Japanese culture

    • January 20, 2022
    • September 28, 2022

    Zoom Fatigue: How to Get Away from Remote Work

    We come to need hotels for another reason The COVID destroyed the bright future of the Japanese tourism industry. The number of foreign tourists to Japan was increasing year by year and exceeded 30 million in 2018, when the nationwide hotel construction rush reached its peak. After the disaster, the rumor said many landlords went bankrupt by changing their apartments to accommodations for Airbnb. In addition to an awful lot of vacant hotel rooms, the COVID created a strange trend at the same time. Nowadays people come to stay at local hotels near their homes. One reason is, as you can imagine, the free-falling hotel charges due to the collapse of the supply-demand balance, but it’s not good enough to explain why local hotels. Guess another one. I think it’s remote work. We can’t get away from work Thanks to the COVID, even workaholic Japanese people managed to escape from […]

    • January 10, 2022
    • October 26, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: Sake (Rice Wine) and Wooden Furniture in Hokkaido

    Have you been to roadside stations in Japan? This is one of the basics to enjoy a road trip in Japan, especially in Hokkaido: Make the best use of roadside stations. This transport infrastructure was born in around 1990. It’s like rest areas on highways, providing a parking space, restroom, restaurant, and souvenir shop. Different from such highway rest areas, roadside stations are located along local roads. Currently, their number amounts to 1993 in all, and 129 of them are here in the biggest prefecture, Hokkaido. They are useful for a road trip and informative as a source point for each local culture. I always enjoy learning a lot about marketing. We can see the struggles of local municipalities in the operation of the roadside stations. The roadside stations are exhibition sites for locally-made products I think locally-made canned juice, bottled jam, and pouched curry are the top three products […]

    • December 17, 2021
    • October 13, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: How to Spend New Year’s Eve in Japan

    What we do for Christmas in Japan Almost all the cities are filled with Christmas decorations in this season, though the percentage of the Christian population is only 1% in Japan. As I wrote before, we are good at cream-skimming other cultures but may be wrong a little about Christmas. Guess what the Japanese Christmas specialty food. Surprisingly, it’s KFC! In fact, you can’t get it without a reservation in Christmas time in Japan. This is said to have started from a lie by a shop manager of KFC in 1970. He spread it around “Everyone eats fried chicken in Western countries in Christmas time!” He must have been a genius marketer, and KFC Holdings Japan, Ltd. owes a fortune to him. Year-end cleaning after Christmas You can see the distinctive feature of our cream-skimming skills right after Christmas day. All the decorations are quickly removed; people don’t even look […]

    • December 10, 2021
    • January 14, 2023

    Japan Travel in the Know: FRATELLO DI MIKUNI by the Best Chef in Japan

    A long ascetic practice is meaningless? Once, it was said that 11 years were required to become a full-fledged sushi chef. Young people had to bear up long working hours, which was taken for granted in the Japanese artisan industries. The pros and cons have been discussed for several years, and many people now come to think it’s just useless. People with advanced thinking claim that even high school kids can reach the level of a full-fledged sushi chef if they have good and fresh ingredients and a perfect recipe quantified in detail. As the metaphor of high school kids may be exaggerating, I think their claim would be logically correct. Kiyomi Mikuni, the best chef in Japan is a man of ascetic habits Kiyomi Mikuni is the most famous Japanese chef born in Hokkaido. He grew up in extreme poverty. Soon after graduating from junior high school, he started […]

    • November 4, 2021
    • November 25, 2022

    Japan Travel in the Know: How to Take a Hot Spring Bath (Onsen) in Japan

    How to spoil yourself in Japanese hot-spring inns (onsen ryokan) Which country do you think has the most hot springs in the world? You thought I would answer it was Japan? I’m sorry. It’s the US, and Japan comes second. In fact, there are so many hot springs in Yellowstone National Park (YNP) in the US. As I’ll describe later how lazily we stay in hot-spring inns, it’s true that hot springs spoil people. However, the problem of hot springs in YNP is they will literally spoil human bodies because most of them are strong acid. If it’s limited to hot springs we can enjoy without dying, Japan is No.1. Today, let me explain how to spoil yourself correctly in Japanese hot-spring inns for your future reference after the COVID restrictions are lifted. The first rule of Hot-spring club: Bathe three times at least Averagely, we bathe three times for […]

    • October 19, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Why People Sit on the Floor Not on a Chair?

