Category Archives: EDUCATION

dim-sum and dragons


Homogeneity is often associated with Japanese society, rightly so with ethnic Japanese making up 99% of the population and the cultural tendency to embrace collectivism rather than individuality. However, just as more and more youth strive to stand out rather than fit in, that non-native 1% works to make their adopted land comfortable for them instead of forcing themselves to assimilate. You will find many foreign dining establishments manned by people of that extraction, many of them halal, and hear any number of tongues mixing in with Japanese, their speakers sometimes switching between the two. In terms of representation (not accommodation, that’s entirely different), English speakers are a minority, dwarfed by Chinese, Korean, and many others. A classmate even told me that housing agencies frequently place members of the same ethnicity in the same area of Tokyo, generalizing and sticking all foreigners together the secondary method followed by dropping them off in all-Japanese neighborhoods. This classmate was surprised when she arrived in her first apartment to a slew of welcome notes written in Chinese and a stand on the corner selling dumplings she termed “the only decent ones in this entire country.” Of course tensions between natives, permanent residents, and tourists (especially tourists), but exchange generally has more pros than cons. See: Crepes from France! Curry from India! K-pop from Korea that in turn spawned J-pop while remaining popular itself! And many more imports I’ve enjoyed thus far. One example the outside making a place for itself inside Japan permanently is Yokohama Chinatown.

I was lucky enough to be able to make the trip out to Chinatown, in the far reaches of Tokyo’s neighboring prefecture of Kanagawa but still accessible by the same metro line I commute on, during the Lunar New Year celebrations. Torrents of people traversed a network of …continue reading


131st Kanto 10 Mile Road Race

Source: Running Talk
The Kanto 10 Mile Road Race is the oldest 10-mile road race in the world, having begun during the Meiji period in 1886. The race starts and finishes next to a temple, about 10 minutes’ walk from Sogosando Station in Chiba Prefecture, close to Narita. Arriving at the race HQ in the temple grounds on the cold and windy morning of December 17th, there were runners standing around huddled in groups or laying on the ground relaxing.

From the little information that I had managed to obtain prior to the race, I knew that the last 1km of the race was all uphill. I searched for the start line on the road by the side of the temple, and set off to walk the last stretch of the course. Having confirmed that there was indeed a fairly steep hill from the 15km to 16km point, I stripped down and jogged the first 2km part of the course, which runs in the opposite direction along the road. I managed to get back to the start point just in time to watch the 10KM race start, which had a field of about 300 runners and was won this year in a time of 32:30.

Start of the 10 mile race

Surprisingly, the field for the 10-miler that gathered on the start line a few minutes later was much smaller, with just over 150 runners. I could see that there was a large contingent of runners from Juntendo University and Chuo University. Perhaps they were using the race as a final tune-up before the Hakone Ekiden at the beginning of January, the highlight of the university and running calendar in Japan. When the race started, the university teams began at a sprint, quickly rounding a bend in the road and passing the …continue reading


Is Foreign Language Learning Obsolete?

In a word, uh, yeah, kinda. Foreign language learning is obsolete, or will be soon enough. So you can cross interpreter and translator off your list career choices, along with elevator operator, taxi driver, doorman, cashier, bank teller, and Latin scholar. Reading the Japanese Menu About twelve years ago, I was lined up for a …

“Is Foreign Language Learning Obsolete?”

The post Is Foreign Language Learning Obsolete? appeared first on Japanese Rule of 7.

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Week 5 – Sumo Tournament


Preparations for the Tournament


Lunch with Hannah and Sarah while Awaiting the Start of the Tournament


Presentation of the Sumo Wrestlers


Chanting Prior to the Match


Sumo Wrestlers Prepare


Sumo Match Begins


Study Abroad Students on the Edges of their Seats


The Tournament Continues


Study Abroad Students Eagerly Await the Next Matches

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Burning The Candle At Both Ends: Japan’s Grave Public Childcare Problem

As of April 2017, 47,738 children across Japan were on waiting lists to get placed in a certified daycare center, with particularly long lists in Tokyo, Okinawa, Chiba and Oita. In households across Japan, families are tearing their hair out, trying to find childcare so that mothers can get back to work. Yet, the currently existing daycare enrollment “point system” used to judge “worthiness” of being assigned one of the rare spots in daycare, is still keeping women away from the office in most of Japan’s larger cities.

Hearing the stories of families dealing with the system is both saddening and enraging in equal measure. Besides the often mentioned paperwork insanity, it is clear that the system was designed for a different generation and with the idea that one of the child’s parents (no guesses to which one) would not be working. But things are different now and Japan needs to implement a drastic change if it wants an increased birth rate and more women at the workforce.

Japan’s daycare enrollment “point system”

Applications for public daycare in Japan are graded based on a point system, which varies depending on each prefecture and even city ward. Points are added or subtracted depending on a variety of factors, including a type of employment, health issues, and marital status. The more points you have, the more chances you have to enroll your child in a daycare, or higher your child will be placed on the waiting list. While in theory the system is supposed to make it simpler to prioritize those with the highest needs, in practice it is no longer working with the needs of 21st-century families — especially for families that have “non-traditional” jobs such as freelancing, for example.

One woman was asked why she needed to work since her Japanese …continue reading