The Influence of Manga

Minna-san, ohayou!

Shizuko desu!

How is everyone? Well, I’m positively exuberant! ☆*:.。. o(≧▽≦)o .。.:*☆

Today, I’ll be talking about my favorite thing in the whole world: MANGA! ヾ(@^▽^@)ノ

Contest__Ultimate_Otaku_by_hitsukuya

(8tracks, 2013)

(Pictured above are items and images from many popular anime/manga series. This will test you on whether or not you are a true anime/manga otaku. If you can recognize and tell which series each item is from, then you are an otaku or on your way to becoming one.)

(If you want to check the answers, go to this link. http://hitsukuya.deviantart.com/journal/Contest-Answers-224840026#comments)

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Drawing Manga – Materials & Process 

I’d say that these videos explain very well. I’m sorry for my laziness.  m(_ _;;m

As someone who grew up near and frequented Akiba, I’m a strong believer of electronics and technology. Therefore, please let this technological advancement known as Youtube and its users guide you. Yes, I’m a fan. I’m ashamed to admit it, but since I have no talent for drawing and little patience… I gave up on trying to draw manga or even fanart like other fans. As a manga/anime otaku, I’m kind of rare and non-commital compared to other anime/manga otaku. I fall only under the categories of ‘reading manga’, ‘watching anime’, ‘watching AMVs/MEPs/MADs’, ‘reading fanfics’, ‘looking at cosplay pics’, ‘buying manga/anime goods’, and only recently because a friend introduced it to me, ‘dabbling in video games’. The remaining categories are ‘cosplaying’, ‘writing fanfiction’, ‘drawing fanart’, ‘drawing doujinshi’, and ‘making AMVs/MEPs/MADs’.

AMVs – aka. ‘Anime Music Video’, setting clips from the anime/manga/art to music

MAD – aka ‘Music Anime Douga’, Japanese name for ‘AMV’

MEP – aka ‘Multi-editor Project’, many people working on one video (MAD/AMV)

Doujinshi — fanmade comics

Fanfiction – fan-written stories involving fictional characters from media (manga/anime, books, movies, etc.)

Cosplay – the practice of dressing up as a character from a movie, book, or video game, esp. one from the Japanese genres of manga and anime. Look below for an example and comparison.

(deviantART, 2012)

(deviantART, 2012)

(Wikia, 2013)

(Wikia, 2013)

Famous Manga Artists (Surname, Given name)

*Manga artist = mangaka

 Takeshi Obata (小畑 健)

(MyDramaList, 2013)

(MyDramaList, 2013)

What’s awesome about Obata-sensei is that, as an artist he is a jack-of-all-trades. He has done art for many different genres and types of manga, even video game character designs. Genre-wise, he has covered a lot of ground. His work “Death Note” has launched 3 movies (“Death Note”, “Death Note: The Last Name”, and “L:Change The World”) and 2 novel spin-offs (“Another Note: The Los Angeles BB Murder Cases” and “L: Change The WorLd”). His ability to create vastly different character designs and works speaks about his versatility and ingenuity. He symbolizes the teamwork and cooperation going into making manga as well as the option and success of a writer and artist pair. Whether you’re a writer and artist team or a mangaka and editor, making manga is built on partners helping each other and bettering the work in order to make it in this cutthroat and ruthless industry. You should read his work “Bakuman” if you want to understand.
*Sensei = A Japanese honorific that is used to address masters in their craft. is used to refer to or address teachers, doctors, politicians, lawyers, and other authority figures. It is used to show respect to someone who has achieved a certain level of mastery in an art form or some other skill, and is also applied to novelists, poets, painters, and other artists. (Wikipedia, 2013)
Please go here for a review on the Hikaru no Go anime. http://www.nihonreview.com/anime/hikaru-no-go/
As well, go here for a review on the Death Note manga by a book review website. http://www.indiabookstore.net/bookish/review-death-note-by-tsugumi-ohba-and-takeshi-obata/
Works & Collaborations 
  • In 1989 Cyborg Jii-chan G (story & art), Genres: Action, Comedy, Sci-fi
  • In ???? Arabian Majin Bokentan Lamp Lamp with Susumu Sendo (writer), Genres: Action, Adventure, Comedy, Drama, Fantasy, Romance, Shounen, Supernatural
  • In ???? Rikito Densetsu -Oni wo Tsugu Mono- with Masaru Miyazaki (writer), Genres: Sports, Action
  • In 1995 Karakurizoshi Ayatsuri Sakon with Sharaku Marou (writer), Genres: Mystery, Horror, Thriller
  • In 1998 Hikaru no Go with Yumi Hotta (writer) -supervised by Yoshihara Yukari (5-dan – title meant for a professional Go player), Genres: Psychological, Supernatural
  • In 2004 Hajime with Otsuichi (writer), Genres: Psychological, Supernatural
  • In 2003 Death Note with Tsugumi Ohba (writer), Genres: Supernatural, Fantasy, Crime Fiction, Thriller, Drama, Crime Drama, Mystery, Adventure Film
  • In 2006 Blue Dragon Ral Grad with Tsuneo Takano (writer), Genres: Action, Adventure, Fantasy
  • In 2007 Hello Baby with Masanori Morita (writer), Genres: Action, Drama, Tragedy
  • In 2008 Uro-oboe Ouroboros with Nisio Isin (writer), Genres: Action, Drama, Martial Arts
  • In 2008 Castlevania Judgment (character design)
  • In 2008 Bakuman with Tsugumi Ohba (writer), Genres: Comedy, Romance, School Life, Slice of Life
Awards
  • Tezuka Award (one shot: 500 Konen no shinwa), 1985
  • Shogakukan Manga Award: Shōnen (Hikaru no Go), 2000
  • Tezuka Osamu Cultural Prize (Hikaru no Go), 2003
Collaborated With:
  • Hotta Yumi (Hikaru no Go) – Shonen Jump
  • Tsugumi Ohba (Death Note) – Shonen Jump
  • Masanori Morita (Hello Baby) – Jump Square, 2007

Mentored: Yabuki Kentaro (“Black Cat”), Watsuki Nobuhiro (“Rurouni Kenshin”, “Busou Renkin”), Murata Yusuke (“Eyeshield 21”)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

Please watch the video below for a sped-up version of Obata-sensei going over a page from “Bakuman” with marker. The actual time it took was 30 minutes and 16 seconds. If you want to watch the real-speed version, please go to the second video.

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Arakawa Hiromu (荒川  弘)

(Level1, 2013)

(Level1, 2013)

It is my belief that Arakawa-sensei has paved the way for strong female characters in shonen manga. Her works have been praised for their strong female characters which are kind of neglected in shonen manga compared to male characters. I’m not saying that, there’s no strong female characters in shonen manga/anime. However, they would start out strong and later take a backseat to the male characters’ powerups. Nowadays there are many strong female characters in manga/anime. Although, there are strong female characters in shonen manga created by male mangaka such as Android 18 in Dragon Ball, Tsunade in Naruto, and Anna in Shaman King.

Please take a look at the this other wordpress bloggers’ blog post on Arakawa-sensei’s female characters.  http://thescholarlyotaku.wordpress.com/tag/hiroumi-arakawa/

http://gaggingonsexism.wordpress.com/2012/05/31/the-women-of-fullmetal-alchemist/

Here’s an example so you can see where I’m coming from.

http://deathberry.com/index.php?topic=225.0

As well, so I’m not merely representing one side of the argument. Here is the supportive argument on female characters in shonen manga.

http://ciarda927.deviantart.com/journal/Female-gender-roles-in-shonen-manga-222455381

 

Works

  • Stray Dog (1999)
  • Shanghai Yōmakikai (上海妖魔鬼怪?, lit. “Ghost Demons of Shanghai”) (2000)
  • Fullmetal Alchemist (鋼の錬金術師 Hagane no Renkinjutsushi?, lit. “Alchemist of Steel”) (2001–2010)
  • Raiden 18 (2005)
  • Sōten no Kōmori (蒼天の蝙蝠?, lit. “A Bat In Blue Sky”) (2006)
  • Hero Tales (獣神演武 Jūshin Enbu?) (2006–2010)[20]
  • Noble Farmer (百姓貴族 Hyakushō Kizoku?) (2008)
  • Silver Spoon (銀の匙 Gin no Saji?) (2011-)
  • The Heroic Legend of Arslan (アルスラーン戦記 Arusurān Senki?) (2013-)

Awards

Influences

Arakawa states that Suihō Tagawa, the author of Norakuro, is the “root of [her] style as an artist”. She also learned composition and drawing during her time as Hiroyuki Etō’s assistant. She also cites Rumiko TakahashiShigeru Mizuki and Kinnikuman by Yudetamago as influences and is a fan of Mike Mignola‘s work.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

 

Videos

Images

Information

Politics – 政治

Hello!

Shizuko, here!

Today I’ll be talking about Japanese politics! Ugh… (; ̄Д ̄)I don’t really have an interest in politics myself.

Let’s start with the national flag and anthem! I remember learning about this in elementary school. I know, I know. This should be in my first post about Japan in general information. Yurushite kure. (Forgive me.) m(._.)m

(Maps of World, 2013)

(Maps of World, 2013)

First of all, you may already know this. The Japanese flag is a red circle on a plain white background. The white signifies a clear field. It is called the “hinomaru”. It literally means “sun disc”. “Hi” means “sun”.  “maru” means “circle” or “round”. The flag has been used since at least 17th century. It was officially designated as the national flag in August 1999. From the continental point of view, Japan is in the direction of the sunrise. Japan lies to the east of the Eurasian continent, and beyond Japan lies the Pacific Ocean. This is why the Japanese began to call their country Nihon or Nippon, literally meaning “source of the sun” and often translated into English as “land of the rising sun.” (Kids Web Japan, 2013)

Now you usually see two forms of the flag, don’t you? One is the flag image above. Another is the one below. Why is that? Well the one below is in use by the naval ensign. It does look pretty cool, doesn’t it?

(World Flag Database, 2013)

(World Flag Database, 2013)

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The national anthem is called the “kimigayo” meaning “The Emperor’s Reign”. The lyrics and music were composed by Hiromori Hayashi. It was in use as an unofficial anthem since 1883. It was officially adopted as the national anthem in 1999. Apparently, they are the oldest anthem lyrics in the world dating to the 10th century or earlier. There’s some opposition to the anthem because of its association with militarism and worship of the emperor. (CIA World Factbook, 2013)

Please watch the above video for the national anthem.

“Politics” in Japanese is “seiji” (政治). The word has Chinese origins. “Sei” means “right/justice/lawful” and “ji” means “studies”. “Seiji” is also a name for a boy.  The meaning of the name is “lawful” or “manages affairs of state”. Fitting isn’t it?

(Travels, 2013)

(Travels, 2013)

(Pictured above as you can see is the chrysanthemum on Japanese passport. If you want to obtain a Japanese passport, go to this link!

http://www.travels.com/destinations/asia/obtain-passport-japan/)

The imperial seal of Japan is a 16-petaled chrysanthemum. Technically, there is no “official” national flower. But, we mainly consider the cherry blossom as the “unofficial” national flower. The chrysanthemum is the symbol for the emperor.

Under the Meiji Constitution, no one was permitted to use the Imperial Seal except the Emperor of Japan, who used a 16 petal chrysanthemum with sixteen tips of another row of petals showing behind the first row. Therefore, each member of the Imperial family used a slightly modified version of the seal. Shinto shrines either displayed the imperial seal or incorporated elements of the seal into their own emblems.

Earlier in Japanese history, when Emperor Go-Daigo, who tried to break the power of the shogunate in 1333, was exiled, he adopted the seventeen petal chrysanthemum to differentiate himself from his successor, Emperor Kōgon, who kept the imperial 16 petal mon.

 Other members of the Imperial Family use a version with 14 single petals, while a form with 16 single petals is used for Diet members’ pins, orders, passports, and other items that carry or represent the authority of the Emperor. (Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

The national holiday is Emperor Akihito’s birthday, December 23, 1933.

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There is an anime called “Hetalia” where the countries of the world are humanized and the way they interact with each other portrays world history and international relations. The personification of Japan is named Kiku Honda. Also to note is that his first name, “Kiku,” means “chrysanthemum” in Japanese. His last name “Honda” (本田), is written with the same kanji for “hon” (本) as in “Nihon” (日本), which means “Japan”. (MyAnimeList, 2013)

Well, watching the anime or reading the manga is a fun way to learn history. If you can understand English, well duh… If you’re reading this blog post, then obviously you can. Haha.

(ノ>▽<。)ノ I’d recommend watching the English dubbed anime episodes. In my opinion, this is one of the rare moments where the English dubbed episodes are better than the English subbed episodes. The voice actors (seiyu) know how to have fun with the characters and aren’t afraid to not take themselves seriously! You’ll be splitting your sides with laughter! It’s so different from the English subbed episodes. 

Hetalia english dub Episode 1 clip

Hetalia english subbed Episode 1 clip

You’ll notice in the english subbed clip, Germany (guy with blonde hair) says it’s strange how easily he slipped through the Italian border. In the english dubbed clip, he starts saying sorry to the stick for not feeding it.

To watch the English dubbed episodes of the first season, go here. http://www.watchcartoononline.com/anime/hetalia-axis-powers

If you still want to watch the English subbed episodes, go here. The first season is “Hetalia Axis Powers”. The second season is “Hetalia The Beautiful World”. “Hetalia Paint it White” is the movie and should be watched after the first and second season.

http://www.animehere.com/search.html?keyword=hetalia

As well you can also go here for the English subbed episodes. But in my opinion, this is the best place to watch the latest episodes. Although, if you want to watch the English dubbed episodes, you have to pay for it and become a subscriber of funimation. T_T But, even so it’s not that expensive.

http://www.funimation.com/shows/hetalia/videos/episodes

Warning: Although, as to the countries’ personifications and personalities… Once you watch the anime or start reading the manga, you may be thinking, “This is kind of offensive…” or “Those are just stereotypes!”. The mangaka did say that, one day he encountered an ethnic jokes website and that’s where he came up with the idea for the manga. Think of it as satire, and take it with a pinch of salt. It’s meant to be a joke and funny. It’s not meant to be a realistic portrayal of the people of the countries. 

(AliExpress, 2013)

(AliExpress, 2013)

(DinoDirect, 2013)

(DinoDirect, 2013)

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The traditional date of the founding of the nation was by Emperor Jimmu in 660 BC. On November 29, 1890, the Meiji constitution provided for a constitutional monarchy. The current constitution adopted is an amendment to the Meiji Constitution. Japan obtained independence on May 3, 1947. 

Please take a look at the neat little chart down below for the structure of the political system of the Meiji constitution.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

Today, Japan has a parliamentary government with a constitutional monarchy. Please take a look at the neat little chart below for a detailed explanation of the structure of today’s Japanese ruling system.

The current Japanese constitution was promulgated in the year 1946 during the occupation by the Allied powers:

Legislature:
The Japanese parliament is called the Diet. It consists of the House of Representatives (480 members) and the House of Councillors (242 members). The members of the Diet are elected by the Japanese people.

Executive:
The cabinet is headed by the Prime Minister. The cabinet further consists of the ministers which are appointed by the prime minister and are usually members of the Diet. The prime minister is elected by the Diet.

Judiciary:
The highest court is the Supreme Court. Other courts are district courts, high courts, family courts, and summary courts. Judges are appointed by the cabinet.

Elections:
The minimum voting age is 20 years. Women received the right to vote with the postwar constitution. Elections for the House of Representatives are carried out every four years, and half of the House of Councillors is elected every three years. Beside the national elections there are prefectural and municipal elections.

The Emperor does not have any effective power but is only the symbol of the state.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

The legal system is a civil law system based on German model; system also reflects Anglo-American influence and Japanese traditions; judicial review of legislative acts in the Supreme Court.

