Culture

Warm Your Heart With These Nostalgic Kotatsu Cord-Inspired Smartphone Cables

2017-10-17 02:24

There are so many ways of accessorizing your smartphone these days, and Japan has seen its share of cute and creative options. For example, there have been charger plugs in the shape of Pikachu’s butt, kitties that cling to your earphone cables, smartphone pouches that make you feel like you’re rubbing a shiba dog’s tummy and smartphone cases that make it look like you buried your phone in a dish of Japanese food. Now, there’s a new smartphone accessory that appeals to the sensitivities of those who enjoy Japanese domestic culture, fans of Showa Era lifestyles, and perhaps even foreigners who may feel nostalgic for their homestay experiences living with…


Forget Shibuya, Party Central for Halloween This Year is in Kabukicho!

2017-10-16 08:14

When it comes to going out for Halloween in Japan, Shibuya is usually the place that draws most of the attention worldwide for the throngs of costumed revelers who turn out. We’ve seen amazing costumes and marveled at the crazy crowds before. But since last year, there’s been another amazing location to enjoy Halloween, and that’s Kabukicho! Although traditionally a red-light district and entertainment district where restaurants and pubs share space with night clubs, host clubs, cabaret clubs and karaoke bars, ever since the Toho Cinemas building opened in 2015, together with its family-oriented restaurants and shops, the outer area of the neighborhood has changed its image and foreign tourists,…


Los Angeles Metro Turns To J-Pop And Anime Girls To Teach Train Manners

2017-10-13 01:44

Many often point to Japan as a culture and society that strongly values scenario-based rules of etiquette, and perhaps its highly praised modes of public transportation are one of the best ways to observe these strongly encouraged manners in action. Things like speaking loudly, talking on the phone, eating, or taking up too much space are discouraged as train-riding taboos. While these may come across as common sense to some, Japanese trains (outside of last train–drunk people means anything goes) display both very convenient transportation services and models of public behavior. Unfortunately, younger generations and foreign visitors unfamiliar with Japanese train manners often don’t observe this etiquette, which has lead…


Traditional Japanese Confectionery Offers Cute-and-Gross Sweets For Halloween

2017-10-12 07:13

This time of year, Japanese food retailers and shops have a ghoulishly good excuse to concoct their most colorful and tasty creations in the spirit of Halloween. For example, we’ve seen Krispy Kreme Japan come out with a collection of sweet and spooky donuts, Baskin Robbins Japan made a glow-in-the-dark Halloween ice cream and McDonald’s Japan sent shivers down our spine with their pumpkin and chocolate sauce-drizzled fries. As these examples indicate, Halloween is very attractive to foreign brands operating in Japan. However, Japanese brands have also begun to embrace the holiday and this even includes a few traditional Japanese confectioneries. Suehiroan, a wagashi manufacturer based in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture,…


“Maiden School” To Teach Men How To Become Women

2017-10-12 05:01

According to Dentsu Diversity Lab, 7.6% (about 1 in 13) of the nearly 70,000 Japanese who participated in their 2015 survey identified themselves as “LGBT,” up from 5.2% in 2012. A growing number of Japanese businesses are making efforts to recognize the needs of gender and sexual minorities both as part of the workforce and as customers of services and products. Most likely reflecting this trend, transgender model, media personality, entrepreneur and Miss International Queen 2015 contestant Satsuki Nishihara announced that on November 17, she will open a new private school called Otomejuku. Combining the word otome, meaning girl or maiden, with juku, meaning private school, Otomejuku will offer a…


Epic Giant Straw Animals Emerge From Japanese Rice Harvest In Style

2017-10-10 02:53

Niigata prefecture’s Wara Art Festival has a very creative and imposing way of making use of the leftover rice straw (wara) from the harvests that take advantage of the prefecture’s abundant rice production (vital in sake, which the prefecture is famous for). The Wara Art Festival is a collaborative effort between Niigata City’s local tourism board and students from Musashino Art University. Running from 2008, the festival boasts the creative talents of the students, as well as showcases just how much leftover rice straw there is via impressively crafted giant straw animals. Source: Wara Art Matsuri This year’s tenth anniversary of the festival filled Uwasekigata Park with a herd of…


These Kirby Confections Are Kawaii AF

2017-10-10 01:13

When it comes to cute video game characters from Japan, Kirby, with his pink, spherical body, stubby arms and legs, pink cheek blushes and oval eyes, undoubtedly ranks near the top of most people’s list. His popularity has inspired gas tanks painted in his image and even a line of Kirby lingerie and loungewear. However, perhaps even more prevalent are Kirby-inspired desserts. Officially, we’ve already seen Kirby pancakes and macaron cookies at a limited-time Kirby Cafe. Fans of Kirby have also expressed their love of the pink “puffball” by creating colorful Kirby sweets and cookies. Now, another sweet creation by a Kirby fan has garnered attention. In a flash of…


