Japanese culture

    • October 25, 2022
    • January 14, 2023

    Japan Travel in the Know: Hokkaido Is the Kingdom of Bread

    Many good bakeries in Hokkaido “How old are you?” “How old do I look?” Humans have made progress and finally landed on the Moon in 1969, but we continue to return a stupid question to a stupid question as above. When are we matured enough? Is this only in Japan? There are still more stupid questions very often exchanging between Japanese people including me like “Are you a cat person or a dog person?” “Which do you prefer for breakfast, bread or rice?” As some people may be surprised to hear the last question, Japan is not a rice country any more. Now, the annual purchase volume of bread and rice becomes roughly even. Especially among other prefectures, our hometown Hokkaido is famous for bread because here is the kingdom of the agricultural (wheat) and dairy (milk) industries in Japan. There are many well-known bakeries, and one of the major […]

    • October 18, 2022
    • January 27, 2023

    How to Deal with Methane Emissions from Cows in Dairy Farms in Hokkaido

    Japan Customs and Coast Guard are different and separate organizations, but they very often work together especially at a sea port. For that reason, when working as a Customs official, I sometimes went for a drink with Coast Guard officials. One day when we were at some Japanese-style bar and I ate mantis shrimps, one of them said to me with a grin “Be careful to check if there’s human hair in it. When finding a drowned body in the sea, we always see them swam the body.” After hearing that, I can’t eat mantis shrimps. What decides our likes and dislikes is genetic and environmental factors, and negative memories as above are one of the major environmental factors. I believe you, too, have had that kind of experience. We can see how unstable and sensitive our sense of likes and dislikes is. Sorry in advance if I make you […]

    • August 31, 2022
    • January 7, 2023

    Human Comedy in the White Stitches of Maison Margiela

    Our greedy appetite for attention Is it the same in your countries? Some people put stickers of the names of their favorite singers or bands on their cars. I didn’t mean to criticize at all, but that looks a little funny and reminds me of the time just before the entry of elementary school. It’s a big event for Japanese kids. Parents buy all kinds of stationary, and a lot of textbooks are provided by the government. At this point, kids receive a harsh welcome from a social system. They are required to put their name and class number to all of the items, even to each of pencils. For the same reason, clothing items and bags printed with brand names (in most cases, they’re founding designer names) look funny to me. If someone wears a T-shirt printed with “Issey Miyake” for example, I’ll want to say a joke to […]

    • August 24, 2022
    • January 29, 2023

    Japanese Anime x Japanese Traditional Crafts

    Japanese anime is not only for kids When first learning what the words “TGI Fridays” stand for, I was so glad to know many people even outside Japan have hard time surviving weekdays. At the same time, a question came up in my mind: Do they also feel depression on Sunday evening the same as me? I looked into it right away and found good English words to express the feeling: Sunday Scaries. For your information, the Sunday evening depression is expressed “Sazae-san Syndrome” in Japanese. Sazae-san is the longest-running animated TV series, broadcast every Sunday evening since 1969. From this fact, you can also see how common it is to watch animated TV shows in Japan, not only for kids but also for adults. Even adults can enjoy “Attack on Titan” Conforming to the recent trend, I rarely watch any TV shows, though a TV itself stands in the […]

    • August 17, 2022
    • October 25, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Japanese Fireworks Festival

    Japanese summer ends with fireworks festivals Fireworks festivals tell the end of summer in Japan. Of course, almost all of them had been canceled for these two years because of the COVID, but they are back this year! In my summer holidays, I went to the biggest one in Hokkaido, where more than 20000 fireworks are launched, and about 200000 people are gathered every year. In the festival, I clearly understood the limitations of online activities. There were many people dressed in a casual kimono, kids running and yelling with excitement (and some parents scolding their kids off), teenagers smiling at each other a little awkwardly (because they haven’t seen for a while due to the summer vacation), etc. This is the very Japanese summer scene that I’ve missed for long. A unique firework developed by the latest technology Speaking of the limitations of online activities, the sound wave of […]

