Bonsai Tree – A Traditional Japanese Art Form

Bonsai (盆栽) are miniature potted trees and plants, they are grown in pots or containers and cared for in such a way that they look their most beautiful. Bonsai are the Japanese version of the Chinese Penzai, the difference between the two is that bonsai are a representation of a single tree that resembles the shape of a real life tree, whereas Penzai are often displayed in a landscape form and look more natural and wide. Bonsai trees come in different sizes, shapes and prices. You can get your own bonsai for as cheap as ¥2,000 or, when looking for something more special, up to millions of yen. A bonsai […] …continue reading


Sakura Miyawaki’s HKT48 graduation apparently leaked by HMV

Sakura Miyawaki recently completed activities with the successful South Korean based group IZ*ONE. In 2018 she successfully was one of the winning contestants on the CJ E&M talent reality show Produce 101, as one of the winners she halted activities with AKB48 and HKT48 to focus on IZ*ONE.

After three years fans were looking forward to her return with HKT48, but it appears that her time with the group is limited. Popular retailer HMV shared a preview photo of Sakura in an upcoming issue of the popular fashion magazine ViVi. In the page it has text that approximately says:

“AFter finishing activities with IZ*ONE, Sakura Miyawaki has returned to HKT48 after just announcing her graduation a few days ago”.

The tweet was quickly deleted shortly after it was posted, oops! A statement has yet to be revealed on Sakura’s apparent graduation. Some fans were reminded of former AKB48 Haruka Shimazaki, whose graduation was leaked weeks prior to the official announcement.

Back in March it was rumored that Sakura would be joining the agency BigHit Entertainment, BTS’ agency who has since rebranded as Big Hit Music. While nothing has been confirmed, with news of Sakura now graduating HKT48 this past rumor has became a hot topic again.

(via k-plaza)


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The History of Geisha: What are Geisha and where are they today

The distinct white makeup, elegant kimonos, and elaborate hairstyles of the geisha are the first images you see when you think of traditional Japanese culture. Although the image in the west is that of a high-class courtesan, geishas are from that. The word geisha comes from the Japanese word “gei” meaning art and “sha” meaning person. Geishas are artisans and purveyors of traditional Japanese culture. Geisha women dedicate their lives to Japanese traditional arts and put their talents to use to entertain customers. To most foreigners and Japanese alike the history and current world of the geisha remains a mystery. In this article, we’ll talk about the origins of geishas […] …continue reading


Korea and J-Pop: Correcting the Record

Over the past couple of months with the debut of groups like NiziU and JO1 there has been a rise of what I would call “popularity alarmism”. This is a feeling that is very real on both sides of the strait with K-pop fans becoming alarmed by the number of non-Koreans in K-pop, and J-pop fans lamenting over the supposed lack of popularity that J-pop suffers in Korea.

South China Morning Post article on the debut of NiziU
Unseen Japan also weighed in on this issue

This is honestly a topic that I’ve both really wanted to address, but also have completely been disgusted by the current coverage, the above included. This frustration is due to multiple fronts.

  1. Most of the coverage seems to assume that much of the censorship was only on one side, like the Unseen Japan or South China Morning Post article, thereby completely missing the primary rationale behind the birth of groups like JO1 and the various seasons of Produce 101 Japan. The way that the birth of these groups has been covered – both within Korean language press and overseas – has completely erased the impact of Japanese anti-Korean racism on the reception to all-Korean groups in the past, right down to completely ignoring the extremely controversial decision to erase all K-pop groups from terrestrial television from 2012 onward. It was only due to a heavy marketing campaign selling TWICE as a Japanese group that they even got on Kouhaku, and yet this effort was not even worth a mention to anyone of note either in Korea or overseas. The equivalent for more Western-centric readers would be to try and explain why Elvis Presley made it with not a single mention of …continue reading

Omikuji Japan – A Comprehensive Guide To These Fortune Telling Slips

Omikuji Fortune Telling Japan 6

One of the most fascinating things about Japan’s is just how deep-rooted its historical traditions are entrenched in activities that we see today. Many of the cultural aspects of Japan that you experience nowadays have been carefully and beautifully preserved from thousands of years ago. This includes the intriguing concept of Omikuji, small pieces of paper that predict your fortune!

