News from Japan – Week 52

Finally the year 2020 has just about come to an end. On one hand it feels like the year has been incredibly long, but on the other hand it also feels like it was over in a flash. I think we can all agree that this was a weird year for all of us. Todays the last day of the year, and I have to admit that my motivation has tanked a bit recently. I could really use a break. Anyways, let’s get on on with it.

A big piece of news this week was the heavy snowfalls in and around Niigata prefecture. There was a very sudden snowstorm, with the snow piling up meter-high. People on the expressway were snowed in in their cars, with some of them having to spend as long as two nights in their cars before the snow was finally cleared away.

Wabe – Read the full article here

Another topic that went around the English-speaking Japan community this week was the passing away of Mr Ezra Vogel. Undoubtedly one of the most influential researchers on Japan and East Asia in the last century, he was also probably a big contributor to the idea of “Japanese Exceptionalism“, praising Japanese business practices and encouraging others to emulate them.

JapanTimes – Read the full article here

It’s Christmas, ‘tis the season, as they say. So how could I not include an article about Christmas in Japan for this one? Christmas here is pretty different, compared to other countries where the holiday is more traditional. In Japan, Christmas is defined by eating chicken, specifically the chicken of Kentucky Fried Chicken. The reasons for this are varied and explained in the next article.

DW – Read the full article here

In one of my recent news articles, I introduced you to an Ainu (natives of Hokkaido) restaurant. Continuing on with that, let’s have a look at a new film about the Ainu. Ainu have been heavily discriminated against since Japan took control of Hokkaido in the 1800s, being the target of several “re-education campaigns” to assimilate them as close as possible to mainland Japanese. This is definitely a niche-film, so I am not sure whether it will even be shown abroad, but I plan on going and I recommend that you go to if you have the chance. We need more films like this.

Nippon – Read the full article here

In a similar vein, the next article talks about bi-racial kids in Japan and their experiences growing up. Japan likes to think of itself as very distinct from other nations, so mixed ethnicities do not really fit into that stereotype. Bi-racial or “hafu” (half and half, basically) people are either fetishized or demonized, forever being trapped by one half being made more important than the other.

WashingtonPost – Read the full article here

I will leave it at that for this year. I hope you all have (or had) a very nice Christmas and a Happy New Year. Let’s hope it’s a good one and so forth. You will probably not hear from until January, I plan to make a new post on either the 6th or the 7th. Until then, be safe and have a wonderful day.

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