J37 Japan Culture Community in Houston
Japanese Movie Night in Houston at the Drafthouse - NIPPON Love and Laughter: TRAIN MAN(It’s free)


Showtimes in Houston

Thursday, November 10, 2011

West Oaks



NIPPON Love and Laughter: TRAIN MAN

笑うNIPPON~Love and Laughter
Featuring films from Japan

Thursday, November 10th at 7pm: Train Man: The supposedly true story of a 23-year-old otaku (Japanese geek) who intervenes when a drunk man is harassing several women on a train. The otaku ultimately begins dating one of the women, and posts on a website asking for advice every step of the way.

FREE admission

In partnership with: The Consulate-General of Japan at Houston

Featuring Japanese/Hawaiian themed special menu! 

Gunkanjima: Ruins of a Forbidden Island
Tree Houses by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Takashi Kobayashi, a clothing buyer turned professional tree house builder, built his first tree house in 1993 on a piece of rented land in Tokyo. Since then, he has built tree houses all around Japan. Kobayashi sees himself not as an architect, but one of the “tree house people” who seek to coexist with nature through art and free expression.

What is it in tree houses that attracts anyone? I’ve come to think the answer lies in the vitality of the trees themselves. Everlasting life. ~ Takashi Kobayashi

via Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Treehouse by Takashi Kobayashi

Japanese Ranting Slang

aho! or baka!
translation: (you are really) stupid!

translation: shit!/damn!

shitsukoi naa
translation:stop it! (that’s so irritating!)

anta futottane
translation: whooooa. you’ve gotten so fat!

urusai yo! or shizukani shiteyo
translation:shut up!

translation: I’m gonna kill ya!

fuzaken jyane—yo nande sonna koto shitan dayo-?!?!
translation: damn! why the hell did you do that?

koro shite yaru-!
translation: Just another way of saying: I’m gonna kill ya!

a- mendokusai or kattari~ or dari~
translation: this sucks! (in the sense of: aaaauuw. why do we have to do this?!)

ge- hentai!
translation: feh! or weirdo!

nanda aitsu-
translation: what is wrong with her/him!

translation: this is so stupid! (in the sense of: aaaauuk. why are we doing this?!)

translation: I’m gonna hit ya!

acchi ikeyo-!
translation: back off!/go away!

translation: that’s so cheesy or you smell

translation: don’t come near me!

namenn nayo
translation: are you tryin’ to rip me off?

translation: bitch (or ugly girl)

maji mukatsuku
translation: I’m really p*ssed off!

translation: are you tryin’ to p*ss me off?

translation: this is rotten!

kittana-i (girl) kittane (guy)
translation: gross! (that is very unsanitary)

baka yaro-!
translation: you jerk/fool!

(from eclpi5e, in kansai dialect)
translation: why/what the hell did you do that for?!

If you like this, you might want to go to the Japanese Slang metanode.

Or, would you like to the Ranting in Various Languages metanode?

Amami-Oshima Island sees record downpour

Thursday, Nov. 3, 2011


KAGOSHIMA — A record downpour Wednesday morning in the area of Setouchi on Amami-Oshima Island, Kagoshima Prefecture, prompted the city to recommend all of its 5,500 households — 10,000 residents — to evacuate.

No injuries had been reported, according to local police.

Rainfall measuring 143.5 mm per hour through 9:08 a.m. Wednesday was observed in the town, marking the ninth-largest recorded rainfall per hour in the nation’s history.

Its neighboring municipalities, including the city of Amami, were also hit by heavy rains — more than 120 mm per hour, according to the Meteorological Agency.

The Kagoshima Prefectural Government said that by noon Wednesday, a total of 148 people in Setouchi and Amami had evacuated their homes.

According to local police, the rains also prompted a landslide in Setouchi around 8:30 a.m., pouring mud into a medical clinic in the town. Eighteen patients were in the clinic at the time, but no one was reported injured.

The area also suffered heavy rain last year leading to flooding and the closure of a tunnel in Amami.

