We attempt to get over our dislike of eating insects by… eating some insects.
Say ‘Japanese vending machine’ to people living outside of Japan and you may get some unscrupulous responses, but the truth is for the most part, Japanese vending machines tend to sell nothing but drinks. Vending machines selling food have seen an increase in popularity in recent years, but despite what urban myths might have you believe, you’d be hard pressed to find a vending machine in Japan that sold something truly weird and wacky.
That’s not to say that Japan is completely void of vending machines with unique wares, though, and statistically speaking, the more vending machines in one place, the more likely one of them is to contain something remarkable. So when our Hokkaido Prefecture-based reporter Atol heard that a new store dedicated entirely to vending machines with unusual contents had opened nearby, they knew she had to head there post haste.
The store, called ‘Jihanki Land‘ (or ‘Vending Machine Land‘) is located in Sapporo City’s Shiroishi Ward. As Atol approached the store, they were immediately met with some vending machines selling ramen, but not just any old ramen; heavyweights in the ramen world, like Hakata Ramen and Ramen Jiro.
They also sold ox tongue, which must have been pretty high quality as it was 2,500 yen (US$19.36) for 2 pieces of 80 grams (2.82 ounces). But as delicious as the ox tongue surely was, that’s not what Atol was here for. They were here to find the weird and wacky that could only …continue reading
A big mistake? Or did someone have it out for Pommel Horse?
The NHK Cup is a national gymnastics competition that dates back to the 1960s and also serves as a qualifying event for gymnasts seeking spots on the Japanese national team at the Olympics and World Artistic Gymnastics Championship. Its position as both a figurative and literal springboard for young athletes, makes it a big draw for spectators as well.
This year’s event was no different, and with increasingly relaxed COVID-19 restrictions, the NHK Cup was finally expecting a relatively packed house. In fact, in the days leading up to the event, tickets were going fast for both the women’s and men’s events on 14 and 15 May respectively. In the case of the men’s event, so many were sold that additional seats were added on the third level of the Tokyo Metropolitan Gymnasium.
However, when the competition was finally held, it was plain to see that the upper deck was empty and the second tier was only very sparsely occupied by spectators.
The reason for this disparity was revealed by a member of the Japan Gymnastics Association a few days later on 18 May. It turns out that during the period where tickets were on sale, a single person had reserved approximately 1,600 seats, mainly on the second level, but never paid for a single one.
According to the sales records, this person had made about 600 reservations for 14 May, and 1,000 for 15 May. The actual attendance for each day was 518 and 1,251, which means half of the expected tickets sales were made by one individual who ultimately didn’t pay for them.
The NHK Cup’s online reservation system was set up in such a way that people could claim seats but not have to pay until a later date. …continue reading
There’s a whole lot to love in this sneak-peak at the remake of the Rumiko Takahashi classic.
The anime industry is in the middle of a remake boom right now, and the updated series are often a chance to make up for a lackluster or limited-scale original. That’s not the case at all, though, with the upcoming remake of Urusei Yatsura.
The original 1980s Urusei Yatsura ran for almost 200 episodes and also had a half-dozen theatrical features plus direct-to-video chapters before the anime franchise came to a close in 1991. Along the way, it became a pop culture phenomenon that’s left the deepest impression to date of any series from manga creator Rumiko Takahashi on mainstream audiences in Japan.
Remaking such a widely loved and historically significant anime is a big risk, but a lot of people are thinking the gamble is going to pay off thanks to the first preview video for the new series, which is being called Urusei Yatsura Allstars.
The video opens with a news report informing viewers that Japanese high school student Ataru Moroboshi has been chosen to represent humanity in a one-on-one contest against an invading alien race to determine the fate of the planet Earth. This matches up exactly with the plot of the original Urusei Yatsura’s first episode, so it looks like Allstars really is going all the way back to the beginning of the story so that viewers completely new to the series can follow the zaniness from the very start.
▼ Representing the aliens is their princess, Lum, who retains the green hair that was normalized by ‘80s Urusei Yatsura character designer Akemi Takada.
