Top Google Search keywords and search trends in Japan in 2014

Written by: William on December 17, 2014 at 8:26 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Google has shared shared the top search terms in Japan for 2014.

google search keywords top results buzz trend japan 2014

Here are the top search terms, which were of course originally in Japanese and so vary slightly from the translation or English equivalent.

Overall Searchword Ranking

1. Yahoo
2. YouTube
3. Facebook
4. Weather forecast
5. Rakuen
6. Amazon
7. Pazudora (Puzzle & Dragons)
8. News
9. Yahoo! Auction
10. Twitter

Trending Words

1. World Cup
2. Yo-Kai Watch
3. Sochi Olympic
4. Typhoon
5. “Frozen”
6. Kei Nishokori
7. Yuzuru Hanyu
8. Dengue fever
9. Ken Takakura
10. Mt Ontake

Trending News

1. World Cup
2. Sochi Olympics
3. Typhoon
4. Dengue fever
5. Mt Ontake
6. Ebola virus
7. Nobel prize
8. Earthquake
9. Asia Games
10. iPhone6

Trending Males

1. Kei Nishikori (tennis player)
2. Yuzuru Hanyu (figure skater)
3. Ken Takakura (actor)
4. Ryutaro Nonomura (politician)
5. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
6. Mamoru Samuragoch (composer)
7. ASKA (musician)
8. Sota Fukushi (actor)
9. Noriaki Kasai (ski jumper)
10. Robin Willians (actor, comedian)

Trending Females

1. Haruko Obokata (stem cell biologist)
2. Mao Asada (figure skater)
3. Ayaka Shiomura (politician)
4. Zawachin (celebrity impersonator)
5. Kanna Hashimoto (music idol)
6. Nippon Erekiteru Rengou (comedy duo)
7. Seiko Yamamoto (wrestler)
8. Takako Matsu (actor)
9. May J. (singer)
10. Keiko Kitagawa (actor)

Trending Deceased Persons

1. Ken Takakura (actor)
2. Ken Utsui (actor)
3. Eiichi Ohtaki (actor)
4. Takajin Yashiki (singer, TV personality)
5. Robin Williams (actor, comedian)
6. Keiko Awaji (actor)
7. Takako Doi (politician)
8. Junko Ouchi (fashion critic)
9. Yoshiki Sasai (stem cell biologist)
10. Akio Sanpei (writer)

Trending TV Dramas

1. “Hirugao” (Fuji)
2. “Ashita mama ga inai” (NTV)
3. “Hanko to Anne” (NHK)
4. “Gochisousan” (NHK)
5. “Shitsuren Chocolatier” (Fuji)
6. “Massan” (NHK)
7. “First Class” (Fuji)
8. “Roosevelt Game” (TBS)
9. “Kuroda Kanbei” (“Gushi Kanbei”) (NHK)
10. “Gomen ne seishun” (TBS)

Trending Characters

1. Doraemon
2. Jibanyan (from Yo-Kai Watch)
3. Funassyi
4. Pikachu
5. Kumamon

You can also check our round-up of the top trends of 2014 in Japan, as well as the Twitter buzz words.

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What were Japan’s biggest trends in 2014?

Written by: William on December 15, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

Following last year’s top trends and major buzzwords and memes, we are going to take a look back at the big trends and topics for 2014 in Japan. We already examined some of the main Twitter buzz of the year, but what about the overall trends?

japan volcano eruption mountain mt ontake hikers climbers flee escape

Natural Disasters

Sadly there is rarely a year in Japan without natural disasters. Mudslides in Hiroshima in August killed over 70.

Even more dramatically, Mt Ontake suddenly erupted, killing over 50 hikers. Nikon provided one of the most heartwarming stories of the year, however, when they restored a digital camera of one of the deceased and returned the data to his family.

Tax

While Abenomics continued to falter, the nation was hit by a comprehensive price hike when the sales tax, for years a very modest 5%, was bumped up to 8% in the spring. One day everything changed, since shops and restaurants started advertising prices without tax included in an effort to persuade consumers that their items were still cheap, only to frustrate and confuse at the register when the actual price is revealed.

While sales tax in Japan remains far lower than most industrial nations, it was a big shock for a population whose wages had no increased in real terms for decades. It ended up becoming the Kanji of the Year.

japan sales tax hike 2014

Self-Immolation and Politics

As the Shinzo Abe government continued to push forward with controversial changes to the Constitution after the introduction of a worrying state secrets law last year, there were two shocking acts of protest. One man attempted to kill himself by self-immolation in the heart of Shinjuku one Sunday, while another succeeded one evening in November in Hibiya Park.