15 Japanese Passions

You might think that Japanese people are obsessed with Sumo and Cameras but these are not the real Japanese national passions. What are Japanese truly passionate about? After living in Japan for ten years I think I have a pretty good idea. Here is my ranking of the top fifteen Japanese passions:

15. Sex
A bit of a disclaimer about this one. Japanese have a reputation for perverted stuff. For the most part this is not true. Western media and entertainment has picked up on sensationalized stories from Japanese tabloid magazines such as used panties from vending machines or eating sushi from a naked woman. These are excessive stories that do not reflect everyday realities in Japan. Westerners are inclined to believe such stories because Japan seems so far away and exotic.

International sex surveys have indicated that Japan is amongst the least sexually active countries in the world. In many ways Japanese people are conservative about sex. Having said that, it is true that Japan is a sexually passionate place. Firstly, Japanese are imaginative about sex as evidenced by Japanese pornography, manga and anime. Unlike much American pornography, Japanese pornography shows some creativity, often has elaborate plots and may take some time to get to the point.

Secondly, Love Hotels are everywhere in Japan. With over 500 million visits to Japanese love hotels every year it is clear that some Japanese people are having sex. In fact, when you break down the numbers this is equivalent to %14 of the Japanese population going to a love hotel every week!
japanese love hotel14. Pachinko
Japanese people love gambling in the form of a uniquely Japanese game: Pachinko. Pachinko resembles an elaborate pinball machine with many small balls. Players buy buckets of balls to play with and may win or lose balls as the game proceeds.

Gambling is technically illegal in Japan (パチンコ) and Pachinko exploits some technicalities in the law. It works like this: within the Pachinko parlor the balls are virtually worthless and can only be exchanged for stuffed animals and nominal prizes. However, right outside the parlor (usually in a dark alley) there is a small shop that exchanges balls for cold hard cash. So technically there is no serious gambling within the Pachiko parlor itself. The police look the other way and likely have deals with the Pachinko industry (that is controlled by various organized crime groups) to look the other way. How big is the Pachinko industry in Japan? Well, ever heard of a Japanese car? The Japanese Pachinko industry is bigger than the Japanese auto industry. Yearly sales are around US$160 billion a year. About one out of four Japanese people plays Pachiko and average spending per player is $7000 a year.

13. Travel
The Japanese love to travel. Japanese tourists can be found in every corner of the world. From Waikiki beach, to Banff hot springs, to Paris brand shops, to African safari Japanese tourists are everywhere. Japanese also frequently travel domestically and hotels in Japan are often geared to the domestic market rather than international travelers. For this reason it is hard to find English speaking staff in Japanese hotels. In 2009 14 million Japanese people traveled abroad. Top destinations where Korea, China and the US.
japan travel

12. Masks
Japan is one of the most highly urbanized countries in the world. Perhaps this is why Japanese people are passionate about cleanliness and avoiding germs. It is very common to see Japanese people wearing masks in public. Japanese people wear masks for three reasons: a. to avoid getting a cold or flu.
b. when infected with a cold or flu (many companies and schools mandate that staff or students wear masks when sick).
c. to avoid air borne allergens (1 out of 10 Japanese people has a allergy)
face mask

11. Gossip
Japanese gossip magazines are just as bad, if not worse, than their American or European equivalents. In Japan, there are dozens of weekly tabloid magazines jam packed with sensational stories that are at most half true. Examples of stories include:”Coffee pot tips seductress plucking schoolboy cherry”
"Depraved duo target pregnant women in terror rape spree"
"Quirky quacks prescribing sexual harassment"
"Intoxicated man assaults firefighter for entering his home without taking his shoes off"

Nobody in Japan seems to worry about the effects of these magazines. However, when Mainichi, a large Japanese newspaper with the fourth largest circulation in the world, started translating some gossip columns into English in a service they called “wai wai” there was a public outcry. Many right-wing Japanese felt the English version of the articles were embarrassing to Japan. Mainichi bowed to the pressure, shut down the service, fired some employees and issued a lengthy apology letter. As far as I know there has never been a public outcry about the dozens of Japanese language weeklies publishing the same pulp.Some Japanese may have been sensitive about the English versions of the articles because the mainstream western media sometimes picks up an article from the Japanese tabloids. This would be equivalent to a national Japanese newspaper picking up articles from the National Enquirer in the US and publishing it as fact. In many cases, this has unfairly perpetuated the image that Japan is a wacky and perverted country.
japanese tabloid

