Some Japanese Restaurant Culture

I’ve been in Hawaii the past week or so, a few days of which was spent with my host family from when I home-stayed in Japan in high school. Having them over here in America (though, Hawaii is about as Japanese as America gets) really brings out some of the subtle cultural differences between Japanese people and Americans. Particularly, though, we spent a lot of time at restaurants, so I thought I’d talk a bit today about Japanese restaurant culture. When at various eating places, it made me realize how things in Japanese restaurants are done a little bit differently. Nothing drastic or too strange, but things that are good to know when you’re over in Japan. [Read more…]


Takeru Kobayashi Loses Hot Dog Eating Contest again. Shouldn’t go swimming for at least 30 minutes

Maybe it’s time he commits seppuku, though, I don’t know if I’d want to see a stomach full of hot dogs get disemboweled.

It’s been a year since the last “Nathan’s Hot Dog Eating Contest” at Coney Island, when reigning king (at the time) of eating food “really really fast” lost his title, and his world record, to San Jose’s Joey Chestnut. This makes me sad. I thought for sure he would come back with a victory, regaining his honor. [Read more…]

What’s the difference between San, Sama, Kun, & Chan?

I know this will be really basic for a lot of you, but recently, I’ve noticed a lot of people having trouble with which honorific to put on the end of a name. Not only have I gotten several emails specifically asking what the difference between them, but I’ve also had a barrage of folks using the wrong ones when referring to me. I’ll give you a hint, only one of them is truly appropriate.

Let’s go down the list of name honorifics and review each one separately. It’s really good to know how to use each of these (if you don’t), since you can come across as pretty rude when you make a mistake! [Read more…]


Tofugu’s ThankYou Postcard Contest Winners…Everybody wins!

I was dreading having to choose my “favorite” postcard shot from the ThankYou Postcard contest, but, somewhat luckily, we only got four submissions. Now, originally we said that only three could win, but since we got four, and since I’ve got a lot of extra postcards, I thought it would be nice to extend that to four, and reward everyone who actually sent us a submission. If there’s a bunch of people who are still interested in participating in this contest, I’ll think about doing a part two (only if there’s enough demand). If we did that, though, I think only one more person can win, so let me know if you’re interested.

So now, let’s get to our four winners! If you won, send me your address so I can send you your prize!

King Kong & Godzilla Recreation Scene, By WOTDsctoo:
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How to Study Japanese Over the Summer

Well, it’s that time of year, isn’t it? Some of you are getting out of school for summer break and some of you haven’t had to go to school for decades. Some of you took Japanese classes at school, and some of you are self-taught. Either way, summer makes it really easy not to continue studying your Japanese (or anything, for that matter). I’ve thought through some tips to keep the study-love going during the lazy season. [Read more…]


Godzilla Desktops for Your Computer

Ack, it’s been a while since last post. I’m working on a really good article (I think), but in the meantime, I thought I’d show you a sample of something you might see in our “free store,” which will come out along side our “normal store” hopefully in the next couple of weeks. We’ll see though, I might go on vacation first and wait to start it afterwards (otherwise, who will send stuff out?)

First things I’m going to share is four Godzilla desktop wallpapers I designed for your computers. I don’t have every resolution size down there, but hopefully I will increase the available sizes when it comes out officially. Still, most standard resolutions should be supported, I think.

Godzilla Versus King Kong Desktop

Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1024×768 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1280×800 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1600×1200 pixels
Godzilla vs. King Kong: 1680×1050 pixels

[Read more…]


Mini Post: Odd Personal Grooming Choices

Japan is the home of quite a few Guinness World Records (the world’s longest concert being the most recent one I can remember), but now it’s got another under it’s belt: world’s longest eyebrow. Toshie Kawakami, the 57 year old president of a Tokyo food company, has an eyebrow hair which measured 17.2cm as of June 9th. She says that she normally keeps the hair tucked behind her ear, but let’s it down for special occasions*. She discovered the hair when it was a mere 7cm long (the world record at that time was 11.5cm) and decided to grow it out. Aside from an accident involving an overzealous hairdresser (who set her back 3cm), her path to the top was pretty clear, as the hair grew nearly a centimeter each month until she got Guinness authorization in January. Apparently, she’s trying for 20cm, next.

Source: Asahi
* I’m joking, of course


Got Your Tofugu Thank You Card Yet? Win a Set of Your Own!

So as many of you know, I sent out the thank you cards in response to all of you helping me out with my thesis. Once again, Thank you very much for your help, it turned out pretty awesome! Still, I have a bunch of postcards left over, and I want to give some of them away. There were four different designs, so this is your chance to get a set of 12 (four of each design) that you can use however you want (probably for thanking people). Let’s go over the contest rules:

What is the Contest? All you have to do is take a picture with your postcard. The more creative it is, the better. I’m not going to define creative, so whether that means with a funny face, a strange location, or whatever else, I’ll leave that up to you folks.

Who Can Enter? Anyone who got a thank you postcard from me.

When is the Contest over? Two weeks from today. That would be June 25th, 2008.

How do I submit my picture? Send it to me (Koichi). Gotta do it by email: tofugu@gmail.com

Prizes? The three most creative pictures will get a set of 12 awesome Godzilla postcards. One winner will be chosen by each of Tofugu’s writers, which makes a total of three. If more than one of us wants to choose the same one, we’ll make sure there’s no overlap, and a total of three people win. Winners will be posted on this site, so if you’re too embarassed about being seen on Tofugu I can’t enter you in the drawing (though I suppose you could send me one anyways).


Tofugu’s in a book!

So, the other day, I got a book in the mail. It was for an interview I had done several months back about my two v/blogs, Koichiben and Tofugu. Turns out, this interview takes up two pages of Frederick Levy’s new book: 15 Minutes of Fame, Becoming a Star in the YouTube Revolution.

The book has several purposes. It’s not just a bunch of interviews with YouTubers, though that is a big chunk of it. It also includes the history of YouTube, strategies that people use to become big on YouTube, suggestions on equipment to use, etc. Basically, this book is all about doing well on Youtube, and then adds icing to that cake by interviewing people with varying amounts of success (I think I’m on the lower end of that scale).

So, if you’re interested in Youtube, it’s a pretty good book, not to mention you can read about Tofugu and Koichiben, learning all of my deepest and darkest secrets…well, not that deep, just dark, and by dark I mean not dark.

I know it’s available on Amazon, so let me throw a link at yah, if you’re interested. Here’s a video, just saying the same stuff I just said in writing [Read more…]

Some of the Women of Miterudake

Stare-apy for the Socially Inept (+ Edits)

As much as I want to be outrageously snarky in this post, I don’t think I can bring myself to do it. After all, social anxiety disorder is pretty serious stuff, especially in Japan, the birthplace of the hikikomori (引き籠もり or “pulling away”) phenomenon. In an attempt to help out those who are uncomfortable in social situations, Avex has introduced a DVD titled Miterudake (ミテルだけ) or “Just Looking”. The DVD is labeled as “interactive”, but there are really only two activities that users are expected to perform: [Read more…]


Another Reason Not to Use Online Translators

Responses to my online translator post were mixed. Some people agreed, while others got defensive*. Past differences of thought aside, I found something today that argues unequivocally in favor of my point. It seems that Kosuke Fukudome, a right fielder for the Chicago Cubs, has some well-meaning but very Japanese-illiterate fans. At a Cubs game earlier this year (April–I’m kind of late), fans brandished signs that they thought bore the Japanese equivalent to the Cub’s slogan: It’s Gonna Happen. Unfortunately (but oh-so-predictably), they didn’t.

[Read more…]