opinion

Six of the “20 Coolest Arcades in the World” are in Japan! Want to know what Japan makes of that?

Mashable recently put out a neat list called ‘The 20 Coolest Arcades in the World’, and Tokyo took more spots than any other place! Well, we wouldn’t expect anything less from the birthplace of the video game industry, really.

Turns out though, Japanese netizens were a bit baffled by Mashable’s choices: “That’s cool??” they spluttered into their keyboards. “That’s not even an arcade!”

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Is the New Nintendo 3DS worth the purchase? Early adopters in Japan share their thoughts

As its super-cutesy ad foretold, Nintendo launched its new and improved version of the 3DS here in Japan on October 11. Boasting features like a bigger, improved 3-D screen and extra buttons, yet retaining much its predecessor’s form factor, the portable appears to be more of an evolution than a revolution, but that didn’t mean people weren’t excited and looking forward to getting their hands on the new hardware.

As owners of the existing models of 3DS and 3DSLL, we aren’t really in the market for the new system quite yet, but were curious to hear what new adopters thought of the upgraded portable. Join us after the jump to find out whether the New Nintendo 3DS will be worth picking up when it launches in your country.

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What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair…

When you speak to foreign English educators in Japan, one thing becomes crystal clear: English education in Japan isn’t working. It’s just awful. While English classes are mandatory in Japanese schools, the percentage of students who emerge with actual English abilities are surprisingly low. Students in China, Korea and Japan are in an arms race to see who can produce students with the best English, and Japan seems to be trailing far behind in third place.

With the Olympic Games coming up in 2020, the Japanese government has proposed changes to increase the level of English ability in their students. Changes like starting introductory English classes in 3rd grade elementary school and making the subject compulsory from the 5th grade. Are these changes really going to help? We’ve gathered opinions from both foreign teachers and Japanese citizens about issues with the system and what might improve it.

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Japanese people list 10 ingredients they never, ever want to find in their miso soup

Miso soup is a staple food in pretty much any Japanese household. Served morning, noon or night, this thin, slightly salty broth is tasty, filling, and, as you’ve probably already realised, is the perfect accompaniment to rice. It is so deeply ingrained in Japanese culture that in some areas of the country there even exists a joke that a man may indirectly propose to a woman simply asking, “Will you make my miso soup for me every morning?”

But one person’s idea of a perfect bowl of miso soup can be another’s salty soy nightmare. With so many ingredients that go, or at least seem to go, well in a bowl of Japan’s favourite broth, it can be difficult to find a bowl that ticks all the boxes, and there are some ingredients that – depending on one’s upbringing, personal tastes or geographical location – are considered simply unacceptable.

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If you’re a person who uses the Internet, there’s a good chance that at some point you’ve come across that other thing (i.e. not cats) that accounts for so much web traffic. You know, pictures and videos of naked people. Trust us, we were as shocked as you must have been when you first stumbled upon these people and their antics, but it’s out there in its droves.

We were also surprised to learn that those videos are apparently not only very popular but noticeably different depending on whether they’re made in places like the US and Europe or in Japan. Or at least they are according to this Japanese guy, who works in the industry and spends a lot of time critiquing the videos…

This article probably isn’t entirely safe for work. Which really shouldn’t be a surprise, but just in case, you might want to read this one on your phone in the bathroom instead of at your desk.

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Tokyo’s 7 stupidest public art pieces

Any city with aspirations to be a vibrant international metropolis should invest in interesting, challenging and useful public art, and Tokyo has certainly done so. There are some absolutely amazing artworks scattered around our fair city, but there are also some complete abominations lurking as well.

While acknowledging that art is subjective and one person’s favorite piece is another person’s piece of crap, here are what I consider the seven stupidest public artworks in Tokyo.

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There’s something about sakura: It’s hard not to fall in love with Japan’s cherry blossom【Videos】

Spring has arrived in Japan, and that can mean only one thing: Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing parties! But what is it about hanami, and those pretty pink petals in general for that matter, that manages to capture the hearts and minds of so many?

Let’s take a look at a handful of videos that capture the mood of hanami season perfectly and see if we can pinpoint exactly what it is that makes the season so special!

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English language education in Japan: Are native speakers essential?

Like so many foreigners living in Japan, I first entered the country as an eigo shidou joshu, more commonly known as an Assistant Language Teacher, or ALT for short. Although terms like “grass-roots internationalisation” and “globalisation” are uttered during ALT training seminars and by boards of education across the country with such frequency that you’d swear they’re being sponsored to use them, in reality an ALT’s role at a Japanese junior high school (where the majority in Japan are employed) is to go along to class with a non-native Japanese teacher of English (or JTE) and, as their job title implies, assist in teaching. The idea is that students, particularly those from rural areas, will benefit from the presence of and instruction from a native English speaker.

But are native speakers entirely vital to English language education in Japan? And should native English speakers, rather than Japanese teachers of English, be the ones taking the lead role in the classroom?

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Joshi or josei? Japanese netizens discuss the age at which a “girl” becomes a “woman”

Back when I was an irksome, irritable teenager, I used to take issue with the fact that my mother would talk about “the girls at work” when in fact most of them were approaching 50. To me, a 14-year-old with copies of FHM stashed under his bed and enough testosterone and sexual frustration to make his eyes water, a “girl” was either someone my friends and I would whisper about at school or whichever scantily clad celebrity happened to be on the cover of said cheeky magazine each month.

Thankfully, now 31 and my hormones having settled down a bit, I’m able to appreciate that whether or not we label someone a “girl” really depends on the person in question, and dare I say it some of my mother’s (slightly younger) colleagues would no doubt get the nod of approval from both me and my old school friends if we had the pleasure of meeting them. But a recent question posted on Japan’s Oshiete! goo, a Q&A site not unlike Yahoo! Answers, asking where we draw the line between “girl” and “woman”, or rather “joshi” and “josei” in Japanese, has sparked quite the debate online, with some proposing that age 40 is the cut-off point while others believe “joshi” ends at 20.

