Nao that’s a nice PDA! “E-mobile” the new runner in the keitai race

Matushita Nao (松下奈緒) the girl behind E-Mobile

When you go home tonight, you might notice some new ads starring Matushita Nao (松下奈緒) for a cool looking PDA. But contrary to popular belief, this is not Softbank’s X01HT which has been receiving a lot of bandwidth in the comments section of Nor is it part of DoCoMo’s half-arsed attempt at marketing the blackberry in Japan , nor is it a rechurned ad for Wilcom’s hugely successful PDA of 2006, W-Zero 3. E-mobile (Japan’s youngest mobile phone carrier) has finally unveiled their virgin products for the Japanese market.

As the newest player on the street, E-mobile is still rapidly rolling out their service area and so initial service will be purely for data only (voice to start in Mar ’08) and basically only in the Tokyo and Osaka regions. Due to the obvious disadvantages Continue reading Nao that’s a nice PDA! “E-mobile” the new runner in the keitai race

Japan furious about new book: “Princess Masako – Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne”

Book Cover Princess Masako - Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum ThroneJapan’s extreme sensitivity over its royal family was laid bare yesterday when it reacted furiously to an unauthorised biography of its most famous – and controversial – princess, entitled “Princess Masako: Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne; the Tragic True Story of Japan’s Crown Princess” (Click title to see the book on

Japan’s Imperial Family, the oldest royal dynasty with a 2600 year history has been somewhat in danger due to the fact that even after 13 years of marriage, Princess Masako, and Crown Prince Naruhito could not bear a boy to succeed the throne. They are both now well into their 40s, and after suffering a miscarriage in 1999 they have given birth to only one child, Aiko – a daughter (with the help of IVF treatment). Even the birth this year of a new son and heir to her sister-in-law Princess Kiko has done little to relieve Masako’s stress Continue reading Japan furious about new book: “Princess Masako – Prisoner of the Chrysanthemum Throne”

Aussie Band “JET” Rocks the Budokan

jet-concert-2_s.jpgLast Friday night, Australian rock band Jet played at the Nippon Budokan, one of Japan’s most historic and revered event venues. The first foreign rock band ever to play there was the Beatles back in 1966 in a performance memorable for all the wrong reasons, and was there last Friday to find out whether or not Jet cut the proverbial mustard.

One of the biggest cheers of the night from the 10,000-strong, but rather subdued, crowd was saved for the appearance of two local Japanese heroes – one a rotund gentleman and one a younger thinner man. Jet, a rock band from Australia which has sold over 3.5 million albums worldwide, was in full swing and had just been joined on-stage by the newly-crowned Japanese national air-guitar champions. Continue reading Aussie Band “JET” Rocks the Budokan

Outrage Over Racist “Anti-Gaijin” Magazine

外人犯罪裏ファイル Gaijin Hanzai Ura FileThe Japanese government has just released their crime statistics for 2006, which show crimes by non-permanent resident foreigners in Japan are down 16.2% from a record high logged the year before. Unfortunately not everyone was impressed with these figures. A few days ago word broke out on foreign activist and anti-racism campaigner Arudou Debito’s site of a new very racist, and particularly “anti-gaijin in Japan” magazine called 外人犯罪裏ファイル (gaijin hanzai ura fairu), which has been variously translated as “Shocking Foreigner Crime: The Undercover File” or “Secret Files of Foreigners’ Crimes”. The magazine was widely available Continue reading Outrage Over Racist “Anti-Gaijin” Magazine

New Highs In Japan’s Tissue Paper Culture

supertissue.jpgEarlier this week Nepia, one of the nations largest manufacturer and distributor of domestic paper products released a very limited number of what may be the most expensive tissue paper in the world. Nepia very shrewdly made their new product available only through their internet shop at mid night on Friday, by the time the Saturday morning talk shows had picked up on the campaign it was all but over and all 3000 sets had sold out.

Japan has long been know as a place where tissue paper comes cheap, so cheap in fact that there exists an entire industry of handing out of free tissue paper Continue reading New Highs In Japan’s Tissue Paper Culture

The story behind Eijiro: the most popular Japanese/English dictionary on the net

1872dictionaryBack in the day, when Firefox didn’t have yakushi-mouse (a translation function built in to the cursor) and Babelfish referred to something in a Douglas Adams novel, not a search function on Altavista, translators had very little choice for efficient computer based dictionaries. I was an active translator back in the 90s and swore by my trusty Wordtank until Continue reading The story behind Eijiro: the most popular Japanese/English dictionary on the net

“Tokyo Underworld” – The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan Book Review: Tokyo Underworld: The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

The good thing about the mob (or the Yakuza) in Japan is that they rarely involve innocent bystanders in their sometimes violent dealings, so it’s easy to forget the fact that they are still active on nearly every street corner of major cities of Japan. Incidents like the “Yakuza” killing the other day certainly bring home the reality of their existence and offer a rare insight into the power struggles that are going on everyday. Given the high gaijin population in Azabu/Roppongi, these most recent broad daylight killings are sure to invoke at least a little bit of anxiety in readers. Are you afraid? Continue reading “Tokyo Underworld” – The Fast Times and Hard Life of an American Gangster in Japan

A “Yakuza War” has started in Central Tokyo

yakuza.jpgYesterday morning at 10am in the well-to-do area of Tokyo’s Nishi Azabu, a member of one Yakuza gang (the Yamaguchi-gumi, 山口組) shot and killed a very senior member (a 幹部 or kanbu, which roughly translates to “director”) of another Yakuza gang (the Sumiyoshi-kai, 住吉会) on the side of the main road between Roppongi and Shibuya, all in broad daylight. This has lit a match of dangerous and lethal proportions, escalating a rift that has been brewing in Tokyo for some time now, starting the much feared “Yakuza war” in central Tokyo, that many have been predicting since the end of 2005.

This is directly relevant for a few of us who write for Stippy, because it has all happened literally right on our doorstep. One of the things we all like and respect about Japan – it’s shiny reputation as a “safe” country – seems to have become tarnished and is somewhat crumbling at the sides. Continue reading A “Yakuza War” has started in Central Tokyo

Mail Order “Snow Kitty” – Made of Real Snow!

Mail Order Snow Kitty ChanJapan is supposed to be the land of conformity, a land where nobody has original ideas, where everyone unquestioningly follows the pack. But every now and then, people in Japan come up with some things so bewildering that you wonder where the idea could possibly have come from!

The Hello Kitty “Snow Kitty” is one of these. The ultimate present for kids who have never had a chance to play with snow, I was told by the Sanrio employee who invented this. For 4,800 yen, payable online or by bank transfer, the reliable blokes at the Sagawa Kyubin delivery service will deliver right to your door a frozen Kitty-chan snowman made of snow hand-packed in Hokkaido the very day before! Continue reading Mail Order “Snow Kitty” – Made of Real Snow!

J-WOTD: ヤメ検 (やめけん)

Kenjiやめけん (yameken)

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

The phrase “yameken” is an abbreviation of the words 検事 (kenji, member of the public prosecutor’s office (検察庁, kensatsucho)) and やめた (yameta, to quit). Quite literally it refers to someone who has quit their role as a public prosecutor. More specifically, it almost always refers to someone who has passed the bar exam after quiting and become a lawyer. I guess it is a little like an elite version of “datsusara” (脱サラ) except it is a lot less common.

The concept is novel as the majority of people who go to work for the kensatsucho are bound to silence and often work there until they retire. Continue reading J-WOTD: ヤメ検 (やめけん)