Monthly Archives: January 2014

Creepy Yurukyara Mascot from Hokuto City, Hokkaido Revealed

In November last year, city of Hokuto, Hokkaido announced its official mascot character (yurukyara) “Zushi Hokki.” The character caused a lot of buzz around internet because of its unconventional, creepy appearance.



Zushi Hokki is supposed to be a Japanese surf clam (hokkigai) in a sushi form. A sushi with hand and legs are already pretty creepy, but those eyes! He (she?) was chosen by popular votes. The city has recently revealed more pictures of this unique character. Check it out!


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Japan Word of the Day #37 – Nama (Draft Beer) and how it differs from the world


Today’s word is – Nama Bīru (生ビール)

Have you noticed that often times customers in Japanese izakaya (drinking restaurant) order “nama” right after they arrived? Nama (生) is short for nama bīru (生ビール), which means draft beer. It is common (especially among businessmen) to order nama, freshly served from a keg, as their first drink so they can refresh.

However, you’ll also notice that in convenience stores, you see cans of beer with “nama (生)” written on their labels. “How could any canned beer be called draft beer?” You may think.


That’s because in Japan, the definition of draft beer is different from other countries. Draft beer is “any beer that has not gone through pasteurization (treated with heat)” to remove microorganisms. As long as it is unpasteurized, it is qualified to be called nama.
Although sold in cans, this kind of beer usually has shorter shelf life and has fresher taste than pasteurized beer.


Japan Word of the Day #36 – Iyashikei (Soothing idol, music, person)

Today’s word is: Iyashikei (癒し系)

The literal translation of iyashikei is “a soothing, healing, therapeutic type.”
The word is typically used to describe a certain type of TV personalities or music that makes you relax and takes away anxiety.
In late 1990’s, Japan was hit by a major economic recession due to the asset price bubble that had collapsed. People were desperate for entertainment that comforts them more than excites them. In response to such trend, many iyashikei personalities such as Sachiko Kokubu, Haruka Igawa, and Yuka emerged and started the iyashikei genre.

haruka-igawa-rinkya-japan yuka-rinkya-japan

Also, internationally acclaimed Ryuichi Sakamoto released his hit track “Ura BTTB” in 1999. This was the first instrumental music that earned the first place in the Oricon ranking. Many people consider this song to be the definitive origin of iyashikei genre.


Japan Word of the Day #35 – Fight! / Faito! (Encouragement in Japanese-coined English)

Today’s Word is: Faito! (ファイト!)

ファイト, pronounced faito, is a Japanese way of reading the English word “fight.”
However, fight does not mean the same in this case as in English.

“Faito” is used as an encouragement to someone.
The best translation would be “good luck,” “do your best,” or “Go!”
It is especially common when audience is cheering members of team sports.
Another common encouragement term is “フレー (furē),” which is Japanese approximation of the word “Hurray.”

Below is a traditional Japanese cheerleading team.


Cheerleading groups composed mainly of women (similar style to US) do exist in Japan nowadays, but ouendan (cheerleading squad) in Japan is traditionally mostly men dressed in school uniforms, hachimaki headbands, gloves, and they make lots of noise by shouting and drumming. Faito and furē are two typical phrases they use. This style of cheerleading groups started around 1905, whereas US style cheerleaders were introduced around 1980 in Japan.

Image source: Challenge Tsukoukou

Bento Friday: ONE PIECE Roronoa Zoro Bento

Happy Friday!
Today’s bento is Roronoa Zoro from ONE PIECE.



Wow, how handsome… I immediately fell in love with this bento!
All the color used for the side dishes makes it a beautiful meal to look at.



See him a little closer!
This Zoro is made of ham (skin), nori seaweed (line), spinach omelette, and hanpen fish cake (shirt).

Have a great weekend!

Bento Source: Hina Mama

Japan Word of the Day #34 – Warikan (Going Dutch)


Today’s Word is: Warikan (割り勘)

This is an useful word to remember when going out to restaurants with your friends.
Warikan is a combination of two words: warimae (=share) and kanjo (=bills).
It’s equivalent of “going Dutch” or “splitting the bill” in English.

In some countries such as China and Korea, it is impolite to ask for split bills.
In Japan, paying by warikan is a fairly common custom between friends. There is no tipping culture, so you can divide a bill down to one yen even.
However, it is also common in Japan for a man to treat a girl on a date (and many girls expect it), so use it accordingly depending on situations!


Image source: Yawaran

Japan Word of the Day #33 – Agejou (Gyaru Fashion)


Today’s Word is: Agejou (age嬢 or アゲ嬢)

Koakuma Ageha (小悪魔ageha)” is a monthly gyaru-fashion and lifestyle magazine published by Inforest. It is considered a bible for gyaru, particularly so for girls who work in, or relate themselves with, Japanese hostess culture (“hostess” is women working at cabaret).

Koakuma Ageha has created specific fashion styles called agejou, where age is a short word for ageha, and jou means lady. Agejou style is considered a part of hime-gyaru fashion.

It is hard to say what exactly defines agejou style, but it is usually characterized by flamboyant curled hairstyle, abundant makeup with thick eyeliner, and highly decorative nail art. Here are some examples of fashion models typically featured on Koakuma Ageha.

Rina Sakurai




Emiri Aizawa