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“Awesome cooks who love money”: 10 things Americans (probably don’t) believe about Chinese people

A snappy little list is currently doing the rounds in Chinese and Japanese media, claiming to detail 10 things Americans think about Chinese people. Did you know that all Chinese people are good at cooking? That China’s men love money more than they love their wives? Or that they all want to wear the same clothes? Neither did we… But in amongst the humdrum negative stereotyping, though, there are some compliments being paid too!

Join us after the jump for 10 things that some Chinese people think Americans think about them!

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How much would the world miss Japan if it suddenly disappeared?

When you live in a country for long enough, it’s easy to forget the things that set it apart and really make it special. In largely homogenous societies, like that of Japan, it’s easy to take daily amenities for granted without ever stopping to consider that commonplace objects are unique to the culture and perhaps novel to people of other nations.

A recent book released by Earth Star Entertainment aims to give the people of Japan a fresh perspective on their island nation, as well as celebrate the many things that it has to offer to the world. The book’s title translates to What if Japan Disappeared: Japan’s Ability to Support the World, and from the few short excerpts we’ve seen, it’s obvious that Japan thinks quite highly of its contributions to the world’s economy, entertainment, and food options.

But in the grand scheme of things, how much would the country really be missed if it suddenly disappeared from this world?

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Seven things that surprise Japanese people working in foreign offices

Recently, we at RocketNews24 brought you all a plethora of pie charts representing what it’s like to be a member of the Japanese working class. But let’s face it; numbers can only convey so much without a certain amount of contrast and perspective. So, rather than quantify the various quirks that one encounters in a Japanese workplace, we’d like to qualify the points that Japanese people find surprising when they go to work abroad. Here’s a collection of seven observations that Japanese people made while doing business in foreign countries.

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Reasons why it’s harder to raise kids in Japan than in other countries…or not

The act of raising a child is never easy. Some countries offer parents enough rights and protections to make childcare a bit less of a burden, but the struggles and uncertainties that come with supporting another tiny human should never be disregarded.

That being said, everyone’s favorite opinionated Japanese blogger, Madame Riri, has a few things to say about how raising children in Japan is “ten times more difficult” than it is in foreign countries. Keep in mind that Madame Riri has only ever traveled to France and does not actually have any children of her own. But who knows? Perhaps there’s some truth buried beneath the mounds of limited observation, hearsay, and conjecture!

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Japan gives the world a lesson in showing family devotion

If there’s one thing that Japan does right, aside from taxis, trains and their abundance of vending machines, it’s their focus on the family unit. Familial piety is an important aspect of the Japanese mentality and ensures the well-being of the country’s aging population. But family devotion isn’t just about offering physical or monetary support; it’s about attitudes. And Japan is paramount when it comes to expressing humility and gratitude. Here’s a wonderful collection quotes from Japanese netizens explaining what it is to express familial piety.

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Why do otaku walk so fast? “They are bound for the future!”

The Japanese stereotype for otaku is far from pretty. Hardcore fans of anime and video games are largely regarded as social outcasts and are characterized as unkempt men in button-up plaid shirts, high-waisted pants and running shoes, carrying around backpacks and shuffling quickly through the streets of Akihabara on the hunt for the latest game, hardware or erotic 2-D merchandise.

The Japanese text board 2channel appears very well acquainted with this skittish sub-section of society, so when someone asked why it is that otaku walk so fast, the anonymous responders had a lot to say, and it certainly opened our eyes!

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World stereotypes: What would you do if your boss slapped you?

Earlier this week, Chinese Netizens played a game of hypotheticals, exploring the stereotypes that define people from different countries. The question raised was this: How would people around the world react to being slapped across the face by their boss? Surely, the answer is different depending on the personality of the individual, but on the whole, what might one expect from a certain nation’s citizens? The answers are quite hilarious, and the discussion that followed, impressively thought provoking.

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Things Japanese people believe about British vs. American English

From elementary school all the way through high school, Japanese kids are required to study the convoluted subject of English as a second language. It’s an enormous struggle for many, as Japanese natives must familiarize themselves with not only the vocabulary and grammar points, they must adjust their ears to pick up on the plethora of sounds that do not exist in their mother tongue. To top it all off, when the existence of various English accents is brought to light, their brains can become confused even further.

A recent post on a Japanese message board asked people to list the differences between British English and American English. The comments extended far over 100. Here’s what some of the respondents had to say.

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10 Japanese Twitter posts that will change the way you think about the future

The future is full of uncertainty, both fun and terrifying in equal measure. In today’s global economy, there’s plenty of reason to get anxious over what’s to come, but that doesn’t stop some people from dreaming big.

Everyone has a different perspective on the future and how to face it, but by becoming aware of these personal differences, we can change our own approach to these uncertain matters. Here are 10 Japanese Twitter posts that will give you new ideas about your life and where it’s headed.

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10 things Japan gets awesomely right

At the end of our recent article listing the 10 things that we think Japan gets horribly wrong, we assured you that we’d be back soon to focus on some of the positives and introduce the things that we really, truly love about living in Japan. True to our word, we sat down and decided on what we as (mostly) foreigners most love about this great little collection of islands, and it turned out to be a lot of fun.

Although Japan is not without its faults, it is nevertheless an incredibly efficient and easy-to-live-in country, and we’ve discovered that there are numerous things that the Japanese get not just right, but awesomely right.

Join us after the jump for our top 10 things we love about Japan.

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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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