Archive for the 'Japan' Category

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Stumbled accidently over it, a website with short descriptions about bits and pieces of Japanese culture, famous people, history, lifestyle, etc.:



…or vending machines are always good for a post. What you can’t see from the photos, the vending machines selling alcohol actually have a “closing time”, just as regular shops, which was some time in the early evening, can’t remember when exactly (2000 was five years ago, I’m glad I still have lots of other memories). If somebody knows if this is still the case, I’d be thankful for an update.

Via Digg: Vending Machines of Japan

Japanese Castles

All the Japanese castles one would ever want to visit, currently are 58 in the database:

Japanese Castle Browser

Master of Modern Japan

My studies at Heinrich-Heine University in Düsseldorf are over – yesterday I turned in my thesis and today I’m already busy with 100 other things.

Japanese Passivity

Ishihara does it again: A short article with long known platitudes and black-and-white thinking about Japan and its foreign policy …

It clings to a hopelessly idealistic and historically illegitimate constitution handed down by U.S. occupation forces nearly 60 years ago to block Japan’s reemergence as a military power. Japan now entrusts its survival to the United States, has forsaken independent thinking, and has become spineless.

If you’ve never heard about Tokyo’s governor, this article gives you a quick and direct introduction.

Foreign Policy: Japanese Passivity

JE Kaleidoscope

Japan Echo, a journal about Japanese media set up a website, JE Kaleidoscope with translations of approved textbooks:

JE Kaleidoscope, a Japan Echo website, presents in-depth information to researchers and other people who need a deeper understanding of Japan. The main feature on the website now is a collection of translations of middle school textbooks. These are the Japanese history textbooks approved by the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science, and Technology for use in the school year beginning in April 2006; we present the sections on Japan’s early modern and modern history.

Foreign interest in Japan’s school textbooks is extremely high. The textbook translations have been commissioned by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which hopes to see this information accurately presented to people around the world. The translated material comes from all eight of the Japanese history books approved for the 2006 school year.

The data is not completely available yet, but you can already view partial English translations. The list of textbooks includes the controversial edition of Fushosha Publishing, that has been accused of whitewashing Japanese history in regard to World War II. The book is in use in 0.1% of Japans school – tendency rising – but the publishers hope for more acceptance this time.

Japanese Text Initiative

Here’s a great library about Japanese texts from Man’yôshû till the end of the Edo era. From ?? (Bashô) to ?? (S?seki), ???? (Genji monogatari) and other stories, you’ll find a broad selection of texts.

UVa Library Etext Center: Japanese Text Initiative

Maki Teshima and Alex Liss: Congratulations!

Maki Teshima and Alex Liss were married for the second time at Gokonomiya Shrine in Kyoto, Japan on June 17th . Here’s the full collection of photos.Maki Teshima and Alex Liss

p.s.: How many I-House people are married?

I-House people on the net

Unsuspectingly surfing the net again, I clicked my way from Coming Anarchy over to Japundit and then to Pixelscribbles, I suddenly read of Justin Klein’s descriptions of his amazing experiences at Ritsumeikan Universitycurrently a ??? (foreign student) at Rits! There’re also pictures of of Kyoto – ????! – and the new I-House – there are two now and I heard they’re building another one. There’re other I-House bloggers as well, take a look at dubious adventures, Bootleg YHM and Yamasama. I read Mutantfrog’s weblog before, but didn’t know he studied at Rits, too.

Justin Klein and Mutantfrog added to Blogroll.

Blogroll Additions

Jamie Talbot’s weblog added to blogroll.

another project: Japanese registration form

I mentioned it a few days ago, there are two projects I’m working on at the moment (and another one, connected to #2). The second one just got finished, and is going to be published tomorrow or sometime until Friday:


The IIK Düsseldorf is one of the companies I work for (and a very good one if you want to learn German). This time I got to fiddle around with a new language for the online registration form. A few years ago, I already worked on the French and Russian versions, but the Japanese one was more fun – I actually got to use my Japanese language education in a work context. My 2 1/2 years of school French and Cyrillic my parents tought me twenty years ago didn’t get me that far I have to admit.

