Is Nagoya’s Legoland Flailing?

I remember a while back when I told a Japanese teacher of mine who lived in Nagoya that I might visit the city while I was in Japan. She looked at me blankly and asked, “Why?”

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Will the Tokyo Olympics End Public Smoking in Japan? The Pro and Con Arguments

As someone who lives in a state in the United States where all public smoking is forbidden by law, I’m still taken aback when I walk into certain Japanese restaurants and kissaten (coffee bars) and am hit with a wave of cigarette smoke. After a couple of visits, I’ve adjusted (re-adjusted) to it, and have… Continue reading Will the Tokyo Olympics End Public Smoking in Japan? The Pro and Con Arguments

The Changing Face of Drinking in Japan

It’s hard to describe what a Japanese izakaya (居酒屋) is, because no direct analogy to American culture holds up well.  They’re closer to what we would call “tapas” in the US, though not as overpriced. They’re a bit like the American bar or the English pub, though not quite as lonely and sad. Izakaya have several hallmarks: Socially oriented.… Continue reading The Changing Face of Drinking in Japan

When Bread is Unpatriotic: Bakeries Fight Back after Being Excised from Ethics Textbook

This is my second food post in a row, which may lead my readers (all two of you) to worry that this blog has become Japan, Translated with Anthony Bourdain. Fear not – I’m still gung-ho about many other, un-food-related topics. But food is terribly important in Japanese culture, as even a few hours of watching… Continue reading When Bread is Unpatriotic: Bakeries Fight Back after Being Excised from Ethics Textbook

The Great Japan Potato Chip Crisis of 2017

Headed to Japan? If so, stuff a bunch of potato chips in your luggage and prepare to score a sweet price on the black market, because the little deep-fried bastards are quickly disappearing from local retailer’s shelves. Being an island nation, Japan sometimes experiences weird shortages due to a combination of agricultural snafus and voodoo economics.… Continue reading The Great Japan Potato Chip Crisis of 2017

Does “Black Labor” Make Japan’s World-Renowned Service (Omotenashi) Possible?

  When I first started dating my wife, she lived in Tokyo, and I resided in Seattle. One day, I wanted to send her a gift, so I placed an order with Amazon Japan. I was shocked when I realized the package was delivered that same day! In America, that kind of rapid delivery is… Continue reading Does “Black Labor” Make Japan’s World-Renowned Service (Omotenashi) Possible?

Why Does Murakami Haruki Keep Writing the Same Stories?

Murakami Haruki is one of those writers I like less than I think I should. He’s a go-to for many learners of Japanese, as he tells adult stories but with fairly straightforward and accessible language. While I really like some of his short stories (his collection アフターダーク [After Dark] is particularly charming),I find the rogue-ish… Continue reading Why Does Murakami Haruki Keep Writing the Same Stories?