Bust a move: Learning English the “Zuiikin” way…

Zuiikin Girls 随意筋英会話While showing reruns is the bread and butter of those little watched cable channels, recently, the subscribers of channel #739 have recently been lucky enough to re-live some wonderful memories from the golden age of Japanese broadcasting. You can almost feel in your bones the passion that the average Japanese housewife must have had to learn English back in the bubble era after a few seconds of watching the Zuiikin girlsEikawa lessons.

Produced almost three decades ago by Tongtong, the concept behind the Zuiikin girls is that by exercising while you are learning English, the muscles in your body will actually remember the new vocabulary for you. Not only did the producers aim to come up with practical lessons that prepare you for your next overseas trip, they seemed to be focusing on the kind of phrases that your average chikyu no arukikata will rarely tell you about. To watch the videos Continue reading

J-WOTD: 怪我の功名

けがのこうみょう (kegano koumyou)

* “J-WOTD” = “Japanese Word of the Day”

A “lucky mistake“, or “to come out of a mistake unscathed“. (Literally “Great feat from an injury”)

Once again, I heard this at work today. We had quite a serious mishap a few weeks ago, but we found it and fixed it before our SOX auditors did. It was unlucky (a 怪我, kega) for us, as we made the mistake, but very lucky that we found it when we did and are now able to include measures against doing it again in our operational procedures (hence the 功名, koumyou). It is also used quite colloquially in everyday language, in the sense of “talk about a lucky escape!”. A cool phrase. Should be put to use right away. Continue reading

Getting a National Pension Payment Rebate When Leaving Japan as a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”

The Mighty YenThe Japanese Government has a system where foreigners leaving Japan, who have been paying into the pension system, can receive back a portion of these payments. This is known as a “National Pension Payment Rebate”, or a “Lump-sum Withdrawal Payment”. After all those hard years slugging it out working in the far east, you deserve to get back as much of that money as you possible can (it’s not like you are going to retire here right?). We have provided a “Dummies Guide” to getting as many of those hard earned yen that you have paid into this country’s convoluted pension scheme put back into your pocket where they belong, this is a must read for all foreigners thinking of leaving Japan soon, or have recently left Japan.
Continue reading

MNP – Is Son-san the real “Yoso-Guy” at Softbank Mobile?

Masayoshi SonLess than one hour ago, Softbank Mobile‘s charistmatic CEO, Masayoshi Son, just completed an unexpected (予想外) press conference at the New Ohtani. Just as stippy.com reported last week, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is starting this week in Japan and promises to upset the comfortable duopoly of DoCoMo and Au.

Stippy.com recevied a lot of email from readers suggesting that MNP would be a non-event, but it appears as though that is not the case. Son-san wants to join these two giants in the big technological sand pit they call success.

Following on from his amusing 予想外 TV commercial series featured last week, Son-san has made an even more unexpected announcement today. Continue reading

Olympus has Mao Asada Bopping to Punk Music

Mao Asada shows off the new camera for OlympusMao Asada was a phenomenon last winter, coming from relative obscurity to win the ISU (International Skating Union) Grand Prix Final. However, despite being the best on the adult circuit the ISU rules said she was too young (15 years old at the time) to compete at the Olympics, robbing her of the chance of glory in Turin. With such a sudden rise to fame it is no surprise to see Asada doing endorsements in the media. Nevertheless, what is most interesting about her latest television commercial, for the new Olympus digital camera μ, is Continue reading

Japan’s New Finance Minister

kojiomi.jpgMr. Koji Omi, the new Finance Minister of Japan in the Abe government, judging first from the fact that he’s not a graduate of the University of Tokyo, that has heretofore supplied Japan with the bureaucrats that begat the deflation of the late ’90s and early ’00s, we might have a good thing. From his first few comments too, he seems to be on the right track… and this despite the fact that he has been a lifelong civil servant, having left university and having gone directly into the Ministry of International Trade and Industry, where he spent a goodly portion of his early career, and then when he went into the Diet back in ’83, where he’s held a seat ever since. Continue reading

Video Series “Only in Japan”: Part 2 – Magic Hand

Magic Hand - The Artistic VersionIt has been more than a week since the first “Only in Japan” video, apologies for that. This week (keeping the weekly thing going notwithstanding), we would like to bring the second in the series, aptly named “Magic Hand” (マジックハンド). Have you ever been so lucky to be involved with such a hand?

We believe that this is the first ever footage of a real uninhibited “Magic Hand” in its natural habitat. However, what is not so commonly known, is that you can find magic hands in the dark grimy corners of almost any train station in Japan. Unfortunately though, they are usually hidden away under lock and key, and only come out for the eyes of the lucky… Continue reading

Leaving Japan

Leaving Japan (Poem)Yes, I did the unthinkable – I left Japan. Took the wife and kid with me out to Oz, leaving only fond memories and my stippy mates behind (Well actually a pet rabbit too, but he never did much except jump around and shit everywhere anyways). After nine years in Japan, it certainly isn’t easy getting used to life “overseas”, and earlier this week as I busily pretended to be busy at my new desk in my new office, in my new city, my thoughts turned to what I’ve already started to miss in Japan:

My Favourite Things

Roppongi nightlife and loose social norms;
Miniskirts in winter and high school uniforms;
Harajuku girls suited up in costumes with wings;
These are a few of my favourite things. Continue reading

MNP – event or non-event?

DoCoMo's cool new keitaiHave you noticed that everywhere you go now, you see ads for mobile phones? Over the last month Au, Softbank Mobile and DoCoMo have slowly rolled out aggressive new advertising strategies and more new handset models at once than have ever been seen before. So why the sudden focus on improving their brand image? On October 24, Japan will officially introduce Mobile Number Portability (or MNP as the acronym loving Japanese love to call it.)

What does it all mean? Continue reading