It seems that whenever I find something I really like at a convenience store, they stop selling it. Why do products come and go so fast in Japan?

“Basically all conbini has security video camera right?… in Japan, these camera is for making private company database of which food is picked by customer. … If gaijin is eating some foods, they will discontinue because it must be too unhealthy or making everyone fat.” Read the rest of this entry »


Why are Japanese salarymen always puking on the sidewalks?

“Japanese vomit is kind of special express of satisfaction. We Japanese are making loud sounds when eat soba noodles or udon. This mean ‘Thank you wonderful soba chef! This is delicious!’ So when Japanese is vomit, we say ‘Oh! That was great nomikai! I having so much fun now!'”

Read the rest of this entry »

Why are school teacher and bureaucrat traditionally such sought after jobs?

Two generations ago, they were the only jobs with pensions

Why would anyone buy a Tokyo Walker-style entertainment mag that just has endless pictures of restaurants and doesn’t tell you which ones are any good?

Me and a student of mine were pondering on this for ages and then came up with the same answer at the same time- it’s mainly used as a conversation starter, e.g. for a new couple or colleagues groping their way towards a friendship nervously discussing where they should go away for a weekend trip. This realisation of how difficult the Japanese find conversation (even more than the British- see “Watching the English” for details), has been the biggest of all naruhodo moments for me. It explains the popularity of hostess bars, food that keeps your hands busy like yakiniku and okonomiyaki, akachochin mama san bars, karaoke, the endless talk about food and the weather, getting naked with your colleagues in a bath where it’s too hot to speak, limiting discussion of your holiday to the exchange of souvenirs, etc etc etc

Why “Banana” Yoshimoto?

“Born Mahoko, she took the name ‘Banana’ while a university student so her readers wouldn’t know if she was a boy or a girl” Kickboxing Geishas pg 29

Why are most recent big airports in Japan in the sea?

According to the Wikipedia Narita Airport entry (a whoooole load more interesting than that sounds), it was due to the riots that happened in the 60s and 70s when Narita Airport was built. “The conflict was a major factor in deciding to build the new Osaka and Nagoya airports (Kansai and Chūbu respectively) offshore on reclaimed land, instead of again trying to expropriate land in heavily populated areas.”

Why did the Japanese mobile handset manufacturers (Toshiba etc) not make it big worldwide?

The Japanese market was so closed that they never needed to become competitive

(according to Shutting Out the Sun, quoting some American academic whose name I forgot to note down)

Why does making an X with your index finger mean you want the bill?

 No idea!

 Yes, I know the blog is called Japanexplained, but sometimes I just want someone to explain something to me instead…

Could it represent an illiterate person signing their name, I wonder??

Why do some people find Japan so annoying?

First, it must be said that I’ve met far fewer people who find living here annoying than I found in, for example, Spain. What I am wondering about instead how books that start off quite interesting and coherent but then just turn into an unconnected list of true and made up negatives about Japan like “Dogs and Demons” and “Shutting Out the Sun” get made: Read the rest of this entry »

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