan are missing out somewhat. Of course, not every Westerner is fortunate enough to know the joy of waking up on December 25 and finding presents–brought by a benevolent bearded man, no less–under the Christmas tree or at the foot of their bed, but those who are would most likely agree that it’s a pretty spectacular feeling for a kid to have.

But while the rest of the world is coming to realise that the toys they asked for aren’t quite as cool as they’d expected and dreading going back to school or work, kids in Japan are making out like bandits and getting not presents but cold, hard cash on New Year’s Day in the form of otoshidama.

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This Apple store gave away 15 Macbook Airs, stacks of iPads and accessories in “lucky bags” this morning

It’s January 2 here in Japan, and for most major stores and savvy consumers alike, that can mean only one thing: fukubukuro! Literally meaning “lucky bag”, fukubukuro give stores a chance to bundle items together – some great, some not so great – to sell off at a massively discounted rate and make room for incoming stock. The catch? Customers have no idea what they’re buying until after they’ve handed over their cash. Usually, though, they get far more than what they pay for.

For larger companies like Apple, lucky bags are also a great opportunity to drum up a little additional publicity and get people lining up outside their stores hoping for the chance to buy one. Ever the Mac and iPhone fan, our reporter extraordinaire Mr. Sato was there to grab some swag for himself.

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How to prepare for a Japanese New Year

One of the best things about being in Japan at this time of year is the festive atmosphere that extends from Christmas all the way into the first few days of January. With so many unique traditions surrounding preparations for the New Year festival, it’s a fascinating experience but it’s also easy to feel lost when it comes to joining in with the celebrations. We’ve got a handy six-point check-list to help you with the run-down to the main event on January 1. If you want to celebrate a Japanese New Year, these are the essentials you’ll need to know.

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The meaning of the mandarin and 6 other Japanese New Year traditions explained

For people in Japan, the most important event on the calendar is the New Year festival. With its focus on family and tradition, many Japanese take the first three days of the year off work to travel back to their hometowns and take part in festivities embedded in centuries of culture and meaning.

Come with us now as we take a look at some of the popular Japanese New Year traditions and reveal the spiritual symbolism and superstitions behind them.

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Lotteria x Evangelion Fukubukuro! What Anime Surprises Await Inside!?

Fukubukuro, lit. “lucky bag”, are a wonderful way for stores to shift merchandise at the start of the year, not unlike western stores’ New Year’s sales but with far more mystery and intrigue involved. Shoppers take a gamble when they purchase these gift bags as they are completely sealed and their contents unlisted, and they don’t always contain products that we desperately need, but fukubukuro usually contain items whose cash value far exceeds the bag’s asking price.

So when our reporter Kuzo heard that the fast food chain and home of 30-patty cheeseburgers Lotteria was offering up special collaborative Evangelion bags for just 2,000 yen each, he powered down his Wii U, stepped out into the sunlight and sprinted – well, sort of jogged while wheezing quietly – to his nearest store to grab one for himself.

Was it worth the US$22 purchase, or was Kuzo lumbered with a cooking-oil-scented bag of tat? Find out after the jump.

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Doraemon (No, it’s Not Hello Kitty This Time) Cosplays to Bring You Luck in the New Year!

At RocketNews24, we love seeing well-known characters indulging in a bit of fun cosplaying. Last month, we showed you Hello Kitty turning herself into a Thanksgiving main dish, and it appears she’s not the only one transforming into food form. This time, Doraemon has made himself available in a mochi (rice cake) costume for the Japanese New Year, and darn it, he actually looks cute doing it! Read More

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