Kumamon art

Japanese love mascots the most popular one is Kumamon bear. This mascot is created by the local government of Kumamoto Prefecture in Japan in 2010 for the opening of the new bullet train stop. In 2011 it was voted as the most popular Japanese character.

Having dinner in a nice Italian restaurant in Tokyo I came a cross the Kumamon character made from Champagne cork, next to Mickey and Mini Mouse.

Kumamon

At the moment their are already 3 books written about the bear and another in the making.

Some other statistics about Kumamon, he has over 220.000 Twitter followers and more than 110.000 Facebook page likes.

kumamon

 

Featured image thanks to jpellgen

Tomato haircut

In the Netherlands we are always looking for the next new thing in tomato-land. If growers during “Kom in de Kas”, are getting their hair done like the girl below this successful event becomes even more successful.

This tomato haircut is a work of art by a hairdresser called Hiro who works in a hair salon in Osaka. It seems that this kind of haircuts are very popular among a group of trendy young people who hang out in the Amemura district in Osaka.

tomato haircut

tomato haircut 2

Source: Languinsquid

Zero Emission Taxi Japan

Walking outside of Tokyo station I run into the zero emission taxi. A small electric car produced by Mitsubishi. I was happy to see that apart from Nissan Renault with their Leaf and GM with the Volt also Mitsubishi entered the market of electric cars.

The environmental friendly Zero Taxi with its cute round shape, white body, shades of green embellishing the door panels and a logo declaring Zero-emission Taxi. The Japanese call it: Zero-taku, this taxi can drive about 160 km on a full battery. The first 2 km cost you a little less than 8.00 $ which is about the same as what you pay for an ordinary taxi which runs usually on LPG in Japan.

Zero-emission-Taxi-Tokyo-Japan-Mitsubishi-back

 

Business etiquette in Japan

When doing business in Japan “ Honne“ and “ Tatemae“ are import factors to take in consideration. Many of you who have been to Asia and talked to the Japanese delegation often have the feeling that people say yes but act or do no. Also when you ask a question you get a whole story but not an answer. To understand this cultural difference you need to study a little about the Japanese culture.

In Japan its very important to keep thing is harmony direct confrontation or clashing with people is not done. This you find back in the way Japanese talk they always say “ I‘m sorry, Excuse me“ in every conversation multiple times, you can recognize this by the Japanese word “ Sumimasen“.

japanese drinking beer

An other word the Japanese don’t use regularly is the word “ No“ or “ iie“ as the Japanese say, they will always tell you in a indirect way why things can‘t be done. A Japanese employee when is getting on order from his boss to do something will never hear “ do this do that“ . This is way to direct in stead they will say: “ Isn’t it a good idea to finish this project today?“

tatemae meeting

Honne and Tatemae describe the contrast between a person’s true feelings and desires honne and the behaviour and opinions one displays in public tatemae. Honne may be contrary to what is expected by society or what is required according to one’s position and circumstances, and they are often kept hidden, except with one’s closest friends. Tatemae is what is expected by society and required according to one’s position and circumstances, and these may or may not match one’s honne.

During office and with their bosses and in official meetings Japanese are always honne. A big custom in Japanese culture is going out for food and beer after work, this is the time the Japanese become tatemae.

Honne and tatemae is not only a Japanese phenomena, you can also see it in other Asian countries but to a lesser degree and of course in the west we also have sometimes social obligations and give social responsible answers but not to the extent as being used in Japan. Also in the English vocabulary we are missing proper words to describe the Japanese terms honne and tatemae

honne japanse caractertatemae japanese caracter

 

Japan Cherry Blossom

Flowers are very important in Japan. We know the following flower events, Cherry blossom which remarks the start of spring, Ikebana the Japanese art that uses flowers as the main focal point, the Chrysanthemum which is stamped on the Japanese 100 yen coin.

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I was lucky to be in Japan in one of the most beautiful periods in the year. Always at the end of march beginning of April the Sakura tree or Japanese Cherry tree is showing it’s blossom. This is quite an important national event as it gets a lot of airtime on television and on internet you can find various maps indicating where to find the best spots to see the cherry blossom.

 

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Besides watching the flowers which the Japanese call Hanami “going on a trip to see flowers” is a centuries old tradition. As you can see on the photos now a days it involves a national pick nick event with the family, friends or colleagues.

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Featured image thanks to Frederic Rivollier