The government’s newly introduced “right to collective self-defense” then became one of the “words of the year”, though for all the wrong reasons. Members of the Abe government were also accused of having ties to ultra-nationalists and race hate groups.

Abe apparently made a gesture of reconciliation with China when he met with Xi Jinping at the APEC Summit in November, though the lack of enthusiasm on both parties’ faces showed how they really felt about each other. Was this the world’s most awkward head-of-states handshake ever?

shinzo abe xi jinping handshake apec summit

Wails and Whales

In late March, the International Court of Justice ruled that Japan’s “scientific whaling research” was illegal, though it has not yet halted the nation’s disputed annual hunt.

Meanwhile, Hyogo politician Ryutaro Nonomura became a global sensation for his incredible, tearful apology at a press conference as he attempts to explain his suspicious expenses to the public.

Ghostwriters and Liars

The year also saw a “modern-day Beethoven” exposed as a fraud who had a ghostwriter composing his music for years. Oh, and he wasn’t even really deaf.

Even more seriously, the female scientist at Riken who claimed to have discovered STAP cells was found to have doctored part of her paper. It was later withdrawn and Haruko Obokata was made a scapegoat, vilified by the media who had so hyped her up in the first place. Riken also backpedalled over its support for its young “star” and her supervisor eventually committed suicide.

Tennis

Japan’s biggest sporting success is an easy one: Kei Nishikori went on to become World No. 5 and secured a place in the finals of the US Open, the first male Asian ever to reach the last match of a Grand Slam tournament. “There’s no one left I can’t beat,” declared the confident Nishikori at one point (though he was ultimately beaten by Croatian player Marin Cilic).

gu kabe-don event ginza store

Kabe-don

A fun one to end with. The word seemed to come out of nowhere and now it is being used for marketing events by GU and Morinaga. Originally a phrase for describing how you might “pound the wall” when your neighbor is being loud, now it seems to mean when a guy traps a girl against a wall and leans in for a smooch.

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Abeno Tennoji Illuminage in Osaka’s Tennoji Park brings Warring States history to light

Written by: William on December 10, 2014 at 9:05 am | In CULTURE | 1 Comment

Every year in Japan there are illumination and light displays at malls and other venues around the country. Many are elaborate. Most are expensive. But some are just out of this world.

The Abeno Tennoji Illuminage in Tennoji Park in Osaka promises to be a popular attraction for the boys — illuminations are stereotypically spots for young couples on dates — because it promises to take you back in time to the Warring States Period, when Osaka was at the fulcrum of Japanese history.

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

You can see Japanese warrior hero Yukimura Sanada in light, as well as a breathtaking castle entrance and blazing arch of flames. There is even a depiction of a Atakebune warship, ninjas, and a battle scene all rendered in lights. For less martial tastes, there are white cranes too.

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

abeno tennoji illuminage illumination light show sengoku warring states period sanada yukimura tennoji park osaka

Now running until February 1st next year, tickets cost ¥1,000.

Tennoji Park has previously hosted light spectacles but not one themed around history like this. Last year the show featured a rainbow promenade and other seasonal light attractions. Osaka Castle, the actual site of so much important stuff during the Warring States Period, itself has hosted illuminations in the past from the same organizers.

Images: Guide Travel

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Omotenashi Kimono Experience: Traditional Japan, on the Cheap

Written by: Tokyo Cheapo on December 3, 2014 at 12:05 pm | In CULTURE | No Comments

This article by Katie Reilly first appeared on Tokyo Cheapo.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

So you want to get dressed up, do the whole kimono thing while you’re in Tokyo? These timeless outfits are not exactly cheap, but that’s why kimono rentals exist. You can experience wearing one for a short time without having to spend an enormous amount of money. Plus, by renting you have someone there to help you with the tricky business of putting it on.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

Kimono are the traditional clothing of Japan. While they are not generally seen on a daily basis today, they are still often worn by women and sometimes men for festivals and special occasions. Traditionally kimono were made of silk, though nowadays there are cheaper ones made with less expensive fabrics. Kimono are wrapped so that the left side covers the right, adjusted for height, and are secured with an obi. These are sashes that keep the fabric in place and are tied in the back. Kimono are a beautiful aspect of Japanese culture and fun to experience.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The Omotenashi Kimono Experience (“omotenashi” loosely translating as hospitality) provided by the Nihonbashi Information Center is a reasonable way to try out kimono. At ¥5,500 it won’t be the cheapest thing you do in Tokyo, but it’s good value for the service it offers.

