SOCIETY

Why does Japan actually like the super loud, constantly buzzing sound of cicadas?

For many people in Japan, there’s no more welcome sound than the incredibly loud whining buzz of the seasonal insects.

Japanese culture has a deep appreciation for the changing of the seasons. That’s why you’ll often hear people waxing poetic about koyo, the red leaves of autumn, yukimiburo, open-air hot springs surrounded by blankets of snow in winter, and sakura, the cherry blossoms that bloom each spring.

Oh, and of course, the mi-n mi-n of summer, referring to cries of the cicadas. Yes, the loud buzzing of the creepy-looking insects, which to the uninitiated can sound like the whine of electrical power lines, is music to the ears of many Japanese people.

▼ As proof, here’s a 90-minute video made up of pretty much nothing but cicada cries that has over four and a half million views.

So why does Japan have such a soft spot for cicada (or semi, as they’re called in Japanese) sounds? To get a better idea, I asked the members of our Japanese-language writing team.

Casey: “Hey, so I was wondering how everybody feels about the sound cicadas make.”

P.K. Sanjun: “I love it. Well, not so much the sound itself, but the way it makes me feel. It’s like, ‘Yep, summer is here!’”

Go Hatori: “Love it! Totally gets me into the season. If I don’t hear them, I start to get uneasy, like we’re going to miss out on having a proper summer.

Takahashi Harada: “Yeah, it’s part of the summer atmosphere, so I like it.”

Masanuki Sunakoma: “I love the cicada sounds! I like them so much that I wish they’d sing even more, even in the winter! I guess it’s because I like summer so much. Ah, but it kind of freaks me out when cicadas cling to my screen door, so I wish they’d stop doing …continue reading

    

Japanese convenience store switches from plastic spoons to edible spoons

Source: grapee.jp

Like most Japanese convenience stores, MINISTOP has quite the selection of hot treats, like cream cheese-stuffed fried chicken, but it’s really built up its fanbase with their seasonal offerings of their popular MINISOF soft-serve ice cream.

That ice cream is going to be down for getting an extra treat served with it now, as in an effort to reduce an estimated 47 tons of plastic waste per year, MINISTOP will be experimentally replacing the plastic spoons that come with its popular soft-serve ice cream with edible spoons.

MINISTOP has announced that it will experimentally change its soft serve ice cream spoons (whehther you order a cone or cup) from plastic to “edible spoons”–made from ice cream cones, so they seem a perfect fit for when you order a scoop.

The experiment with edible spoons first began in May 2022 at two directly operated stores in Chiba prefecture, and is now being expanded in Kyushu and Shikoku prefectures. MINISTOP hopes to continue the expanded areas while gathering feedback from customers and participating stores.

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Yakuza vs Triads – All You Need To Know About These 2 Mafias

Yakuza Facts Japanese Mafia 2

The underground world of mafias is one that most people actively avoid on the public streets but are secretly excited to read about.

Movies and books about the criminal activities of gangsters showcase their lavish lifestyles, exciting day to day adventures, and occasional heroic deeds, giving them redeeming qualities that make them almost relatable.

However, in reality, these movies and books rarely depict what the life of a Yakuza or triad member is really like.

Are you interested in learning more about these mafias? We’ve curated some interesting information below about both mafia groups for you to read to your heart’s content.

Who Are Yakuza?

The Yakuza is an internationally recognized Japanese criminal syndicate that has a long and rich history in Japan’s society. They have been around for centuries but rose exponentially in prominence after World War II.

During their historical roots, they were involved in heightened criminal activity such as turf wars and undertaking protection responsibilities for money. They eventually gained favour with the Japanese government through cooperation and saw freedoms with certain gang activities.

Post-war, the number of the Yakuza rose by more than 100% throughout Japan. Their activities heavily expanded into gang wars, sophisticated gambling efforts, loan sharking, drugs (only certain groups), and smuggling goods.

