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Source: Grape

Japan’s “Sea of Trees” (樹海 jukai), or “Blue Tree Meadow” (青木ヶ原 aokigahara) as it’s also called, is one of Japan’s most famous forests situated on the northwestern flank of Mount Fuji. While the caves on the Western edge are popular with tourists, the denser parts of the forest have long been associated with ghosts, making it the topic of more than a few horror films, both in Japan and abroad.

For the past 22 years, Japanese mountaineer and environmental activist 野口健 Ken Noguchi has engaged in trash cleanup acitivites in and around Mount Fuji. He also makes regular trips to Aokigahara.

Of course, you can expect trash to smell bad, but the stench that he has been dealing with in recent years in the forest is the result of a particular offensive problem:

Unbelieveably, plastic bottles containing human urine are being dumped there.

The place where this abhorrent practice occurs is along a national highway that goes through the forest.

On November 19th, 2022, Noguchi reported on his most recent cleanup excursion at the famous forest. Again, there were plastic bottles filled with urine in them, and he revealed, “Today’s site was particularly bad.”

Aged urine was leaking from deteriorated plastic bottles, and the surrounding area was filled with a foul stench.

Some of the images in the Tweets below may offend your sensitivities. Click on View at your own discretion.

富士山麓、青木ヶ原樹海の国道沿いにて清掃活動。今日も「尿入りペットボトル」だらけ。いや、特に今日の現場は酷かった…。劣化したペットボトルから尿が漏れ出し、周囲は強烈な悪臭に包まれ…。参加者の皆さんも唖然とされていました。この尿入りペットボトル問題、どのような対策を取ればいいのか。 pic.twitter.com/ZjIKAoSs4n

— 野口健 (@kennoguchi0821) November 19, 2022

The situation was so bad that even those who were participating in the cleanup activities were shocked.

While surmising that lifestyle changes stemming from the novel coronavirus pandemic may be partly to blame for the increase, he condemns the practice, saying: “People who throw away plastic bottles filled with urine don’t stop to consider that there are people who pick them up.”

熟成された尿は色も濃くなり、匂いも強烈になる。22年前から富士山清掃活動をスタートしましたが、尿入りペットボトルが激増したのはこの数年間か。コロナ禍によりライフスタイルの変化が影響したのかもしれませんが。尿入りペットボトルを捨てる人はそれを拾う人がいる事を想像できないのだろうか。

— 野口健 (@kennoguchi0821) …continue reading

    

Survey also finds a surprising gap in housewife-life appeal depending on whether or not women have kids.

Women joining the workforce after finishing their education has been the norm in Japan for quite some time. Transitioning to life as a fulltime homemaker after marriage or childbirth is still relatively more common in Japan than it is in many Western nations, though, and it’s not a lifestyle that’s devoid of appeal to Japanese women, a recent survey suggests.

Sony Life Insurance Co. has released the data from its seventh annual Women’s Lifestyle Awareness Survey, which collected answers from 1,000 Japanese women between the ages of 20 and 69. One of the questions asked of the 675 working participants was “Do you actually want to be a housewife?”, and more than one in three replied “Yes.”

Do you actually want to be a housewife?
● Women aged 20-29
Yes: 33 percent
No: 40.6 percent
● Women aged 30-39
Yes: 43.2 percent
No: 33.3 percent
● Women aged 40-49
Yes: 30.3 percent
No: 41.4 percent
● Women aged 50-59
Yes: 28.7 percent
No: 50 percent
● Women aged 60-69
Yes: 24.1 percent
No: 51.8 percent
● Total for all ages
Yes: 35.2 percent
No: 40.6 percent

You’ll notice that the number of “yes” responses gets progressively higher as the respondents’ ages go up. Whether that’s because the idea of housewife life became less attractive as the respondents acquired more life experience, or because the older respondents have been working for a longer time and their professional lives have become a stronger positive part of their identities, is a question the survey didn’t probe.

