Posts Tagged With: Twitter

Japans whacky holidays: Coming of age day

The second Monday of January is Coming-of-Age Day, a national holiday to encourage those who have newly entered adulthood to become self-reliant members of society. (The holiday used to be on January 15, but in 2000 it was moved to the second Monday of the month.) Last Monday we celebrated the coming of age day for 2014.

Local governments host special coming-of-age ceremonies for 20-year-olds, since an “adult” in Japan is legally defined as one who is 20 or over. They gain the right to vote on their twentieth birthday, and they’re also allowed to smoke and drink. But along with these rights come new responsibilities as well, and so age 20 is a big turning point for the Japanese.

Coming-of-age ceremonies have been held since time immemorial in Japan. In the past boys marked their transition to adulthood when they were around 15, and girls celebrated their coming of age when they turned 13 or so. During the Edo period (1603-1868), boys had their forelocks cropped off, and girls had their teeth dyed black. It wasn’t until 1876 that 20 became the legal age of adulthood.

These days, males generally wear suits to their coming-of-age ceremony, but a lot of females choose to wear traditional furisode – a special type of kimono for unmarried women with extra-long sleeves and elaborate designs. For unmarried women, furisode is about the most formal thing they can wear, and so many of them don it to the event marking the start of their adult life.

Coming of Age Day is a joyous occasion in Japan. Although most 20-year-old girls choose to wear a traditional kimono, get their nails painted, and have their hair done up, usually with some curls and a few accessories such as flowers or jewels. But one young adult who goes by the name “Harutamu” on Twitter, celebrated her milestone with some of the most extreme fashion we’ve ever seen. Don’t take our word for it, have a look yourself:

Harutamu crazy hair

Harutama full lenght

▼ Let’s play “Where’s Harutamu?”

Group pic

Don’t worry, Harutamu’s extreme fashion has company. Introducing the Coming of Age dress of Twitter user, “Richu,” who just happens to be Harutamu’s friend:


If you’re shocked by these ladies’ choice of clothing and accessories, take a look at how they look on the weekend:


Harutama and Richu are both part of a gyaru group called Black Diamond. Gyaru are fashion-conscious young women who like to dress in extreme makeup, but we probably didn’t have to tell you that. Upon turning 20 years of age, these girls are now technically adults in the eyes of the Japanese government, but we’re not so sure this is the kind of adult they had in mind. Especially with Twitpic captions such as, “Check out my long-sleeved kimono for the coming-of-age ceremony ♡ mini prostitute ʕ•̫͡•ʔ♡ʕ•̫͡•” (but we have to give her props for adding bear emoticons). As expected, most Twitter users who retweeted Harutama and Richu’s pictures were also unsure if the pair could be considered adults and one user wondered, “What happened to the Japan of old?” But no matter your opinion, we suppose there’s nothing left to say but, “Congratulations!” and hope for the best as these young ladies continue their journey into adulthood.

Categories: history of Japan, Japanese customs, Must see, News about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Japanese Part-Timers ‘Terrorize’ Employers with Pranks


Stuffing out cigarettes in sushi, wearing pizza dough as a mask and cleaning feet in the dishwasher – these are just some of the stunts part-time workers are pulling to the delight of their Twitter followers and the chagrin of their employers.

While the part-timer pranks may not seem particular unusual to readers outside Japan, the behavior has raised eyebrows in Japan – a nation that takes dedication to work and strict discipline very seriously.Since a man posted a picture of himself lying inside a refrigerated ice cream case at his convenience store job online, local media have unveiled a new case of an employee documenting mischief on Facebook or Twitter almost daily. The trend has even spawned a new expression brimming with hyperbole: “baito tero” or “part-time job terrorism.”All the cases so far have involved workers at fast-food restaurants and convenience stores, sparking conjecture that the real cause underlying the misbehavior is the frustration of employees with low-paying, part-time jobs.

Other commentators, however, say social media is to blame.


Crazy Japanese part timers“For young people, the most important thing is to stand out and be noticed. For example, since social networks have become popular, cute girls have tried to attract attention knowing that some have become models after being discovered through social media. Whereas in the past, those girls would have been scouted when they were out and about walking around,” Britney Hamada, a comic book artist and television personality said on a television program last week. “That’s just escalated more and more and translated into these kinds of ‘crimes.’”

Nearly a quarter of high-school students in Japan use Twitter, while only 14% use Facebook, according to a September survey of over 4,500 students by ZKAI Co.

Whether the clowning around is down to part-time job dissatisfaction or social media overload, employers have been less than understanding, sometimes taking action that has arguably caused greater inconvenience to customers.

