- We try out the delicious, fluffy milk bread featured in the Japanese anime movie Your Name
- Breathtaking photos of one of Japan’s most beautiful hot springs have us ready to brave the snow
- Thai lip balm commercial has a surprise ending that boys’ love fans will really enjoy
- Japanese Twitter artist draws manga of “Aspe-chan” to show what it’s like living with Asperger’s
- “The one and only way to make people in Japan take more vacation time”
- Japanese politicians want to stop export of anime art materials by creating national media center
- New Hayao Miyazaki anime for Tokyo’s Ghibli Museum has spring debut date announced
- Japanese YouTuber joins calls to delete Logan Paul’s YouTube account 【Video】
- Japanese girl astounds onlookers with unusual kimono obi sash
- Roughly one in eight of Tokyo’s new adults is foreign-born, study shows
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:00 PM PST
Even though it didn't cause us to swap bodies, it was every bit as creamy and tasty as we imagined it to be.
Director Makoto Shinkai spared no effort in making the fictional rural town of Itomori in anime Your Name as realistic as possible. Several landmarks were inspired by real-life locations, and even the food accurately reflected, well, actual food.
Given that Itomori's lake was based on Nagano Prefecture's Lake Suwa, it made sense to incorporate food from that region into the movie. One such food item was the milk bread featured in the scene where female protagonist Mitsuha had a quick lunch with close friend Teshigawara.
▼ See that bread held in Tehigawara's left hand?
Mariko, one of our Japanese-language reporters, went out of her way to buy a loaf recently, so she could experience what Teshigawara must have felt that day.
▼ While it looked quite different from the one in the anime, it's real milk bread nonetheless!
A bread's personality is far more important than its appearance, and Mariko just might be the perfect candidate to confirm that theory. After all, she and Makoto Shinkai were both born in Nagano Prefecture.
▼ And it cost just 150 yen (US$1.33) for a thing this huge.
Unwrapping the fluffy loaf before plopping it down in a presentable manner, Mariko couldn’t believe something that substantial could cost only 150 yen. She took a tentative bite, and was surprised that its smooth butter notes combined perfectly with the mellow sweetness of the bread and white cream. Absolutely delicious!
▼ Mariko found much delight in crunching the granules of sugar buried in the cream, and there was so much yummy bread that she could only finish half of it.
▼ Plot twist: Mariko had never tasted milk bread in her life until now. Looks like she regretted not trying it out during her younger years.
For something so delicious yet affordable, we can now understand why milk bread's the favorite snack in Your Name. Seeing how Makoto Shinkai cleverly hid the identity of Miki Okudera's husband with obscure clues, munching on milk bread could very well be one of the director’s cherished childhood memories.
Photos © SoraNews24
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 PM PST
Ethereally romantic images remind us why a wintertime visit to a snow-covered onsen resort is extra special.
Many onsen aficionados will tell you that midwinter is the best time to visit one of Japan's hot springs. Not only is a good long soak a great way to take the icy chill out of your bones, the streets of many hot spring towns are lined with traditional architecture, with storefronts and inn facades often sticking as close as possible to centuries-old aesthetics.
When night and snow fall at the same time, it sometimes cuts off the remaining reminders in the surrounding scenery that it’s the 21st century, and for a moment, you can feel like you've stepped into a bygone era of Japan's past, which is definitely the effect of these photos from Japanese photographer and Twitter user @naagaoshi.
Yes, the gas lamp-style streetlights mean these images couldn't have come to us from ancient Japan, but they certainly look a few generations older than their real age of only a few weeks. They almost don't look like they're from our world at all, seeming like they could have just as easily sprung out of a picture book, but they were indeed taken at a real-world location, as @naagaoshi traveled to Ginzan Onsen, a hot spring resort in the northeastern Tohoku region's Yamagata Prefecture, earlier this month.
There's already an undeniably romantic atmosphere to the snowy scenery bathed in soft light, but the above shot, which the kimono-clad young woman agreed to let @naagaoshi take, is many commenters’ favorite, with her turned back lending an aura of quiet mystery.