In addition to age, the survey also broke responses to the question down by whether or not the working women have children. While being able to spend more time with your kids might seem like a …continue reading

    

Hafu: The Ups And Downs Of Being “Half Japanese” In Japan

First things first. I hate to start off by putting out a disclaimer, but these are my own personal opinions and thoughts about being a “hafu” (half-Japanese) and my experience will/may differ from others. I do not expect everyone to agree with me. Please take what I say with a pinch of salt. Disclaimer over! Now a little bit about me…

© Photo by Tabitha Wilders

I was born in Tokyo to a British father and a Japanese mother. I attended an International School in Yokohama for eight years before moving to the UK. After completing my masters in London and working abroad for a couple of years, I finally returned. Here are my personal experiences of being a hafu in Japan.

The hafu or daburu debate

Hafu: The Ups And Downs Of Being “Half Japanese” In Japan© Photo by iStock: CSA-Printstock

Hafu refers to a person who is half Japanese and half something else. Some are against this term and ask others to call them daburu (double). To them, daburu represents both cultures and ethnic heritages that make them who they are. They hear the word hafu and think it makes them sound like half a person. Others prefer hafu as it tends to be associated with kawaii (cute) or kakkoii (cool) stereotypes in Japan. Common stereotypes include the expectation for us to have an envious multiracial look and the ability to speak multiple languages.

My opinion? I’m personally not offended by the term hafu and here’s why. It’s because it doesn’t have a negative connotation attached to the term nor is it used in a derogatory way. I do not hear the word hafu and think of myself as half a person (sorry, that’s …continue reading

    

Expert says it’s high time to revise the system.

Many Japanese children may dream of becoming a pro soccer player or baseball player, but a new study finds that dream may change for many once they get to junior high school.

An NHK survey that looked at 29 types of sports teams across Japan found that membership in sports clubs, or bukatsu in Japanese, is at an all-time low in 37 prefectures. The national average is also at its lowest, with 59.6 percent of students in sports-related bukatsu.

Some of the lowest membership rates were seen in Nara Prefecture, at just 50.7 percent, Nagano Prefecture, at 51 percent, and Fukuoka Prefecture, at 54.2 percent. But even prefectures with high membership rates of over 70 percent, like Iwate Prefecture, are still at an all-time low in comparison to previous years.

▼ “No thanks, we’re going home.”

There are a number of reasons this could be occurring, experts say. A major one could be the declining birthrate. Fewer students means fewer team members. This can lead to not meeting the minimum team size requirement to play in competitions or even dissolving teams that can’t gather enough members to practice.

Another contributing factor could be a growing number of schools switching from compulsory to optional membership as per national student demand. Until recent years, many schools required all students to participate in some sort of bukatsu, which are typically held for several hours after school at least several times a week, including weekends for some.

Netizens also chimed in with their theories and reactions:

“Joining some teams can cost a lot of money, and some coaches can overdo it.”
“That means less overtime for some teachers!”
“The future generation isn’t …continue reading

    

New policy follows backlash from citizens after city council members seen napping, reading novels during discussions.

The city of Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, had a problem. It had come to citizens’ attention that a number of their city council members were committing improprieties. Even worse, they were brazenly engaging in this unethical conduct right in the council’s chambers.

So what sort of transgressions were going on? Taking bribes? Getting grabby with interns? No, they were sleeping during city council meetings, as can be seen in the video here.

To be fair, no one was showing up in their pajamas with a pillow and blanket. Instead, those who were sleeping were dozing off in their seats as their colleagues gave speeches and brought forth topics for debate. Still, most people would say that they’d prefer their elected representatives at least stay conscious when ostensibly discussing and setting public policies that affect their constituents. Oh, and in addition to those who dozed off, one city councilman was seen with a historical fiction novel in hand, reading it at his seat while he was supposed to be listening to the discussion going on.