Over the years, the Yakuza have evolved from being a feared criminal organization to becoming a (begrudgingly) accepted part of Japanese society. The structure of the Japanese mafia is often referred to as being similar to a family, with its familial tiers, or a business, with its hierarchical power structure.

In recent years, the Yakuza have branched out from their mostly Japan-centralized criminal activity to locations around the world, such as in the U.S. For example, one of their favourite investments is luxury golf courses.

Make sure you also read our blog post about Yakuza Facts.

Who Are Triads?

<img loading="lazy" title="What …continue reading

    

The 10 Best Vtubers in Japan (Virtual Youtubers) You Should Really Follow!

Watson Amelia Vtuber

When YouTube launched in 2005, no one really knew just how big of a platform it would become.

It went from hosting random videos that people filmed of themselves at home, to now becoming a top-tier streaming platform and being a place where people actually earn their entire livelihood.

YouTube is a mega-verse that you could spiral down for hours, nay, days, and never want to surface.

An interesting trend on YouTube that’s caught the attention of many people over the past few years is the rise of VTubers. You may have come across those animated videos before that have a surreal likeliness to actual people.

But for those uninitiated, who or what exactly are VTubers?

What is a VTuber?

VTuber is short for ‘Virtual YouTuber’, and it describes internet personalities that are performed by actual people, whereby they’re superimposed on the character using motion-capture technology and live 3D modeling.

Basically, they’re online entertainment characters who walk and walk like real humans.

The first VTuber in history was Kizuna AI, introduced to the world via YouTube in 2016.

Since then, the rise in demand and popularity of VTubers has risen exponentially, and some VTuber characters have, alone, elevated their companies to new heights!

VTubers essentially provide entertainment by playing games, chatting to viewers, and participating in live streams like a real person. Some boast millions of subscribers around the world, and even collaborate with other Vtubers – just like a regular YouTuber!

They were initially Japan-focused, but since interest has grown massively overseas, there are many English-speaking VTubers out there now.

The 10 Best Vtubers In Japan To Follow

Let’s have a look at the 10 most popular VTubers you should follow.

  1. Kizuna AI
  2. Kson ONAIR
  3. Kuzuha
  4. Nytasha Nyanners
  5. Kaguya Luna
  6. Mirai Akari
  7. Watson Amelia
  8. Shirakami Fubuki
  9. Mori Calliope
  10. Siro

1. Kizuna AI



Kizuna AI is the most famous and popular VTuber in Japan, boasting a whopping 2 million subscribers to her channel.

She …continue reading

    

10 Interesting Edo Period Facts You Probably Did NOT Know

Sushi Etiquette Japan 6

The Edo Period, also known as the Tokugawa Period, was considered the last period of history that was considered ‘traditional’ and ‘olden’ Japan.

This era was characterized by strict samurai ruling, rapid economic growth, peace across the prefectures, borders closed, cultural revolutions, and in particular, the major urbanization of Japan.

For example, it was during this period that such forms of entertainment as Kabuki and Haiku became popular. It was also during this time that sushi came into existence!

In fact, there are many interesting cultural and traditional aspects of Japan that emerged during the Edo Period that you probably didn’t know.

Let’s have a look at some of them with these 10 Edo Period Facts!

1. Sushi was the ‘fast-food’ option of the Edo Period

Sushi may seem like a Japanese dish that has been around forever, but it was actually invented by a street vendor as a snack during the Edo Period.

Back then, it was tasty, nutritious and cheap, and thus became a staple for the less affluent people in Tokyo.

Due to the industrialisation efforts of the Shogunate, there were many construction workers who were mostly single men who either did not know how to cook or were too tired after work. Sushi was the easiest option, and fast became one of the most popular options for food.

However, it wasn’t until the early to mid 1900s that its popularity spread around Japan, as this was when technology caught up and made refrigeration and transportation easier.

