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Schoolchildren Bike to School in Japan

Japan is one Asian country that boasts of an active bicycle lifestyle for kids and adults. As such, one would see specific bicycle lanes around the country’s major cities and these are widely used by people of all ages and social standings every day.

Among the active bicycle users in Japan are the schoolchildren. Even in their uniforms, these young kids notably those already in the higher level are urged to pedal to and from school on a daily basis.

students biking in Japan

Schools in Japan prohibit parents from dropping off their kids by car. If they do, they have to drop off the child a few meters away from the school. This is because of the narrow roads around schools and the presence of many kids who can be at risk of accidents when cars are allowed to pass by the area. Continue reading »

Australian Model Miranda Kerr Becomes a Geisha for Vogue Japan Cover

Geishas have always been held in high regard in traditional Japanese culture, and while what the world may know about them may mainly come from the movie Memoirs of a Geisha, these female entertainers and hostesses are highly trained in a wide array of Japanese arts including classical music, dance, games, and the art of conversation. They were – are – truly one of the symbols of Japanese culture.

Miranda Kerr
Source

Perhaps that is why the new Vogue Japan cover is making waves. Continue reading »

Comfort Women: Who and Where are They?

In Asia, the words “comfort women” strikes a chord to people who are aware of such reference to older females. Although a reality, the term often causes an unpleasant emotion particularly among female citizens of Asian countries occupied by the Japanese Imperial Army during the Second World War.

It was during World War II when tens of thousands of young women mostly teenagers were forced to become the sex slaves of Japanese soldiers. This was not limited to a single country as the trade was done in China, Taiwan, Korea, Indonesia and the Philippines. Even the Dutch women were not spared.

comfort women

Due to the ordeal that they went through under the Japanese military, it was taboo to discuss the issue publicly in the past. It was only in the 1990s when the media reported about such cases in the hope of calling the attention of Japan and prompt the government to make an apology for such intolerable acts against young Asian women. Various women groups sought these comfort women from different Asian countries to find out their experiences and to urge Japan to claim responsibility, apologize and pay compensation for their victims. Continue reading »

Tensions in Asia Stoke Rising Nationalism in Japan

Tension is high in Asia as several countries in the region are involved in territorial disputes particularly in the China Sea. China is in the forefront for being in conflict with Japan and other Asian nations.

China has been in a row for years now over islands which it claims to be part of its territory. It claims most parts of the South China Sea and does not accept any claims to any part of those areas from countries such as Brunei, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam.

China-Japan Islands Dispute

While China insists it owns most of the islands in the South China Sea, it is also claiming ownership of the Senkaky/Daioyu islands in the East China Sea currently controlled by Japan. Since 1895, the area has been controlled by Japan but China has been stressing that the islands have long been the fishing ground of its people. Continue reading »

4 Popular Japanese Board Games

There may be universal board games that people love to play during their leisure time. They are normally played by two people although there are some that allow multiple players.

Each country, however, has its own traditional board games for adults that its citizens have grown to love. Japan is no exception. This land of the rising sun may be known to be a leader in technology including the popular electronic gadgets a lot of people own today but it also boasts of board games that have a cultural significance to the country and its people.

Gomoku

Gomoku

Gomoku is an abstract strategy board game traditionally played using Go pieces or the black and white stones. Also referred to as Gobang or Five in a Row, it makes use of a go board with 19×19 intersections although it may be played using a paper and pen as well. Continue reading »

Top Japan Blogs in English

Japan is among the top tourist destinations in Asia. It has so much to offer its visitors in terms of attractions, products and even its rich culture.

Today, however, people around the world eager to learn more about this land of the rising sun need not spend a fortune and book a trip to the country. Thanks to the internet, the world has become smaller allowing users of all ages to travel the globe in the comforts of their home.

There’s so much information about Japan available online these days. And contrary to what others think that they’re mostly in the Japanese language, there are actually many quality blogs for English speakers although not necessarily managed by the Japanese. Depending on what information you’re looking for, there’s one Japan blog in English you can find on the web. Below are some of them worth visiting. Continue reading »

Famous Japanese Garden Designs

Japanese gardens are some of the world’s most beautiful. They’re designed for special purposes with certain traditions being applied and most of the time, they appear as mini landscapes with clean lines. Being the zen type, they are most ideal for meditation.

The Chinese gardens had an initial influence but eventually particularly during the Edo period, Japan developed its own style using indigenous materials and by applying their own culture.

Contrary to what some people believe, it’s not all the time that a Japanese garden involves rock and water. There are some designs that feature only sand or simply a grass covered area with trees around.

The basic elements of this type of zen garden are plants, rocks and water. Continue reading »

Washoku Japanese Food Culture now a World Heritage

Japan boasts of many traditional food that involves a set procedure in preparing and cooking the ingredients. Some are known worldwide while the others are known only to the Japanese.

The washoku cuisine is just one of the traditional cuisines of the land of the rising son. It is popular for being healthy and pleasant to the eyes.

washoku

Just recently, UNESCO designated the washoku as an intangible cultural heritage. Right now, 21 Japanese assets approved by the country’s government are in this prestigious list. Washoku is the first asset related to food included in this list. Continue reading »

Top Bathtub Ingredients for the Japanese

The Japanese love to use their bathtubs as often as they can. In fact, they have a bathing culture known worldwide. Additionally, they have a choice between pampering themselves in the comfort of their homes or in a public bath.

People from the land of the rising sun believe in the healing power of a hot bath. Also, they don’t just use pure water because most often than not, they include some natural ingredients that help keep their body warm even during the cold winter months.

japanese-bath

Here are the most popular bath add-ins you might be interested in using yourself.

Ginger

Apart from its benefit in one’s health such as relieving sore throat, protecting against colds, lowering blood pressure and improving one’s appetite, ginger also helps keep the body warm. In addition, those who regularly use this root crop claim that ginger’s strong aroma helps relieve their headaches. Continue reading »

How to Use and Behave in a Public Bath

Public baths have been in existence since the ancient period. The Romans and the Greeks were known to be the first to use them.

japanese-bath

In Japan, these baths particularly the hot springs or onsen are also common. It originated from the traditional ritual of purifying with water called Misogi. This was after the country adopted the Buddhist culture which allowed temples to have saunas open for the public to use.

Unisex public bath was normal in the past but today, there are separate areas for the males and females. Regardless of the area you’ll be using, it is very important to know the proper etiquette when using these facilities. Expats and foreign visitors should be aware of these to ensure the Japanese don’t get offended. Continue reading »