The people of Ichikawa were, naturally, extremely upset about this. When the napping was first noticed back in the summer, the city received more than 100 phone calls and letters of complaint, with messages such as “Do your jobs!”, “This is beyond lazy,” and “They should be removed from office.”

In an effort to restore the public’s faith in the council, its more earnest members came up with an idea. About five years ago, the Ichikawa city council started streaming its plenary sessions on its YouTube Channel, and until last summer the camera would generally zoom in and focus on whoever was standing at the podium at the front of the room and addressing the other …continue reading

    

Source: Grape

Sometimes, all it takes is a single missing or wrong word or even one letter for a message to convey a very different meaning than intended.

This was certainly the case for Twitter user 三雲 Mikumo’s husband who made dinner for her and went out for the day, leaving a note.

Here’s the note that left his wife in stitches and went viral on Twitter. Fortunately, it translates very well into English:

三雲 Mikumo gave us permission to post this image but requested that we refrain from linking to her account.

“Please eat your dinner in the fridge.”

Depending on how you parse the sentence, this could either mean “Please eat the dinner which is in the fridge” or “Please go inside the fridge and eat your dinner there.”

Something very similar happened in Japanese, due to the fact that Mikumo’s husband used the grammatical particle で de, usually indicating the place where an action occurs.

Those who are learning Japanese or interested in the Japanese language can jump to our grammatical explanation here at the bottom of this article.


Cold treatment

Needless to say, Mikumo’s husband’s note had readers imagining his wife eating her dinner under very harsh conditions!

The Tweet went viral, garnering over 150,000 likes, and eliciting comments such as:

  • “Maybe he meant that she should eat it in the fridge because it’s very perishable food.”
  • “This must be some kind of new energy-saving life hack. Instead of heating up your dinner, you make it feel warm by cooling yourself down instead.”
  • “Is it possible for an (adult) person to fit inside a (Japanese) refrigerator to begin with?”

In response to the popularity of the Tweet, Mikumo’s husband left another note:

三雲 Mikumo gave us permission to post this image but requested that we refrain from linking to her account.

“Thank you for the many retweets …continue reading

    

Waste not, want not.

In Japan, people tend to be cremated when they die, which helps our chances somewhat in the event of a zombie apocalypse. However, it is not without its setbacks. Cremation is an energy-intensive process and requires specialized equipment, so the places that can perform it are limited.

Take Kyoto City for example. They’re said to have only one major crematorium at the city-run Kyoto Central Funeral Hall in Yamashina Ward. To make matters more troublesome, in the Kansai regions of Japan, particularly in Kyoto and Nara, there is a very old custom of the bereaved only removing certain bones of the deceased after cremation and transporting them to the family grave. The remaining remains are buried by the crematorium on their own premises.

Kyoto Central Funeral Hall’s “grave,” for lack of a better word, that it deposits all the leftover ashes in together has been filling up recently. As a result, the city instituted a method for reducing the current volume of ashes by sifting out the unincinerated bone fragments and crushing them into smaller pieces, and during this sifting process, precious metals were also found. That’s when a huge golden light bulb turned on over Kyoto Central Funeral Hall.

A proposal was put forward to the city council to sell these metals that were once people’s dental work and survived the cremation. A gold filling here and there certainly isn’t worth a lot, but when filtering 39 tons of ash generated from 13,000 cremations between April and December of last year it adds up.

But don’t take my word for it, here’s a breakdown of the metals acquired:

● 7.1 kilograms (15.7 pounds) of gold
● 0.2 kilograms (0.4 pounds) of platinum
● 21.1 kilograms (46.5 pounds) of silver
● 6.2 kilograms (13.7 pounds) of palladium

All that adds up to 119 million yen …continue reading

    

Do not mess with this monument.

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park is a particularly poignant landmark in Japan. Its Genbaku Dome was one of the only structures left standing in the city center after the atomic bomb’s detention and is being preserved in its damaged state, and not too far from it stands the Atomic Bomb Victims Cenotaph.