    • June 7, 2022
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Flower Etiquette: How to Choose Flowers

    I rarely buy flowers. It’s only on Mother’s Day, though I forget even that sometimes. Probably that’s because I don’t really know what flowers I should buy. On Mother’s Day, it’s easy because flower shops offer a wide variety of Mother’s Day bouquet options. In addition, there’s a mental wall in us, I guess. In fact, I’ve never seen anyone who is waiting for his/her date with a flower bouquet, and so I believe it only happens in the movies. In other words, that may be because of Richard Gere in “Pretty Woman” or “Shall We Dance?” Flower gifting becomes a mission impossible for us ordinary people, based on my fully biased opinion.[...]

    • April 19, 2022
    • October 13, 2022

    Marketing Tips: Eco-Friendly Can Be the True Trend of the New Rich?

    The rich-poor gap is seen even in trash In 2019, a book became a big hit in Japan. The author is an unpopular comedian working as a trash collector on the side. He wrote it was easy to find out wealthy residential areas once he sees trash. He went on “Wealthy residential areas can be divided into three classes based on their trash.” Let’s say the three classes here: Silver, Gold, and Platinum. According to him, it’s not the contents of trash that make them greatly different from other areas. Of course, there’re some differences in trash contents, but what features the wealthy residential areas is the amount of trash. It is generally smaller. Furthermore, in case of the Platinum areas, it is much smaller even than that of the Gold and Silver areas. Rich people are humble, different from what we imagine It’s completely different from what we generally […]

    • April 1, 2022
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Company Entrance Ceremony by Japanese Companies

    Japanese-style job hunting: New graduates start all together All the schools start from April to next-year March in Japan. March is the season of graduation. As this may sound strange to people outside Japan, all the high school and university graduates join companies and start working in April, all at once. For one year before graduation, many companies throw recruiting sessions, and final-year university students spend most of their time in those sessions. I remember the days of my senior year. I didn’t see classmates much in the university campus. Even if I did, they just made me feel sad by their neat and tidy look for recruiting sessions. Anyway, job hunting and employment are huge for both new graduates and companies because the idea of lifetime employment remains strong in our minds. In April, almost all the companies hold their entrance ceremonies. Company entrance ceremonies are for awareness-raising I […]

    • March 17, 2022
    • September 24, 2022

    High-context Culture: Do You Know the Meaning of Silence in Japan?

    Arrival: Cognitive difference between humans and aliens Have you watched the Hollywood movie titled “Arrival” (2016)? Simply put, it’s a science fiction depicting the contact with aliens. I know it may sound same old, but it’s completely different. The movie depicts the close encounters from the view point of linguistics. What is most interesting to me is the design of the letters the aliens use. It is 3D! The scriptwriter must be a genius. I just imagine he would have set the story like this. The aliens live in a four-dimensional world (because they’re depicted to see time as reversible), and so, their letters are expressed in 3D. I’ve never even imagined to design letters in 3D, even a little. Can you believe it? The letters can be read from three directions! This was a fresh reminder of the fact that we can’t transcend our cognitive frames so easily. Gattaca: […]

    • March 8, 2022
    • October 12, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Not Crazy Rich! High Class in Japan

    First encounter with a high society in Japan A noble class still exists in Japan. I learned the surprising fact when I worked for the prefectural government in Nagoya (the fourth biggest city in Japan and TOYOTA’s home ground) about 20 years ago. The fact may be surprising only to me because I’m from Hokkaido. It is the area sometimes called the last frontier of Japan with a short history of only about 150 years. I had never seen such a class society until then. I think they’re different from just rich people. In my opinion, they are modest, exclusive (loyal to their own society), and mysterious. Mind you, I had and have nothing against them but just curiosity instead. Glimpse of a high society in Japan She was a university student at that time. I met her in an English conversation school I attended every weekend. It took long […]