Why the Japanese Are Bad at Foreign Languages (Part 1)

Many Japanese people lament their inability to carry out a proper conversation in English despite 10 years of study during junior high, high school and university.

While anyone who has taught English at a public school in Japan would probably be quick to point their finger at a curriculum still largely grounded in rote memorization and strange textbook phrases, it’s also important to realize that Japanese has absolutely nothing in common with any of the European languages and most other languages in the world.

But aside this inherent disadvantage, there just seems to be something about Japanese people that makes them terrible with foreign languages.

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Limited Edition Pikachu Yellow 3DS LL Sells Out on First Day

A few weeks ago the Pokemon Company revealed the 3DS LL Pikachu Yellow, a limited edition version of the handheld console purchasable by preorder at Pokemon Center stores from August 25 to September 14.

To the surprise of no one, Japanese customers lined up outside and waited for over 4 hours to purchase the device, clearing out stocks at Pokemon Centers in Tokyo, Nagoya and Osaka on the first day.

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Live2D Provides a Leap in Animation by Merging the Best of 2D and 3D animations

I could never really get into those CGI animated movies like the ones Pixar makes.  For some reason the 3D animation always appeared stilted no matter how well it’s done.  Traditional 2D animation always had a much smoother and strangely more lifelike quality to it but it’s not without its limitations either especially in the realm of video games.

Live2D, developed by Cybernoids seems to have successfully taken the superior aesthetics of 2D art and rendered it into the superior flexibility and efficiency of 3D more smoothly than ever seen before.

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Japanese Clothing Ad Gives Us a Glimpse at the Real Japan

People often ask me why I moved to Japan and I say “to be with people like me – with blonde hair and blue eyes.”  Japan is a homogenous country to be sure, but a recent advertisement from clothing chain COMME ÇA ISM boldly challenges this mistaken stereotype that Japan is full of Japanese people.

It’s actually full of white people!

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Too Cute For Jail? Super Hot Mugshots

You think mugshot, you probably think of some haggard, seedy character looking back at you. It just goes to show, even cute girls end up in jail sometimes. Below are an assortment pretty faces and some not-so-tasteful comments from the peanut gallery in Japan.

And just because we know you’re wondering, apparently none of them were arrested for prostitution. Those gems are saved for the end.

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Tokyo Restaurant Serves Sheep Brain Curry, We Investigate

About 95-97% of the population of Pakistan is Muslim, which means there’s not a lot of pork eaten in the country. Pakistanis do, however, eat a lot of sheep. And when they eat sheep, they eat all of the sheep — meat, heart, genitals, brains, you name it and Pakistanis have a recipe for it.

If you know where to look, you can even find Pakistani restaurants here in Japan that serve dishes using some of the more exotic parts of the animal.

One such restaurant is Maruhaba in Ikebukuro, Tokyo, which serves sheep brain curry.

We recently sent reporter Mr. Sato to Maruhaba to try the dish out; after all, he looks like he could benefit from a little more brain.

His report follows below:

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There No Holding The Pickles on This Dog, Now The Pickle is The Dog

Hot dogs and summer go hand in hand.  They’re perfect for barbeques, ballgames, and camping.  But when the heat just doesn’t let up for months on end, many in Japan can’t tolerate a piping hot frank any more.

A small bakery in Kobe, Boulangerie Marui, has found the solution by combining the cooling effects of cucumbers with all the fun or eating a hot dog.  You can probably see where this is going.

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Why do Foreigners Like Japanese Manga so Much? We Head to Comiket to Find Out!

While manga is ubiquitous in Japan — just ride the subway in any major city and you’ll see people from all walks of life flipping through a comic book — many Japanese people are surprised to hear how popular manga has become overseas. After all, aren’t Westerners only interested in macho superheroes or short comic strips?

Perhaps that was the case in America before, but in recent years many major bookstores have begun to reserve more space near the front of the store for Japanese comics and in some European countries like France and Germany manga occupies a large portion of overall comic sales.

But why?

Earlier this month, we sent one of our Japanese reporters to Comic Market (or “Comiket“), the world’s largest self-published comic book fair and otaku mecca, to interview real live foreigners and ask them why they like Japanese manga so much.

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More Weirdness Spotted Over Japan, Pretty Blue Strip Stretches Across the Sky

This summer is shaping up to be a strange one with all the lightning lasers, glowing squid, and shed insect skin fashion. This time dozens of photos were taken of this most recent phenomenon that appeared over the Shonan Coast of Kanagawa Prefecture.

This blue streak is quite easily explained but to appear in this kind of location is still a bit of a mystery.

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Control Your House and Destiny with Future Home Controller!

