The Legend of Ryūjin

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In Japanese folklore, Ryūgū-jō (竜宮城, 龍宮城, Dragon palace castle) is the underwater palace of the dragon god of the sea, Ryūjin. According to variations of the legend, the castle is made of solid crystal or red and white corals. Ryūjin’s family and loyal servants lived in the famous castle. Supposedly, its four corners have different seasons and a single […]

The Wonders of Seaweed

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On occasional trips to the beach, we sometimes notice seaweed along the shore or floating in the water.  Seaweed is algae (a type of organism), and edible types of seaweed are used in preparing some of our favorite foods (like sushi). Most marine forms of algae are edible, while fresh-water types are often toxic. Edible seaweed […]

Creatures of Japanese Folklore

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Folklore is a rich resource to understand a particular culture. It tells us the legends, popular beliefs, and traditions of a people. It also gives us an idea why certain cultures observe different customs. Japanese folklore  (minkan denshō (民間伝承) meaning “transmissions among the folk”)  and Japanese folktales have many stories of legendary creatures that date all the way back to the […]

Japanese Festivals to Look Forward to in June

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Festivals, or Matsuri (祭) in Japanese,  are celebrated all around Japan, al year long. Many Japanese festivals have evolved from how they were originally celebrated, some with Chinese roots. Japanese festivals usually have numerous food stalls, carnival games, and other forms of entertainment. A festival is always a wonderful way to experience local traditions and get to know […]

Aizuchi: Japanese Interjections for Polite Listening

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Aizuchi (相槌) is the term for interjections in Japanese. In a Japanese conversation, it is customary and polite to make frequent phatic (social task) expressions to indicate that you are actually listening.  It reassures the speaker that the listener is actively participating in the discussion. Non-native speakers of the Japanese language often misinterpret Aizuchi as the listener […]

Hello Kitty Turns 40!

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Hello Kitty (ハローキティ Harō Kiti), one of Japan’s trademark characters in the country’s kawaii (“cute” culture), turns 40 this year! Today, the Hello Kitty trademark is a $5-billion-a-year global phenomenon.  It’s no surprise, since many different kinds of merchandise sold all around the world bear the popular kitty brand. She is also one of the featured stars […]

Steven Trapani’s Tips on Applying for a Study Abroad Scholarship

Steven Trapani, an upcoming KCP Fall 2014 student, has some fantastic ideas when it comes to applying for scholarships. Thanks, Steven! I will be attending KCP International this coming Fall term. Below are some ideas for those of you who are interested in applying for scholarships. I personally applied for all that I found. If you […]

Tashirojima: Japan’s Cat Island

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Cats and their relationship with humans and our cultures are as old as civilization itself. The Japanese culture is no exception.  Cats are revered by Japanese, and different types of good luck charms and temples are devoted to cats. The Maneki Neko “good fortune” cat, depicted as a sitting cat waving one paw, is seen in […]

Chirin-chirin: Nagasaki’s Favorite Summertime Treat

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Summer in Japan is full of fun and excitement.  The many summer festivals are much anticipated all over the country. Thrilling fireworks light up the evening sky and traditional folk dancing adds to the magic of summer. Some of the more popular festival venues in the Tokyo area and surrounding vicinities include Tsurugaoka Hachimangu  in […]

Mount Fuji and the Goddess Sengen-Sama

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Mount Fuji (富士山 Fujisan) is a staggering 12,389 feet high: the tallest mountain in Japan. Located on Honshu Island, it can be seen all the way from Tokyo on a clear day. Mount Fuji is famous for its near perfect cone shape, surrounding national parks and lakes, and is one of the “Three Holy Mountains” (三霊山 Sanreizan), along with Mount Haku […]