The Death Penalty in Japan

Charles Lane, staff writer on national affairs at The Washington Post published an insightful article about the death penalty in Japan at Foreign Policy. A few excerpts:

Unlike capital punishment in the United States, Japan’s death penalty is on the rise. Japanese officials keep state executions out of public view and shrouded in secrecy. Not even the condemned prisoners know the day they will die. Step inside the gallows for a rare look at how Japan takes a life.


Not only is Japan the only member of the Group of Seven industrialized countries other than the United States to retain capital punishment, it is also increasing its use of the death penalty.


In Japan, death row prisoners are not told in advance of their execution dates—a practice international human rights organizations condemn as a form of psychological torment.


Perhaps the most notorious such miscarriage of justice involved Sakae Menda, who in 1948, at the age of 23, was convicted of a double ax murder. The conviction was based on the contradiction-riddled testimony of a prostitute and Menda’s own confession, extracted after spending 80 hours in a police station without sleep.


…it seems incredible that confessions are not given to the court as either tapes or verbatim transcripts. Rather, they are rewritten and summarized by the authorities themselves.


Toyoko Ogino, an interpreter I worked with in the coal-mining town of Omuta, was surprised when I told her that prisoners were hanged. “I thought that was just an expression,” she said.


Polls indicate that public support for capital punishment is even stronger in Japan than in the United States—more than 81 percent in a February 2005 survey.


Five guards press separate buttons simultaneously. Only one of these is the button that actually opens the trap door. And all of this takes place outside the witnesses’ field of vision—offstage, as it were. There is a hanging, but no identifiable hangman.

I’m really irritated by the Japanese people’ high support for capital punishment. I’ll try to find some information about what were the pro and con reasons given. Can’t say for sure whether it’s for real, but I found a picture of the gallows in the Osaka detention center here. I assume Toyoko Ogino’s misunderstanding of the expression was most probably a reference and mix-up to ???? (kubi wo kiru), which directly translated means something along the lines of to decollate s.o.. This expression is used when somebody loses his job, but ???? (koushu suru) doesn’t actually carry a metaphoric meaning except to decollate s.o..

There’s further information about the death penalty at This information is from their website:

In 2004, there were at least 3,797 executions in 25 countries around the world. China, Iran, the United States, and Viet Nam were responsible for 94 percent of these known executions.

The vast majority of them in China, though. In regard to the death penalty, Japan and the United States are among countries such as China, Iran, Viet Nam, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Kuwait, Bangladesh, Egypt, Singapore, Yemen and North Korea. Amnesty International has more facts about the issue here.

K21 – a new exhibition

Mann und Maus, Katharina Fritsch, 1991/1992Until Sunday, Yoshitomo Nara und Hiroshi Sugito exhibited about three dozen paintings in Düsseldorf’s Kunstsammlung, a.k.a K21. The works itself weren’t that interesting, although I failed to understand their distinctiveness. My new Japanese language exchange partner, who is a student of Thomas Ruff and a passionate photographer, mentioned that the way Nara’s and Sugito’s works are painted makes them special. One of the pictures was a drawing of Afro-Ken, a figure I haven’t seen for at least four years.

I liked one of the permanent exhibitions better, expecially a work by Katharina Fritsch: “Man and Mouse” is, as I read, actually a statement about unfulfillness of contemporary love – but also reminiscient of Francisco Goya in a clever and very amusing way.

The Forgotten Soldiers

Japan Times and Asahi report a surprising story about “forgotten” soldiers. The last time Imperial army soliders were found was in the 70ies – I think they even made a movie about it, but can’t find it at IMDb right now. I found Hell in the Pacific, but that one’s slightly different.

Mountain men in Philippines likely World War II soldiers

Japan Bazar

Japan BazarOnce a year, the Japanese community in Düsseldorf organizes a second hand market between main station and the VHS (a public adult education institute) in early May. This time, it was smaller than in the years before. We got a Doraemon puzzle for a friend. If you’re living in the area and want to buy all kinds of stuff cheap, take a look at Duesselnet. You’ll need somebody who translates Japanese for you, though. Over 5,000 Japanese live in Düsseldorf, in Europe, it’s the biggest Japanese community. The Sarariman are sent here to work for four or five years, and usually they come with their families. When their time has come, they sell their belongings before returning home to Japan, and lots of it is on Duesselnet‘s black board or the one in the Japanese club at Marienstrasse.