Category Archives: SOCIETY

The #KimOhNo Conversation: How Do Japanese People Feel About It Now?

#KimOhNo

Body Spandex #KimOhNoIn late June, reality television star, Kim Kardashian West, announced a new shapewear collection called “Kimono.” The backlash was instant. With Japanese people at its forefront, a #KimOhNo Twitter campaign was launched against West, as well as a petition via change.org with as many as 120,000 signatures just days after her news. At first, the fashion mogul remained unwavering; she made an official statement in a New York Times article that said, “I understand and have a deep respect for the significance of the kimono in Japanese culture,” reaffirming the pride she has for her brand and its inclusivity.

My perception and image of kimono are not going to change at all…[I’m] sure people will keep using the word with what it has meant for thousands of years.

However, just a day after the mayor of Kyoto, Daisaku Kadokawa, penned an open letter to West asking her to reconsider. The celebrity backed down and agreed to re-release her product under a new name, Solutionwear. This shift took place less than a week after her initial kimono brand name reveal.

Intrigued by the heavy wave of protests and its fast turnaround success, I interviewed twelve Japanese people living inside and outside of Japan on how they felt about the recent news. Here’s what they had to say:

For the sake of privacy, some interviewees have used pseudonyms. Their responses have been condensed and edited, and some have been translated from Japanese.

Confusion and Eye Rolls

Words, Words, Words #KimOhNo

Some simply questioned Kardashian West’s latest move. It was difficult to place their finger on the exact …continue reading

    

Permanent Poop Museum Now Open in Tokyo

Source: Gaijin Pot

In March this year, Yokohama opened its doors to one of its most attention-grabbing attractions yet, a museum dedicated to poop.

Officially known as the Unko Museum (“unko” is poop in Japanese) this brightly colored feces-fascinated museum was meant to be a temporary attraction that would run until July. No major surprise here (in the land of magical toilets) but the museum was so poop-ular that its opening was extended until September 30.

Now given the attraction’s unprecedented success, the museum has followed through with its plans to establish an outpost in Odaiba, where it will become a permanent Tokyo attraction.

<path d="M556.869,30.41 C554.814,30.41 553.148,32.076 553.148,34.131 C553.148,36.186 554.814,37.852 556.869,37.852 C558.924,37.852 560.59,36.186 560.59,34.131 C560.59,32.076 558.924,30.41 556.869,30.41 M541,60.657 C535.114,60.657 530.342,55.887 530.342,50 C530.342,44.114 535.114,39.342 541,39.342 C546.887,39.342 551.658,44.114 551.658,50 C551.658,55.887 546.887,60.657 541,60.657 M541,33.886 C532.1,33.886 524.886,41.1 524.886,50 C524.886,58.899 532.1,66.113 541,66.113 C549.9,66.113 557.115,58.899 557.115,50 C557.115,41.1 549.9,33.886 541,33.886 M565.378,62.101 C565.244,65.022 564.756,66.606 564.346,67.663 C563.803,69.06 563.154,70.057 562.106,71.106 C561.058,72.155 560.06,72.803 558.662,73.347 C557.607,73.757 556.021,74.244 553.102,74.378 C549.944,74.521 548.997,74.552 541,74.552 C533.003,74.552 532.056,74.521 528.898,74.378 C525.979,74.244 524.393,73.757 523.338,73.347 C521.94,72.803 520.942,72.155 519.894,71.106 C518.846,70.057 518.197,69.06 517.654,67.663 C517.244,66.606 516.755,65.022 516.623,62.101 C516.479,58.943 516.448,57.996 516.448,50 C516.448,42.003 516.479,41.056 516.623,37.899 C516.755,34.978 517.244,33.391 517.654,32.338 C518.197,30.938 518.846,29.942 519.894,28.894 C520.942,27.846 521.94,27.196 523.338,26.654 C524.393,26.244 525.979,25.756 528.898,25.623 C532.057,25.479 533.004,25.448 541,25.448 C548.997,25.448 549.943,25.479 553.102,25.623 C556.021,25.756 557.607,26.244 558.662,26.654 C560.06,27.196 561.058,27.846 562.106,28.894 C563.154,29.942 563.803,30.938 564.346,32.338 C564.756,33.391 565.244,34.978 565.378,37.899 C565.522,41.056 565.552,42.003 565.552,50 C565.552,57.996 565.522,58.943 565.378,62.101 M570.82,37.631 C570.674,34.438 570.167,32.258 569.425,30.349 C568.659,28.377 567.633,26.702 565.965,25.035 C564.297,23.368 562.623,22.342 560.652,21.575 C558.743,20.834 556.562,20.326 553.369,20.18 C550.169,20.033 549.148,20 541,20 C532.853,20 531.831,20.033 528.631,20.18 C525.438,20.326 523.257,20.834 521.349,21.575 C519.376,22.342 517.703,23.368 516.035,25.035 C514.368,26.702 513.342,28.377 512.574,30.349 C511.834,32.258 511.326,34.438 511.181,37.631 C511.035,40.831 511,41.851 511,50 C511,58.147 511.035,59.17 511.181,62.369 C511.326,65.562 511.834,67.743 512.574,69.651 C513.342,71.625 514.368,73.296 516.035,74.965 C517.703,76.634 519.376,77.658 521.349,78.425 C523.257,79.167 525.438,79.673 528.631,79.82 C531.831,79.965 532.853,80.001 541,80.001 C549.148,80.001 550.169,79.965 553.369,79.82 C556.562,79.673 558.743,79.167 560.652,78.425 C562.623,77.658 564.297,76.634 565.965,74.965 C567.633,73.296 568.659,71.625 569.425,69.651 …continue reading