You start by picking out your favorite pattern and color of kimono from the selection they provide, and match it with an obi of your choice. You then move into a second room where their staff will help you put on the kimono. As it is a rather complicated process to attempt by yourself for the first time, they will take care of it for you. It is recommended that you wear or bring an undershirt, as you may want it for extra coverage since you will only be wearing undergarments beneath your kimono. The whole process of getting into a kimono takes about 20 minutes.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

After you get into your kimono, you can take some photographs in the tatami room. There are a couple of Japan-esque parasols that can be used when you pose. Once you have taken all the inside photos you want, you choose your zōri (traditional shoes worn with kimono) which are worn with white tabi (traditional socks that divide your big toe from the rest of your toes) and head out for a stroll. While you are out, you can store your belongings in a bag that the center provides and they will keep it for you until you return.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo
A prime spot for photos, just behind the Coredo building.

The kimono experience can be paired with the guided Best of Japan tour offered by the Nihonbashi Information Center, but if you do the kimono experience separately you are free to wander wherever you want (which we prefer). You have until 6 pm to return the kimono, giving you enough time (if you start at lunchtime) to go sightseeing and take photographs around the city. While they’ll give you a pamphlet on places to see in Nihonbashi, you shouldn’t feel limited to that area. Asakusa is our recommended destination, as there are many shrines and temples there that are good spots for snapping kimono pics.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The kimono experience is only offered on Thursdays and Saturdays from 10:30 am to 3:30 pm (with the 6 pm kimono return), and it’s best to book in advance as they seem to fill up quickly. You can do that online, and you can also schedule a group if you would like to do it with friends or family.

The Omotenashi Kimono Experience can be found in the Kyorakutei Room on the third floor of COREDO Muromachi 3, which is easy to get to from Mitsukoshimae and Nihonbashi Stations. The information center is in the basement floor of the same building, and the staff can give you advice on what can be seen in the area. You can also do a geisha experience (that whole white make-up thing is not part of the regular kimono experience) and tea ceremony for additional fees.

omotenashi kimono experience japan try traditional clothes tokyo

The building where it all happens.

Think you might like to get one of your own? Here’s a cheapo guide to buying kimono.

Read on Tokyo Cheapo.

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Citizen “Light is Time” at Spiral transforms watch parts into glittering art installation

Written by: William on December 1, 2014 at 8:01 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

No, those are not stars in a planetarium. They are watch parts.

Spiral’s trademark atrium space was transformed by Citizen into “Light is Time”, a special installation that saw countless watch parts suspended by wires and shimmering in the shifting light.

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

The Aoyama space was packed with Tokyoites understandably desperate to see the mechanical parts become art. There were 80,000 main gold plates, the basic component of a watch, glittering in the atrium (and making it hard for those smartphones to focus).

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

The epicenter of the installation was an old silver 1920′s pocket watch, the origin of Citizen’s monozuri.

The installation also featured a central projection on the floor of the inner workings of a timepiece, plus videos showing close-ups of the intricate work Citizen does to create its watches.

citizen light is time spiral garden installation watch parts installation milan

Created by architect Tsuyoshi Tane (DGT) and technical director Yutaka Endo (Luftzug), “Light is Time” ran at Spiral Garden from November 14th to November 28th, after having first wowed crowds at the Milan Design Weeek 2014.

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Found Muji Aoyama showcases Engimono good luck charms from all over Japan

Written by: William on November 27, 2014 at 8:33 am | In CULTURE, PRODUCT INNOVATION | No Comments

Engimono are good luck charms and talismans, and come in all shapes and sizes, from Daruma dolls to Maneki-neko, the beckoning cat. They are particularly associated with the Eto (Chinese zodiac) and so often are given in the form of small ornaments to celebrate the New Year.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional

Perfect for finding a gift for the holidays, examples of engimono will be on sale at the special Found Muji Aoyama store from December 5th to December 25th. Found Muji is the Muji brand for showcasing items not made directly by the famously minimalist retailer but nonetheless fit into its philosophy. Engimono talismans, being small and simple, are a good match.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional miharu-goma horse toy fukushima

Found Muji will feature charms from all over Japan, from Miharu-goma wooden horses from Fukushima, dolls from Chiba and Sewa stick figures from Hokkaido. All are made by local regional crafts workers and with varying materials.

found muji aoyama engimono japanese good luck charms talismans crafts regional sewa doll chiba

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Shiseido Hanatsubaki, Geppo and Graph magazine archives document rich history of Japanese cosmetic advertising and graphic design

Written by: William on November 25, 2014 at 11:04 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

Shiseido’s Hanatsubaki digital archive is a fascinating glimpse back into Japan’s cosmetics advertising past.

