History of Japan: Showa Period (1926-1989)

The Showa period is often described as a significant break point in Japanese history that followed the Taisho Period that represented a continuation of Japan’s rise on the international scene and liberalism. Other episodes in the Japanese history such as the Sengoku period and Edo period draw often much more attention and interest from foreigners. However, the Showa Period, about the 60 years of history, is full of historical events including the World War II which have totally changed the entire nation and people’s lives. Learning about Showa period and its politics, culture, economy and wars will help you get to know the period deeply and how Japan became one […] …continue reading


Teacher disciplined for drinking alcohol during class in Japan

Students driving you to drink is no excuse to open a cold one in the classroom.

Japanese schools are known for enforcing strict regulations, and one of the most common rules implemented by a large majority of schools is a no-drinking policy during class-times. It’s not just students who aren’t allowed to drink during class either, it’s a frowned-upon act for teachers too, given that they should be setting a good example for the children.

Sadly, not all teachers care about setting a good example, however, as evidenced by one elementary school teacher on the main island of Okinawa Prefecture recently. According to the prefectural board of education, the 51-year-old teacher wasn’t just sipping on water or juice while teaching — he was found to have been imbibing alcohol during class.

The incident occurred on two occasions, with the teacher drinking a 350-millilitre (12.3-ounce) can of chu-hai at the front of the classroom during class on 22 February, and then again on 26 February, while the students were working on individual tasks.

▼ A Chu-hai (often rendered as “Chu-Hi”) combines shochu, a distilled spirit, with carbonated water and a flavour like fruit juice, and can contain as much as 12-percent alcohol.


A wide variety of chu-hai brands exist on the market, and while it’s not known which one the teacher was drinking, a student in the class at the time recognised the can to be an alcoholic beverage and reported it to another teacher on 26 February.

When questioned by fellow staff, the teacher admitted to drinking alcohol in class, expressing remorse and saying he “drank it on impulse“.

On 15 April, the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education told the media that the teacher had been disciplined with a ten-percent reduction …continue reading


Japanese girl can’t think of anything to write about for in-class essay, writes awesome one anyway

Outside-the-box thinking gets a thumbs-up from teacher.

Japanese Twitter user @gude_chichi has a seven-year-old daughter, and that daughter had a problem. She’s currently in the first grade, and the other day her teacher gave the class an assignment to write an essay about any kind of personal experience they’d recently had.

So the kids started writing…except for @gude_chichi’s daughter, who immediately ran into writer’s block, and a case so severe that she even titled her essay “What Should I Do?”

▼ Page 1 of her essay

But even if she wasn’t sure what to write, @gude_chichi’s daughter let that agitation flow straight onto the paper, starting off with:

Today at school we are writing essays. But I can’t think of anything to write about and don’t know what to do. Everyone else is writing. But me? I’m not. Please, teacher, help me out here. No luck? What should I do? I wonder if there’s anyone else in class who isn’t writing.

My brain isn’t thinking of anything, but it still feels like I’m spraining it. How does that happen? Third period is almost over. I don’t want to have to stay after to finish this during break. ‘What should I do?’ I don’t ever want to have to write an essay again…What should I do? Only five minutes left. Oh, wait, that’s it! I can write about this feeling for my essay! But there’s not enough time. What should I do?”

With just a few minutes left, the girl kicked her writing into high gear, filling a second page, and then most of a third, with her inner monologue.

She wraps things up with:

“The teacher just said …continue reading


Street Fighter II characters appear in Japanese English textbook, drawn by famous designer

Cosplayer conversation in junior high text features cameos by World Warriors.

One of the challenges in teaching English to kids in Japan is holding their attention. It’s a huge help if textbooks can add anything fun or interesting to keep kids’ eyes, and minds, on the lesson, and so it was a smart move by publisher Sanseido to reach out to Taro Minoboshi to do illustrations for its New Crown series of junior high English texts.

Minoboshi is best known for his work as character designer for the popular Love Plus video game series, and his art can also be seen in franchises such as God Wars, Root Letter, and Exist Archive.

▼ Some of Minoboshi’s illustration work for New Crown

NEW CROWNの見本誌を頂いたのでご紹介です。
1年生はイラストがデカイ!笑 こんな教科書だったら勉強も楽しかっただろうなーと羨ましく思います。

— 箕星 太朗 (@mino_taro) April 4, 2020

Another key point to keeping kids engaged is framing sample conversations around topics that they can relate to or are interested in. To that end, one of New Crown’s characters is a girl from China named Jing who likes anime and video games…and who in one lesson cosplays as Street Fighter’s Chun-Li!


— 𝙍𝙪𝙣𝙤 (@runo64bit) April 7, 2021

In her dialogue about her summer vacation, Jing says she attended France’s Japan Expo pop culture celebration, where “Lots of people wore costumes of their favorite characters. I did, too.”

