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“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

UPDATE: The winners and the top-10 list have been announced! Click here for our coverage.  Each year Jiyū Kokumin Sha, publisher of the popular annual reference Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge on Contemporary Terminology), selects its “most popular word of the year.” The terms in the running for this honor are the words and phrases that have figured largely in the zeitgeist of the p…

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.

Orchestrating Translations: The Case of Murakami HarukiIrmela Hijiya-Kirschnereit

On January 12, 2014, Japan’s “global author,” as he has been termed, celebrates his sixty-fifth birthday. Two days earlier was chosen for the publication of Murakami Haruki’s most recent novel in German: Die Pilgerjahre des farblosen Herrn Tazaki, which has been eagerly awaited by readers and the press since October 2013, when the publication date was announced. The rest of the story is predictabl…

2013: The Winning WordsPeter Durfee

Previously on this blog we introduced the 50 terms selected by Jiyū Kokumin Sha as the "words of 2013." Today the company announced its top 10 picks, along with the winners for the year—four of them this year, the most ever selected by the company. The four top terms of 2013 are:  今でしょ — Ima desho. "Why not now?" is the answer that exam prep school teacher Hayashi Osamu provides to his own que…

The Words of 2013Peter Durfee

UPDATE: The winning words have been announced. Click here to learn what they were! Each year Jiyū Kokumin Sha, publisher of the popular annual reference Gendai yōgo no kiso chishiki (Basic Knowledge on Contemporary Terminology), selects its "most popular word of the year" along with a top-ten list. The terms are those that have captured the popular imagination that year—the words on everyone's li…

Taiwan’s Complicated Love Affair With JapanHari Kyōko

In the late 1990s, a new group of “super fans” of Japanese culture began to emerge in Taiwan. Hari Kyōko, one of the movement’s leading figures, tells the story.

Japanese Soccer Gains from SpainHosoda Haruko

Recently I have noticed that several Japanese soccer players are thriving in Spain. One example is Kubo Takefusa, an elementary school student from Kanagawa Prefecture who has played for the Barcelona Football Club’s cantera (the club’s youth academy) since the 2011–12 season. Already Kubo has scored over 100 goals. The cantera is principally for local Spanish boys above seven years of age, wit…

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