Ohaguro is the process of dyeing…

Ohaguro is the process of dyeing the teeth black in Japan. Black dyed teeth are a symbol of status thought to compliment the white painted faces of women. The dyeing was also done to mask the yellow teeth and make the teeth stronger by preventing the growth of cavities. It was outlawed in 1870.

Students Clean Their Own Classrooms and Toilets in Japan

It’s actually common for Japanese people to take responsibility for cleaning public spaces they utilize.

Photo Credit: Needpix

After a recent win over the Colombian football team during the World Cup, the fans naturally wanted to celebrate. But not until they all pitched in to clean the stadium.

This Japanese drive to maintain cleanliness is a concept introduced during their early school years. According to Bright Vibes, the o-soji (cleaning), as it is called, is tradition in Japanese schools.

【News: Japanese-Style Education “Special Activities” /Tokubetsukatsudo(Tokkatsu) Spreads to Egyptian Elementary…

Posted by JICA – Japan International Cooperation Agency on Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Making the children clean their schoolrooms and restrooms has nothing to do with lack of manpower. Even though people – called yomushuji, often shortened to shuji – are hired for non-teaching roles like cleaning and maintaining school grounds, children are still taught to clean. The idea is to instill the values of discipline, responsibility and the joint care of spaces into children. It’s a value they go on to hold throughout their lives.

Starting each day (except Wednesdays and Saturdays) after lunch, the students clean for approximately 20 minutes. They start with their own classrooms, then rotate as groups to clean other spaces like the playground, library and common areas. Then, they get recess.

The school gets a longer cleaning on the last day of each semester. The children also get an o-soji song or something else to get them pumped while they clean. Older kids also help teach the little ones what to do, which bonds the kids like siblings.

Once they reach the third grade, children start participating in chiiki seiso – a full neighborhood clean-up.

If you ask me, this Japanese tradition is onto something. If everyone was taught to clean up after themselves starting in early childhood, the world would be a much cleaner place.

What do you think about the practice? Let us know in the comments.

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Surgeon Tryouts in Japan

A Japanese hospital has an entrance test for aspiring medical students – they must perform 3 tasks in 15 minutes using surgical instruments – make miniature paper cranes, reassemble a dead bug from parts and make miniature sushi using a single rice grain. 40 students are selected.

When Japanese prime minister…

When Japanese prime minister Keizō Obuchi was a young man and short on money, he travelled to thirty-eight countries, completely circumnavigating the globe and taking odd jobs as he went. These included being a dishwasher, an assistant aikido instructor and a TV camera crew assistant in Berlin.

5 Interesting Christmas Traditions From Around the World

If you’re an American like yours truly, you have Christmas down pat here in the good old USA. We know the Christmas traditions, the songs, the pop culture surrounding it, and we know all about the good food we eat every December 25.

But what do folks do in other countries to celebrate this holiday?

Here are five interesting and unusual Christmas traditions from around the globe that you might not know about.

1. Japan

Ah. The jolly fat man with the... hold on...

This one is very unusual, but who are we to judge? In Japan, people enjoy eating Kentucky Friend Chicken on Christmas Eve. Only one percent of the Japanese population is actually Christian, but KFC’s “Christmas Chicken” bucket is a huge hit in the country.

In 2016, an estimated 3.6 million families celebrated Christmas Eve this way in Japan. The tradition dates back to 1974 when a group of foreigners in Japan couldn’t find a turkey and decided to go to KFC instead. KFC saw it as a good marketing opportunity, and the rest is history. Today’s version consists of chicken, cake, and champagne.

2. Ukraine

Ukrainian Christmas Tree at the Museum of Science and Industry, 2008

In Ukraine, people decorate their trees with fake spiders and webs. Why, you ask? According to that country’s folklore, there was a poor, single mother who couldn’t afford to put any decorations on her family’s Christmas tree. One night while the family was sleeping, a spider spun a beautiful web and decorated the tree. The sun turned the web silver and gold and the poor family never needed anything ever again.

A nice story, I think.

3. Guatemala

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Quema Del Diablo

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On December 7 at 6 o’clock in the evening, Guatemalans build bonfires to “burn the devil.” This tradition kicks off the Christmas season in Guatemala every year, and it especially popular in Guatemala City as a way to honor the city’s patron saint during the Feast of the Immaculate Conception.

The tradition started with a simple fire during colonial times, then over the years devil figures and even devil piñatas have been added to the mix. It’s estimated that 500,000 bonfires now burn in Guatemala every December 7.