10. Small things
Japanese people value small things. Japanese restaurants serve tiny portions and the better the restaurant the smaller the dishes. In the 1970s and 80s Japan helped to revolutionize electronics and cars by making them smaller, lighter and higher quality.There are some notable exceptions to the Japanese passion for small things, Sumo comes to mind.
minature japanese camera

9. Fish
In Japan, the average person consumes 70 kilograms of fish a year. The global average consumption is just 13 kilograms a year and even developed countries such as America only eat about 20 kilograms a year per person. Japanese domestic catches have been in serious decline for many years and Japan sends large fleets all over the world to make up the gap. Many kinds of fish that are popular in Japan such as bluefin tuna are now in serious decline worldwide. Japan has from time to time ignored global fishing agreements such as the global ban on fishing whales. Whale meat such as dolphin can easily be purchased in Japan and is served to children as part of mandatory school lunch programs.
tuna fish8. Aesthetics
Aesthetics is the philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty and taste. Japanese arts such as Ikebana, Bonsai, Architecture, Japanese Gardens, Calligraphy, and Tea Ceremony are all about the pursuit of a simple and beautiful aesthetic. Aesthetics are an important part of every facet of Japanese life from cuisine to electronics and the Japanese are world renown for their aesthetic sense.
Japanese Aesthetic

7. Yelling
In many situations Japanese people are as quiet as can be. However, there is a real culture of yelling in Japan. When you go to a restaurant in Japan the staff will yell a welcome at you with a loud irasshaimase (いらっしゃいませ) and likely yell your order to the kitchen too. Yelling seems to be tied with with the Japanese concept of team. The staff of a restaurant are a team and as part of their teamwork they are expected to yell. Any team activities in Japan tend to get fairly loud.
irasshaimase6. Not wasting things
The Japanese word Mottainai (もったいない) means the sense of regret about wasting something. Japan is a small island nation with few natural resources and is one of the most densely populated countries in the world. Japanese people tend to be frugal and take care not to waste food and resources.

Japanese are known as major consumers of expensive brand goods such as Louis Vuitton. Despite this, the Japanese traditionally have a very high savings rate and tend to live well below their means. In Japan quality is respected and people take good care of their possessions.
Mottainai5. Drinking
Drinking is the national past time of Japan. Tokyo restaurants and bars are jam packed seven days a week with salary men, office ladies and students relieving a little pressure.

Japanese varieties of alcohol such as Sake and Shōchū are popular but beer is hands down the most beloved beverage. Cocktails are also popular and some of them are incredibly weak with about 2% alcohol. Most Japanese people are strong drinkers but a minority of Japanese people seem incredibly sensitive to alcohol.
tokyo drinking4. Manga
Japanese comic books (manga) are remarkably popular in Japan. They are popular with old and young, men and women. Manga have many types including highly sexualized stories specializing in every fetish you can imagine, sports, romance, animals, gambling, business, history, fantasy and crime. Internet cafes are abundant in Japan and they all have huge libraries of manga for customer use. People are not ashamed of their manga addiction and respectable looking business men are often spotted reading them on the morning trains.
japanese manga

3. Team
It is a stereotype that Japanese people value membership in the team while westerners value being individual. There are exceptions to every rule. However, for the most part this seems to be true. Western people will often consider themselves to be “special” while Japanese people will often consider themselves “normal”. The well known Japanese saying that “the nail that sticks up will be hammered down” exemplifies a concept that is deeply ingrained in Japanese culture.Japan was traditional a highly agricultural nation. Farming is a very organized activity that requires the coordinated efforts of the community. This is the context in which Japanese culture developed this strong sense of team.
japanese teamwork

2. Working
Here is another stereotype about Japan that is generally true. The Japanese are incredibly diligent workers and the quality and effort of their work is astounding.In Japan it is bad manners to go home before your boss. Often the boss is a workaholic type that stays late. Employees may stay late even when there work is complete and they have nothing to do.
japanese team

1. Onsen
Onsen is a Japanese hot spring bath that features geothermally heated spring water. Onsen may be communal or private; outside or indoors. Generally onsen is taken in the nude and bathing suits are not allowed. Usually, sexes are separated but there are some mixed-sex onsen in the countryside. Japan is very geothermally active and there are tens of thousands of onsen in Japan at hotels, ryokan, spas and public onsen. On holidays and weekends Japanese flock to the countryside craving a nice long soak in hot water. I have yet to meet a Japanese person who is not passionate about onsen.