Nagoya-based chain restaurant Bronco Billy Co closed a Tokyo branch in early August to retrain staff after an employee uploaded a picture of himself sitting inside a refrigerator on the job.

Only a week after the closing, however, the company decided to permanently close the branch out of consideration for its responsibility to “provide a comfortable moment for the customer through delicious food, good service and a clean and fun restaurant.”

At a Lawson convenience store where an employee climbed into the refrigerator, Lawson, Inc. removed all ice cream products, dismantled the offending ice cream case and temporarily closed the store. Photos uploaded by curious neighbors show the windows shuttered and the parking lot closed off.

“All our employees and affiliate stores will work as one to regain customers trust so that this kind of thing never happens ever again,” the company said in a statement.

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In Japan, Young Women Rent Out Their Legs As Ad Space

A good way to get your advertisement plenty of exposure is to place it where there will be a lot of people looking.

With that in mind, Japanese advertising company Absolute Territory PR is offering a unique service that gives brands a ‘leg up’ on their competitors—by renting the legs of young Japanese girls as ad space.

Using the notion that ‘sex sells’, this clever marketing strategy was reported to be a big hit with businesses across Tokyo—especially to Japanese men.

Girls who are interested in renting out their legs will have to get their legs ‘stamped’ with an ad, after which they can go about their daily routine.

They will have to wear the ad for eight hours or more a day to get paid—and preferably dressed in miniskirts and high socks.

To prove that they are ‘advertising’ the stickers, participants must also post pictures of themselves wearing the ad on Facebook, Twitter or other social media networks.

Eichi Atsumi—a spokesperson for the ad company—said that the only guidelines for the job is that the registered person should be connected to “at least more than 20 people on some social network and that they are over 18 years old”.

According to The Daily Mail, about 1,300 girls have already “registered their legs as ad space” with the company, and the numbers are only increasing.

‘Thigh-vertisements’—yay or nay?



Categories: Japanese customs, Japanese technology, News about Japan, Stories about Japan | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Must see: ‘Uncool’ Cool Japan Video Goes Viral

Japan’s Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has never been known as a particularly hip place — even though it’s in charge of the government’s “Cool Japan” push to promote trendy industries like anime, fashion, and Japanese cuisine overseas. But a home-made Cool Japan video shot by two ministry officials and uploaded to YouTube last month has attracted so much criticism that it’s gone viral, prompting Japan’s online community to ask: Can something be so uncool that it’s actually cool?

“We made the video half as a joke, but the scale of reaction and the view count for it was unexpected,” one of the creators, Kazunori Sakamoto, told JRT, noting that the video racked up over 100,000 views, a thousand times more than other offerings on the economy ministry’s YouTube channel normally get. (The normal range is only 60-200 views.)

The video’s purpose is to explain the government’s Cool Japan policy, and tease the launch this fall of an organization that will coordinate public-private partnerships for Cool Japan projects. The video was made in two weeks on a low-powered computer, by a pair of twenty-something bureaucrats in the ministry’s creative-industries division, according to an interview with online technology news site, IT Media News. The two officials, Mr. Sakamoto and Seito Furuya, had only been in the ministry for three years; they worked on their own time, without a budget, they said in the interview.

At first, it was the clumsiness of the production that caught the attention of Japan’s online community. While comments are disabled on the ministry’s YouTube account, bloggers, tweeters, and frequenters of Japan’s 2-Channel bulletin board tore apart the video’s quality piece by piece.

The video was panned for being created largely in Microsoft PowerPoint, complete with cheesy transitions and misaligned word boxes accompanied by a cartoony rendition of the Minister of Economy, Toshimitsu Motegi, drawn using a computer mouse. On Twitter and blogs, it prompted a wealth of sarcastic wordplay.

“The economy ministry’s Cool Japan explanation video was so cool that I feel like I’m catching a cold…” tweeted one user identified as Jin115.

“The Cool Japan video was so ‘cold’ that I laughed. Even I could make a better video than this,” wrote another Twitter user named hig_ken.

A blogger identified as Taka on geek-culture website Gadget News delivered a detailed critique, noting that the video appeared to parody the cult Japanese anime hit Neon Genesis Evangelion — though not very successfully. In particular, it copied some music and a font style often used in the anime, but didn’t get either quite right,Taka wrote. “It seems like they’re trying to parody Neon Genesis Evangelion with a Microsoft Mincho-style font and Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony as background music,” Taka wrote in the blog entry. “But it doesn’t feel nearly as stylish as the bold-faced trademark font used in the anime. And halfway through, the music changes to [Johann Strauss’] Radetzky March, which has nothing to do with the show. Why?”