Read More: 10 Things Not To Do When You Eat Sushi In Japan

2. Women shaved their eyebrows after marriage (amongst other things!)

Edo Period Beauty Standards

It’s often the case that beauty is in the eye …continue reading

    

Bone-chilling discovery at abandoned farm in Japan looks like a horror movie opening

Source: grapee.jp

Japanese farmer’s discovery has the makings of a horror movie.

Earlier this year, Japanese Twitter user Morris=Dama (@moridama) began work as a farmer and beekeeper in the countryside. A fulfilling and quiet job, but like all horror movies, the quiet only lasts so long before you find something you maybe shouldn’t have.

Morris=Dama took to Twitter to share a photo of an unsettling discovery she made. Near the apiary she works on, she stumbled across an abandoned farm. That enough might make some people want to turn back, but she was captivated by the chilling and mysterious sight that decorated the walls of the deserted ranch.

Terrified, she shared a photo of what she found saying “I have no idea what to do and am so scared.

Source: @moridam

何をすれば良いのか分からなくて怖いやつや…(・∀・) pic.twitter.com/Hfl2Ly0pRC

— 🦋モリス=ダマ🐝 (@moridama) April 17, 2022

Hanging on the outer walls are a number of deformed and withered masks that are strangely lifelike and seem to be staring right at you. Posted next to them is a mysterious sign board that says “Those who enter the farm, please make sure to…“, with the lettering where the specifics of what to do were either never filled in, or faded over time.

The eerie combination of an abandoned farm, horrifying masks, and a mysterious incomplete message has many on Twitter feeling chills, comparing the scene to the beginnings of a horror movie like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

While it seems like we’ll never know the mystery behind the abandoned farm, it seems Morris=Dama has taken the scare in good stride, deciding to use the blank space in the message as a template for a meme by filling in “Those who enter the farm, please make …continue reading

    

Woman’s Japanese countryside life with dogs has people thinking she’s living out Ghibli movies

Source: grapee.jp

With many beloved animation giant Studio Ghibli’s films being set in Japan, it’s not exactly a surprise that you can run into areas that seem to recreate Ghibli anime magic in real life when you explore the country.

Japanese YouTube channel wan life (Dog’s life) very much shows an area and lifestyle with that Ghibli aesthetic in spades, as it covers the daily relaxing adventures of a woman and her three dogs who live at the foot of Mount Kai-komagatake, which straddles Hokuto City, Yamanashi Prefecture and Ina City, Nagano Prefecture.

The charming “slow life” videos have gained quite a following, with many finding themselves soothed by the “in harmony with nature” aura that each video gives off–which shouldn’t be surprising as the channel’s uploader has been living in the area for 26 years.

There’s some DIY appeal to be seen, as you watch her boil wild vegetables from the forest and make them into salads or deep fry them on skewers, all with the company of her three canine friends who seem more than happy to explore the almost fairytale like setting.

Watching her introduce her home, which looks right out of a Studio Ghibli film, is also a treat, as are how she impalements simple items purchased from 100-yen store Seria into her daily living.

Those looking for some real life Studio Ghibli aesthetic, DIY tips, or simply something soothing ASMR and visual stimulation may want to check in on dog’s life on YouTube!

…continue reading

    

When the power of Japanese protection amulets backfires

Source: grapee.jp

When visiting a temple in Japan, many visitors seek out omamori to take home with them and obtain good luck from. Often translated as “protection amulets” or “protection charms”, the small pouch amulets are meant to offer good fortune in pursuing goals such as number passing exams, wealth, health, safe childbirth, etc., and feature a corresponding kanji on the front representing that goal.

Source: kouta / PIXTA(ピクスタ)

Nyasu (@nyasufuji) may be thinking they picked up a different kind by mistake, however. The Japanese Twitter user recently was set into a panic by the amulet they had gotten to curry good fortune, when they noticed it was carrying the power of possibly starting a fire in their car!