▼ Elsewhere, an amorous couple strolls through the snow.
If these beautifully icy photos have given you a burning desire to visit Ginzan Onsen when it looks like this, you'll be happy to know that winters are long in Yamagata, and as of this writing, the seven-day forecast for the town lists snow on no fewer than four days, plus daytime high temperatures rarely reaching zero degrees Celsius, to make those warm baths feel all the more heavenly.
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:00 PM PST
“Don’t forget to use it often…so you’ll know how my lips feel.”
Thai commercials have really been making waves on social media these days with their surprisingly quality stories and poignant life lessons, which make us feel all the feels. They’re also impressive because they don’t just loudly describe the benefits of a product or service, but rather they tie it in to a deeper and more meaningful purpose, making you feel that maybe you really should buy it, so you, too, can learn to never judge a book by its cover, or can come to appreciate your parents more.
Now there’s a commercial promoting a Thai brand of lip balm that has us feeling very different feels, though. We don’t want to give it away too quickly, but fans of yaoi and boys’ love will really enjoy how the story unfolds.
The video starts out innocently enough: a high school boy confronts a schoolmate about toying with his sister’s feelings. “Did you make my sister cry?” he shouts, slamming open the classroom door. Furious, he takes a fistful of his school-mate’s shirt and pulls him up out of his seat.
But the tables turn as the schoolmate, ever-cool, begins to push the boy in the blazer back, until finally he gets his accuser against the locker with the kabe-don of fangirls’ (and fanboys’) dreams. “Do you want to know what I told your sister?” he asks coolly.
Clearly a little taken aback, but not terribly uncomfortable, the accuser listens to what his schoolmate tells him. “I told her to forget about me. I don’t think of you like that.” And then he leans in real close and says:
“I prefer your elder brother.”
And all the fangirls are clutching their doki-doki hearts!
He then proceeds to put lip balm on his thunderstruck schoolmate, after a cluck of disapproval about how he should take better care of himself:
After which he tucks the lip balm into the other boy’s pocket and strides out of the room, bag over one shoulder, with a grin. “Don’t forget to use it often…so you know how my lips feel.”
This leaves us all feeling like this group of girls who happened to be unsuspecting witnesses to this scene, which could be straight out of any of the 30-plus genres of boys’ love manga:
Swoon! Who wants to go to the Boys’ Love Cafe now?
Fangirling aside, besides the obvious humor, the commercial’s appeal also lies in a very clever play on words. We’re no expert in Thai, but Lazy Subber, who subtitled and uploaded the video, notes that the word for “arrogant people”, “phak dee”, also means “good mouth,” if taken literally, which the commercial uses to describe the arrogant but also soft-lipped student who caught his classmate so unawares.
Still, it’s hard to forget the near-kiss that’s now lingering in our minds. If you need some time to cool off, like we do, take a cold shower and then watch the collection of 2017’s best Japanese commercials. Strange transforming yakisoba men and people in demon suits singing about toilets should really do the trick.
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 09:30 AM PST
Based on her real-life childhood experiences.
Asperger’s syndrome can make daily life difficult no matter what country you live in, but it’s especially hard in Japan where the pressure toward uniformity is higher than many other places.
In an effort to try and spread awareness of exactly what Asperger’s syndrome is, Japanese cosplayer and artist @akagikuro recently posted a manga featuring the cute original character “Aspe-chan” (of course, short for “Asperger’s”). Here’s her tweet:
▼ “I drew an original manga. It’s stories from my childhood.”
▼ Manga #1: First Off
▼ Manga #2. Not understanding detailed nuances
▼ Manga #3: Taking things literally
▼ Manga #4: What is “Normal?”
We couldn’t agree more! Even though it may be difficult, it’s far better to embrace what makes you amazing, rather than trying to force yourself to be someone you’re not.
The artist @akagikuro seems to have taken her own advice to heart as well. With over 58,000 followers on Twitter and some amazing cosplays, she’s definitely using her advantages to create some amazing things.
▼ Here she is as Lilith from the Darkstalkers fighting game
▼ Hamakaze from KanColle.
