In Japan

The Taming of the Shroom: The Umamitastic World of Japanese Mushrooms

Mushrooms are an essential ingredient in Japanese cuisine, and there are so many varieties to choose from.  Hopefully this guide will make things a bit easier on you.  It will tell you what a mushroom is, their types and … [Read more...]

Have a Rice Day! Rice Cooker History, Features, Futures, and More

My brother had warned me, "Once you go rice cooker, you don't go back." He was right. I had grown up in a household where we cooked rice in a pot, on our stovetop. In college I used a hotpot to the same effect. Then … [Read more...]

BAKA! Japan’s Most Popular Profanity

"Baka" is the most commonly used Japanese swear word. It usually means foolish or stupid, but can take on a whole range of meanings depending of context, relationship, and various other factors. In kanji, it’s usually … [Read more...]

25 Reasons To Join The JET Program (And 8 Reasons Not To)

If you're reading this, you must have some kind of interest in the JET Program. This isn't a decision to be made lightly, though. As a JET alumni myself, I've experienced (and heard stories of) the incredibly positive … [Read more...]

Interview with Sarah Feinerman from Design Festa

International Art Event Design Festa is an explosion of creativity that happens twice a year at Japan's largest convention center, Tokyo Big Sight. It's the largest art event of its kind in Asia, so big that it recently … [Read more...]

The Dragon Ball Training Guide to Self-Improvement

Olympic judoka and UFC champion Ronda Rousey turned some heads and busted some scouters when she appeared at this year's Wrestlemania wearing a Dragon Ball Z t-shirt with an image of Vegeta and the phrase, "It's over … [Read more...]

Exploring Shueisha (and an Interview with a Manga Editor!)

Recently, I interviewed a manga scriptwriter named Araki Joh, the author of several best selling manga series published by Shueisha, the publishing house behind the Jump line of manga. If you're not familiar with Jump … [Read more...]

Kanamara Matsuri: The Irony Behind the Infamous Japanese Penis Festival

Last spring, I had the opportunity to study abroad in Tokyo, Japan. My study abroad program started in April, just in time for beautiful weather and cherry blossoms to greet us American college kids. Oh, and the … [Read more...]

Staying Safe in Japan

During my eight years in Japan, I've been to my share of conferences and they've covered all sorts of topics. Some are repeated every year - like "Successful Team Teaching" and "Fostering Student Communication." A few … [Read more...]

Interview with Araki Joh, the Best Selling Writer of Japan’s Most Intoxicating Manga

Manga and alcohol are a wonderful mix. Sadly, few artists explored this pairing before Araki Joh wrote the manga, "Sommelier," in 1996. It is the story of a Japanese wine connoisseur living in France and was eventually … [Read more...]

Learning Japanese From Songs (And What This Method Has Taught Me About the Language)

You can't learn a language just by studying vocabulary and grammar. There has to be something you give a damn about understanding in the long run. If you're studying Japanese, maybe that's watching anime or reading manga … [Read more...]

Kid’s Anime for Japanese Learners

When I started learning Japanese, the inability to pick up on words in anime, movies and music frustrated me. Aside from "Okā-san!", "Otō-san!" and "Kusou!", I had trouble catching words and phrases and my listening skills … [Read more...]

Getting Famous in Japan the One Direction Way

Japan is a popular target market for pop singers that want to take their fame internationally, particularly, it seems, when it comes to debuting in Asia. Is it because of the infectious fan base? Is it because the fandom … [Read more...]

Improving Your Japanese Through Exercise?!

Language learners rejoice! Science has finally discovered a way to improve your mind, body and overall health - all at the same time. But fear not, this isn't Tofugu brand snake oil. There's nothing to buy, no dotted line … [Read more...]

Japan’s Robot Theater and the Rise of the Android Actor

ROBOTS CAN ALREADY VACUUM YOUR HOUSE AND DRIVE YOUR CAR. SOON, THEY WILL BE YOUR COMPANION. ~"Friend for Life" By Adam Piore for Popular Science (November 2014) Or so predicts Popular Science magazine in response to a US … [Read more...]

Hideo Nomo, Baseball Rebel With a Cause

2014 marked the 50th anniversary of Masanori Murakami's Major League Baseball debut. Sent to the San Francisco Giants farm system for developmental purposes, Murakami sparkled when he took the mound in the minor leagues. … [Read more...]

The Ghibli Dictionary: A Japanese Study Guide Revolution!

Last year, a new English-Japanese dictionary was released in Japan for Japanese people learning English. This may not seem very special until you hear the title: Star Wars English-Japanese Dictionary for Padawan … [Read more...]

Don’t Get Sued! Libel, Slander, and Defamation Laws in Japan

Scandal erupted back in 2007 when a Japanese weekly magazine, Shukan Gendai, reported that Asashoryu, a grand champion sumo wrestler, had bought his way to the top, paying off opponents in exchange for winning matches, and … [Read more...]

A Neurotic’s Tips to Tokyo Travel

The first time I went to Japan was because I was invited to a conference. Despite studying the language and being interested in the food, gardens, and culture, I'd never had the nerve to plan my own trip. I was terrified … [Read more...]

Japan’s Sacrificial Lamb – The Okinawa Military Base Controversy

Despite its small size, Okinawa sure has giant problems. Due to its strategic location, Okinawa has struggled as a pawn in Japanese and US affairs since before World War II. Today, the independent kingdom turned … [Read more...]

Japonism: How Japan Shaped Modern Art

Art is pretty awesome. One of the most awesome things about art is how it can bring people together. Throughout history, neighbouring peoples have constantly exchanged aesthetic ideas, inspiring the form and content of … [Read more...]

Christians in Kyushu, Part 3: The Last Stand

Be sure to check out Part 1 and Part 2 to understand the history of Japanese Christianity that bring us here! When last we left our holy heroes, the situation for Christians in Japan had gone from tenuous to … [Read more...]

What It’s Like Going To The World’s Largest Yukigassen (Snowball Fighting) Tournament

In February of 2013, the Tofugu staff made a four-day stop at the Showa Shinzan International Yukigassen tournament. We had written about Yukigassen in the past, which is what originally piqued our interest. We had to see … [Read more...]

Tanuki: The Magical Canine with Gigantic Balls

The fox and tanuki seem quite similar at first glance. They're both smallish, wild canines native to Japan that play a prominent role in the country's folklore. In real life, both are adaptable and successful over a wide … [Read more...]