Nyasu shared a video of the phenomenon occurring where they had set up the amulet near their car’s rear window:

焦った

煙が見えるから何だと思ったら、お守りの吸盤がレンズになって収斂火災起こしてた…
※この後すぐ外した pic.twitter.com/6mBXUGTd5N

— にゃす( ΦωΦ ) (@nyasufuji) March 30, 2022

So did Nyasu underestimate the amulet’s power? Well, not in any way that can’t be explained scientifically. As they shared with their video, it turns out the placement of charm’s car window suction cup is to blame.:

I freaked out.

I saw smoke and thought something was up, and it turns out the window attachable suction cup on my protection amulet had become a lens and causing a concentrating fire. Right after this I took it.

As it turns out, a concentration of sunlight resulted in a lens-effect fire, with the suction cup used to attach to the car window aggravating things and ultimately focusing on the tray Nyasu uses for their sunglasses at the back of the car. While they reacted before things could get out of hand, the smoke definitely set off some alarms in their head.

Many in Japan typically attach …continue reading

    

‘Z’ graffiti found in multiple areas of popular Japanese tourist destination Kamakura

Source: grapee.jp

Residents of Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture, a popular tourist destination famous for its many temples and shrines, have been unsettled by the appearance of unauthorized graffiti in at least four locations.

Graffiti is not unusual, even in Kamakura. For example, you can see past examples of graffiti on the website of the “Society for the Beautification of Kamakura.” However, whereas the content of graffiti is often unintelligible to residents, the meaning of the recent graffiti in Kamakura was very clear:

The letter “Z,” now recognized as an indication of support for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, was scrawled in white spray paint, including once near the entrance to Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine, a place where many people pass by and one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations.

The symbol was also found scrawled on distribution boards operated by Tokyo Electric Power Company in the vicinity of Kamakura Station.

According to a report in FNN, comments from residents included: “This is a tourist attraction so it’s scary to put something associated with war here,” “It makes me angry,” and “It’s unpleasant and kind of distressing.”

The chairman of the Society for the Beautification of Kamakura expressed anger, saying the letter Z “has a bad association with it. I was very angry that someone would do such a thing in the midst of this tragic situation.”

According to TEPCO, the ‘Z’ graffiti found on its distribution panels will be erased by the end of the month.

At the time of writing, the person or persons responsible for these incidents and their motives remain unclear.

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Yoshiwara – Discover The Old Tokyo Red Light District of Edo Period

Yoshiwara Tokyo Edo Red Light District 3

Most people will know Tokyo’s red-light district as Kabukicho, but this wasn’t always the case. Throughout a huge chunk of history, Old Tokyo’s red-light district actually lay nearby to Asakusa, in an area once known as Yoshiwara.

It goes against the grains of social norms today to speak casually and openly about the activities commonly associated with red light districts.

Yet back in the days when Yoshiwara was arguably the most popular destination across Japan, visitors were rampant and it was not uncommon or even stigmatised to marry a woman from the district.

This relatively unknown part of Tokyo’s history is full of eye-opening, albeit some dark, facts that you might find interesting to learn. Let’s discover more Yoshiwara!

History Of Yoshiwara

Whilst most areas of Old Japan have carried over to current areas that exist today, Yoshiwara is not one of them. Circa medieval Japan, prostitution was widespread, and growing. The Edo shogun then confined it to somewhere on the outskirts of today’s Ningyocho.

This became known as Japan’s first ever red-light district.

However, it didn’t last long as in 1657, the Great Fire of Meireki burnt the entire place to the ground. Yoshiwara was then moved to a new district, somewhere within the north of today’s Asakusa, and thus became the greatest entertainment district across all of Edo.

Yoshiwara Tokyo Edo Red Light District 2

At one point in time, it is believed that Yoshiwara employed more than 9000 women in this district. Most lived out their lives as prostitutes, waiting behind bars at establishments until men chose them to spend the night with. Some, however, were lucky enough to become apprentices to high-ranking oirans and …continue reading