Japan's best English language blogs of 2010
While estimates suggest
that more blogs are written in Japanese than any other language (despite English speakers outnumbering Japanese five to one worldwide) expats in Japan who write in English provide a very different perspective on the country.
From tales of salarymen to the life of foreign hostesses, here are Japan's 10 best English-language blogs of 2010.
1. Green-Eyed Geisha
Why we like it: Written by a 20-something professional woman working for a Japanese company, provides details of the hurdles she faces in daily life.
Humorous, engaging and insightful, her writing is akin to storytelling. She tends to publish a couple of diamonds a month rather than blog daily.
Sample entry: “Bitch, please”
“She clucked her tongue and snarled 'jama da yo' to me, which basically means 'you're in the way' and not something you say to people in the street. Without missing a beat, I immediately shot back 'omae ga jama da yo... you're the one in the f***ing way' -- I think it could be a sign that you've really made it in Japan when you can verbally assault passersby in Japanese at the drop of a hat."
Find it: http://greeneyedgeisha.blogspot.com/
2. Lost in Translation
Why we like it: After being fascinated by the movie Lost in Translation, Vivian Morelli fell in love with Asia through the eyes of the amazing Sofia Coppola and decided to write about her daily experiences in Japan.
The blog provides wonderful pictures and cultural tidbits of Japan. It's full of interesting entries ranging from fashion, music, food and popular culture.
Sample entry: “Hello, December”
“December and the holidays in Japan DO NOT feel like Christmas at all, no matter how many tacky Christmas decorations I see and Christmas songs I hear everywhere I go. Sorry Japan, but you just cannot do Christmas...”
3. The Salaryman The Yakuza The Host Boy
Why we like it: A must-see blog for Asian (especially Japanese) guys who dream of dating European women. Here is a blog run by a Western woman who likes "fit Asian men."
She writes about her love life, including juicy descriptions of her sex life with Japanese boyfriends ... and as she puts it, "the weird and obscure."
Sample entry: “Sorry”
“We had sex last weekend. At first I said it was too soon, trying to explain why but he didn’t fully understand me. He just said 'Okay' and parted my legs ...”
Find it: http://shibuya-nights.tumblr.com
4. Tokyo Moe
Why we like it: The writer, a foreign man living in Nakano and married to a Japanese husband, talks about male fashion, male vanity, crime, male romance as created by women manga artists and pop culture.
His posts are flamboyant and colorful, so curious ladies and camp gentlemen, after you’ve visited the blog, ask yourselves -- do you still find the Japanese boys’ coiffures yucky?
Sample entry: “Sexy bike fashion in Shinjuku”
“I love this sexy bike fashion. He captures many of the trends: tights under shorts, bright colors, 80s shoes, stripes & patterns mixed together, and people-powered transit. I love Tokyo!”
Find it: http://jaredinnakano.wordpress.com/
5. The adventures of a Foreign Salaryman in Tokyo
Why we like it: This one is run by a 30-something foreign guy who calls himself “a foreign salaryman.”
Working at a consultant company in Tokyo, he writes "wonderous tales of my adventures in work and general life in Tokyo," but sometimes dishes on his private life, too.
He recently complained about how aimlessly he shook a controller up and down when he played Nintendo Wii with his kids, only to end up severely exhausted.
Sample entry: Honor the company!
“...as the foreign operation was quickly completely integrated into the Japanese company, there were three things most difficult to adjust to:
1. Work not starting from 09:00AM but from 08:50AM (unsure as of the reasons for this)
2. Required morning greeting where all in the department huddle around, say 'good morning' in a loud voice together before going back to doing nothing
3. The company anthem and the way that it's sung when opening bigger meetings"
6. Japan Subculture Research Center
Why we like it: Exposes hidden aspects of Japanese culture, including underground economy and sex trade.
An invitation to the dark sides of Japan.
Sample entry: “Tale of the celebrity cannibal”
“The Korean custom of eating dogs is something that on occasion mistakenly gets loaded on to the Japanese. To the French and Dutch in the summer of 1981, mention of the Japanese likely brought to mind one individual who ate a completely different type of meat–human.”
Find it: http://www.japansubculture.com
Why we like it: "Gakuranman" refers to a schoolboy jacket. With joy and curiosity, the blogger introduces us to topics that other blogs just don't seem to.
He tackles adventure, bioluminescence and some of Japan's off-the-beaten-path topics, but best of all are his photo galleries, particularly of the ruins of Japan known as "Haikyo."
Sample entry: "A Return to the Sepulchral Doctor’s Shack"
"The Doctor’s Shack, as I’ve nicknamed it, is a an old medical clinic abandoned around 60 years ago dating back to pre World War 2. The fact that a wooden building has survived this long along is quite remarkable in itself, but the shack is filled with a plethora of old medicine bottles and books labelled in German, likely harking back to the Meiji Period around 1870 when the government adopted German systems of medicine."
Find it: http://gakuranman.com
8. Kyoto Foodie: Where and what to eat in Kyoto
Why we like it: The delicacy of Kyoto cuisine has to be seen to be believed.
Images of the exquisite art of Kyoto food from this extensive and well-researched blog, coupled with the writer's own take on how the creations actually taste.
Sample entry: “Kyoto Ice Cream: Gion Kinana -- Kinako Ice Cream”
“Gion Kinana’s fresh-made kinako ice cream, more cream than ice, is the best Japanese ice cream that I have had. Their parfaits are completely amazing too. Kinana is located in Gion, just off of Hanamikoji Street, one of Kyoto’s most scenic and historic neighborhoods. I liked Kinana so much I went back for ice cream and parfaits like 10 times before I wrote this article!”
Find it: http://kyotofoodie.com/
9. Snow mag
Why we like it: Jean Snow has his finger on the pulse of Japanese design like no other. Whether it's the latest art, architecture or product design, he couples each post with virbrant images and picks each entry with care.
He also runs his own regular first Monday of the month get together in Ikebukuro for art enthusiasts called "PauseTalk."
Sample entry: “Have a Merry Lullatone Christmas”
“Nagoya-based Lullatone has come up with a great way to share some holiday cheer.
For $10, you can have Lullatone send a personalized email that will show up on December 25, and will include a download code for an album (in any format) of your choosing.
The email will also include a link to an unreleased cover of a Christmas song by the band.”
Find it: http://snow-mag.com/
10. The Tokyo Reporter
Why we like it: The image of half-naked Japanese guys with tattoos on their bodies is the welcome you can look forward to when you visit this blog.
Full of taboo topics such as sex, gambling, night-club reports and so on, this blog provides juicy pieces of news about Japan, including those from Japanese weekly tabloid magazines, such as "Shukan-Bunsyu."
If you wish to preserve a fantasy about Japan as a nation with a low crime rate, it’s best to skip this one.
Sample entry: "Japan’s sexy izakayas battle deflation"
The arrival of a Hooters outlet to Tokyo earlier this year caused many tabloids to associate the move with kurofune, or black ships, a term often used for a non-Japanese person or entity who holds a threatening marketing position, but Shukan Taishu reports that Japan is no slouch when it comes to dining in a sleazy atmosphere.
If mini-skirted kimono gals are your preference, then Shinjuku’s Komachi is a good option. But if you find shirt sleeves a tad confining, stop inside Izakaya Sakura Project, where the ladies are bare from finger to shoulder. Got a thing for nurses? Well, then head down to Osaka’s Izakaya 1969, where white-uni-clad gals offer beer and a menu similar to that of a hospital.
Find it: http://www.tokyoreporter.com/