Category Archives: FEATURED

Two men charged for having sex at a public bathhouse in Tokyo

Manager has had enough of people using the sento for casual hookups.

In Japan, public bathhouses, known as “sento“, are used by people of all ages, from very young children, accompanied by a parent, to the elderly. While some people simply like the ease and convenience of using a public bathhouse, which can save on water bills and cleaning at home, others like to visit the sento for the purported health benefits of their waters, which are sometimes sourced from natural hot springs, while others have no choice but to use the local bathhouse, given that some apartments in Japan don’t come with baths or showers.

▼ Sento often include both indoor and outdoor bathing areas.

Then there are others who appear to confuse the bathhouse as a place for sexual activity, which is not its intended purpose. That’s what’s been happening at one particular sento in Tokyo’s Shibuya Ward, where two men were caught engaging in sexual acts last November. The two men, both in their thirties, were subsequently charged with public obscenity and admitted to the charges, saying they were aware that they would be causing trouble for the establishment, due to signage on the premises, but they “succumbed to temptation”.

The men say they had no previous acquaintance with each other, and met at the public bath on the day of the incident. The sexual activity was said to have taken course over about 20 minutes in the open-air bathing area, while the door to the area was unlocked and about 15 guests were using the inside baths.

▼ This TBS News report shows the facility where the incident took place.

The manager says he has reported around 40 such incidents of sexual …continue reading


Japanese train conductor flips off rail fan photographer, prompts apology from JR

Conductor flips the bird on snowy night in Tokyo.

Japanese companies pride themselves on customer service, and that attitude carries over to public transportation providers too. Japan’s largest rail provider, Japan Railways Group (also known as JR) is particularly committed to presenting an image of its staff as courteous and capable, so many were shocked to learn that one of JR’s conductors recently flipped off a station-goer.

The incident took place last Saturday at Hakonegasaki Station, located on the Hachiko Line in western Tokyo, and can be seen in the images below.


— TJライナー (@donanbus2809) January 24, 2021

As snow fell on the evening of January 23, word got out that the Hachiko Line would be running its 209-series carriages. This older model has been largely phased out of service, but issues with the weather that day prompted a temporary comeback, and a pair of train enthusiasts had come to Hakonegasaki Station to take photos from the platform. At around 8:30, though, the JR conductor at the rear of one train bird-bombed the photo by extending both his arm and his middle finger as the train pulled away.

One of the rail fans posted a video of the incident on Twitter, and some wondered if he may have been exhibiting the less-than-polite behavior that train enthusiasts are sometimes known for. He explained, though, that he had been properly standing behind the yellow safety lines marked on the platform, and that he hadn’t been using a flash, using an umbrella, or doing anything else that he felt would pose a safety risk or impeded the staff from doing their job and other passengers from getting on or of the train.

Eventually the video caught JR’s attention, and the company was able to determine who the conductor …continue reading


Japan’s Moonlight Nagara train service ends, leaving a hole in overnight rail travel

A sad day for travellers, especially Seishun 18 ticket holders.

While Japan’s Shinkansen bullet trains get all the limelight on the international stage, where they’re loved for their punctuality, speed and spick-and-span interiors, there are plenty of other Japanese trains equally deserving of our love and attention.

The Moonlight Nagara is one such train, reliably ferrying passengers across the land on long-haul overnight trips between Tokyo and Gifu, spanning a total of five prefectures and covering a distance of roughly 442 kilometres (275 miles).

▼ The six-hour-40-minute train journey takes around nine hours by car, using expressways.

The current rapid overnight train service, operated by Central Japan Railway Company and East Japan Railway Company, has been active since 1996. However, in recent years its popularity has declined due to competition from cheap overnight bus services, and after its schedule was reduced to busy seasonal periods only, it’s now been announced that the service will stop running altogether.

