25 useful Japanese words for everyday conversation

I wasn't expecting to learn much from this video about 25 useful Japanese words because I thought I would know them all, but there were quite a few that were new to me:

uso (no way!) chicchai (tiny and cute) harahetta (I'm starving) dekai (huge) umai (tasty, more casual than oishii) majide (you're not joking?) dasai (uncool) kakkoii (cool or attractive) sugei (incredible) tsukareta (I'm exhausted) Read the rest

"Animals" escaping from Japanese zoos part of unintentionally funny drills

Every year in Japan, animals escape from zoos in a planned exercise. Except they aren't really animals, they're humans in animal costumes. And they aren't really escaping, they're part of an annual drill to train staff on what to do when a real animal does. While funny to watch, escaped animals are no joke in a country known for earthquakes.

Director of Tama Zoological Park, Yutaka Fukuda, told Metro in 2015:

‘In the event of a big earthquake, a tree could fall on a cage, or many other things could occur that may lead to an animal escape.

‘We think it is very important, and it is our responsibility to carry it out with seriousness.’

Look for the real lions, their reactions to the drill are priceless.

Thanks, Julie!

screenshot via The Guardian Read the rest

Spectacular, tiny room hidden behind a hinged electrical outlet cover

Japanese artist Mozu makes incredible, miniature dioramas with tiny, winking electronic devices; their latest piece is The Secret Base of Kubito, a tiny workroom hidden behind an electrical outlet. Mozu says of it, "This work, which was born from the delusion that 'If I'm small, don't make a secret base in the wall', and the wifi router that flashes with a glowing TV are all handmade miniature works." (Sorry, wonky Bing translation!) Read the rest

Look at this complicated robot designed to discourage use of e-signatures

Traditionally, people in Japan used personal seals called hanko for signing important documents. But increasingly banks and government bodies have permitted use of digital signatures instead. Some are dedicated to preserving hanko culture, leading to stories like this:

The official website of new Japanese information technology minister Naokazu Takemoto has been unviewable for the past few months, raising concerns among social media users over his ability to handle the portfolio, it was learned Friday.

...

In a news conference a day earlier, Takemoto said online administrative procedures and the country’s practice of using hanko (personal seals) should coexist.

The Diet in May enacted legislation that simplified procedures related to events such as changes of address, death certificates and property inheritance through online administrative procedures, rather than forcing citizens to go to government offices, fill out forms and stamp paperwork using hanko.

Takemoto, who heads a group of lawmakers working to protect the nation’s hanko culture, said: “The two should not be regarded as conflicting things. We have to think about how to let them flourish together.”

Now, Denso and Hitachi have announced a robot that can stamp documents:

The robot “COBOTTA”, which automatically signs contracts and electronic documents, contributes to the automation of office operations in response to customer needs for operational efficiency, labor savings, and productivity improvements.

I can't tell whether this hanko-bot is intended as a joke, but there are also robots for making dumplings:

  Read the rest

Holiday Baking Inspo: Corgi Butt Bread

I love Corgis so much. This Japan-based bakery's corgi butt bread is something that I can really get behind. Read the rest

In Japan, these giant shoulder calluses are a badge of honor

I was looking at photos of Chigasaki, Japan in Google Images when I saw a photo a smiling man with what looked to be a huge pink bump on his shoulder. I clicked for a closer look and learned that he is a katsugite, a person who helps carry one-ton Shinto shrines supported on wooden poles. The bump was a callus from bearing the load of the shrine.

SoraNews24 has an article about katsugite and their mikoshi dako.

There’s no mistaking what causes these shoulder calluses, given that they’re known in Japanese as “Mikoshi Dako“, or “Mikoshi Calluses“. Just as players of stringed instruments develop lumps of hard skin on their fingers from years of practice, these mikoshi carriers develop bulges on their shoulders, which actually help to reduce the pain of carrying the portable shrine due to the build-up of hardened skin.

Rather than hide the large lumps on their shoulders, however, the men who have them wear them as a badge of pride; as a symbol of their unwavering dedication to the deity, the shrine and the larger community itself.

Read the rest

Native English speakers try to guess Japanese words

Language learning brand Busuu took to the streets of London to see if native English speakers could translate the Japanese words thrown at them. They did better than I would have!

Just like the English language has borrowed words from Japanese, like karaoke or sushi, modern Japanese uses a fair amount of vocabulary borrowed from English. These words are called gairaigo.

(Neatorama) Read the rest

Japanese overdesign fetish: Beetle 3-Way Highlighter

The business end of KOKUYO Beetle Tips highlighter looks a bit like a rhinoceros beetle's horns, hence the name. Three-way refers to the fun you'll have with the highlighter when you make three different kinds of marks with it.

Amazon sells a colorful 5-pack for .

[via] Read the rest

Japanese store "rethinks" badges that indicate if employees are menstruating

A spokesperson for the Daimaru branch at Osaka Umeda department store says that badges given to women employees to let others know they are menstruating are not mandatory. But the store has received enough negative attention that it is rethinking the program.

from BBC:

Ms Higuchi said some staff "didn't see the point" in the badges or were "reluctant" to wear them.

"But others were positive," she added. "If you saw a colleague was having her period, you could offer to carry heavy things for her, or suggest she takes longer breaks, and this support would be mutual."

She also said customers had phoned in with their support.

Daimaru are not cancelling the policy, but they are rethinking it.

