Japan had 8,326 traffic fatalities in 2002 according to figures released
by the National Police Agency, the fewest since the present statistics
began in 1966 and less than half the peak in 1970.
(March 18, 2003)
Every culture has its beloved stories, and a favorite
among the Japanese is "Chushingura," a tale of revenge based
on actual events that took place in the early eighteenth century in Edo
(now Tokyo). In terms of fame and longstanding popularity, "Chushingura"
is on a par with Arthurian legend and Shakespearean plays.
(February 7, 2003)
BUZZWORDS OF 2002
A panel of judges recently selected the 10 trendiest
words or phrases of 2002. The selection of the words always
attracts plenty of attention, because the choices are seen as a reflection
of the events and currents of the preceding 12 months.
(February 6, 2003)
For a while, the popularity of cycling as a means of
transportation was waning, and bicycle sales were in a slump. But lately
bicycles have experienced a revival as an environmentally sound vehicle
whose use promotes good health.
(February 4, 2003)
TO THE PAST
The Showa era in Japan began in 1926 and lasted until
early 1989. A Showa nostalgia boom is clearly underway in Japan,
as cover songs of hits from the 1950s and 1960s, food products of that
era, and even older buildings are all popular at the moment.
(January 22, 2003)
BALLS OF RICE!
balls (onigiri) have long been a staple
of Japanese picnics and lunch boxes. In the past, onigiri were usually
made at home and eaten by family members, but now they are a top-selling
product in convenience stores, and some cafes have even opened with onigiri
as their signature dish.
(January 21, 2003)
POSH FOOD TO GO
If you serve up something special, the
Japanese will gladly pay extra for it. Some of Japan's most exclusive hotels
are now selling ready-to-eat meals to go.
(January 16, 2003)
September 1 is designated
Disaster Prevention Day, and evacuation and other drills are held all
across Japan on this day every year.
(November 19, 2002)
LAST BUT NOT LEAST
In recent months, books
written for elderly readers have been racking up impressive sales, including
some that have sold from several hundred thousand to over one million
(November 13, 2002)
SEA OF JAPAN
The body of water to the west of Japan is known internationally as the
"Sea of Japan." The governments of the Republic of Korea (ROK)
and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), however, have been
arguing that its name should be changed to the "East Sea."
(October 10, 2002)
KOIZUMI RESHUFFLES CABINET
On September 30, Prime Minister Jun'ichiro Koizumi carried out the first
reshuffle of his cabinet since the launch of his administration in April
(October 8, 2002)
GIVE BLOOD AND ENJOY
Blood donation rooms have taken on a new face in the cities. They are turning
into "urban oases" and are attracting a growing number of
(September 25, 2002)
KEEPING FOOD SAFE
Confidence in food safety has been shaken in Japan. In order to combat
this problem, efforts are being made to thoroughly control quality and
guarantee the safety of food.
(September 6, 2002)
All across Japan
summer festivals and fireworks displays are drawing crowds. This year, a popular option for holidaymakers is to travel
to a region to experience local culture.
(August 16, 2002)
KEEPING IN TOUCH
Many local governments are trying a number of different
ideas to revitalize their areas, and information technology is proving
to be one of the most promising methods.
(August 7, 2002)
LEGACY OF GOODWILL
Japanese fans were unstinting in their support of the foreign World Cup
teams playing in Japan and made many friends with traveling supporters.
(July 9, 2002)
GETTING TO KNOW YOU
Since the drama and passion of the 2002 FIFA World Cup kicked off on May 31,
cultural exchanges between Japan and South Korea have been in full swing.
(July 4, 2002)
"FREE STYLE" WEDDINGS
while some Japanese couples still observe unique local customs or old-style
pomp in their wedding ceremonies, recently a growing number are making
their own distinctive contributions to engagements and wedding ceremonies.
(June 28, 2002)
A BOTTLE INTO A BAG
Recently more and more plastic bottles are being
collected after use and made into new products. The recycled material
has been turned into uniforms for schools and companies, egg cartons,
and even business cards.
(June 12, 2002)
WELCOMING THE WORLD
Predictions suggest that around 400,000 people will visit Japan
for the FIFA World Cup, to be held from May 31 to June 30. With so many
foreigners visiting at the same time, even places not directly related
to the tournament need to prepare carefully.
(May 17, 2002)
JAPANESE STYLE IS IN
Things that are distinctly Japanese have been growing in popularity recently,
both in Japan and overseas.
(April 24, 2002)
MONTHS AND COUNTING
The tension is mounting as the May 31 kick-off of the 2002 FIFA World Cup
(April 16, 2002)
USES FOR RECEIPTS
Japanese people have come up with several new, unique ways of using receipts:
as a means of contributing money to charity, as prize-draw slips, and as
media for weather predictions or publicity about new products. It looks
as if they are destined to become a new medium for communication.
(March 12, 2002)
homemakers show others how to spice up an ordinary household and are noted
for devising ways to make everyday activities creative and fun.
(January 28, 2002)
TRENDIEST PHRASES OF 2001
phrases coined by Prime Minister Junichiro Koizumi during 2001, including
"structural reform without sanctuary," were chosen by a selection committee
as best representing the trends of the year 2001.
(January 22, 2002)
On December 1 a daughter was born to Crown Prince Naruhito and Crown Princess
Masako of Japan. The event has been enthusiastically welcomed by the people
of Japan, the more so because the birth has come after a long period of
(January 17, 2002)
waste is recycled into fertilizer, which helps grow rice and vegetables,
which find their way back onto dinner tables. This kind of "food cycle"
is becoming more widespread thanks to the Food Product Recycling Law,
which went into effect in May 2001.
(November 30, 2001)
DOING GOOD WORK
More and more young Japanese are turning to part-time jobs with a "volunteer"
flavor. Rather than a simple paycheck, these workers are looking for new,
more meaningful experiences, or the chance to contribute to society.
(November 5, 2001)
GINZA, SHIBUYA GET NEW FACES
Two of Tokyo's most popular districts are undergoing
image makeovers. Behind these changes are dropping land prices caused
by the collapse of the economic bubble and a transition of generations
among the consuming public.
(October 17, 2001)
WHAT'S IN A NAME?
Debate on the idea of allowing married couples to use separate surnames
in family registers--official records of all Japanese kept in city offices--is
heating up again. In a recent Cabinet Office survey, 42% of respondents
said they favored revising the Civil Code to permit such a change, exceeding
the 30% who were opposed.
(September 21, 2001)
Community FM radio stations broadcasting to small
areas are sprouting up all across Japan. These stations are proving very
popular among local residents because they provide community-based news
and invite local participation. In case of a disaster such stations can
be used by local authorities to communicate important information and
(September 6, 2001)
FAILURE BREEDS SUCCESS
People in Japanese business circles these days are
looking on the old proverb, "Failure is the mother of success," with renewed
appreciation. Examples of companies putting into practice the idea of
learning from mistakes are too numerous to mention. The Ministry of Education
has begun work creating a database of failures that have occurred in cutting-edge
research and development.
(September 4, 2001)
The popularity of reformist Prime Minister Jun'ichiro
Koizumi is like a whirlwind blowing all across Japan. Almost everything
Koizumi does or says is reported by television's news programs and other
shows covering current events.
(August 23, 2001)
JAPAN BECOMING A "CAFE SOCIETY"?
Since last year the cafe business has been booming
all over Japan. These fashionable hangouts do not just serve tasty cups
of coffee and tempting desserts; other factors like their interior design
and decor and the music playing in the background make cafes mellow spaces
that have won the hearts of younger generations, especially women in their
twenties and thirties.
(August 20, 2001)