Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

Springtime Sports!

April 6, 2015

Springtime Sports!

April is here, when many a sports fan’s fancy turns to the Major League Baseball opening game Honozumo sumo tournament at the Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo. All the sport’s heavyweights were at the ceremonial meet-up on Friday, the top sumo wrestlers from Mongolia, Georgia, Bulgaria and Estonia who currently dominate this quintessentially Japanese sport.

Here are some of the highlights and controversies:


Hatsune Miku

January 4, 2015

Japan’s virtual singing sensation Hatsune Miku (初音ミク), performing “The World Is Mine” for 3,000 fans at at Zepp Tokyo concert hall in Odaiba. Often called a “hologram,” Hatsune Miku is more properly a 2-D back-projected animation whose synthesized voice was sampled from voice actress Saki Fujita (藤田咲). Hatsune Miku means “First Sound from the Future.”

In October, Hatsune Miku played two concerts in New York and she and her human band appeared live on The David Letterman Show:


Space Christmas

December 28, 2014

“Space Christmas,” written by Naoko Yamano and performed by her with her group, Shonen Knife (“Boy Knife”).

“I wanna go to Pluto
I wanna go with you
Oh, I bring space food
They are marshmallow and ice cream”

— – “Space Christmas” lyrics

Christmas is a very different holiday in Japan, more about romance, gifts for pets, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and sweets:


Pizza Hut in Japan is Run by Cats

August 27, 2014

Pizza Hut in Japan is Run by Cats

Japan loves cats. Japan is obsessed with cats. There is Lucky Cat (Maneki Neko ), robot cat (Doraemon), and of course Hello Kitty. Japan has cat cafes. Now Japan’s cats are running Pizza Hut.


Domino’s Pizza in Japan

August 20, 2014

Domino's Pizza in Japan

Domino’s Pizza Enterprises, which operates pizza outlets in Australia, New Zealand, France, Belgium, Monaco, and the Netherlands, bought a 75 percent interest in Japan’s Domino’s Pizza chain last year. This year the 61 Japanese stores helped boost the profit pie a hot and tasty 48 percent.

And then there’s this:


Hello Kitty in Space!

August 18, 2014

Hello Kitty in Space!

Japanese novelty manufacturer Sanrio has put a 1.6-inch-tall Hello Kitty figure into space on board a Hodoyoshi-3 satellite to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the fictional feline’s introduction.

Of course, this isn’t Kitty’s first space trip. Last year Lauren Rojas of Antioch, California launched Hello Kitty 93,625 feet into space as a seventh grade science fair project.


What’s In a Name?

May 30, 2014

What's In a Name?

In an effort to attract English-speaking students, Japan’s Kinki University is changing its name. Actually, the old name probably sounds pretty attractive to most American teenagers ….

Kinki U (really “Kinki Daigaku”) refers to the school’s location in the Kinki (aka Kansai) region of Honshu Island, which includes the city of Osaka. Starting next year the school will be known as Kindai University.


“Kinki no more: With eye on foreign students, university opts for new name,” Tomohiro Osaki, Japan Times

“Japan’s Kinki University changes its name due to awkward English meaning,” Justin McCurry, The Guardian

“Japan’s Kinki University decides to change its naughty-sounding name,” Casey Baseel, RocketNews 24


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Becoming Sumo

May 13, 2014

Becoming Sumo

Sumo wrestler Ōsunaarashi Kintarō (大砂嵐金太郎) was born Abdelrahman Shalan in Egypt. In 2011 he came in third place at an international junior championship and moved to Tokyo to become a pro Sumo wrestler. His ring name means “Great Sandstorm.” After a 7–0 performance in a recent tournament, he advanced to the jūryō division. In July he will compete in a 15-day tournament while he fasts during Ramadan.


Hello Kitty Studies

October 4, 2013

Hello Kitty Studies
“How might we think with and through an object like Hello Kitty? What kinds of structures of feeling does Hello Kitty enable? What does Hello Kitty, in effect, do in the private worlds of her fans, as well as in the larger public world of global goods?”

Christine YanoPink Globalization: Hello Kitty’s Trek Across the Pacific, quoted in “Cat Power,” Ben Gabriel, The New Inquiry


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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht,

Comments are welcome if they are on-topic, substantive, concise, and not boring or obscene. Comments may be edited for clarity and length.

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Diapers in Japan

July 14, 2013

Diapers in Japan

The Nikkei said adult diapers are expected to outsell baby diapers in Japan by 2020, but according to Unicharm, Japan’s biggest diaper maker, the tipping point was in 2011.”