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1. Executive Branch: Emperor, Minister, Deputy Minister

Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko (Mail Online, 2009)

Emperor Akihito & Empress Michiko (Mail Online, 2009)

(The Epoch Times, 2012)

Minister Abe (The Epoch Times, 2012)

The Japan Daily Press, 2013)

Deputy Minster Taro (The Japan Daily Press, 2013)

chief of state: Emperor AKIHITO (since 7 January 1989)
head of government: Prime Minister Shinzo ABE (since 26 December 2012); Deputy Prime Minister Taro ASO (since 26 December 2012)
cabinet: Cabinet is appointed by the prime minister
elections: Diet, the bicameral legislature, designates the prime minister; constitution requires that the prime minister commands parliamentary majority; following legislative elections, the leader of majority party or leader of majority coalition in House of Representatives usually becomes prime minister; the monarchy is hereditary

(CIA World Factbook, 2013)

2. Legislative Branch: Diet (House of Councillors)

Plennary Session of the Diet/House of Councillors (Kantei, 2008)

Plennary Session of the Diet/House of Councillors (Kantei, 2008)

Diet Building (Wikipedia, 2013)

Diet Building (Wikipedia, 2013)

bicameral Diet or Kokkai consists of the House of Councillors or Sangi-in (242 seats – members elected for fixed six-year terms; 146 members in multi-seat constituencies and 96 by proportional representation) half elected every three years; and the House of Representatives or Shugi-in (480 seats – members elected for maximum four-year terms; 300 in single-seat constituencies; 180 members by proportional representation in 11 regional blocs); the prime minister has the right to dissolve the House of Representatives at any time with the concurrence of the cabinet
elections: House of Councillors – last held on 21 July 2013 (next to be held in July 2016); House of Representatives – last held on 16 December 2012 (next to be held by 15 December 2016)
election results: House of Councillors – percent of vote by party – NA; seats by party – LPD 115, DPJ 59, New Komeito 20, Your Party 18, JCP 11, JRP 9, SDP 3, others 4, independents 3
House of Representatives – percent of vote by party (by proportional representation) – LDP 31.6%, DPJ 16.6%, JRP 22.2%, New Komeito 12.2%, Your Party 7.7%, JCP 4.4%, TRP 3.9%, others 1.4%; seats by party LDP 294, DPJ 57, JRP 54, New Komeito 31, Your Party 18, TPJ 9, JCP 8, others 4, independents 5

3. Judicial Branch:  Supreme Court

(Courts in Japan, 2013)

(Courts in Japan, 2013)

(Courts in Japan, 2013)

(Courts in Japan, 2013)

Supreme Court Justices (Japan Focus, 2013)

Supreme Court Justices (Japan Focus, 2013)

highest court(s): Supreme Court or Saiko saibansho (consists of the chief justice and 14 associate justices)
note – the Supreme Court has jurisdiction in constitutional issues
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice designated by the Cabinet and appointed by the monarch; associate justices appointed by the Cabinet and confirmed by the monarch; all justices are reviewed in a popular referendum at the first general election of the House of Representatives following each judge’s appointment and every 10 years afterward
subordinate courts: 8 High Courts (Koto-saiban-sho), each with a Family Court (Katei-saiban-sho); 50 District Courts (Chiho saibansho), with 203 additional branches; 438 Summary Courts (Kani saibansho)

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Political Parties and Leaders

House of Councilors Election in 2013 (Wikipedia, 2013)

House of Councilors Election in 2013 (Wikipedia, 2013)

Democratic Party of Japan or DPJ [Banri KAIEDA]
Japan Communist Party or JCP [Kazuo SHII]
Japan Restoration Party or JRP [Shintaro ISHIHARA]
Liberal Democratic Party or LDP [Shinzo ABE]
New Komeito or NK [Natsuo YAMAGUCHI]
People’s Life Party or PF [Ichiro OZAWA]
Social Democratic Party or SDP [Mizuho FUKUSHIMA]
Tomorrow Party of Japan or TPJ [Tomoko ABE]
Your Party or YP [Yoshimi WATANABE]

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The current Japanese constitution was based on the U.S. constitution. There are three news articles below that portray the controversy in Japanese politics. They show that despite the amendment proclaiming freedom of the press, freelance journalists and foreign journalists are not allowed coverage of significant news.

Political Upheaval: Freedom of the Press – Obstruction against Freelance and Foreign Journalists

Japan is ranked 22nd of 179 countries in the 2011-2012 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.

Japan has fallen to 53rd place of 179 countries in the 2013 World Press Freedom Index.

Quotes from news articles:

1) Article 1: Journalists Barred From Anti-Nuclear Protest Coverage

“This obstruction of freelancers’ work is arbitrary and illegal under Japanese law and violates the fundamental principle of freedom of the press,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The court will not provide legal cover for obstruction of access, especially given that the request for legal action comes from journalists themselves.” (Reporters Without Borders,2012)

Freelance journalists are routinely discriminated against in Japan. Officials typically attempt to justify this policy on a variety of grounds: lack of space, lack of time, extra cost. Notably, these constraints apply only to freelancers – not to journalists employed by media companies.

Nuclear policy remains an extremely sensitive issue in Japan. Freelance journalist Minoru Tanakahas suffered systematic legal harassment since last May. He has been accused of libel as a result of his investigation of the disaster at the Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear plant.

Reporters Without Borders has opposed for years the censorship exercised by the Kisha clubs and the danger to press freedom that they represent.”

(Reporters Without Borders,2012)

If you’ll look at the video, you can see the freelance photographers being rejected.

http://en.rsf.org/japon-journalists-barred-from-anti-06-11-2012,43640.html

2) Article 2: Freelance Journalists Face Discrimination On Fukushima Plant Visit

http://en.rsf.org/japan-freelance-journalists-face-23-05-2012,42669.html

Only two freelance reporters among the 40 reporters were allowed to cover the Fukushima Plant visit. There are unfair conditions forced upon freelance reporters compared to organization-affiliated reporters. Freelance reporters are not allowed to take necessary equipment with them such as still cameras or video equipment. Note that it was only the freelance reporters that weren’t allowed to take the equipment with them. As well, video images were checked before they were broadcast.

Quote:

“Only two Japanese freelances will be included among 40 accredited to the third media visit on 26 May to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, badly damaged by the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami.

Although some photographers and camera operators will be present, neither of the two freelances will be allowed to use still cameras or video equipment.

One of them, Hatakeyama Michiyoshi, told Reporters Without Borders that a quota of four video journalists and four photographers had been set for the visit but the two who were not affiliated to news organizations would not be allowed to take any equipment.

 During the second media visit to the site in February this year, for foreign journalists not included in the first visit, the organizers insisted on checking video images before they were broadcast.”

(Reporters Without Borders, 2012)

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Sources

Tools

-Used this website for creating the Youtube clips by shortening the original videos.

Videos

Images

Information

Historical Perspective

Historical Perspective

Minna-san, konbanwa!

Today, I’ll be talking about history!

Not really one of my favorite things, but I want you to know more about my home and the events that shaped it. There are many significant events that shaped today’s Japanese culture and the world, but I don’t want to put you to sleep so here’s the three major and minor events that I think shaped today’s Japan!

3 major historical events from Japan’s history

    October, 1868: Meiji Restoration

The Meiji government carried out a series of reform, such as politics, economy, and law. The Meiji Restoration transfigured Japan into the modern state which had the first Western nation-state organization in East Asia.

(Global History Regents Review, 2013)

(Global History Regents Review, 2013)

(Pictured above is a wood cutout representation of the changes that the Meiji Restoration brought about.)

In 1868 the Tokugawa shôgun (“great general”), who ruled Japan in the feudal period, lost his power and the emperor was restored to the supreme position. The emperor took the name Meiji (“enlightened rule”) as his reign name; this event was known as the Meiji Restoration.

The Reign of the Meiji Emperor

When the Meiji emperor was restored as head of Japan in 1868, the nation was a militarily weak country, was primarily agricultural, and had little technological development. It was controlled by hundreds of semi-independent feudal lords. The Western powers — Europe and the United States — had forced Japan to sign treaties that limited its control over its own foreign trade and required that crimes concerning foreigners in Japan be tried not in Japanese but in Western courts. When the Meiji period ended, with the death of the emperor in 1912, Japan had

· a highly centralized, bureaucratic government;
· a constitution establishing an elected parliament;
· a well-developed transport and communication system;
· a highly educated population free of feudal class restrictions;
· an established and rapidly growing industrial sector based on the latest technology; and
· a powerful army and navy.

Japan had regained complete control of its foreign trade and legal system, and, by fighting and winning two wars (one of them against a major European power, Russia), it had established full independence and equality in international affairs. In a little more than a generation, Japan had exceeded its goals, and in the process had changed its whole society. Japan’s success in modernization has created great interest in why and how it was able to adopt Western political, social, and economic institutions in so short a time.

One answer is found in the Meiji Restoration itself. This political revolution “restored” the emperor to power, but he did not rule directly. He was expected to accept the advice of the group that had overthrown the shôgun, and it was from this group that a small number of ambitious, able, and patriotic young men from the lower ranks of the samurai emerged to take control and establish the new political system. At first, their only strength was that the emperor accepted their advice and several powerful feudal domains provided military support. They moved quickly, however, to build their own military and economic control. By July 1869 the feudal lords had been requested to give up their domains, and in 1871 these domains were abolished and transformed into prefectures of a unified central state.

The feudal lords and the samurai class were offered a yearly stipend, which was later changed to a one-time payment in government bonds. The samurai lost their class privileges, when the government declared all classes to be equal. By 1876 the government banned the wearing of the samurai’s swords; the former samurai cut off their top knots in favor of Western-style haircuts and took up jobs in business and the professions.

The armies of each domain were disbanded, and a national army based on universal conscription was created in 1872, requiring three years’ military service from all men, samurai and commoner alike. A national land tax system was established that required payment in money instead of rice, which allowed the government to stabilize the national budget. This gave the government money to spend to build up the strength of the nation.

Ideology

In an effort to unite the Japanese nation in response to the Western challenge, the Meiji leaders created a civic ideology centered around the emperor. Although the emperor wielded no political power, he had long been viewed as a symbol of Japanese culture and historical continuity. He was the head of the Shintô religion, Japan’s native religion. Among other beliefs, Shintô holds that the emperor is descended from the sun goddess and the gods who created Japan and therefore is semidivine. Westerners of that time knew him primarily as a ceremonial figure. The Meiji reformers brought the emperor and Shintô to national prominence, replacing Buddhism as the national religion, for political and ideological reasons. By associating Shintô with the imperial line, which reached back into legendary times, Japan had not only the oldest ruling house in the world, but a powerful symbol of age-old national unity.

The people seldom saw the emperor, yet they were to carry out his orders without question, in honor to him and to the unity of the Japanese people, which he represented. In fact, the emperor did not rule. It was his “advisers,” the small group of men who exercised political control, that devised and carried out the reform program in the name of the emperor.

Social and Economic Changes

The abolition of feudalism made possible tremendous social and political changes. Millions of people were suddenly free to choose their occupation and move about without restrictions. By providing a new environment of political and financial security, the government made possible investment in new industries and technologies.

The government led the way in this, building railway and shipping lines, telegraph and telephone systems, three shipyards, ten mines, five munitions works, and fifty-three consumer industries (making sugar, glass, textiles, cement, chemicals, and other important products). This was very expensive, however, and strained government finances, so in 1880 the government decided to sell most of these industries to private investors, thereafter encouraging such activity through subsidies and other incentives. Some of the samurai and merchants who built these industries established major corporate conglomerates called zaibatsu, which controlled much of Japan’s modern industrial sector.

The government also introduced a national educational system and a constitution, creating an elected parliament called the Diet. They did this to provide a good environment for national growth, win the respect of the Westerners, and build support for the modern state. In the Tokugawa period, popular education had spread rapidly, and in 1872 the government established a national system to educate the entire population. By the end of the Meiji period, almost everyone attended the free public schools for at least six years. The government closely controlled the schools, making sure that in addition to skills like mathematics and reading, all students studied “moral training,” which stressed the importance of their duty to the emperor, the country and their families.

The 1889 constitution was “given” to the people by the emperor, and only he (or his advisers) could change it. A parliament was elected beginning in 1890, but only the wealthiest one percent of the population could vote in elections. In 1925 this was changed to allow all men (but not yet women) to vote.

To win the recognition of the Western powers and convince them to change the unequal treaties the Japanese had been forced to sign in the 1850s, Japan changed its entire legal system, adopting a new criminal and civil code modeled after those of France and Germany. The Western nations finally agreed to revise the treaties in 1894, acknowledging Japan as an equal in principle, although not in international power.

The International Climate: Colonialism and Expansion

In 1894 Japan fought a war against China over its interest in Korea, which China claimed as a vassal state. The Korean peninsula is the closest part of Asia to Japan, less than 100 miles by sea, and the Japanese were worried that the Russians might gain control of that weak nation. Japan won the war and gained control over Korea and gained Taiwan as a colony. Japan’s sudden, decisive victory over China surprised the world and worried some European powers.

At this time the European nations were beginning to claim special rights in China — the French, with their colony in Indochina (today’s Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia), were involved in South China; the British also claimed special rights in South China, near Hong Kong, and later the whole Yangtze valley; and the Russians, who were building a railway through Siberia and Manchuria, were interested in North China. After Japan’s victory over China, Japan signed a treaty with China which gave Japan special rights on China’s Liaotung peninsula, in addition to the control of Taiwan. But Japan’s victory was short lived. Within a week, France, Russia, and Germany combined to pressure Japan to give up rights on the Liaotung peninsula. Each of these nations then began to force China to give it ports, naval bases, and special economic rights, with Russia taking the same Liaotung peninsula that Japan had been forced to return.

The Japanese government was angered by this incident and drew the lesson that for Japan to maintain its independence and receive equal treatment in international affairs, it was necessary to strengthen its military even further. By 1904, when the Russians were again threatening to establish control over Korea, Japan was much stronger. It declared war on Russia and, using all its strength, won victory in 1905 (beginning with a surprise naval attack on Port Arthur, which gained for Japan the control of the China Sea). Japan thus achieved dominance over Korea and established itself a colonial power in East Asia.

(Asia for Educators | Columbia University, 2013)

 

    September 18, 1931: Military conflict occurred between Japan and the Republic of China. This is called the “Manchurian Incident” (Mukden Incident). Bordering on this military conflict, “Second Sino-Japanese War” in 1937 – 1945 occurred.

On September 18, 1931, near the city Mukden in Manchuria (today Shenyang), a railroad owned by Japan’s South Manchuria Railway was blown up (which was totally not a false flag operation). The Japanese military generals accused Chinese terrorists of this act, and used it as an excuse for the full-scale invasion of Manchuria. The civilian government in Tokyo was not consulted at all in this matter, but Emperor Hirohito quickly gave up on the idea of punishing the offenders, since at this point the civilian government was just a puppet of the Imperial Japanese Army.

The Japanese generals then decided to set up a puppet government in the occupied north, called Manchukuo (“the Manchu State”) and placed the last emperor Pu Yiback on the throne.

The League of Nations demanded that Japan withdraw its armies from Manchuria, but the Japanese public fully supported a war of expansionism in Asia. So the Japanese gave the international community the middle finger by withdrawing from the Security Council. This set the stage for an inevitable war, even though the Sino-Japanese War did not break out until 1937.

(TV Topes, 2013)

On September 18, 1931, at approximately ten o’clock, Japanese soldiers detonated an explosive on the Southern Manchurian Railway in the area of Liutiaohu. In response, Chinese soldiers retaliated with gunfire, playing perfectly into the hands of a covert Japanese plot to secure their interests in Manchuria. Colonel Itagaki Seishiro andLieutenant Colonel Kanji Ishiwara planned that day’s events and are largely responsible for the fall of Mukden. The conflict that remains is that the explosion occured about twenty-five miles away from the walled city of Mukden. Japanese soldiers came to reinforce their troops, but after settling the conflict in Liutiaohu, they continued North to Mukden where 10,000 Chinese soldiers resided in the military barracks. Attacks on the walled city lasted until 3:40 AM the next day when at that time Japanese soldiers had won control of the city.

(Wake Forest University, 2013)

(Wake Forest University, 2013)

*Manchuria sits to the Northeast of China and is important
strategically because it gives Japan a foothold in Asia and
provides a buffer from Russia.

Starting around September 12, nearly a week before the incident, there were several reports of foul play. Japanese had been receiving a large amount of munitions and the Chief of Police in Mukden reported that there may be more troops needed to protect the Japanese in Mukden.

The reports were relayed on to the Foreign Minister who grew suspicious of the safety in Mukden. He immediately organized a meeting where he appointed General Tatekawa to stop the Mukden plot. General Honjo who was in command of the forces in Manchuria, but at the time stationed in Port Arthur, appointed Itagaki to be Tatekawa’s escort. Itagaki needed to bring Tatekawa to his side, or the plot would have to be cancelled. When Tatekawa arrived on the 18th, Itagaki took him out drinking and the two retired around 9:00 p.m.

 

The part of the railway that was
 destroyed in the explosion.

The two were later woken up at around 10:30 when the word came back about the explosion. At this time Japanese and Chinese were fighting in retaliation. The howitzers proved to be effective, as no Chinese planes were able to take flight. Japanese troops moved north along the railway and by early the next morning, Mukden was under Japanese control.

One Lieutenant Kawamoto of the Kwantung Army was on night patrol with six other officers when they heard an explosion in the distance. The company ran to the site of the explosion and found that about 31 in. of the track had been destroyed. Upon inspection, the officers were fired upon and in response to the firing, pursued their aggressors about two hundred yards into the woods before being met with a larger group of Chinese soldiers.

In response, Kawamoto called for back ups from another company a couple hundred yards away, and in awaiting for their arrival noticed an incoming train on the railway. The train, missing warnings from the Japanese forces continued over the scene of the incident, swayed, and continued on its course.

When the reinforcements arrived, Japanese forces were estimated at some five hundred soldiers, and the Chinese forces 10,000. In the face of a large opposition, Japanese forces continued into the barracks trying to ensure their safety by overwhelming the unexpected forces. Fighting continued into the next morning at about 6:00 a.m. when the entire barracks were captured.

(Wake Forest University, 2013)

The two officers were fueled in their ambitions by the political and economic spectrum of Japan at the time. (1) After the Mukden Incident occurred, the Kwantung Army continued to travel west and south into the borders of China. The Japanese confronted the officers in charge, but when they did, the Kwantung Army threatened to declare their own independence from the Japanese government and establish their own. The Japanese government conceded to the army’s demands, and was now placed into a military battle with China and what would later be the rest of the world.

(Wake Forest University, 2013)

1. http://www.wfu.edu/history/StudentWork/AsiaPacificWar/asia-pacific-mike/asia-pacific/background.htm

  • For more on the Second Sino-Japanese War, go here. 

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/UsefulNotes/SecondSinoJapaneseWar?from=Main.SecondSino-JapaneseWar

  • Go here for the timeline on how the Mukden Incident was the beginning of a series of chain events that caused World War II. 

http://library.thinkquest.org/26742/causes.html

  • If you want to read about politics, trade, etc. and all that good stuff, head here.

https://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/WorldWar2/manchuria.htm

If you want to read very briefly about the Chinese involvement, please go to the first website. The second website tells the impact of the Mukden Incident on today’s China by citizens celebrating the 81st anniversary of the Mukden Incident.

http://www.wfu.edu/history/StudentWork/AsiaPacificWar/asia-pacific-mike/asia-pacific/background4.htm

http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/photo/2012-09/18/c_131858276.htm

  • As well, if you want to read in specific about the United States attempt at resolving the incident by the proposal of the Stimson Doctrine, please go to this site.

http://history.state.gov/milestones/1921-1936/mukden-incident

③    August, 1945: Japan accepted The Potsdam Declaration and World War II ended.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Pictured above is Japanese Foreign Affairs minister Shigemitsu signing the written agreement that formalized the surrender.)

