history

Learn about Japanese history with cute smartphone samurai warrior cats!

Earlier this year, we brought you news of cute earphone jack puppies, perched atop owners’ smartphones in a number of irresistibly cute poses. Just when we thought things couldn’t get any cuter, the company behind the adorable animals announced an update to the series with an extraordinary litter of samurai warrior kittens.

If you like your cats with a side of history, this could be the most perfect gift you could ever wish for.

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Wreckage of World War II-era Japanese submersible aircraft carrier found off Hawaii

Japan and the nations the English-speaking RocketNews24 team hail from are on good terms these days, but just a few generations ago things weren’t so friendly. While the greatest scientific minds of Japan today focus on putting solar panels on the moon or turning algae into fuel, during the 1930s and 40s weapons development was a much bigger growth area than green energy.

Recently, the wreckage of one of the Japanese Imperial Navy’s most advanced pieces of equipment from World War II was discovered off the coast of Hawaii. What exactly was it? A submarine, or maybe an aircraft carrier?

It was both.

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101 scenes of old Japan: A collection of photos taken over a century ago

We previously presented photos once used to promote tourism to Japan over 100 years ago. Now we’d like to show even more glimpses of life in Japan during that time. These photos show people at work, rest, play, and war. Some are black and white, others are meticulously handpainted in full color. There’s a lot of variety in these images but they all construct a bigger picture of what it was like to be here back in the 19th century.

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“Good luck with the exam!” US comic depicting Japanese WWII pilot met with chuckles in Japan

Although they are sometimes considered to be the pastime of kids and teenagers, modern comics and graphic novels often deal with some incredibly heavy and moving content. Craig Thompson’s Blankets, for example, is a spellbinding journey that will melt any adult’s heart, and despite using mice as protagonists, Art Spiegelman’s retelling of his Holocaust survivor father’s experiences in Maus was so moving that it was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1992.

The following American comic deals with equally heavy content: the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. The comic lost a little credibility amongst Japanese readers earlier today, however, when one netizen noticed that it shows one of the pilots preparing for the attack by donning what appears to be a headband much more likely to be worn by school kids studying for a big exam than someone going on a mission from which they may not return.

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Evangelion? Cool. Katana? Cool. Evangelion and katana? Very cool!

Evangelion, known to its fans simply as Eva, has already earned itself a spot in history as one of Japan’s most popular anime ever. The franchise has such wide appeal that its characters have been used to promote everything from lingerie to cheeseburgers.

Now, Eva’s cast of teenage protagonists is helping to drum up interest in something a little more traditional than the high-tech robots they usually pilot with their newest promotional crossover, the Evangelion and Japanese Sword Exhibition.

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Why old Japanese women have names in katakana

Amidst all of the controversy flaring up in Japan over “kirakira names,” the question was raised concerning a rather peculiar name trait shared by many old Japanese women. A large number of aging grandmothers have names written in katakana, the phonetic alphabet that modern Japan usually reserves for foreign words. It’s a trend attributed to the Meiji and Taisho eras (roughly spanning the years 1868 to 1926), and sure enough, it’s no coincidence. Read More

Japanese netizens share favorite quotes on marriage, not a single positive one in the bunch

“Marriage, in contrast to the flu, starts with a fever and ends with the chills.”
(Georg Christoph Lichtenberg)

This quote by the German scientist/writer was the opening salvo to an online sharing session of people’s favorite marriage-related quotes. However, this was far from a lovefest. In fact, every single quote was anti-marriage or at the very least cautionary with regards to tying the knot.

If you’re wondering why more and more young Japanese people are turned off by the institution of marriage, these favored quotes may shed some light, or perhaps darkness, on the situation.

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New discovery at Kyoto’s Nijo Castle baffles and inspires us

Though we usually think of history as being something static and forever unchanging, the constant flow of new information has an interesting effect on how we view the past. A recent discovery at Nijo Castle, the palace fortress which once belonged to the Tokugawa shoguns in Kyoto, has presented us with a new, confusing mystery.

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Old-timey Japanese women are not ones to be messed with

A photo surfaced on the internet recently which shows us a typical day at the office for a couple of ladies a long time ago in Japan. They look almost bored as they unload 300 kg (661 lbs) of rice each on their backs.

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The first photos ever used for Japanese tourism show Japan as it was 100 years ago

A collection of 100-year-old hand-painted photos has been captivating Japanese netizens recently, both for their beauty and their significance. Taken at the beginning of the twentieth century by the well-known photographer, Kōzaburō Tamamura, these were the first pictures ever used to promote Japan to the world. The series reveals some gorgeous scenes of everyday life and places of natural beauty, in a Japan that was previously cut off to the world for centuries.

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We enlist at “Nation at War Tavern”, where luxury is the enemy and you can step back in time

On 15 August, 1945 Japan had announced their surrender and set the end of World War II in motion. However, in one small space tucked away in Kagoshima City the atmosphere of that time over 60 years ago has been preserved.

Upon hearing of this unique location one of our reporters headed down to see if Nation at War Tavern (Gunkoku Sakaba) could really take us back to a very different Japan. The following is their report.

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From horseless carriages to iPhone5S, the world during 116-year-old Jiroemon Kimura’s lifetime

Time is a tricky thing. It has a way of slipping by when you least notice it. I remember thinking things like 8-tracks were ancient only to find that a whole new generation is on the horizon who’ll think that way about compact discs.

And yet I can only imagine how Jiroemon Kimura feels. At age 116, being the oldest person alive, the oldest man ever and the last living person who was around in the 19th century, you could probably say he’s seen it all.

In fact, let’s take a quick look at a few things Mr. Kimura has lived through to get a  better appreciation of what it’s like being 116.

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Japan as it Once Was: 20 Stunning Photographs

Surrounded by multi-story buildings and forever glued to our computers and smartphones, we often forget that the world we live in was once a much simpler place. People took time over writing letters, arranged to meet with friends and loved ones well in advance and, without streaming video and compact, waterproof music players to keep us entertained, took the time to appreciate the little things in life.

As a reminder of Japan’s once much more subdued yet intrinsically beautiful lifestyle, RocketNews24‘s sister site Pouch presents us with the following collection of photographs, which feature stunning Japanese gardens, arching wooden bridges over rivers, and ordinary folk just going about their day some 100 years ago.

So grab yourself a cup of tea, switch your phone to silent mode and take a few minutes to appreciate just how different life in Japan used to be.

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Flat-Screen Folk Art Rallies to Save the Surprisingly Deep Culture of Putting Stuff on Top of Your TV Set

After the recent switch from analog to digital terrestrial broadcasting in Japan, more and more people are making the switch to flat screen units.  And as the streets find themselves more and more littered with discarded boxy cathode ray tube model TV’s, Japan may have accidentally thrown something else in the trash – a piece of their culture and heritage.

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