In Japan

Five Ways To Experience Japan Without Leaving Home

I’m sure for a lot of us, visiting or living in Japan is high on our list of things to do. But when you can’t make the trip overseas, there are lots of ways to experience Japan without getting on a plane. In fact, some of … [Read more...]

Lords of Kumamoto: Kato Kiyomasa and the Hosokawa

Last fall I visited Kumamoto Castle. Though mostly a reconstruction, it’s impressive nonetheless. There is currently a regular live show on the castle grounds, in which actors dressed as famous samurai stage mock fights … [Read more...]

A Crash Course in Japanese Poetry

I remember reading Japanese poetry for the first time in the second grade. Don’t ask why it stuck with me; I just remember reading a haiku by Matsuo Bashō and thinking it was awesome. I remembered it well enough that I … [Read more...]

Namahage – Akita’s New Year’s Ogres

泣く子はいねがぁ / “Are there any crybabies here?” may not be something you want to hear shouted through your door on New Year's Eve, but the people of Akita Prefecture, specifically Oga Peninsula, feel differently. The Namahage / … [Read more...]

How To Shoot A Samurai Film

A couple of months ago I went to TOEI UZUMASA EIGAMURA, which is both a theme park and an active movie set. The studio has been around since about 1955. But, with the decline in popularity of traditional samurai films the … [Read more...]

Introducing Introduction: Mastering Jikoshokai and the ALT Self-Intro Class

Hajimemashite! It’s nice to meet you! If you come to Japan you’re going to find yourself saying this quite often. Introductions are very important in Japanese culture. It can be seen as an extension of the Japanese … [Read more...]

Surviving Sports Festival

In Japan, summer’s end ushers in a nationwide school tradition. Students, teachers, family, and other guests gather for a day of outdoor events known as undoukai (運動会) or sports festival. Undoukai offers something for … [Read more...]

Top Ten Real Life Kaiju of Japan

Movies like Pacific Rim and the thankfully-better-than-last-time American Godzilla have been rekindling a love for giant monsters. Kaijū have been igniting the imaginations of children everywhere since dudes in rubber … [Read more...]

Three Legs Are Better Than Two: Japanese Soccer and the Legend of Yatagarasu

Here in Japan, the heat and humidity of summer have crept up on us, providing the perfect atmosphere to enjoy the 2014 FIFA World Cup - uchiwa in hand. Despite Samurai Blue’s (as the Japanese national team is often … [Read more...]

Can You Dig It? Of Love and Earwax

Forget hugs and kisses. Throw away your candy, flowers and rings. If you want to truly express love for someone, clean their ears. Is It a Love Story? Image from the anime, Hen Zemi (変ゼミ) Perhaps you’ve seen it in … [Read more...]

Is Japan Really “Conservative”?

I don’t think that I’m the only one who has experienced this but I often hear the word “conservative” being applied to Japan. At first I just accepted it as being true - because Japan is very obviously conservative on many … [Read more...]

Meet the Ogasawara Islands!

Ah, Tokyo, that shining island paradise. Turquoise waters. Palm trees and coconuts. Grass skirts and piña coladas. What’s that you say? These images don’t leap to mind when I say “Tokyo”? Well, to be fair, grass … [Read more...]

Translation, Localization, and Nice Japanese Things: A Q&A with Matt Alt

When it comes to Japanese pop culture, I'm like a lot of fans. Despite years of off-and-on attempts at study, I don't know the language well enough to follow the original versions of manga, anime, or live-action drama and … [Read more...]

The Evolution of Karate

Karate stands alongside the likes of judo, kendo, and sumo as one of Japan’s most famous martial arts. However, as Karate Kid II taught us, karate was born in Okinawa. Not only that, but it was born in a time when Okinawa … [Read more...]

Why Isn’t Japan Buying the PlayStation 4?

Japan is the holy land of console video games. After the Atari-led video game crash of 1983, it took the work of Japanese companies--Nintendo, then later Sega, then Sony--to bring console gaming back to North America. So … [Read more...]

HELP! I Don’t Know How To ALT!

Summer is almost here, bringing with it sweltering heat, limited edition Crunky ice cream bars, and a whole new flock of ALTs (Assistant Language Teachers). Maybe your dream of coming to Japan is finally coming true. Soon … [Read more...]

Better Than Pokémon!? How Yo-Kai Watch Is Marketing Itself To Japanese Children

“Can you draw Warunyan for me?” a girl asked during recess. “Warunyan is cool, but Orochi is stronger!” a boy standing nearby shouted. “I like Kyuubi!” another boy added as students gathered around the table. My … [Read more...]

The Empire Built On Egg Shells: An Interview With TanKuma Owner Gensho Nishigaki

What an eggy week it has been! I wrote a travel review of an Egg Vending Machine and a raw-egg-on-rice (tamago-kake-gohan) restaurant called Tankuma. I also wrote simply about the famous Japanese dish tamago kake gohan. I … [Read more...]

Japan’s Solar Revolution – The Sky’s (Not) the Limit

My neighborhood is changing. When you run everyday, you get to know your surroundings. You learn the locations of the essentials - water fountains, vending machines, and toilets. There are familiar faces and places. You … [Read more...]

Being Fat in Japan (By Someone Who Lost Over 100 Pounds Here)

Note from the author: This is about my personal experience and opinions. I am not a licensed nutritionist. The following entry is solely based on personal research, experience, and opinions and should be read as such. … [Read more...]

When Manga Met Gaming: The Crossover Games The West May Never Receive

I think most people can agree that crossovers are awesome. I remember being a kid and constantly talking about who would beat whom in a fight (Hulk would totally beat Superman, My dad can beat up your dad etc). The thought … [Read more...]

Japanese Food Models, Yesterday And Today

If you’ve ever visited Japan and had to order food without benefit of being able to read Japanese, there’s one thing that’s a lifesaver: those plastic food replicas lined up in the windows of many restaurants. With their … [Read more...]

How To Speak Beautiful Japanese: An Interview With Yomiuri TV Announcer Naomi Uemura

I know most everybody here loves to watch Japanese television. That’s why I thought it would be interesting to interview somebody who was actually on Japanese TV. I was surprised when I heard back from Yomiuri TV’s 25 year … [Read more...]