Archive for 'Japan'

The Amazing Voyage of Otokichi


Stacey just sent me this link to a very interesting story of some young Japanese sailors who gone blown off coarse during the sakoku period in Japan when Japan was shutting out most foreign visitors to their country. It’s a interesting look at survival and what happens when you can never come home again.

In the aftermath of the 1832 storm, Otokichi and 13 of his crewmates were left adrift on the maddeningly empty North Pacific Ocean. Most of them had been sailors since their teenage years, but their combined skills could do nothing to help nudge the crippled vessel towards civilisation.

You can check out the full story here.

Country Names in Japanese


Ever wonder why Germany is called Doitsu in Japanese? Or why England gets its own kanji (英国) and Canada doesn’t? Lingualift put together a nice little run down of country names in Japanese. One thing I noticed in the above map is that Canada and Alaska are switched around. But considering how cold it is here today, that that fits very nicely. And for those with extra sharp eyes you’ll see that Italy now has a matching set of boots :)

Robotic Comedy Duo


Stacey just sent me this link (she’s great for that) about a new robotic comedy duo that has started showing up in Kobe.

The robot duo, made up of 55 centimeter tall Gonta and one-meter tall Aichan, made their debut for elementary students last August at the university in Kobe. They discussed and joked about current events in the Kansai dialect and can even change their facial expressions to get more laughs.

I have a funny feeling that these robot comedians would be more enjoyable than a lot of the real-flesh comedians I’ve watched :) Read the full article here.

Living in Japan

While browsing on my TV looking for interesting YouTube videos to watch, I stumbled on A Life In Japan. It’s an interview style video of just over an hour long, and it highlights a lot of different perspectives on what it’s like to live in Japan. Some of the interviewees are very perceptive while others are a bit cringe worthy :) It’s well worth a watch and Stacey really likes the song at the end (watch for some stylin air drumming).

Understanding Geisha Culture

Japan Geisha

Photo by filmmaker in japan on Flickr

The Geisha: one of Japan’s most famous, but also misunderstood cultural icons. A common misconception is that these illusive women are some kind of high-class call girl, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. In short, their role is simply to entertain clients, male and female, with conversation, dance, music and drink pouring.

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What Japanese Say About Our Customer Service

Just watched this interesting video from Intercultural Twilight Zone on what the Japanese think about our western customer service. From being in retail for over a decade I can certainly say I broke my fair share of these rules. However, it’s a pretty tough gig and I’m sure even the ultra polite Japanese servers are boiling up under their cool exteriors when they get trouble customers :)

A Stroll Through Japan in 8 Minutes

Another great link from Kirai. These two videos take a leisurely stroll through various locations in Japan during different times of day. It’s a really cool idea and it’s nice to see some of the different areas of Japan. I just don’t think I could ever walk that slowly :)

Dancing from all 47 Prefectures

Found this neat video on Kirai today. It’s a promotional piece from Sony but it features 47 girls dancing from Japan’s 47 prefectures. Two things I learned was that it’s difficult to pick out the different places you’ve visited, and these girls a bit better dancers than me :P

Since the video goes so fast, you can check out where each of the dancers are from on Sony’s website here.

Autumn in Japan

Autumn in Japan

Photo by Cocoarmani on Flickr

Japanese cherry blossoms (Sakura) are a famous national celebration, and crowds from all around the world come every year to enjoy spring in Japan. But there is another natural event that worth the visit; the autumn leaves colors. Leaves turn to yellow, orange, red, purple, ruby, vermilion…giving a mystic atmosphere to some places. The Japanese summer is really hot and humid, and though Japanese enjoy the summer, I have a feeling that they are impatient for autumn to start and finally being able to enjoy the autumn colors and an outdoor activity without getting a sunburn.

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The Japanese Subculture Of Customizing Vans

Japan custom designed van

Photo by kanegen on Flickr

Japan might be famous for mouthwatering food like sushi and sashimi, as well as for gorgeous geisha, technological advancements and cherry blossom, but this isn’t the only side of this unique country to have achieved notoriety. Whilst the main cultural reference points of Japan are more widely known, there are also a number of subcultures that have developed alongside over the years. One of the most fascinating of these is the subculture of customising vans.

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