▼ The 165 series Moonlight Nagara in 2000

▼ And the 183/189 series in 2007

The announcement came as sad news for many, but nobody is feeling the loss more than users of the Seishun 18 Kippu. This discounted ticket package–limited for use during four weeks in winter, five weeks in spring, and around seven weeks in summer–contains five days’ worth of unlimited travel on local and regular Japan Railways express trains for just 2,410 yen (US$23.24) per day.

▼ We once used the ticket to travel with a discount to Korea by ferry.

Considering a one-way journey from Tokyo Station to Gifu’s …continue reading


120-year-old condom found in Japan

Only surviving example of the sheath that protected Japan from “plum poison.”

Osaka-based company Morishita Jintan has been around for a long time. Founded way back in Japan’s Meiji period, next month will mark the pharmaceutical and medical device maker’s 130th year in business.

Obviously, advances in medical science mean that Morishita Jintan’s product lineup is now very different compared to the wares it offered in its early days. So it was a discovery of historical significance recently when someone in rural Japan found one of Morishita Jintan’s very first products: a condom that’s approximately 120 years old.

120年前のコンドーム発見 森下仁丹が販売、展示を検討:中日新聞Web


— 中日新聞 (@chunichi_denhen) January 21, 2021

The condom was found by the owner of a kominka, or classical Japanese folk house, in the town of Shikamachi, Ishikawa Prefecture. The house has now been converted into an inn for travelers, and the owner found the condom in the adjacent storehouse, which makes one wonder if the storehouse was used for amorous rendezvous by its original owners.

Specifically, it was a Yamato Kinu-model condom that was found. One of the first mass-marketed condoms in Japan, the Yamato Kinu earned its popularity by being billed as a line of protection against infections of syphilis, which saw major outbreaks around the turn of the 20th century in Japan, where it’s known as baidoku (literally “plum poison”). This is believed to be the only Yamato Kinu condom still in existence, and while its exact age hasn’t been determined, newspaper ads for the product from 1896 have survived, so it’s estimated that the condom was sold sometime around then.

Although Yamato Kinu translates as “Japanese clothing” or “Japanese silk,” the condom was actually made in France and imported to Japan by Morishita Jintan, as manufacturing technology at the time in Japan was insufficient to …continue reading


Japanese government discussing stricter copyright laws on cosplay, top cosplayer Enako chimes in

New rules may regulate social media photos and profit made from cosplay.

Cosplay is an awesome way for fans of shows to get creative and express their love for certain characters, but as we’ve seen before it also skirts the line of copyright law when it comes to making money.

For example, if you dress up as Goku, Tanjiro, or Ronald McDonald, and you make money from selling photos or costumes, are you infringing on the copyright of those characters?

It’s been an ongoing debate within the Japanese government, and according to the online news site Nikkan Sports, the government is moving forward to create laws to alleviate ambiguities in current copyright law. While cosplay that is not for profit will be unaffected, cosplay photos posted to social media, and cosplayers who make money from events may become liable for infringement.

▼ Luckily Little Red Riding hood is in the public domain,
so our selfies of dressing up as her are okay.

Right now nothing is official, and the government is in discussions with professional Japanese cosplayers such as Enako, who is well known for her significant income from cosplay and is also an ambassador for Cool Japan.

▼ This potential change understandably has a lot of people worried,
and Enako recently posted her take on Twitter. (Translation below)

#コスプレ著作権ルール化 について、拡散されている情報だけでは少し誤解があるかと思いますが…こちらの記事の方が分かりやすいかと思います。


— えなこ (@enako_cos) January 24, 2021

“I think there are some misunderstandings on the information being spread out there about the changes to cosplay copyright, but this article is easy to understand.

(Link to Nikkan Sports article)

I had a discussion with Minister Inoue, and we’re searching for a way to protect copyright without interfering with current cosplay …continue reading


Japanese politician posts photo of his dinner, netizens pity him over his depression meal

If the stomach is the way to someone’s heart, might as well get constituents by… making them sympathize over what you eat?

