Turning the tables on the ore ore scam in Nagoya can leave you richer than you were before the attempted fraud.

The “ore ore scam” is one of the oldest cons in Japan, and it starts when a crook calls a senior citizen on the phone and says “Ore da,” or “It’s me.” The plan is that the target will mistake the scammer for a son or grandson, and should they ask “Who is this?”, the scammer will employ guilt tactics, saying, “What? It’s me! You recognize my voice, don’t you?”

The next step is for the scammer to tell the target that he needs money, and fast, usually to help smooth over some mistake at work. “I lost a briefcase with company money in it, and if I don’t pay it back right away, they’re going to fire me,” is a common story, for example. Invariably, though, the son/grandson isn’t able to pick the money up in person, and says either that a coworker (actually a criminal accomplice) will meet the target somewhere to pick up the money, or tell the target a bank account number to transfer the money into.

It’s a despicable deception that preys on Japanese societal values of familial and professional responsibility, and every year Japanese seniors are defrauded out of millions and millions of yen by it. But as of this month, there’s now a way for law-abiding Japanese people to actually make money from ore ore scams instead.

▼ And no, they don’t have to mug the pick-up guy.

On May 1, the Minami Precinct of the Aichi Prefectural Police, which serves and protects the city of Nagoya’s Minami Ward, launched a new aspect of Operation Pretend to Be Fooled. This new crime-fighting program asks …continue reading


Sure, there are onions in there, but this curry rice brings a tear to the eye for a different reason.

Japan has always been a country where culinary presentation matters. In Japan, the concept that the first taste is with the eyes is widely accepted, and that taste will also linger the longest since a photo will preserve the presentation long after the flavor fades from your taste buds.

So in a country of unabashed foodies and enthusiastic social media users, it might seem strange that Japanese mother and Twitter user @surigoma2012 recently shared a photo of a bowl of home-made curry rice she’d just whipped up, despite the fact that it looks, well, frankly pretty ugly.

I mean, sure, looking at curry rice will pretty much always get your mouth watering, but those random, irregularly shaped cheese scraps are about the least artful arrangement ever.

However, if you’re thinking this is proof that @surigoma2012 has no interest in aesthetics, you couldn’t be farther from the truth. She cares deeply about how the food she makes cooks. It’s just that instead of focusing on how her own portion, she makes her kids’ plates the priority, and the curry rice she made for her five-year-old daughter and two-year-old son looks like this:

▼ “← Kids’ curry → Mom’s curry”

←子のカレー  母のカレー→

— すりごま🐾 (@surigoma2012) April 17, 2021

To give her kids both a hot meal and big smile, @surigoma2012 cut shapes from slices of cheese and lovingly spread them across their plates, turning the sea of roux …continue reading



XY: In the textbook, I identified three major problematic points in total: 1st, gross gaijinization of a birthright Japanese just because of having a foreign father instead of doing the morally correct thing and teach that the so-called “hāfu” are as Japanese as any “pure” Japanese; 2nd, the claim that Emma is bad at Japanese because of her “foreignness”, which can easily proliferate the stereotype that “foreigners” can’t speak Japanese (properly), even if they have a Japanese parent (and therefore aren’t gaikokujin (or gaikoku no hito, wording that is more about origin than legal status) in the first place); and 3rd, a strong focus on differences rather than similarities as human beings no matter what race someone belongs to. Overall an extraordinarily poor example of a grade-school textbook, sidelining mixed-race Japanese to gaikokujin status and planting this legally false and socially outdated idea into the minds of first graders. A G7 member should do away with the proliferation of such bs. It’s 2021, not 1921.

In conclusion, I think that these two texts sneak in stereotypes into the minds of Japanese first graders that are detrimental to foreigners and international (racially diverse) Japanese. The first one subtly conveys a “foreigners can’t be trusted” kind of message, the second one treats legal Japanese with international heritage as genuine gaikokujin and overemphasizes differences over similarities, and also proliferates the obnoxious gaikokujin = blonde eigojin stereotype. …continue reading


Yachiyo-za is a traditional type of theatre that is located in the hot spring resort town of Yamaga, not far from Kumamoto City.The ceiling is completely covered with advertisments, a tradition dating back to the Edo Period.The theatre was built in 1910 and is now registered as an Important Cultural Property. Kabuiki and other types of performances are still held today, but during times of no

…continue reading


Our last-ditch effort at being a plant parent.

