Japan Enveloped by Huge Cloud!

taihen-cloud.gifA 3000 kilometer long dark cloud has enveloped Japan. It appears to have been completely missed by the experts, and we are concerned not to have once seen warnings on the weather reports. It seems to have gone completely unnoticed and yet is having a profound effect on the entire country. It has been detected recently by many of us at stippy, and after further investigation, is being widely referred to as the “Taihen Cloud”.

It is almost impossible to recognize the Taihen Cloud when one is on the ground surrounded by it, but once you know where to look Continue reading

The Rise of Patriotism, Ishihara, and the Mini-Skirt Right Wing

An ad for the video and DVD for the documentary film Prime Minister Shinzo Abe took office on Sept 26th and less than 2 months later, on Friday November 17th, an education reform bill reforming the Fundamental Law of Education was cleared by the Lower House and has now progressed to the Upper House. This bill is backed by Shinzo’s government raising the fears of liberals that patriotism may become law in Japan’s schools. A move long awaited by the Mini-skirt Right Wing! (their promotional video pictured here)

Although the wording excludes the direct use of the word patriotism, the bill specifies the need for students to love the nation and homeland. The larger point, however, is that legislation to such an extent gives the central government the go-ahead for complete control over Japan’s education system. This appears to be a move towards fascism. No Mussolini-type figures are in sight at this stage but this is a move worth scrutinizing as, blind allegiance to any group, code or country, robs individuals of their intellectual capabilities to analyse the morality of the actions being asked of them. The worst actions can suddenly become justified if it demonstrates loyalty to the group. Continue reading

J-WOTD: 二足のわらじを履く

にそくのわらじをはく (nisokuno waraji wo haku)

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

Two pairs of WarajiTo “Have one’s fingers in two pies“, or to “have the best of both worlds“. (Literally: To “Wear two pairs of straw sandles” – waraji being the straw sandles, pictured here.)

There are situations everyday where we would like to do two things at once, or be in two places at the same time. Sometimes this seems impossible right? As hard as having the best things from two worlds even? That’s how we English speakers express the concept, which seems a little to exaggerated when you think about it. Well, the Japanese have a more earthly approach, and think that the ideal analogy for having your fingers in two pies is, Continue reading

Inflation in Japan? (Long live the affluent taxi driver)

Inflation in JapanAn old friend of mine, visiting Tokyo for the first time in 5 years, mentioned something interesting a few days ago that stirred dormant thoughts in my head about inflation in Japan. He mused:

“Sitting on the Narita Express, coming in to town, I started remembering the old Tokyo of five years ago and wondering how much prices had gone up since I was last in town. How much would a metro ticket cost? What would be the price of a beef bowl at Yoshinoya? But what surprised me was that everything was the same – as if Japan had been frozen in time for the last five years. How Strange. Back home, in Sydney, it’s taken for granted that the price of everything goes up at least once a year.”

But that’s what 12 consecutive years of deflation does to you. Continue reading

Video Series “Only in Japan”: Part 5 – Zebras, Tapes and Taxis

Zebra Cossing - JapanThis is the fifth and final video in our first series of “Only in Japan” videos.

Check out video 1, video 2, video 3 and video 4 if you haven’t already!

Zebras, Tapes and Taxis is a mixture of a few weird “OIJ” scenes, that were not enough to make a full one minute video from, but nonetheless are still worthy of your Japanophile eyes, and are bound to bring a few chuckes.

The video consists of three themes: Zebras, Tapes and Taxis!

In most countries (at least USA, UK, Australia, and New Zealand) where roads are striped with black and white lines – parallel to the flow of the traffic – pedestrians have right of way, and cars must yield (stop) when someone is walking, or is about to walk across the road… Right? Wrong. Continue reading

‘Til Pension Do Us Part – Divorce in Japan set to Skyrocket

sleep.gifThe image of Japanese salarymen working until late, drinking with colleagues, and then not wanting to go home to their unhappy marriages is a common one in Japan. Yet Japan is also well-known for its low divorce rates.. well, at least up until now that is..!

Blokes be aware – times are changing and those miserable Japanese housewives who have been slaving away in the kitchen for decades for their ungrateful husbands are about to get their long-awaited revenge and the divorce rate is set to sky-rocket from April next year!

A Split Pension Payment law (厚生年金の分割制度) has somehow passed its way through the unhappily-married-male-dominated Japanese Government Continue reading

Is Time doing another Newsweek?

How do Time chose Asian heroes?The way that Newsweek changes its front covers (and lead articles) to cater for its local audience is old news. It seems that Newsweek has particularly been sensitive to their US readership when it comes to the war on terrorism. You can read about the most recent editorialism here on this page detailing how the US English edition was different to other international English editions in September, this year. Our biking gaijin friend at ridingsun was also kind enough to point out a less known discrepancy between the Japanese language edition and the English language edition from May of last year. We were lucky that we noticed about these, but how regularly are the magazines that we read biased due to a US centric editorial policy in a more subtle way.

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of publishing an Asian edition, Time Magazine has published a special feature called “60 Years of Asian Heroes” in it’s latest Continue reading

WaiWai: Deadly ‘iku iku byo’ reaches a climax

This article is reproduced from the discontinued, but much loved Mainichi Waiwai column by Ryann Connell. Read more about this at the bottom of this article.

Growing numbers of Japanese women are afflicted with an illness that gives them orgasms virtually 24 hours a day. And with suggestions that it could be deadly, the women hardly know whether they’re coming or going, according to Shukan Post (11/24).

“If a guy simply taps me on the shoulder, I just swoon. Even when I go to the toilet, my body reacts. I’m a little bit scared of myself,” one woman sufferer tells Shukan Post.

Continue reading

‘Man Scent’ Chewing Gum

phpihzknppm.jpgEarlier in Summer you may have missed the a new chewing gum phenomenon, “Otoko Kaoru” (Literally: ‘Man Scent’).

What’s unusual about this gum is that it causes a rose fragrance to be emitted from the chewer’s body for about one to two hours after its chewed. The Rose Menthol flavoured gum, contained a fragrant component geraniol, which is found in roses. According to Kanebo’s food research laboratory, the component is easily emitted from the body’s sweat glands, in much the same way as Continue reading

Chopstick Economics and the “My Hashi” Boom

img01.pngThe humble waribashi – disposable wooden, or literally ‘split-apart’ chopsticks. Japan consumes a massive 25 billion sets of them every year – about 200 pairs per person. Earlier this year, in a move that was cheered by environmentalists, China’s latest 5 year plan slapped a 5 percent tax on their chopstick exports over concerns of deforestation. The tax along with the rising costs of raw wood and transportation because of higher oil prices have contributed to big price rises. A pair of waribashi that used to cost a little over 1 yen 4 months ago are now 1.5-1.7 yen. As some 97% of the throwaway chopsticks in Japan come from China, restaurants and convenience stores alike have been scrambling to find viable alternatives. Continue reading