Comprehensive series of articles on themes too broad or complex to be addressed in a single post.

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“Emoji”Japan Glances

Emoji began as 176 primitive characters developed by telecommunications giant Docomo. They are now used all over the world as a fun way of enhancing electronic communication.

Japanese Restaurants On the Rise AbroadJapan Data

The number of Japanese restaurants outside Japan reached 89,000 in July 2015, up sharply from 55,000 two years earlier. Many of these restaurants serve dishes that depart considerably from what the Japanese would consider to be traditional taste, though, and some see a need for measures—spearheaded by the Agriculture Ministry so far—to boost the quality of these overseas eateries.

Japan’s Radio CalisthenicsJapan Glances

Japan’s custom of radio calisthenics, short exercise routines set to music, first emerged around 90 years ago. It was once common for groups to practice different varieties of rajio taisō in parks and open spaces. While the custom has declined, many are now looking to the exercise routines as a way to help Japan’s graying society stay fit.

Timeline for January 2016Japan Timeline

The Nikkei index falls to its lowest level since October 2014, Emperor Akihito and Empress Michiko visit the Philippines, and Minister for Economic Revitalization Amari Akira announces his resignation. These are the main Japan-related stories of January 2016.

Japan Sets New Record with Nearly 20 Million International Arrivals in 2015Japan Data

Japan saw a record 19.7 million international visitors in 2015. This included almost 5 million Chinese tourists, more than double the number for 2014, whose extravagant spending helped push total travel outlays for the year to over ¥3 trillion.

“Setsubun”Japan Glances

According to the traditional Chinese calendar, setsubun marked the divisions between seasons. In Japan, the special day called Setsubun is widely observed on February 3, the demarcation between the end of winter and risshun, or the beginning of spring. Families celebrate with bean throwing and paper ogre masks.

Pharmaceutical Pioneer Continues Soothing Japan’s Ills in Its Fifth CenturyBusinesses Made in NipponKikuchi Masanori

Uzukyūmeigan’s flagship product, based on traditional Chinese medicine, remains a favored treatment in Japan for small children’s nocturnal crying. The company’s top executives describe their commitment to honoring the tradition they have inherited and to achieving renewed corporate vitality.

Japan’s Gender ImbalanceJapan Data

While Prime Minister Abe Shinzō has promoted the slogan of creating a society where women can shine, Japan continues to struggle to bridge its gender gap. The country languishes at 101st, the lowest among advanced nations, on the World Economic Forum’s global index on gender equality.

“Kaiten-zushi” (Conveyor-Belt Sushi)Japan Glances

Kaiten-zushi (conveyor-belt sushi) restaurants are a cheap and casual way to enjoy Japan’s most famous food, as customers simply pick up dishes as they pass by on the belt or make orders from touchscreens.

“Explosive Buying” Proof of a Successful Retailing StrategyBuilding Bridges Between Japan and China

Luo Yiwen is the Chinese-born president of Tokyo-based tax-free electronics retailer Laox, which has been one major beneficiary of the Chinese shopping sprees known as bakugai or “explosive buying.” His policies aimed at customers from China and other foreign countries have paid off in a big way.

Tourism Emerges as New Economic PillarJapan Data

Japan’s finance ministry announced that visitors to Japan in January–October 2015 outspent their Japanese counterparts overseas by more than ¥900 billion, launching the country’s balance of payments for travel into the black for the first time in decades. Figures were bolstered in part by a weaker yen, which has helped make Japan an appealing destination for tourists.

Drugstores in JapanJapan Glances

Japanese drugstores stock a tremendous variety of daily necessities, including pharmaceuticals, cosmetics, cleaning products, and toiletries, as well as snacks and drinks. Many shops offer these items at discount prices. The prevalence and convenient location of outlets and their abundant product selection has made these stores a regular facet of life in Japan.

The Japanese School SystemJapan Glances

Compulsory education lasts for nine years in Japan, between the ages of 6 and 15. Most students continue to get a high school education at least, while there are various higher education options beyond that.

“Seijinshiki” (Coming-of-Age Ceremonies)Japan Glances

Japanese celebrate turning 20 with seijinshiki, or coming-of-age ceremonies. Held on Coming of Age Day on the second Monday in January, young men and women dress in suits and kimonos to attend events held throughout the country.

Timeline for December 2015Japan Timeline

The government endorses exemptions for food in the country’s upcoming consumption tax hike, the Supreme Court upholds a law requiring married couples to have the same last name, and Japan and Korea reach a potentially ground-breaking agreement on the "comfort women" issue. Here are the top Japan-related stories for December 2015.

Japan’s Changing Attitude to SmokingJapan Glances

Japan is working to improve smoking manners in the country. A growing number of municipalities are passing ordinances banning the practice indoors and in public spaces, relegating smokers to designated areas. With the 2020 Olympic Games just over the horizon, the push to clear the air of secondhand smoke is gaining momentum.

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