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Red Light "Stop", Blue Light "Go"?

Tuesday, June 17th, 2008

What color is the light in traffic signal below? In the US, it’s “green”. In Japan, it’s “blue”, or as the Japanese say, “ao”. Yes, it’s true. Here’s the story. In modern Japanese, there is a word for “green” (“midori”), however this is a relatively new term that has only been used since the Heian […]

Escalator Etiquette: Kanto vs. Kansai

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Japan is known for proper etiquette and you can find evidence of “proper behavior” everywhere. Perhaps one area less noticed by visiting foreigners is escalator etiquette. In Japan, every time you ride an escalator, people who are just standing/riding stay to one side to ensure a clear lane for others (who may be in a […]

North Isn’t Always Up

Tuesday, June 10th, 2008

Here’s something interesting that you won’t notice unless you spend enough time in Japan getting lost (inevitable, particularly in Tokyo). As an American, I’m used to all maps being oriented with North being up. If you check the maps on walls in Japan, such as those at subway stations or shopping centers, you’ll notice that […]

Why Do Japanese Serve Small Food Portions?

Monday, September 3rd, 2007

I've seen this question posed around the Internet without good answers. I've seen things like "that's all you need", "asians are smaller", "Americans eat too much", etc. Here's my take. In Japan, it's rude to leave food behind as it is seen as wasteful and unappreciative. There is also no such thing as a "doggie […]

A Robot That Sells Food

Thursday, June 14th, 2007

Robots that sell food are all over Japan. This is a vending machine that sells meals. At many small, cheap restaurants (especially curry and ramen shops) you select and purchase your food using a vending machine which dispenses meal tickets. Simply give your meal tickets to the staff, and you’re all set! The restaurant staff […]

Pokemon Plane

Monday, June 4th, 2007

ANA’s pokemon-themed planes are fairly well-known these days, but just in case you haven’t seen them I’ve posted some pics below. As you can see, there are several with different designs. The interior sports pokemon decor as well, but not as intense as the exterior. Flight attendants (called “cabin attendants” in Japan but that’s a […]

Crooked Teeth = Cute?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

In Japan, the "double-tooth" look caused by the front canines overlapping is considered cute in children and young women. The Japanese call it "yaeba" which means "double tooth". Many people wonder why Japanese models (like the one below) are proudly displaying their crooked pearly whites in photos – now you know.

Are Japanese Women Intentionally Pigeon-Toed?

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

Ever notice how the vast majority of Japanese women walk with their toes pointed inward? The cause for this isn’t conclusive, but debate about it rages across the Internet. If you don’t believe me, use your favorite search engine and enter the terms “Japanese” “pigeon” and “toed” – see what results you get. Some say […]

McDonald’s in Japan

Sunday, May 27th, 2007

Recognize the guy in the image below? Notice he’s promoting “Hello Kitty” products in a showcase. Here’s a hint – he’s the famous owner of a popular chain of fast-food restaurants. Think you know the answer? Guess again. His name isn’t “Ronald McDonald”. It’s “Donald McDonald”. That’s right. Our favorite burger-pushing celebrity has a different […]

Japanese Toilet Technology

Sunday, May 20th, 2007

No Japan-focused blog would be complete without a post about Japan’s toilets. It’s true that you can still find old-style Japanese squat toilets in many places alongside newer Western-style toilets. (If you’re curious, there’s some at Tokyo Disneyland in the restrooms opposite the “Pooh’s Hunny Hunt” attraction.) Certainly, the squat toilets provide the cleanest experience […]

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