4. Greenland

The coders way of cutting mattak

Greenland doesn’t get a lot of mentions in the history books, but they do have an interesting Christmas tradition that’s worth noting. In that country of only 55,000 people (that’s half the size of Boulder, Colorado), the men serve the women their meals at Christmas. What’s the meal? Strips of whale blubber known as “mattak.” Dessert usually consists of porridge with butter, cinnamon, and sugar.

5. Venezuela

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This might be the best Christmas tradition I’ve ever heard! In Caracas, Venezuela, people strap on roller skates to head to church on Christmas Eve. The story goes that kids are supposed to go to bed with a piece of string tied to their toes and their foot dangling out of a window. People skating by the windows tug on the toe strings letting kids know it’s time to roller skate to mass. Despite the fact that people probably don’t sleep with their feet hanging out of the window, Venezuelans still roller skate to mass to this day.

When mass is over, people get together for food, music, and dance. I like this idea!

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A Company Is Offering Nonsmokers Six Extra Vacation Days to Make up for Cigarette Breaks

If you work with smokers, they take breaks constantly. I’m sure you’ve noticed this. I’ve worked with some people who took at least one cigarette break per hour and sometimes even more.

That time really adds up.

A company in Japan has taken notice and decided to give non-smokers an extra six days of vacation per year to make up for the time that smokers take on breaks. Piala Inc. is a marketing firm in Tokyo, and they decided to take this step after non-smokers at the company complained about working more than people at the business who take time each day to smoke.

A spokesperson for the company said, “One of our non-smoking staff put a message in the company suggestion box earlier in the year saying that smoking breaks were causing problems. Our CEO saw the comment and agreed, so we are giving non-smokers some extra time off to compensate.”

The company is based on the 29th floor of a building so you can imagine how much time was spent by smokers venturing all the way downstairs, taking a leisurely cigarette break, and then coming back up 29 flights. Like I said, it adds up.

Group of smokers, Tokyo 2016

Takao Asuka, the CEO of the company, said, “I hope to encourage employees to quit smoking through incentives rather than penalties or coercion.”

What do you think about this? Fair? Unfair? Unnecessary?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments.

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Chinese and Japanese Speakers Share the Dumbest Things They’ve Seen Tattooed on Someone

Tell me if this sounds familiar…?

Have you ever met someone who thought they were being really deep and spiritual with a Chinese or Japanese character tattooed on their body, but then they later found out that symbol meant “beef with broccoli”?


It actually happens all the time, my friends. And these AskRedddit users shared some really good ones.

1. Actually, that means…

“Saw a girl with 魚 tattooed on her shoulder who swore up and down it meant poison… It means fish.”

2. Do you lift, bro?

“I was on the subway in NYC and there was a guy who clearly lifted a lot. He was wearing a sleeveless shirt and on his jacked arms in chinese were the words “牛肉麵” or “Beef noodle soup” for everyone to see. Man looked ready to get the rest of his favorite restaurant’s menu tattooed on his body.”

3. That’s a bummer.

“He thought it said “Love my grandson”. It translated to something like “I love fat boys”. I think it was a google translate failure of epic proportions.”

4. Not your name.

“”Tiny chicken” my friend got that thinking it said his name.”

5. Major eye roll.

“Chinese speaker here. In high school I worked at a CVS. A white woman showed up at the register with a very poorly drawn 力 tattoo, and I said “cool tattoo, means power”. She scoffed and replied to me like I was satan himself, and said “you obviously don’t understand Chinese “letters” the tattoo artist told me it means the strength to overcome anything, even breast cancer…” then she rolled her eyes at me and walked away.”

6. You blew it!

“My friend got a tattoo that said “veni vidi vici” in chinese, well so he thought. The tattoo acutally said “three small dishes”.”

7. Strength and courage…maybe.

“I was scrolling through the web at some tattoos for fun,a person said they got a tattoo that said “Strength and courage” in japanese. It actually said “Little animal, big mistake.” Great quote imo, but I dont think they thought so after they got it permanently marked on their skin.”

8. Uh oh. That’s not good.

“Not my story but a friend of mine.

She had a classmate in college with a kanji tattoo, confused she asked her what it meant.

“High princess”

Turns out it actually said “pig princess”.”

9. Might want to get a cover-up.

“I once saw this middle aged dude wearing “金魚佬” on his shoulder (the rough literary translation is “Goldfish Man”), which in cantonese means a sleazy older man who creeps on younger girls/children. Basically a pedo. Wonder under what circumstances he got that inked…”

10. Lookin’ tough…oh wait…

“机 on his fist. I haven’t taken Chinese but in Japanese it means ‘desk’.”