Mr. Sakamoto told JRT the video parodied Evangelion because he’s a fan of the anime.

All the scoffing commentary attracted eyeballs, and after the IT Media News interview with the video’s creators, many people took a second look.

“We wanted to make something that would leave an impression on whoever watched it once,” explained Yuichi Moronaga, an advisor to the ministry’s creative-industries division, in the IT Media News interview. “Our biggest worry was that no one would watch it at all, but it’s already passed 100,000 hits, so we’re happy it became such a hot topic.”

The ministry’s public relations team called the creative-industries division at one point to tell them the video was getting flooded with negative comments, and asked whether or not they should take it off the site, Mr. Moronaga added. Far from worrying, the creative-industries division celebrated, he said.

The revealing interview collected 2,000 tweets and Facebook “likes,” causing more people to take a look out of curiosity. Some Twitter users who’d previously criticized the video wondered they’d fallen for some sort of clever prank.

“This was fantastic trolling,” tweeted one user ku_ro_u.

“Ah, I see it now–They had us dancing in the palm of their hand….” tweeted another user, C_HAL_A.

Mr. Sakamoto, the ministry official, told JRT that his goal had been simply to reach out to more people, in an easy-to-understand way.

“Occasionally we are asked to submit public press items about our activities, and usually they come in the form of documents. But sometimes the information is hard to understand in that form, so we wanted to try our hand at newer media that presented our policies in a simple way,” he said. “Although I wish I had more time to prepare it properly before putting it out there, it achieved its basic purpose of getting attention.”

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Only in Japan: A restaurant with monkeys as waiters

A Japanese restaurant has changed the face of customer service by employing two monkeys to help with the table service.

The Kayabukiya tavern, a traditional ‘sake house’ north of Tokyo has employed a pair of uniformed Japanese macaque called Yat-chan and Fuku-chan to serve patrons.

Twelve-year-old Yat-chan is the crowd-pleaser as he moves quickly between tables taking customer drink orders.

Monkeys working as waiters

Monkey business: Yat-chan moves quickly between tables taking drinks to customers at the Kayabukiya tavern

The younger of the two, Fuku-chan is quick to give the diners a hot towel to help them clean their hands before they order their drinks, as is the custom in Japan.

Yat-chan and Fuku-chan, who are both certified by the local authorities to work in the tavern are well appreciate by customers, who tip them with soya beans.

‘The monkeys are actually better waiters than some really bad human ones,’ customer Takayoshi Soeno said.

Tavern owner Kaoru Otsuka, 63, originally kept the monkeys as household pets – but when the older one started aping him he realised they were capable of working in the restaurant.

Yat-chan first learned by just watching me working in the restaurant,’ he said.

‘It all started when one day I gave him a hot towel out of curiosity and he brought the towel to the customer.’

A regular of the tavern, 58-year-old Shoichi Yano, says the animals are like her children.

‘Actually, [they’re] better,’ she said. ‘My son doesn’t listen to me but Yat-chan will.’

Some clients, like retiree Miho Takikkawa, say Yat-chan appears to understand their exact orders.

We called out for more beer just then and it brought us some beer,” she said. “It’s amazing how it seems to understand human words.’

The monkeys work in shifts of up to two hours a day due to Japanese animal rights regulations.

But the owner is hoping to bring up the next generation of monkey waiters, and is already training three baby monkeys to work as waiters.

Watch the skilled monkey waiters at work





Categories: Japanese customs, Must see, News about Japan, Stories about Japan, Things to do, Where to drink, Where to eat | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Where to drink: Mojo Coffee

While some companies loudly trumpet their arrival in Japan, New Zealand’s Mojo Coffee slipped in almost unannounced at the end of last year. At present, the official Mojo website doesn’t even mention that they’ve opened a café and roastery in Kagurazaka, on a backstreet just behind Akagi Shrine. Friendly, English-speaking staff dispense a variety of espresso drinks – macchiato, piccolo, NZ flat white, latte, cappuccino – in a minimally decorated space that can’t have room for more than 20 people, split between tables and a small counter next to the bar. Drinks are available with soymilk or extra shots of espresso for a small extra charge, and there’s a selection of housemade scones and cakes to go with them, plus a few savoury options. Mojo Coffee is open for breakfast from 7am on weekdays, while there’s a small list of New Zealand wine and microbrew beer to tempt you later in the day.