▼ And wishing her fans a happy new
If you’d like to see more of her work, then be sure to give her a follow on Twitter.
For those who have been inspired by her comic, now’s the perfect time to start developing whatever it is that makes you “amazing.” And what better way to start off than by creating a “saved memories jar” to open at the end of the year, to remind yourself how amazing you really are.
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 08:00 AM PST
Our veteran salaryman-turned-reporter gives his idea for the one thing that has to change before Japan will stop working itself to death.
Japan is an incredibly hard-working society, so it might surprise people to know that the country is actually allotted a pretty decent amount of vacation days. In an annual study by online travel provider Expedia, the results showed that Japanese workers were given 20 vacation days a year, more than the average for the U.S., Hong Kong, Korea, and Singapore, and as many as India.
But the more important statistic is how many of those vacation days people actually use. Not only was Japan last in the 12-country survey in terms of how many days it took off, Japan had the lowest vacation-usage rate, with workers using only 50 percent of their allowed time off. Since 2009, Japan has ranked last in vacation-usage rate every year except 2014 and 2015, when it was still a dismal second to last.
Even though Japan sees industriousness and mental endurance as extremely laudable virtues, there's a quietly growing sentiment in Japanese society that overwork is reaching dangerous levels. Government organizations and private enterprises have been trying all sorts of strategies (some stranger than others) to encourage people to take their rightful time off, but often the results are middling or worse.
So what should they be doing instead? Our Japanese-language columnist P.K. Sanjun has an idea, so let's turn it over to him.
Looking back on my 15 years as a working adult, before landing at SoraNews24 I worked in business consulting, web design, and real estate. Until my current job, I was always what you'd call a salaryman, and I think I've figured out why it's so hard for people to take vacation time in Japan.
Essentially, the thing that made taking time off was always the same, no matter which company. When asking for time off, the workers always had a feeling of vaguely defined guilt.
"Everyone else is going to be working hard that day, so is it OK for just me to take time off?"
"It's not like I'm feeling sick or anything, so if I take time off, will everyone think I'm lazy?"
Just when I was going to ask for a day off, those kinds of thoughts would run through my mind, and I couldn't bring myself to fill out the vacation request paperwork. So I wouldn't take time off, the vacation days I'd accumulated would expire, and the cycle would start all over again.
So what has to happen before employees in Japan will start taking their days off? My proposal is simple.
The boss has to take a lot of time off.
This is the only way things will change. Starting with the company president, then the vice president, then senior managers, then middle managers…all of the higher-ups have to take the initiative and use their vacation time. I wish company presidents would get the ball rolling by taking a day off in January, to set the tone for the rest of the year.
No matter how much the boss may say "Feel free to take time off," if he doesn't take time off himself, his employees aren't going to either. For so many Japanese people, they'll only be able to think "Oh…then I guess I can take a day off too" if they see their boss taking time off first.
It doesn't matter what sort of legal regulations they put in place. The only way Japan's vacation-use rate is going to budge is if bosses take time off. So if you're a manager in Japan, start taking that vacation time. Do not leave any of our allotted days unused. Either rest hard or play hard, then work hard! That sort of boss is exactly who workers in Japan are waiting for.
Reference: Expedia Japan
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 07:00 AM PST
Looking to add to your anime cel collection? You might want to act fast.
Japan routinely takes a few days off to celebrate New Year's, and this past Monday was a national holiday, Coming of Age Day. But after plenty of rest, it's now time for people across the country to get back into the swing of things at work, which for a group of politicians means putting the finishing touches on their proposal for a federally funded facility to preserve anime/manga materials and keep them from being purchased by foreign collectors and leaving the country.
The Japanese Diet's multi-party Manga, Anime, and Game Caucus plans to present a bill seeking funds and authorization to establish a facility to be called the Media Arts National Center, which will store and catalog anime and manga genga, a term that literally translates as "original pictures" and which generally refers to animation cels and original manga artwork. "It is necessary that we preserve [anime and manga materials] as treasures of Japan," declared caucus head Keiji Furuya, and the plan's initiators have specified that stopping the flow of such materials to overseas owners is a desired outcome.
