J-WOTD: 若い燕

わかいつばめ (wakai tsubame)
wakai tsubame

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

Since antiquity the sparrow has always been seen as a bird of love in the west. It was associated in classical mythology with Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, and Catullus, the Roman poet, famously used the sparrow as a symbol of true love and spiritual connection to his lover. In Japan the sparrow does not carry the same connotations except in the phrase wakai tsubame which literally means a young sparrow but refers to a younger lover of an older woman, or, 女にとって年下の愛人。 Continue reading

Actress Maiko Kawakami Roasted Over Sheep-Dog Incident

LambYet another “Only in Japan” story, but we just had to delve deeper into this one! According to many of the foreign press outlets this week, hundreds, possibly thousands of Japanese women have been conned into buying baby lambs, which they thought were in fact poodles. Coming from a background where an annual highlight is Christmas lamb, this story tested my limits. Continue reading

Prison in Japan: Part 7 “The Driver”

Japanese Punch Perm
A Japanese Punch Perm – like the driver’s

This is stippy’s seventh part in a series (see also parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6) about one foreigner’s experience of being put in a Japanese prison (留置場 or “ryuchijyo”, a prison for locking up people for as long as 23 days until they are convicted, or cleared of a crime).

Below is the continuation of George’s story that he wrote in his diary while in the Japanese ryuchijyo. Here, he tells us about his “victim” and gives the best insight he can into what sort of man the taxi driver was. It seems the driver’s version of the truth was far from that which George knew to be the facts. For context, you should read the first, second, third, fourth, fifth and sixth parts of this series before continuing on with this seventh installment of George’s jail journal. Continue reading

“I take this man to be my lawfully wedded husband”… Except when politics intervenes!

Fufubessei in Japan
What name will I get?

Although Japan is clearly far behind the west in Women’s lib, the emergence of Doi Takako in the 90s and several female politicians in Koizumi’s cabinet has helped push along the plight of the average Japanese woman. But sometimes there is more to these posts than meets the eye.

Over the past two years, Noda Seiko (one of the old school LDP politicians recently who was targeted by Koizumi’s famous 刺客 assassins) has pushed forward debate about 夫婦別姓 (fufubessei, the right of a husband and wife to have different Continue reading

Why I Support Privatization of the Post Office

Japan post annual reportI have always been a supporter of leaving key services up to the central government to run. Services like the police, prison, schools, universities and up until now I thought the post office of Japan was no exception. In my mind the postal system here in Japan has always provided efficient service, despite being blatantly over-staffed. That was until last week.

I could delve into the standard arguments for privatization. How the post office here has three branches: postage, banking and insurance and how the insurance is over-priced for minimal cover and how the savings accounts of nice little hunched over Japanese ladies earn a meager 0.1% and are used as a private slush fund for the ruling Liberal Democratic Party – but that is old news and fairly standard knowledge here. Continue reading

J-WOTD: 二枚目 (にまいめ)

nimaime kabuki
二枚目 or nimaime is the handsome guy here ↑


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

For some reason, the Japanese language has many words to describe good looking men. かっこいい, ハンサム, イケメン, 美少年, and Kansai-ben’s 男前 are quite a selection, proving that Japanese can be more expressive that English when it comes to certain things. Continue reading

Mayor of Nagasaki Shot Dead by Yakuza

Mayor of Nagasaki MurderedThis article is a rare (for stippy) direct quote from another article on Yahoo but we thought that is is interesting for our readers also, as we have written quite extensively on the Yakuza and their recent dramas in Japan, and given a locals insight surrounding some of ongoings of the Yamaguchi-gumi and Sumiyoshikai in Tokyo.

Well, the Yakuza is back in the news in a way that nobody expected. A senior member of the Yamaguchi-gumi has shot dead the mayor of Nagasaki, for not compensating him when his car was damaged at a public works construction site! This is the forth murder of a politician since WW2, and virtually unheard of in Japan. Continue reading

What Should I Do? More on AIDS in Japan

Some will remember the grim reaper aids campaigns of the ’80s
Remember the Grim Reaper AIDS campaigns of the ’80s?

Late last year Pink shared with us the eye-opening story of his friend who found out that he had been dating a girl infected with HIV, and the story of his soul search while he waited for his own test results. After reading the number of responses in the comment section to the article, I decided to do a little more work into the state of AIDS and other STDs in Japan.

While most newspaper articles generally do their best to exaggerate the statistics with statements like “AIDS cases in Japan double in the last decade”, the reality is that official AIDS (and HIV) statistics don’t appear that high although part of the reason might be due to the lack of drug use (and syringe sharing) in Japan. I guess it depends Continue reading

Prison in Japan: Part 6 “The Guards”

Japanese Prison GuardsThis is stippy’s sixth part in a series (see also parts 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5) about one foreigner’s experience of being put in a Japanese prison (留置場 or “ryuchijyo”, a prison for locking up people for as long as 23 days until they are convicted, or cleared of a crime).

Below is the continuation of George’s story, and how he got along with some of the prison guards in the ryuchijyo. What is most interesting is how human the guards were for George, compared with the detectives, who seemed unnecessarily harsh in their treatment. For context, you should read the first, second, third, fourth and fifth parts of this series before continuing on with this sixth installment Continue reading

Darwin and Japan’s Lost Generation

Darwin - Japan’s Lost GenerationIt seems a number of the people tuning in to Stippy are married and have kids. I, also a parent living in Tokyo, just checked out an old site that I used to look at for News on Japan. Aptly it is called newsonjapan.com. Looking at the society section I wanted to check if a certain story that I have a personal connection to, was in the English news yet. It isn’t but what I saw was quite scary.

On the Society page for the news on Japan, there were three articles about little kids suffering and dying thanks to their parent’s lack of ability to cope and act maturely when making basic parental decisions. What is happening to parents in Japan these days? Is there a distinct change in the way that Japanese parents treat (through action and inaction) their kids, leading to this scary spate of twisted horrible crimes that we witness daily? Continue reading