Omikuji has been around for hundreds of years. During New Year, when the Japanese people visit temples and shrines to pray for well wishes for the following year, they also take the opportunity to draw Omikuji. They often use this as an indication for their fortune for the year.

Omikuji, however, can be drawn at any time during the year, and you will often see people doing so during festivals and such. Traditionally, it was written in only Japanese, but over time, the readings have been developed into many different languages, and you will find some temples and shrines sprinkled all over the country which offer translations for foreigners.

If you’re not a big believer of fortune telling, we recommend you try this anyway as it is a fun and exciting way to experience Japanese culture.

History of Omikuji

Muromachi Period Kyoto
Kyoto during Muromachi Period

Omikuji has been around for hundreds of years. It is believed to have started as early as from the Muromachi Period (from 1336-1573), during which they were created based on collections of Chinese poems. Today, when you receive an Omikuji, it will most likely feature a poem as well.

In the past, Omikuji is said to have been used for such things as predicting huge events such as government outcomes or even choosing …continue reading


Nintendo is suing Bowser to stop his latest evil plan

King of the Koopas remains in fine legal standing, but someone with his namesake is headed to the courtroom.

Over the years, Nintendo has supplied Mario with all sorts of power-ups. Super Mario Bros. had the Super Mushroom and Fire Flower, and its sequels quickly added to his arsenal with tanooki suits, flying capes, and more. And yet, no matter how many times Mario “defeats” the bad guy, he always comes back.

▼ Sometimes he even gets marquee-billing, like in Super Mario 3D World + Bowser’s Fury

So it makes a certain sense that this time, when Nintendo wants to stop Bowser’s evil ambitions once and for all, they’re not calling in the plumber, but instead their lawyers, as Nintendo is officially suing Bowser.

We should clarify, though, that Nintendo isn’t brining the legal fight to the fictional character it owns, but to one Gary Bowser, said to be the leader of hacking group Team Xecuter. This isn’t a case of Nintendo picking on some small, for-fun fan game ROM hackers either, as their issue with Team Xecuter is that the group sells device that allow buyers to bypass security systems built into the Switch, allowing it to play pirated games (Bowser also sold simmilar devices for the 3DS). Nintendo of America is now suing Bowser and his associate Max Louarn via a lawsuit filed in Seattle. According to Polygon, the company is seeking damages of “$2,500 for each trafficked device, as well as $150,000 for each copyright violation.”

Team Xecuter’s alleged for-profit sales of the devices make it hard to see them as mere gaming historians promoting preservation, and Twitter reactions in Japan have been less than sympathetic towards the hackers.

“Once Nintendo’s lawyers have you in their sights, you’re finished.”
“For a guy named Bowser, he’s not any smarter than a grunt Koopa Troopa.”
“Will they …continue reading


What to Expect At Japanese Weddings

japanese wediing2

Congrats! You’ve been chosen as a special guest for someone’s big day. Yet, you stand there puzzled, Japanese wedding invitation in your hands, sweat dripping off your forehead, wondering how different the experience would be from what you’ve seen back home and whether you’ll be able to pass through all formalities in grace and style in this culturally challenging land of emotions. Well, wipe that sweat, start reading and get ready to celebrate your Japanese wedding debut.

A Japanese wedding — no matter if the ceremony and celebration are traditionally held in a shrine or western style in a hotel — has got little to do with what you might have experienced so far.

First of all: feel very honored, because it’s generally only family and close friends who get the invitations. Your second task? Start preparing right away.

When choosing your outfit, present, even the congratulations card, make sure you follow some (rather non-negotiable) rules.

