Japanese News and Culture Blog Roundup: 12/17/09-12/23/09


12/23/09: WIT Life #64: Kit Kat comparisons
Japan has a huge selection of seasonal goods, with new candies and drinks hanging around for a only a few weeks, then disappearing as suddenly as they arrived. One such candy is Kit Kats, with many unusual flavors being released each year. Read this post for reviews of ginger ale, azuki (red bean), Uji maccha (green tea), jasmine, and yuzu (grapefruit) Kit Kats.

12/21/09: WIT Life #63: The Lonely People
A post about a recent talk given in New York about loneliness in contemporary Japan. Issues “include karo-jisatsu (suicide by overwork), sekkusu-resu (sexless marriage), kateinai-rikon (in-house divorce) and hikikomori (complete social withdrawal).” An article in the New York Times noted that sometimes those suffering from depression simply have no one to talk to about their problems, and turn to suicide as the answer.

Tokyo Times

12/17/09: Japanese Special Attack Units training centre haikyo
A haunting photo essay of a visit to the abandoned Japanese Navy Torpedo Boat Training School in Kawatana, which dates to WWII. “Special Attack Units” in Japan referred to all manner of suicide soldiers, including Kamikaze (“Divine Wind”) pilots, Shinyo (“Sea Quake”) speed boats, Fukuryu (“Crouching Dragon”) divers, and Kaiten (“Change the World”) torpedoes. The last three were all trained at Kawatana in the late days of the war in a desperate effort to defend Japan from a potentially devastating invasion.

Japanese Pod 101

12/18/09: Learn Japanese Kanji – Everyday Kanji (Japanese Vending Machines)
Ah, the ubiquitous Japanese vending machine. From hot coffee to tea, cigarettes to beer, and flowers to fresh eggs (yes, seriously), there are plenty of vending machines for whatever your desire. Need batteries late at night? There’s a machine for that. Need instant ramen? You can grab that, too. Check out this helpful kanji tutorial to learn what you need to know to get your item NOW.

Japan Probe

12/21/09: Can tongue surgery improve English-speaking ability?
Really? Some parents in South Korea apparently think that their children have difficulty pronouncing English because their tongues are “too short,” so a surgery is offered called a lingual frenectomy. The post points out that the clinical claims of the surgery are dubious at best, and that the length of one’s tongue has nothing to do with what languages you can and cannot pronounce (well, unless your tongue is missing or cut terribly short). A later post talks about another surgery in South Korea that will alter the lines on your palms with lasers to make them more “auspicious.” Bizarre.

F*cked Gaijin

12/23/09: Joint History Review Can’t Agree on Nanjing
The Japan-China Joint History Research Committee, composed of scholars from both countries, cannot agree on the Nanjing Incident in terms of the number of victims, or even reasons for the Second Sino-Japanese War. Unsurprising, but it doesn’t make for a very useful report.

12/17/09: New gazillion-yen Ibaraki Airport has only 1 flight a day
Coverage of an article in the Yomiuri about the new Ibaraki Airport that will have no domestic flights, and only one international round-trip flight to Seoul per day. Why was this airport even built? It has been unable to lure domestic airlines, and has become a huge expense for the prefecture. Though knowing the Japanese government, that construction money had to be spent somewhere, even if it was for a useless project. Well, at least it’s not another dam?