Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Four Seasons Theater Company

Friday, June 8th, 2012

This entry is inspired by my recent opportunity to practically partake in, rather than merely experience, the Japanese production of Andrew Lloyd Weber’s CATS. It was their 8,193rd performance in Japan, and was the latest installment of a streak that started in 1983. They have long surpassed the Broadway CATS production’s record and are still going strong. At the end of the year, they’ll be packing up their set in Yokohama and making way for the next run in Hiroshima, where they are expected to maintain their popularity and current rate of audience satisfaction.

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Onsen, Anyone?

Thursday, June 7th, 2012

Relaxing in an overheated environment is a pastime that has been enjoyed by many cultures throughout the ages. Some rely on some form of water vapor and some just prefer to leave it as a liquid and submerse themselves in a flowing or still pool of heat. As technology has developed over the years, people also like to throw in some jet action to give their tense muscles some much needed attention. As you are probably aware, the Japanese have a very old culture of enjoying naturally or artificially heated water, and customs will change from place to place, but there are some basic commonalities that you should know, which will have you sufficiently prepared to successfully give the Japanese onsen experience a try.

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The Japanese “May Disease”

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

For most students, and anyone else that maintains a steady Monday through Friday schedule, Monday tends to suck more often than not. Should you disagree, then feel free to correct me on Monday morning before you head out the door to your weekly grind. Anyway, the Japanese average school and business schedule also maintains the Monday through Friday trend; with its own little variations here and there of course. Though I have been here for just about three years, I have yet to hear of some phrase to describe the weekly dread of facing the beginning of the business week. Fortunately, a student of mine made me aware of a similar gem just a few days ago. It is called 五月病 (ごがつびゅう / go-gatsu-byou), which basically means “May disease” or “May sickness.” The reason that this has anything to do with “the Mondays” is that the phrase reflects the dread of getting back to work after an extended period of time off.

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Asian Pacific American Heritage Month: Week 1

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

Happy May, y’all! May is my favorite month for reasons aside from it being my birth month, and one of those reasons is celebrating my Asian-American heritage. Let’s appreciate some of the awesome Japanese-Americans that have graced the world with their talent and wisdom!

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パチンコ – Gambling in Japan

Thursday, May 3rd, 2012

Gambling is a world-wide phenomena, there’s no doubt about that. It’s existed for centuries, where modern games such as roulette evolved from a game played in old Europe. Even to this day, where you can gamble online, people still find themselves attracted to physical gambling machines. Particularly in Japan, everybody’s crazy for Pachinko (パチンコ).

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合コン – Dating in Japan

Tuesday, May 1st, 2012

A significant majority of people would agree with the sentiment that, at least every once in a while, they feel like they would like to have that special person in their life. We all go about finding that person in our own, yet familiar way to others. Some methods like the date at a restaurant or café are more commonplace while others like to try comparatively unconventional methods such as Internet or speed dating. The Japanese also have their own particular methods of finding the right catch. A lot of them resemble our own, but one of their more commonplace methods may not be so commonplace to you. This method is referred to as the Goukon (合コン, ごうこん).

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Robbin’s 留学の思い出: Shopping

Wednesday, April 25th, 2012

The awesome sweater I picked up for cheap during lunch hour at my university.

I suddenly realized this morning that this time a couple of years ago, I was studying at 京都精華大学 (Kyoto Seika University). I’m in the midst of reading more books for review, so I thought I would take a pleasant stroll down memory lane. When I talk about shopping, I don’t mean shopping in a mall or an arcade (though I assure you, I did plenty of that) — I’m talking about having my lunch at the college cafeteria and then rushing out to the quad. On sunny days, many students will tote about a plastic picnic blanket and spread their very gently used clothes, CDs, and other fun things. And so my friends and I would rejoice more than usual when the sun was shining. We’d stuff curry and karaage and udon in our faces quickly, and then march outside before the other students could look at the items.

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邪魔だけど!

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Not until arriving in Japan did I ever consciously acknowledge the existence of a concept concerning proper escalator etiquette. Besides not raising one’s feet before the teeth of the platform, riding it via the synchronous handrail on the side, or being that goon who tries to run in the opposite direction of the automated motion, I thought anything was more or less fair game. Should someone be in another’s person’s way, a mere cordial interaction politely indicating that someone needs to step aside is all that’s needed to maintain peace in the restless black-stepped valley between floors. Well homie, the rest of the world doesn’t play that way. Especially good ol’ 日本

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Taxes! Repaying Virtue! Sontoku!

Tuesday, April 17th, 2012

Odawara Castle and Ninomiya Shrine

Taxes! Repaying Virtues! Sontoku!

In spirit of Tax Day here in America, let’s learn about houtoku, or repaying virtues, from our good friend Ninomiya Sontoku (二宮 尊徳, 1787-1856). Chances are, you haven’t heard about this fascinating fellow. First and foremost, don’t associate him right away with taxes! He’s not a bad guy! In fact, he’s so amazing that he’s one of the few people who have a Shinto shrine named for them (rather than a mythical deity). Ninomiya Jinja, founded during the Meiji period in 1894, is located very close to Odawara Castle in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture.

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Fantastic Four? You mean 四季?

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

This week in Tokyo and the surrounding areas, the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and the warm weather has managed to stand its ground against the weakening cold. It reminds me of something one ought to know about Japanese culture, that provides a little better understanding of why people here think about the natural world in the way they do. From top to bottom, Japan boasts rather steady weather cycles. The north is a bit on the cooler side, while the south stays a bit warmer with other variations here and there, but overall, the nation enjoys four distinct weather seasons that last for significant lengths. This consistent change of the weather according to the Earth’s tilt can be argued as a cornerstone of Japanese culture. So much so that many here project a level of appreciation that borders on outright pride. After being here for a full year or few, one will realize why so many people are head over heals about the luxury of enjoying four seasons.

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