The last year has seen a rise in the popularity of gardening, not just of flowers, but of fruits and vegetables. Many people have taken to turning their balconies, yards, and windowpanes into proliferous little mini gardens full of tasty little tomatoes, cucumbers, and strawberries, among other things. Sadly, though, not everyone is good at keeping green things alive, and our Japanese-language reporter Saya Togashi is one of them.

Unlike our naturally green-thumbed team member Go Hatori, Saya hasn’t been able to grow anything at all this past year. She has tried her hand at raising a number of sprout kits and plants in pots, but they either never sprout, or they grow into weak, wobbly stems and eventually die, and she can’t understand why. Unlike her precious cat, they can’t, after all, meow at her to tell her when they want something, so she has no idea if they needed more or less water, or nutrition, or sunlight, or what.

So when her last attempt ended with a sad, brown, dead plant, she was on the brink of giving up, until she discovered the impressive vitality of moss.

Saya has actually always wanted to grow a “Moss Terrarium”, which is made up of moss and driftwood, to create a world like that of the movie Nausicaa of the Valley Wind. But truth be told, the kits to make those are quite expensive, and with Saya’s notoriously brown thumb, she wasn’t sure if she’d be able to keep the moss alive.

So when she stumbled upon this Japanese garden-inspired “Moss Tray” cultivation kit from ceramics and planter producer Seishin Plus, which sells for the reasonable price of 2,750 yen …continue reading


The world has spoken and the best pirates were chosen.

Last January Shueisha, publisher of the manga behemoth One Piece, kicked off the World Top 100 poll asking everyone from all over the world to select their favorite character from the very long-running series and determine the best of the best.

On 5 May, the tallied votes were announced in a special YouTube announcement ceremony honoring the winners of this massive popularity contest.

The ceremony was hosted by Japanese comedy duo Kamaitachi and a panel of fans from around the world

Since there’s no easy way to say this, let’s just get the bad news out of the way first: Despite my tireless efforts in voting, it’s with a heavy heart I inform you all that Camel the super penguin did not come in first. Instead, this was the top five:

5 – Trafalgar Law

4 – Sanji

3 – Nami

2 – Zoro

1 – Luffy

It’s probably not the most surprising outcome with the series’ main cast gracing the top five, but we can see how the competition between Zoro, Luffy, and Nami was actually surprisingly close when we break it down by region.

Top 10 rankings by region

Despite her big wins in …continue reading


Every guest’s presence changes how the lobby looks, making each moment in time uniquely beautiful.

When walking into a hotel’s lobby, there are some pretty standard things you expect to see. A check-in desk. A couple chairs or couches. Maybe a complimentary coffee machine.

What you probably don’t envision, though, is this.

But that’s the otherworldly captivating sight awaiting travelers at the Mifuneyama Rakuen Hotel in Saga Prefecture, on Japan’s southwest island of Kyushu. Sitting high in the mountains of the hot spring town of Takeo, the hotel is already a desirable destination for those with an appreciation of visual beauty, thanks to its views of the surrounding peaks and forests as well as its proximity to the Mifuneyama Rakuen garden. These days, though, the inn has an extra aesthetic upgrade, as Japanese Twitter user @mitsuyuka_lp learned on a recent visit, and those with an interest in contemporary Japanese art installations might be able to guess who’s to thank: Team Lab.

The renowned art team, known for its interactive exhibits and mystical light-based atmosphere, is currently gearing up for its “A Forest Where Gods Live” event at Mifuneyama Rakuen, which will take open this summer. However, their work on “Forest and Spiral of Resonating Lamps in the Forest-One Stroke,” as the lobby installation is called, is already complete. Stand next to a lamp, and its glow spreads and passes through the others, like a line drawn of warm light. Each visitor has the power to affect this change, making the way the lobby looks at any one time a collaborative effect of everyone in the space at that moment.

According to the hotel, “The dim …continue reading


Japanese sushi chefs weighs in on customers who practice “wasabi joyu”.

Have you ever mixed a bit of wasabi into your soy sauce and dipped your sushi into it? If you have, you’ve committed a culinary taboo that’s frowned upon in the dining world, according to news shared widely in Japan recently.