    We may have overstayed on the floor It’s only 150 years since chairs were introduced in Japan, as I wrote before. When I was a kid, there was a sofa set in the living room. Most of my family members, however, often sat on the floor, leaning against the sofa. Funnily enough, my dogs slept on the sofa, instead. I’m sure it’s not a style particular only to my family. When hanging out at my friends’ houses, like playing video games together, I found they did it in the same manner. The lifestyle of living on the floor may be printed in the DNA of Japanese people. We can’t stay still even on the sofa Of course, I don’t think so. It’s not such a biological issue. Simply, the space of sofas is too small for us. We, at home on the floor, return to nature: lying face-up or -down, […]

    • October 12, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese History Guide: Why Firearms Spread Quickly in the Warring States Period

    Craftsmanship commonly seen in Japanese swords and rifles In 1543, Portuguese merchants introduced rifles to Japan. They expected firearms to be one of their hot exports to Japan in the future, but soon found their plan had failed. In Japan, there were many swordsmiths highly skilled in metal working. The swordsmiths in the area that Portuguese merchants visited mastered the production of rifles within only a year or so. Making matters worse for the merchants, the manufacturing techniques soon spread to swordsmiths in other areas across Japan. The quality of Japanese rifles was superior to that of European ones. Furthermore, the total number of rifles in Japan in around 1600 (the age of Japanese civil wars) was more than 60,000. It exceeded the total number of rifles in all the European countries at that time. Samurais may have used rifles more than you can imagine. We also mastered chair making, […]

    • September 28, 2021
    • September 30, 2022

    Something in Common in the Artisan Culture of Italy and Japan

    The general image of the Italian and Japanese people contrasts What would you do if the world ends tomorrow? An Italian would answer “I would spend the day with a lover.” A Japanese would say “I have to finish my work quickly.” This is a popular ethnic joke, and even most Japanese people would nod in agreement at the answers. As this joke well expresses, the general image of Italian people is easy-going; that of Japanese people is too serious. Their general images sharply contrast like this, but they have something in common, funnily enough. By the way, the general image of Made-in-Italy products is good in Japan, especially in food and fashion, for your information. Italian artisans are respected; Japanese ones not… Italy and Japan are countries of artisans (artigiani/artigiane in Italian). Italian artisans receive preferential treatment from the government, while Japanese government is driving artisans into extinction sadly, […]

    • June 14, 2021
    • October 25, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: Japanese Swordsmith and Furniture Craftspeople

    Something in common between Japanese knives and furniture Just before entering the furniture business, I worked in the fishery industry and often took overseas clients to the biggest fish market in Tokyo. It was now-closed Tsukiji market. They were wonderful days when I could have good sushi together with the clients at the company’s expense. Besides a sushi restaurant, there was one more place many of the clients were looking forward to visiting. It’s a Japanese knife shop. In the market, there were many knife shops packed with foreign tourists. When I took my clients to such shops, they innocently asked me to interpret their questions to the sales staff. To tell the truth, that always made me sweat with fear because the staff’s explanation didn’t make sense to me at first even in Japanese. Over time, I learned a lot about Japanese knife crafting, and now feel like it […]

    • June 1, 2021
    • October 14, 2022

    Japanese Culture and Traditions: We Still Use Ninjutsu, the Art of Ninja

    Languages create cultures I have a 12 year younger sister. When she was very small, I asked “What is your brother like?” She lisped “You like to eat tofu.” I know she was not wrong. Indeed, I like tofu even now, but her answer was far from what I expected at that time. Feeling disappointed, I thought by myself who I was, and realized it was very difficult to define myself. For the same reason, most people can’t see their own countries and cultures, but I think multi-lingual speakers are better at it. It’s because language creates culture, and vice versa. Today, let me share cultural differences and Japanese uniqueness found especially by a Japanese-English speaker. Uniqueness in hearing ability When I worked as a translator, onomatopée was always headache. Japanese language is said to have the largest number of onomatopée in the world. Making matters worse, there’s onomatopée to […]