Nadeshiko — adorable till they die

| Sep 15, 2013

Nadeshiko — adorable till they die

by Kaori Shoji

“France for food, Japan for wives.” That was basically the conclusion made by French journalist/novelist Pierre Loti, who dropped by our shores in 1885 and wrote a book about his stay called “Madame Chrysantheme.” Loti hadn’t exactly caught the Japan bug — he was ...

Smoking, now too uncool for school

| Sep 1, 2013

Smoking, now too uncool for school

by Minoru Matsutani

Kitsuen (喫煙, smoking) could become an obsolete habit in Japan in the near future, as youngsters apparently now consider smoking dasai (ダサい, uncool). A recent survey by the monkashō (文科省, an abbreviation of monbukagakushō, or the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology) ...

When does one's native language stop being native?

| Aug 25, 2013

When does one's native language stop being native?

by Mark Schreiber

A 71-year-old man in Gifu Prefecture made headlines recently when he attempted to initiate a lawsuit against broadcaster NHK. Through its excessive use of foreign derived words, the man claimed, NHK had caused him 精神的苦痛 (seishinteki kutsū, psychological pain). He demanded ¥1.41 million in ...

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

| Jul 28, 2013

Hyper, mega, ultra: talking in superlatives

by Peter Backhaus

One of the ultra-fascinating facets of Japanese is its super-large arsenal of intensifying prefixes that provide an otherwise neutral expression with some emphatic edge. The best-known (and least spectacular) of them is dai (大), which usually translates as “big.” When something went really well, ...

Summer brings out the creepy crawlies

| Jul 21, 2013

Summer brings out the creepy crawlies

by Matt Alt

Now that the tsuyu (梅雨, rainy season) has ended and the dreaded heat has descended upon the city, most of us have taken refuge indoors, camped out in front of the eakon (エアコン, air-conditioning) in a desperate attempt to wick away some of summer’s ...

The <em>aidoru</em> industry seeks big bucks in numbers

| Jul 7, 2013

The aidoru industry seeks big bucks in numbers

by Kaori Shoji

They say that Japan is suffering from a major shōshika (少子化, plummeting birth rate) syndrome, but a cursory glance at the entertainment industry reveals a singular fact: The young people of this country are well and thriving, and huddled together in mass aidoru gurūpu ...

Voting for idols is bigger than politics

| Jul 1, 2013

Voting for idols is bigger than politics

by Minoru Matsutani

Elsewhere in the world, the kind of sōsenkyo (総選挙, general election) that fires up public interest and garners media attention is one where political parties compete for national office. In Japan, however, the sōsenkyo of aidoru gurūpu (アイドルグループ, idol group) AKB48 tends to grab ...

Thoughts of rice and Japanese men

| Jun 17, 2013

Thoughts of rice and Japanese men

by Kaori Shoji

If you’re like me or the men in my life, you probably broke down and wept for joy on June 4, when Japanese midfielder Keisuke Honda scored the goal that bagged Japan’s slot in the FIFA World Cup next year. At such sports events, ...