The Media Arts National Center is a successor to a similar plan to create a National Comprehensive Media Arts Center, for which some 11.7 billion yen (US$104.5 million) was pledged before the project was scrapped in 2009 following Democratic Party of Japan politician Yukio Hatoyama's replacement of Liberal Democratic Party member Taro Aso as prime minister. Current prime minister Shinzo Abe is the first LDP member to hold the office since Aso. Opponents of the 2009 plan dismissed it as an attempt to make "a federally funded manga cafe," and pointed to pre-existing institutions, such as the Kyoto International Manga Museum, which are already involved in the preservation of anime and manga materials.
However, the caucus pushing for the establishment of a Media Arts National Center says that by association with the federal government, the newly proposed facility would be considered an offshoot of the National Diet Library, Japan's counterpart to the U.S. Library of Congress. This would allow the Media Arts National Center to sidestep legal restrictions on the digital recording and storage of copyrighted anime and manga materials, which the caucus cites as hindrances to their proper preservation by currently existing organizations.
In addition to storage and preservation, the caucus says that the Media Arts National Center would allow visitors to peruse its collection free of charge and hold exhibitions of significant pieces. The center would also supply visitors with information on new anime and manga franchises, as well as details about upcoming domestic anime and manga-related events.
Proponents also say that the Media Arts National Center would serve as a mecca for overseas tourists with an interest in anime and manga, serving as a must-see on their Japanese travel itineraries. That, however, alludes to a potential point of controversy. Anime and manga are not just art, but a form of consumer art. At their most fundamental level, they exist because someone is willing to pay money for them, and with overseas sales becoming an increasingly significant revenue stream for the industry, it seems somewhat heavy-handed for the government to be mulling a plan that aims to address foreign purchases of materials, while remaining mum on the subject of domestic buyers, who are just as capable of hoarding private collections as their overseas equivalents.
The Media Arts National Center bill is expected to be introduced in the ordinary session of the Diet scheduled for January 22, and should the plan win ultimate approval, speculation is that the facility would be located in or near the Akihabara neighborhood, Tokyo's otaku mecca.
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 06:00 AM PST
Here's the exact day you'll be able to reserve tickets that will let you see Miyazaki's Boro the Caterpillar.
There's never really a bad time to visit Tokyo's Ghibli Museum. The shrine to the anime of the Hayao Miyazaki-founded animation studio features beautiful architecture, fascinating art displays, and even tasty refreshments year-round, and its policy of capping admission by time block means that you don't have to worry about avoiding crowded dates.
However, there are still some times that are better than others, because the museum has a theater which plays Ghibli short anime which can't be seen anywhere else, with the specific title rotating more or less monthly. Usually, I'd recommend timing your visit to coincide with a screening of Mei and the Kittenbus, the follow-up to Miyazaki's beloved classic My Neighbor Totoro. But as enjoyable as the Totoro sequel is, there's now an even better option: the brand-new Miyazaki-directed Boro the Caterpillar, which will premiere at the museum this March.
Talk of Boro first surfaced in 2016, three years after Miyazaki announced his retirement from feature-length filmmaking following the release of The Wind Rises. Since Miyazaki is now famous and influential enough to take as much time on a project as he wants, there was much speculation over when Boro would be ready for audiences, and the Ghibli Museum has quietly released a statement on its website that the first screening of the 14-minute anime, for which Miyazaki also wrote the script, will take place on March 21.
The website describes the anime with:
Admission to the Ghibli Museum is available only by pre-purchased ticket, and March tickets will go on sale February 10. Demand is likely to be incredibly high, seeing as how Boro is likely to be the last animated Miyazaki work until his feature-length How Will You Live? debuts in 2020 (at the earliest). Luckily, instead of the standard one-month run for anime shorts at the museum, Boro the Caterpillar will be showing until August 31.
Posted: 09 Jan 2018 05:00 AM PST
That Japanese Man Yuta explains why YouTube needs to take a stand against Paul’s disrespectful Japan videos.
