Impress your hosts with <I>osechi</I> meanings

| Jan 5, 2014

Impress your hosts with osechi meanings

by Minoru Matsutani

Shōgatsu (正月, New Year) is the time when most Japanese carry out certain religious rituals, though many of them may not realize what they do has religious significance. The ancient Japanese believed that toshigami-sama (年神様, year god) visited them in the shōgatsu period and ...

| Dec 22, 2013

This year's buzzwords show how Japanese is evolving

by Mark Schreiber

Last month I shelled out ¥2,980 for my 2014 edition of 現代用語の基礎知識 (“Gendai Yogo no Kiso Chishiki”, “Encyclopedia of Contemporary Words”). It’s a 1,660-page monster that’s well worth the outlay, and this year publisher Jiyu Kokumin-sha, as an extra bonus, included a 74-page booklet ...

December: A last tango with soba

| Dec 15, 2013

December: A last tango with soba

by Kaori Shoji

Some men go out to buy that flaming red sportscar. Others embark on a messy but absorbing divorce process. Then there is of course, nirvana: the gorufujō (ゴルフ場, golf course). But in Japan, when men hit a certain age they have another option to ...

Some illuminations on the red lantern

| Dec 1, 2013

Some illuminations on the red lantern

by Minoru Matsutani

Last month, the chōchin (提灯, a Japanese traditional lantern) at Kaminarimon (雷門, the gate of Sensoji Temple in Asakusa, in Tokyo’s Taito Ward) was replaced with a new one, the first time it has been renewed since 2003. The Kaminarimon chōchin is 3.9 meters ...

You may find <em>mei</em> mystifying

| Oct 20, 2013

You may find mei mystifying

by Mark Schreiber

It’s almost Halloween again, so before I set out my カボチャ提灯 (kabocha chōchin, jack-o’-lantern), I thought the time is right to take up the topic of 迷信 (meishin, superstition). The first character is 迷, meaning lost or puzzled, made by combining the phonetic 米 ...