Author: Alison Muir

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G'Day Japan! / Alison Muir


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If you’ve been into a game arcade anytime in the past fifteen years or so, you’ve probably heard of Dance Dance Revolution. A dance based arcade game with a euro beat and a focus on fancy footwork, DDR is a great way to work up a sweat and get some cardio in. There are even miniature versions of th… Read More

Golden Week

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Japanese people have a reputation for being some of the most conscientious workers in the world, but there's one period every year in Japan that is all about slacking off as much as possible. It's known as Golden Week - that's not a translation - and it is actually a collection of national holidays… Read More

Weird Japanese Food: Umeboshi

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In the popular Studio Ghibli animated film ‘Grave of the Fireflies’, the boy, Seita, forages in the rubble of a bombed city. He uncovers an undamaged supply cache, and retrieves several packages. One of these items is a large glass jar full of round, red morsels. On his way home, he opens the jar a… Read More

People of Japan: Making a difference in a big way

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"People often ask me: are you not depressed and disappointed by ever-increasing refugee problems? My answer is no. I say "no" because refugee problems can be solved." – Sadako Ogata As a young woman in Japan in the 1940s, Sadako Ogata (née Nakamura) would not have been expected to be particularl… Read More

Japanese Writing

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Although a national survey hasn’t been carried out since 1948, the literacy rate in Japan is often claimed to be 99%. Realistically, the actual rate is unlikely to be quite as high as claimed, but illiteracy in Japan is still pretty rare – and considering the pervasiveness of text-based communicati… Read More

The Takarazuka Revue

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In the Takarazuka Revue, all the women are beautiful – and so are the men. The motto of the Takarazuka Revue is "kiyoku, tadashiku, utsukushiku" – a reminder to live with purity, integrity, and beauty. These are three qualities that the founder of this all-female musical theatre troupe, Ichizo K… Read More

Weird Japanese Food: Natto

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One food item that’s practically guaranteed to get you all the elbow space you could possibly desire is the Japanese food known as ‘natto’. This dish is made from fermented soybeans, and opinion on it is fairly divisive even within Japan. Although it is a popular food for many reasons, it stinks to… Read More

Animal Sanctuaries in Japan

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If you love animals, there is no shortage of animal experiences to be had in Japan. Many people have heard of cat cafes, but the kitty you make friends with over an overpriced soda is far from being the limit when it comes to animal paradises in Japan. Here are just a few of the places in Japan whe… Read More

Toilets in Japan

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Few things in Japan leave a bigger impression on the first-time visitor than Japanese toilets. In Australia, toilets tend not to be more complex than the distinction between a ‘toilet’, and a ‘dunny’ – admittedly an important distinction, when one is far more likely to contain spiders. But in Japan… Read More

Tattoos in Japanese Pop Culture

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In recent years, Japan has seen the rise of fashion tattoos in the fringes of Japanese youth culture. Heavily influenced by American pop culture, Japanese pop stars like Ayumi Hamasaki and Namie Amuro have popularised tattoos as a form of fashion and self-expression among Japanese young people who … Read More

Eating until you’re stuffed in Japan

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If you’d love to go to Japan, but you’re the kind of person who goes out for sushi and ends up with a pile of plates that kind of vaguely resembles a Japanese-style Leaning Tower of Pisa, do not despair. Japan will not starve you. In fact, if you haven’t managed to gain about five kilos from your t… Read More

The Freeter Phenomenon

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One Japanese icon that is recognised worldwide is the stereotype of the ‘salaryman’. You’re probably aware of it, even if you’d never heard what it was called. ‘Salaryman’ describes the idea of a typical Japanese businessman (literally: a salaried man), a cut-and-paste clone in a cut-and-paste suit… Read More

The True Face of Geisha

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The world of geisha is one steeped in mystery. The training of a geisha is a strict and demanding process, and the women who undergo this training are discouraged from revealing the secrets of this world to outsiders. Access to this world even by clients is restricted, and is generally only possibl… Read More