Looking for green in Tokyo ? Not difficult actually, there are many parcs and even with a bit of train you are quickly in the mountains. For example Takao San is about 1h from Shinjuku… I don’t even mention if you take the Shinkansen… (then it is not even a question of time and distance but more of money…)

http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1026/4603464647_e665c879e4_s.jpgToday I bring you to Todorokikeikoku just near Tokyo West part. It is just one stop after Jiyugaoka (on the Oimachi line) which is also on the Tokyu - Toyoko line that starts from Shibuya (and goes to Motomachi - Chukagai in Yokohama).http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3337/4603464741_ea1731f071_s.jpgFrom the “outside” almost nothing reveals this place, even there is a huge road passing over it at some point. But once you walked down the river you are in a completely different mood, you can almost forget the city “up there”.http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3371/4603464807_547053efd5_s.jpgIt is not a long walk but it is a very nice path along the river borded by a luxuriant vegetation, and to finish with it, there’s a temple at the end where you can enjoy a macha (green tea).http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1187/4603464901_1716154708_s.jpgI totally recommend it. There was already some people last week-end, but not too many so we could enjoy the walk.http://farm2.static.flickr.com/1281/4604079856_7765a9d99c_s.jpghttp://farm5.static.flickr.com/4027/4604079936_52e9a4c972_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1031/4604080008_9ec1101005_s.jpghttp://farm4.static.flickr.com/3347/4603465143_da97b8e8df_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1027/4604080172_94a6d0c9e0_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1252/4603465281_1446d00891_s.jpghttp://farm5.static.flickr.com/4053/4603465391_c9ee35627b_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1393/4603465447_9f6880803c_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1313/4603465547_29b5556468_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1157/4603465621_4b47df007f_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1281/4603465765_341f6d441a_s.jpghttp://farm4.static.flickr.com/3369/4604080708_0af99d4071_s.jpghttp://farm2.static.flickr.com/1325/4603465897_a9d3ed3ef5_s.jpg You’d better go for it before the summer because I suspect it will be quite crowded then. Well if there are too many people on the path you can still go directly in the river like this kids :)http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3327/4603465971_cd1755fd4e_s.jpg

Japanese Ghouls ‘n Ghosts

Japanese folklore has a rich and terrifying tradition of all sorts of zany ghosts, ghouls, monsters, and goblins. Japanese ghosts collectively known as yūrei (幽霊), and Japanese monsters collectively known as yōkai (妖怪) are arguably the most popular. But how many traditional Japanese spooks do you actually know anything about? Read on to see what you should really be afraid of this Halloween.


Traditional Japanese Ghosts

Traditional Japanese beliefs state that every human being has a soul called a reikon (霊魂). After death, the reikon exits the body and enters a temporal stage where it waits for the living to perform final rites and funeral rituals for them. If these are completed properly, the reikon is satisfied and it can be at peace in death, leaving spiritual limbo and continuing on to the afterlife. This sort of reikon will become a spiritual protector of its family, looking down on its ancestors with favor.

However, if a person dies an unnatural, traumatic death, or if their final rites aren’t properly performed, the reikon becomes a yūrei and starts wreaking havoc on everyone’s sanity. The yūrei wallows in temporal space, forever yearning for whatever needs to be done for it to finally achieve peace in the afterlife. If the yūrei has strong enough emotional ties to the physical world however, it can return as a ghost. A scary ghost. One that’s sure to give you the heebie-jeebies.

These ghosts dwell on Earth, haunting its fleshy inhabitants. While all Japanese ghosts are referred to as yūrei, there are a handful of specific types differentiated mostly by the circumstances surrounding their death.

