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The Words of 2015Nippon.com Staff

The publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha has selected the nominees for its "Words of the Year" award. Read our introductions to 50 terms that paint a picture of what sort of year 2015 was for Japan.

When Japonism Bewitched EuropeWatanabe Hirotaka

Today art from Japan has worldwide cultural impact and is a familiar part of the global artistic scene. Up through the early modern era, though, Japanese art was a bolt from the blue—something entirely new to viewers overseas, who saw it as something fresh and surprisingly sophisticated. This was the dawn of Japonism.

Coffee and Identity at Starbucks Japan: A Matter of CulturePablo Figueroa

In his witty article “The Name on My Coffee Cup,” published in the New Yorker, Saïd Sayrafiezadeh describes how his name is systematically misspelled when ordering coffee at American Starbucks—“Zal,” “Sowl,” “Sagi,” “Shi.” In the United States, Starbucks employees write down your name on the coffee cup. I had never given thought to this before—every time I went to Starbucks in Seattle or Los Angel…

Soaking up the Benefits: Japan’s Hot Springs TraditionMatsuda Tadanori

Japanese people have loved onsen since ancient times for the comfort they bring to mind and body. We introduce the beauty benefits and anti-ageing effects offered by hot springs while examining the relationship between the Japanese people and onsen.

Professor Onsen’s Top Hot SpringsMatsuda Tadanori

Japan is blessed with over 3,000 onsen (hot-spring) areas, but here we look at 12 specially selected by Matsuda Tadanori, a leading expert who has been dubbed “Professor Onsen.” These are hot spring destinations whose invigorating waters and age-old traditions set them apart.

“Ōmisoka”: Ringing Out the Year in JapanNippon.com Staff

December 31 is arguably one of the most significant dates on the Japanese calendar. Known as ōmisoka, it encompasses a range of special customs and observances, both traditional and modern, intended to set people on the right foot for the coming New Year. Oshōgatsu (New Year) traditions are infused with the much-revered concept of engi, a noun that can broadly be translated as “luck.” Ensuring go…

The Words of 2014Nippon.com Staff

The publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha has selected the nominees for its "Words of the Year" award. Read our introductions to 50 terms that paint a picture of what sort of year 2014 was for Japan.

Japanese Studies Overseas: A Target for More Strategic SupportKawashima Shin

The field of Japanese studies in other countries is currently undergoing a major transformation in various respects. I would like to offer a quick overview of the concerns this raises based on what I have heard from researchers and academics working in this field. First of all, the focus of interest is rapidly shifting away from topics like literature and economic affairs to “soft culture” topi…

Local Branding in Rural Japan: Justin Potts

Japan’s rural communities today face a difficult task: they must create a local brand to get their unique products noticed. Helping them do this is American Justin Potts, an international business development director at Umari Inc. With an emphasis on connecting people and ideas, Potts works to promote the unique and abundant resources found in rural communities through a variety of innovative projects and events.

Leading Kyoto’s New Charm Offensive

The tradition-rich city of Kyoto has been honing itself in recent years to become an even more desirable tourist destination. Nippon.com sat down with the city’s mayor, Kadokawa Daisaku, to learn more about how Kyoto is changing for the better, while preserving its unique charm.

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