society

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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