The underground world of mafias is one that most people actively avoid on the public streets but are secretly excited to read about.
Movies and books about the criminal activities of gangsters showcase their lavish lifestyles, exciting day to day adventures, and occasional heroic deeds, giving them redeeming qualities that make them almost relatable.
However, in reality, these movies and books rarely depict what the life of a Yakuza or triad member is really like.
Are you interested in learning more about these mafias? We’ve curated some interesting information below about both mafia groups for you to read to your heart’s content.
Who Are Yakuza?
The Yakuza is an internationally recognized Japanese criminal syndicate that has a long and rich history in Japan’s society. They have been around for centuries but rose exponentially in prominence after World War II.
During their historical roots, they were involved in heightened criminal activity such as turf wars and undertaking protection responsibilities for money. They eventually gained favour with the Japanese government through cooperation and saw freedoms with certain gang activities.
Post-war, the number of the Yakuza rose by more than 100% throughout Japan. Their activities heavily expanded into gang wars, sophisticated gambling efforts, loan sharking, drugs (only certain groups), and smuggling goods.
Over the years, the Yakuza have evolved from being a feared criminal organization to becoming a (begrudgingly) accepted part of Japanese society. The structure of the Japanese mafia is often referred to as being similar to a family, with its familial tiers, or a business, with its hierarchical power structure.
In recent years, the Yakuza have branched out from their mostly Japan-centralized criminal activity to locations around the world, such as in the U.S. For example, one of their favourite investments is luxury golf courses.
Kintsugi (golden joinery) is a distinctively Japanese technique of restoring broken pottery and ceramics using urushi (lacquer) with metallic powders to give the appearance of gold and silver lining where the cracks once were.
The original technique has been meticulously preserved for centuries to prolong the life of ornate pottery pieces. Nowadays, kintsugi is a widely available and trendy hobby enjoyed on your own or with the help of guidance from a master at a workshop or class in Japan.
Moreover, it’s pretty easy hobby to pick up, so here’s everything you need to know to start the timeless Japanese art of kintsugi.
What is kintsugi?
The decorated scars on the piece of kintsugi pottery are thought of as scenery; rather than pretending that the scars do not exist or trying to conceal them, they are accepted as part of the piece’s history and thus are renewed in new harmony.
Kintsugi has been practiced since the Muromachi era (1336–1573). During this time, tea ceremonies were part of everyday life and were an essential aspect of all formal meetings and rituals in Japanese feudal life. The tea sets themselves were each very ornate and one of a kind. Accordingly, this meant that the pieces were extremely expensive and irreplaceable, causing many Japanese people to choose to repair their pieces rather than throw them away.
The pieces were far too precious just to be put back together with dull resins, so more aesthetic means of repair had to be considered. Hence, kintsugi became a widely practiced artform thereafter, synonymous with the Japanese notion of wabi-sabi and mottainai (roughly: waste not, want not).
“Is there any need to stay once the movie’s ended?” Ami Suzuki commented on panel show.
One of my earliest experiences of culture shock after moving to Japan wasn’t having to use Japanese style toilets, or constantly being complimented on my ability to use chopsticks — it was during my first trip to the movie theatre. As the credits started rolling, I did what I expected everyone else would be doing — I stood up to leave, only to have my Japanese friend tug on my sleeve to make sit me back down. “It hasn’t finished yet,” she whispered, and as I looked around, every other person was still sat in their seats, eyes glued to the credits rolling up the screen.
It was only when the last of the credits faded away and the lights came up that everyone started gathering their things to leave, but that moment always stuck with me. Bear in mind that this was before the days where post-credit scenes were really a thing, too.
Ever since then, I’ve dutifully stayed sitting until the credits have finished in full (with the exception of the movie Cats, where my friend and I made a beeline to the exit the moment the movie ended).
I thought I was the only person who didn’t stay and watch movie credits, but it turns out I have an unexpected ally in legendary ’90s J-pop idol Ami Suzuki.
Suzuki recently made headlines after an appearance on TV panel show Girl’s Barking Night. The show features a male host with a panel of female celebrity guests, and the topics discussed on the show usually provide a good opportunity for …continue reading
I am probably one of the few Indians brave enough to visit an onsen in Japan. Where I am from, it is unheard of in our culture to bathe naked among strangers—or even friends and family. We’re taught from a young age to respect our bodies by covering up. Most Indian families encourage modest dressing too. Any clothing item revealing too much skin is a big no-no. Because of my upbringing, I had a tough time initially adjusting to the onsen culture in Japan.