On this day in 1945, just a day after the bombing of Nagasaki, Japan submits its acquiescence to the Potsdam Conference terms of unconditional surrender, as President Harry S. Truman orders a halt to atomic bombing.

Emperor Hirohito, having remained aloof from the daily decisions of prosecuting the war, rubber-stamping the decisions of his War Council, including the decision to bombPearl Harbor, finally felt compelled to do more. At the behest of two Cabinet members, the emperor summoned and presided over a special meeting of the Council and implored them to consider accepting the terms of the Potsdam Conference, which meant unconditional surrender. “It seems obvious that the nation is no longer able to wage war, and its ability to defend its own shores is doubtful.” The Council had been split over the surrender terms; half the members wanted assurances that the emperor would maintain his hereditary and traditional role in a postwar Japan before surrender could be considered. But in light of the bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, Nagasaki on August 9, and the Soviet invasion of Manchuria, as well as the emperor’s own request that the Council “bear the unbearable,” it was agreed: Japan would surrender.

(History, 2013)

On 6 and 9 August, a single powerful new weapon dropped on each of the cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki had leveled those places. How many more atomic bombs the United States had in its arsenal the Japanese did not know. On the day Nagasaki was bombed, the Soviet Union, whom the Japanese had hoped would mediate a peace, declared war and launched an invasion of Manchuria. Despite the clear need to end the war, a few military leaders conspired to effect a coup d’état in order to reverse the emperor’s decision, but were foiled in the attempt.

The final words of the emperor’s recorded surrender message, broadcast to the nation by radio the next day, encapsulated the Japanese feelings about the surrender: “It is according to the dictates of time and fate that We have resolved to pave the way for a grand peace for all the generations to come by enduring the unendurable and suffering what is unsufferable.”

(Naval History Blog, 2010)

———————————————–

3 minor historical events 

①  1549: Francisco de Xavier (the priest of a Catholic church born in Spain Navarre, a missionary) introduced Christianity to Japan for the first time in 1549, and lead many people to the Christian faith.

(Blogspot, 2010)

(Blogspot, 2010)

On this day in 1549, St. Francis Xavier (1506-1552) reached Japan. Francis had a major impact in Japan. He was the first Jesuit to go to Japan as a missionary. He brought with him paintings of the Madonna and the Madonna and Child. These paintings were used to help teach the Japanese about Christianity. There was a huge language barrier as Japanese was unlike other languages the missionaries had previously encountered. Artwork continued to play a role in Francis’s teachings in Asia. For several decades the Jesuits were the only missionaries in Asia. The folliowing is from a 1552 letter he sent to the Jesuits in Europe:

http://www.fordham.edu/halsall/mod/1552xavier4.asp

 

②  1853: The American navy east India fleet which Matthew Calbraith Perry commands arrived at Japan. Convention of Peace and Amity between the United States of America and the Empire of Japan was concluded in March, 1854 of the next year. Japan which was closing the country according to this treaty was made to open the country to foreign interaction.

(Griffiths World Headquarters, 2013)

(Griffiths World Headquarters, 2013)

(Pictured above is first visit of Perry’s ships.)

Japan chose to isolate itself in the 1600’s when the Tokugawa Shogunate took control. A Shogun is a military leader in Japan. The Tokugawa Shogunate was a family who controlled Japan for about 200 years. Tokugawa took control after defeating all the opposing feudal lords. After Tokugawa got control of the power, the powerless emperor gave him the title of Shogun. Tokugawa promptly replaced all the feudal lords with friends and allies. Each lord had to spend one year in the capital every two years so the Shogun could keep an eye on them.

No Europeans were allowed into Japan except the Dutch who were allowed to land a ship every year. The Dutch had enough political pull to make sure that no foreign nations except themselves were allowed to trade at all with Japan.

(Griffiths World Headquarters, 2013)

On July 8, 1853, Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States Navy, commanding a squadron of two steamers and two sailing vessels, sailed into Tôkyô harbor aboard the frigate Susquehanna. Perry, on behalf of the U.S. government, forced Japan to enter into trade with the United States and demanded a treaty permitting trade and the opening of Japanese ports to U.S. merchant ships. This was the era when all Western powers were seeking to open new markets for their manufactured goods abroad, as well as new countries to supply raw materials for industry. It was clear that Commodore Perry could impose his demands by force. The Japanese had no navy with which to defend themselves, and thus they had to agree to the demands.

Perry’s small squadron itself was not enough to force the massive changes that then took place in Japan, but the Japanese knew that his ships were just the beginning of Western interest in their islands. Russia, Britain, France, and Holland all followed Perry’s example and used their fleets to force Japan to sign treaties that promised regular relations and trade. They did not just threaten Japan — they combination their navies on several occasions to defeat and disarm the Japanese feudal domains that defied them.

(Asia for Educators | Columbia University, 2013)

 

③ History of Manga

(Lambiek, 2013)

(Lambiek, 2013)

(Pictured above is the manga Norakuro mentioned below.)

Ganbatte! The Fight for Children’s Hearts

In the years leading up to World War I, Japan’s leaders had ambitious plans. Once isolated from the world, the island nation set its sights on extending its influence into Asia, especially nearby Korea and Manchuria.

Against this backdrop, magazines inspired by Western comics including Shonen Club for boys and Shojo Club for girls were established in 1915 and 1923. These popular publications included illustrated stories, photo features and light-hearted fun for young readers.

However, by the 1930’s, these same magazines featured heroic tales of Japanese soldiers, and showed its cheerful characters holding guns and preparing for battle. Manga characters such as Suiho Tagawa’s Norakuro (Black Stray) the dog took up arms, to instill values of sacrifice on the home front and valor on the battlefield in even the youngest Japanese reader. “Ganbatte”, meaning “do your best” became the rallying cry for manga created in this period, as Japan and its people prepared for the conflict and sacrifices ahead.

(DESUAU | Blogspot, 2013)

(DESUAU | Blogspot, 2013)

(Pictured above is Taro Yashima.)

Paper Warriors and Propaganda Messengers

With Japan’s entry in to World War II in 1937, government officials cracked down on dissident artists and artwork that was counter to the party line. Cartoonists were required to join a government-supported trade organization, Shin Nippon Mangaka Kyokai (The New Cartoonists Association of Japan) to even be published in Manga Magazine, the only comics magazine to be published regularly amidst wartime paper shortages.

Mangaka who weren’t fighting on the front lines, working in the factories, or banned from cartooning drew comics that followed the government’s guidelines for acceptable content. Manga that appeared in this period included gentle, family-style humor making light of the shortages and ‘make-do’ inventiveness of wartime housewives or images demonizing the enemy and glorifying bravery on the battlefield.

Manga’s ability to transcend language and cultural barriers also made it a perfect medium for propaganda. As Tokyo Rose’s radio broadcasts encouraged allies to give up the fight, illustrated leaflets created by Japanese cartoonists were also used to undermine the morale of the Allied soldiers in the Pacific arena. For example, Ryuichi Yokoyama, the creator of Fuku-chan (Little Fuku) was sent to the war zone to create comics in service of the Japanese military.

But the Allied forces also fought this war of images with manga, thanks in part to Taro Yashima, a dissident artist who left Japan and resettled in America. Yashima’s comic, Unganaizo (The Unlucky Soldier) told a tale of a peasant soldier who died in the service of corrupt leaders. The comic was often found on the corpses of Japanese soldiers in the battlefield, a testament to its ability to affect the fighting spirit of its readers. Yashima later went on to illustrate several award-winning children’s books, including Crow Boy and Umbrella.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Pictured above is a comic strip from Sazae-san.)

Post-War Manga: Red Books and Rental Libraries

After Japan’s surrender in 1945, American armed forces began their post-war occupation, and the Land of the Rising Sun picked itself up and began the process of rebuilding and reinventing itself once again. While the years immediately following the war were filled with hardship, many restrictions on artistic expression were lifted and manga artists found themselves free to tell a variety of stories once more.

Humorous four-panel comic strips about family life such as Sazae-san were a welcome reprieve from the harshness of post-war life. Created by Machiko Hasegawa, Sazae-san was a light-hearted look at daily life through the eyes of a young housewife and her extended family. A pioneering female mangaka in a male-dominated field, Hasegawa enjoyed many years of success drawing Sazae-san, which ran for almost 30 years in the Asahi Shinbun (Asahi Newspaper)Sazae-san was also made into an animated TV series and radio serial.

kamishibai

(Pictured above is kamishibai.)

The shortages and economic hardships of the post-war years made purchasing toys and comic books a luxury that was out of reach for many children. However, manga was still enjoyed by the masses through kami-shibai (paper plays), a kind of portable picture theater. Traveling storytellers would bring their mini-theater to neighborhoods, along with traditional sweets that they’d sell to their young audience and narrate stories based on the images drawn on cardboard.

Many prominent manga artists, such as Sampei Shirato (creator of Kamui Den) and Shigeru Mizuki (creator of the Ge Ge Ge no Kitaro) made their mark as kami-shibai illustrators. The heyday of kami-shibai slowly came to an end with the arrival of television in the 1950’s.

Kamishibai: http://www.kamishibai.com/history.html

Another affordable option for readers were kashibonya or rental libraries. For a small fee, readers could enjoy a variety of titles without having to pay full-price for their own copy. In the typically tight-quarters of most urban Japanese homes, this was doubly convenient, since it allowed readers to enjoy their favorite comics without taking up extra storage space. This concept continues today with the kissaten or manga cafes in Japan.

 

After the war, hardback manga collections, once the backbone of mainstream comics publishing in Japan were too expensive for most readers. Out of this void came a low-cost alternative, akabonAkabon or ”red books” were named for their prominent use of red ink to add tone to black and white printing. These cheaply-printed, pocket-sized comics cost anywhere from 10 to 50 yen (less than 15 cents US), and were sold at candy shops, festivals and by street vendors, making them very affordable and accessible.

Akabon were most popular from 1948-1950, and gave several struggling manga artists their first big break. One such artist was Osamu Tezuka the man who would forever change the face of comics in Japan.

 

Hope you enjoyed this!

Ja ne! (Bye!)

Sources

Online

Images

Life Styles and Social Relations

Life Styles and Social Relations

A Day In The Life Of A Typical Japanese College Student

Hey, Shizuko here! Today, I’ll be telling you about my day. I’m sorry there isn’t manga-related content in this post. I’m a university student, so I’m busy on the weekdays with my studies.

Summary of My University Day (Time = 時間)

First, I live in an apartment near my university, Kansai Gaidai in Osaka because I am a commuter and it makes it much easier. It’s around 6:45 in the morning and I overslept because I am tired from yesterday’s part-time job. I work as a waitress at an izaka-ya (a Japanese-style restaurant) three times a week. I live alone in Osaka, so I have to save money to pay for living expenses. My family is back in Tokyo.

Pictured below is Japan’s number 1 izaka-ya, Tsubohachi for illustrative purposes. Of course, I only work at an ordinary izaka-ya, I can only dream of working at Tsubohachi. I’d be set for living expenses for a while if I worked there! But I thought it’d be a good chance to show a success of an izaka-ya.

(WAttention, 2013)

(WAttention, 2013)

I’ve got 30 less minutes than usual to get ready, so I’ve gotta hurry. I skip breakfast because it takes a while for girls to get ready for school. Insert face washing, make-up (false eye-lashes, foundation, blush, mascara, eyeliner, etc.), hair combing/styling (curling/straightening, teasing into shape, etc. Japanese hairstyles are complex). For an image, please see the ones below. And there’s also coordinating your outfit and accessories.

d(-_^)
(Yonasu, 2013)

(Yonasu, 2013)

(Pinterest, 2013)

(Pinterest, 2013)

After I’m done getting ready, I hurry out the door. Even though, I’m in a hurry, I make sure I locked the door because recently, apartments have been broken into. I have to hurry to catch the 7:20AM train. It takes about 20 minutes to get to the station from my apartment on bike. I make it to the subway, and it’s especially crowded during this time because of rush hour from 7-9AM. I’d like to take a seat, but there are none available. So I can only stand with my backpack containing heavy textbooks. The time it takes to arrive at the university is one hour. It’s hard for me to keep standing with the weight of the books. But there are no lockers at school, so I have to bring it with me. Sometimes, when I’m likely to get a seat, I fall asleep with my head in a textbook listening to music. Finally I arrive at the bus stop with the bus to my university. Since there are so many students that go to my university, there are times when the bus fills up before I even make it inside the bus and I’m late to class. (´;Д;`)

(on Japan:, 2008)

(on Japan:, 2008)

The bus is also very crowded, it takes 5 minutes to arrive at the university. I dash to class, unluckily it’s on the 5th floor. It’s either take up the elevator or the stairs. The elevator’s too slow, the waiting time is 1 minute at the least. This makes me think that we need more escalators or elevators in our school so that we can prevent this tardiness. Fortunately, my teacher is late for class. So I make it into my classroom on time. At first I try to listen carefully and learn something, but I just remembered that there is homework from another class that is due today so I covertly get started on that instead. As the class goes on, I get more and more sleepy, I didn’t sleep enough because of my night hours working my part-time job.  I fall asleep in class. (-, – )…zzzZZZ

I finish class without the teacher finding out.

Lunch – 12:10 – 12:50 40 minutes

(Kansai Inochi, 2012)

(Kansai Inochi, 2012)

There are stores that sell food for students. Students either eat out, buy their lunch at school or bring their lunch from home. I usually bring my lunch, but I forgot it in my haste. I’m not that hungry, so I hurry to the student cafe to buy some curry bread (in Japanese=karepan) and yogurt (in Japanese=yoguruchi).There are a lot of students waiting in line, the waiting is about 3-5 minutes.

(tokyo food file, 2010)

(tokyo food file, 2010)

(Pictured above is curry bread. Please see a brief explanation of what it is here. It’s a delicious and easily made snack on the go. If you’re interested and want to make some, please see the link as well. http://justhungry.com/japanese-curry-bread-kare-pan)

I eat lunch and chat with my friends in Seattle’s Best Coffee. I was sad in the morning but after hanging and talking with my friends, I’m a new woman. Or at times, I do homework during lunch. At times, I teach Japanese to exchange students and in turn they teach me about their languages. I usually prefer to do the teaching in the cafe because the atmosphere’s peaceful.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Pictured above is my dinner! Delicious, isn’t it? \(@ ̄∇ ̄@)/)

(Please see this definition for recipes and definition of it. http://www.japan-guide.com/r/e100.html)

It’s 9, so we leave.  I don’t have to work today, so my friend and I eat dinner at a local okonomiyaki restaurant. We chat and we lose track of time. Fortunately, I make it in time for the last train. When I get home, I log onto nixi (a Japanese social networking site popular among Japanese youth). I write a blog about today and post pictures. After playing on nixi for hours, I blacked out into sleep.

Etiquette

Slippers & Shoes

When entering a Japanese house, outdoor shoes are always replaced by slippers at the doorway (genkan). Slippers are provided by the host.

(Japanese Study Now!, 2011)

(Pictured above is the genkan with the house slippers and shoes you wear outside the house.)

When entering a room with tatami floor, slippers are removed as well. Tatami should only be stepped on with socks or in bare feet.

Tatami – A long-established type of Japanese floor covering, the tatami mat is primarily composed of rice straw. They resemble thick, cloth tiles that can be picked up and piled in stacks. “Tatami” is a word derived from the verb “tatamu” or to fold. In modern Japanese homes, a private room–“washitsu”–reserved for ceremonies and entertaining is usually the only space covered with tatami. To this day, it is forbidden to wear shoes while stepping on tatami.

(eHow, 2013)

(Texan in Tokyo, 2013)

(Pictured above are bathroom slippers.)
Finally, there are special toilet slippers for exclusive usage inside the washroom. The usual house slippers are left outside the door while using the washroom.

Sitting techniques

Sitting upright on the floor is common in Japan. For example, meals are traditionally held on a tatami floor around a low table. Sitting on the floor is also customary during the tea ceremony and other traditional events.

The formal way of sitting for both genders is kneeling (seiza) as shown on the picture below. People who are not used to sit in seiza style may become uncomfortable after a few minutes. Foreigners are not usually expected to be able to sit in seiza style for a long time, and an increasing number of Japanese people themselves are not able to do so either.


women only

seiza

men only

In casual situations, men usually sit cross-legged, while women with both legs to one side. The former sitting style is considered exclusively male, while the latter is considered exclusively female.

(Japan's Heart and Culture, 2010)

(Japan’s Heart and Culture, 2010)

(Pictured above is the tokonoma for clarification. It is the alcove with the wall scroll and potted flower.)

(See this link for an explanation on the tokonoma’s purpose. http://japansheartandculture.blogspot.com/2010/06/tokonoma.html)

Seating order

The most important guest sits on the honored seat (kamiza) which is located farthest from the entrance. If there is a tokonoma in the room, the guest should be seated in front of it. The host or least important person is supposed to sit next to the entrance (shimoza).

(Japan Guide, 2013)

Meals (Food = 料理) & Table Etiquette

The word for “meal” in Japanese is gohan (ご飯). This word actually refers to steamed rice, but rice is such an important food to the Japanese that gohan has come to mean all sorts of meals – even Western ones like spaghetti.

The most traditional Japanese meal is a serving of plain, white rice, along with a main dish (fish or meat), some kind of side dish (often cooked vegetables), soup (either miso soup or clear broth), and pickled vegetables.

