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Will Japan's Streets be Filled with Homeless?

A homeless man sells the Big Issue on the streets of Osaka

Japanese union members demonstrated in front of the gate of a large Canon factory in Southern Japan last week. The camera producer laid off some 1,100 workers. The same day Sony announced that by 2010 it will cut 16,000 employees. For many Japanese employees, still used to the idea of lifetime employment, the news is devastating.

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• Wednesday December 17, 2008 • Add Comment

Selling a Bit of Japan


Japanese pop culture is slowly but surely eating away the cultural stronghold that the US has kept for more than half a century. From manga to animated movies to food, Japanese influence is increasing worldwide. Japanese pop culture is hot. One of the net’s top shopping sites for Japanese pop culture products is J-List, run by Peter Payne, who also writes peterpayne.net, a very popular blog on Japan which every day attracts some 1,000 visitors. I talked with Peter about how he ended up selling a bit of Japan to the world.

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• Sunday December 14, 2008 • Add Comment

Back to the baths: Otaru revisited

Foreigners banned

The story is familiar to regular readers of Zeit Gist. Debito Arudou, a naturalized Japanese citizen, originally from America, was living in Sapporo, Hokkaido, and had heard of the Yunohana public bath’s policy of denying entry to foreigners. In 1999, media in tow, he decided to put that onsen’s policy to the test. Sure enough, entry was denied, with the accompanying explanation that foreigners often “cause trouble” and, as such, the regulars “dislike sharing the facilities with them.”

The origin of this controversy is the behavior of Russian sailors. The Yunohana “onsen” is located in Otaru, the main port between Japan and the Russian Far East. Otaru attracts over a thousand Russian vessels and more than 25,000 sailors a year on stays of varying lengths. In the mid-1990s, Russian sailors were frequently showing up drunk at the city’s various onsen and jumping into the tubs with soap on their bodies, thus rendering the facilities unusable.

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The Japan Times • Wednesday December 3, 2008 • Add Comment

Het leven van een Japanse CEO

JAL CEO Haruka Nishimatsu heeft gesneden in zijn salaris cen extras, en verdient nu minder dan zijn piloten. Hij neemt de bus naar het kantoor. CNN verslaat.

CNN • Sunday November 23, 2008 • Add Comment

The Life of a Humble CEO

JAL CEO Haruka Nishimatsu cut his perks and pay, earning less than his pilots. He takes the bus to work. CNN reports.

CNN • Sunday November 23, 2008 • Add Comment


NHK verslaat over de Japanse populariteit in het maken van aantekeningen. Verscheidene boeken over deze vaardigheid hebben meer dan 200.000 exemplaren verkocht.

NHK • Wednesday October 29, 2008 • Reageer

Taking Note of Taking Notes

NHK reports on the Japanese boom in note-taking skills. Some books on such skills have sold as many as 200,000 copies.

NHK • Wednesday October 29, 2008 • Add Comment