Japanese Curses: Ushi No Toki Mairi

How to curse people, Japan-​​style:

The practitioner — typically a scorned woman — while dressed in white and crowning herself with an iron ring set with three lit candles upright, hammers nails into a sacred tree of the Shinto shrine. In the modern-​​day common conception, the nails are driven through a straw effigy of the victim, impaled upon the tree behind it. The ritual must be repeated seven days running, after which the curse is believed to succeed, causing death to the target, but being witnessed in the act is thought to nullify the spell.

Wikipedia notes:

In Japanese law studies, attempts to commit murder through the ushi no mairi is often cited as the “textbook example of impossibility defense case crime”.

Japanese University Students’ Synchronized Marching Routine Is Positively Mesmerizing

Every year for the past 53 years Tokyo’s Nippon Sport Science University performs a series of synchronized group marching exercises.

Perhaps the highlight of the routine is when the smaller tightly-​​knit groups walk towards each other and indeed pass through each other’s groups, only to stay in perfect formation with not a single crash the entire time. To top it off, they perform this feat not just once, but repeatedly, undoubtedly making the rest of us look like nothing more than a bunch of clumsy, bumbling baboons with two left feet.

Always amazing to watch.

Pachinko Is Recreation For Morons

Harsh words about the most beloved gambling activity in Japan from Japanese magazine Jitsuwa Bunka Tabuu.

[T]he sad fact is that there’s one despicable group of people with no inclination at all to take an “active part” in society: pachinko players. About one Japanese in 12, or 9.7 million people, are said to engage in the pastime at the country’s 11,538 pachinko parlors, which each year rake in total revenues of about 18.8 trillion yen.

Japan Realm has a few more details about Pachinko for those unfamilar.

Pachinko parlors are an eyesore. They are everywhere, even in the countryside. They are loud, dirty, and… did I mention loud? Even from across the street, several buildings away, one can hear the incredibly loud music coming from inside.

Japan Railways Has A Turtle Problem

Near Kobe they have a problem with turtles trying to cross the railroad tracks.

The most common way for the turtles to get stuck is when they try crawling over the railroad tracks and become trapped between the two high metallic rails. Since they can’t climb out, they’re forced to follow along the track, until eventually they either get run over by a train or get stuck in a part of the rail-​​switching mechanism. The switch would crush the turtle at some point, typically getting damaged in the process and forcing trains to stop until it was fixed.

The solution they’ve come up with to combat this problem is great. Simple but effective.

Chopsticks In Japan

A nice overview on chopsticks from Nippon​.com. Included are some of the no-​​nos for proper chopstick usage.

There is more to using chopsticks than proper grip, and diners need to keep in mind the diverse rules of hashi manners. When eating, food should be conveyed quickly from platter to dish, and allowing chopsticks to linger too long over cuisine is a breach of etiquette known as mayoibashi. Other faux pas include neburibashi, licking droplets of soy sauce off the end of chopsticks, and sashibashi, or spearing food.

I’m guilty of neburibashi. I’m such a foreign barbarian sometimes.

Lies Ladies Tell

Ooh, you got a boyfriend? I’m so happy for you! I hope it goes well! (Huh?! How did SHE get a boyfriend before I did?! Totally unbelievable! Whatever, she’ll be dumped soon enough anyway!)”

Steiff Japan's Centaur Teddybears

The Teddytaur is an actual, $400 product, made from alpaca-​​wool, sold by high-​​end toymaker Steiff in its Japanese store.

Everyone has one. I’m sitting on mine as I type this.

Japanese Samurai Brought To Life In Living Color

A hundred years ago, people would hand-​​paint color into black and white photos. Flash forward to the 21st century, and people are still painting color in old images, but just with better tech.

I never know how I feel about colorized older photos. On one hand, I prefer the original, on the other hand, the colorized version (if well done) gives a new perspective to the image. Some interesting ones here.

An Ancient Chinese Ginkgo Tree Drops An Ocean Of Golden Leaves

This towering ginkgo tree is located within the walls of the Gu Guanyin Buddhist Temple in the Zhongnan Mountains in China. Every autumn the green leaves on the 1,400-year-old tree turn bright yellow and fall into a golden heap on the temple grounds drawing tourists from the surrounding area.

Beautiful. Japan has its own love affair with ginkgo trees, but I can’t recall ever seeing anything like this (yet) in Japan.


The Story of a Yen

A brief look at the story of the yen.

There were originally 100 sen to the yen and 10 rin to the sen but by 1953, given hyperinflation, a rather large war, and the impact of the gold standard, the sen and the rin were abolished and the yen, no longer 1:1, was fixed at 360 to the dollar.

He writes that the coin is called yen in English instead of the actual pronunciation en because of a spelling error. Not necessarily true. It was labeled yen due to the Japanese spelling ゑん, the first character historically being pronounced ye. The pronunciation of ゑ shifted to e around the middle of the 18th century[1], but the old spelling was retained for some time.

At any rate, the rest of the post is a good read.

Japanese USB-Powered Heated Office Gloves

As strange as USB-​​powered heated gloves sounds, they actually almost make sense in Japan.

While they’ll surely find fans anywhere on the planet (beyond certain latitudes and/​or elevations, that is), heated office gloves are particularly welcome here in Japan. Even in large corporate buildings, central heating is at best a 5050 likelihood, and virtually nonexistent in smaller companies.

My house, like many places in Japan, has no central heating. Even with a few space heaters and the room air-​​condition unit turned to warm, it can get pretty cold, and using the computer with cold fingers is such a bad experience that it makes me not want to use it at all. I’m not saying I’ll buy these gloves, but I can definitely see a demand for them in Japan.

Could Emoji Fashion Be The Next “Kawaii” Trend?

Rocketnews takes a look at the latest trend of emoji showing up in fashion, on clothes and so on.

Emoji are very colorful and flashy, but also fun! Brand and shops including Kitson, Nordstrom, and Urban Outfitters have embraced this fashion trend, and now sell a range of emoji pants, shirts, bathing suits, and accessories.

A little strange, but I suppose no stranger than any fashion. The article also gives a bit of historic detail on emoji and its predecessor kaomoji.