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An Exclusive Interview with the Seikan Tunnel Stations

The Seikan Tunnel is an undersea tunnel running from Honshu, Japan's main island, to Hokkaido, its northernmost island. A train station can be found at each end of the tunnel: namely Yoshioka-Kaitei Station (Fukushima, … [Read more...]

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Wined, Dined, Brined, and Intestined: Acquiring a Taste for Japanese Delicacies

The world has fallen in love with Japanese cuisine. It has even been recognized as intangible cultural heritage by UNESCO. You probably know all about the big stars of Japanese food: sushi, noodles, onigiri. Maybe you've … [Read more...]

owl-cafe-japan

Owl Cafe: Fukuro no Mise

Whatever other worries Japan has about its economy, there's one business where it's clearly the world leader: animal cafes. While Americans were pathetically excited about a temporary cat cafe in New York, Japan long ago … [Read more...]

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Spiders in Japan: The Tiniest Kaiju

Arachnophobes be warned. Today's article is all about our little eight-legged friends. Spiders, and monsters inspired by them, have held a place in Japanese culture for centuries. Japan is also currently dealing with the … [Read more...]

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Bushido: Way of Total Bullshit

The term bushido calls forth ghosts of Japan's hallowed samurai class.  A class so bent on preserving honor, they'd rather slit their own bellies in ritualistic suicide than live a shamed existence. In The Last … [Read more...]

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Kanzanji Temple

The Kanzanji Temple was established on the slopes of Mt. Tateyama by Kobo Daishi (Kukai) in 810AD, and is a branch of the Shuuyouji Temple on Mt. Akihasan. It was one of three places I visited while in Hamamatsu and was … [Read more...]

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Beauty is in the Language of the Beholder

Is a rose in full bloom beautiful? How about a decaying flower losing its petals? Are straight teeth or crooked teeth more aesthetically pleasing? Would you rather put a gilded porcelain vase or a warped, weathered piece … [Read more...]

goth-review

Goth: A Novel Of Horror

Otsuichi's Goth tells the stories of Kitazawa and Morino, two Japanese high school students with a disturbing passion for death and murder... and boy is it disturbing. I felt kind of dirty reading it.  Goth is actually a … [Read more...]

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Megane Culture: Japan’s Love Affair with Glasses

Glasses. I choose to wear glasses. I own contact lenses, and I can finance laser eye surgery, yet I still choose glasses. Glasses just make sense. Perhaps if my profession deemed eyewear to be an obstacle, say skydiving or … [Read more...]

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How To Cope When Japan Isn’t Perfect

Life is life wherever it happens. Even if your dream of living in Japan has come true, you can still be blindsided by awful things sometimes. Bad things happen everywhere, but living in a foreign country can add an extra … [Read more...]

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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...]

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Japanese for Travelers

I’ve always lived by the “never buy a guide for a country outside of that country” saying. Whether it’s a map, tourist guide, or language guide, they’re pretty much guaranteed to be better quality and more accurate if you … [Read more...]

youkai-watch-review

Yo-kai Watch, Season 1

Call an onmyoji or an exorcist! The children are possessed. Youkai have taken over Japan! What started as a game has grown into a nationwide phenomenon and Yo-kai Watch (妖怪ウォッチ) can thank its anime adaptation for its … [Read more...]

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Kawaii Box

Monthly box subscriptions are all the rage lately. When the people behind Kawaii Box contacted us about reviewing their monthly box of cuteness we were pretty excited to see what they had to offer. As a quick … [Read more...]

yamagakuzu

Kuzukiri Yamaga

In the countryside of Southeast Nara there is a straw-thatched roof cafe known as Yamaga, located in an idyllic setting. The reason I came here wasn't all that interesting. It's pretty close to my hometown, and I … [Read more...]

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Miyagi 3 Years after 3.11: Slogans Are Cheap

It's been three and a half years since the disaster struck Japan. After writing about the situation in Fukushima prefecture, I was able to visit the tsunami disaster areas in Miyagi prefecture. Three and a half years … [Read more...]

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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...]

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Over a Thousand Years of Service: Japan’s Oldest Businesses Reign Supreme(ly Old)

Businesses die like anything else. I used to give joke directions to a house where I lived that involved a whole sequence of useless instructions like "turn left where the dry cleaner used to be." If you've lived in the … [Read more...]

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Wasei-Eigo: I Can’t Believe It’s Not English!

Borrowing words from other languages is a phenomenon as old as language itself. That’s why, even though you probably don’t speak French, Latin, German, Spanish, AND Japanese, you can somehow comprehend the following … [Read more...]

japanese-respect-language

Japanese Respect Language

Japanese respect language, or keigo 敬語, can be a very useful when speaking to and about bosses, higher ups, coworkers, etc. without sounding like a rude jerk in Japanese. In Japan, a new guide comes out every year … [Read more...]