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Six Ways to Encounter Godzilla: Tracing the Impact of the King of the Monsters throughout Japan

Some of my earliest memories involve family trips to the San Bernardino, California, Fedco in the early 1980s. It’s an understatement to say that, as a child, I wasn’t very excited about checking out the latest appliances or home furnishings. The real highlight of those shopping trips was excitedly browsing the VHS movie section. (And…

JR East Japan Station Work: Your Office on the Go

Although Japan’s population continues to decline, the same cannot be said about Tokyo. Despite the government’s best efforts, the nation’s economy is increasingly centralized in its sprawling capital city. This situation is palpable in Tokyo’s packed trains and cafes where an increasingly mobile workforce scrambles to find quiet spaces for Wi-Fi- and caffeine-fueled bouts of…

Eat Fugu and Live to Tell the Tale

For any foodie visiting Japan, eating fugu should be on their list of must-eat foods, since it’s next-to-impossible to have in other countries. Usually, that would involve a trip to an expensive, high-end restaurant. Unless you have fugu fisheries in a nearby bay, which is precisely the case for Takahama town, located on the Western…

Tsukimi, the “Moon-Viewing” Celebration

Praying to the Harvest Moon As it is often depicted in Japanese pop culture, manga, anime, or video games, you may have already heard about ”tsukimi,” or more formally “otsukimi,” literally “moon viewing.”  It is the most emblematic celebration in autumn, and shops often have decorations or sell items bearing the moon, rice cakes, or rabbits (more about this…

A Roadmap for Learning Japanese: How to Optimize Classes, Textbooks, and Flash Cards to Achieve Fluency

A few weeks ago, I was listening to a podcast about learning Japanese, and the host divided learners into two camps: those who use textbooks and those who don’t. I immediately thought, “Wait a second, what’s wrong with something in the middle—occasional textbook use?” The thought lingered with me long after the podcast was over,…

Shimanami Kaido: A Foolproof Guide to Enjoying Japan’s Cycling Sanctuary

Seventy kilometers, six scenic islands, six massive bridges, and two prefectures—all woven together by a single blue line. This is the Shimanami Kaido: Japan’s premier long-distance cycling route. There are countless articles and videos that cover this internationally popular tourist destination. It’s convenient to have so many resources, but when I was planning my own…

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