Unseen Japan

The Japan You Don't Learn About in Anime.

Emma Ford

Emma holds an MA in Advanced Japanese Studies from Sheffield University. The child of a Japanese mother, Emma grew up in Japan as well as England, and is fully fluent in both Japanese and English. Emma contributes essays based on her experiences growing up as a child of two cultures.

Stage / performance

What Makes Japan's Idol Culture Unique?

By Emma Ford  ·  October 08, 2018 • Tagged with idols, people, culture, AKB48, Morning Musume, Hello! Project

How did Japan become the birthplace of a plethora of manufactured girl groups? Emma Ford looks into how "idol" came to mean something very different in Japan than it does in the West.

A woman putting on makeup in a garbage pile.

Are The Japanese Really THAT Clean?

By Emma Ford  ·  October 04, 2018 • Tagged with cleaning, souji, household, society

The stereotype holds that Japan is a meticulously clean country. Emma Ford looks at the difference between public and private behavior, and separates fact from fiction.

A woman holding her well-gained money.

A Tansu Full of Dollars: Why Japan Has Such a Hardcore Savings Culture

By Emma Ford  ·  September 25, 2018 • Tagged with essay, culture, money

Why do people in Japan save more compared to people in other countries? Emma Ford discusses how a saving ethic became built into the culture.

Two old people getting the respect they deserve.

What is Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)?

By Emma Ford  ·  September 14, 2018 • Tagged with news, holidays, culture

What is Respect for the Aged Day (敬老の日)? And why do those lucky suckers in Japan get a day off for it?! Emma Ford provides an overview of next week's holiday, including its origins and related cultural myths.

Manhole cover of Chibi Maruko-chan.

Remembering Sakura Momoko: The Very Japanese Life of the Creator of "Chibi Maruko-chan"

By Emma Ford  ·  September 12, 2018 • Tagged with news, people, manga, entertainment

The life of the legendary cartoonist and essayist Sakura Momoko was one of juxtaposition between traditional and modern Japan. A look back at the creator of Chibi Maruko-chan.

Various Japan Government Agencies Caught Falsifying Disabled Employment Data

By Emma Ford  ·  September 03, 2018 • Tagged with news, society, politics, government, scandal

The Abe cabinet comes under scrutiny again following yet another scandal. Is the Japanese public losing confidence in their government?

A school in Gunma that was recently shut down.

Japan's De-Population Spiral Increasingly Puts the Country at Peril

By Emma Ford  ·  August 27, 2018 • Tagged with depopulation, government, politics, society

The continued downward spiral of Japan’s population hasn't been helped by the slowdown in the Japanese economy. Emma Ford combines personal experience and some frightening statistics to ask: Where does Japan go from here?

You Don't Know Gunma Yet

You Don't Know Gunma! Series Pokes Fun at "The New Jersey of Japan"

By Emma Ford  ·  August 15, 2018 • Tagged with news, entertainment, anime, manga

A comic book about the quirks of "the prefecture that time forgot" received a movie version last year, and is now airing as an anime.

Shhhh...

Silence is Golden? Moving from "Quiet" Japan to the Wild, Wild West

By Emma Ford  ·  August 13, 2018 • Tagged with essay, culture

Japan as an island nation is known to be respectful and quiet. Emma Ford describes what it's like to live this reality as a child growing up in the country - and then to suddenly find herself in a mirror world.