Fumio Kishida is no stranger to the Japanese political scene. Formerly the Minister of Foreign Affairs and currently an incumbent of Japan’s House of Representatives representing Hiroshima’s 1st district, the 63-year-old was one of the potential candidates considered to replace Prime Minister Abe Shinzo in the fall of 2020.

While then Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga was elected instead, life went on and legislative work continued for Representative Kishida, except he made waves again on social media for a photo of his dinner which netizens have dubbed a depression meal.

(Translation below)


— 岸田文雄 (@kishida230) January 15, 2021

“Because of COVID-19, dinner gatherings have been canceled and I continue to eat my meals at home. I tend to make food that can be easily shimmered on the stove, but yesterday night my sons made me miso soup. It was a surprisingly (they’ll get mad at me for saying that) delicious meal I ate together with my family.

For those unfamiliar with Japanese food, what’s in Representative Kishida’s spread can be broken down to the following from left to right:

  • Miso soup with a generous helping of enoki mushrooms
  • Microwavable instant rice
  • Raw egg
  • Sukiyaki udon (thick noodles as well as beef broiled in a savory and sweet soy sauce-based broth)

▼ Before anyone gets alarmed, raw egg is a common companion to many Japanese meals, due to the country’s specific handling methods for poultry goods.

Of course, depending on the individual, Representative Kishida’s dinner might not look that bad. …continue reading


Japan’s legal age of adulthood dropping by two years, but do teens understand what that means?

Survey sees if high school students know what they can and can’t do under the accelerated end of childhood.

Earlier this month, Japan celebrated Coming of Age Day, holding congratulatory ceremonies for people who recently or will soon be turning 20, the age of legal adulthood. However, that numerical turning point is going to be changing next year.

In 2018, the Japanese government approved an amendment to the country’s civil code which will drop the age of legal adulthood by two years, to 18, on April 1, 2022. However, it’s not a blanket change, as even after the changeover some of the rights and privileges currently denied to minors will remain unavailable to people under the age of 20.

With the transition coming in just over a year, Line Research surveyed Japanese high school students to see how they felt about it, and also how well they understand it.

To start with, girls were pretty divided in opinion about whether or not they agree with the age of adulthood being lowered, with the 32 percent agreeing with the idea of legal adulthood starting at 18 being just slightly higher than the 27 percent opposed to it.

Boys, on the other hand, were much more enthusiastic about reaching the manhood threshold sooner, with 48 percent in favor and only 15 percent opposed (responses from 393 girls and 406 boys).

▼ Results for girls (top) and boys (bottom), with color gradation from left to right showing numbers strongly in favor, in favor, indifferent, opposed, strongly opposed, and undecided.

The survey then asked if teens knew about the specific ways 18-year-olds’ rights will change (with responses from 514 girls and 498 boys). The one most were aware of is that the age at which women are …continue reading


Tweet of the Week #115: Standardized University Entrance Exam Kanji Trap

Source: Gaijin Pot

Last weekend, about 550,000 aspiring students took the standardized university entrance exam (大学入学共通(だいがくにゅうがくきょうつう)テスト) in the middle of the pandemic. Despite COVID-19, hopeful students had to show-up or miss their one chance to move on to higher education.

For many students, the test is the culmination of years of studying in cram schools or and preparatory schools, or 塾(じゅく and 予備校(よびこう) in Japanese.

Failing can mean an additional year of cramming as a 過年度生(かねんどせい), also familiarly known as ronin (浪人(ろうにん)).

After exams, newspapers and TV programs share test questions with the public and go over all the tricky parts. The Japanese language QCM portion of the exam is where trick questions hurt the most. For Japanese language learners, it’s also an excellent opportunity to better understand how important knowing kanji is to read and write Japanese.

Tricky kanji QCM


— しりーず (@Series3220) January 16, 2021

共通(きょうつう)テスト国語(こくご)の1問目(いちもんめ)から林先生(はやしせんせい)になった。 ラスト3分(さんぷん)で気(き)づいた。

“I became Professor Hayashi* for the first question of the Japanese language portion of the standardized test. I noticed (the right answer) in during remaining three minutes.”