Traditional Japanese breakfast pictured below! Eat your heart out! ( -_-)旦~

(chomp chow chew, 2011)

(chomp chow chew, 2011)

Meal Etiquette

Individual versus shared dishes

It is not uncommon in private households and in certain restaurants (e.g. izakaya) to share several dishes of food at the table rather than serving each person an individual dish. When eating from shared dishes, move some food from the shared plates onto your own with the opposite end of your chopsticks or with serving chopsticks that may be provided for that purpose.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

(VETEC, 2012)

(VETEC, 2012)

Before eating, Japanese people say “itadakimasu,” a polite phrase meaning “I receive this food.” This expresses thanks to whoever worked to prepare the food in the meal.

How To Eat Etiquette

Many people eat by taking a bite of the main or side dish, then eating a little rice, and then having a sip of soup straight from the bowl (soup isn’t usually eaten with a spoon). A little rice is saved until the end of the meal, when it is eaten with the pickled vegetables.

How to Hold Chopsticks

1. Positioning and holding the Japanese chopsticks: Stick (A) is held by using the thumb to press the stick against the hand and ring finger as shown. Stick (B) is held by using the index and middle fingers to press the stick against the thumb as shown. To catch and hold food, move the index and middle fingers up and down. Please give it a try.
2. Taking up chopsticks Starting with the meal Using the thumb, the forefinger and the third finger of the right (left for the lefty) hand, take up the Chopsticks. Then support by the left (right) hand as in the figure (2), and re-position the Chopsticks by the right (left) hand as in the figure (3) and (4).
3. (Figures of 3) Putting down Japanese chopsticks Finishing with the meal Just follow the reverse directions of taking up the Chopsticks as shown in the figures whenever you take short rest during taking meal.When finishing a meal, people say “Gochiso Sama Deshita” or “It was a wonderful treat”.
4. (Figure of 4) Holding the bowl and the chopsticks at the same time: Take up the bowl first in one hand by resting the bottom of the bowl on the four fingers and placing the thumb on the rim Next, take up the chopsticks by the other hand.
5. (Figure of 5) When you finish the meal Place the chopsticks on the chopstick rest. If there is no chopstick rest, place the chopsticks half-way into the envelope, or tie the chopstick envelope into a knot and place them on the knot as shown in the figure. This is an elegant way of keeping the table clean, and politely signals your waiter that you are finished.How to tie the chopstick envelope into a knot: (1) Fold the end of the envelope as shown. (2) Make a cross or a triangle as shown by folding the other side of the envelope making it a little longer than the other side. (3) Put the other end of the envelope into the loop of the envelope and fold it as pictured. (4) You’re done!
6. (Figure of 6) How to Put Soy Sauce and Add more Wasabi When you put soy sauce on Sushi, put it on the fish side of the Sushi, not dip the rice of Sushi into soy sauce. Note: You could use your hand to take Sushi, but please clean up your hands. Usually Wasabi is already put between the fish and the rice of Sushi by Sushi Chef, but if you want more Wasabi, put it on the fish of Sushi.

(Chopsticks Etiquette, 2013)

How to Hold the Dishes When Eating

rice bowl
1. Rice bowl

Hold the rice bowl in your hand to eat from it.

soup bowl
2. Soup bowl

Hold the soup bowl just like the rice bowl, and sip the soup directly from it.

other dishes
3. Other dishes

Flat plates used to hold meat or fish are not usually lifted from the table. Grab a good-sized bite of food from the plate with the chopsticks and then eat it.

After Eating Etiquette

gochiso sama deshita

After eating, people once again express their thanks for the meal by saying “gochiso sama deshita,” which literally means “it was quite a feast.”

(Kids Web Japan, 2013)

Some Table Rules

  • Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.
  • It is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.
  • Talking about toilet related and similarly unappetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by most people.
  • It is considered bad manner to burp.
  • After eating, try to move all your dishes back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lids on dishes and putting your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or back into their paper slip.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

  • Never point your chopsticks.
  • Do not pierce your food with chopsticks.
  • Place bones on the side of your plate.
  • Try a little bit of everything. It is acceptable to ask what something is and even to make a face if you do not like the taste.
  • Don’t be surprised if your Japanese colleagues slurp their noodles and soup.
  •  Mixing other food with rice is usually not done. You eat a bit of one and then a bit of the other, but they should never be mixed together as you do in many Western countries.
  • If you do not want anything more to drink, do not finish what is in your glass. An empty glass is an invitation for someone to serve you more.
  • If you leave a small amount of rice in your bowl, you will be given more. To signify that you do not want more rice, finish every grain in your bowl.
  • It is acceptable to leave a small amount of food on your plate when you have finished eating.
  • Conversation at the table is generally subdued. The Japanese like to savour their food.

(Kwintessential, 2013)

(If you ever decide to go out drinking in Japan, follow these rules!(http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2005.html))

How to eat…

… Rice:Hold the rice bowl in one hand and the chopsticks in the other. Lift the bowl towards your mouth while eating. Do not pour soya sauce over white, cooked rice.
… Sushi:Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. It is considered bad manners to waste soya sauce, so try not to pour more sauce than you will use.You do not need to add wasabi into the soya sauce, because the sushi pieces may already contain it, or may be eaten plain. However, if you choose to add wasabi, use only a small amount so as not to offend the sushi chef. If you do not like wasabi, you can request that none is added into your sushi.In general, you are supposed to eat a sushi piece in one bite. Attempts to separate a piece into two generally end in the destruction of the beautifully prepared sushi. Hands or chopsticks can be used to eat sushi.In case of nigiri-zushi, dip the piece into the soya sauce upside-down so that the fish enters the sauce. A few kinds of nigiri-zushi, for example, marinated pieces, should not be dipped into soya sauce.In case of gunkan-zushi, pour a small amount of soya sauce over the sushi piece rather than dipping it into the sauce.
… Sashimi:Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. Put some wasabi on the sashimi piece, but be careful not to use too much as this will overpower the taste of the fish. Dip the sashimi pieces into the soya sauce. Some types of sashimi are enjoyed with ground ginger rather than wasabi.
… Miso Soup:Drink the soup out of the bowl as if it were a cup, and fish out the solid food pieces with your chopsticks.
… Noodles:Using your chopsticks lead the noodles into your mouth. You may want to try to copy the slurping sound of people around you if you are dining in a noodle shop. Rather than being bad manners as Westerners are often taught, slurping noodles is considered evidence of enjoying the meal.In case of noodle soups, be careful of splashing the noodles back into the liquid. If a ceramic spoon is provided, use it to drink the soup, otherwise, lift the bowl to your mouth as if it were a cup.
… Kare Raisu:
(and other dishes in which the rice is mixed with a sauce)
Kare Raisu (Japanese style curry rice) and other rice dishes, in which the rice is mixed with a sauce (for example, some domburi dishes) may become difficult to eat with chopsticks. Large spoons are often provided for these dishes.
… Big pieces of food:
(e.g. prawn tempura, tofu)
Separate into bite sized pieces with your chopsticks (this takes some exercise), or just bite off a piece and put the rest back onto your plate.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

(If you’re going to be eating out, then please mind this eating out etiquette.

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2040.html)

Business Etiquette – If you want to know how to do business in Japan, I’d suggest going to these websites. They will tell you how to behave and how to dress.

http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/resources/global-etiquette/japan-country-profiles.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2195.html

Bathing/Hygiene

In Japan the main purpose of taking a bath, besides cleaning your body, is relaxation at the end of the day.

The typical Japanese bathroom consists of two rooms, an entrance room where you undress and which is equipped with a sink, and the actual bathroom which is equipped with a shower and a deep bath tub. The toilet is almost always located in an entirely separate room.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

When bathing Japanese style, you are supposed to first rinse your body outside the bath tub with a washbowl. Afterwards, you enter the tub, which is used for soaking only.

After soaking, leave the tub and clean your body with soap. Make sure that no soap gets into the bathing water. Once you finished cleaning and have rinsed all the soap off your body, enter the bath tub once more for a final soaking.

After leaving the tub, the water is usually left for the next member of the house. It is to keep the bath water clean for all members of the house that washing and rinsing is done outside of the actual bathtub.

Modern bath tubs can be programmed to be automatically filled with water of a given temperature at a given time, or to heat up the water to a preferred temperature.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

Basic Greeting – Bowing

In Japan, people greet each other by bowing. A bow ranges from a small nod of the head to a long, 90 degree bend at the waist. It is also common to bow to express thanks, to apologize, to make a request or to ask someone a favor.

(The FlipKey Blog, 2012)

(The FlipKey Blog, 2012)

When bowing to someone of higher social status, a deeper, longer bow indicates respect. Conversely, a small head nod is casual and informal. However, most Japanese do not expect foreigners to know proper bowing rules and so a nod of the head is usually sufficient. Please take a look at the diagram above on the different types of bows.

(Shitoryu, 2013)

(Shitoryu, 2013)

If the greeting takes place on tatami floor, people get on their knees in order to bow. Please take a look at the diagram above on how to bow on your knees.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

How to Address Someone

 Hierarchy

  • The Japanese are very conscious of age and status.
  • Everyone has a distinct place in the hierarchy, be it the family unit, the extended family, a social or a business situation.
  • At school children learn to address other students as senior to them (‘senpai’) or junior to them (‘kohai’).
  • The oldest person in a group is always revered and honoured. In a social situation, they will be served first and their drinks will be poured for them.

(Japan Guide, 2013)

Japanese San, Chan, Sama, Sensei, Kun

Titles:

The Japanese commonly address each other by last name. Only close friends and children are usually addressed by first name. In addition, people rarely address each other just by name, but usually attach an appropriate title to the name. There is a large number of such titles depending on the gender and social position of the person you are addressing. Some of the most frequently used titles are:

  • san: (for example Sato-san)
    This is the most neutral and famous title, and can be used in most situations. Only in formal situations, san may not be polite enough.
  • sama: (for example Sato-sama)
    This is a more polite form of san, commonly used in formal situations and letters, but too polite in a casual context.
  • kun: (for example Yusuke-kun)
    This is an informal title used for boys and men that are younger than yourself.
  • chan: (for example Megumi-chan)
    This is an informal title used for young children and very close friends or family members.
  • sensei: (for example Sato-sensei)
    This is a title used for teachers, doctors and other people with a higher education and from whom you receive a service or instructions.

(Kwintessential, 2013)

Gender Roles & Class Structure – Social and Economic

  In Japan the man and the woman play two very different roles. The Japanese man is expected to perform as little twenty to thirty minutes of domestic work per day. His job is to be the bread winner for the family. The Japanese woman is expected to take care of all domestic chores as well as care for the children.

Even today Japanese customs prevail in the marital relationship. The husband and wife are expected to communicate as little as possible in Japan. Fifteen to twenty minutes a day is the usual amount of time. This situation has been described as domestic divorce. There is no conversation, communication and sexual relations between a husband and wife, but they do not divorce. The mother is responsible for all childcare and the men are expected to play with the children on weekends only. After the children are born the parental role takes precedence over the role of a couple. The wife refers to the husband as father and the husband refers to the wife as mother.

(Teacher Bien, 2013)

New type of men

Most of the men that I encounter in family therapy appear to lost confidence and do not know how to take the role of husband/father in the family. He may try to be nice to the family and become friends to his children. As a result, he cannot excise any authority, and becomes over indulgent to the children. Or on the contrary, he may believe a father must be aggressive to be respected by the children, so he becomes abusive to the kids and rejected by his children and wife.

His wife may hold the image of the traditional family that wife/mother needs to be in charge of the family, and should not ask her husband for help. In this kind of family, the husband may try to be involved in child rearing, but his wife dominates the role. As a result, husband would gradually become peripheral after all. The Father’s difficulty continues when the children grew to be adolescent. The children become rebellious and often the father’s authority. It is a very difficult job for the father to set the right amount of limit with the growing adolescence.

(Tamura, 2013)

Gender Roles in Contemporary Japan

In today’s Japan, most males are permanent employees, while women form three fourth of the part time or irregular workforce. Less than 10% of senior managerial posts are occupied by women, unlike the United States, where the corresponding figure is 43%. In 2001, a white paper by the Government publicly expressed concern on the gender discrimination situation highlighted by an index developed by United Nations called the ‘Gender empowerment measure’ that showed Japan as 41st among 70 countries that participated in the survey. It highlighted that wages of women were around two third of their male counterparts. Surveys done in subsequent years have shown the situation of Japanese women to be more or less unchanged.

In 1970s, labor economist Alis Cook and her associate Hiroko Hayashi published the summary of their interviews with members of ‘Keidanren’, the national Federation of major Japanese companies, which clearly indicated that in spite of high participation in workforce in terms of numbers, the employers considered them a secondary, less trained and inferior workers not deserving of wages equal to their male counterparts.

In recent years, the modern Japanese women, has started expressing a far greater choice in her life-style. This has lead to frequent change of jobs and delayed marriage sometimes extended far enough to retain single-hood as a way of life. As a corollary to the falling fertility rate and shrinking population, the greater independence of women in today’s Japan ironically co-exists against the backdrop of a social order that still does not seem to be ready to give them an equal independent status in spite of all the economic, legal and social developments.

(Kumar, 2013)

Cost of living

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

(Numbeo, 2013)

Please see this link for the cost of living comparing Japan and other countries.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/rankings_current.jsp

If you’d like to find out the consumer price index of Japan and other countries, please take a look at the illustrative map found at this link.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/gmaps_rankings_country.jsp?year=2013

If you want to compare other cost of living cities to each other, please go to this link.

http://www.numbeo.com/cost-of-living/comparison.jsp

Sources

Video:

Images:

Information:

Faces and Fascination – 顔, 身体

Minna-san, yokoso! (Welcome, everyone!)

Shizuko desu! (It’s Shizuko!) ☆ミ(o*・ω・)ノ

Today, I will be telling you about what a typical man and woman in their late teens to early twenties of the middle class from Japan look like! The info about the women and men are mostly from my personal experience and preferences from asking other people my age. However, the statistical information is about 17 year olds at the most because it’s the latest age that they had stats on. There’s not much difference in terms of height to their twenties, so I will be using them.

The typical 17 year old Japanese male is around 170.9 cm – 171.3 cm tall and weighs around 62.3 kg – 63.5 kg. The typical 17 year old Japanese female is around 157.1 cm –  159 cm tall and weighs around 52.2 kg – 53 kg. (e-Stat, 2011)

Please take a look at the average height of Japanese people by looking at the graph below.

cjmuc-1

Here is an average Japanese male compared to average males from other countries such as a France, Netherlands, and USA in height, BMI (Body Mass Index), and waist size. You’ll notice that out of the four, he has the lowest height, BMI, and waist count.

(Mail Online, 2013)

(Mail Online, 2013)

The Japanese man is the shortest of the four, but as a Japanese woman I don’t mind. Since, if he were around 180 cm – 190 cm, I’d have a height complex because I’d look very short standing next to him when we went out walking.

As well, compared to the rest of the world we are quite slim. If you’ll look again at the image above, the average Japanese man’s waist size is slimmer than the average American man’s waist size by 16.1 cm. Japan is ranked number 6 in the Top 10 Countries with the Lowest Obesity Rates.

The numbers represent the percentage of the adult population that is obese.

Country Obesity Rate
1. Vietnam 0.50
2. Laos 1.20
3. Madagascar 2.10
4. Indonesia 2.40
5. China 2.90
6. Japan 3.10
7. Korea, South 3.20
8. Eritrea 3.30
9. Philippines 4.30
10. Singapore 6.90

(CIA, 2012)

Meal and Eating Habits

The habit of three meals a day and one or two defined snacks has not yet given way to 24/7 grazing as it has in the United States.

Japanese meals look bigger than they are, with many small items distributed among several small plates and bowls, taking up every square inch of the table. This serves to make less food seem more satisfying.

(Blogger, 2011)

(Blogger, 2011)

Most Japanese fill up on white rice during a meal. You can certainly get fat eating a lot of rice, but it seems that rice may contribute to eating less of more fattening items, like fried foods.

(James, 2009)

(James, 2009)

Beverages are not consumed in large volumes with meals. This includes non-caloric beverages, which are used to “wash down” more food by Americans. And unsweetened tea is the most commonly drunk beverage.

(123RF, 2013)

(123RF, 2013)

Desserts are not always eaten. Sweets are eaten less often. Many Japanese are genuinely grossed out by foods that are too sweet, and Japanese confections like melon pan seem dry, bland, and unsweet to many Americans. Fruit in Japan is not grown for shippability or long-term storage and is better tasting than in the United States, so it’s more credible as a dessert or sweet treat than it would be in the United States.

(CalorieLab, 2013)

Environmental Factors: Work, Transportation, Housing

(Cyclelicious, 2011)

(Cyclelicious, 2011)

Japan’s population is very concentrated in cities, and Japanese commute to work by train and subways in many cases, which means they walk or bicycle to the station and back.

(Quora, 2013)

(Quora, 2013)

Japanese are self-conscious about and avoid eating while walking or on public transportation, although eating on buses, trains, and subways is not prohibited.

Work hours are long, and company culture is not such that you can chow down during the work day at the office.

(CalorieLab, 2013)

Environment and Movement in Daily Life

As Maki said, there is more opportunity to move. This is partly because Japan has more stairs that you can’t avoid. Escalators are increasing in number, but they are still less common than in the United States. Elevators are often hidden away and slow. To put it bluntly, Japan is less “accessible” as the United States.

(CalorieLab, 2013)

(123RF, 2013)

(123RF, 2013)

At first glance this seems like a problem to visiting Americans when they see an 80-year-old woman struggling up the stairs to get over the train tracks to the other side of the station to do her shopping. But what those Americans might not be considering is that the same 80-year-old woman in the United States would likely be institutionalized and incapable of walking, because she wasn’t forced to walk each and every day throughout her life.