Quitting a job anywhere in the world can be stressful. In Japan, there are a few matters that should be taken into consideration before moving onto something bigger and better. Before taking the leap, let’s look at some important topics to think about so that the transition into a new job can be as smooth as possible, in or out of Japan.
Your home, your casa, your heya. This space you’ve come back to each day may not be yours for much longer once you end or break a contract. Many jobs in Japan provide housing for employees – often either apartments or dorms – but the timeframe you must leave after quitting is quite short and therefore it’s important that you have another home lined up.
However, this can be a bit of a complicated process in comparison to other countries. Depending on the region and availability, a landlord or real estate agency may not look too highly upon a potential tenant who does not yet have another job secured. Additionally, there are numerous fees that come with moving in that you want to save up for. Share houses are a cheaper alternative if you need time to save money in between jobs.
2. Visa status and approved activities
Your visa, assuming you are not a Japanese national or permanent resident, is the most important contract you are bound to in Japan, and not properly upholding it can have significant consequences. Technically, it is okay to be in Japan without a job if your visa is valid and you have enough money to sustain yourself. Once you leave your job, you are required to go to immigration and fill out a form stating that you are now jobless, and it is highly recommended that you find another job within …continue reading
Computer literacy is basic, nontechnical knowledge about computing and software. However, it should also include digital literacy, such as knowing what websites may be harmful or how to interact with others online.
Japan is at the forefront of creating cutting edge technology to solve societal problems, and anyone looking for work in Japan has likely encountered the standard IT job posting. But while the country often stirs images of Blade Runner, many people in Japan are actually not very tech-savvy.
Both the young and old seem to struggle with basic computer skills. So, why is this? Is there anything being done to change it? What does this mean for those searching for jobs in Japan?
After looking at the research and reporting over the last few years, things in the present start to make a little more sense.
A look inside some of the research
An article published in the Shonan Journal noted that “Japanese youths’ digital literacy is falling behind other developed countries.” For example, many students in Japan may have been taught how to use PowerPoint but rarely sit down and make a presentation.
Does this sound a bit strange? Well, there may be a reason as to why this is. In Japan, a traditional lecture style of education is still the norm, whereas an active learning style is adopted in many other countries.
So it appears that the nation’s youth are technically being educated on using specific programs, they lack the opportunity for actual hands-on experience. Essentially, this means students may not be be pushed to take an active role in their education. Japan’s …continue reading
On 18 May, the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department announced the arrest of a 17-year-old high school student in Yokohama City for violating the Stalker Control Law and Act on Punishment of Physical Violence. The victim of these crimes was Taiko Sasaki, member of the up-and-coming Johnnys’ Jr. group 7 MEN Samurai.
▼ 7 MEN Samurai, with Taiko Sasaki second from left
According to police, the student was reported to have followed Sasaki around on at least four occasions between 1 April, 2021 and 8 May, 2022. She would suddenly appear either calling out to the musician or grabbing him out of the blue, and fearing for his safety he consulted with his agency, who contacted police last November. The authorities issued warnings to the girl and spoke with her parents on four occasions, but it didn’t appear to deter her actions.
On 30 April she once again approached Sasaki and followed him for about 200 meters (650 feet), only this time holding a box cutter. Sasaki was wearing headphones at the time and couldn’t make out what she said, but according to Asahi Shimbun her words while brandishing the blade were, “You don’t need to worry about stalking, because I won’t go on anymore,” while Nikkan Sports reported her as saying, “I bought this box cutter to die. I came to you to because I wanted to apologize before dying.”
According to the police, Sasaki managed to stay calm and quickly went to his management’s offices for fear that she might harm someone in the crowded street. Fortunately, she was apprehended before any harm came to herself or others.
There are so many capsule hotels to choose from in Japan, but if you want to stay at one that tells you how many times you snore during the night, you’ll want to book yourself into 9 Hours Woman Shinjuku.
Sorry, blokes — as the name suggests, this particular branch of the trendy 9 Hours capsule hotel chain is a women’s-only establishment, and it just opened in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district on 29 April.
Luckily for us, this new branch is situated a 30-second walk from our office, so our reporter Ikuna Kamezawa decided to check in to the hotel after work, relishing the chance to avoid the long commute home and back again the next day.
