Category Archives: FEATURED

Half a Century in the Making: Tree ‘Crop Circles’ Emerge in Japan

Two peculiar ‘crop circles’ have recently been spotted in Japan’s Miyazaki Prefecture. Viewable only from above, they were formed by sugi (Japanese cedar) trees. Conspiracy theorists will be disappointed to learn that there is a very practical explanation for how these shapes emerged: science. Specifically, it was the result of a scientific experiment that spanned […]

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5 Japanese Movies And Dramas To Watch Over The Holidays

No travel plans for Christmas? No worries! Here’s your unmissable list of Japanese films and dramas to keep you going over the festive and New Year period! This list has something for everyone from binge-worthy uplifting dramas to emotionally-charged films.

1. Tokyo Girl

When we arrive at year’s end, social media sites like Facebook urge us to look back on the year we’ve just lived, and the creeping-in of New Year’s Eve gets us pondering on the next stage in our lives. This transition from year to year, life to life, is presented perfectly here in Tokyo Girl.

On the surface, Tokyo Girl looks like another typical Japanese drama. The story trails a young girl – played by Asami Mizukawa – from a small town who feels there are no opportunities for her in her local area, and that she’d have been much better placed in Paris, NYC or Tokyo. Somewhere far from her provincial life.

When she heads to her first stop, Harajuku, however, she finds out that her good looks, praised in her hometown, aren’t so special in Tokyo. The series follows her life from age 23-40 as she maneuvers her career and love life, and moves from district to district in Tokyo, each move providing a clever commentary on Tokyo’s social ladder and the changes we face as we journey through life.

Watch on: Amazon Prime
Language: Japanese with English subtitles

2. It All Began When I Met You

If you’re looking for a film to fill that Love Actually hole in your life, this is it. Full of warm Christmas feels – although decidedly tragic at times – It All Began When I Met You focuses on six separate stories centering around Tokyo Station just before Christmas. Many of the ten characters are dealing with the …continue reading


How To Make Next Year your Best Year in Japan

For many teachers and professionals living in Japan, December is a time for reflection on growth and choices in the past year.

In fact, most full-time university faculty in Japan are required by their institutions to write everything they have accomplished down, and this is something that all jobseekers and professionals should consider doing as it has more than one purpose. The first is that it reminds us of accomplishments since last new years’ resolutions. Another reason is that it helps to focus on where we want to go in the future, and to plan those changes for the new year.

By writing down what happened in the year, it is particularly helpful in seeing how much you have accomplished. Through articulating your accomplishments, it is easy to see more clearly how far you have come. Conversely, it should also be a motivator on what else you might have done – though this is not an exercise in self-flagellation, but rather self-awareness. So, while there may have been missed opportunities (and, it is essential to be mindful of those), focus on the positive. Therefore, start to look forward and what you will get done in the next year, and further into the future.

For universities, generally, the sections that are listed basically follow the philosophy of the Balanced Scorecard. These are four main areas that educators should keep developing; research, service, teaching experience, and education.

Academic publications are the first area that is required, with the publication name, type of article and if it is a peer-reviewed or not. The next section is the presentations that took place. And these should also be divided into those that were peer-reviewed (where you needed to submit your work before being accepted), and invited talks. The latter is where you are asked to …continue reading


The greatest NES games, as chosen by the Japanese

NES Nintendo System

This survey from goo Ranking was a look at which famous Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game best represented the last 30 years in the eyes of the respondents.

I’m a bit surprised to see that Donkey Kong was relatively low; Pacman I understand as it was not a NES original, but Donkey Kong I just don’t get.

