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Tokyo Named Third Most “Magnetic” City2017.11.10

In October 2017, Tokyo was named the third most “magnetic” city in the world based on its power to attract creative individuals and enterprises. The Global Power City Index, published by the Mori Memorial Foundation, ranked 44 major cities in 2017, its tenth year. Cities are scored for six functions: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment, and accessi…

The Words of 20172017.11.10

Jiyū Kokumin Sha, a publisher of language reference texts, has released its highly anticipated nominees for Japan’s “Words of the Year.” Read on to learn the 30 terms and phrases that encapsulate 2017 for the Japanese public.

Naming the Pandas2017.09.29

A panda cub at Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo has been seizing Japanese headlines ever since its birth in June 2017. Amid much fanfare, its name was announced on September 25 as Shan Shan. Or should that be Xiang Xiang? As symbols of Sino-Japanese cooperation, the animals’ names fall into something of a gray area between the two languages. Ueno Zoo now has three pandas. The cub’s mother is Shin Shin and the …

The Gift Locomotive That Charmed Samurai Japan2017.08.05

Trains have undoubtedly been one of the most transformative technologies in Japan’s history, dramatically changing the landscape of the country and its cities. They have also become much loved as an iconic and reliable form of transportation. The origins of this train fever can be traced back more than 160 years. In July 1853, Yevfimiy Putyatin of the Russian navy made the first demonstration…

Rice Cooker Pancakes: A Culinary Adventure2017.07.22

The first automatic rice cooker, or suihanki, debuted in Japan back in 1955. Since then, these revolutionary appliances have evolved to crank out an ever-more-perfect bowl of piping hot gohan. Understandably, developers have given precedence to Japan’s glutinous, white staple. Curiosity being what it is, though, a small band of gastronomic buccaneers have succeeded in showing the world that there …

Poop-Themed Kanji Study Book a Bestseller in Japan2017.04.21

Japan’s latest publishing sensation is a godsend for parents fretting over how to get their children focused on learning kanji. Unko kanji doriru (Poop Kanji Drills) applies a mountain of excrement to the problem with over 3,000 example sentences featuring the word unko (poop). The elementary school student’s fascination with the smelly theme has propelled the six-book series (one for each eleme…

Five Japanese Albums from the 1970s2017.04.08

Not a top-five list, and not meant to be definitive in any way, but here are five albums that hit Japan’s record stores—and its charts—in the 1970s. Listen and enjoy! Translating roughly as “Windy City Romance,” weather is a theme that runs through several of the tracks on Happy End’s folk rock classic, including “Kaze o atsumete” (Gather the Wind), which featured on the Lost in Translation sou…

Five Japanese Emperors2017.01.28

Japan’s imperial system extends back through the nation’s recorded history and into legendary prehistory. Emperors rarely ruled directly, but have often been influential in politics. They also play a priestly role in Shintō, and are traditionally considered to descend in a direct line from the sun goddess Amaterasu. Japan’s fabled first-ever emperor founded the country in 660 BC, according …

2016: The Winning Words2016.12.01

Kamitteru, or “godlike,” topped this year’s finalists to be recognized as the word of the year for 2016. Other selections in the 10-strong finalist pool shed light on the economy, current events, and celebrity romances and scandals that left an impact on Japanese news-watchers—and their vocabularies—over the past year.

The Words of 20162016.11.18

Once again, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha has selected the nominees for its “Words of the Year” award. Learn about these 30 terms that help to show how the Japanese saw the year that will soon be finished.

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