Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Samsung is not a Japanese company, but a South Korean company.

Samsung is a South Korean based company.

However, many people except Japanese and Korean mistake Samsung to be a Japanese based company. According to the survey by KOTRA(Korean Trade-Investment Promotion Agency) in 2009 (see Searchina's article), 25.9% of foreign people think Samsung is a Japanese company(59.7%: a Korean Company, 10.4%: a Chinese company). Some Chinese people misunderstand it too, even though China is a neighboring country of Japan and South Korea. In China in 2012, Samsung's shop was attacked by Chinese rioters who were frustrated with JAPAN (see's article). As said before, Samsung is a SOUTH KOREAN company.

Why do many people think Samsung is a Japanese company? There are three reasons.

First of all, many people don't know Japan and South Korea are SEPARATE countries. If you see the map below, you will get to know Japan and South Korea are separate countries.

Map created from DEMIS Mapserver, which are public domain, and then edited and location names added by the writer.

Secondly, Samsung have actively adopted Japanese technology. For instance, Samsung have picked out employees of Japanese manufacturers, such as Toshiba, Sony, Panasonic, Sanyo, Sharp, NEC and so on. In addition, Lee Kun-hee, Chairman of Samsung Electronics, has a degree in economics from Waseda University in Tokyo. Waseda University is one of leading universities in Japan.

The third, Samsung uses images of Japan for its advertising. For example, Samsung used a ninja(忍者) for its television commercial. A ninja is a kind of spy or assassin who lived in JAPAN beginning in the 14th century (If you don't know a ninja, see wikipedia). Here is the TV commercial.

Samsung's website



Friday, March 15, 2013

What is "Funassyi"?

"Funassyi"(ふなっしー) is one of popular "yuru-kyara(ゆるキャラ)"(loose characters) in Japan. (If you don't know yuru-kyara, see what is yuru-kyara?) He (or she?) promotes Funabashi-shi(Funabashi city) in Chiba Prefecture on TV programs, festivals, events and so on."Funassyi" is a combination of two words: "Funa" is short for Funabashi and "nassyi" represents the Japanese word for "pears," or "nashi(梨)." Funabashi is known for production of pears.

Funassyi appeared in TV commercial for "Juroku-cha(十六茶)", a Japanese tea product, with Yui Niigaki(a Japanese actress) and other yuru-kyara, such as "Adu-chan(あづちゃん)","Nishiko-kun(にしこくん)",and so on.
Here is the TV commercial of Juroku-cha.

Funassyi has three notable features.

1. Funassyi is an UNOFFICIAL character.
   Though most of yuru-kyara in Japan are authorized and supported by their own prefectures(都道府県) or municipalities(市町村), Funassyi isn't authorized and supported by Funabashi-shi. Funassyi isn't authorized and supported by any other organizations too. Funassyi does activities at its own expense.

2. Funassyi CAN speak.
   Though most of yuru-kyara in Japan can't let out their voice, Funassyi can do it. Funassyi always speaks in a high voice with adding "nassyi(なっしー)" at the end of its sentences.

3. Funassyi makes ACTIVE movements.
   Though many of yuru-kyara in Japan are placid, Funassyi makes active(sometimes acrobatic) movements.

Here are Funassyi's videos.

Funassyi's website
Funassyi on twitter

Thursday, March 14, 2013

What is "Yuru-kyara"?

"Yuru-kyara(ゆるキャラ)"(loose characters) are cute, friendly and a little bizarre mascots owned by national government organizations, local governments, companies, individuals for the purpose of public relations. In recent years in Japan, more and more local governments(prefectures and municipalities) compete to create their own yuru-kyara. It is commonly called "yuru-kyara boom."

One of the most popular yuru-kyara in Japan is "Kumamon(くまモン)", which is a mascot of Kumamoto Prefecture. "Kumamon" is a combination of two words: "Kuma" is short for Kumamoto and "Mon" represents the local dialect that uses that word for the standard Japanese word for "things," or "mono(物)."

Here are Kumamon's images.