How to RSVP

No matter if you attend the wedding or not, you are expected to send a written answer. You will find a card along with your invitation, which requests you to confirm your presence or absence. If you’re attending, circle 出席 (shusseki) and if you’re not, circle 欠席 (kesseki). Make sure to delete the honorary ご (go) before each word with two lines, and write a short congratulatory message in either Japanese or English. Send the card back as soon as possible.

How to dress

No big difference here with other countries — it’s a formal event, so wear something formal unless you’re specifically told not to. However, there are a few taboos for women that you’ll find everyone silently obeying, regardless of the type of wedding you’re attending. The biggest of them all is to never wear white at a wedding, because, well, the color’s already taken by …continue reading


Female cast of One Piece takes center stage with One Piece Novel Heroines

Short story collection follows four heroines on side adventures.

By nature of being published in Weekly Shonen Jump, One Piece falls into the shonen/boys’ manga category. Eiichio Oda’s pirate saga has a large female cast too, though, and the seafaring ladies are becoming the stars with One Piece Novel Heroines.

The book is a compilation of short stories that were originally serialized in One Piece Magazine. A total of four tales, each focusing on a different heroine, are included. The first, Episode Nami, kicks off when Nami is unhappy with the shoddy quality of a pair of high heels she recently bought. Taking them back to the cobbler to give him a piece of her mind, she ends up entering a fashion show in what the publisher describes as a story of “undecorated beauty”

Episode Robin follows, naturally, Robin as she teams up with Koala and the Revolutionary Army’s Sabo as they seek to uncover the secrets of a Poneglyph tablet, which would allow them to effectively hear “the voice of the dead.” Things take a lighter tone in Episode Vivi, where the kingdom of Arabasta is abuzz with rumor as it tries to discover the identity of a love letter addressed to Princess Vivi. Finally, Episode Perona promises a flavorful finish as Perona discovers an enticing bottle of wine after it washes up on the shore near Shikkearu Castle, but Mihawk has his eyes on it as well.

The novel is written by Jun Esaka with original concepts from Oda, with illustrations from artist Sayaka Suwa. One Piece Novel Heroines is priced at 814 yen (US$7.85) and is on sale now.

Source, top image: PR TImes
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Attack on Titan’s Ending – We’re Now All Free


So this was finally it, huh? A manga that debuted in 2009 which became an anime/manga phenomenon in 2013 and would later still have a significant place in manga history ended this month. Hajime Isayama’s Attack on Titan was a title that I liked a lot and while there were some great moments in its final arc, the manga seemed like it tried a bit too hard to emphasize the complexity of human beings. Then again, maybe that’s been the whole point of the series.

Spoilers abound after the jump.

I got to read up on the chapters that made up Volume 34. To be honest, it felt like somewhat of a mess. The whole backstory about Ymir Fritz confuses me a bit. I know that I will need to re-read the entire series to get a clearer idea. I got that the series became some kind of commentary on how people are always finding ways to divide one another via their differences.

It’s just that I missed the old days, pre-basement. Attack on Titan was labeled as a horror action manga to a certain degree. I recently was reading an article about CM Punk (a former WWE wrestler who was very popular, but left the business after frustrations with management) and he talked about a horror movie he was cast in. Punk was asked about his love of horror and he said:

“I grew up on it, you know? I grew up on it because it was taboo. When things are taboo and you’re told you’re not allowed to watch it, what do you do? You watch it! You watch a lot of it. As you grow older, smarter and get some wisdom about the world, you realize that horror is the genre that tackles, before any …continue reading


The Secret Behind the Mysterious Girl in ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ Posters

the original poster art for My Neighbor Totoro, created for the 1988 theatrical release and still used to this day My Neighbor Totoro was created by Hayao Miyazaki and released as a film in 1988. It’s one of our favorite movies that we’ve watched over and over, each time making new discoveries. However, one of […]

The post The Secret Behind the Mysterious Girl in ‘My Neighbor Totoro’ Posters first appeared on Spoon & Tamago.

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