Why are boxy little cars only popular in Japan? Second Attempt

The Japanese tax code classifies cars by length and width (as well as the engine size and power that are more common elsewhere). For details of an interesting example, see this Sunday’s article on keijidosha (軽自動車-lit. light motor vehicles, usually translated as “subcompact cars”) in the Japan Times here.

Why are washlet toilets so popular in Japan? Third Attempt

According to Makoto Shiina in Shukan Kinyobi (July 4), water to wash your smelly bits and the sound of water to cover your natural noises might both be explainable by people getting used to the profusion of rivers through Japanese villages.

Not convinced by that one, but all theories are welcome at JapanExplained…

Why does the Japan Times publish the cartoons and agency reports a day late?

Meaning a day later than the Daily Yomiuri. And it costs than the Yomiuri or (even better) International Herald Tribune/ Asahi Shimbun. What is wrong with these people???

Seriously though, they do publish a lot more Japan-based journalism than the other papers, so maybe all the money and effort goes into that. Still, only the Sunday edition is worth the extra cash, imo.

Things people in Japan are surprisingly slack about

– Crushing cans
– Recycling paper
– Take the caps and labels off plastic bottles for recycling
– Bicycle road safety (helmets rare, signalling when turning a corner unheard of, no children’s road safety in schools as far as I know, many bikes without headlights, no reflectors, little use of brightly coloured clothing to be noticed in the dark)

– Having brightly coloured cars to increase safety

Whereas Japan must be a world leader in dividing rubbish into burnable and unburnable and escalator safety announcements. Any theories on why the things above have escaped public attention??

Why do some Japanese company names end in Co. Ltd?

In American it would just be Corp, so that suggests they are following the British system. But the short form for a Limited Company in British English is just Ltd, and I don’t think I’d even seen Co. Ltd. before I came to Japan. Some total guesses:

It is set in Japanese law as the official English translation of yugen kaisha (有限会社- lit. ownership limited company), like the also odd Diet and Prefecture.


It used to be that in British English, and has changed in the UK but not in Japan.

Both me and my Japanese students are dying to hear more theories on this one.

Why is it SMBC in English but MSBC in Japanese?

… or more properly SMBC in English but Mitsui Sumitomo Ginko (三井住友銀行) in Japanese.I’m guessing that when the two banks merged there was some kind of bureaucratic haggling that meant they got to have their name at the front in one language each.

Why are concerts in Japan so early?

The Prodigy, 7pm (!) on MONDAY Aug 11. Who finishes work early enough for that?? Or do Japanese people just take the day off?

Why are there plenty of young Japanese kids with fairly light bright brown hair but few older people?

According to a letter in the Japan Times, kids with naturally brown hair are treated like they are as rebellious as those that dye their hair that way, and might even be forced to dye it black to look more natural/standard. That could be a factor, as could hair naturally becoming darker as you become older, in the same way as I started blond and cute and then to my horror turned ginger as a teenager…


Any other theories?

Why does a big box of cornflakes in Japan have the writing and picture sideways?

Smaller shelves in the supermarkets??

Not sure why it looks sooooo odd to me either, but might need therapy to work that one out…

Why does the word karaage have the kanji for China in it?

The kanji being 唐揚げ (Chinese fry). Couldn’t the Japanese invent fried chicken on their own? It’s possible, I suppose, seeing as traditional Japanese cooking uses little oil and fried chicken with mayo gets named after Southern Barbarians, i.e. gaijin (南蛮チッケン- nanban chicken).

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