Japan Blog random header image

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 »

Capsule Hotels, a New Trend in Japan

If you’re traveling to Kyoto in Japan and are in a tight budget, there’s a way to stay in a decent accommodation without having to spend a fortune. Simply check in a capsule hotel which is the latest trend in the country.

Called the Nine Hours Hotel, this establishment does not have the usual hotel rooms. Instead, it features state-of-the-art sleeping pods that are available only to accommodate a guest for nine hours. Each pod is just a box enough to fit one individual or simply-put, it is the size of a coffin.

Capsule-Hotel

Yes, accommodation is for nine hours only. The first hour is allowed for getting ready for bed, the seven hours is for sleeping and the other one hour is allowed for getting ready in the morning after waking up and before checking out.

Three people are behind this new sci-fi hotel concept and innovative sleeping technology. They are Fumie Shibata and his Design Studio S plus Masaaki Hiromura and Takaaki Nakamura. The three came up with this new type of establishment with the belief that travelers need to be spending more time in their desired destination and as little time in their hotel, thus the nine hours of stay only. Each stay is worth $49 or 4,800 yen.

Capsule hotels are actually no longer new in Japan. They’ve been in existence since the 1970s. Unfortunately, they gained a bad reputation at that time as the only choice of drunken workers who have failed to take the last train home. Continue reading »

The Value of Persimmon in Japan

You may have heard this name only now or you may have heard about it many times in the past but did not bother to find out what it is. Persimmon is a fruit of Chinese origin that looks a lot like tomato and is a popular autumn and winter fruit.

JapanPersimmon

Originally, it was cultivated in Japan and China for centuries. It is called shizi in Chinese and kaki in Japan. Its botanical name is diospyros kaki and considered one of the oldest plants in cultivation.

From China, its cultivation later spread to East Asia (Japan in particular) then much later to California in the U.S., southern Europe in the 19th century and then to Brazil in the 1890s. Today, it is also grown in Italy, in the Mediterranean regions as well as in the U.S. and the Middle East. Continue reading »