All posts by Red

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

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 reported last week, Mobile Number Portability (MNP) is starting this week in Japan and promises to upset the comfortable duopoly of DoCoMo and Au. 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 MNP – Is Son-san the real “Yoso-Guy” at Softbank Mobile?

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 MNP – event or non-event?

Quick Japanese-English translations on Google

alc's online dictionryIf you’re like me, whenever you need a quick translation, you are probably a “regular” at the alc site. But what do you set as your home page if you are also a regular at both Google and Stippy? Now that there is a Google bar at the top of, part of that problem has been solved and sure, Stippy does include a link to alc on it’s links page, but it is far from the perfect solution. A little known function on Google might make your life a lot easier… Continue reading Quick Japanese-English translations on Google

At Last! Some Responsible Journalism from Japan… AERA on Livedoor…

Cover of Oct 2, 2006 edition of AeraEvery gaijin who was in Japan in 2005 remembers Takfumi Horie. Riding by the seat of his pants, his company, Livedoor, was the symbol of new Japan. Young people, breaking the rules, creating the rules and doing things that they truly believed would better Japan. Unfortunately, when Horie made a hostile take-over attempt for NBS in the first half of 2005 he made an enemy of those who had been his biggest supporter – the media. It’s no secret that Japan’s “old” media companies pay their employees the highest average salaries in the country and so its no surprise that Horie didn’t win any fans talking about “cutting the fat” at NBS and Fuji. Continue reading At Last! Some Responsible Journalism from Japan… AERA on Livedoor…


たもと (tamoto)

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

As I was getting my daily dose today of Horie’s trial today on the livedoor higaisha nikki, I came accross the word tamoto. While it literally refers to the sleve of a kimono, it is generally combined with the verb 分かつ (wakatsu) and used to mean “to part ways”.

Example: 宮内被告は…堀江被告と袂(たもと)を分かつ決心をした状況を詳細に語った。 “Miyauchi explained to the court in detail the situation that lead him to choose to part ways with Horie.”

Continue reading J-WOTD: 袂

Computer on Wheels?

Lexus LS460I‘m not much of an auto guy, but I’m a real sucker for gadgets and the new Lexus has me excited. Toyota released their latest Lexus in Japan at the start of this week and it is amazingly different from any car that has come before. Japanese autos are becoming more and more high-tech and closer and closer to being a computer on wheels. The flagship vehicle for the new Lexus is the LS460. This car is said to have over 7 million lines of code programmed inside (and that is not including the car-navi software!) That is about as much as you’d find inside an aeroplane and controls everything from breaking and steering to temperature and “inflight” comfort. To put that into context, the average Toyota car has about 4 million lines of code. Continue reading Computer on Wheels?

Book Review: “Barbarians at the Gate”

Barbarians at the gate

“Barbarians at the Gate” (Click to view the book on

* Advice for a busy gaijin: If you are in a rush start reading from chapter seven.

When the Portuguese first approached Japan by sea in 1542, they were not at all welcome. As far as the Japanese were concerned, they were happy in their quiet world and called these unrefined intruders “nanbanjin” or “Southern Barbarians” because the ships came from the South. This book has nothing to do with our Portuguese friends, it is about the hostile takeover over RJR Nabisco in the late 1980s. The scene isn’t Japan, but I’m sure the people in the quiet town of Winston-Salem might have found solace in Japanese history as they combated the Northern barbarians who robbed them of their local icon. (I’ll let the reader decide who the real barbarians were.)

There are only a few finance books about the greed of the 80s which have stood the test of time. Stick with Liar’s Poker by Michael Lewis if you are interested in a quick and entertaining read about the eccentricities of traders and the other famous players of the day. If, on the other hand, you are looking for a slightly more detail oriented story explaining what happened behind the scenes in the less well understood world of leveraged buyouts, then this is the book for you. Continue reading Book Review: “Barbarians at the Gate”