Turning on lights, air conditioners, and other things only using your voice has long been a thing of movies and dreams. Now a Japanese company has made that possible, and only for a few hundred dollars! (Youtube video of the action included!)
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The Top 9 Things That Surprise Foreigners the Most About Japan

If you have ever been outside your own country, you most likely have experienced some form of culture shock.  In fact just visiting another city or town can make you aware of how things are done differently all over.  In Japan, some things are so surprisingly different for foreigners that there is some uniformity in the shock value.  Any Japanese with their eyes and ears open can be aware of what is most shocking to many foreigners.  It is makes for fascinating conversation, “What is most surprising about Japan to foreigners?  I heard…”  This riveting subject matter prompts reflection, a moment of feeling good about one’s culture, sprinkled with the ability to and laugh at oneself.

Here is a list of 9 things foreigners experience when first visiting Japan (according to Japanese columnist Ryoko Kozakai over at Excite, at least):
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Hatsune Miku 7-Eleven Parody Video Will Give You Nightmares

If you weren’t in the know (and by the know we mean Japan), Japanese convenience store chain Family Mart and Hatsune Miku are running a promotional campaign from August 14 to September 10 to celebrate the Vocaloid’s 5th birthday.

To spread word of the campaign, Family Mart created a 15-second television commercial featuring Miku singing the store’s signature jingle and posted it to YouTube on August 17, though a ripped version had been posted to Japanese video sharing site Nico Nico Douga a few days earlier.

One group of enterprising viewers saw the video and immediately got the idea for a parody, which he posted to Nico Nico and YouTube on August 19. The parody, titled “Miku LOVES Seven Campaign [Fiction]”. features a super deformed Hatsune Miku singing the Japanese 7-Eleven jingle and is absolutely terrifying.

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It seems there’s never a shortage of character-themed steamed buns (niku-man in Japanese) coming onto the market in Japan. In the past, we’ve seen buns modeled after Hatsune Miku, Spiderman, slime from Dragon Quest and Puyo Puyo to name a few. So who’s the newest character to be steamed into a tasty little bun? It’s none other than our beloved “cat of all trades”, Ms. Kitty! Read More

This Year Olypmia International Buffet is Overflowing with Hot Sauce

Located under the Shin-Hankyu Hotel in Osaka is Olympia, an international buffet the likes of which you probably have never seen.  They offer foods of various nations from pizza, steak, seafood, rice dishes, pastas, soups, cakes, crepes, ice cream, etc. and everything is all-you-can-eat.

They change the foods available depending on the season but this autumn line up called “An Autumn Bumper Crop’s Blessing” looks to have some unique ideas set to satisfy even the heartiest eater.  The most original addition being the giant hot sauce fountain!

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Obama Family Matryoshka Dolls Found in Sakhalin, But Something’s Wrong With Bo…

Nothing says traditional Russian fold crafts like Matryoshka dolls. Go to any gift shop in Russia and you’re sure to find a set of the little wooden figures on sale.

Sometimes you can even find dolls painted with a quirky theme, such as famous musical acts or soviet leaders. One of our reporters came across a set of President Obama & family Matryoshka dolls on sale for about US $30 at a souvenir shop in Sakhalin.

Needless to say, he bought it on the spot.

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Fail Dude at Anti-Japan Protests in China Invites Self-Destruction, Causes Global Ripples

Violent anti-Japan protests, triggered by the recent landing of activists from China on some disputed islands, are now being reported in various cities in China. Less dramatic than the trashing of Chinese-owned Japanese cars and vandalism of Chinese-staffed Japanese restaurants, there have been calls to boycott Japan-made goods, which makes this fellow below a bit of a curiosity.

Check out the gear he’s wearingRead More

Tokyo Electric Employee’s Children Targets for Bullying, Forced to Give Money to Classmates to Repay Rate Hikes

Tokyo Electric Power Company has lost a considerable amount of goodwill following last year’s nuclear disaster.  While the level of blame that should be placed on the company as a whole is still to be determined, low level employees of the company often face the immediate brunt of the hostility.

It appears now that even the children of TEPCO employees are having to answer for the choices their parents’ employers made by their classmates. But how are elementary school students so up to speed on the nation’s energy situation?

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Educational Dining – Learn Your Cuts of Beef as You Eat!

Going into a Yakiniku restaurant (a Korean-style BBQ joint) in Japan, you’re usually greeted/slapped in the face with a long menu with many different choices – various parts from various edible animals. Actually, unless you have some strong or specific dislikes, choosing at random can still be a very delicious and fun experience. You may even start to remember which cuts of meat you prefer. One restaurant has now come up with a clever way you can enjoy a taster from all the various parts of a cow while learning exactly where they all came from. Read More

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