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  • By this author: 63 Latest posted: 2018.12.12
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A Disastrous Kanji of the Year? “Wazawai” Picked as Top Character for 20182018.12.12

The year 2018 brought powerful earthquakes, brutal summer heat, torrential rains and flooding, and terrifying typhoons to Japan. It’s no wonder that the public selected 災 (sai or wazawai), meaning “disaster,” as the kanji of the year.

“So Da Nē!” Hokkaidō Curlers Provide 2018’s Top Word of the Year2018.12.03

At a Tokyo ceremony held on December 3, the publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha announced its 10 finalists for “Words of the Year,” along with the grand prize winner: So da nē, a phrase that won public favor and fame when the national women’s curling squad used it to encourage one another—“Yeah, that’s it!”—at the Pyeongchang Olympics in February.

On Everyone’s Lips: Candidates Announced for the Top Words of 20182018.11.08

As the year end approaches, the nation gears up to look back on the 12 months that were. The publisher Jiyū Kokumin Sha on November 7 issued its list of 30 candidates for the words or phrases of the year—the terms that best encapsulated the Japanese zeitgeist for 2018. Read on to see how Japan is talking about its year.

The 2018 Undōkai World Cup: Sports Festival Fun on Awaji Island2018.09.14

Autumn in Japan is the season for undōkai, the sports festivals that take place at just about every school in the country. This month the island of Awaji in Hyōgo Prefecture is hosting its third annual Undōkai World Cup, with fun events open to all and delicious prizes to win.

Connected by the Sea, Japan and Malta Forge New Relations2018.08.02

Sushi staples like ōtoro seem Japanese through and through. But if you have ever enjoyed a tasty serving of bluefin tuna in Japan, there’s a good chance that the fish originated in the Republic of Malta. The tiny Mediterranean island is the second largest exporter of bluefin to Japan, shipping over 5,000 tons in 2016. According to Maltese Prime Minister Dr. Joseph Muscat, growing Japanese demand f…

The Courage to Remember: Anne Frank and Sugihara Chiune Come to Osaka2018.07.01

Japan is home to a relatively small number of Jews. With only a handful of synagogues scattered across the country’s main cities, serving a Jewish population thought to number just several thousand, the ties between the Japanese and the global Jewish community remain low-key. There are efforts underway to deepen these ties, though. The Simon Wiesenthal Center, headquartered in Los Angeles, has …

Cooking Up a Storm: Making Meals in a Japanese Rice Cooker2018.06.01

Buying a Japanese automatic rice cooker may be the best culinary investment a person can make. Aside from simmering up perfectly cooked rice, these versatile gadgets can also knock out an array of gastronomic delights like fluffy desserts and hearty mealtime staples. Simply mix the ingredients in the pot and the appliance does all the work. Having previously explored the world of rice cooker pa…

Book Buzz: New Translations from Japanese in 20182018.04.19

Iconic author Murakami Haruki’s latest novel Killing Commendatore is set for an October English-language release. The story is centered on a portrait painter caught up in mysterious events after he happens on an undiscovered work in the house of a famous artist, where he is staying while separated from his wife. The book takes its title from the Mozart opera Don Giovanni and is influenced by the F…

Creepy Crawly Cuisine: Exploring Insects as the Future of Food2018.02.23

Global food shortages caused by overpopulation have long been on the radar as potential threats to humankind. And it is increasingly common knowledge that insects could provide a helpful nutritional alternative to current food sources. For the moment, though, there are few people actively considering the possibility of including bugs in their diet. Not that this would be a culinary innovation, …

Obituary: Iwao Sumiko, 1935–20182018.01.13

Iwao Sumiko, psychologist and professor emeritus at Keio University, passed away in Tokyo on January 11, 2018. She was 83. Born in Tokyo in 1935, Iwao attended Keio University before heading to the United States, where she earned a doctorate in psychology at Yale University. She would go on to serve as a visiting professor at Harvard University and a professor at her alma mater in Tokyo, as wel…

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