American vlogger Logan Paul recently drew criticism from people around the world after he and his crew filmed the hanging body of a man who had apparently committed suicide in Japan’s Aokigahara Forest. In the video, which he uploaded to his YouTube channel, Paul and his crew could be seen laughing and smiling after making the discovery, which angered viewers to such an extent that the video was taken down on January 1 and two apologies were issued the next day.
Despite his apologies, which many deemed to be insincere, the damage had already been done, with the backlash from his actions growing day by day. Still, people argued whether or not he should be forgiven for what he did, while some called for YouTube to take action and terminate his account.
Largely missing from the worldwide conversation about the incident were voices from the people of Japan, where Aokigahara is trying to re-establish itself as a sightseeing destination for nature lovers, rather than one of the most common spots for suicide in Japan.
After Paul uploaded several other videos from his Japan trip to his YouTube channel, a number of people in Japan have now decided to speak out, expressing their anger after finding out that his video from the Aokigahara forest was not the only disrespectful one to be recorded during his stay.
One of the country’s most well-known English-speaking Japanese vloggers, That Japanese Man Yuta, recently released a video giving us his perspective on Paul’s videos of Japan. His calm and eloquent account makes a number of very interesting points, giving us an insight into why Paul’s acts are deplorable not only in any country, but particularly in Japan.
Take a look at the video, titled “Logan Paul (Don’t be That Guy in Japan… or Anywhere Else)“, below:
In the clip, Yuta takes issue with the way Paul shows no respect during a scene filmed at Asakusa’s sacred Senso-ji temple, where he talks loudly, acts obnoxiously and rudely hurls coins into the offering box in front of praying visitors. To make matters worse, after getting kicked out of the temple by security, the Japanese guide accompanying Paul can be seen apologising profusely on Paul’s behalf, while Paul shows no sense of remorse or care for the guide or anyone around him.
Then, at Tsukiji Market, Paul and his friends can be seen jumping onto moving vehicles and provoking drivers, prompting Yuta to ask “What’s wrong with those people, really?” Here Yuta makes an important point, reminding everyone that the fish market is a place of business, and while visitors used to be able to walk around the market quite freely, they’ve recently had to make restrictions due to “the bad manners of tourists”.
▼ As Yuta says, “Think about what kind of things Logan contributes to the problem.”
Paul can then be seen saying how “Japanese people are so nice” and that they laugh along with him, and at him. This prompts Yuta to make one of the most frank and insightful statements in his entire video:
This non-confrontational nature of Japanese people is clearly evident in the next clip that Yuta talks about, where Paul and his friends throw a Poké Ball plush toy at a moving vehicle and then block a cyclist to throw the toy into the rider’s bicycle basket. Then, Paul even throws the soft toy at a policeman who can be seen questioning their Japanese guide, who is no doubt trying to apologise for Paul’s actions and stop him from getting arrested.
Despite his disgust at Paul’s actions, Yuta says that if Paul’s suicide forest video was an isolated incident he might be able to give him the benefit of the doubt, but the whole premise of his channel is about being obnoxious and provoking people in public, so Paul’s apologies mean nothing to him.
Showing his sincere feelings about Paul’s videos, Yuta makes some stern statements towards the end of the video, saying “YouTube is complicit…it’s like they’re sending a message saying you can be as anti-social as you want, as long as you don’t talk about politically sensitive topics.”
He then ends the clip by saying, “His behaviour is completely unacceptable in Japan and probably other countries. So it doesn’t matter if you are from Japan or somewhere else. Do not follow his example and do not support him.”
Source, images: YouTube/That Japanese Man Yuta
Posted: 08 Jan 2018 09:00 PM PST
Even the girl’s own father couldn’t believe what he was seeing.
In Japan, the second Monday of January is set aside as a national public holiday called “Sejin no Hi“, or “Coming of Age Day“. On this special occasion, people who will be turning 20 during the year (the age of adulthood by Japanese law) celebrate by wearing glamorous kimonos and attending Coming of Age ceremonies at local and prefectural offices, before going off to parties with family and friends.