That’s not a suspiciously-close-but-for-copyright-reasons-not-really-Chun-Li, either, as the Minoboshi’s illustration, which also shows fellow fighters Ryu and Sakura, has the official approval of Street Fighter developer Capcom.

イラストは @mino_taro 先生🎨ありがとうございました🙏

— STREET FIGHTER (ストリートファイター公式) (@StreetFighterJA) April 7, 2021

It’s worth noting that Minoboshi has no previous professional connection to Capcom or the Street Fighter franchise. When New Crown’s authors …continue reading


Wakayama high school students make life-sized DeLorean time machine replica from scratch

Roads? Where this car is going, they don’t need roads…

For years large palm trees stood at the entrance to Tanabe Technical High School in Tanabe City, Wakayama Prefecture. However, in 2016 they suffered irreparable damage from pests and needed to be removed.

▼ Tanabe Tech in 2013

▼ Tanabe Tech in 2017

The principal of the school decided to replace these plants with something more permanent. For this he tasked the head of the mechanical department, Masato Takai, with erecting a monument that would greet visitors as a symbol of what Tanabe Tech was all about.

After consulting with his students, Takai and the kids decided to start with an automobile body and work from there. Shortly after, inspiration struck the department head. He figured; why just make any old car when they could make a vehicle that has stood for years as a symbol of both raw industrial arts and hope for the future?

And so, work began on the creation of a life-sized DeLorean time machine from scratch.

▼ A 2017 news report on the early stages of the time machine constructed from sheets of aluminum and steel

It was a heavy job, and required more work than a single school year could allow. So, the students passed on the work from year to year, each class picking up where their seniors left off. By the time the car was ready for installation some 500 students had put work into it.

In the meantime, Takai sought permission from Universal to use the likeness of the car as well as the unforgettable musical score to the Back to the Future movies. That’s because this monument was designed to not only stand in front of Tanabe Tech, but light up, rotate, and play music as well.

▼ A look at the progress the car made by 2019, after …continue reading


Teacher’s heartwarming message helps student pursue art dream

It all started with an apple in a Japanese class journal.

As we get older, the memories of our school years may begin to slowly fade, but our favourite teachers remain ingrained in our minds forever. In Japan, the lasting impact of one kind teacher recently made news after coloured pencil artist Yuichiro Abe shared this tweet online.



— 長靴をはいた描 (@erumo_0384) March 16, 2021

The image on the left above shows a sketch drawn by Abe in his class journal when he was a third-year junior high school student. The class journal, which is handed over to the homeroom teacher for periodical checks, has sections for writing notes and reminders, and in the section for messages, Abe wrote “らくがき”, which translates to “graffiti” or “scribble“.

▼ The image that appears here is far from a scribble, though–it’s a beautifully sketched, perfectly proportioned illustration of an apple.

The red circles around the apple are the markings of the teacher, and in Japan–where circles indicate good work, akin to a tick signifying a correct answer in the West–the more circles there are, the better the work, which means Abe’s self-described “scribble” received recognition equivalent to a gold star.

That’s not the only acknowledgement Abe received, though, as the teacher drew an arrow towards the image with this heartwarming note for the student:

“This is extremely skilful!! I want you to take good care of this talent as well.”

This touching message obviously meant a lot to Abe, who shared the image on Twitter, saying:

“Teacher, I’m still drawing!”

As proof, the now-19-year-old, who’s currently a first-year beauty school student, shared this more recent photo alongside his junior high school drawing.

<img …continue reading


Line up in the hall, open your shirts, show your bras – Real instructions from one Japanese school

Dress code check has people in Japan upset.

A number of Japanese school rules have been under increasing criticism over the last year for being outdated or illogical, and the one getting the most attention these days involves students’ underwear. As part of their dress codes, a number of schools have regulations in place that say students must wear white underwear.

However, school uniforms are, obviously, already designed so as not to show students’ underwear. Unfortunately, rather than take it on faith that the unseen underwear conforms with the rule, some schools exercise their authority in performing spot tests. One method is to have a teacher can check the color of bra straps pulled up through a student’s collar, but one school in Fukuoka Prefecture has used an even more shocking method.

According to a student who was interviewed by the Fukuoka Bar Association as part of a study of school rules in the prefecture, girls at the school were told to line up in a school hallway, standing side-to-side. They were then told to unbutton and open their shirts while a teacher came by and inspected their bras to make sure they were solid white.