(CalorieLab, 2013)

Clothing Size &

Japanese have a really hard time buying clothes if they gain too much weight. For instance, T-Shirt sizes at Uniqlo don’t go above an “LL,” which is similar to a tight Large in the United States, and many outlets will only stock up to “L.”

(Reddit, 2013)

(Reddit, 2013)

(Really Sarah Syndication, 2008)

(Really Sarah Syndication, 2008)

Bench seats for public transportation like buses, trains and subways are often molded in 1-person widths or have grab posts aligned to divide them in 2- or 3-person widths, so if you take up more than your allotted space, everyone around you knows it, and they know you are preventing someone else from sitting down.

(CalorieLab, 2013)

———————————————————-

Facial Features

Japanese Women

Skin

(Kirainet, 2007)

(Kirainet, 2007)

 Especially among the older generation, dark skin is considered ugly and lower class, and pale white skin is considered beautiful and an expression of sensitivity and cultivation. Many women walk around with “sun umbrellas” in the summer so they don’t get tan. Umbrellas treated with chemicals sell for up to $350, and special attachments can be purchased so women can an attach their umbrellas to their bicycles. Hats, gloves and arm coverings that protect women from the sun are widely available in Japan.

(Soompi, 2008)

(Soompi, 2008)

 Cosmetic stores sell a variety of cleansers, moisturizers and foundations aimed at generating bihaku (“beautiful white”) skin. Some clinics offer special skin-peeling procedures that whiten the skin through laser treatments and application of ultra-cold liquid nitrogen or acid.

Dyed Hair

When It Started:

 Many Japanese young men and women began dying their hair reddish blond in the mid 1960s to achieve an effect that Japanese surfers get from a summer of hanging out in the sun. (Facts And Details, 2013)

The image below is from 2000, because I couldn’t find an image from the 1960s. But the hairstyle and color is pretty much the same.

(Bel Couture Co, 2013)

(Bel Couture Co, 2013)

Hair Today

(GreatTipsAndHints, 2013)

(GreatTipsAndHints, 2013)

 Around 60 percent of the women in Japan dye their hair. Some dye their hair black to cover gray but most dye their hair burgundy, auburn, chestnut, blond and various shades of brown at least partly so they have something other than the jet black hair like all Asian females are born with. In 2000, more 30 million kilograms of hair dye was sold in Japan. That works out more than half a kilogram for every Japanese woman over the age of 15.

(Facts And Details, 2013)

School Hair Restrictions

(Pictured below is the required school hair color for students.)

(Tofugu, 2013)

(Tofugu, 2013)

 The issue of whether students and employees should be allowed to color their hair has become an issue at many schools (mostly excluding colleges) and companies. On a visit to Japan in the early 2000s, Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir bin Mohammed sharply criticized young Japanese for looking different. “Japanese youths want to be blonds, work less and play more. The traditional Japanese and Eastern culture is being discarded and replaced with Western culture with disregard for filial piety and discipline.”

For example, at one middle school in Kitakyushu filmed by the Japanese television station News Zero a principal greeted students at the gate and directed those with tinted hair to a designated area where a teacher spray painted their hair black. Video showed students covering their face and eyes while they were being spray painted.

(Facts and Details, 2013)

Double Eyelids (“futae mabuta”)

Rhiannon Thomas further states: ‘Although double eyelids are coveted throughout East Asia, the trend of ‘correcting’ different eyes via a surgery called blepharoplasty began in Japan. Since the procedure was invented in the 1970s, it has rapidly gained popularity. Although it is not as popular in Japan as it is in South Korea, where the surgery is almost treated as a rite of passage for high school girls, it is now the most common cosmetic procedure performed in Japan. It is most popular with female high school and college students.’

(Anime Picks, 2012)

(Politics of Fashion, 2011)

(Politics of Fashion, 2011)

To explain in layman’s terms what a ‘double eyelid’ is, basically you create a visible crease between a person’s eye and their eyebrow. This is a natural feature on most non-Asian eyelids. However, you would never guess this from watching Japanese television or flicking through magazines, as almost every female star appears to possess these wide eyes and they even draw characters with these manmade eyes in their mangas.

(Anime Picks, 2012)

(Deviantart, 2013)

(Deviantart, 2013)

(Pictured below is instructions on how to make a double eyelid from a Japanese fashion magazine.)

(Anime Picks, 2012)

(Anime Picks, 2012)

This image is originally from the website ‘Face Research’ (faceresearch.org), but I don’t have the url of the image, so I put the source as randomwire since the image was used in a post, and I did originally find it there. The author just put the source as the website name.

Comparing the Faces of Various Countries 

The image shows the composite ‘average’ face of women around the world from faceresearch.org.

(Randomwire, 2009)

(Randomwire, 2009)

Differentiating Between Chinese, Korean, and Japanese People – The Minorities Found in Japan

Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%

(CIA, 2013)

It is extremely difficult to differentiate the eyes of closely related Asian countries such as Japan and China. This is mainly because they stem from the same geographic location and hence have faced similar anthropological differences. Due to this, they have developed and evolved similar characteristics, which have helped them over the years. An example of this would include the eyes.

All Asians, including Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc., are considered to have smaller eyes than the Western population. However, this is not the case. Asians eyes are the same sizes as the rest of the human population, but they appear to be smaller due to their slanted shapes. There is a reason as to how and why Asians have developed slanted eyes.

(Difference Between, 2013)

Why are Asian eyes that shape and size? The Science Behind It:

In Asia, the weather can reach extreme conditions due to the wind and cold. The slanted eyes and the single eyelids are an evolutionary response to this kind of weather. Single eyelids are when the eyes do not have an epicanthic fold; hence they do not have the characteristic fold in the eyelids.

When one is out on a really windy day, we tend to squint, or half close our eyes instinctively in order to protect our eyes from the wind and the flying debris. We do the same to protect ourselves from bright sunlight reflecting on the snow. That is what the slanted eyes and the single eyelids do for the Asians, just biologically, instead of instinctively. The lack of the epicanthic fold allows the eyelid to cover the innermost part of the eye, in order to give maximum protection. However, unlike some racial slurs indicate, this does not affect their eyesight in the least.

The problem with differentiating between Japanese and Chinese eyes is that both nationalities have these features. Also, while we may differentiate them according to country borders, nature does not. They have evolved similarly and hence differences among the eyes cannot be generalized to the entire Chinese and Japanese denominations.

(Difference Between, 2013)

Exceptions

 Still, one may argue that since Japan is an island and the population was limited to the island for millennia, they may have some differences as compared to the Chinese. While this statement is correct, another problem arises: China is a very big country with numerous languages and sub-races. Due to this, Chinese appearance has become much diversified and hence cannot be generalized in order to be compared. Furthermore, China has vastly influenced Japan. Many Chinese have immigrated to Japan, introducing Buddhism as well as interbreeding with the Japanese. This has further adding confusion to their generic appearances.

However, if one must differentiate, one can probably claim that the Japanese face is generally longer and/or more oval and wider than the Chinese face. Hence, Japanese eyes tend to appear wider. Most Japanese women have single eyelids. Also, Japanese eyes tend to be angled upwards a little.

Chinese tend to have round-shaped faces, while, typical Chinese eyes tend to have angled somewhat downwards. However, a number of Chinese eyes tend to be angled upwards, as well. This is why it is extremely hard to differentiate or generalize an ethnic look.

(Difference Between, 2013)

Average Physical Features

(In the picture below from left to right: Chinese, Korean, Japanese.)

(AllLookSame, 2013)

(AllLookSame, 2013)

Japanese face is generally longer and/or more oval and wider than the Chinese face. Hence, Japanese eyes tend to appear wider. Most Japanese women have single eyelids. Also, Japanese eyes tend to be angled upwards a little. (Difference Between, 2013) Unlike the Koreans and Chinese, the Japanese tend to have a much more ovoid and longer facial features and characterized with larger and wider eyes and more pronounced noses. Aside from that, the Japanese women have their distinctive fashion styles that are emulated by other people. (Istoryadista, 2011)
The Koreans have a much flatter face than their East Asian counterparts with squarer cheek bones and smaller eyes with single eyelids. Aside from that, some Koreans have undergonecosmetic surgeries to gain a much more “Caucasian” features. (Istoryadista, 2011)
Chinese tend to have round-shaped faces, while, typical Chinese eyes tend to have angled somewhat downwards. However, a number of Chinese eyes tend to be angled upwards, as well.  (Difference Between, 2013) When you talk about Chinese, you may be referring to the Han Chinese. They are the major Chinese ethnic group with a population of more than one billion. When compared to the Koreans and Japanese, the Chinese generally have rounder faces. Being a large country, China is multi-ethnic as it is also composed by other groups of people that includes the Tibetans and Mongolians. (Istoryadista, 2011)

Men

Androgynous or Macho Preference

Macho Men

A study in the June 1999 issue of Nature found that Japanese women prefer men with masculine features when the are ovulating and men with softer features when they are less fertile.  (Facts and Details, 2013)

(Daily Times, 2013)

(Daily Times, 2013)

 Sumo wrestlers have traditionally been considered sexy in Japan. They often have beautiful wives, legions of screaming schoolgirl fans, and generally fit the Japan stereotype of the strong and silent type. (Facts and Details, 2013)

(Pictured below is Takayasu Akira, a half Japanese half Filipino sumo wrestler star with his Filipina mother Bebelita Reblingca Bernadas, but I am using this picture mainly for illustrative purpose. Besides, his mother is proud of him for “making them and bringing honor to Filipinos around the world”. So she is a female fan. As well, just counting in the city of Tsuchiura, his fan club has 3,000 members.

(philstar, 2012)

(philstar, 2012)

Well, just in case you’re gonna say to use another image… Here’s an image of top Bulgarian sumo wrestler Kotooshu (Japanese name) with his wife Asako Ando.

(Novinite, 2012)

(Novinite, 2012)

Androgynous Men

(Home ideas Decoration, 2013)

(Home ideas Decoration, 2013)

 The ideal male for many Japanese females is often not a stoic, stubble-cheeked masculine man like those favored in the West but rather is smooth-skinned, slender androgynous boy with an elaborate dyed hair. One student told Reuters, “Girls’s like guys to bekawaii”—cute. For example, the androgynous-looking singer-actor Takuya Kimura, or Kimitaku, of the J-Pop group Smap, routinely tops popularity polls among women and was named the most popular male talent eight years in a row. (Facts and Details, 2013)

In the July issue of Japanese men’s fashion magazine Men’s Non-No, there’s an article on the new wave of guys that are becoming popular among Japanese women. It’s been a while since condiments are used as references to describe the facial features of men in Japan, and the article now says that”Salt-face guys” are on the rise.

The term “Sauce-face men” was made popular in the late 1980s, referring to men with strong and more defined facial features that are less Japanese who were considered handsome at that time. “Sauce” in this context is Tonkatsu sauce, which is a mixture of many ingredients with a strong flavor.

(Crunchyroll, 2013)

Abe Hiroshi is considered a perfect example of “Sauce-faced” man. In manga and anime, anything Jojo can be counted as “Sauce-faced” characters. In fact, most actors who made it in the live-action movie of Thermae Romae are considered “Sauce-faced men” and they are always picked for roles when fans talk about possible live-action Jojo casting.

Then comes the “Soy sauce-faced men”. Mukai Osamu (Paradise Kiss live-action movie) is a good example of such faces that have milder facial features compared to “Sauce-faced men”. Soy sauce is considered to go with any food by helping the natural flavor of the food come out through the sauce. In anime, Gintoki from Gintama is a good candidate for “Soy sauce-face”.

And now, Japanese women are craving “Salt-faced men”, according to Japanese magazines. This image from Junon last year first introduced the definition of “Salt-faced men” that not only talks about the facial features, but the lifestyle of such men.

Salt-faced men are:

– Stylish with un-styled hair

– Single fold or double fold eyelids that are folded at the back

– Their pants are not too tight but not too loose on their thin frame

– Defined adam’s apple and collar bones

– Look good in u-neck or v-neck solid color t-shirt

– Wear cardigans and tend to be pale

– Look better with glasses with thick black frames

– When they smile, their eyes turn into to just lines on their faces

With that in consideration, here is a Salt-faced anime character.

Ichimaru Gin from Bleach

(Crunchyroll, 2013)

Reasons Men Want to Look Good


 A spokesman for Shisedo said young men today have few fixed concepts about manliness. According to one survey, 30 percent of 177 young men interviewed in the Tokyo said it was “all right” for men to wear make up. Only 30 percent said they were “somewhat opposed” to men wearing make up.

 Yoko Shimada, a sociologist at Hosei University, told the Yomiuri Shimbun, “The era when men were expected just to earn money and not care about their appearance is over…Today’s women expect men to be sensitive, clean and sexy rather than wealthy. Men are expected to look after their own health and nutrition as well. I think beautiful men are symbol’s of these women’s preferences.”

 A survey by the Shiseido cosmetics company concluded that Japanese men born between 1971 and 1974 “have a strong tendency towards narcissism.” About 58 percent of the men surveyed said they wanted to look good for personal satisfaction and only 16 percent said they did it to attract women.

 “Men’s cosmetics are also popular. In February, Rohto Pharmaceutical Co. released the Oxy White Series skin lotion and serum. The products contain an ingredient that increases the skin’s ability to absorb vitamin C.. “Many men say they want to have smooth skin just like popular actors,” a Rohto spokesperson said. [Ibid]

(Texan in Tokyo, 2013)
(Texan in Tokyo, 2013)

(Pictured above is an advertisement from Aoyama for men’s job hunting suits.)

 “Hotel Niwa Tokyo in Chiyoda Ward introduced an aesthetic plan for men in 2010. Customers can receive face and body massages in a hotel room, with prices starting at 22,000 yen. The hotel said it regularly receives reservations from new customers, mainly salespeople, every month. Mitsubishi Research Institute, Inc.’s head researcher Toshihiko Kataoka said, “The idea of ‘manly’ has changed over years, and more people today consider smooth, un-tanned skin as cool and smart. “They may believe that having smooth skin is an advantage in love, job-hunting and business activities,” Kataoka added. [Ibid]

 In June 2012, the Yomiuri Shimbun reported: “The belief that beautiful skin can help a person lead a wonderful life is no longer exclusive to women. Parasols, cosmetics and skin-lightening products are now popular with Japanese men as they aim to stand out at work and in love by obtaining beautiful skin. Takashimaya department store in Shinjuku Ward, Tokyo, created a section that exclusively sells parasols for men at the end of April–three months ahead of the usual parasol season. Men’s parasols are rarely sold this early in the year, but are selling well, according to the store. [Source: Yomiuri Shimbun, June 8, 2012]

(Rakuten, 2013)
(Rakuten, 2013)

(Pictured above is the ad for Masa Processing Insulation Thermal UV Cut Men’s Umbrella that is 15,000 yen.)

 “The parasol is resistant to ultraviolet radiation and prices start at about 4,000 yen. Solids, checks and striped patterns are popular. Men’s parasols have enjoyed good sales over the years, with last year’s sales jumping to five times that of 2008, when they were first introduced at department stores. “They are bought by young businessmen in their 20s and 30s who spend a lot of time working outside the office, as they worry about sunburns,” a Takashimaya employee in charge of the section said. At Tobu department store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, sales of men’s parasols jumped 30 percent last year compared with those of 2008, and store staff believe sales will increase this year too. [Ibid]

(Facts and Details, 2013)

Hair

 In the old days, samurai wore top knots like sumo wrestlers and many high-ranking men shaved their hair so they looked as if they were balding.

(Crunchyroll, 2013)

(Crunchyroll, 2013)

 The Shiseido survey mentioned above reported that 65 percent of the men it surveyed had died their hair, 43 percent had long hair, 24 percent had a pierced ear, 11.5 percent got a tan to look “wild,” and 17 percent were obsessed with trimming “excessive hair.”

 Men pluck their eyes brows and shave the hair on their arms legs and chests. About 60 percent of the Japanese who buy a popular palm-size leg shaver are men. One man of Beauty Tour of Tokyo told Reuters, “I used to play basketball, and my former girlfriend use to tell me I was unclean. Since then, I’ve started shaving my arms and legs.”

One of the hottest items is an “eyebrow designing kit” for men with a tiny comb, scissors, tweezers and eyebrow pencil.

(Rakuten, 2013)
(Rakuten, 2013)

(Pictured above is an item image of an eyebrow shaving kit for men called Gatsby GB Men’s Eyebrow shaving kit.)

 A 21-year-old owner of an eyebrow kit at Kobe University told Reuters, “I shave the tops and bottoms of my eyebrows to make them look cleaner.” He said of his classmates shave off their eyebrows and pencil in new ones Some young men treat their complexion every morning with a face scrub, toner and face cream and then go to a local salon to get their hair done. The daily routine costs a $100 a day but is necessary, suers say, to maintain their style.

Men’s Parlors

 Places like the Dandy House in Tokyo offer body hair removal, eyebrow sculpturing, pore-cleaning treatments, manicures, body piercing, skin treatments, and make-up classes. Among the salon’s most popular procedures are mud-pack facials, leg hair removal, eyebrow trims and potbelly treatments. (Facts and Details, 2013) Men go to salons to get facials, manicures and pedicures. A manicurist at barber shop told the Daily Yomiuri, “there seems to be three reasons who men get manicures—to look clean, to make themselves look younger and because its fashionable. Manicures for men became popular in the early 2000s. They were particularly popular among salesmen who worried about the appearance of their hands before their customers.

(Reuters, 2011)
(Reuters, 2011)

(Pictured above is a beautician giving a facial treatment to a Japanese man, Hiroshi Kado, at the Dandy House Akasaka salon for men in Tokyo March 24, 2006. REUTERS/Issei Kato)

 More and more men are getting inward-curling eyelash permanent, A beautician ay one Espirits for Men in Tokyo told the Daily Yomiuri, “Some costumers say that getting their eyelashes permed has given them very attractive eyes and a more toned-looking face.”