    

Izakaya 「Daruma」in Monzen-Nakacho

My Tachinomiya research has been greatly influenced by Yoshida Rui and especially his Sakaba Hourouki TV show on the TBS networks. Yoshida calls himself a 「酒場ライタ」 or “Tavern writer.” In a typical 15 minute show he starts out at an easily accessible train station, explores local landmarks and/or rare shops in the area before arriving at an izakaya or “traditional Japanese pub.” Here he drinks, eats, interacts with the owner of the shop and regular customers, typically getting a little drunk in the process. While Japanese TV is full of food shows, Yoshida’s approach is interesting/entertaining and real. He then leaves the izakaya with some final comments and then presents a haiku about his adventures that day. Remember, this is all in a 15 minute show. He’s been doing it since 2003 and he is still popular. I have called his approach ethnographic, in the spirit of autoethnography and Gonzo Anthropology.

So, before my recent trip to Tokyo I researched the records of all the izakaya that Yoshida has visited in Tokyo. I have never had any luck finding a good place (in terms of good food, good drink, friendly atmosphere) in Tokyo as opposed to my many successes in Osaka. I remembered one episode in particular about a shop called Daruma in Monzen-Nakacho. It was featured on episode #226 first aired on December 3, 2007. It seemed to meet all of my criteria so I went to check it out.

And it was great! All that I wanted! Everyone was very nice and friendly. Lots of regulars were there. The place was packed on an early Monday evening. It was like a big family.

How to Make Small Talk in Japanese

Source: Gaijin Pot
How to make small talk in Japanese

One of the strangest things for me when I moved from Osaka to a part of town that, you know, didn’t look like a Blade Runner-esque, post-apocalyptic hellscape, was that people actually started greeting me and acknowledging my existence.

For the first time, I actually had to interact with normal people on a daily basis. However, these interactions revealed some weaknesses in my skillset. Even though I felt my Japanese vocab was up to the task, I often used it in an inappropriate way for the situation and made things more awkward than they already were!

One of the strangest examples of this is when Japanese people ask obvious questions simply to be polite. The lady who lives below you has a leash in her hand and a constantly fidgeting small dog clutched in the other? You might hear someone unironically ask 散歩(さんぽ)ですか? The schoolgirl who lives next door and has a bag covered in the meticulously coiffed faces of her favorite Korean pop idols? How about asking her, K-POPは好(す)きですか?

Luckily, if you are in doubt about what the person may be interested in, it is safe to go for meaningless talk about the weather in Japan too.

The ubiquitous 暑(あつ)いですね is a good example of this. As are other similar forms such as 寒(さむ)いですね etc.

Of course, this type of set phrase should not be taken literally (everyone, of course, knows it’s hot) and should instead be considered as meaning “I am trying to fill this silence with talk, please reciprocate.”

Other set phrases along these lines include:

  • 今日はいい天気(てんき)ですね = Today is good weather, isn’t it?
  • 今日、雨(あめ)は酷(ひど)いですね = Today, this rain is terrible, isn’t it?
  • 最近(さいきん)、暑(あつ)くなって暑(き)ましたね = Recently, it’s getting hotter, isn’t it?

…and one for those who want to make their Japanese sound better than it actually is:

  • めっきり寒(さむ)くなった = It’s got remarkably colder

So what happens if …continue reading

    

British widow fights to know the truth on 34th Anniversary of the Japan Airlines Flight 123 crash.

by Susanne Bayly-Yukawa

I am the British widow of Akihisa Yukawa who was one of the 520 victims who died in the Japan Airlines Boeing 747 flight 123 from Tokyo to Osaka crashed into Mount Osutaka – the world’s largest single aviation disaster.

I came to Japan to fight for justice – 34 years after his death. For the first time I have joined the Japanese bereaved to request a reinvestigation of the crash based on new evidence.

On 16th July I participated in a symposium at Waseda University which outlined the need for information disclosure of the Japan Airline flight 123 crash. The details of the symposium are here–please read for yourself.

I am aware the Japanese government announced in 2000 that the documents about the crash were copied onto microfilms and would never be destroyed. I am joining the bereaved in asking for these documents to be released now. We all know that part of the plane is still in Sugami Bay, I am campaigning to have it salvaged and re-investigated. There is considerable evidence that was not included in the original crash report – these significant new facts simply cannot be ignored. In accordance with international guidelines there is a necessity to re-open the crash investigation based on these facts. This is the worst single Boeing crash in history, the bereaved – and the world deserve to know what really happened. It is a human right to know the truth. Powerful corporations over the world over continue to escape accountability and victims have no route to remedy. I am calling for a new international law to protect everyone from the harm caused by the lack of truth and accountability. I am speaking with a number of Japanese journalists/documentary makers and have agreed to be interviewed on the …continue reading