society

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

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

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?

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”

“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

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

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

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

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

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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Scientists in Osaka prove that it really does pay to be kind to others

Scientists in Osaka prove that it really does pay to be kind to others

A research group from Osaka University has confirmed that acts of kindness really are recognized and rewarded by those around you. Assistant lecturer Onishi Kenji, who is a specialist in the field of Developmental Psychology, led the research at the university which monitored the responses of infants to acts of kindness. The same research group announced its results in America’s online scientific journal “PLOS ONE”, dated August 7.

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Suicide Prevention Month: Depressing Posters Cause Controversy in Kobe

Suicide Prevention Month: Depressing Posters Cause Controversy in Kobe

As part of efforts by Kobe City to prevent suicides, a number of huge posters (each measuring 2.1  by 1.35 metres), have been set up on local subway platforms at Sannomiya Station, in Kobe’s Central Ward. While some have commended the effort, it seems that the crowds of commuters aren’t all on board with the somewhat depressing content, as the move has been generating a lot of criticism from the public.

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What Keeps Japanese Schoolgirls Up at Night: Constipation, Bad Karaoke and Chapped Lips, Apparently

What Keeps Japanese Schoolgirls Up at Night: Constipation, Bad Karaoke and Chapped Lips, Apparently

Ah, elementary school! The carefree days of youth when my biggest concerns were the ingredients in the cafeteria’s “special” lunch and whether the boy sitting next to me did, in fact, have cooties. Sure, those concerns seemed weighty at the time, but with the benefit of hindsight, I know those were halcyon days indeed.

At the risk of sounding like a old crank, I have to wonder if young girls today are missing out on those years of blissful ignorance. A new book, published here in Japan, suggests that the weight of the world may be falling on the shoulders of elementary school girls much earlier than it did for girls of my generation.

Being a Girl collects a variety of concerns expressed by elementary school girls and offers advice from doctors and other specialists, and you might be surprised what secret worries burden young girls’ hearts. Read More

Students Collect More Than 40 Bags of 3/11 Tsunami Debris in Vancouver

Students Collect More Than 40 Bags of 3/11 Tsunami Debris in Vancouver

To mark the second anniversary of the March 11 disaster, student volunteers in Vancouver spent two days dealing with the lingering effects. They collected more than 40 large trash bags of tsunami debris that has been littering beaches on Vancouver Island’s Pacific Rim National Park. Read More

Tokyo Disneyland Hosts Its First Gay Wedding

Tokyo Disneyland Hosts Its First Gay Wedding

A while back, we reported that Tokyo Disneyland had agreed to offer its wedding packages to same-sex couples in Japan. This month, the very same lesbian couple that encouraged the company to do so became the first to get hitched at the park, with Mickey and Minnie in attendance, of course. Read More

Counselor Has Harsh Words for Parents of Hikikomori: Over 30 Year-Olds Are Screwed, Over 40 Are Hopeless

Counselor Has Harsh Words for Parents of Hikikomori: Over 30 Year-Olds Are Screwed, Over 40 Are Hopeless

As the social phenomenon which goes by the Japanese name of “hikikomori” continues to grow in Japan and other parts of the world, with the first generation is now well into middle age.  Hikikomori refers to people who engage in social isolation by remaining in their homes for extremely long periods of time.

Carpe Fidem is a website which offers support to families with members who have become hikikomori. However, a column they published recently describing questions which come up during consultations with parents of hikikomori children has been stirring up controversy. In it, the counselor recommends some “tough love” style approaches and may have offended some with their level of frankness.
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