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A restaurant in Utsunomiya City appears to have found a solution for Japan’s looming lack of labor. It employs Japanese macaque monkeys as waiters. In line with animal rights regulations the two monkeys, Yachan and Fukuchan, only work two hours a day.
Japan is highly depended on food imports. Even 80% of a traditional dish like tempura soba comes from abroad. Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries presents the problem in this really cool infographic video produced by Groovisions.
The anime The Sky Crawlers was adapted from the novel by the same name. Directed by Mamoru Oshii (of Ghost in the Shell fame), the movie was released in theaters in Japan on August 2, 2008. The anime won the Future Film Festival Digital Award at the 65th Venice International Film Festival. It is a beautifully made film, but to understand its premise you need to read several interviews with Oshii. “Isn’t this comfortable life that we have achieved,” he says, “a monotonous purgatory that doesn’t end until we die?”
Madder red (“akane-iro” in Japanese) is a color immortalized in the Manyoshu, one of Japan’s most revered collections of poetry (mostly written between AD 600 and 759), used mostly to describe the sun and sunset. There are many shades of red, but this one is used as an adjective for the color of sunset.
Wisteria is a color associated with nobility. In Japanese the color “fuji-iro” is named after the “fuji” flower (wisteria), which also happens to have the same written character as in the name of Fujiwara, a clan that effectively controlled Japan during the Heian Period (AD 794 to 1185).
“Japan is a country filled with a mystical blue color.” Irish-born author Lafcadio Hearn was said to have admired Japan for its mystical blue color. He fell in love with the country in 1890, when the world was discovering a newly opened Japan. Indigo blue had come into common use by everyone in Japan, from townsfolk to samurai warriors, during the Edo Period (16th to 18th century) when commoners were discouraged from standing out.
Spring in Japan is a season filled with the color of the “sakura” cherry blossom. “Sa” represents the deity of the rice paddy, and “kura” means a place of rest. When the deity of the rice paddy comes down to the village in the month of March, the life force built up in the mountains during the winter becomes the rice sprouts in the spring that ripen in May. In the days immediately before rice seedlings begin to grow, while the deity rests, flowers blossom with a light crimson hue. This is why they were given the name “sakura.” Thus, the beauty of the sakura cherry blossom conveys a uniquely Japanese sense of about the cycles of nature.