I’m not quite sure what’s going on in this picture, but…

Ranking results

Q: Which famous Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) game best represents the last 30 years? (Sample size=2,555)

Rank Votes
1 Super Mario Brothers 496
2 Dragon Quest III: The Seeds of Salvation 331
3 Mario Brothers 249
4 Dragon Quest 204
5 Super Mario Brothers 3 122
6 The Legend of Zelda 93
7 Momotaro Dentetsu 87
8 Donkey Kong 55
9 Pacman 50
10= Final Fantasy 47
10= Pro Baseball Family Stadium 47
12 The Portopia Serial Murder Case 45
13 Xevious 37
14= Dragon Quest II: Luminaries of the Legendary Line 32
14= Ghouls ‘N Ghosts 32
16 Space Invaders 31
17 Nobunaga’s Ambition 30
18 Twinbee 28
19= Renegade 27
19= Momotaro Densetsu 27
19= Mega Man 27
22 Goonies 25
23 Famous Detective Sanma 23
24 Ice Climber 21
25 Gladius 20
26 Castlevania 18
27= Ganbare Goemon! Karakuri Dochu 17
27= Doraemon 17
29 Mappy 16
30 Metroid 14
31= Final Fantasy II 13
31= The Tower of Druaga 13
33= Wizardry 12
33= Super Dodge Ball 12
33= Mega Man 2 12
36 Famicon Wars 11
37= Hanjuku Hero 10
37= Milon’s Secret Castle 10
37= Ninja Kid 10
40= Famicon Tantei Club Part II: Ushiro ni Tatsu Shojo 9
40= JaJaMaru no Daibouken 9
42= Okhotsk ni Kiyu: Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin Jiken 8
42= Zelda II: The Adventure of Link 8
42= Balloon Fight 8
45= Minelvaton Saga: Ragon no Fukkatsu 7
45= Valkyrie no Bōken: Toki no Kagi Densetsu 7
45= Galaga 7
48= Star Luster 6
48= Tag Team Match: M.U.S.C.L.E. 6
48= Famicon Tantei Club: Kieta Kokeisha 6
48= Mighty Bomb Jack 6
52= Shin Onigashima 5
52= Dig Dug 5
54= Salamander 4
54= Solomon’s Key 4
54= Super Chinese 4
57= Family Tennis 3
57= Okhotsk ni Kiyu: Hokkaido Rensa Satsujin Jiken 3
57= Spy vs Spy 3
60 Door Door 2
61 Other 64


Between the 3rd to the 11th of November 2018 2,555 visitors to the goo Ranking site and associated properties completed a public questionnaire. No demographics were collected.

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Spread The Love This Christmas With This Easy Kinako Cookie Recipe

For the first time in my 26 years of existence, I am actually genuinely feeling the festive side of Christmas. No, I’m not the Grinch in disguise, I was simply born in Iran where the birth of Christ wasn’t typically celebrated. That is, until we arrived in New Zealand and witnessed everyone becoming super excited over a day which we knew nothing about and I always felt left out. When everyone was decorating trees, baking gingerbread houses and making Christmas cards I was, well, not doing that. In fact, I think over 13 Christmases have come and gone where my family simply treated it as a public holiday where all the shops were inconveniently shut. But when my sister married a Kiwi – who celebrated Christmas – my family too finally started somewhat celebrating the holiday.

Looking back at my Christmas history, my favorite year yet would have to be the one I spent in Japan. This is because it was a white Christmas (Christmas is in the summertime in New Zealand) and it was spent with my Japanese friends and my dear sister and brother-in-law who came to visit. If I had to choose one thing I like about the Christmas season it’s the giving and receiving (of love) tradition.

So without further ado, here is a simple and wholesome kinako cookie recipe for you to share with your friends, colleagues and loved ones this festive season.


(Makes about 12 kinako cookies. Double or triple the ingredients to make more.)

  • 70g regular cake flour
  • 20g brown sugar
  • 10g kinako
  • 20g olive oil
  • 5g vanilla essence
  • A pinch of salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients in a large bowl.
  2. Either roll out the dough onto a floured bench (not too thin) and use cookie cutters to cut out your desired cookie shapes or …continue reading