Archive for the 'Japan' Category

Japanese Writing System

It is an ironic fact, however, that while the Japanese developed a system of sound representation that was almost perfectly suited to their language, they ended up with one of the worst overall systems of writing ever created.

John DeFrancis (1989:138)

Nova Corp. Japan Bankrupt

It was on the horizon, one hour ago this made the news:

The company, which provides mostly English conversation courses, reportedly had liabilities of 43.9 billion yen and will be delisted from the Jasdaq Securities Exchange on Nov. 27. Nova had a 50% market share among foreign language schools in the financial year from April 2002 to March 2003, according to a government statistics cited on Nova’ s Web site.

After being in business since 1981, this is a major event for Japan’s English education market as NOVA was said to be the largest provider of language teaching services on the market. A Friend tells me that embassies are jumping in to help teachers who have been fired in the process and are now in financial distress. Several hundred thousand students are also probably never going to get their money back.

Who is going to fill the gap?

Crackdown On NOVA

I was so waiting for this:

The Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry has decided that Nova Corp., the nation’s largest English-language school chain, violated the Specified Commercial Transaction Law and ordered it to partially suspend business.
Nova has about 450,000 students, more than 60 percent of the nation’s English-language school students.

If 60% of a country’s English-language school students are taking courses at one school and Japanese’ test takers average TOEFL score is 65, it begs the question in how far NOVA can be hold accountable for such low results. 馃槈

update: Alex Case compiled a list of reasons why good English teachers leave Japan.

List Of Important Japanese Historical Figures

List Of Important Japanese Historical Figures


Catching-Up With Photos And Videos

I’ve uploaded over a thousand pictures from my year of study abroad at Kyoto’s Ritsumeikan University in Japan in 2000 and my travels to South Korea in the same year, 2001 and 2003, including our wedding. My brother’s wedding in 2003 is finally online as well as the series about my intermezzo at the Konrad Adenauer Foundation in Croatia, the Model United Nation Simulations and a few other events and travels from the last few years. Last but not least: food. Since Google Video is currently the only service that offers unlimited video size and length, it’s the choice of the moment.

(photos removed)

Because Enshrinement Is Cheaper Than Paying Pensions

because enshrinement is cheaper than paying pensions to Korean WWII veterans – and the other side of the Yasukuni story.


Social Science Japan Newsletter

An academic newsletter about a wide range of topics, the Social Science Japan Newsletter. The current issue is about hope.


The Commuter

An old friend from I-House times, Bryan Nykon, made an entertaining short film and posted in on Youtube – enjoy The Commuter.

Continue reading ‘The Commuter’


In the search for podcasting websites, I stumbled upon Japancasting at BlogMatrix. If you’re studying Japan or English as a Foreign Language, take a look. The weblog also touches other subjects, use of technology, the web, etc.

Fremd Im Eigenen Leben

Fremd im Eigenen Leben

I read again through a few hundred pages of trivial literature, but it wasn’t not too worthwhile this time. It was the first one for several years, since my studies curbed my appetite for books unrelated to seminars. My wife usually starts reading something and I jump on the wagon and join her. In this case, we’ve read a book by Chang-Rae Lee, A Gesture Life in its German translation, Fremd im Eigenen Leben. My English is far from being free from errors, but I’m certain that the translator either didn’t have much time or was incompetent. On the first few pages already you get strangely translated words (false friends), throughout the whole book I never had the feeling that the translation was close to the original… somehow… bumpy, inaccurate. The lector also must have been in a hurry, the number of grammar and spelling errors was telling. The story itself was interesting, though, verbose at times, with a predictable character developement. On the bright side, that’s not to say that the characters weren’t intruiging, the relation to reality, a Zainichi in the Japanese Imperial Army is a tantalizing foundation for a story, but the execution was surprisingly uninspired – the author won the PEN/Hemingway Award for another book. Maybe it’s the translation, maybe my expectations were too high. If you’re looking for information about Japan’s war history and the notorios Comfort Women system, better turn to Yoshimi Yoshiaki or Buruma.

Spirits of the State: Japan鈥檚 Yasukuni Shrine

Has anybody seen this? Too bad it’s not available in Germany.

Films Media Group – Spirits of the State: Japan鈥檚 Yasukuni Shrine

Japan Focus

Via the formidable H-Japan mailinglist: Japan Focus is another website you’ll not regret to visit. Their articles are detailed as well as well researched and, not that common on the net, they often feature a list of references. The site includes translations from Japanese and reprints from newspapers. At the moment, the archive holds 642 items.

Japan Focus

News from Harvard

A worth while article why Harvard should be a role model for German universities by professor for Japanese Studies in T眉bingen, Klaus Antoni:

Offener Brief aus Harvard

Tsingtao : Bando Collection Online

This is worth an hour of your life, check it out: The DIJ (Deutsches Institut f眉r Japanstudien) published a remarkable archive about the fate of Germany’s first and last colony in China, Tsingtao. You’ll find pictures, maps, theater- and sportprograms, postcards and whatnot there. From the newsletter:

After the fall of the German colony of Tsingtao (China) approximately 5000 Germans were placed under arrest as Japanese prisoners-of-war. From 1914 to 1920 these POWs were interned in several camps in Japan. Because of the stimulating cultural exchange between the POWs and the neighbouring Japanese population, especially in the case of the Bando POW camp, this period of time represents an important step in German-Japanese relations. The DIJ Library is in the possession of a large number of original materials related to or printed in the Bando POW camp: journals, books, maps, postcards, theater/concert programs, photographs etc. This is the so-called Bando Collection. As part of the initiative “Germany in Japan 2005/2006” the Bando Collection is hereby presented to the public for the first time.

On you will find:

…a virtual tour of the Bando POW camp with its barracks, restaurants and the shopping quarter “Tapautau”.
…information about the theatre activities: “a stage without actresses”.
…how music and gymnastics became a bridge to the Japanese population.
…who won the “camp prize” during the “Exhibition of Graphic Art and Handicraft” in March 1918.
…a catalog to browse or search the whole Bando collection.

Germans in Japan

Currently my favorite wiki is DinJ: Deutsche in Japan. It’s fairly new, about a month and small with its 37 pages, but promising. The DinJ mailinglist where the idea originated has been founded in 1999 and has been a constant source of useful information. The software the page is running with is tikiwiki. I’ve tried it last year, if you’re looking for a stable CMS/Groupware with extensive wiki capabilities, look no further.

DinJ : Leben in Japan