society

Is a woman “middle-aged” at 30? 40? 50? Japanese men and women give different answers in poll

You may have heard that Japan is obsessed with youth, which is ironic for a country with an ageing population , this is ironic. In fact, Japan is purported to have the highest proportion of elderly citizens compared to all other countries. With so many older folks making up a vast percentage of the population, why is Japan’s society still often casually ageist, particularly towards women?

A recent poll asked “at what age does a woman become middle-aged?” and the results are extremely telling.

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Just when you thought you knew it all – 17 life-changing lessons learned in Japan

When you first set foot in Japan, it’s hard not to be impressed by the efficiency and social order. The streets are clean, trains run on time, and the people are quiet and polite, yet possess enough of the bizarre to be intriguing (cosplay, line-ups for chicken ramen-flavored ice cream or Lotteria 5-pattied tower burger anyone?).

Living in Japan, or even just visiting, can be a life-changing experience. No one returns to their country the same person as when they left. Here are some of the things that make such an impression on foreigners, they cause us to think a second time, and alter the way we think, act, or view the world. In short, they prompt us to make life changes. Just when you thought you knew it all…

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Video of kids reacting to strangers dropping their wallets might restore your faith in humanity

For the most part, Japanese society stresses being considerate and courteous. 99 times out of 100, that makes Japan a great place to live, but in certain situations those virtues can be taken to such extremes they actually end up contrary to their original sentiments. For example, part of being courteous is not bothering others, but as I’ve talked about before, in rare instances that bit of well-meaning deference can get warped into not getting involved in other people’s affairs even when they’re clearly in a quandary.

But while adults sometime stumble while walking the tightrope between forcing unasked for assistance on someone and helping those in need, what about children? That’s the question posed in this video showing a group of kids reacting to a stranger dropping his or her wallet at the bus stop, and the outcome just might restore a bit of your faith in humanity.

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“Deflowering” services for virgin women are now a thing in Japan, apparently

In modern-day Japan, entering into the marriage or dating market without any prior experience puts ladies at a serious disadvantage from the start. With many women living with their parents until they get married, and with people getting married later in life, there’s a rise of women who remain virgins into their thirties.

Now, there’s apparently a service whereby women can hire someone to take their virginity in order to raise their market appeal to future potential husbands…

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No doctors or hairdressers! Survey asks Japanese women what professions they don’t want to date

Japan is a country that values fiscal responsibility and economic security, and that can influence how people judge a possible romantic partner. For example, we previously looked at a survey in which an overwhelming number of women said they’d rather date a man who’s ugly but rich than a guy who’s handsome and unemployed.

That doesn’t mean that just any old job will do, though. A new poll asked Japanese women what jobs were deal-breakers for a potential boyfriend, and the resulting list includes some surprisingly high-paying professions.

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Japanese netizens rewrite fairy tales in modern corporate situations so real they make us weep

In this modern age and day, most of us spend our days running the rat race and getting worn down by work and school, which is probably why some of us fantasize about the happy endings of fairy tales to get away from real life for a while. But then reality slaps us in the face and reminds us that the birds and mice aren’t going to help you with your chores even if you can sing like Celine Dion, Prince Charming is not coming to whisk you away from your office desk, and your bills aren’t going to vanish even if you fall into a deep, deep sleep.

If the heroes and heroines in fairy tales existed in modern-day and had to work like the rest of us, would their stories still be filled with all that magical glitz and romance? Perhaps not. Japanese Twitter users have been re-interpreting some fairy tales from a corporate perspective, which was supposed to be a creative and entertaining activity, but the new tales were so close to home they couldn’t even laugh over them.

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Sociologist says high school hierarchy keeps Japanese adults away from their home towns

Ijime, or bullying, is sadly as much a part of Japanese school life as it is in any other country. In Japan, too, each school has a sort of social hierarchy, where the “cool kids” often pick on or exclude the nerdy/unsporty kids, and everyone gets shuffled around until the “stronger” kids are on the top and the “weaker” kids are on the bottom.

