Category Archives: FEATURED TOP

Funerals In Japan: Etiquette And Rituals

Parting Ways: Funeral Etiquette in Japan

Today, over 90 percent of funeral services in Japan are Buddhist. A traditional Buddhist funeral is a chance for loved ones and friends to come together, mourn, and seek closure. At times, it’s a solemn affair, so the idea of unintentionally causing offense is stressful—to say the least. When the time comes, it’s a good idea to prepare beforehand so you can focus on saying your goodbyes, not your apologies.

The dress code

funeral attire - Parting Ways: Funeral Traditions in Japan

While shades of blue and grey are acceptable during the wake, funeral attire should be black from top to bottom. For men, that means a formal black suit and tie—no bow ties, no patterns, and no shiny fabrics or silks. The only color should be the white dress shirt worn under the jacket (which you should never take off, no matter how hot it gets).

Most women wear dresses purchased for just such occasions, although dress pants are perfectly acceptable as well. It’s important not to show your legs, so black stockings or tights are essential.

Things to bring

accessories - Parting Ways: Funeral Traditions in Japan

The cost is not important but 数珠 (Juzu, Buddhist prayer beads) are a must. Choose a set that speaks to you and be sure to bring it along. If you have a little black bag or clutch in a plain, matte fabric feel free to make use of it now. For those of you with larger carry-all bags, there will be space to leave it in the hall so you won’t have to be carrying it throughout the …continue reading


Reading Emergency Alerts in Japan

Source: Gaijin Pot
Kanji Cheat Sheet: Reading Emergency Alerts in Japa

One of the scariest alerts you’ll hear in Japan is hands down the infamous earthquake alarm. Blasted on cell phones throughout the potentially affected areas, the “Earthquake Early Warning” (緊急地震速報) notice has had my heart leap out of my chest a good number of times.

Some residents have even said that the alarm is scarier than the actual earthquake and to some extent, I have to agree with them. While not all earthquakes are given prior notice, when an alert is sent out it’s important to try to understand the displayed information as natural disasters aren’t uncommon in Japan.

Earthquake alerts in Japan

Once you get over the initial shock and climbed down back from your ceiling, here’s an example of what the alert says:

緊急速報 [エリアメール]





In English, it translates to:

“Emergency Bulletin [Area mail]

Early Earthquake Warning

Off the coast of Fukushima Prefecture, an earthquake has occurred.

Prepare for strong tremors.

(Japanese Meteorological Agency)”

On the uppermost part, you’ll see the Earthquake Early Warning header. Right below the official title of the message, it will tell you whether the earthquake happened offshore (沖で) or in a prefecture (). The sentence that follows will tell you to prepare for strong tremors or aftershocks (強い揺れに備えてください).

English Japanese Romaji
Earthquake 地震 jishin
Earthquake early warning 緊急地震速報 kinkyuu jishin sokuhyou
(location) offshore earthquake 沖で okide
Possibility of an earthquake 地震発生 jishinhasei
Prepare for strong tremor 強い揺れに備えてください tsuyoi yure ni sonaete kudasai
Japan Meteorological Agency 気象庁 kishouchou

Read the full article on GaijinPot Study!

…continue reading


Japan’s world-class festivals

men holding swords illustration

Almost every town in Japan has their own traditional festival of two, but goo Ranking asked which are Japan’s world-class festivals.

The problem with a lot of the festivals in recent years are that they are far too crowded; the problem this year is that most have been cancelled or drastically scaled back.

I’d love to go to the Akita Nebuta Festival; as pictured above, huge papier mache float lit from the inside look impressive on television and probably even better in the flesh. I’ve been to the Gion Festival; not the actual parade, but the day before they have the danjiri – mobile shrines – on display so you can walk around and have a leisurely close-up view.

Kishiwada Danjiri Festival is mental; the town itself is one of the rougher places in Osaka, and the danjiri are manned by the local neds and low-level gangsters (allegedly), who push the things through town at breakneck (sometimes literally…) speeds, occasionally knocking chunks out of buildings during tight turns. This is one that is safer to watch on the television.

What’s your favourite festival in Japan?