(Facts and Details, 2013)

Male Cosmetics

 The market for men’s cosmetics in Japan increased 70 percent between the mid 1980s and 1990s and reached the $2 billion a year mark in the early 2000s. Cosmetics for men include skin lotions, whitening agents and anti-aging beauty creams made especially for them.

 In the late 2000s, department stores began noticing that men were increasingly buying women’s skin care products. One male 32-year-old company employee told the Yomiuri Shimbun, “There are only a few kinds of skin care products for men. I’m glad there are products for women that suit my skin.”

(Facts and Details, 2013)

 A survey by Shisedo found that 85 percent of the men used face cleansing cream, 54 used deodorant spray, 32 percent used mud masks. About 30 percent of high school and university age males shape their eyebrows. Some use foundation to cover their acne.

 Shiseido and other Japanese cosmetic companies have released a number of skin car products such as face wash and lotions and high-priced item like moisturizers and anti-aging cream for men. Some men are also beginning it walk around with parasols in mid summer to protect their skin from the sun’s rays.

(Facts and Details, 2013)

———————————————————————-

Now here’s a little personal questions time! What’s fascinating about a nation is often expressed through people, artistic styles, works of literature/art and cultural events. Here I will be talking about my favorite things about Japan!

FASCINATION: Every nation is fascinating. What makes a nation fascinating is often expressed through the arts, architecture, literature and cultural events of a nation’s people.  Describe four fascinating people, artistic styles, works of literature/art and cultural events that you find fascinating in your role as a travel blogger.

Artistic Styles

1. Artistic Style: Fashion/Music – Visual Kei

(Japan Shop, 2012)

(Japan Shop, 2012)

(Pictured above is the GazettE, a well-known visual kei band. They’ve had many songs that have made the Top 20 Oricon Chart!)

Visual kei is a movement among Japanese musicians that is characterized by the use of varying levels of make-up, elaborate hairstyles and flamboyant costumes, often, but not always coupled with androgynous aesthetics. It refers to bands whose primary point of interest for their fans is their costume and appearance. It can be said that Visual Kei is a sub-genre or sub-culture of Japanese Rock.

The image presented by Visual Kei artists normally elaborate and extreme with striking make up, bizarre hairstyle and flamboyant clothing leading to an androgynous look. Most Visual Kei bands are all male members, some with one or two female members.) When Visual Kei genre was first introduced, it was not accepted by society, in Japan because the music was of a ‘heavier taste’. Therefore instead of using music, Visual Kei artists used image to draw people’s attention and to arouse their curiosity. Their image often changing from album to album to create something new and interesting. Each band has a specific look that separates them from other VK bands. But within this, each member has their own style that still more is different to other members but does not compromise the bands overall trademark look and feel.

Visual kei fashion is in Western terms ‘gothic’, although it is incorrect to call it that. Since, the visual kei movement was around before goth in Japan was. When I say ‘gothic’, I mean, think chains and dark clothing/makeup. Pardon the inadequate description, it was the easiest way I could think of to make it understood.

(Blogspot, 2013)

Here’s a video of the visual kei Megamasso band with a very prompt and to the point answer about what visual kei is.

My favorite visual kei band is the GazettE. I like Ruki’s raspy yet powerful voice, Reita’s strong bass, Aoi’s cheery spirit, Uruha’s hardcore guitar composition, and Kai’s maturity. My favorite songs are ‘Cassis’, ‘Filth in the Beauty’, ‘Guren’, and ‘Regret’. As well, I love the GazettE’s fashion. Visual kei seemed natural. It was what came after manga and anime. Since, many manga/anime fans also liked J-Pop and visual kei at the time.

the GazettE bio – http://www.jpopasia.com/group/thegazette/

2. Artistic Style – Manga

Please watch this video by a fellow manga fan who did an instructional unit video about what manga is. She explains everything quite well! d(>-<)b

When I was a kid, my mom took me to the mall. While she was browsing for furniture, she let me hang out in the bookstore. I was combing the aisles for picture books or movies, when I saw a book. The cover art was pretty! The art was spectacular and every picture book paled in comparison. The story was also more advanced than those picture books. But since, it was the seventh volume, I was missing a whole chunk of the story. That was the first manga that I read. It was the seventh volume of ‘Fruits Basket’.

I like psychological, humor, romance, sci-fi, fantasy, action, and horror type manga. My favorite manga series’ at the moment are Ansatsu Kyoushitsu (Assassination Classroom), Franken Fran, Kuroshitsuji, Skip Beat!, Horimiya, and One Piece.

If you’re curious about the manga, here are the summaries and readable scans online. Search the manga at the manga reading website below.

mangahere.com

3. Artistic Style – Anime

Despite the mispronunciation of the anime names, this is a very informative video. I showed this to my non-anime savvy friends, and they loved it! XD

For anime movies considered works of art, you should check out anything by Ghibli Studios, Hayao Miyazaki, and the movie ‘Akira’ by Katsuhiro Otomo.

I tend to like manga more than anime. It’s kind of like watching a movie based on a book, you come out of the theater and say “They missed all the stuff that was in the book!” or “The book’s better.”. Basically, the same sentiments as that. The plot’s either completely different or it’s summarized by not having certain chapters. Also, there are some that are disappointingly short. Like ‘Deadman Wonderland’, it was an anime that ranked in the Top 20, but didn’t get a second season! Basically the life span of most anime is around 20 episodes? Unless they’ve been one of the top earners for a while such as Bleach or One Piece, then they will continue as the manga continues. One Piece has spanned more than

Please go here, if you’re curious and would like to watch ‘Deadman Wonderland’ or any other anime.

animehere.com

4. Artistic Style – Tattooing 
(Yoso, 2013)

(Yoso, 2013)

The tattoo pictured above is of a Hannya mask. The hannya mask is the vengeful and jealous woman turned demon. Pointed horns, Scary eyes and teeth, and the expression all exhibit the full wrath, anger and resentment of her nature.

http://tattoo.yoso.eu/shige-japanese-tattoo-hanya-mask-shige-you-rule

(Yoso, 2013)

Edo period stylized tattoos:

Until the Edo period in Japan (1600–1868) tattoos, world wide, were done with marks and symbolism rather than imagery. It was Japan in the Edo period, however, that “decorative” tattoo began to develop into the advanced art form it is known as today.

Woodblock artists began tattooing, using many of the same tools for tattooing  as they did to create their woodblock prints, including chisels, gouges and, most importantly, unique ink known as Nara ink, or Nara black, the ink that famously turns blue-green under the skin, which is the true look of the tattoo.

Irezumi:

The Traditional Japanese Tattoo “Irezumi” is the decoration of the body with mythical beasts, flowers, leafs, oni, namakubi and other images from story, myth and tale.  The impetus for the development of the art was the development of the woodblock prints and notably “hero’s heavily decorated with irezumi”. Wearing Irezumi is an “Aspiration” to life goals.

Irezumi became associated with and proudly worn by the firemen, dashing figures of bravery and roguish sex-appeal who wore them as a form of spiritual aid and protection, thus the revered “Suit of Nine Dragons” to give power over wind and water. (Clark North Tattoo, 2013)

For meanings of different animal tattoos, go to this website! It does a beautiful job of explaining it!

http://clarknorthtattoo.com/?page_id=5841

I love Japanese style tattooing. The elaborate and carefully inked designs! I like looking at other people’s tattoos. I really like tattoos that take up a lot of space on the body. I haven’t got anything meaningful or a cool design that I want as my own tattoo. When I was in my senior year of high school, I went to Sanja Matsuri in Asakusa with my friends. I saw Yakuza with their tattoos on display. That’s where my interest started. These days, I see more and more young people with tattoos. Although, there are still places where you can’t go in if you have a tattoo because of yakuza connotations.

Sanja Matsuri explanation – http://www.jnto.go.jp/eng/location/spot/festival/asakusasanja.html

Yakuza explanation – http://www.trutv.com/library/crime/gangsters_outlaws/gang/yakuza/1.html

Yakuza tattoos – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Marukin_at_Sanja_Matsuri_2.jpg

5. Bonus Artistic Style – Sushi
These days, besides manga and anime, Japan is known for sushi. I always loved when on New Year’s, my parents would take me to a sushi restaurant! Especially the taste of unagi sushi! (Eel sushi!) Oishi! (Delicious!) Since, my parents are in Tokyo, I’m planning to go out for karaoke and to a conveyor-belt sushi restaurant with some friends! Besides being delicious, sushi is an art form. In a classic sense, the “art of sushi” lies in the skill of making a delectable morsel that causes people to want more of your creations. But here we are talking about visual art, which you can enjoy on the internet, where communicating taste is still in the future. That itself comes in two kinds: sushi (or in some cases, onigiri, or rice balls) that look like something artful besides sushi, and other foods made to resemble sushi. Mental Floss has shown some pieces that have done a wonderful job of showing this.
(Mental Floss, 2013)

(Mental Floss, 2013)

Please take a look at the cute and delectable pieces of sushi in the Mental Floss gallery! :3

People

1. Music – KAT-TUN

(LiveJournal,2013)
(LiveJournal,2013)

KAT-TUN is a Japanese boy band formed under Johnny & Associates (JE) in 2001 who releases records under their own label, J-One Records. The group’s name is an acronym formed by the members’ surname initials. Currently one of the most popular boy bands in Japan, all 10 singles, 3 studio albums and 7 DVDs released by the group since their debut in 2006 have debuted at number one on the Oricon music and DVD charts.

Their debut was marked by a tripartite release, consisting of a single, an album and a DVD: Real Face, Best of KAT-TUN and Real Face Film. All three shattered records in sales.

Members
Kamenashi Kazuya (亀梨和也)
Akanishi Jin (赤西仁)
Taguchi Junnosuke (田口淳之介)
Tanaka Koki (田中聖)
Ueda Tatsuya (上田竜也)
Nakamaru Yuichi (中丸雄一)

Former Members
Akanishi Jin (赤西仁)

(Crunchyroll, 2013)

When I was in middle school, they were very popular among the girls in my class. I remember many a time in karaoke singing their songs:  ‘Yorokobi no Uta’, ‘Real Face’, and ‘Keep the Faith’. We’d watch their variety show, Cartoon KAT-TUN. We would giggle over the handsome members. My favorite member was Ueda. He composes most of the group’s songs. I liked his mysterious and easy-going nature. He has a good sense of humor. He always had something interesting to say. Like before they were going on for their first concert, he said that he could see fairies. It was dark and the lights looked like fairies, and the other members were spooked. I thought that was hilarious.

(Fanpop, 2013)

(Fanpop, 2013)

 

2. Music: Miyavi (Takamasa Ishihara)

(Layout Sparks, 2013)
(Layout Sparks, 2013)

 He is my favorite artist as in singer/composer/instrument player.  His father was a second-generation Zainichi Korean and his mother was Japanese. He was born on September 14, 1981 in Osaka the same place where I’m currently attending college. He can play the guitar, piano, and shamisen. I liked him when he was a visual kei artist. Sad to say that, I don’t know as much as I’d like about his current activities because I’ve been busy with school. He is married to Miyuki Melody, a Japanese-American former TV hostess. They have two lovely daughters, Lovelie and Jewelie Ishihara. He started out as the guitarist in the visual kei indie band Due le Quartz where he was previously known as “miyabi”, which means “elegance” in Japanese. In 2002, the band disbanded and he went solo. He toned down his on-stage attire for his solo career which started in 2004 and has since toured worldwide several times. In 2007, he became a member of the supergroup S.K.I.N.. Skin (stylized as S.K.I.N.) is a music project founded by several Japanese rock musicians in 2007. They are YoshikiGacktSugizo and Miyavi, all being important to the visual kei movement or closely related to it, but each being from a different generation. He worked under the Japanese label company, PS Company for 10 years. He’s played at the Nippon Budokan.

In 2009, his contract ended and he started his own company, J Glam Inc. He has also worked with Universal Music Group, and EMI Music Japan. He has also branched into professional acting. He was chosen to star in Angelina Jolie’s upcoming directorial debut, ‘Unbroken’ as the villain, ‘The Bird’ Mutsuhiro Watanabe.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

My favorite songs of his are “Onpu no Tegami”,”Kekkonshiki no Uta”, Girls, Be Ambitious” (Samurai Sessions version), “Itoshii Hito”, and the song that he arranged with Hyde from the band L’Arc-en-Ciel, “Yappari Megumi ga Suki”.

*Zainichi Korean – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koreans_in_Japan

Please go to this english website for Miyavi’s music videos, lyrics, and biography.

I remember when I was a middle school youth, I spent a lot of time on the internet. So, one day I was scrolling through anime fanfiction when there was a song that was in the story called ‘Girls, Be Ambitious’. I didn’t know the song, and of course I had to listen to the song to get an idea of how the lyrics and tone went with the story. So, I watched the video and out of curiosity, clicked on the videos by the same artist. At first, I thought “Wow, this artist is beautiful!”. I’ll admit that when I first got into him, it was mainly for his physical looks. Visual kei doing its job. As well, his music videos were unique. I happened upon a lyrics website for his songs. I realized that the lyrics composition was very complex and the lyrics were full of hidden meanings in the way that they were written. I came to admire him. I liked his raspy and deep voice. At first, I didn’t like it because I was still into conventional melodious voices like the ones in J-Pop.

*Fanfiction – Fanfiction is when someone takes either the story or characters (or both) of a certain piece of work, whether it be a novel, tv show, movie, etc, and create their own story based on it. (Urban Dictionary, 2013)

 

3. Music – KanzentaiCell

(Wiki, 2013)

(Wiki, 2013)

Vocaloid – http://www.vocaloid.com/en/about/

Utaite – http://utaite.wikia.com/wiki/Utaite

Seiyuu – Voice actor

Ikemen – http://www.sljfaq.org/afaq/ikemen.html

His name comes from the perfect form of Cell from Dragon Ball Z. He sometimes imitates Norio Wakamoto’s voice (the seiyuu of Cell from Dragon Ball Z, GT, and Kai). In illustrations of him, he is often found cosplaying as Cell from DBZ.

He is most famous for his cover of the song, PonPonPon. He has a deep voice. He has a deep and cool voice, often categorized as an ikemen. However, he is also able to sing long and high notes without difficulty. If you’re going to listen to covers by him, I’d recommend of course ‘PonPonPon’, ‘Wave’, ‘Glide’, and ‘Karakuri Pierrot’. His voice is really suited for techno type music.

 

4. Music – 96neko

(Wiki, 2013)

(Wiki, 2013)

Ryoseirui – http://utaite.wikia.com/wiki/Nico_Nico_Dictionary#Ryouseirui

Kagamine duo – http://vocaloid.wikia.com/wiki/Kagamine_Rin_%5C_Len

96Neko (96猫) is an utaite who is well-known for her husky lower range vocals, and for being a “ryouseirui“. However, she is also able to sing in a very cute female voice, most clearly seen in her cover of “Soratobazu“. She also often does duets with the Kagamine duo. She also sings many parody songs, which are mostly duets with Len or vipTenchou. Some people have noted that her voice is similar to Romi Park, a Korean actress and voice actress who lives in Japan.

If you’re going to listen to covers by 96neko, I’d recommend practically anything. Her vocal range makes her able to make any song sound good! From personal opinion, I’d recommend ‘Senbonzakura’ – ft. Pokota, ‘Matroyshka’ – ft. vipTenchou, ‘Ah, It’s a Wonderful Cat’s Life’, and ‘Happy Synthesizer’ -ft. Len.

(Wiki, 2013)

Works of Literature/Art

1. Work of Literature – One Piece (manga)

(Wallcg, 2012)

(Wallcg, 2012)

In February 2011, NHK conducted a survey on who read the One Piece manga. Eighty-eight percent of adults in Japan reads One Piece and wants it to continue. One Piece is ranked 1st in top selling manga – 7.,944,680 copies.

NHK – http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/NHK

Deep Story Behind The Humor

The story of One Piece is often very humorous. But, it does have some very emotional & sometimes dark moments. Need some good examples? Read the Water 7 (Volumes 34-39) & Impel Down (Volumes 54-56, the most recent storyline to be translated by VIZ) arcs.

Compelling Characters

The Straw Hat Pirates are a wacky cast of characters and all diverse. But most importantly, they are a FAMILY. The antagonists of the series are seriously great as well because their behavior doesn’t always reflect their personalities & vice-versa. Mr. Crocodile (a well-known antagonist in One Piece), Buggy the Clown (the first major antagonist), & Aokiji come to mind.

(Manga Therapy, 2011)

To read one piece, try eatmanga.com. Since it is licensed, many manga reading sites cannot show it in agreement with the publishing company.

 

2. Work of Literature – Skip Beat! (manga)

(Shojo Corner, 2011)

(Shojo Corner, 2011)

To read it, try mangahere.com. To watch it, try animehere.com.

Anime – http://myanimelist.net/manga/610/Skip_Beat!

Skip Beat! is one of the most popular shojo manga. It’s popularity has spanned outside the country reaching Taiwan and Korea. It has been made into a drama in Japan, Taiwan and Korea.

noun: shojo manga
  1. a genre of Japanese comics and animated films aimed primarily at a young female audience, typically characterized by a focus on personal and romantic relationships.
    “the world of shojo manga is the natural habitat for love stories of all possibilities and combinations”
Origin
1980s: from Japanese shōjo ‘young woman, girl.’ Compare with shonen.
(Google, 2013)

Shojo manga – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/ShoujoDemographic?from=Main.Shojo

Skip Beat isn’t your classic Shoujo, The cover is deceiving, on the outside it looks cute and fluffy, you open it up expecting a pleasing little love story with the usual clichés of a cute protagonist and her knight in shining armour.
But Skip Beats protagonist is not a mere Mary sue… Not at all, she’s dark, vengeful lacking in essential emotions such as love and her knight in shining armour Shoutaro, is an egotistical user.