Professor Hayashi, a well-known preparatory school teacher and public figure on national television, should feel proud!

The exercise shared in the picture measures test-takers’ knowledge of vocabulary and Japanese kanji reading. As you may know, the Japanese language has many homonyms and kanji, which are logograms (often inaccurately called ideograms) that come in to help distinguish words.

The first question gives ぞく, from the word みんぞく, as a reference point with no context to understand its meaning. Test-takers must first guess what could be the correct kanji for ぞく.

Learn the trick

Each of the four sentences below the reference point also has a word written in hiragana with “ぞく” in it.

  • しょぞく(costume)
  • かいぞく (pirate)
  • りょうぞく (good morals)
  • けいぞく (continuation)

The sentence helps find the meaning of each word and consequently, with which kanji they are …continue reading


Not-guilty verdict for man in women’s restroom, he had to go so bad it clouded his judgement

The laws of nature supersede those of society.

What could be described as the “trial of the year” – all 20 days of it – concluded last Wednesday, involving a man that stood accused of entering the women’s restroom without possessing the legal amount of X chromosomes to do so.

According to reports, last December the unidentified 64-year-old was walking along the streets of Hamamatsu City, Shizuoka Prefecture, when nature called. However, this was unlike a friendly call from an old high-school chum; this call had all the urgency and fury of a bill collector whose wife he also had an affair with.

With every second of the essence, the man frantically hurried to the nearest venue he could find that would probably have a public restroom. To his luck, he was right near the sprawling Hamamatsu Science Museum which did have facilities in its front lobby.

After a panicked trot across the floor of the museum he spotted the restrooms that were reportedly marked with the sign pictured below, available on Amazon for about seven bucks. The main purpose of the sign is to acknowledge that staff also use the restrooms, and is a bit of a parody of a typical restroom sign, with the woman and man figures bowing in apology.

Image: ©SoraNews24

He then rushed through the entrance and beelined it to the nearest available stall. However, by the time he realized that he had entered the women’s room it was too late. He was arrested and brought up on charges of invading the ladies room. If found guilty he would have to pay a fine of 100,000 yen (US$965).

However, the man pleaded not guilty, insisting that the sign …continue reading


Tokyo airport’s new train line to make getting into, out of the city easier for JR pass holders

East Japan Railway wants to cut travel time to Tokyo Station in half.

If you’re flying into Tokyo, Haneda Airport is where you want to land. Sure, rival Narita Airport sometime gets called “Tokyo International Airport,” but it’s actually all the way out in Chiba Prefecture, while Haneda is the one truly located within Tokyo.

However, just because Haneda is located closer to the Tokyo city center doesn’t mean it’s super close.

▼ Foreground: Haneda Airport
Waaaaay in the background: Downtown Tokyo

So no matter how long your flight to Japan was, once you get off the plane at Haneda and grab your bags, your next move is going to be to hop on a train to get into downtown. However, East Japan Railway (also known as JR East), has just announced that it’s building a brand-new train line to help get you to the fun part of your time in Japan more quickly.

Tentatively called the Haneda Airport Access Line, the new line will start at a new station to be attached to the airport building. From there it’ll run north to Tokyo Freight Terminal Station, at which point the track will flow into one of the preexisting JR lines which lead into Tokyo Station and continue out of the capital towards Tochigi and Gunma Prefectures.

Currently, the trip from Haneda to Tokyo Station takes about 38 minutes, starting on either the Tokyo Monorail or Keisei lines, neither of which are operated by JR. Both routes also require a transfer, at either Hamamatsucho or Shinagawa, two extremely busy Tokyo commuter stations which can be difficult to navigate even if you’re not hauling an overseas-trip amount of luggage.

▼ Shinagawa Station is basically the bullet hell shooting video …continue reading