Depending on your point of view, the snooze button can be your best friend or your worst enemy. We’ve all struggled with waking up on time, and the snooze button can often lull us into a false sense of security, making it okay to jump back into your warm, comfy bed and ignore the outside world for another ten minutes or so. One Japanese iPhone app seems to have solved this conundrum with a time-tested method: public shaming.
Japan has never failed to bring the world terrifyingly lifelike humanoid robots. Sometimes I feel like Japan is situated right in the middle of the Uncanny Valley.
But sometimes these freakish inventions can actually do more than scare people. Sometimes these inventions can actually be very helpful, like one of Japan’s newest inventions, the dental robot. This robot helps aspiring dentists learn their craft, but also has a bit of a surprising background. [Read more…]
From baseball teams to giant corporations to even tiny towns, it seems that Japan has a mascot for everything. People claim that Kobe alone has 42 different mascots for everything from the city itself to recycling campaigns. In Japan, these mascots are called yuru kyara, or “gentle characters.” The costumes that yuru kyara wear are called kigurumi which, when worn by civilians, can tread dangerously into furry territory.
During Japan’s economic bubble during the late 80s and early 90s, lots of big corporations proposed outlandish, futuristic buildings. These corporations did this for two reasons: one, to plan for a future with a huge population density; and two, to be awesome. [Read more…]
Like books? Like free things? Like your books free and in Japanese? I’ve got some great news for all you mousy nerds looking to get your book fix: there’s a Japanese site dedicated to making books free and available to the public to download and it’s all legal! [Read more…]
One of the biggest accomplishments in sports in the last hundred years was the 4 minute mile. Running a mile in under 4 minutes was a huge barrier in sports and once it was broken by one person, led the way for lots of athletes to break it too.
So, what on earth does this have to do with Japanese? [Read more…]
There are a lot of small things about a language that you might not even recognize until you’re studying another one. I’ve known Pig Latin since I was a kid, but it never really occurred to me that other languages also had weird language games. [Read more…]
Talking about mummies usually conjures up images of ancient Egypt with giant Pyramids, Sphinxes, and Pharaohs. But there are tons of different mummies all over the world, even in Japan! A weird sect of Japanese Buddhism not only turned their monks into mummies, but mummified themselves while they were still alive. How on earth did that work? [Read more…]
A common misconception about Japan is that it’s so densely populated that every single town is just like Tokyo; urban, people all crammed together, few empty spaces. Not only are there still tons of rural places in Japan, but there are even abandoned places, places that were simply left behind to rot. The Japanese call these places haikyo (廃墟).
Some of the creepiest of all haikyo in Japan are amusement parks. Places where poeople used to gather to have fun or go on vacation now sit vacant to rust and become overrun by nature. And while not all of Japan’s abandoned parks are as creepy as rusty ol’ clown car above, some of them come pretty damn close.
We’ve been working on our store for a while now, and it’s finally got to a point where we want to share it with you! You can check it out at store.tofugu.com, and there’s also a link to the store in the menu at the top of the page.
So, what’s in the store right now? [Read more…]
Japan isn’t always, to put it nicely, the most politically correct culture. When it comes to other cultures, Japan can often be a little… blunt? One of the funniest (and best) examples of this is the anime “G Gundam.” The show features Mobile Gundam Suits that are supposed to represent different countries, but can sometimes come across as pretty racist (lots of lols to be had, though). Do you think these these are racist? Read on and decide for yourself!