Unseen Japan

The Japan You Don't Learn About in Anime.

Yamaguchi Maho Bows
Woman sitting on counter
A house of yen in flames

Mottainai Culture: The History and Philosophy of Waste in Japan

By Krys Suzuki  ·  December 20, 2018 • Tagged with culture, society, waste, environment

Though sometimes honored more in the breach than the observance, Japan's philosophy of "waste not, want not" strongly influences everyday culture.

The Inari Shrine in Fushimi district, Kyoto, Japan.

Shinto: Japan's Non-Religious Religion?

By Krys Suzuki  ·  December 14, 2018 • Tagged with religion, faith, spirituality, society, culture

Shinto is more than a religion - it's also an indelible part of Japanese culture. Krys Suzuki discusses the structure, beliefs, and complex history of Japan's native faith.

Awkward English only conversation

Why Does Japan Struggle With English?

By Krys Suzuki  ·  October 31, 2018 • Tagged with language, English, Japanese, society, culture, communication, education

A city park employee managed to lose a quarter million dollars because he couldn't speak English. Krys Suzuki, a former English teacher in Japan, says that's not uncommon, and discusses why Japan still struggles with the language.

Cats mingle with the residents of Aoshima.

Japan's Cat Islands: Threat or Menace?

By Alyssa Pearl Fusek  ·  October 23, 2018 • Tagged with animals, cats, public health, society

Japan's cat islands may seem adorable, but Japan's cat epidemic threatens human health - and even the 202 Olympics. Writer Alyssa Pearl Fusek discusses the country's belated response to its cat epidemic.

Grand Executive Room in the Hotel Grassino and Urban Resort, Shinjuku, Tokyo.

The Evolution of Japan's Love Hotels

By Krys Suzuki  ·  October 18, 2018 • Tagged with romance, relationships, society, culture, business

Why do love hotels exist in Japan? And how have they evolved to change with the times? Krys Suzuki examines the 400-year history of this cultural phenomenon.

Inoue Junk as Princess Banana

Return of the Banana Princess: How a Fruit-Clad Cosplayer Came to Represent a Southern Japanese City

By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  October 09, 2018 • Tagged with culture, society, cosplay, kyushu

A popular city mascot resumes her vaunted role. Learn about Japan's history of "discount banana hawking", and how it gave birth to Princess Banana, the tourist symbol of Kitakyushu City.

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 man praying at a home before cleaning it.

Dying Alone in Japan: Why "Kodokushi" (孤独死) Is On The Rise

By Jay Andrew Allen  ·  September 24, 2018 • Tagged with news, society

"A congealed, black pool of blood spread out from the body in the bathtub." As Japan's population ages, more people are dying alone. Can anything be done?