Category Archives: CULTURE

Trickster: Edogawa Ranpo "Shounen Tanteidan" yori Episode 15 Impression

Source: Spark Blog

On this episode, Yoshio and his teammates took on a task to escort a prisoner. Meanwhile, Kensuke refuses to be in contact with Yoshio and attempts to live his own life.

Yoshio is just surprisingly becoming a way better character than Kensuke compared to the beginning where it was the opposite. I hope Kensuke can get his act together real soon before the final episode. Other than that, the current case for Yoshio is getting pretty interesting because of how he’s getting smarter to react on certain situations. Now can Yoshio do something about the prisoner and the mysterious people coming after the prisoner? I can’t wait to find out. Overall, interesting prisoner escort case.

Conclusion: Interesting prisoner escort case. …continue reading


Music Monday: The Watanabes

The Watanabes have about as much in common with the popular Japanese surname as the English band The Smiths have with, well, Smith. The 80s English band once said “[The Smiths] was the most ordinary name and I thought it was time that the ordinary folk of the world showed their faces.” And it’s with a similar dedication that British brothers Duncan and Selwyn Walsh decided to form the Watanabes and establish Japan as both their base and muse.

The Watanabes in Yoyogi Park

Active in the music scene since 2005, the Watanabes are an indie folk band who blend Simon and Garfunkel-esque melodies with the Japanese experience. It’s as if Belle and Sebastion were airlifted out of Scotland and dropped in the center of Tokyo. The brothers are often joined by Ayumi Sato on bass, Tomoyuki Yamada on drums and Lensei Nishizawa on piano.

The music is lovely but the videos, too, are essential watching for any fan of Tokyo as the band routinely films along rivers and in streets and parks that Tokyoites may recognize. Their most recent video Over Romantic is embedded above.

I would also recommend checking out some of their older stuff like Yuriko Yuriko (below). The Watanabes play live gigs around Tokyo several times a year so check them out if you’re around.

Like what you hear? You can find more of their music on YouTube. Never Young Beach is also on Twitter and Facebook. And be sure to check out our other Music Monday picks.

…continue reading


Japan’s favourite characters

2010 Japan Trip 1 Day 10

Today let’s have a ranking from Macromill Research for a change, a look at Japan’s favourite characters.

My favourite is number 10, followed by number 8 then 5, I suppose. Number 3 would be much higher-ranked if it wasn’t for the fact that in Japan it is only the Disneyfied version that does the rounds.

Let’s do this ranking graphically and in reverse order:

Ranking results

Q1: Which are your favourite characters? (Sample size=1,000, multiple answer, top 10 answers)

Rank Percentage
10 Rilakkuma 22.4%
Donald Duck
8 funasy フナッシー
7 Moomin Café at Canal City, Fukuoka
6 Doraemon
5 Jason Bourne Japan Premiere: Matt Damon & Kumamon
4 Snoopy cafe, Yufuin
3 READ the Pooh
Winnie the Pooh
2 Cubic Mouth Mickey
Mickey Mouse
1 Ghibli Museum ジブリ美術館

Q2: Which are your favourite characters? (Sample size=1,000, multiple answer, top 6 answers)

Rank Twenties/>N=200 Thirties/>N=253 Forties/>N=298 Fifties/>N=249
1 Totoro Totoro Totoro Totoro
2 Mickey Mouse Mickey Mouse Snoopy Mickey Mouse
3 Winnie the Pooh Doraemon Winnie the Pooh Snoopy
4 Pikachu Winnie the Pooh Mickey Mouse Winnie the Pooh
5 Donald Duck Snoopy Doraemon Kumamon
6 Snoopy Kumamon Gundam Funasshi, Moomin

Q3: Which are your favourite characters? (Sample size=1,000, multiple answer, top 6 answers)

Rank Male
1 Totoro Totoro
2 Doraemon Winnie the Pooh
3 Mickey Mouse Snoopy
4 Gundam Mickey Mouse
5 Kumamon Moomin
6 Funasshi Minnie Mouse


Between the 29th of December 2016 and the 4th of January 2017 1,000 members of the Macromill monitor group aged between 20 and 59 years old with demographics reflecting the demographics of the population of Japan according to the 2015 census.

…continue reading


3 Must-Watch Japanese Dramas

Photo by leonardohwan on

When learning a new language the biggest challenge one could face is improving their listening skills. Especially when they are not living in that country.

I have seen students buy listening practice materials and books for the choukai (聴解) section of the JLPT. There is no doubt that JLPT choukai (聴解) books will familiarise you with the question patterns, but I believe there is a much better way to improve your Japanese listening skills. Watching Japanese films (映画 eiga), dramas (ドラマ dorama) or anime (アニメ) series is not only interesting, it also improves you choukai (聴解) skills.

Many Japanese dramas (ドラマ dorama) are live-action adaptations of manga (漫画). In this post I am going to introduce you to 3 of my favourite Japanese dramas (ドラマ dorama). Hope you like them!

Oshin おしん

Years: 1983, 1984 Genre: Life

It is a rags to riches story of a self-made girl who was born into a poor family of a farmer in Yamagata prefecture (山形県 Yamagata-ken) of Japan. With too many mouths to feed in the household, Oshin was sent away at a young age to work as a maid, by her father.

The drama tells the life story of Oshin, her struggles and determination, as she makes her way towards becoming a strong and independent woman. Since this story is set during pre and post World War 2 (第二次世界大戦 Dainijisekaitaisen), you can get an idea about Japan’s social (社会的 shakaiteki) and economic (経済的 keizaiteki) conditions during those days.

Gokusen ごくせん

Years: 2002, 2005, 2008 Genre: Comedy

Granddaughter of a powerful gangster (ヤクザ yakuza), Kumiko Yamaguchi becomes a high school homeroom teacher (担任の先生 tanin no sensei) after she graduated. The drama shows how she manages a classroom of unruly and stubborn kids. She bonds with her students and saves them from dangers. …continue reading


Kayashima: The Japanese Train Station Built Around a 700 Year Old Tree

a 700-year old camphor tree pokes its head out of Kayashima Station (photo by Kosaku Mimura/Nikkei)

In the Northeast suburbs of central Osaka stands a curious train station unlike any other. Kayashima Station features a rectangular hole cut into the roof of the elevated platform and, from inside, a giant tree pokes its head out like a stalk of broccoli. It’s almost like a railway version of Laputa.

The large camphor tree is older than most records but officials believe it to be around 700 years old. The story of how this tree and station became, quite literally, intertwined, varies depending on who you ask. It certainly has to do with a great reverence for nature, but also a fair amount of superstition.

Kayashima Station in 1968, 4 years before plans to cut it down (photo via “me de miru neyagawashi no hyakunen)

Kayashima Station first opened in 1910 and, at the time, the camphor tree stood right next to the station. For the next 60 years the station remained largely unchanged. But an increase in population and overcrowding began to put pressure on the station and plans for an expansion where approved in 1972, which called for the tree to be cut down.

But the camphor tree had long been associated with a local shrine and deity. And when locals found out that station officials planned to remove the tree there was a large uproar. Tales began to emerge about the tree being angry, and unfortunate events befalling anyone who attempted to cut it down. Someone who cut a branch off later in the day developed a high fever. A white snake was spotted, wrapped around the tree. Some even …continue reading