Kumamon standing 

Kumamon running 

Kumamon raising his right hand

Kumamon sitting

Kumamon holding an apple in both hands

Kumamon sleeping

Kumamon's official website

Wall Street Journal
--- Isn't That Cute? In Japan, Cuddly Characters Compete
--- The Mischievous Kumamon: The Life and Times of Japan's Mascots

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Who is Hirocho Nishimura?

Hirocho Nishimura(西村ヒロチョ) is a comedian who is becoming increasingly popular in Japan.

He puts on a one-man stage play, which is very romantic. For example, he performs a fictional drama of a romance between two famous historical figures, such as "Nobunaga Oda and Mitsuhide Akechi", "Ryoma Sakamoto and Takamori Saigo", "Shikibu Murasaki and Kenko Yoshida", the Wright brothers, and so on.

His signature phrase is "Zappaan(ザッパーン)", which has no meaning.
His trademark pose is "Jojo-dachi(ジョジョ立ち)"(Jojo's pose) which are standing poses of characters of a Japanese comic "Jojo-no-kimyo-na-bouken(ジョジョの奇妙な冒険)"(Jojo's Bizarre Adventure).
[Examples of "Jojo-dachi": Google Images]

Here are Hirocho Nishimura's performances.

Hirocho Nishimura's blog
Hirocho Nishimura on twitter



Thursday, March 7, 2013

Who is Takashi Mikuriya?

Takashi Mikuriya(御厨貴) is one of the leading political scientists in Japan. He specializes in Japan's Political History, Public Policy, Oral History, Architecture and Politics, Media and Politics.

He is a professor of the Open University of Japan(OUJ). Before he took up a professorship at OUJ in 2012, he had been a professor of the University of Tokyo("Todai"), one of the leading universities in Japan. Some people were surprised when he left "Todai" at the age of 60, because the compulsory retirement age of "Todai" is 65. According to the article of the Asahi Shimbun Degital(, as the reason of leaving "Todai", Mikuriya said "Futility and flexibility are needed for study and research with dreams. "Todai" used to think much of futility and flexibility in the past. However, it is running the rat race now and lost futility and flexibility completely."

He is known to Japanese public as the host of "Jiji-Houdan"(Current Affair Talks), a Sunday morning political talk show on the TBS channel.

Here is a Video Report (Press Briefing): "Towards Reconstruction," Report by the Reconstruction Design Council (June 25, 2011). Takashi Mikuriya is one of the speakers.

Takashi Mikuriya's Profile on the website of International Research Center for Japanese Studies</ br>

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Who is Kintaro?

Kintaro(キンタロー。) is one of the most famous comedians in Japan now. She is famous for her impression of Atsuko Maeda, a former member of AKB48 which is the most famous Japanese idol group today.
Though Kintaro hardly resembles Atsuko Maeda in face, Kintaro sounds like Atsuko Maeda. In Addition, Kintaro dances to the music of AKB48 quite exactly. Dancing is in her line, because she worked as an instructor of ballroom dance before becoming a comedian in 2011.

Here is a video of Kintaro doing impressions of Atsuko Maeda, Yuko Oshima, Haruna Kojima, Momoiro Clover Z, and so on.

Here is a video of Kintaro dancing with AKB48.



Monday, March 4, 2013

Who is Osamu Hayashi?

Osamu Hayashi (林修) is a Japanese (National Language) teacher at Toshin High School which is not a high school but a cram school for university entrance exams.
He is the most famous teacher in Japan at the moment. He is famous for his phrase "Itsuyaruka?---Imadesyo! (When will you do? --- Right now!)."
His phrase became known among Japanese people after he acted in TV commercial of Toshin High School in 2011.
He is one of the most talked-about people in Japan now, because he also acts in Toyota Motor's TV commercial, which imitates Toshin's TV commercial. In Toyota's TV commercial, he says "Itsukauka?---Imadesyo! (When will you buy? --- Right now!)"

Here is Osamu Hayashi in TV commercial of Toyota Motor Corporation.

Here is TV commercial of Toshin High School.

Toshin High School
Toyota Motor Corporation