But in a society like Japan, where group mentality is so important, you’d be mistaken for thinking that after high school everyone just flutters off to become their own special snowflake and cast off the mental wounds of a tough adolescence.

In other words, if someone was bullied in school, there’s a chance they’ll keep on being bullied by the same people right on through their working days if they stay in the same town. So how does this “high school hierarchy” continue to affect the lives of adults in Japan?

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Honest Tokyo: 3.3 billion yen of lost cash handed in to police in 2014 alone

Imagine this. You’re at a fireworks festival with almost one million people in attendance. Everyone is scrambling for a place to sit and stampeding for the exit when it’s over. In between standing in line for a tasty treat and being dazzled by the fireworks spectacle, you realize something terrible. You’ve lost your wallet. Now what?

In Japan, you just go to the nearest police box, or koban! In 2014 alone, a stunning amount of cash and lost possessions was turned into police stations around Tokyo. In cash alone, over 3.3 billion yen was turned in. That’s a whopping US$27.8 million picked up and taken to the authorities. Could that happen anywhere else in the world?

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2014 suicide rates in Japan down, suicide in men still twice that of women

Even though Japan may not have the highest suicide rate in the world, unfortunately it’s still quite common. Suicide is the leading cause of death for young people in Japan, and the most popular place to commit suicide in the world, Aokigahara Forest, is located in Japan as well.

The Japanese National Police Agency and Cabinet Office recently released statistics on the suicides that occurred in 2014, and while they’re continuing the downward trend of the past five years, they’re still quite high compared to other countries.

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Why aren’t there more female entrepreneurs in Japan? Pull up a chair… 【Women in Japan Series】

According to the Global Entrepreneur Development Index (GEDI) that measures favorable conditions for women entrepreneurs, the US and Australia are ranked first and second respectively, while Japan places fifteenth, just behind Peru. Yet Japan fulfills many of the requirements to create a successful female entrepreneurial environment such as education, skills and access to capital.

In addition, women in Japan can overcome obstacles such as low salaries, long work hours and scant child-rearing options by owning their own businesses and calling the shots. So, what’s holding Japanese women back? It turns out that a large part of it may be Japanese women themselves.

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Congratulations Nippon! Japan takes on the title of “Top Country Brand”

Every year a brand consultant agency called FutureBrand comes out with a report of the Country Brand Index (CBI). The “country brand” (think “Made in Japan”), is measured similarly to consumer or corporate brands (Nike, Toshiba, etc).

The index is a measure of the global perception of each country’s “brand,” not just for the quality and popularity of their export products and big name businesses, but also taking into account social aspects of the country. Having spent the last few years cozily in the top ten, Japan took the number one position in the 2014-2015 CBI report.

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10 things foreigners do that Japanese people find amusing

Ah, the wonders of learning a second language. There’s much to be said for the sense of satisfaction and achievement that comes from communicating effectively in another tongue. There’s also much to be said about the head-scratching and sense of humility that comes from tripping up and sounding like a buffoon.

We’ve found 10 tweeted tales of confusion from Japanese people who’ve had amusing encounters with foreigners in Japan. Some strike such a chord with Japanese that they’ve been retweeted and shared hundreds, sometimes even thousands of times.

So what is it that we foreigners do that’s so amusing?

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Pay Japan’s apology agencies to say “I’m sorry” when it’s just too hard to do it yourself

It’s a problem we all have to deal with at various points in our lives. We like to think we’re perfect and have it all figured out, but in reality no one is above making mistakes in their personal or professional lives. But it’s in these mistakes that through the humiliation of making amends to those we wronged we grow a little and become a better person as a result.

However, now thanks to a new line of business in Japan you don’t have to! Why go through all that painful guilt and general ickiness of facing up to the fact you’ve wronged someone when you can just pay someone else to do it for you? This way you can get back to the important things in life, like your golf swing or finally finishing that watercolor you were working on.

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Princest Diaries: Artist uses Disney Princesses in Rape Awareness posters

An artist has been causing controversy online recently with a set of posters featuring Disney princesses in incestual embraces with their fathers. Entitled “The Princest Diaries”, the three posters in the series are designed to raise incest and rape awareness using simple imagery and characters well-known to people of all ages and nationalities. Disney fans may find the following pictures disturbing but according to the artist, this is exactly the point.