Though you couldn’t really call the situation better if the students’ panties were checked as well, the fact that the underwear check apparently only involved their bras strongly implies that it was only girls who were checked to see if they were in compliance with the dress code. The semi-logical reason would be that boys’ uniforms, by nature of having pants, mean that their underwear would never be seen anyway, but then the same should at least be true for girls’ bras, which are always covered by their uniforms’ blouses.

▼ Honestly, that seems like something professional educators should be able to understand.

<img src="" alt="" width="640" height="426" …continue reading


Why do kids in Japan use those large leathery “randoseru” school bags?

A trend a century and a half in the making.

April is the beginning of the school year in Japan, and it’s a time when many young students strap on their boxy leather (or often simulated leather) randoseru backpacks for the first time. Even without living in Japan, you may have seen these sturdy but expensive carriers in anime, film, or one of our many articles about them.

But why does Japan of all countries use these distinctly old-fashioned western designs?

It all started around the end of the Edo era in the middle of the 19th century. After Japan was opened up to trade with other countries, western culture and fashions became a craze.

▼ Suit jackets and samurai swords weren’t exactly made for each other, but these guys made it work.

Wikipedia/Illustrated London News

This was true for military technology at the time as well, and the concept of using backpacks to free up soldiers hands was adopted. Early on they were given the Japanese name of “haino” but in keeping with the western wave of influence, the Dutch word “ransel” was also adopted into Japanese as “ranseru” or “ranuseru.”

It’s a bit of a mystery how a “do” was added to the middle of the word. One theory is that the Dutch “ransel” was conflated with the German “landser” which refers “foot soldier.” Logically it makes a lot of sense, but according to German dictionaries “landser” gained prominence during WWII. Its origins could be traced back to the late 19th century, but that would mean it was a brand new term even in German when it first appeared in Japanese.

▼ These Japanese soldiers in the 1890s probably weren’t concerned with Dutch and German linguistics …continue reading


Japan – A County of Low-Tech

When you hear “Japan,” what do you think first? Anime? Sushi? Some may think of “high tech” (ハイテクhaiteku) first. But sadly, the Fukushima incident and COVID-19 have revealed that Japan was a pretty low-tech (ローテクro-teku) country.

Photo taken and used with permission from Dalton Waldock.

Japan has been famous for (〜で有名な de yuumeina) robots for factory automation and entertainment (娯楽goraku). But none of their technologies worked when the Fukushima Nuclear incidents happened. Almost none of their robots were usable in the highly radioactive and highly technology-unfriendly environment, and the first robots that entered the facility were donated by iRobot of the US.

But we had the toilet that cleansed you with just the appropriate temperature and force of your choice. And we had a brilliant toy dog from Sony to keep you company. And who could live without Nintendo and PlayStation? I believe Japanese technologies focused on comfort and fun, instead of risk management.

When the tsunami attacked the Fukushima nuclear facilities in 2011, the emergency electric power system stored in the basement (地下chika) was submerged in water and became inoperable. The facilities are close to the ocean. Didn’t they think it was not really a great idea to have the emergency system in the basement?

This reminded me of the technology that a Japanese consumer electronics company marketed in the 1990s when I was a high-tech analyst. There was a new video deck that you could program to record your favorite TV programs up to 365 days ahead…. OK, was it practical (実用的 jitsuyoteki)?? Did we know our favorite TV programs would be still produced then?

I have to think that something has been missing in the Japanese high-tech industry from these two examples – lack of risk management and lack of reality. However, I …continue reading


Want to get better at Smash Bros.? Japanese player plans to open ‘Smash Bros. Prep School’

Veteran player wants to bring less-experienced players up to the top ranks.

Super Smash Brothers, the smash hit video game franchise where a plethora of Nintendo’s finest come together and duke it out, is still going strong despite its first release being over 20 years ago. To this day, tournaments are being held and players all over the world come together to battle it out.

▼ The trailer for the latest instalment, Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Souther (@souther_snake on Twitter) is a Japanese Smash Bros. player and is currently ranked 122nd in Japan. After withdrawing from the spotlight for a while, last month he resurfaced by announcing his plans to open a Smash Bros. Prep School for both beginners of the game and those who want to get better.

▼ The school even has its own logo, as seen in the first picture.


— サウザー (@souther_snake) March 29, 2021

Souther describes the school (which doesn’t seem to have a physical location) with:

“I have set up a school to help all Smash Bros. players who want to get better at the game. At the moment, there are so many tips and strategy guides online that it’s hard to find which ones are actually good. At this school, lessons are taught based on the assumption that you have zero experience, so you can learn with peace of mind.”

Of course, courses for pro gamers are nothing new, but Souther is keen to convey that what he is offering is not a course, but actual, personalised lessons on how to become a better Smash Bros. player. What’s the difference between a course and lessons, you ask? Souther explains in further tweets —

“Courses are like what you have at university, and lessons are what you have at …continue reading