It’s a particularly momentous day for parents, who have to come to terms with the fact that their little ones have now officially entered adulthood, but for one Japanese father the day came with a humorous twist, after his daughter turned around and showed him the pattern on the glamorous obi sash wrapped around her beautiful kimono.
At first glance, the patterns on the sash appear to show the different phases of the moon in three perpendicular columns. There’s even a rabbit on some of the circular images, which is another nod to the moon, as people in Japan believe the pattern on the lunar surface represents a rabbit pounding rice.
However, this girl’s father saw something very different when he looked at the obi, leaving this comment alongside the image:
In Japan, Landolt rings (originally developed by the Swiss-born ophthalmologist Edmund Landolt) are a series of broken rings commonly used to test a person’s eyesight.
▼ A Japanese Vision Test Chart can be seen on the right of the image below.
As most people undergo yearly health checks in Japan, these Landolt rings are immediately recognisable, even when they’re disguised as cute phases of the moon on the back of an elegant obi sash. So as soon as this photo appeared online, people across the country began sharing the image, with many wondering where they could get their hands on such a unique piece of material.
While some kimono store employees left comments saying they had never seen an obi like this before, one user noticed the small rabbit logo on the obi belonged to the Kyoto-based Omoiya kimono store. The father confirmed this was the store where his wife and daughter had purchased their ceremonial garments from, with a lot of thought and care put into creating the perfect outfit for their daughter’s special day.
It’s not unusual for some families to spend thousands of dollars on Coming-of-Age ceremonies so it’s highly likely that an obi as unique as this would have set them back a fair bit. To see more extravagant costumes from the day, take a look at this crazy photo collection from the young people at Kitakyushu. Money is no object when it comes to looking good on your Coming of Age Day!
Posted: 08 Jan 2018 08:00 PM PST
"The truth is that without foreigners, Japanese society cannot function," says researcher.
In Japan, legal adulthood begins at 20, when a person is officially considered to be a seijin (literally "complete person"). Even though most modern Japanese youths are still in college or technical schools when they hit the big 2-0, it's still a culturally significant milestone, and every community even holds a coming of age ceremony, called a seijinshiki, on the first Monday after New Year's Day.
Coinciding with this year's event, the results of a statistical survey were released showing that roughly 83,400 residents of Tokyo's 23 central wards will be turning 20 in 2018. Of them, roughly one in eight is foreign-born. Researchers credit this to a rapid increase in the number of foreigners attending college and language schools in Tokyo, as well as those participating in technical internships and training programs.
Foreigners make up more than 20 percent of the new adults in six of Tokyo's 23 wards. Shinjuku Ward has the largest concentration of newly adult foreigners, where roughly 1,700 such individuals compose 45.7 percent of the ward's new seijin. This is likely a function of the numerous internationally minded educational institutions and companies located in the district (which, incidentally, is also where you'll find SoraNews24 headquarters). Toshima Ward has the second highest density with 38.3 percent of its new seijin being foreigners, many of whom hail from Chinese-speaking territories and find housing or work on the east side of the Ikebukuro neighborhood. Third on the list is Nakano Ward, at 27 percent, which boasts easy access to the opportunities of downtown Tokyo via the Chuo rail line while offering more affordable housing than more central wards.
The data also showed that Tokyo's 104,800 foreign students are 1.7 times the figure from five years ago, while its 6,600 technical interns represent a growth of 3.4 times for the same period. In response to the growing number of foreign residents turning 20 in Japan, some Tokyo communities have begun distributing coming of age ceremony pamphlets printed in foreign languages, or providing pronunciation guides for the Japanese-language flyers' kanji characters, to promote greater inclusivity at the cultural event. At last Monday's festivities, Bunkyo Ward counted 300 foreign seijin among the participants, double the amount from five years ago.
In commenting on the increasing proportion of foreign-born new seijin, Toshihiro Menju, a spokesperson for the Japan Center for International Exchange, said that their importance to Japanese society will continue to grow as the country's declining birthrate produces fewer and fewer young people of Japanese ancestry. "The truth is that without foreigners, Japanese society cannot function, and we must work towards creating institutions so that Japanese natives and foreign-born residents can support that society hand-in-hand."
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