Onryō – 怨霊

Onryō are female ghosts who were abused or neglected by their lovers in life. These ghosts dwell in the physical world seeking vengeance on those who wronged them. Strangely enough though, they rarely do actual harm to the lovers who hurt them. They are also the most common type of ghost seen in Japanese horror films. In the case of onryō, the emotions tying them to the land of the living are usually hatred or sorrow- sometimes both. So if you’re in Japan, be sure to not piss off any ladies because they might come back as onryō and ruin your life.

Ubume – 産女

Women who die in childbirth or without providing for their children before death are classified as ubume. The power of their motherly love allows them to remain in the physical world to attempt to help the children they failed in life. Usually they come back to help their child in a time of need or leave gifts for them mysteriously. A mother’s duty is very important in Japan, and the stories of ubume are many.

Appearing in the form common to most Japanese ghosts, ubume are clad in robes of white, have long, unbound, disheveled hair, and are creepier than your perverted uncle Mike. Given their grim origins, the stories revolving around ubume are more sorrowful than those of onryō and focus mainly on the mother’s quest to ensure her child’s continued safety.

There’s no haunting to be had in these stories; the mother’s spirit directly interacts with her child after death, serving as a sort of guardian angel. However, in her providing for the child, the mother inadvertently leaves clues that otherworldly devices are at work. The most common sign are coins and gifts left for the child that turn into dead leaves after they’ve been discovered. Worst. Birthday. Ever.

Goryō – 御霊

Goryō are malicious, vengeful spirits – martyred in life and returning for revenge in the form of widespread death and destruction. Usually these spirits were those of the ruling class (the more powerful the person, the more powerful the spirit). Out of all the yūrei, goryō are undoubtedly the most dangerous. They can be incredibly powerful. They are capable of everything from destroying crops to evoking widespread natural disasters.

In medieval Japan, it was a common belief that one’s social status carried over with them into the spirit world so goryō were almost always spirits of the aristocracy. The more powerful someone was, the more likely they would return as a ghost capable of great destruction, so naturally respecting the dead was very important. On the other hand, if some jerk assassinates you for no good reason, it doesn’t really matter if there’s a shrine built in your honor because you’re going to be mighty peeved regardless.

Goryō are vengeance ghosts similar to onryō. However, their destructive ways didn’t necessarily end with the death of those who had wronged them. Only the super-cool-mountain-powered yamabushi could put these spirits to rest for good.

Funayūrei – 船幽霊

Funayūrei (ship ghosts) are the ghosts of those who died at sea. They approach seafaring vessels and ask for a bucket or a ladle. If they are given one of these they will deviously scoop water into the ship so efficiently that it will sink (so if you’re driving a big boat, you’ll probably have the time to get to land first, I think).

Funayūrei are usually not the end result of military conflict at sea, however (those who die in battle or on a battlefield are considered separate spirits all their own). Just about any sort of general drowning will do the trick here. They’re simply upset that they died, and now they want to take everyone down with them. Hey, you’d be bummed out too if you drowned in a big puddle.

Their ghost ship will linger by the coast, waiting for fishing vessels to victimize. As one passes by, the ghost crew cries for help in repairing their woefully sinking ship. But if the passing fisherman are nice enough to help out the spirits, they’re screwed. What sort of ghost punishes those who are kind to them? A lousy one.

If the funayūrei are given a bucket or a ladle they will immediately use it to fill the fishing vessel with water and kill all those on board, ultimately creating more funayūrei and ruining a perfectly good boat. Funayūrei sound like a bunch of jerks to me. I don’t like ‘em.

Funayūrei are believed to look human, however some are said to take on a scaly sea-like appearance much like those under Davy Jones’ command. So much for helping out your fellow man at sea, eh?

Zashiki-warashi – 座敷童

Zashiki-warashi are child ghosts who dwell in large, well maintained, fancy houses. They’re a squirrely bunch and really enjoy playing pranks on their fleshy housemates. However, seeing a zashiki-warashi or having one in your home is considered very lucky and can even bring fantastical fortunes.

These spirits usually appear as five or six year old children with bobbed hair and red faces. Zashiki-warashi are unique in the fact that they aren’t hell-bent on murdering everyone or seeking vengeance on those who wronged them. Instead, these ghosts just act like trouble-making kids. They’re brats, but at least they aren’t trying to drown you, right?

