Japan for the Uninvited

Japanese culture from a bemused foreign perspective

Ukiyo-e (Pictures of the floating world)

Ukiyo-e is a style of painting and printmaking, which became popular in Japan in the 18th and 19th centuries. Blocks of wood were carved from an original drawing, and used to make near exact copies. Different blocks were used for each colour, and could be printed repeatedly to create bold, bright ...

Kabuki

Kabuki (meaning "sing dance performer") is a popular form of Japanese traditional theatre. From its raunchy origins, it is an art form developed for and by the common people. This contrasts ...

The Emperor

The Japanese monarchy, also known as The Chrysanthemum Throne, is the oldest in the world. Japan also has the world's only remaining Emperor. The Emperor has always been a revered and influential ...

Yakuza

The yakuza is one of the most famous and most romanticised criminal groups in the world. Traditionally seen by many Japanese people as a modern incarnation of the samurai, the yakuza were tolerated for a long time. They are distinctive for extensive tattooing, missing pinkie fingers and hairstyles 20 years out-of-date. In 1991, ...

Kamikaze

In the West, kamikaze is associated with the Japanese pilots who flew their explosive-loaded planes into Allied targets in WWII. In 1281, Japan was preparing for a massive Mongol invasion, which it feared it wouldn't survive. As the attacking fleet was crossing the sea, it was destroyed by an unexpected typhoon. ...

Geisha

The geisha ("person of the arts") is the most famous symbol of traditional Japan. Originally, all geisha were male, but women geisha ("onna geisha") eventually took over completely. Traditionally, girls were bought from poor families and trained from early childhood. They learned a wide range of arts (music, singing, dance, ikebana, ...

The atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki

On August 6th, 1945, Hiroshima was destroyed by a US atomic bomb. Three days later, the same happened to Nagasaki. This prompted the Japanese to surrender, ending WWII. The atomic bomb "Little Boy", dropped on Hiroshima by B-29 bomber "Enola Gay", exploded with the power of 12,000 tons of TNT, killing ...

Hachiko

Hachiko is a Japanese hero. He was an Akita dog, whose owner was a Tokyo university professor. Every evening, he greeted his returning master at Shibuya station. Even after his master's death in 1925, Hachiko kept returning to the station every evening, waiting hopefully for his owner. This would continue for ...

Comfort women

During WWII, the Japanese army (like other armies) operated brothels in the other Asian countries it occupied. They were staffed mainly with unwilling women ("comfort women") who had been tricked or coerced into giving themselves to Japanese soldiers. Estimates of the number of these women range from 20,000 to 300,000. In 1995, ...

Penis festivals

There are a number of fertility festivals in Japan, most of which feature the parading of a massive wooden cock. One festival celebrates the slaying of a demon that lived in a woman's vagina, castrating all of her lovers, until his teeth were destroyed with a steel dildo. If all the excitement ...

Continue Previous page Next page