Ranking result

Rank Votes
1 Aomori Nebuta Festival. Aomori Prefecture 195
2 Gion Festival. Kyoto Prefecture 141
2 Sapporo Snow Festival. Hokkaido Prefecture 141
4 Awa Odori (Dance). Tokushima Prefecture 118
5 Yosakoi Festival. Kochi Prefecture 100
6 Kishiwada Danjiri Festival. Osaka Prefecture 97
7 Sendai Tanabata Festival. Miyagi Prefecture 82
8 YOSAKOI Soran Festival. Hokkaido Prefecture 47
8 Spirit Boat Procession. Nagasaki Prefecture 47
10 Hakata Dontaku Port Festival. Fukuoka Prefecture 44
11 Hakata Gion Yamakasa. Fukuoka Prefecture 42
11 Namahage Sedo Festival. Akita Prefecture 42
13 Aoi Festival. Kyoto Prefecture 41
14 Sansha Festival. Tokyo Prefecture 36
15 Hirosaki Sakura Festival. Aomori Prefecture 33
16 Tenjin Festival. Osaka Prefecture 31
16 Okinawa-wide Eisa Festival. Okinawa Prefecture 31
16 Nagasaki Kunchi. Nagasaki Prefecture 31
19 Yamagata Hanagasa Festival. Yamagata Prefecture 30
20 Akita Kanto Festival. Akita Prefecture 28
20 Asakusa Samba Carnival. Tokyo Prefecture 28
22 Jidai Festival. Kyoto Prefecture 25
23 Gujo Odori (Dance). Gifu Prefecture 22
24 Onbashira Festival. Nagano Prefecture 17
25 Fire Country Festival. Kumamoto Prefecture 16
26 Ecchu Yao Owara-style Bon. Toyama Prefecture 15
26 Kompira Shrine Annual Festival. Kagawa Prefecture 15
28 Shonan Hiratsuka Tanabata Festival. Kanagawa Prefecture 14
28 Yamaguchi Tanabata Lantern Festival. Yamaguchi Prefecture 14
30 Chichibu Night Festival. Saitama Prefecture 13

…continue reading


Japanese Recipe Adventures: Gyoza

Source: Gaijin Pot
Japanese Recipe Adventures: Gyoza

Gyoza, or potstickers as they’re called in the west, are a Japanese staple dish found everywhere from cheap izakaya to popular gourmet restaurants. They’re the perfect crowd-pleaser that can accompany a cold beer, a bowl of ramen, or be an entree all on their own.

Making them is also a fun activity for families and friends and it’s a lot easier than it looks! Skip buying prepacked or frozen gyoza at the supermarket because it’s just three steps: make the filling, wrap each gyoza with love, and pay-fry it until they’re ready to eat.

Before you start, you’ll need a non-stick frying pan or a hot plate. Gyoza requires steaming, so you’ll need a pan with a lid for the final step. Here’s my original recipe, including a vegetarian option!


It’s about to get messy.
  • 1 package of gyoza wrappers (ワンタンの皮 or 雲吞皮)
  • Sesame oil for frying
  • ¼ cup of water for steaming, plus more for folding gyoza wrappers

For the filling

  • 600 grams of ground pork
  • 2 stalks of green onions
  • 1–2 cm nugget of ginger


  • 1–2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 cabbage leaf
  • 2 shiitake mushrooms (or mushrooms of your choice)

Filling alternatives

Depending on your favorite flavors, add any of your other favorite dumpling ingredients to your gyoza filling. Although ground pork is the traditional filling of choice, you can use any kind of ground meat. As a vegetarian, I use vegan, soy-based crumbles as the “meat” base.

Filling seasoning

Ingredients for dipping sauce, and sesame oil for frying.
  • 1 tsp mirin
  • 1 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • Salt and pepper

For the dipping sauce

  • Equal parts osu (rice vinegar) and soy sauce
  • A few drops of la-yu/chili oil (optional)

…continue reading


15 Podcasts About Japan

15 Podcasts About Japan

Want to learn more about Japan whilst being occupied with other tasks such as making dinner, working out, cleaning up or commuting on the train? Tune in to a podcast of your choice that discusses topics such as news, food, travel and culture. Listen to interviews with professionals or let the fun hosts talk about their own experiences in Japan.

The great thing about podcasts is that they’re so many of them, especially since entering the corona restrictions with more and more people looking for things to do. They can vary in length to suit your attention span, and come in a range of styles to meet your taste.

We’ve gathered a number of podcasts about Japan for almost every subject. Have a look through and see if there’s something for you!


A Japanese Girl Who Isn’t Japanese

Entrepreneur Natsumi Ito, who has lived a third of her life outside of her motherland Japan, discusses topics such as global news, climate change, gender equality, and her personal experiences. Her podcast is presented in both English and Japanese making it a great listen for those who want to learn Japanese or English in a very casual setting.

Average Episode Length: 15-30 minutes

Voices In Japan

Burke and Ben, based in Hokkaido, and their guests share their experiences on dating, marriage, working at Japanese companies, teaching at all education levels, traditions, martial arts, the struggles of life here in Japan and why it’s truly an amazing place to live.

Average Episode Length: 30-60 minutes

Tokyo In Motions

Aika and Peter who both live in Tokyo discuss a focus topic every episode, drinking culture, fashion, Covid in Japan and more, sometimes serious and sometimes a little off but always in good honest spirit.

…continue reading