My first onsen experience took place in Hakone in 2017. My sister and I were backpacking around the country and wanted to experience a part of Japanese culture firsthand. Visiting a hot spring together has always been on our travel bucket list, and now that we were in Japan, we could finally tick it off the list.
I admired how free and comfortable they seemed with their bodies.
I found the onsen experience very eye-opening. It was the first time for me to see women being comfortable with nudity and using the place as an opportunity to bond with their friends and family. I admired how free and comfortable they seemed with their bodies. This experience inspired me to build a similar relationship with mine. It wasn’t something that happened overnight, though. I had to broaden my perspective and rethink some of my beliefs.
The more time I spent in the hot spring, the more comfortable I felt in my own skin. Along the way, I learned a few valuable lessons about body positivity, which I would like to share with you.
We’re more conscious of our bodies than those around us
It took me a couple of trips to the hot spring to realize that the only person who was overly conscious of my body …continue reading
While Star Wars has several reference points, including old sci-fi movie serials like Flash Gordon, the novelDune (spice, anyone?), and World War II dogfights (check out 1955 film The Dam Busters for proto-Death Star destruction action), Japan has had an outsized influence on the galaxy far, far away.
Here then are five ways Japan has influenced Star Wars. We’ve tried to keep spoilers to a minimum, but there may be some reveals.
1. The films of Akira Kurosawa
It’s no secret that George Lucas was a big fan of Japanese film director Akira Kurosawa. So much has been said about the connection between Kurosawa’s The Hidden Fortress and Star Wars: Episode IV — A New Hope.
We’ve talked about it before, so we won’t go into too much detail here. But the parallels are striking: both feature a bickering pair of commoners embroiled in an adventure with a sassy young princess and a weathered general, played by Kurosawa regular Toshiro Mifune. Lucas even approached Mifune about playing Darth Vader when casting the first film!
Kendo became my base ingredient.
The connections go deeper, though. Lucas (along with Francis Ford Coppola) produced Kurosawa’s 1980 film, Kagemusha, about a warlord’s doppelgänger getting thrown into the thick of things. This story idea also made its way into The Clone Wars, specifically in the fourth episode of the fourth season, “The Shadow Warrior” (also the English translation of the Japanese word, kagemusha), with Jar Jar Binks playing the double.
Red roses for love, the rose as June’s flower of the month… Although I have an avid interest in everything botanical, before becoming immersed in Japanese culture, I can’t say that I actively engaged with the meanings of flowers beyond the most popular ones above. But, in Japan, as well as sharing similar meanings as those found abroad, flowers have also been bestowed with their own unique cultural definitions. What’s more, this hana kotoba, or flower symbolism, is so widespread that it can be a useful shorthand for conveying a message to another person.
Read on to discover how flower symbolism can help you master the always delicate art of gift-giving in Japan!
Flowers to Give Thanks
In Japan, pink roses are seen as high in quality and have several meanings, such as graceful or ladylike. But, perhaps the most dominant one is giving thanks! Luckily there is a wide variety of pink roses to choose from in terms of color (salmon or peach or dusty, etc.) and variety (Eden Rose, Blush China Rose, Queen Elizabeth Rose etc.) so it is easy to personalize this gift.
Japan also ascribes multiple meanings to baby’s breath, such as purity and innocence, but a common one is thankfulness. Pair these delicate flowers in a bouquet with pink roses and you will have a present with entirely consistent floral symbolism. What better way to show someone your appreciation than by gifting this power duo!
While the white dalia’s most common meaning is also thanks, its secondary meaning is elegance which makes these flowers both beautiful and refined. As large and rather impressive-looking flowers, they also work well as a high impact present.
When YouTube launched in 2005, no one really knew just how big of a platform it would become.
It went from hosting random videos that people filmed of themselves at home, to now becoming a top-tier streaming platform and being a place where people actually earn their entire livelihood.
YouTube is a mega-verse that you could spiral down for hours, nay, days, and never want to surface.
An interesting trend on YouTube that’s caught the attention of many people over the past few years is the rise of VTubers. You may have come across those animated videos before that have a surreal likeliness to actual people.
But for those uninitiated, who or what exactly are VTubers?
What is a VTuber?
VTuber is short for ‘Virtual YouTuber’, and it describes internet personalities that are performed by actual people, whereby they’re superimposed on the character using motion-capture technology and live 3D modeling.
