Category Archives: FEATURED

Annually Asked Questions: Why KFC at Christmas in Japan?

Source: Gaijin Pot
Annually Asked Questions: Why KFC at Christmas in Japan?

It’s a question that many Westerners ask every year around this time, when the iconic red, white and green marketing campaigns go up across the nation: How did Christmas in Japan become synonymous with a fast food joint?

Foreigners may laugh at the queues that form outside branches of Kentucky Fried Chicken on Dec. 24 or the people reserving their buckets of chicken a month in advance, but it turns out that they’ve only got themselves to blame.

Brace yourselves for another Kentucky Christmas 💁🏻☃️already?! #xmasinjapan

A post shared by GaijinPot (@gaijinpot) on Nov 22, 2017 at 6:04pm PST

The tradition of eating KFC at Christmas dates back to the early 1970s, when an expat customer at the chain’s Aoyama store observed that, in a land bereft of Yuletide turkey, fried chicken was the next best thing. The store’s canny manager was paying attention and passed word on to the higher-ups, leading the company to launch its ludicrously successful “Kurisumasu ni wa kentakkii!” (“Kentucky for Christmas!”) campaign in 1974. At least, that’s what the company says on its website.

Or it might just be because Colonel Sanders in a Santa cap looks like Santa Claus.

Whatever the reason, chicken is big business for KFC in December. Company officials say KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas Eve. The stores are so busy that even back office staff, including the president and other execs, head out to the frontlines to help on Christmas eve.

Company officials say KFC records its highest sales volume each year on Christmas Eve.

KFC gets celebs to help, as well. In the past, popular actress Haruka Ayase, appeared in TV commercials and other ad campaigns for the food chain to launch the company’s Kentucky Christmas campaign in late November by promoting …continue reading


Garinko-go II Drift ice the great Mombetsu experience 2018


Garinko-go II (Hokkaido heritage attraction)
Drift ice tourism has turned a winter plague from the Sea of Okhotsk into a real blessing. Mombetsu City named the icebreaker (originally designed for oil development in Alaska) Garinko-go. With its briliant red body and two Archimedean screws, it was designated a Hokkaido heritage attraction in Novenber, 2004.

※Video is a thing of the past.

…continue reading


What Your Japanese Teacher Never Taught You about Kanji

Source: Gaijin Pot
What Your Japanese Teacher Never Taught You about Kanji

In the beginning, there was spoken language. Certain combinations of sounds represented certain meanings and these were called “words.” Communication was without physical form; there was sound and meaning, and it was good. Then one day, someone realized they could make marks on a surface (a rock, an animal shell, some bamboo) that represented those words. A physical form could now correspond to a word (a sound/meaning combination). The earliest form of kanji was born.

So we now have three attributes:

  • Sound: the pronunciation of a word
  • Meaning: the definition of a word
  • Form: the physical representation of a word (aka a sound/meaning combination)

In China, where kanji originated, these forms were pictographic. The mark for “mountain” looked like a mountain. The mark for “sheep” looked like a sheep. And that worked for a lot of words, but since some words are harder to represent with a simple picture, people had to get creative. They did this by using kanji characters as parts in other kanji, with each component being used for one or more of its attributes.

Kanji form components

Form components.

Sometimes they would juxtapose two or more of these forms to represent another word:

  • Digits 廾(キョウ) (two hands) playing with a piece of 玉(ギョク) )(jade) were used to represent “to fiddle with; tamper” to create 弄(ロウ) (note that the dot in 玉 was deleted for simplicity).
  • A 又(ユウ) (right hand) taking an 耳(ジ) (ear) from a victim (a common practice in ancient Chinese warfare) gives us 取(シュ) (to take).

And so on.

These pictographic parts are called form components. Their form, or what they depict, is what’s important, rather than their sound or meaning.

Kanji meaning components

Meaning components.

Meaning components.

Sometimes a kanji depicts one thing, but means another. For instance, 大 (ダイ ) …continue reading


Tsutaya opens new coworking and relaxation space in Shinjuku

tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku

The rental DVD and entertain retail chain Tsutaya once had a large branch on the east of Shinjuku Station. This was demolished a few years ago and reopened as a leaner branch with other tenants. Then the Tsutaya completely transferred to another branch in Kabukicho. However, Tsutaya had not abandoned the prominent location per se. It had just decided to do something new with it.

Tsutaya Book Apartment opened on December 6th as a concept space for working professionals and relaxing with books. It occupies three floors in the Shinjuku Minimu Building and is open 24 hours a day.

tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku

tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku

tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku

Use of the homely space costs ¥500 per hour and each floor has free Wi-Fi. There is capacity for 30 in the coworking space, making it one of the most centrally located and convenient facilities of its kind in Tokyo. It also has printers, iPad devices and power outlets, and Tsutaya says it is planning to hold workshops and talks in the space.

The relaxation space, which has 32 private rooms and 42 seats in a commonal area, is a typical example of the variety of “third place” that Japan does well: small spaces that are available for short time slots. Other ones include love hotels, Internet cafes, massage parlors, karoke booths, and adult video booths.

The private rooms have an addition ¥500 fee per hour and use of the women-only floor costs a further ¥100. There are also showers and loungewear items available for small fees, and the women’s area also has a powder room.

tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku

<img src="" alt="tsutaya book apartment coworking relaxation shinjuku" width="620" …continue reading


Decoding the Kanji of the Year: What it Is, What it Represents

Source: Gaijin Pot

When it comes to choosing their kanji of the year, in 2017, the Japanese chose to look north. The Japan Kanji Aptitude Testing Foundation chose to award 北 (kita or north) as its kanji of the year for 2017.

The announcement was made at a ceremony on Dec. 12 at Kyoto’s famous Kiyomizu Temple. The temple’s head priest, Seihan Mori, drew the character using a huge calligraphy brush onto a large sheet of oversized paper to mark the occasion in an elaborate ceremony that was broadcast live on TV.

Though not an official holiday, Kanji Day (Dec. 12) is very much a permanent fixture on the Japanese calendar.

Now entering its 22nd year, the Kanji of the Year Award recognizes a different kanji each year, one that the public feels best expresses the current mindset of the nation and its people.

For example, the inaugural award in 1995 was given to the kanji 震 (shin, or quake) used in the word 地震 (jishin, or earthquake) in memory of all those lives lost in the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake of January that year. The kanji can also be used to express feelings of anxiety, unease or instability, which was further underlined by the sarin gas attacks on the Tokyo subway later that same year.

However, the recognition isn’t always given on such a grim premise.

In 2000, the chosen kanji was 金 (kin, or gold/money) in honor of Japan’s numerous successes at the Sydney Olympics (金 also won again in 2012 and 2016 for similar reasons) and the introduction of the ¥2,000 note.

Likewise, in 2003, the chosen kanji was 虎 (tora, or tiger) to celebrate (my local!) baseball team, the Hanshin Tigers, winning the championship for the first time in 18 years, as well as recognize the contribution the Japan Self Defense Forces made in the Iraq War …continue reading