Once they’ve decided to haunt your home, they will demand your attention much like any bratty child would. If you choose to ignore the spirit, it will then begin to play increasingly devilish pranks on you until you acknowledge its presence. If you still don’t learn to love your forcibly adopted ghost-child, it will cry its little ghost eyes out and run away from home forever. Congratulations. You’ve failed as a ghost parent. When you die you’ll become an ubume for sure.

Despite their somewhat annoying nature, zashiki-warashi are considered lucky and are capable of bringing riches to those whose homes they inhabit. Should the family successfully adopt and care for the ghost child, they will be rewarded financially. But keep in mind, these kids are no angels. If you want those riches, you’re gonna have to work for ‘em, girl.

Additional Links

Traditional Japanese Monsters

From the beginning of time, Japanese artwork and folklore has been littered with a baffling amount of unique goblins, ghouls, beasts, and demons. Known collectively as yōkai, these mythical monsters come in hundreds of recognized species complete with back stories, detailed strengths, weaknesses, hobbies, and favorite members of AKB48. A handful of the most famous and widely recognized yōkai are detailed below for your enjoyment.

Kappa – 河童

The kappa is easily one of the most famous creatures to come out of Japan. This angsty aquatic monster is a fusion of duck, frog, and turtle. By their powers combined, a kappa is born. A small pool of water atop the kappa’s head is its only means of functioning on land, and they have an unhealthy obsession with cucumbers. Why they like them so much I do not know.

Nowadays the kappa is loved by many and drawn up to be cute and marketable (even Hello Kitty has one among her diverse group of pals). In days past, however, the kappa was used by parents for psychological warfare against their children. Japanese tykes were warned that if they took a swim without adult supervision, a kappa would sneak up beneath them and suck out their insides through their anus like a hot bowl of ramen noodles. I’m serious. If you don’t believe me, just look at the above picture one more time. Go ahead. Look at it.

Tsukumo-gami – 付喪神

Tsukumo-gami is a yōkai subcategory comprised of inanimate objects that have sprung to life. Two of the most well-known tsukomo-gami are the Karakasa (umbrella ghost) and the Chochinobake (lantern ghost), but virtually any object is capable of transforming into a yōkai. The chances of this happening were said to increase with the object’s age, peaking around the 100 year mark. It was also essential that the object be somehow agitated. Most commonly this would be a result of abuse, neglect, or abandonment. Just remember that the next time you think about throwing your XBOX controller across the room in frustration, k?

Kitsune – 狐

We talked about kitsune before in an earlier post (check it out!) so I won’t go into too much detail here.

Stories depict kitsune as intelligent beings possessing magical abilities that increase with their age and wisdom. The most notable of these abilities is their adaptability to human form. While some folktales speak of kitsune employing this skill to trick folks, other stories portray them as faithful guardians, friends, lovers, and wives.

Foxes were a popular pet in ancient Japan and this gave rise to many a legend concerning them. Kitsune became closely associated with the Shinto spirit known as Inari, and served as its messengers. This role reinforced the fox’s already supernatural significance.

The more tails a kitsune has (up to nine) the older, wiser, and more powerful it is. Because of their potential power and influence, some people also make offerings to them as to a deity (much like weeaboos worship Naruto).

Tengu – 天狗

Tengu are incredibly popular supernatural creatures found in Japanese folklore, art, theater, and literature. They also continue to make appearances in present day media such as anime and movies. Tengu are one of the best known yōkai and are sometimes worshiped as Shinto kami. Although their name comes from a dog-like Chinese demon (Tiangou), the tengu were originally thought to be birdlike, and they are traditionally depicted with both human and avian characteristics.

The earliest tengu were pictured with beaks, but this feature has since modernized into an unnaturally long nose (did you know that Pinocchio is actually a tengu?!?!), which is undoubtedly their defining characteristic today.

Buddhist dogma long held that the tengu were disruptive demons who brought both violence and death. However, their image gradually softened into protective, if still dangerous, spirits of the mountains and forests. Tengu are also associated with the practice of Shugendō, and they are usually depicted in the distinctive garb of its followers, the yamabushi.

Enma Daiō – 閻魔大王

Enma Daiō is the Japanese lord of death. He’s so popular they even let him on a TV show called Dragon Ball Z. What more do you need to know?

