Category: Other

How Japan Selects Astronauts

I’ve been reading an interesting book called Packing for Mars: The Curious Science of Life in the Void. It’s about the quirky side of space exploration – things like what’s involved in getting an American...

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21st Century Yakuza

The image of the punch-permed yakuza, with his missing pinky finger and Yamaguchi-gumi pin on his lapel is a stereotype that is quickly becoming as outdated as the geisha and samurai. The 1990’s were a time of enormous...

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Useless People in Japan

Japan is filled with workers who do almost nothing. You probably haven’t needed a crossing guard to help you across the street since you were five years old, but you can find crossing guards on quiet streets far away from...

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Earthquake Sickness

Sometimes when I’m sitting at my desk, I suddenly feel the ground shaking, but when I look around, everyone else is just sitting there calmly. I always feel really stupid, and I was starting to wonder if there was...

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The All-Japan Telephone Answering Contest

The Annual All-Japan Telephone Answering Contest is held in November every year. According to the contest’s official website, “The purpose of the Telephone Answering Contest is to preserve correct, eloquent Japanese,...

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Money for Nothing

Sometimes Japan’s gift-giving culture can make life really complicated. Having to leave half your suitcase empty so that you have room to put souvenirs for all your co-workers, or trying to figure out if money envelopes are for...

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