It didn’t take long for her to arrive at the newest 9 Hours, which has 14 locations nationwide, two of which are women’s-only, including this one.
This would be Ikuna’s first-ever stay at a capsule hotel so she had no idea what to expect, but she was glad to see the entrance seemed warm and inviting.
As soon as she stepped inside, she found there was no traditional check-in desk with staff on hand. Instead, guests are required to use the smart check-in machines.
If there are vacancies, you can stay without a prior reservation, but if you want to ensure you secure a capsule for the night, it’s best to make a reservation …continue reading
Is the new film something only for fans, or can anyone enjoy it?
Ultraman is a tokusatsu franchise that has been around for almost sixty years now. Ranking among the likes of Godzilla, Super Sentai (also known as Power Rangers abroad), and Kamen Rider in terms of popularity in the genre, this “giant superhero” has won the hearts of children and adults alike for generations. So of course, that means the franchise continues to this day!
The newest addition to the Ultraman universe is Shin Ultraman, which just hit theaters on May 13. Directed by Shinji Higuchi and written and planned by Hideaki Anno, this film is intended to be in the same spirit as the latest Godzilla movie, Shin Godzilla, which was also created by the same duo. Two of our Japanese language reporters went to see it: K. Masami, a huge Ultraman fan, and P.K. Sanjun, who has no attachment to the franchise whatsoever. Both came back with the same reaction: the Shin Ultraman movie is awesome.
This film is a reboot of the original series, which aired from 1966 to 1974. At this point, the show has undergone 56 years’ worth of reboots and remakes, probably leaving fans and non-fans alike with reboot exhaustion, but Shin Ultraman has its own twist on the franchise that makes it worth watching. We won’t specify how it set itself apart, as then we’d be spoiling the movie, but suffice it to say it does so in a sufficiently entertaining way.
Initially, Ultraman fan Masami worried that Hideaki Anno, whose work on Evangelion has been so iconic that expectations for his other productions have been high, was not actually directing Shin Ultraman but merely planning and writing the …continue reading
Being a student is tough. While the cup ramen may be better in Japan, money worries are international. (Plus, don’t you want to try the real stuff?) The solution for many hungry undergraduates around the world is a part-time job.
Before the pandemic, the number of international students in Japan was steadily rising. They were here to join language schools, high-ranking universities and colleges, as well as to experience a new and exciting culture. Now with borders opening up, students are back and looking to subsidize their life in Japan.
Visas can be complicated. Here are some questions you may have:
Can I work on a student visa?
Yes, but you need to ask for permission first. If you don’t have any other terms
Author: Céline Pajon, French Institute of International Relations
Laying the foundation for the Eighth Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), Japanese Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi held talks on 28 March 2022 with ministers from 50 African nations. Hayashi expressed concerns that the COVID-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine had increased the economic and social vulnerabilities of African countries — deepening their dependence on China. He subsequently committed to increase Japan’s cooperation with Africa.
Japan’s economic diplomacy in Africa pursues both economic and geopolitical objectives. Japan aims to catch up with other Asian and Western actors, moving from a focus on official development assistance to a private investment-based approach. It is also in competition with China, aiming to provide an alternative to the Belt and Road Initiative in Africa.
Tokyo’s support for private business was outlined by Foreign Minister Hayashi as the first of three priorities for the upcoming TICAD in July, and the second Japan–Africa Public–Private Economic Forum has just been held in Nairobi. Beyond this, Japan’s engagement with the African continent is likely to be strengthened in a more political and strategic way.
Japan is concerned that the pandemic will weaken African economies and worsen their dependence on Chinese aid and investment. Tokyo plans to help Africa’s recovery from COVID-19 by preventing sovereign and private debt defaults and building up the fiscal autonomy of African nations. Japan’s policy also promotes international norms of transparency and sustainability in infrastructure financing.
Japan’s policy is part of a balancing strategy vis-a-vis Beijing. Tokyo sees China’s economic expansion as progressing at the expense of human rights and good governance, enabling Beijing to leverage support on key issues like …continue reading