Why does NHK call the Korean language “hangul”?

…ハングル being, properly, only the name of the Korean alphabet.

 “There is no politically neutral way of describing the Korean language in Japanese, and NHK feared criticism from South-leaning Koreans if it described the language as Chosen-go… or from North-leaning Koreans if it called it Kankoku-go…” Read the rest of this entry »

Why does nothing eat all the cicadas up?

They look pretty big and fat and juicy to me, and pretty slow moving and loud and therefore easy to catch, so why don’t the birds tuck into them?

The site below suggests that all kinds of things will eat cicadas, but I’ve seen lots of even dead ones lying around uneaten in Japan and birds and cicadas in the same tree without one even attempting to eat the other:


Different species? Poison? Just no suitable animals in the area I’m in?? Such an overwhelming number of the fat gits that the birds and squirrels get sick of eating them? Too big for delicate insect eating mouths?

Doesn’t answer my question, but the best article on cicadas I’ve found so far is:


Why is baka often written in katakana?

Someone ended up here yesterday after googling this question. The answer wasn’t here then (sorry), so I hope you try again today!

Japanese language books usually concentrate mainly on the use of katakana for words borrowed from foreign languages like パリ (Paris), and then might go onto mention more specialist uses like animal names in science. In Japan and even more in manga and anime, however, the most notable use is often katakana just for emphasis or to make a word stand out. As it says in the book Japanese English: Language and Culture Contact (recommended, even for non-linguists), katakana is probably best thought of as the Japanese italics. When baka is written in katakana rather than the more “proper” hiragana (ばか) or kanji (馬鹿), it is an example of this “italics” function.

Why do the Japanese choose such dull coloured cars?

“This phenomenon is a direct result of pigment shortages due to import restrictions imposed by the government more than 20 years ago.”

From this post in the An Englishman in Osaka blog. Read the rest of this entry »

Why do Japanese mums spend so much time and effort on their children’s packed lunches?

According to Face Food, a whole book on charaben (kyaraben- character bento) that the publisher sent me a review copy of, reasons include:

“to improve their children’s nutritional health… ” and to “[help] their child become more popular in school”.

I’ve also read elsewhere that kindergartens give mothers precise instructions and sometimes critical comments saying that the boxed lunches they give their children must give a balanced diet and be attractive enough to make them actually want to eat it. The cult of kawaii (cuteness) and the history of over the top concentration on appearance in Japanese must also be factors. Add in the difficulty some Japanese have expressing love through words and bodily contact, the continuous talking about food as a safe conversation topic, and a culture of perfectionism and continuous improvement, and there you have it.

Other nice quotes from the book “Face food” (with my comments in brackets) include: Read the rest of this entry »

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 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 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 »

Why are gaijin losers done good so annoying?

Even if you haven’t written a whole article about why foreigners who are sadsters at home but pass as normal in their Nova classes will soon see their comeuppance and should just learn their place, if you have never felt a flicker of annoyance at the guy who was a trainspotter at home but now has the stunning Russian/Chinese/Ukrainian/Brazilian/Japanese/Venezuelan girls queuing up to sleep with him when he DJs, then you are not a male and/or are some kind of saint.

For the rest of us, feelings at seeing such a lowlife done good that range from fleeting irritation to entire evenings of rage might not be commendable, but they are certainly understandable. Here are two reasons why we feel that way: Read the rest of this entry »