Media

Anime’s Great Deception – The Difference Between Anime and Cartoons

Even as a child, I sensed something different about cartoons like Robotech and Voltron. Compared to other shows, they struck me as serious, dramatic and stylish. Each episode contributed to a longer narrative and when … [Read more...]

The Epic Diplomacy of Winter Sonata in Japan

It’s no secret that Japan and Korea have a strained relationship. It wasn’t even 20 years ago that Korea lifted their ban on Japanese media (it was partially lifted in 1998, and fully lifted in 2004). While they aren’t the … [Read more...]

The Books Behind Your Favorite Studio Ghibli Films

While there can be no doubt that Studio Ghibli draws strongly on Japanese material, such as the folk tales of the tanuki in Pom Poko or Shinto gods in Spirited Away, Ghibli is by no means culturally isolated. We may be … [Read more...]

The Secret Japan Air Self-Defense Force Gundam – And Other Stories

In August 2014, Japan’s defense ministry announced a new “Space Monitoring Force.” It will utilize personnel from the Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF), the country’s air force. This new team is supposed to become active by … [Read more...]

Sonny Chiba vs Bruce Lee: The Debate Finally Put to Rest

"He's the cat they call The Street Fighter! Yeah he's pretty cool. He's no Bruce Lee, but who in the hell is?"(Phillips) It's the Asian cinema equivalent of Batman versus Superman, of Ali versus Tyson, of Schwarzenegger … [Read more...]

Inside the Japanese TV Industry: An Interview with a TV Salarywoman

Last year, we interviewed a Japanese TV announcer, Naomi Uemura, and she taught us How To Speak Beautiful Japanese. Since she provided some intriguing insight into the business, I wanted to learn more about the Japanese TV … [Read more...]

Printed, Painted, and Sculpted Kitties – Cats in Japanese Art

Cats are an obsession in modern Japan. Most people have heard of cat cafes by now, but did you know there are cat shrines and even cat tourism?  Tama the cat was appointed stationmaster of a Wakayama train station … [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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

The 3 Anime You Should Watch This Season: Winter 2015

Another year, another season of anime to plow through, hoping to find a golden nugget or two amongst the dirt. We're changing up the (p)review format a bit here - instead of giving our first impressions on as many shows as … [Read more...]

Interview with Ken Taya, aka Enfu, the Master of Japanamericana

When the review copy of Ken Taya's art book, "Enfu: Cute Grit", arrived at the Tofugu office, I knew I had something special in my hands. It was one instance where judging a book by its cover was very appropriate. I sat … [Read more...]

Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara: The Death of Yakuza Cinema

2014 has proven a sad year for Japanese cinema with the passing of two legends: Ken Takakura and Bunta Sugawara. Although close in age, the two came to represent opposing eras of yakuza cinema - Ken Takakura's honorable … [Read more...]

Japanese Horror Fiction: Emotions Unearthed

The New Year is bright and shiny and new and you're probably thinking about your resolution to study more kanji, while Halloween is far in the rear-view mirror. Well, I’m firmly of the belief that Halloween should be … [Read more...]

Rascal’s Secret Plan: the Raccoon Invasion of Japan

Ah, mother nature. Forests and hills, rivers and oceans, blossoms and bees. Truly, the beauties of the natural world are essential to a happy life. Of course, mother nature has another, harsher side. Storms, droughts, … [Read more...]

The Skeletal Structure of Japanese Horror Fiction

Mankind has been telling scary stories ever since we decided to start telling stories at all. It only makes sense—a lot of scary crap happens in life. The horror genre was born from folklore and oral tradition that … [Read more...]

Shunga: Japan’s Ancient Erotica

Vending machines selling school girl's panties?  Grown men reading pornographic comics in public?  Gender segregated train-cars to protect women from gropers? Ear-cleaning parlors with very happy-endings?  With situations … [Read more...]

JAPANESE GHOSTS!! Everything You Want to Know Explained by Zack Davisson

Ghost stories have been big in Japan for about as long as there's been Japanese literature. When they were first written down in the Heian period, at the same time as the classic Tale of Genji, there were enough to fill a … [Read more...]

Gaming To Learn Japanese

Teaching yourself Japanese isn’t easy, and let’s face it, it takes a large amount of time, effort, and dedication to make noticeable progress. After coming home from a long day of school or work, sometimes the last thing … [Read more...]

10 of Hello Kitty’s Most DISTANT Relatives

There was a time when I hated Hello Kitty. But once I understood her complexity and accepted her into my life, a whole world opened up. Sanrio, not unlike Marvel or DC, is an entire universe of characters, and exploring … [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...]

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...]