Ms Higuchi said they would come up with a different way of sharing the information - without alerting the public.

Read the rest

A day in the life of a 23-year-old Tokyo game programmer

Masa is a 23-year-old game programmer at Bandai Namco Studios in Tokyo. In this 13-minute-video made by Paolo From Tokyo, we see what Masa's life is like, from the moment his alarm goes off in the morning until he is back at home making a Gundam model before he goes to sleep.

From the YouTube description:

We'll even interact with directors from popular Japanese video game titles such as Tekken and CodeVein. Plus we'll get to see what a Japanese programmer from one of the large Video Game companies in Japan does after work with friends. This look inside a Japanese game dev's life is pretty unique and should provide some insight for those people who want to work in Japan as a game developer or game programmer. Also, this day in the life of a Japanese programmer will show you what it takes to be a Japanese programmer. As you would expect, most of the work day is spent programming and coding, but there are other unique aspects of the Japanese programmers life we are able to see in this video.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Watch: an evening stroll through the entertainment district of Osaka, Japan

In late September, the person who make the Nippon Wandering TV YouTube channel walked around Dotonbori, the entertainment district of Osaka Japan and shot a 40 minute 4K video with binaural sound. It's so lively there! Los Angeles is a real dud in comparison.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Tokyo Disneyland's new vinyl LP is AMAZING

Tokyo Disneyland is a curious beast: it's owned by a Japanese company (the "Oriental Land Company") but the company is contractually obligated to use Disney as its sole supplier of rides and designs; historically, TDL has expanded by ordering the very best, most popular rides and shows from other Disney parks, and then paying to have them built to the very highest possible specification -- it's a kind of global best-of Disney park, gold plated and buffed to a high finish. Read the rest

Music that inspired 1980s Japanese environmental music composer Yukata Hirose

Yutaka Hirose is a Japanese composer who was a key figure in that country's ambient/environmental music scene of the 1980s that in recent years has been rediscovered by crate-diggers around the world. Hirose's "NOVA" (1986) is a classic of the genre, a soundscape that Misawa Home Corporation commissioned as a "soundtrack" for the prefabricated houses. While original LPs have sold for hundreds of dollars, WRWTFWW Records have recently reissued the record as an expanded double LP and double CD. (For a further exploration of Japanese environmental music of the 1980s, Light in the Attic Records' "Kankyō Ongaku: Japanese Ambient, Environmental & New Age Music 1980-1990" is a perfect portal.)

To celebrate the NOVA reissue, The Vinyl Factory asked Hirose to create a mix of music he was listening to and inspired by in the 1980s Listen above. It's a beautiful, sometimes-jarring, and totally compelling journey through avant-garde sounds of the time. Here's the tracklist:

1. Jan Steele – All Day 2. David Toop – Do The Bathosphere 3. Gavin Bryars – 1, 2, 1-2-3-4 4. Joan La Barbara – Poems 43, 44, 45 5. Meredith Monk – Waltz 6. Karlheinz Stockhausen – Stimmung 7. John Cage – Seven Haiku 8. Throbbing Gristle – Almost A Kiss 9. Robert Ashley – Yellow Man With Heart With Wings 10. The Flying Lizards – The Window 11. Henry Cow Little Red Riding Hood Hit The Road 12. Faust – Faust 13. CAN – Future Days 14. Tangerine Dream:Rubycon 15. Michael Nyman – Decay Music 16.

Read the rest

Checking to see if Japanese people like root beer

Root beer is not common in Japan (apart from Okinawa). In this video, That Japanese Man Yuta goes to a park in Japan and asks people to drink some and describe it. Most people dislike it, saying it tastes like medicine, mouthwash, "pain relief pads," or "the stuff you put on when you get bitten by a mosquito." Read the rest

This guy walks around Tokyo with a GoPro strapped on

One of my family's favorite things to do is wander the neighborhoods of Tokyo. The narrow streets, filled with colorful visual, olfactory, and aural details, never fail to fill me with a sense of wonder.  Yesterday one of my daughters showed me a YouTube Channel called Nippon Wandering TV. The person who runs the channel uses a high resolution GoPro (strapped to his chest or head, I guess) and walks through different Tokyo neighborhoods at different times of the day. He doesn't narrate the videos, and I'm glad he doesn't, because it's nice to hear the sounds of the streets -- talking, cars, music, etc. Each video is about 30 minutes long.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Meet the hairdresser to Japan’s sumo wrestling elite

Once when I was on a train in Tokyo, I saw a sumo wrestler board and take a seat. He looked like a real life superhero and moved with grace that defied his massiveness. One of the things that made him look otherworldly was his topknot hairstyle. In this video, we meet Kato Akira, who had been the hairdresser for elite sumo wrestlers for over 50 years. He uses both hands and his mouth to tie knots in the wrestlers' hair, and uses a number of beautiful wooden combs.

Image: YouTube Read the rest

Japanese film festival in Los Angeles this weekend, Nov 1-3, 2019

The Japan Cuts Hollywood film festival takes places this weekend at the Chinese Theatres in Hollywood. Carla and I will be there. Japan House Los Angeles is curating three movies on Saturday:

37 SECONDS | Director HIKARI is an award-winning writer, producer and director.

TEN YEARS JAPAN | The executive producer is Hirokazu Kore-eda. The screening will be followed by a Q&A with three female Japanese directors.

NO LONGER HUMAN | The US Premiere of director Mika Ninagawa.

Read the rest

More posts