Mary Sue – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/MarySue

(TooshToosh/MyAnimeList, 2010)

Character: This is easily Skip Beat!’s biggest asset. And unbelievable amount of depth resides in every character. Kyouko is innocent, pure, dense, clumsy, funny, friendly, eager, elegant/polite, perceptive, hardworking, professional, intelligent, scary, vengeful, confused, loving, hateful, etc. ALL AT ONCE. The mangaka purposefully made the protagonist the kind of girl who makes voodoo dolls to the point of obsessing over perfection, rather than the good-hearted flat shojou girls too prevalent in mainstream manga. Readers can quickly sympathize with the many overlapping parts of Kyouko’s personality. Her roles also make up important aspects of herself, because they require a process of discovery and essentially possess her once attained. She is described as the eternal butterfly, the actress nobody recognizes because she disguises herself in personas that are completely unlike her normal self.

(Aeowina/MyAnimeList, 2013)

 

3. Work of Art – Shingeki no Kyojin (anime/manga)

(Toy Sldrs, 2013)

(Toy Sldrs, 2013)

Almost everyone knows about Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan) these days. Shingeki no Kyojin starts as a manga series from 2009, by Isayama Hajime, and up until now the manga has been sold for more than 23 million copies, and alongside its success as a manga, it has already got its anime adaptation running, a game adaptation coming soon, opening song parodies uploaded in Youtube, and many more.

As well, the first opening song of the anime has become an internet sensation. It has been parodied for other anime, games, etc. It is one of the most epic opening songs ever.

It has become an internet meme. Please go here to be informed about it and to see some of the parodies. http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/attack-on-titan-opening-credits-parodies

The manga is further ahead than the anime so if you can’t stand not knowing what happens after the 24th episode, then read the manga!

Go to mangahere to read it.

At the first glance, the series looked simple, like a battle between humans versus superior beings known as Titans, but its popularity is spreading like wildfire, so what exactly made them so popular?

Ooshita Yoshiyuki (太下義之), Head Chief of Cultural and Arts Division from Mitsubishi UFJ Research and Counseling, gave his comments regarding this.

“First”, he said, ” This work is like a high quality detective novel, where the mystery has not been solved yet, but added with a new mystery instead, like mystery calls on another mystery or the outcome cannot be predicted, such is one of their charms.” He said that this is quite similar to a western series “Lost”, where even if some of the problems are solved, there are still some mystery which call for another mystery.

Then, from Meta Fictional construction point, “The Information that can be revealed at this point” became the focus of this title. Meaning, the audiences are to acknowledge the existence of the author, by revealing out information little by little, curiosity is inflated and people can’t help but to predict what will happen next, and what the author has up in his sleeve, thus making it more interesting.

Next, he also said that even though this work is deveoloped as a world where battles becoming their everyday life, and limited to it, but instead, it gave the people an opportunity to make some original work or doujins of this series, like the “what if” or some sort.

Lastly, he also said, “There have been numerous titles in the past, where human race are forced to fight against a huge monster which threatens humanity, just like Godzilla. However, in Godzilla and such, the problem is solved by defeating the monster, while it’s not that simple in this series. Even if you managed to beat the enemies in front of you, the root of the problem has not been found yet.”

(Otaku Kokka, 2013)

 

4. Work of Literature – Kuroshitsuji (manga/anime)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

Kuroshitsuji manga – mangahere.com/manga/kuroshitsuji

Shinigami – http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/Shinigami

The visuals are beautiful. If you’re a fan of visual kei, then you’ll like the graphics. Even if you’re not, you will. There are interesting creatures such as shinigami, demons, gods, angels (anime), and zombies (manga). If you like Britain during Queen Victoria’s rule, then there’s also that. The anime especially incorporates myths during that time. It gives a unique take on the creation of zombies by a shinigami and a cult. The genre is fantasy, mystery, historical fiction, action, drama, and comedy. It has themes of betrayal, revenge, and mystery. Did you know that curry bread was first invented in Britain? Jack the Ripper’s in it too.

Cultural Events

  1. Tanabata Festival
(Lillia Cerise, 2010)

(Lillia Cerise, 2010)

Tanabata is also known as ‘The Night of Sevens’ and ‘The Festival of Stars’ — it is based on the legend of the two lovers Orihime and Kengyuu (also sometimes called Hikoboshi), symbolized by the stars Vega and Altair. Throughout the year they are separated by the river of the Milky Way, but on one single night every year, the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the traditional Japanese calendar (roughly August 7th), a bridge of birds appears between them, and they are allowed to be together.
It is said that if it rains on Tanabata, the banks of the river will flood and they will have to wait until the following year’s Tanabata to be reunited.. People write their wishes on narrow strips of colored paper and hang them, along with other paper ornaments, on bamboo branches placed in the backyards or entrances of their homes. They then pray hard that their wishes will come true.

The Tanabata festival is thought to have started in China. It was transmitted to Japan during the feudal period and combined with traditional local customs to become an official event at the Imperial court. Commoners soon began observing this festival, with different localities developed their own distinctive ways of celebrating.

Sendai (Miyagi Prefecture) and Hiratsuka (Kanagawa Prefecture) are particularly famous for their elaborate Tanabata displays. Shopping arcades in these two cities feature huge decorations that are sponsored by local shops, which try to outdo one another in the size of their displays.

Some areas of Japan, including Sendai City, celebrate Tanabata a month later, on August 7, since this is closer to the seventh day of the seventh month on the traditional lunar calendar. Such communities frequently perform the services for Bon, a period in mid-August when deceased relatives are thought to return, together with the ceremonies for Tanabata.

The Japanese generally celebrate this day by writing wishes on tanzaku (small pieces of paper), and hanging them on bamboo, sometimes with other decorations. The bamboo and decorations are often set afloat on a river or burned after the festival, around midnight.

(Web Japan, 2013)

 

2. Setsubun Mantoro

130815toudaij

At Kasuga Taisha Shrine in Nara, each of the more than 3,000 lanterns in the precincts are lit up three days a year, namely on February 3rd and August 14th-15th, between 18:30 and 21:00. This is an event which has continued for 800 years and most of the lanterns have been donated by ordinary citizens with the exception of a handful which had been dedicated by samurai warriors in the Warring States Period. Such scenery lit only by candlelight takes you back into bygone days of no electricity and is full of mysticism. The reflections of the light on the river surface and the vermilion buildings of the shrine strike a beautiful harmony.

There are stone lanterns in the gardens and hanging lanterns in the corridors. The garden lanterns are decorated with strips of Japanese paper inscribed with people’s wishes, and are lit by the participants. The hanging lanterns in the corridors come in a variety of designs. It appears that the number of lanterns corresponds to the number of wishes. Formerly, these numerous lanterns were lit up every night, which is quite amazing.

February 3rd marks the transition from winter to spring known as Setsubun, when beans, good luck charms and a votive picture of a horse, which are items for securing a long life, are sold from early morning. It is also worthwhile to take a stroll in the shrine precincts in the daytime. In summer, you can enjoy watching the performance of dancers dressed in ancient kimono.

(Japan Natural Tourism Organization, 2013)

 

3. Sanno MatsuriSanno-Matsuri-Festival-Tokyo

(2011, Tokyo ezine)

The Sanno Matsuri is famous as a festival permitted by the Shogun to enter the grounds of Edo Castle during the Edo Period (1603-1867), along with the Kanda Matsuri. It was also one of the three largest festivals of Japan. The main procession called jinkosai takes place in the middle of June in every other year according to the Western calendar.

About 300 people dressed in ancient costumes parade through the heart of Tokyo including Tokyo Station, Ginza, and in front of the Diet Building. Consisting of mikoshi (portable shrines) adorned with a phoenix on the roof, dashi floats, people carrying drums, people on horseback, the procession extends over a length of 600 meters. You will also see people dressed as the legendary goblin called Tengu, characterized by a red face and a long nose, and believed to possess supernatural powers. The procession which departs from Hie-jinja Shrine at 8 o’clock in the morning does not return to the shrine until early in the evening.

During the festival week, you can also experience various traditions of Japan. For example, there are displays of flowers arranged in Japanese style known as Ikebana, and special tables and seats are set up in the shrine garden so that you can savor Japanese tea. You might also see people going through a large ring made of thatch, which is believed to purify the sins you have unconsciously committed in the past 6 months. The doll you hold as you stroke your body and pass through the ring is said to take on your various sins for you. Perhaps you will want to try walking through the thatched ring in the hope of spending the remaining 6 months of the year in peace and happiness.

(Japan National Tourism, 2013)

 

4. Takayama Matsuri Autumn Festival

p-wonderjapan-64-03

(Deens Japan, 2011)

The Takayama Festival, which is cited as one of the three most beautiful festivals of Japan, consists of two festivals: the Spring Takayama Festival or Sanno Matsuri at Hie Shrine, and the Autumn Takayama Festival or Hachiman Matsuri at Sakurayama Hachiman Shrine.

The Autumn Hachiman Matsuri, which is held annually on October 9th and 10th prompts the local inhabitants to start their winter preparations. The greatest attractions are the eleven yatai floats which are designated as significant intangible folk cultural assets. *Their splendid motifs produced by the skills of the master artisans called Hida no Takumi are so gorgeous that they are often described as ‘mobile Yomeimon’ in association with the renowned Yomeimon Gate of Nikko Tosho Shrine.

The crowds of spectators coming from distant places are fascinated by the festival procession, which is almost like a narrative picture scroll. The dexterous movements of the wind-up marionettes, which move with a thread or a spring, performing on top of the yatai floats are especially interesting.

The yatai floats are lined up before dusk, and once the town becomes veiled in the evening darkness, as many as 100 chochin lanterns are lit on each of the floats. The unique ornaments of the yatai floats look even more resplendent in the darkness of the night.

*A significant intangible folk cultural asset refers to manners and customs related to food, clothing and shelter, vocation, faith, annual events, and folkloric performing arts, etc., which have been established by the people in daily life and passed down through generations, deemed especially valuable by the State.

(Japan National Tourism, 2013)

 

Sources:

Information

Books

  • Kamachi, Noriko. Culture and customs of Japan. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1999. Print.

Online:

Images

Video

Time and Space: 時間と空間

 

Space

Population & Geography

Japan has a population of 127,253,075. It has the tenth largest population in the world. The majority of the population are 25-54 year olds and 65 years and over. (CIA, 2013)

0-14 years: 13.4% (male 8,808,568/female 8,204,514)
15-24 years: 9.7% (male 6,394,809/female 5,958,408)
25-54 years: 38.3% (male 24,149,308/female 24,588,409)
55-64 years: 13.8% (male 8,785,719/female 8,786,968)
65 years and over: 24.8% (male 13,656,792/female 17,919,580) (2013 est.)
8.23 births/1,000 population (2013 est.)

country comparison to the world: 220

The majority of the population is gathered in Tokyo. What you’ll see in the video is a typical subway commuter’s morning in Tokyo. This isn’t even rush hour, it’s much worse then. So you can see where all the people went. I’ve noticed that a lot of people take public transport as opposed to driving themselves. As you can see from the video, there are subway staff pushing people so that they fit in the train. It does feel like that foreign idiom “packed like sardines”.

(Cambridge Art Gallery, 2013)

(Cambridge Art Gallery, 2013)

Pictured above is a normal day in Shibuya. Shibuya is one of the 23 wards in Tokyo. This is even when it’s raining, when the amount of people has diminished a lot. So, if you live in the United States, think of it like New York in the amount of people and crowdedness. (Wikipedia, 2013)

In Japan, people stand an arm’s length from one another or 2 ½-3 ft. If it’s with a stranger, then the distance is farther. In public places like the subway, a market, etc. personal space can be limited and pushing up against one another is quite common. If you will take a look at the world map, Japan is one of the smaller countries. There’s not a lot of landmass to begin with. Although I say that, Japan has a total area of 377,915 square km. It is ranked 62 in land area out of 252 countries, which means that it’s approximately moderate. (CIA, 2013)

(About, 2013)

(About, 2013)

Hygiene & Tradition

(The New Earth Works, 2013)

(The New Earth Works, 2013)

Description of Photo Above: “Japanese Shinto practitioners perform misogi,the rite of water purification, at the Kanda Myojin shrine  in Tokyo founded 1,270 years ago. Misogi is celebrated annually at the Daikoku Festival, which involves gathering in a special tub outside the shrine and splashing water as an act of spiritual cleansing.”

Cleanliness is perhaps more important to the Japanese than with any other culture. The Japanese word (kirei) can be used for “clean” and “beautiful”. Purification is an important element of all Shinto rituals. When Japanese pray for something important they wash their bodies and dress in a white kimono. Sumo wrestlers throw salt to purify the ring and Japanese taxi drivers wear white gloves to indicate the immaculate state of their taxi. When schoolboys want to hurl out the worst insult they can think of, they call someone a “bacteria.” In Buddhism cleanliness is associated with morality. In Shintoism it is associated with purity. (Facts and Details, 2013)

(Hiragana Times, 2013)

(Hiragana Times, 2013)

A multibillion dollar industry has grown up to address concerns by Japanese about germs. Among the more than 600 antibacterial and germ fighting products on the market are antiseptic-dispensing pens, bacteria-resistant bicycle handgrips, disease-fighting bathroom ceramics, anti-bacterial calculators, and germ-combating socks and slippers. The antibacterial products are so popular that entire aisles in some stores are devoted to them and even then the stores can’t keep up with the demand for some products. Many of the buyers of antibacterial products are office ladies and schoolgirls who say they can’t stand the thought of using anything handled by sleazy middle-aged men. One young woman told Los Angeles Times that middle-aged salarymen “stink of tobacco and liquor and I don’t know what else. …At night, they drink and their faces get red and they breath on you. It’s awful.” Some Japanese girls are compulsive handwashers, wiping their hands with anti-bacterial tissues every time they touch an escalator handrail or an elevator button. One female college student told the Los Angeles Times she never touched the straps in subways because “dirty people” put “their fingers in their mouths or wipe their noses with their hand and then they touch something. I wish they would make those subway straps antibacterial.” (Facts and Details, 2013)

(VitoDiBari, 2012)

(VitoDiBari, 2012)

For clean freaks, department stores have installed touchless toilets, which people can operate with touching the controls. There are toilet lids that automatically open or close when a person is sensed nearby. There is also a function in which a small fountain of water will squirt out to clean your behind. There are also deodorization features which can mask fragrances. The most advanced contain ozone which is chemically capable of neutralizing many odors.

In particular, the “Intelligence Toilet” system (pictured above) created by Japan’s largest toilet company Toto can measure sugar levels in urine, blood pressure, body fat, and weight. The built-in urine analyzer, which collects five cubic centimeters of urine before analyzing sugar levels. The device cleans itself automatically after the one-minute long test.

Users then move to the blood pressure monitor, within arm’s reach of the toilet, then weigh themselves on a set of scales in front of the basin and measure their body mass index (BMI) after washing their hands.

Once results are taken, they are transferred to a home network, and analyzed on a computer spreadsheet.

Advice about diet and exercise is then dispensed, without any human intervention.

Daiwa’s chairman came up with the idea after having medical care nine years ago and the company has already sold 100 of the machines.

“When our chairman was hospitalized, he saw many people coming in to have tests and returning home with lots of medicine. It made him want to build a house where you can have health checks,” Daiwa House spokesman Miki Chino told AFP.

Toto has dominated the toilet-making business in Japan since the late 1970s when Western-style toilets started to become more popular than traditional squat toilets.

Toto spokeswoman Kumi Goto told AFP that the success of the company’s toilet business came from Japanese people’s constant craving for cleanliness.

“People here also have a trait of fine-tuning everything,” she says.

Researchers at Vienna’s Technical University last month announced plans to produce a “toilet with brains” — a high-tech commode designed to help multiple sclerosis patients and other disabled or elderly people.

(CNN, 2013)

(Facts and Details, 2013)

—————————————————————

Time: Climate & Geography

(Ministry of the Environment, 2013)

(Ministry of the Environment, 2013)

Japan is surrounded by sea. Warm and cold currents flow through the seas around it, creating an environment that supports a variety of fish species.

Most of Japan is in the Northern Temperate Zone of the earth and has a humid monsoon climate, with southeasterly winds blowing from the Pacific Ocean during the summer and northwesterly winds blowing from the Eurasian continent in the winter.

(Kids Web Japan, 2013)

(The Taste of Travel, 2012)

(The Taste of Travel, 2012)

The country has four well-defined seasons: spring, summer, autumn, and winter. Two of the most beautiful sights in Japan are the cherry blossoms in spring and the vibrant reds, oranges, and yellows of the autumn leaves. Japanese people enjoy these signs of the changing seasons and track their progress with weather reports, which feature maps showing where the spring blossoms and autumn leaves are at their best. The far north and south of Japan have very different climates. In March, for example, you can go sunbathing in the south (e.g. Okinawa) and skiing in the north (e.g. Hokkaido). Okinawa has beautiful clear waters to go scuba diving in. For all your Okinawa travel plans, please go to this website.

http://www.okinawastory.jp/en/

(Japan Powder, 2013)

(Japan Powder, 2013)

Pictured above is a map of the Furano Ski Area in Furano, Hokkaido. As you can see there are many paths to ski or snowboard on, as well as other activities! Even if you can’t do either of the two, there are still various other activities to do. If you’re interested, please go to this website and make your accommodations.

http://www.japanpowder.com/resorts/furano-ski-resort

—————–

Japan is prone to earthquakes.

