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The Almighty Chop

The Almighty Chop

The personal seal is a piece of stone engraved with your family’s ideogram, or in my case the first three initials of my name. Company chops have elaborate engraving of the company’s name, and these designs are complex and extremely difficult to duplicate.

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Akitaya; Japanese Style Family Restaurant

Akitaya; Japanese Style Family Restaurant

As I was walking along the street near the bus terminal I saw a big open window with large puffy billows of white smoke pouring out, and diligent men in white uniforms grilling skewers of pork. There were also several customers standing at the outside counter enjoying themselves, which along with a line up at the entrance was a very good sign.

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Reason For Being

Reason For Being

Ikigai is a Japanese concept that means “a reason for being”. The word refers to having a direction or purpose in life, that which makes one’s life worthwhile, and to take spontaneous and willing actions giving one satisfaction, and a sense of meaning to one’s own life. Ikigai consists of ‘Iki’ (to live [生き]) and ‘gai’ (reason[甲斐]).

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Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today The Japanese National High School Baseball Championship tournament got cancelled for they first time in several decades. Alas. Personally, I am not a spectators of sports, preferring to play badminton with my local club; however, I do...

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I Have Known You For Years,  I Don’t Know Your Name

I Have Known You For Years, I Don’t Know Your Name

I have a relationship with a subsidiary of a large corporation since 1992. There was a gruff but kind engineer who had been with this company from its inception in 1970. He called me “anchan” all the time, which I guess was an appropriate suffix for him to use in this ridged Japanese hierarchal system.

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Finding One’s “WAY”

Finding One’s “WAY”

Japan’s natural religion, Shinto (神道), consist of 2 ideograms: “God (神)” and “Way (道)”. I noticed there are many different Japanese disciplines contain “Way (道)”. The “Way (道)” to be the most important thing in ones own life, and the quest for all is to find ones own “Way (道)”.

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Am I An Alien?

Am I An Alien?

Am I An Alien? My lovely spouse called me an alien the other day (Anata wa uchijin desu ne!). Now what she didn’t know when she called me an “alien”, is we “foreigners” used to be categorized as “aliens” on an official Japan government document. And the word “alien”...

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Way Of Bath

Way Of Bath

Bathing is truly a unique experience in Japan. I never thought about the art of bathing while growing up in Central British Columbia, when as a child, I was taking my weekly bath on Sunday evening. Jump in, scrub up, wash off the soap (yes, while in the same water one soaped up in is where one also rinsed)

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Walk With Me

Walk With Me

Walk With Me More often than not, I think the neighborhood I live in is sublime. I walked around my neighborhood with my new found friends the other day and one of them turned to me and said “you have such a opulent walking course” and I had to agree. Join me on a...

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Miraculous Rock Art

Miraculous Rock Art

Miraculous Rock Art You could consider Akie Nakata to be a rock star of sorts, but not the one that usual comes to mind.  Akie Nakata is a self-taught artist creating realistic animal designs using small stones and pebbles to make incredible art which you can hold in...

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Significance Of Cherry Blossoms

Significance Of Cherry Blossoms

What may look like just a gigantic party in Japan, is actually something that has much deeper meaning and significance to the Japanese. The time when cherry blossoms are bloom is when the Japanese gather to reflect on just how fleeting and ephemeral life can be, all the while sitting, eating, drinking, and some times singing and dancing as they congregating beneath the majestic cherry trees.

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Incredible Paper Octopus

Incredible Paper Octopus

Incredible Paper OctopusWhat can you do with a single sheet of paper? Plenty when your name is Masayo Fukuda, who, after seeing her art I now refer to her as Sensai Tensai or “delicacy genius”. The Japanese are know to be extremely diligent and exceptionally...

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Girls Festival-Hinamatsuri

Girls Festival-Hinamatsuri

Girls Festival-HinamatsuriAt the beginning of every March there is the spectacular Girls Festival here in Japan.   As you can see, the ancient cultural of Japan is alive and well in modern Japan today. The primary aspect of the Girl’s Festival is the display of seated...

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Spirit Of The Word

Spirit Of The Word

Spirit Of The WordOne's wise wife often chides about when the now, almost all faded away Western savage, who stinks of butter, has unthoughtful things to say. In where she always reminds me of koto damashi or "the spirit of the word." Most of us (unless you are a...

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Shoten: Laugh Point

Shoten: Laugh Point

Shoten: Laugh PointThere is a very interesting and long running TV program that has been running since May 15, 1966, called laugh point (shoten). In fact, the show has been going so long that I am on my 3rd host since coming to Japan. They don't quit the job, they...

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Setsubun: Throw Some Beans

Setsubun: Throw Some Beans

Setsubun: Throw Some BeansSetsubun is the day before the beginning of spring in Japan, and has its origins in a Chinese custom introduced to Japan in the eighth century. The name literally translation is "seasonal division", and usually refers to the spring Setsubun,...

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Sobataka Jinja Moustache Festival

Sobataka Jinja Moustache Festival

Sobataka Jinja Moustache FestivalEvery year near our house there is a very interesting, if not somewhat bizarre festival ,which takes place at a historic shrine, Sobataka Jinja. This shrine was established in year eighteen of the Jinmu-tennō reign, which began in 660...