Other Popular Demons Worth Checking Out

Nekomata (cat monster)

Here kitty kitty kitty~

Jorōgumo (lit. “whore spider”)

Yeah, she gets around.

Kubire-oni (strangler demon)

Another peeping Tom meets his end.

Rokurokubi (long-necked woman)

It is like, soooo hard to find clothes in my size you have like no idea.

Onmoraki (bird demon)

Fire! My only weakness!

Tenjo-sagari (ceiling dweller)

Ceiling cat would be pleased.

Baku (dream-eating chimera)

I’s in your dreams, eatin’ yo’ dreams.

Yamasei (mountain sprite)

Yama say whaaa?

Rashomon no oni (ogre of Rashomon Gate)

You shall not pass!

Waira (mountain-dwelling chimera)

gtfo my mountain, fool.

Japanese Monster Fun Facts!
  1. Monsters are tied with robots as Japan’s #1 export! Cool!
  2. Japan invented several full genres of monster-centric entertainment! Can you name them all?!
  3. Some Japanese people are highly aroused by monsters! Are you!?
Additional Links

Want to know how to survive a yōkai attack? Check out this book!

Will Japan build a backup Tokyo

Onlookers get a panoramic view of the city of Tokyo from the first observatory deck during a media preview of the Tokyo Sky Tree tower this week. Some Japanese lawmakers have proposed constructing a “backup city” that could take on the capital’s functions in the event of a catastrophe.

By Alan Boyle

It sounds like a story ripped from the parody-filled pages of The Onion, but some Japanese lawmakers really do want to build a “backup city” that would take over the functions of Tokyo, including tourism, in the event of a catastrophe.

The idea was floated last month at a Tokyo luncheon, with a follow-up in The Telegraph last week. “The idea of being able to have a backup, a spare battery for the functions of the nation … isn’t this really a good idea?” Hajime Ishii, a parliamentarian representing the ruling Democratic Party of Japan, was quoted as saying.

Support for creating an urban Plan B has grown in the wake of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan in March and led to the Fukushima nuclear crisis. “Preparations are already under way at various levels at various levels to find ways of mitigating possible far-reaching consequences of a much-expected earthquake striking Tokyo,” the Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan said.

The lawmakers’ plan calls for building an urban center known as IRTBBC (Integrated Resort, Tourism, Business and Backup City) or NEMIC (National Emergency Management International City) on the 1,236-acre site currently occupied by Osaka International Airport at Itami. Today, Itami is used only as a secondary hub for domestic flights, operating in the shadow of the newer Kansai airport.

The new city would take on all the functions of the capital city in the event of an emergency. It would boast office complexes, resort facilities, parks and even casinos. The city’s centerpiece would be a tower that would rank among the tallest in the world, coming in at just over 650 meters (2,133 feet). It’d be built to house 50,000 residents and accommodate a workday population of around 200,000 people from the Osaka region, The Telegraph reported.

If the plan goes forward, it would rank among history’s most ambitious backup plans. The backers haven’t calculated the cost of building the city. For now, Ishii and his fellow lawmakers — including the Democratic Party’s Banri Kaieda, Shizuka Kamei of the People’s New Party and Ichiro Aisawa of the Liberal Democrats — are merely seeking 14 million yen ($180,000) for a feasibility study.

So far, the reaction has been mixed: Osaka’s governor, Toru Hashimoto, has been quoted as saying that his region is willing to accept the capital backup role, while Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara has voiced opposition. And he may not be the only one: It just seems to me that most emergency-management officials, if not most politicians, would prefer to fortify what they have rather than building a whole new complex someplace else.

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Reformist Japan Farmers Urge Free Trade to Spur Change

 Like other farmers on this fertile, coastal plain in northeast Japan, where patchwork rice fields stretch to the mountains beyond, Kazushi Saito knows firsthand that the nation’s shrinking agricultural sector is in dire straits.

 But unlike many, the 54-year-old rice farmer backs a controversial free trade deal that could remove a near 800 percent tariff on rice, aimed at excluding most imports of a staple that is ingrained in Japan’s culture.

 "Japan’s agriculture is on the verge of collapse. If things go on this way, it can’t last five years," Saito said.