Sushi Sasaya Korin, a sushi restaurant in Kyoto’s Pontocho district, is one such establishment that believes wasabi should not be mixed with soy sauce, and Itamae Sushi Edo in Tokyo’s upmarket Minato Ward also holds the same opinion.

The reason why the practice is discouraged is because dissolving wasabi in soy sauce is said to not only sully the soy sauce, but also diminish the spiciness and aroma of the wasabi.

Mixing wasabi with soy sauce is known as “wasabi joyu“, an amalgamation of the words “wasabi” and “shoyu” the Japanese word for soy sauce. According to Sushi Sasaya Korin, wasabi joyu is a violation of etiquette not only when it comes to sushi but all Japanese food in general as the two should always be enjoyed separately.

Itamae Sushi Edo believes wasabi should be applied directly to the fish itself, especially in the case of fatty fish like chuutoro (medium fatty tuna) and ootoro (pink fatty tuna), as the wasabi helps to neutralise the fat, which makes it taste even more delicious.

A recent survey of 15,558 diners found that 6,347 people (40.8 percent) said they always add wasabi to the fish on their sushi and never make wasabi joyu. However, 4,317 people (27.75 percent) said they mix wasabi in with their soy sauce and 4,894 people …continue reading



According to my mother, eating just isn’t what it used to be anymore. “When I was your age,” says she, “I used to eat everything.” Hopefully not everything, I muse.

Today, in our 21st century diet-obsessed society, the process of eating has become guilt-inducing.

Also, too much focus is placed on what to eat—or should I say, what not to eat—rather than on the actual experience (and pleasure) of consuming food. In a nutshell, mindful eating wants to reconnect us with the practice of enjoying and appreciating what we ingest into our bodies. It does so by asking us to emphasize our attention and attitude toward food.

The following are six of my favorite (and easy) tips to start becoming mindful while eating:

1. Sit Down

Sitting centers you. Taking four or five deep breaths before starting to eat helps also. Remember when Elizabeth Gilbert, in her memoir Eat Pray Love, declared she was in a relationship with her pizza? Well, that here is acceptable. Give your undivided attention and absolute love to your meal. Focus on its aromas, textures, flavors and more. The tanginess of yuzu (Japanese citrus), the spiciness of wasabi, the slime of natto (fermented soybeans)—noticing these details is the best way to begin mindful eating.


Don’t be afraid to ask touchy questions, to try to get to know each other more. What of your food’s life before it met you? What of its childhood? And by whom was it last handled? If you’re still taking me seriously, know that not only are these questions important in life in general but also that this practice will cause you to eat slower—which in turn makes for better digestion and helps you feel more …continue reading


Children’s Day or Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日), is a day set aside for the kids. It’s celebrated annually on May 5 and is the last of the Golden Week holidays. It is also a holiday with ancient origins full of traditions. Whether you are celebrating the day with your children or you’re a favorite uncle or auntie to one, here are a few things to know about the national holiday.

A holiday with ancient origins

Before being known as Kodomo no Hi, the day was called Tango no Sekku (端午の節句) and was one of the five annual ceremonies called Gosekku held at the imperial court. Tango no Sekku was celebrated on the fifth day of the fifth moon of the Chinese or lunar calendar. When Japan switched to the Gregorian calendar, the holiday was moved to May 5.

Until 1948, the day was known as Boys’ Day or Feast of Banners and celebrated only boys and recognized fathers. It was the counterpart to Hinamatsuri or Girls Day held on March 3. While Boy’s Day was a national holiday, Hinamatsuri was not recognized as one. The name was eventually changed to Children’s Day. It included both boy and girl children and recognized mothers and fathers, upholding the family quality of unity and celebrating the growth and happiness of children.

To understand the holiday better, let us go back to the Nara and Heian periods (AD 710-794 and AD 794-1185). This was a time when Chinese traditions greatly influenced Japan’s culture. It is said that Gosekku (O-Shogatsu (January 1), Hinamatsuri (March 3), Tanabata (July 7), and Kiku Matsuri (September 9) along with Tango) came from China and sailed across the Sea of Japan alongside green tea and kanji.

However, Gosekku had a negative connotation in China and were known as unlucky …continue reading