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France vs Taiwan: Which country has more warm-hearted and helpful citizens?

Earlier this month, YouTube user NorniTube uploaded a controversial video of a social experiment which looked at how a person’s appearance can affect the responses they get from the general public. One two different days, he pretended to collapse on a Paris street to see if anyone would come to his aid, on one occasion wearing shabby clothes, on the other dressed in a smart suit. (We’ll leave you to watch the video to find out how it went!)

After watching NorniTube’s video, YouTuber Hei Nan decided to test the reactions of his fellow Taiwanese citizens by doing a similar experiment on the streets of his city. Were the Taiwanese more or less likely to help out that the Parisians in NorniTube’s video? Find out after the jump!

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“Recycling in Japan” or “Reasons to get it right and avoid eternal shame”

Is Japan’s recycling system the most complicated in the world? It sure feels like it sometimes. Household waste must of course be separated into burnable and non-burnable, but after that there’s a dizzying array of recycling categories to break your non-burnables into. Since Japan is a relatively small country without masses of land to use for burying waste, the vast majority of waste used to be incinerated. However, with increasing ecological awareness in the 1990s came new legislation to minimise the amount of waste being burnt, and promote recycling.

Public awareness of the need to recycle is high, but the system can be baffling for new foreign residents. The problem lies not only in the array of recycling categories, but also in the apparent overlap between them: the grey areas. Is an empty pizza box considered recycled paper? Or is it burnable? Paper packages? “Other”? And if a bottle is made of a different type of plastic to the standard PET, is still a “pet bottle”, or is it just “plastic”?

Today we bring you six reasons to learn what goes in what box, and a few hints for getting it right along the way.

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This couple is waaaaayyyy too happy about their mediocre lot in life

In any other country this advert where two people proudly announce: “Our total annual income is 3.55 million. We bought our mansion!” would be one of those pie-in-the-sky pipe dreams that many young professionals could only dream of.

However, in Japan this ad has left people feeling despondent about the future of the country and thinking to themselves, “I wouldn’t be smiling so much, if I were them.”

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Nagoya NPO releases survival guide for hikikomori for when their parents are gone

The social phenomenon of hikikomori, where people are compelled to remain confined in their own homes, is not new anymore. What is new, however, is the looming issue of what happens when a hikikomori’s parents become elderly or die.

Recently a scattering of cases has begun involving people who have filed for government support after their parents have died. And with estimates of the hikikomori population hovering around one million in Japan, experts are suggesting this is just the tip of the impending iceberg.

One group called Nadeshiko No Kai out of Nagoya is looking to take the bull by the horns and is nearly ready to issue a manual – the first of its kind – for hikikomori to aid them in becoming independent once their parents are no longer able to help.

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The greatest wish of underprivileged “pig-shed” sibilings is to have a bright lamp

It was Children’s Day in Taiwan on April 4th, and while many children probably wished for new toys and games or a day of fun and play, a pair of underprivileged siblings living in Nantou County of Taiwan wished for nothing more than a really bright light so that they could study, and for it to rain less so that they could sleep on dry beddings.

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“You’re an otaku!” Defining Japan’s nerdiest word

What would you say if someone were to call you an otaku? These days, people’s responses would likely fall into one of two extremes: “Hell, yeah! I’m a huge [insert hobby here] otaku!” or “Screw you! I have a life!”

Some might argue that the latter response is more likely to come from a true otaku, but very rarely do you hear someone admit to being an otaku with the nonchalant cadence of someone saying, “I’m a claims adjuster.” There’s always at least hint of bias in their tone whether its pride or embarrassment.

And yet such an emotionally charged label is still in debate with regards to its definition. To try to make sense of what an otaku is and whether it’s a good or bad thing, let’s start by looking at reasons people might say they aren’t an otaku. The following are four types of denial you might hear when calling someone an otaku as concocted by Japan’s Excite News.

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