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Turkish Salvage Team Starts Operations in Wakayama

Ertugrul salvage divers

A Turkish salvage team has begun the second round of extensive salvage of the Turkish frigate Ertuğrul. The warship was shipwrecked in 1890 off the coast of Wakayama Prefecture, resulting in the loss of 533 sailors. The tragic event turned into the foundation of Japanese-Turkish friendship. Turkey will hold an exhibition of the recovered items as part of Japan Year events planned for 2010, the 120th anniversary of the disastrous shipwreck.

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• Friday January 30, 2009 • Add Comment

Japanese Manga Museum Attracts Half a Million Visitors

It is frightfully quiet in the former elementary school in the historical town of Kyoto. Yet the corridors and former classrooms are crowded with people. Some one hundred men and women from young to old, sit, stand and lay reading manga. This is the Kyoto International Manga Museum and it is incredibly popular. Only two years old, the museum has already welcomed half a million visitors.

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• Friday January 30, 2009 • Add Comment

Japans mangamuseum trekt half miljoen bezoekers

Het is bijna muisstil in de voormalige lagere school in de historische stad Kyoto. Toch zitten de gangen en voormalige lokalen vol. Zo’n kleine honderd mannen en vrouwen van jong tot oud zitten, staan en liggen manga —Japanse stripverhalen— te lezen. Dit is het Internationale Manga-museum in de Japanse stad Kyoto, en het is razend populair. Nog geen twee jaar oud, heeft het reeds een half miljoen bezoekers getrokken.

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• Friday January 30, 2009 • Reageer [1]


enryo - constraint

Enryo (遠慮) is one of the most quintessential Japanese concepts. Japanese dictionary Kōjien provides the definition “restraining speech/actions towards people” (人に対して言語・行動を控え目にすること). Enryo is central to the image of Japan as a passive society, where people work to avoid conflict through self-restraint. Enryo means not using your mobile phone on the train, not throwing out all of your trash in one big bag, and recently, not lighting up that cigarette wherever you want.

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Neojaponisme • Wednesday January 28, 2009 • Add Comment

A Moe Boom for a Small Japanese Country Town

The small town of Ugo in Akita Prefecture, like many small Japanese towns, struggles with graying and depopulation. In the past ten years alone, the town’s population declined ten percent. But it has found a remarkable solution to its problems, it has given the town a moe takeover. Wikipedia describes moe as a Japanese slang word originally referring to fetish or love for characters in video games or anime and manga. Local products are now sold in packages that feature bishojo illustrations. The effect was amazing. Sale of rice, for example, doubled. Interestingly, a young man interviewed in the clip didn’t buy the rice to eat it. He displays the bag of rice in his room, next to his huge collection of anime figures…

Asahi TV • Tuesday January 27, 2009 •

Godzilla and Postwar Japan

In this 2005 gem, William M. Tsutsui (Univ. of Kansas) explores the role of the Godzilla film series in popular culture. Despite Godzilla’s remarkable public presence, it is surprising, Professor Tsutsui observed, “how little scholarly attention this giant radiation-breathing reptile has received, either in Japan or in the West.” Donald Ritche, whom Tsutsui described as “the dean of American film critics of Japan,” once damned Japanese cinema as “‘a plethora of nudity, teenage heroes, science-fiction monsters, animated cartoons, and pictures about cute animals.’” Only a handful of scholarly essays on Godzilla have appeared, and few “have attempted to contextualize the film historically.” In his talk, Tsutsui set out to correct that: “I would argue,” he declared, “. . . that the Godzilla films can provide us valuable insights into Japanese culture since World War II.”

UCLA International Institute • Tuesday January 27, 2009 • Add Comment [2]

Japan Doesn't Need Immigrants Says US Economist Dean Baker

Tomare Traffic Sign

“Maintaining its Fox News like attack on pension programs, the Washington Post had a front page article about Japan’s efforts to keep immigrant workers. It goes on to warn about how it will need many more immigrants in the future because of its declining population.

Actually, because of something that economists call ‘productivity growth,’ Japan can count on continuing improvements in its standard of living even without immigration. In fact, since it is a densely populated country, it is possible that its standard of living will actually increase more rapidly in the absence of immigration.”

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The American Prospect • Sunday January 25, 2009 • Add Comment