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Tuna Fish Insanity

Tuna Fish Insanity

Tuna Fish InsanityPersonally, I don't eat things that are becoming endangered, but that is just me. However, the Japanese are at it again, expensive seafood, really, really expensive seafood. A single  bluefin tuna fetched 193.2 million yen on Sunday at the 2020 New...

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Snow Monkeys Of Hell’s Valley

Snow Monkeys Of Hell’s Valley

Snow Monkeys Of Hell's ValleyAn incredible natural phenomena is happening in the Land Of The Rising Son as we traveled to one of the largest prefectures and Japan, Nagano. By the way, Nagano is mostly know for hosting the 1998 Winter Olympics. We made our way over the...

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First Visit To The Imperial Palace

First Visit To The Imperial Palace

First Visit To The Imperial Palace We had the once in a life time opportunity to enter the Imperial Palace Grounds and see the incredible structure assembled for this rare event know as "Daijōsai". These structures were recently constructed and then used in a...

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The Beckoning Cat (maneki-neko)

The Beckoning Cat (maneki-neko)

The Beckoning Cat (maneki-neko) Often times, when you are going into a shop, you will see a cat with a paw raised up beckoning you into their store. The maneki-neko is usually displayed in, and often at the entrance of shops, restaurants, pachinko parlors,...

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For The Love Of Crab

For The Love Of Crab

For The Love Of Crab No one can accuse the Japanese of doing thing halfway. When they engage, they really engage. And their willingness to on occasion  pay exorbitant amount of money for what one would think is ordinary seafood, is, well, alive and well. You would...

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Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three)

Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three)

Shichi-Go-San (Seven-Five-Three)Right around this time of year there is an amazing ritual carried out throughout Japan. You can see the Japanese parents taking their children dressed in colourful kimono, or in dapper suits and fine dresses, going off to the Shrine to...

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Really Scary Ghosts

Really Scary Ghosts

Really Scary Ghosts I was at a high school cultural festival and was intrigued by the haunted house assembled by the one of the grade 12 classes. Now the difference between the Western ghosts and goblins and the spirits of the dead Japanese is profound. This...

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The Japanese Way Of Cake

The Japanese Way Of Cake

The Japanese never fail to amaze me when it comes to KAIZEN. As I’m sure many of you already know as fans of Japan, the Japanese take things from the outside world, and refine them to an extraordinary degree and make them uniquely Japanese.

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Japanese Flower Card Game: Hanafuda

Japanese Flower Card Game: Hanafuda

Japanese Flower Card Game: Hanafuda Just around the time I came to Japan, I met a man 10 years older than I, and he became my best friend.  Unusual for Japan, he was one of the top race horse trainers in Japan. Having just landed on the Land Of The Rising Son, I...

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Wagyu vs Amegyu

Wagyu vs Amegyu

Wagyu vs AmegyuThe way one thinks about beef is fundamentally different between America and Japan. It seems that the general philosophy of the Americans is; more is better. As this is borne out by the massive steaks, hamburgers, and ribs available in the dinning...

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Japanese Tattoos

Japanese Tattoos

Japanese Tattoos Without a doubt the Japanese have some of the most incredible art, and the art of Japanese tattoos is no exception. The Japanese word for tattoo, irezumi is translates directly as "inserting ink". Fundamentally having a tattoo in Japan is strictly...

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Samurai Salaryman

Samurai Salaryman

Samurai SalarymanLike many aliens, I mean foreigners, I got my start in Japan as an English lecturer. Fortunately, I had the privilege of sub contracting to a large Japanese company for my career. There I saw complex hierarchical human relationships, fierce factions,...

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Delights Of The Sea: Sashimi

Delights Of The Sea: Sashimi

Delights Of The Sea: Sashimi Sashimi translates to “raw fish”, and who would have ever have thought this Japanese word would become a part of the English lexicon. Let's think about it: Who in their right mind would think, “Why not - let’s eat fish raw”, said no one...

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Who is Sazae-san?

Who is Sazae-san?

Who is Sazae-san?The importance of the Sazae Family to the Japanese can not be over emphasized. Sazae-san (main female character, lives with her husband, Masuo, her parents, younger brother and sister and her child) is based upon the comic character first publishes in...

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What Are Loan Words?

What Are Loan Words?

What Are Loan Words? Did you know that Japanese has an extensive amount of “loan words” most of them are English? I often tell the Japanese, that they already have a rich English vocabulary, if they only pay attention to the "loan words" and pronounce them properly,...

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Basketball: Invented in Canada Refined in Japan

Basketball: Invented in Canada Refined in Japan

Basketball: Invented in Canada Refined in JapanThere was quite a stir in Japan recently as a Japanese citizen became the first Japanese basketball player to be taken in the first round of the NBA draft by the Washington Wizards. This is a very important milestone for...

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Traveler’s Guardian Deity

Traveler’s Guardian Deity

Along my merry way in my neighborhood, I am always entreated by these Deities guarding the traveler. And indeed, for the thoughtfulness of the ones who created and set up these in order to “guard and protect” the wary travelers on the way.

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