Another Explosive Summer of Japanese Hanabi

Japanese FireworksFireworks have always been a source of mystery and nostalgia for many people. Perhaps its because we are generally introduced to these noisy and colourful displays when we are young and at a most impressionable age, after all being allowed to stay up late and go outside in the dark with the adults is pretty exciting stuff for a 4 year old. For me fireworks started with a few sparklers and the dads lofting up some bottle rockets. I then progressed to the larger, but still modest, shows held by the PTA at my local primary school.

In Japan fireworks, or “Hanabi”, are in a different league and are taken very seriously. Continue reading

Getting Pregnant in Japan – Part One: Becoming a Gaijin Daddy in Your Home Away From Home

I'm a pregnant Dad!I’ve got something in common with Leslie Nielsen. While I’m pretty sure that I wouldn’t look as good as him in a full nude photograph, the photo does give you a hint. I, too, am pregnant (well.. actually, my wife is!).

Getting pregnant with our first baby was a huge change for our household. Only a few months into our marriage, and just learning the ins and outs of what it means to have an international marriage, a whole new perspective showed its face when we found out that my wife was pregnant. Marriage is all about finding common ground when you both have differing opinions and there is no topic better than children to bring out the best (and worst) of Continue reading

WaiWai: Defense Ministry turns to ‘Lolita’ manga character to reveal inner self

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.

From the successor of the government ministry that gave the world Pearl Harbor and the Rape of Nanking now comes a cutesy little girl cartoon character dressed as a maid with a hawkish stuffed teddy bear to give a simple explanation of Japan’s defense policies, according to Cyzo (August).

Growing numbers of government agencies have used borderline pedophile manga characters to promote their activities in recent years, but it’s the Defense Ministry’s little girl character that is attracting attention among Japan’s otaku, the monthly says.

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Japan High Court Rules Against Saucy Gaijins

The famous “Bulldog” brand of Japanese
Tonkatsu Sauce

Facing a potential takeover by the foreign investment firm Steel Partners, Japanese tonkatsu sauce maker Bull-Dog was saved last week in a disturbing effort by the Japanese courts to prevent foreign money and ownership permeating into an important aspect of the Japanese cultural dinner table.

Steel Partners has made investments in over 30 companies in Japan over the past couple of years, with a number in the “washoku” industry, including the holy grail of the Japanese sauce portfolio, Kikkoman soy sauce. Since Steel Partners announced they owned over 5% back in 2005, the stock price has increased over 50%. But enough is enough, apparently. Continue reading

Japan Upper House Election – Who would you vote for on July 29?

support-abe Could the LDP actually lose control of the Upper house in the upcoming election on July 29? While it isn’t a no-brainer that the Democrats steal the majority from beneath Abe’s feet, it is looking more and more likely the way the latest opinion polls are lining up. For those of you who aren’t on top of the current Japanese political situation, half of the Upper House (参議院, sangiin) is up for re-election later this month. Every three years, half of the house comes up for re-election meaning the average member has a term of 6 years. Continue reading

Summertime Blues for Civil Servants

SalarymanOne of the things I have always loved about Japan were the warm summer evenings. Sitting on the bank of the Kamogawa in Kyoto at 10pm, at 30 degrees in short and t-shirt, sipping on a cold Heartland, and deciding who was going to wade into the middle of the river to do sumo against the other blokes was one of my favourite pastimes. That was when I was a student, and unfortunately those days have gone.

One thing I often wondered about however, has not changed – why doesn’t Japan have daylight saving time (DST), or “summer time”? Continue reading