11. The Fat Man.

“”Kitchen” – confused the kanji, what he wanted I have no idea. “Fat man” – he wanted “big guy” (tough guy?) apparently.”

12. Opposite day?

“Gets a tattoo in google translate Japanese thinking it says “fear no one” but it really means “I fear everyone”.”

13. That’s…me?

“I once had a roommate placed with me in the apartment our company ran for us here in Japan. He was loud, obnoxious, and I generally didn’t get on well with him. But, you try to get along, so we’d go to the izakaya up the street from time to time with other friends to drink and have a good time. The owners were this wonderful old Japanese couple who loved having all these weird gaijin come and entertain the locals.

Anyway, somehow we get talking about tattoos and the roommate is showing his off. He then says that he got the kanji for “friendship” (友) and “peace” (和) tattooed on his back and lifts his shirt to show everyone. There’s a bit of silence, broken by someone asking, “Who’s Tomokazu?”

What Roommate didn’t know, of course, was that those two kanji in that order was a man’s name.

He reacted well, though, taking a beat and then announcing, “I’M TOMOKAZU!” which became a running joke while he was there.”

14. Hahaha, that’s good.

“40+ year old bald white guy with Chinese characters that translated as “I’m a cute little princess” on the length of his forearm.

Had a good laugh the rest of that day.”

15. Didn’t have the heart to tell him…

“I met a guy in the air port when I came back from living in Tokyo for 2 years who had just visited Japan. He had 2 symbols on his shoulder I noticed that were “off”. I stopped him and asked him what his tattoo said. He said ” It means strong will bro.” I didn’t have the heart to tell him….. his two symbols he picked in order were “dog poop”.

If you find this online…. im truly sorry bro. Ha ha.”

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Microsoft Japan Adopted a 4-Day Work Week and It Boosted Productivity by 40 Percent

Might this be a sign of things to come on this side of the Pacific Ocean? Let’s hope so.

Microsoft Japan recently trialed a 4-day work week and announced the results from the experiment.

Two big takeaways: the employees enjoyed the four-day week very much and productivity increased by 40%. Shorter, more efficient meetings were noted as one factor for the boost in productivity (DUH).

Microsoft called the experiment the “Work-Life Choice Challenge Summer 2019,” and it lasted for five weeks for the company’s 2,300 employees in Japan. Microsoft Japan president and CEO Takuya Hirano said, “Work a short time, rest well and learn a lot. It’s necessary to have an environment that allows you to feel your purpose in life and make a greater impact at work. I want employees to think about and experience how they can achieve the same results with 20 percent less working time.”

The employees of the company had to be more efficient with their time, which meant shorter meetings or remote meetings. That in turn led to more productivity. In addition to that good news, electricity use by the company dropped 23.1%, and employees printed 58.7% fewer pages of paper.

A whopping 92% of Microsoft Japan’s employees said that they enjoyed the shorter work week (surprise surprise). The company said it plans on repeating the 4-day work week trial next summer and might expand the experiment to other times as well.

I, for one, think this is a great idea if you work in an office or another job where people have to be present in order for things to be accomplished. I know that I would’ve preferred working four 10-hour days in my old office jobs as opposed to five 8-hour days.

What do you think? Share your ideas about this topic in the comments.

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15 Photos That Prove Japan Is Living in the Future

I haven’t had the opportunity to travel to Japan, but it is definitely at the top of my travel list. Why, you ask?

Well, all you really need to do is look at these photos. Not only are the people incredibly gracious, the food is great, and there are amazing sights to see, but the Japanese are really ahead of the curve as far as integrating technology into the day-to-day.

And these photos prove it. Take a look and start dreaming about your next overseas trip…

1. A robot restaurant!

2. That looks like a great dining experience.

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Just came to get sushi in Japan 🍣

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3. Coming right up!

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If all food was served like this… 🍣🍙

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4. Or delivered by train.

5. Heated toilet seats.

6. Photobooths are on point.

7. Look at that vending machine.

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이건 뭐.. 거의 누들로드🍜: Afuri 라면편

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8. Tiny sleeping capsules.

9. Sparkling subway.

10. That’s gas station food in Japan.

11. Really nice desserts.

12. Food on the train is darn good, too.

13. That’s what you can get at a baseball game.

14. Fish for your dinner!

15. Museum design is fantastic.

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Borderless between art and science

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What year is it again? See what I’m talking about?

Like I said, way ahead of the curve…

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