Vanitoy Bagel: Bagels in Japan

Bagels are a unique baked good, if you stop and think about it. They have become very ingrained in many parts of American culture and society, so much so that we seem to have them mentally categorized as essential as bread. You see them everywhere and can enjoy them at the drop of a hat, […]

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Japanese Mascots (Yuru-kyara)

Everywhere you go in Japan, you’re sure to stumble into a sign, poster, or merchandise with a cute character emblazoned on it. There seems to be a mascot arms race here in Japan and with good reason: The right mascot can bring prestige, popularity, and a boatload of money with it. Let’s take a look […]

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Cormorant Fishing (Ukai)

People have used animals to assist with hunting food for hundreds and thousands of years. They can even be used to assist in fishing. Cormorant fishing is the use of specially trained birds to help fisherman catch fish. It’s particularly famous around the Nagaragawa River in Gifu prefecture, near Gifu City. I was incredibly fortunate […]

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Traditional Ainu Clothing

The Ainu are the indigenous people of the Japanese and Russian isles, mainly in northeastern Honshu (the main island) and Hokkaido, the northern island. While visiting Sapporo, I happend to stumble upon an Ainu exhibit in the lobby of a fancy hotel. Not one to pass up the opportunity to learn something new about history, […]

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Japan: A Paper Country

This isn’t to say that they are a country that is flimsy or easily destroyed by rain; I mean that Japan really loves its paper. A lot. It manifests itself in many ways that are a bit baffling and even exciting to foreigners. Let’s do a quick review of my own experience with paper pushing […]

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Allergies in Japan

Spring can be a particularly challenging time in Japan. You’ll see people shedding their winter coats and donning surgical masks, carrying extra tissues, and tilting their heads back to refresh themselves with eye drops. Native and foreigner alike is afflicted by allergy season, but why? And is there anything you can do to relieve the […]

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