 Saito says the U.S.-led free trade deal, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), was “the last chance” to keep Japanese firms from falling further behind globally, spur agriculture reform - and help his farming business turn a profit.

 Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda has signalled he’s keen to join talks on the trade deal, which has Japan’s powerful farm lobby in a tizzy. The initiative would in principle remove all tariffs among participants, including on farm products, and set rules on trade in a wide range of other sectors.

Here in the town of Mikawa like elsewhere in Yamagata prefecture , pro-free trade farmers like Saito are a minority.

Most rice farmers fear - and rightfully so - that removing the 778 percent tariff shielding them from cheaper imports would be the death knell for their mostly miniscule farms.

Tariffs on fruit and vegetables are far lower so the impact of trade liberalisation would be much smaller.

"Japan is the land of ‘Mizuho’," said farmer Shigeru Sato, using an ancient name for the country that means ‘golden ears of rice’. "Rice is our culture. Without policies to protect rice, we cannot preserve local society."

But the 64-year-old Sato, who has been growing rice in the village of Nowara all his adult life and opposes the free trade pact , agrees something must change to keep farming alive, given falling prices as Japanese eat less rice, the high costs of fertiliser and other inputs and a maze of regulations.


Current DateTime: 10:24:25 28 Oct 2011
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"In my son’s generation, there is no one in my village who is farming," he said.

With farmers like Saito outnumbered by those who fear opening up Japan’s farm market, Noda must face down opposition inside his Democratic Party of Japan if he is to tell U.S. President Barack Obama that Tokyo wants to join the talks when they meet at a November 12-13 Asia-Pacific summit in Hawaii.

His decision will be taken by many as a gauge of whether the country’s sixth premier in five years can deliver reforms needed to end decades of stagnation.

"TPP will be a real litmus test of Noda’s ability to make tough decisions," said Kenichi Kawasaki, a senior political analyst at Nomura Securities.

Free trade is anathema to many Japanese farmers, who after decades of decline make up just 4 percent of the workforce and contribute only 1 percent of GDP but pack political clout through a powerful lobby and an electoral system biased toward rural voters.

On the other hand, Japanese manufacturers, chilled by signs rivals like South Korea are pulling ahead, are pushing hard for Tokyo to join the trade talks, which include the United States, Australia, Brunei, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

Seoul does not belong to the TPP but has forged free trade deals with the European Union and the United States, sending shivers down corporate Japan’s spine.

Even without the pressure of freer trade, Japan’s farming sector is in serious decline as its population ages and shrinks.

The average age of Japanese farmers was 66 last year; 93 percent of rice farm households work the land part-time or supplement their income with pensions. Youth are leaving Yamagata and other rural areas in search of jobs.

In a nod to the need for reform, the government last week outlined steps aimed at promoting larger, more competitive farms that would attract younger workers and drive down costs.

But farmer Saito, like most experts, says that the Democrats must alter a key policy that provides direct income subsidies to all farmers - regardless of the size of their farms - if they really want to encourage part-timers to lease or sell land to full-time professionals and help them turn a profit.

"Real reform would mean not providing income support to small-scale farms …otherwise his (Noda’s) policies are working against each other," said Aurelia George Mulgan, a professor of Japanese politics at Australia’s University of New South Wales.

"The first is designed to achieve economic goals i.e. encouraging larger-scale farms and the second - universal farm household income support - is to achieve political goals."

Even with reforms, rice farmers would need to compete with imports through branding, quality and marketing rather than price and will still need government support to stay afloat.

Changing the income support programme, which were devised to woo farm votes away from the long-dominant Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) and helped vault the Democrats to power in 2009, risks eroding voter support ahead of an election in 2013 or sooner.

Pro-free trade farmers, though, want national politicians to stop treating them like election pawns and adopt policies to revitalise rural regions, which can’t survive on farming alone.

However painful for many farmers, Japan cannot afford to remain outside free trade pacts such as TPP, said Hitoshi Sato, a local assemblyman in Mikawa who farms a 10-hectare (25-acre) plot.

"Without trade, there is no Japanese economy … This is an era when all industries, even in this rural region, must operate in the context of the global economy."