Woman Gives Birth In Japan And Documents How Good Japanese Hospital Food Is

2017-10-10 10:47

It’d be a bit unfair to label all hospital food as slop or totally unappealing, but it sure feels like the image of unappetizing food in hospitals has at least earned some of its reputation. This is partly due to the grueling demands of a hospital, but also because some hospitals forbid their cooks from tasting the food they prepare. As imgur user Hahahah1111111 will attest, however, Japanese hospital food doesn’t face such an unappetizing image. Reflecting a change that Japan made in school lunches following World War II called the School Lunch Act, which partly focuses on making cafeteria lunches deliver nutritional education, Japanese hospital meals are designed to…


Why Japanese Convenience Stores Won’t Give Out Plastic Knives

2017-10-06 12:24

Anyone who has visited Japan or lived here for a while knows that Japanese convenience stores are truly wonderful. Not only are they miracles of space efficiency and convenience, they are always stocked with an ever-changing variety of products. Whether you’re hankering for squid and carrot flavored potato chips or beautiful Japanese desserts, you’ll likely find it at your local “combini.” You can even buy exclusive goods created in collaboration with popular anime series. However, there is one thing that sometimes gives foreigners reason to believe that Japanese convenience stores aren’t all that convenient after all. Although they’ll happily give out disposable plastic forks and spoons upon request or automatically…


Cut Through The Competition With a Business Card Forged From “Samurai Sword” Steel

2017-10-04 06:36

The ancient art of Japanese swordsmithing is famous for its sophistication, its labor-intensiveness, and the unparalleled strength and durability of the swords painstakingly made in a process combining steels of different grades and folding them over and over. It was considered a sacred art with numerous Shinto rituals involved in the production. Crucial to the manufacture of Japanese blades, especially the katana favored by samurai warriors, is the special steel, called tamahagane (literally “jewel steel”), produced from iron sand, and the smelting process using a clay vessel called a tatara. Years of training and experience are required to master the various techniques involved. Short of doing an apprenticeship with a…


It’s Really Hard To Buy A Gun In Japan

2017-10-04 06:43

As the U.S. deals with the aftermath of a deadly and horrifically tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas, the discussion of stricter gun control laws often yields Japan, one of the safest countries in the world when it comes to gun-related violence, as an example of successful gun control laws. In 2014, the U.S. saw 33,599 gun deaths compared to only six in Japan, reports the BBC, and OECD data ranking Japan second only to Iceland in terms of gun deaths, with the U.S. topping the list (out of 34 countries). Of course, raw statistics are not the only thing to consider in this. More nuanced discussions about gun control…


Starbucks Mt. Fuji You Are Here Mugs Give A Picturesque Tour Of Japan

2017-10-04 12:47

While it’s quite understandable to stray away from places you can always visit at home when traveling abroad (or simply try and step outside from under the corporate umbrella of chain restaurants), Starbucks in Japan has quite a selection of exclusive items that might entice even some of the more dedicated travelers. The menu often features seasonal items such as Sakura Cherry Blossom products and even off-the-wall types like Cherry Pie Fraps, and in terms of sightseeing, there is even a tatami-style Starbucks in Kyoto made from a century-old renovated traditional teahouse. What most coffee-drinking collectors gravitate towards, however, are the area-specific tumblers and mugs that Starbucks Japan offers. Tokyo,…


Did Kizuna Ai Get An Upgrade? No, It’s New Virtual YouTuber YUA!

2017-10-04 11:40

You’ve probably heard of virtual anime girl and popular YouTuber Kizuna Ai, who has steadily gained a following for her gaming livestreams, vlogs and her cute expressions and reactions. Now, she’s about to get some competition and her name is Yua Fujisaki, or YUA. source: Exys Inc. Since there aren’t too many virtual anime girls with their own YouTube channel, you could be forgiven for thinking that Kizuna Ai got an upgrade, but this is a completely new virtual personality. Billed as a “digital YouTuber,” YUA is the first creation from Exys Inc.’s newly established Digital Youtuber Operations branch which aims to create personalities by combining motion capture technology with…


Terrific Tofu Art Creations to Celebrate Tofu Day

2017-10-02 04:47

Especially in Japan, it seems there are always new ways of eating tofu and new tofu products being created. Traditionally, tofu can be eaten raw, steamed, boiled, fried, and that doesn’t even get into the variety of dishes made with the versatile soy bean product. However, you don’t need to go out of your way to find something different to do with tofu. With a bit of creativity, as demonstrated by artist, animal lover and Twitter user @inu1dog1, you can create tofu art by cutting, carving and composing your tofu in different ways! To celebrate Tofu Day, which is thus named because the sound to-fu can be interpreted as 10-2…


Japan’s First “Hotel in a Park” Lets You Slumber in the Heart of a Forest

2017-09-28 09:38

While the myriad sights and sounds of Tokyo and other big cities surely offer excitement and entertainment to those who visit Japan, there is a growing range of options for you to enjoy the beautiful and pristine natural environment of more rural areas as well. For example, Shizuoka Prefecture, just an hour or so from Tokyo by bullet train, famous for spring water, green tea, and of course, Mount Fuji, is an increasingly popular destination. Now, joining the list of recommended stops in the prefecture is a new concept hotel cleverly named “INN THE PARK.” Source: PR Times Inc. / 株式会社インザパーク When the Numazu City Youth Outdoor Learning Center closed…


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