The Science Behind it: Just below the surface of the earth lie huge sheets of rock called tectonic plates that are about 70 kilometers thick. These plates move a few centimeters (an inch or two) every year, producing distortions with the surface. When the distortions get large enough, forces try to correct them, causing the plates to move suddenly. Earthquakes are the results of the shaking that occurs then. Earthquakes are most frequent where two or more plates meet. The reason Japan has so many earthquakes is that a number of these plates converge below the country’s surface.

(Torah Codes, 2011)

(Torah Codes, 2011)

(Pictured above is the aftermath of the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 in Miyagi prefecture.)

The Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of January 1995 and the Great East Japan Earthquake of March 2011 took a heavy toll of human lives and property. To lighten the damage earthquakes inflict in the future, scientists are studying ways to predict the occurrence of quakes more accurately and to construct buildings that are more resistant to quakes.

(Let's Japan, 2011)

(Let’s Japan, 2011)

In Times of Earthquakes You Should:

Many local governments have adopted disaster-prevention measures. Shizuoka Prefecture, which faces the Pacific Ocean and is thought to be a candidate for a large quake in the near future, has adopted an earthquake-prevention plan that outlines the steps that should be taken in case a major earthquake strikes, including the regulation of traffic, closing of banks and department stores, and evacuation of residents.

The Tokyo metropolitan government conducts periodic checks on the safety of buildings in designated “danger zones.” At schools and workplaces, evacuation drills are held several times a year. Some families keep a knapsack handy containing items that are essential in case of an emergency, such as drinking water and dried foods.

Please take a look at the Shizuoka ‘Earthquake Disaster Prevention Guidebook’ for details on that. Please go to the web address below to read Shizuoka’s ‘Earthquake Disaster Prevention Guidebook’ .

http://www.ep.tc/problems/guidebook_english.pdf

(Fodor's Travel Guides, 2012)

(Fodor’s Travel Guides, 2012)

(Japan America Society of Colorado, 2012)

(Japan America Society of Colorado, 2012)

 

Social Relations, Tradition, Industrialization (Business Culture) – Useful Business Tips for doing business with the Japanese. To foreign businessmen and businesswomen, this is for you.

As shown in the image above, this is how you should present yourself when doing business.  If you’re doing business in Japan, you should have a calling card—meishi—to present during introductions. Hold the card on outstretched palms and make a slight bow. A card will be presented to you in the same way.

(Dussault, 2012)

(Dussault, 2012)

For you to understand the following, please first read these definitions provided by Iowa State University on Polychronic and Monochronic time orientation. Or if you’d rather skip the wall of text, take a look at the simplified chart above.

Monochronic individuals are those who prefer to complete one task at a time. For them, task-oriented time is distinguished from socio-emotional time. In other words, there is a time to play and a time to work. These individuals value punctuality, completing tasks, and keeping to schedules. They view time as if it were linear, that is, one event happening at a time. Examples of monochronic cultures include the U.S., Israel, Germany, and Switzerland.

Polychronic individuals, on the other hand, are more flexible about time schedules; they have no problem integrating task-oriented activities with socio-emotional ones. For them, maintaining relationships and socializing are more important than accomplishing tasks. These individuals usually see time in a more holistic manner; in other words, many events may happen at once. Latin America, the Middle East, and Africa are places where the polychronic orientation prevails.

(Iowa State University, 2011)

Understanding the Japanese Way of Doing Business – 

(Traveler Guide, 2011)

(Traveler Guide, 2011)

Pictured above is a business dinner with Japanese business officials. In Japan, the function of the business lunch and dinner is to create the proper atmosphere and get acquainted. Relaxing with business clients after work is crucial to building the close rapport that is absolutely necessary if one is to do business in Japan. Evenings are reserved for socializing the business partners and clients.

(Tokyo Room Finder, 2011)

(Tokyo Room Finder, 2011)

  • Punctuality: Japanese place a great deal of emphasis on adhering to schedules and deadlines. They value and expect punctuality. The bus, train, and plane schedules are almost always on time and it is the norm to show up to a social function at the scheduled time. (Cultural Crossing, 2013)

However, here’s something that should be noted. Schedule times can be compromised to suit someone of significant standing. It depends on the position of the one who the schedule must be changed for.

The Logic Behind It:

In polychronic systems, appointments mean very little and may be shifted around even at the last minute to accommodate someone more important in an individual’s hierarchy of family, friends, or associates. Polychronic people also have many close friends and good clients with whom they spend a great deal of time. The close links to clients or customers creates a reciprocal feeling of obligation and a mutual desire to be helpful. There are other factors, of course, such as the fact that in Japan one of the principal reasons to get together around a table with good food and in congenial surroundings is to strengthen the bonds of friendship and to get to know people.

(International Forum, 2013)

  • The Importance of Reaching Consensus: To my American readers, I’m sorry to single you guys out but you have had a large amount of encounters with Japanese in the business world, so you were the easiest example to use. Please note that other similar Monochronic cultures such as some European cultures mentioned above could also use this example to suit them.

Americans complain that the Japanese take forever to reach decisions. Japanese complain that Americans do not respect their process of reaching consensus, which requires much more time than decision-making in America. In both the United States and Germany, schedules are sacred; in France scheduling frequently cannot be initiated until meetings are held with concerned members of the organization to permit essential discussions. Input from everyone is solicited and eventually a consensus is reached. Once consensus is reached, Japanese expect immediate action.

(International Forum, 2013)

I found that there were many similarities between the French and Japanese culture because they’re both Polychronic cultures. An example would be this business between the French salesman and the American manager. This is similar to how a Japanese salesman would act.

Because of the emphasis on personal relationships, it frequently takes years to develop customers in France, and, in family-owned firms, relationships with customers may span generations. The American manager, not understanding this, ordered the salesman to develop new customers within three months. The salesman knew this was impossible and had to resign, asserting his legal right to take with him all the loyal customers he had developed over the years.

In Japanese meetings, the information flow is high, and one is expected to read other people’s thoughts, intuit the state of their business, and even garner indirectly what government regulations are in the offing. A tight, fixed agenda can be an encumbrance, even an insult to one’s intelligence. Most, if not all, of those present have a pretty good idea of what will be discussed beforehand. The purpose of the meeting is to create a consensus. Adherence to a rigid agenda and the achievement of consensus represent opposite goals and do not mix.

(International Forum, 2013)

———————–

Sources:

Media (Images & Videos)

Information

My Home: Tokyo -マイホーム: 東京

(Note to viewers of previous blog posts: Remember how I used to talk solely in English? How I said I was a university student that would be studying at Kansai Gaidai in the future? Well, that was Katharine or in other words: Kyasarin.

From now on, Shizuko will take over. She is the role I have created. If you will note from a previous post, Shizuko was the Japanese name I chose for myself. ‘shizu’ is written with the kanji for ‘peaceful’ or ‘quiet’ (静) and ‘ko’ is written with the kanji for ‘child’ (子). She is true to her name. Her parents gave her this name because  She is studying at the Osaka university, Kansai Gaidai. She is your typical Japanese female college student who loves anime and manga. Like most girls, she likes to use emoticons in her messages. Her hobbies are reading manga and shopping in Akihabara. She dislikes waking up in winter, and bitter melon.)

(World of Maps, 2013)

(World of Maps, 2013)

Minna-san, konbanwa~ (Good evening, everyone.~)

Watashi wa Shizuko desu~ (*^▽^)/ (I am Shizuko.~)

Watashi wa nihonjin desu. (I am Japanese.)

Hatachi sai.~ (I’m 20 years old.)

I will be telling you about my country today! Please look forward to it!

The name of my country is Japan in English and in Japanese, it’s Nihon/Nippon (日本).

According to Wikipedia: “Japan is an island nation in East Asia. It’s located in the Pacific Ocean, it lies to the east of the Sea of Japan, China, North Korea, South Korea and Russia, stretching from the Sea of Okhotsk in the north to the East China Sea and Taiwan in the south.

(Japan's Geography, 2013)

(Japan’s Geography, 2013)

According to Japan’s Geogrpahy, five of the largest rivers in Japan are the  Yoshinogawa, Ara-kawa, Mogami-gawa, Chickugo-gawa, Fuji-kawa, Ishikari-gawa, Shimanto-gawa, Shonai-gawa, Watarase-gawa

(Japan's Geography, 2013)

(Japan’s Geography, 2013)

The characters that make up Japan’s name mean “sun-origin”(日本), which is why Japan is sometimes referred to as the “Land of the Rising Sun”.

(John D. Lukacs, 2012)

(John D. Lukacs, 2012)

According to Wikipedia:

Japan is an archipelago of 6,852 islands. The four largest islands are HonshuHokkaidoKyushu, and Shikoku, which together comprise about ninety-seven percent of Japan’s land area. Japan has the world’s tenth-largest population, with over 126 million people. Honshū’s Greater Tokyo Area, which includes the de facto capital city of Tokyo and several surrounding prefectures, is the largest metropolitan area in the world, with over 30 million residents.

Archaeological research indicates that people lived in Japan as early as the Upper Paleolithic period. The first written mention of Japan is in Chinese history texts from the 1st century AD. Influence from other nations followed by long periods of isolation has characterized Japan’s history. From the 12th century until 1868, Japan was ruled by successive feudal military shogunates in the name of the Emperor. Japan entered into a long period of isolation in the early 17th century, which was only ended in 1853 when a United States fleet pressured Japan to open to the West. Nearly two decades of internal conflict and insurrection followed before the Meiji Emperor was restored as head of state in 1868 and the Empire of Japanwas proclaimed, with the Emperor as a divine symbol of the nation. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, victory in the First Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War and World War I allowed Japan to expand its empire during a period of increasing militarism. The Second Sino-Japanese War of 1937 expanded into part of World War II in 1941, which came to an end in 1945 following the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Since adopting its revised constitution in 1947, Japan has maintained a unitary constitutional monarchy with an emperor and an elected legislature called the Diet.

(Wikipedia, 2013)

Now let me tell you about the general facts of Japan! These will be mostly statistics.

 (*≧▽≦)

All these stats are courtesy of The CIA World Factbook.

Population Stats:

Education Levels:

  • Status as a student in Japan: Middle class
  • Percentage of students go to college: 1/3 of the population 53.7% graduate

Immigrant Populations: 

Japanese 98.5%, Koreans 0.5%, Chinese 0.4%, other 0.6%
note: up to 230,000 Brazilians of Japanese origin migrated to Japan in the 1990s to work in industries; some have returned to Brazil (2004)

Transportation:

175 (2013)

country comparison to the world: 33

16 (2013)
gas 4,456 km; oil 174 km; oil/gas/water 104 km (2013)
total: 27,182 km

country comparison to the world: 11

standard gauge: 4,251 km 1.435-m gauge (4,251 km electrified)
dual gauge: 486 km 1.435-1.067-m gauge (486 km electrified)
narrow gauge: 96 km 1.372-m gauge (96 km electrified); 22,301 km 1.067-m gauge (15,222 km electrified); 48 km 0.762-m gauge (48 km electrified) (2009)
total: 1,210,251 km

country comparison to the world: 5

paved: 973,234 km (includes 7,803 km of expressways)
unpaved: 237,017 km (2008)
1,770 km (seagoing vessels use inland seas) (2010)

country comparison to the world: 45

Chiba, Kawasaki, Kobe, Mizushima, Moji, Nagoya, Osaka, Tokyo, Tomakomai, Yokohama

Leisure Activities: Karaoke, Basketball, Soccer, Go, Shogi, Skiing

Business and Industry: 

$4.704 trillion (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 5

$4.612 trillion (2011 est.)
$4.638 trillion (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
$5.964 trillion (2012 est.)
2% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 136

-0.6% (2011 est.)
4.7% (2010 est.)
$36,900 (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 38

$36,100 (2011 est.)
$36,200 (2010 est.)
note: data are in 2012 US dollars
21.6% of GDP (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 64

22% of GDP (2011 est.)
23.5% of GDP (2010 est.)
household consumption: 60.9%
government consumption: 20.5%
investment in fixed capital: 21.2%
investment in inventories: -0.6%
exports of goods and services: 14.7%
imports of goods and services: -16.6%
(2012 est.)
agriculture: 1.1%
industry: 26.3%
services: 72.5% (2012 est.)
rice, sugar beets, vegetables, fruit; pork, poultry, dairy products, eggs; fish
among world’s largest and technologically advanced producers of motor vehicles, electronic equipment, machine tools, steel and nonferrous metals, ships, chemicals, textiles, processed foods
2% (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 100

65.55 million (2012 est.)

country comparison to the world: 9

agriculture: 3.9%
industry: 26.2%
services: 69.8% (2010 est.)

Located below is the political map of Japan. Looking at it will tell you all you need to know. Japan Political map showing the international boundary, prefectures boundaries with their capitals and national capital.

(World Map, 2012)

(World Map, 2012)

(Travels in Japan, 2013)

(Travels in Japan, 2013)

Behold the beauty of Japan! We have Mt. Fuji (the tallest mountain in Japan) and the beautiful cherry blossoms in bloom. Cherry blossoms in Japanese are called “sakura”.

(ASIAN STUDIES PROGRAM, 2013)

(ASIAN STUDIES PROGRAM, 2013)

I moved to Osaka to study at the Japanese university Kansai Gaidai. Here is the city map of Kansai Gaidai. This is how I get around the city.

However, I am originally from the capital city of Japan, Tokyo! ❤ The majority of the Japanese population are concentrated in Tokyo. It’s the center of the arts (music and visual arts) and technology.

3-tokyo-1270749382

We have the Tokyo Tower. Kirei desu ne~ (Pretty isn’t it?) Look familiar? It was modeled after the Eiffel Tower in France.

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(Little Red Mail Box, 2011)

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(Travel Wallpapers, 2013)

Pictured above is the top university in the country! Tokyo University! 東京大学! \(T∇T)/

yodobashi-akiba-electronics-shop-tokyo-25489688

  Electronics! Whether you’re a professional photographer experimenting with different lenses or a gamer looking for a gaming system… Akiba (shortened name of “Akihabara”) (above) has it all! Electronics of every brand! Nokia! Canon! Sanyo! XBox 360s! Yamaha!

(Flickr, 2013)

(Flickr, 2013)

(Culture Japan, 2012)

(Culture Japan, 2012)

(Muza-chan's Gate to Japan, 2010)

(Muza-chan’s Gate to Japan, 2010)

☆*・゜゚・*\(^O^)/*・゜゚・*☆

What I am most proud of is Akihabara the anime/pop culture district!

This is like the ultimate otaku (nerd) paradise! You can find all sorts of memorabilia not limited to just anime. Movies, music, etc. You can even find the chainsaw that they used in the movie, “Texas Chainsaw Massacre”.

Japan is wonderful! You should visit these places in Japan if you ever get the chance!

  1. Dotonbori, Osaka (道頓堀, 大阪) – Osaka is the region that I’m currently staying in for my studies. It’s a region known for its mouth-watering food. Here are the delicacies that you should try: okonomiyaki, takoyaki, doteyaki, ikayaki, jiyuken curry, me-oto zenzai, hakozushi, shabu shabu, and tecchiri. Please take a look at the site below for the explanations on each dish.

http://www.osaka-info.jp/en/culture/2007may/07.html

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

2. Japanese Onsen/Hot Springs, anywhere in Japan (温泉)

When we want to relax or relieve stress, we go to an onsen. If the onsen is in the mountains, you may encounter monkeys as pictured below. They also like to soak in the onsen. Not only is soaking in hot springs soothing, it’s also good for your health and enhances beauty. Please take a look at this website on how to take advantage of an onsen.

http://www.jph-ri.or.jp/kenko_f/onsen_english/contents/dakara.html

http://www.jph-ri.or.jp/kenko_f/onsen_english/contents/katsuyou.html

If you’re a foreigner going to an onsen for the first time, please take a look at Japan Talk’s “7 Things You Need to Know Before Going to a Japanese Onsen” by going to the website below.

http://www.japan-talk.com/jt/new/7-things-you-need-to-know-before-going-to-a-Japanese-onsen-bath

(Wikipedia, 2013)

(Wikipedia, 2013)

3. Furano Flower Fields, Hokkaido (富良野, 北海道)

There are multitudes of flower types growing in the fields. It smells heavenly and looks amazing. You’ll get to see how the flowers are cultivated and at the same time enjoy the wondrous scenery. Did you know that lavender has been cultivated in Hokkaido for more than a century? Furano is mainly known for the lavender, but there are also other colorful flowers like in the picture. The main flower viewing season is between June and September. The first website shows the types of flowers you will encounter. Second is the address for the farm and the opening times.

http://en.visit-hokkaido.jp/hokkaido/hana-land/index.html

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e6826.html

(Anviet art travel, 2013)

(Anviet art travel, 2013)

4. Kyoto (京都)

Kyoto was the previous capital of Japan for over a milIenium. It carries the reputation of Japan’s most beautiful city. You should check out the temples and city parks. They’re resplendent. Although, Kyoto is one of the smaller Japanese cities, it has a lot of cultural heritage. These are the places you should go to. According to a 2007 visitor survey, these are the most popular places in Kyoto.

http://kyoto.asanoxn.com/places/ps_popularity.htm

(The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, 2011)

(The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts, 2011)

5. Yokohama (横浜)

It’s the second largest city with a population of over three million. It’s very modern. It has one of the world’s largest chinatowns and retains former Western residences in the Yamate district. It’s especially popular among expats. So, if you’re a foreigner looking to settle down in Japan, but still want to retain something similar to your old life, Yokohama’s for you!

http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e2156.html

(iWallScreen, 2013)

(iWallScreen, 2013)

Thanks for reading!~

Ja ne~ (See ya!) (*^▽^)/

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