Every time I visit my home country and talk about my life in Japan, one thing becomes clear to me: Japan remains incredibly misunderstood overseas. With this in mind, today we’ll be discussing three stereotypes of Japan: the country’s apparent disdain for those who stand out from the crowd, the notion that Japan is a strict society, and that the idea of ‘losing face’ is a quintessentially Asian concept.
We often hear about foreigners’ favorite parts of Japanese culture, like trains running on time and unparalleled customer service, but it’s not every day that we hear from Japanese people about their favorite parts of foreign cultures.
With that in mind, one of RocketNews24’s Japanese-language writers decided to interview a few well-traveled Japanese people and hear some of their favorite aspects of the different cultures they’ve experienced and how they compare to their own.
Ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, Super Mega Important Debate is back! This weekend, we’re putting Japanese TV under the spotlight and asking you, our good-looking and never-shy-to-venture-an-opinion readers, whether you think the TV shows broadcast in Japan are wonderfully entertaining or a big bag of steaming horse poop.
Visiting Japan is one thing, but living there can be something completely different. When many people first visit the country, they get the oohs and aahs of the bright lights in Tokyo and the cultural experience of Kyoto, with plenty of temples, shrines and good food along the way, and by no means is that a bad way to do it! However, you there are some things about Japan that might not sink in during just a brief visit. Living in the country is a unique experience in both awesome and frustrating ways; there may be times when you never want to leave, yet times you feel far from home.
A recently released video gets into some of these complex feelings of foreigners living in Japan in the aptly titled video: Japan Feelings.
In Japan almost everyone hangs out their laundry to dry rather than using costly, energy-guzzling clothes dryers. Foreigners have no problems complying, but one quickly learns that underwear is special–you don’t hang it out with the rest of your clothes where others might see it (or try to see it). The “smallies” are to be hung up inside. When you think about it, it does make sense. But other things are harder for foreigners to get used to and yet others just don’t make sense at all to us so are harder to incorporate into our lifestyles here.
Pooling responses from expats living here in Japan and the RocketNews24 staff, today we’re sharing the most common things that we just can’t quite embrace like the Japanese do, no matter how hard we try. Join us after the jump as we reveal the secret life of gaijin…but shhhh, don’t tell anyone!
As much as we at RocketNews24 love living in Japan, and have learned many life lessons here, we can’t deny that there are some things about the country that simply drive us crazy! It turns out some of these points are universally dreaded by foreigners living here–little quirky things that we just can’t really get used to no matter how long we’ve been in the country.
These are not things that are any big deal overall, but if you’re already having a “bad Japan day” where nothing is really going right, or you’re missing your family, food and cat back home, then encountering just one of these things can be enough to push you over the edge.
After pooling some common quirky Japanese things we “love to hate,” now allow us to get a few of these things off our hairy chests!
Sometimes our modern lives lack conflict. Let’s remedy that today by having a massive fight about something that doesn’t really matter.
This week, we’re talking about the fermented soybeans known as natto, and there’s one question we need you all to answer: is this dish “nom” or is it decidedly “vom”?
China and Japan have always had a tenuous relationship and in recent years you could classify it as somewhere between “sworn enemies” and “best buds”. Their close proximity to each other should allow each of the two countries to learn a lot about the other, yet even with informational tools like the Internet, what exactly the Japanese know about their “neighbors” is cringe-worthy.
When asked “What is your image of Chinese people?” the responses were exactly what you would expect. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s about to get really stereotypical in here.
With perennial favorites such as Mos Burger, CoCo Ichibanya, Hotto Motto, and more, Japan has no shortage of tasty casual dining establishments to satisfy any craving. Yet many a foreign resident has surely at one time found himself longing for something more–the kind of guilty satisfaction that can only result from a visit to our favorite not-quite-Mexican joint, the peerless Taco Bell.
According to recent reports, the American fast food chain will soon be reentering the Japanese market, following up on its previous, disastrous, attempt almost three decades ago. Is this the beginning of a Mexican food renaissance in Japan, or simply the beginning of the end? We asked our foreign writers currently residing in Japan for their opinions, which proved to be mixed, to say the least.
How do you feel about the state of anime nowadays?
That question is likely to draw some strong opinions from our readers. There’s no question that the past few years have produced a number of works critically acclaimed for their innovative plots and characters. But then there are some series that have built up huge fanbases for their…wait, why was that again? As one Chinese anime fan so eloquently put it, it’s almost as if these “mass-produced series” are on par with fast food…
World opinion of the United States goes up and down like a giant see-saw. Sometimes the US is seen as a world leader in economics, science and technology, yet there is no denying the fact that around the globe, there are some groups that harbor negative feelings towards Americans. Post WWII, there has been an incredibly strong bond between the USA and Japan, but has public opinion been swayed in recent years? If this small sampling of college students is representative of how the youth of Japan feel about the US, relations between the two countries will continue to be solid.
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!”
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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?
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.