This cenotaph, which is an empty tomb to honor those who have died but were never found or laid to rest elsewhere, consists of a granite arch and monument with the names of victims engraved on it and the message that “the mistakes will not be repeated.”

Given the politically charged nature of World War II and use of nuclear weapons, the cenotaph has been the target of vandalism in the past by people wanting to make a statement. And sometimes these statements can be downright cryptic, like an incident that occurred in the early morning of 28 October.

According to surveillance camera footage, at about 3 a.m. a man walked up to the cenotaph and threw a paper airplane at it so that is landed in front of the monument underneath the arch. He then casually walked away.

▼ Footage of the paper as it was found in front of the monument

The 35-centimeter (14-inch) long plane was found later that morning and retrieved by a patrol guard. It was taped shut and had “Great Hiroshima Earthquake 10.28 5:18” scrawled on the top in blue pen. This is especially cryptic since there is no record of a “Great Hiroshima Earthquake” and if that was meant to be a prediction, one did not occur at 5:18 a.m. or p.m. on that day either.

Hiroshima city council member Taichi Mukugi wrote about the incident on his blog and added that there was writing on the inside of the plane …continue reading

    

Maybe this was his plan all along and he’s playing 3-D shogi.

Although chess is the most famous game of its kind on the world stage, its Japanese cousin shogi is considerably harder. It’s a lot like chess but if the chess pieces could change their move sets in the middle of the game and captured pieces could suddenly return to the board in any location.

▼ You really need an eye for kanji to stay on top of things too

To excel at the game one would need an incredible amount of discipline as even the slightest misstep can spell defeat. That goes for moves both on and off the board as seen in the recent loss by 9th Dan player Amahiko Sato at the 81st Meijin Tournament A Class Ranking Match in Shibuya, Tokyo on 28 October. These matches determine which A Class player can take on Akira Watanabe for the title of Meijin (“Master”).

Sato’s match against Takuya Nagase, who is a four-time undefeated Oza (“Throne”) title holder, started at 10 a.m., at which time both players were wearing face masks. This is in accordance with rules established last February stating that all players must wear face masks during matches “except for temporary occasions” or unless it is unavoidable for health reasons.

By the 112th move, which took place sometime around 11 p.m., Sato was contemplating his next move when he removed his mask so that it was dangling from one ear. He kept the mask in that state for at least 10 minutes before Nagase started repeatedly leaving the room, presumably to mention it to the officials and ask if it wasn’t grounds for losing the game.

Although the game …continue reading

    

Top of the world, Ma!

Ferris wheels are odd attractions in that they always seem equal parts relaxing and creepy. It’s certainly nice to enjoy a slow ride that climaxes in a spectacular view of your surroundings, but this is also all while dangling in a metal box from a relatively flimsy-looking structure.

Even if everything holds together, there’s always a fear of the thing just stopping with you stuck at the very top. That’s just what happened at the Family Ai-Land You amusement park in Yubetsu, Hokkaido. However, rather than a mechanical failure, it was human error that led to a mother and her two kids getting stuck at the top.

At about 3:45 p.m. on 25 September, the park staff were getting ready to wrap it up for the day and started shutting down all the equipment, including the Ferris wheel. However, they seemed to have lost track of the woman in her 30s and two children under the age of ten who were left suspended at a height of about 30 meters (98 feet).

▼ A news report showing the Ferris wheel in question

After being stuck in the stationary gondola for about ten minutes panic began to set in, but luckily another family member was waiting for them in the parking lot at the time. The mother made a call to that person who quickly notified the amusement park office about it.

All three were unharmed but say they suffered mental anguish from the ordeal. Operation of Family Ai-Land You is outsourced to a private company by the Yubetsu city government, but Mayor Tomoyuki Karita issued an apology on the town’s website that reads: “I would like to express my deepest apologies to the family who suffered a great deal of stress from the feat and anxiety of their time …continue reading