Basically, they’re online entertainment characters who walk and walk like real humans.
The first VTuber in history was Kizuna AI, introduced to the world via YouTube in 2016.
Since then, the rise in demand and popularity of VTubers has risen exponentially, and some VTuber characters have, alone, elevated their companies to new heights!
VTubers essentially provide entertainment by playing games, chatting to viewers, and participating in live streams like a real person. Some boast millions of subscribers around the world, and even collaborate with other Vtubers – just like a regular YouTuber!
They were initially Japan-focused, but since interest has grown massively overseas, there are many English-speaking VTubers out there now.
The 10 Best Vtubers In Japan To Follow
Let’s have a look at the 10 most popular VTubers you should follow.
1. Kizuna AI
Kizuna AI is the most famous and popular VTuber in Japan, boasting a whopping 2 million subscribers to her channel… …continue reading
All things considered, it’s not surprising that the upcoming CG Super Mario movie has been delayed from its previously announced December 2022 release. Predicting creative workflow months in advance is tricky enough in the best of times, let alone a pandemic. There’s also no doubt plenty of pressure on the staff to not screw things up like what happened with the infamous 1993 live-action Super Mario Bros. movie, especially with the two recent Sonic the Hedgehog films both having managed to keep audiences happy and buying tickets.
So it’s understandable that the Mario producers want to take all the time they feel the movie needs. What is weird, though, is how Nintendo itself broke the news through the official Nintendo of America Twitter account.
This is Miyamoto. After consulting with Chris-san, my partner at Illumination on the Super Mario Bros. film, we decided to move the global release to Spring 2023–April 28 in Japan and April 7 in North America. My deepest apologies but I promise it will be well worth the wait.
It’s a strangely written message in a whole bunch of ways, starting with the blunt “This is Miyamoto,” relying on readers to fill in the “Shigeru” part of Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto’s name. “After consulting with Chris-san, my partner at Illumination,” assumes that anyone reading will make the connection with Illumination producer Chris Meledandri (as opposed to voice-of-Mario-to-be Chris Pratt), and creates the awkward imbalance between “Miyamoto” (family name) and “Chris” (given name) (though the lack of -san on Miyamoto is fine, since you don’t use -san when speaking about yourself). Even “we decided to move the global release to Spring 2023-April 28 in Japan and April 7 in North America” is …continue reading
How can anyone not like spring? We all want to enjoy the season’s fashion to the fullest, which means that it’s time to reintroduce those bright colors and bold designs back into your wardrobe! Denim is in the limelight again, and the warm and soft yellows and pinks are attracting attention. You might be a monochrome kinda gal, but this year’s variety of color items are abundant and you should definitely give color a try.
Here, you will find the top trending items, colors, and materials of spring 2022 in Tokyo. Links to carefully selected items are included and be sure to refer to the included Savvy Styling Tips!
1. Colored pants
Colored pants are likely to be inevitable this spring. The key to styling this must-have item is to choose the bright and bold colors that are trending this year. Think powder pink, creamy yellow and bright orange. Green is also IN.
The clean silhouette of these pants allows you to tuck your shirt in or let it hang out loose. Wear a t-shirt for a casual look, or a blouse for a more office-appropriate look. Take it to the next level and try wearing it with a matching jacket or blazer.
2. Lace blouse shirt
What’s one item that every woman should have in their wardrobe this spring? A blouse shirt. Or five or 10. Lace is particularly trending this season and expect to see plenty of frills and soft, voluminous sleeves!
Take, for example, the internet’s favorite animal: the neko (cat). As any owner will tell you, cats love jumping and catching things with their paws—a trait emphasized at Gotokuji Temple in Tokyo.
The temple popularized the famous maneki neko, a porcelain cat statue with a raised paw to catch any passing luck in its furry grasp. Today, the “good-luck cat” statute is a familiar image associated with Japan.
The temple’s story says, once upon a time, during a storm, a cat raised its paw and beckoned passing samurai to shelter inside the temple to escape the downpour of rain. The samurai were impressed by the temple’s beauty and decided to support it financially.
These days, it is rare to see a shop in Japan that doesn’t have a lucky-cay figure in its window, ready to catch any passing fortune.
Fertility and fortune
Of course, we can’t forget cats’ rivals for our collective hearts: inu (dogs). Several shrines and temples celebrate dogs, like Musashi-Mitake Shrine in Tokyo, which offers prayers expressly for …continue reading