Drawing on the graphic design and ads featured over the years in Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s consumer magazine founded in 1937, and its previous publications Shiseido Geppo (started in 1924) and Shiseido Graph (1933), the archive is a veritable treasure trove.

Shiseido has just added some new Shiseido Geppo (Shiseido Monthly) images from the December 1930 issue, giving us an excuse to indulge in selections from its previous archives. The changing style of the design obviously reflects the progress of both the social and publishing scene.

Shiseido Geppo, 1924

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, July 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Geppo, December 1930

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, June 1935

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1936 Issue 31

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 45

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Graph, 1937 Issue 49

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, January 1940

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, March 1952

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, July 1953

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950's 1960's 1940's 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, April 1960

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar 1950s 1960s 1940s 1930s

Shiseido Hanatsubaki, June 1962

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

shiseido hanatsubaki geppo graph newspaper magazine graphic design retro japanese cosmetic make-up advertising showa era pre-war postwar

Hanatsubaki, Shiseido’s “corporate culture magazine”, still continues today. Its name is derived from the Japanese camellia flower and which of course Shiseido has also created a whole line of Tsubaki hair products.

See more images at the Shiseido Hanatsubaki digital archive.

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Posters released for live-action film version of Attack on Titan

Written by: William on November 21, 2014 at 10:50 am | In CULTURE | No Comments

The first posters for the upcoming live-action adaptation of Attack on Titan (Shingeki no Kyojin) have been released, showing the cast in costume as their respective characters.

Regardless of your taste in manga or anime, the posters are pretty awesome just in terms of graphic design.

It also gives fans of the Hajime Isayama series a chance to see how the cast of the upcoming big screen version measure up to the characters as depicted in their previous animated or comic-book incarnations. Oh, and the weaponry and hardware also get a very strong emphasis.

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

attack on titan shingeki no kyojin film movie live-action poster

The all-star cast includes Hiroki Hasegawa, Haruma Miura, model Kiko Mizuhara, idols Nanami Sakuraba and Ayame Misaki, Jun Kunimura, and Satomi Ishihara.

Kotaku did a nice comparison of the anime, manga and film versions of each main character.

Attack on Titan has become a commerical phenomenon in recent years and this majoro film adaptation is the icing on the cake. Filming on location at Gunkanjima, it will be released in Japan in summer 2015.

If you can’t wait, you can always stage your own mini Attack on Titan battle scenes on your desk with the Tsumikore EVO! Attack on Titan Mania.

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ALMA Music Box telescope captures radio waves from a dying star, turns them into music

Written by: William on November 19, 2014 at 9:00 am | In CULTURE, LIFESTYLE | No Comments

What would a melody from a dying star sound like?

ALMA (Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array) is a state-of-the-art radio telescope developed and operated by 20 countries and territories across Asia, Europa and America.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Connecting 66 parabola antennas deployed in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, ALMA works as a giant radio telescope with a diameter comparable to the size of the JR Yamanote Line. It detects faint radio waves emanated by distant celestial objects to study the origin and evolution of galaxies, stars, and planets. Obtaining a clue to the origin of life is another goal of ALMA.

In 2011, ALMA observed radio waves from a dying star R Sculptoris. Made in collaboration with the Tokyo and New York-based agency PARTY, the resulting ALMA Music Box utilized this data, translating the 70 different radio images onto 70 musical discs, one for each frequency. In other words, the music for this music box is supplied by a red giant star 1,5000 light years away, a melody from a soon-to-be supernova.

As the makers told Wired:

As the disc spins around the player, little teeth pluck the holes and emit a twinkling sound. It sounds sweet, like a lullaby coming from the mobile above a baby’s crib. But there’s a sadness to it, too, perhaps because we know the star is in the process of dying out forever. As Masashi Kawamura, co-founder of PARTY, puts it: “It’s made to sound like a requiem for the star in a way.”

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

ALMA Music Box is a new kind of visualization project to try to find a way to make the uses of the ALMA telecope more accessible to non-astrophysicists. It is now on display at 21 21 Design Sight’s “The Fab Mind” exhibition until February 1st.

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

alma music box telescope radio waves dying star 21 21 design sight

Impenetrable science projects in Japan often come up with very sophisticated ways to “advertise” their achievements to the public. NIMS (National Institute for Material Science), for example, has made a great series of videos called “The Power of Materials”.

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