| Apr 7, 2012

Washoku on World Heritage menu?

Let’s talk about food cultures of the world. And I don’t mean yogurt. Japan, home to 16 World Heritage sites, is now hoping to add another World Heritage accolade with washoku (Japanese food). The only other cuisines deemed worthy of the UNESCO list of ...

A guide to Jizo, guardian of travelers and the weak

| Mar 31, 2012

A guide to Jizo, guardian of travelers and the weak

“Jizo Bosatsu has confirmed you as a friend on Facebook,” said the email. I clicked on “view profile,” which took me to Jizo’s Facebook page. Not much information was revealed, except that his religious views are Buddhist, and he has 409 friends. His profile ...

| Mar 24, 2012

Some breaking mews on cat cafes

With animal employment rates on the rise, Japanese officials are now stepping in to regulate animal cafes. Citing new Animal Protection Laws, authorities are especially cracking down on 24-hour cat cafes. Makes you wonder: Where’s a nocturnal cat to go for a cuppa? While ...

'Super priority' seats — what will they do ?

| Mar 17, 2012

'Super priority' seats — what will they do ?

We are about to enter a new era: that of the super priority seat. The Yokohama municipal subway has just announced their ¥4 million mission to add these seats. What are “super priority seats?” No one has said. Perhaps they’re for VIP elderly? The ...

| Mar 10, 2012

Stages of assimilation

When you first set foot in Japan, it’s hard not to be impressed by the efficiency and social order. The streets are clean, trains run on time, and the people are quiet and polite, yet possess enough of the bizarre to make them interesting. ...

| Mar 3, 2012

Is Japan's enrollment season really a problem?

The University of Tokyo -or Todai as it is locally called — is considering changing its enrollment from spring to autumn to be more in sync with universities around the world, 70 percent of which are said to have enrollments in the fall. The ...

| Feb 25, 2012

Austerity — we've embraced it in the countryside

Austerity. It’s a word steeped in meaning. No one is more aware of a stagnant economy than the Japanese people, who are spending less and learning to relish cheap, imported goods. “Maybe Japanese people will start moving back to the countryside,” says an American ...

| Feb 18, 2012

Learning a foreign language: blood, sweat and beers

A recent education ministry survey evaluated Japanese “third-year middle school students” on their attitudes toward learning English. One editorial indicated that the results of the survey showed that students nationwide had an “ambivalent and contradictory attitude toward English.” Wow, imagine 14-year-olds being ambivalent and ...

| Feb 11, 2012

A sure way to get rid of a cold

Have you ever thought about where colds come from? Where they start? I was talking to my neighbor the other day and mid-sentence, started coughing. “It’ll take a month to get over that cough,” she told me. That’s when I knew who had given ...