Every Sunday we gather the week’s weird and interesting Japanese news and present it to you in our Sunday News column. It might not always be hard-hitting news, but we hope that it still informs and entertains you. Enjoy!



Mystery ramshackle boat carrying five rotten bodies washes up in Japan as police probe claims they died fleeing North Korea: Sometimes truth can be stranger than fiction, and nowhere is this more evident than North Korea. While there are always weird things happening within North Korean borders, sometimes the bizareness spills over to outside the country. Such is the case with a mysterious, apparently North Korean boat that washed ashore in Japan late last week. We’ll likely never know who the people aboard the boat were, nor how the managed to get all the way to Japan, thanks to the shroud of mystery that has surrounded the DPRK for the last 60 years.
[/threecol_two] [threecol_one_last]Nearly 90% dissatisfied with Japan’s English education: survey: Most people in Japan learn English in school but the results are, let’s say, far from optimal. In a new survey conducted by Rakuten Research, nearly 90% of Japanese parents said that they’re dissatisfied with their child’s English education. This shouldn’t be surprised but, as Daniel Feit wrote, a better headline would have been “13.4% of Japanese Parents Bizarrely Satisfied With Their Kids’ English Education.” [via Daniel Feit]

Saitama couple busted for allowing teens to watch intercourse in car for ‘sex education’:There’s no part of this story that’s not just outlandish and bizarre: a couple with a nearly 40-year age differences lets some kids watch them have sex under the guise of “sex education.” Will this defense work for flashers, streakers, and other exhibitionists? Let’s hope not.[/threecol_one_last]


[threecol_one]TabletMan is Japanese tech personified: Japanese technology can be unique, interesting, but it’s always first and foremost very Japanese. Maybe no technology is more representative of this than TabletMan, Toshiba’s mascot for their burgeoning tablet line. TabletMan’s cool in theory, but I feel for the buy underneath the tablets. How would you like everybody coming up to touch you?

Seven & i Holdings to offer free wi-fi in 10,000 stores nationwide: In the US, virtually every cafe, hotel, and bar has free wifi, but historically (and by historically, I mean in the last five or so years), free wifi has been notoriously hard to come by in Japan. It looks like this is changing, with free wifi (with registration) is coming to 10,000 Seven & i Holdings convenience stores across Japan. As if you really need another reason to love Japanese convenience stores.[/threecol_one] [threecol_two_last]

Photo by Fumi Yamazaki

The erotic guitars, decaying machines, and soy sauce of Maker Faire Tokyo: The Japanese prove that their among the most inventive people in the world year after year by not only their wacky inventions, but by the sheer number of patent applications. Nowhere was this inventive spirit more apparent than this week’s Maker Fair Tokyo, where amateur inventors showed off their cool, quirky creations. On display were a four-ton mech, a robot made out of a mannequin’s leg that played um, adult sounds, and a “pouring too much soy sauce machine.” These inventions might not change the world, but at the very least they’re damn entertaining.[/threecol_two_last]


  • 古戸ヱリカ

    At last. I find it extremely troublesome how I’m always pouring the right amount of soy sauce.

  • Tora.Silver

    You can get arrested for that? Crap.

  • syrup16g

    Nothing bizarre about 13% of parents being satisfied with their children’s English education. Japanese don’t need English in their everyday life, and if they aren’t planning on moving outside of Japan (which an incredibly small percentage of Japanese ever do), there is no reason for them to even bother. They should be focusing on getting a high score on entrance exams and in college getting a high score on SPI so they can get a “good” job.

  • Sachou

    Errm…this is not the 19th century. We are in the 2st century. Globalisation. Ever heard of that? ;)

  • Sachou

    Maybe you should give the same advice to China and its thousands of people learning English.
    Honestly, how many languages do you speak?

  • syrup16g

    English, Japanese, Spanish, Mandarin Chinese. Just giving the perspective from most Japanese people. Japanese college students are averse to studying abroad because it puts them in a bad position to apply for jobs on time with their graduating class. A 23-year old or older is practically valueless when compared with a 22-year old by Japanese corporate standards. I didn’t make the rules, sorry.

  • syrup16g

    I have but, look at Japanese politics, immigration laws, hiring policies of Japanese corporations today. A majority of the rules are based on 19th century customs and ideas. Globalization is a post-modern concept, most of Japan, and America for that matter is still holds modernism as their gold standard.

  • Judith

    The most wacky thing for me is that you cited Daniel Feit, and I had no idea he had an internet presence at all. The internet surprises me every day.