2F, 4-11 Akagi-Motomachi, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo

Transport Kagurazaka Station (Tozai line), exit 1

Telephone 03 6265 3286

Open Mon-Thu 7am-8pm, Fri 7am-9pm, Sat 9am-9pm, Sun & hols 9am-8pm


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Latte artist creates Manga inspired drinks

A Japanese latte artist, who calls herself “Sugi” on Twitter, surprised manga fans with her creations: she draws portraits of manga characters, such as Sailor Moon, using chocolate syrup on the caffeinated drinks’ milk foam.

Sugi started to learn the latte art only last April and now works on two or three cups a day, reaching a total number of about 800 cups so far. She uses chocolate syrup, cocktail syrups and toothpicks to draw the manga characters, according to the local press.

Drawing on coffee is the same thing as drawing on paper, Sugi says. The artist recommends looking at the subject and drawing it as you go. Mistakes cannot be repaired, so the best thing is to understand what went wrong and try to avoid it the next time, she says.

Sugi learns from other people doing latte art on Twitter, as they are often happy to help and give any advice.

Various forms of latte art are spreading recently, with Japanese barista Kazuki Yamamoto sharing photos of 3D latte artworks on Twitter, which can be seen here.

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Warrior Dash Japan, Naeba Adventure Run – スポーツエントリー Go Wild In The Country

Photos courtesy of Warrior Dash

If you’ve taken part in a race, chances are you won’t have been overtaken by Elvis, Hello Kitty and a vigorously clucking giant chicken. That could all change this summer when the world’s biggest adventure race, the Warrior Dash, hits Japan in all its nutty glory.

After taking North America, Europe and Australia by storm, the snaking, mud-splashed event is set to catch fire here—literally. One of the 15 obstacles on the 5km course is the “Yakitori,” where runners dart across fire and risk turning crispy if they’re not too sharp. But the Warrior Dash is more about fun than mindless torture, so participants are free to “cheat” around bits too far outside their comfort zone.

Be among the first to experience the madcap race at the Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest. The irony of the venue’s name will not be lost on the fainthearted. Summer races are also set for Naeba ski resort and Chiba’s German Village, with five more planned from September. Next year a massive 16 events are in the offing at venues from Okinawa to Hokkaido.

The first Warrior Dash took place in Chicago in 2009 with 2,000 runners. It quickly exploded with 70 events around the world and last year attracted almost two million brave and fun-loving souls worldwide—many in fancy dress. Participants revel in a workout involving jumping, climbing, diving and slithering snake-like to the finish line before celebrating their survival to the sounds pumping from a festival stage.

Some of Japan’s biggest DJs—including techno king Ken Ishii—along with live bands, are promised at Sagamiko on June 15 along with a bevvy of Miss Universe beauties who will scale the 5-meter net scaffolding of the “Himalayas” obstacle (there is also a pint-sized 2.5-meter version for vertigo sufferers), crawling through mud pits and tiptoeing across a “catwalk” the likes of which they’ve never seen on a fashion shoot.

Organizers Sports Buzz Asia have no doubt their product will be a smash hit. “It’s going to be huge,” director David Scott told Metropolis. Scott, a Kiwi, has trekked to the North Pole so he knows a thing or two about insanity. “Japanese love the outdoors, exercise, festivals and cosplay. Everyone gets hooked!” In fact, at least 200 Japanese participants caught the bug already in February, competing among 10,000 Dashers in Hawaii.

The promo video demands you Get Dirty!, but don’t worry. Scrub up in portable showers to enjoy the festival, and put calories back on with cold beers and gourmet world food.
“We never get the chance to get muddy when we grow up,” said Atsuko Sato, who ran in Hawaii. “You’re surrounded by nature and people in funny costumes—it’s awesome!”

Among all the fun and camaraderie expect a fair share of hardcore competitors in the field of 5,000. “I’m going to win!” warned model and fitness instructor Erika Yamaguchi with her game face on. “Definitely!”

While the age of entry is 15, participants in their 70s have completed runs from Perth to Hawaii and Japan’s golden oldies are as fleet-footed as they come.

Luckily, lapsed gym-goers and couch potatoes can potter around the course in their own sweet time and still win a medal for the silliest costume or the best “warrior beard”—perhaps offering a good excuse for losing to an octogenarian.

Sagamiko Resort Pleasure Forest

Coming Event
Warrior Dash 2013 Schedule

▶ 15 June (Saturday) ・16 June(Sunday)
Sagamiko Resort (Kanagawa)

▶ 22 June (Saturday) ・23 June(Sunday)
Naeba Ski Resort (Niigata)

▶ 27 July (Saturday) ・28 July(Sunday)
Tokyo Doitsu Mura (Chiba) (German village)

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