Creatures of Japanese Folklore

Namazufeat

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

junefestival1feat

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

aizuchi2

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!

hellokitty3feat

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

catisland1

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

chirin2feat

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

fuji2feat

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 […]

Koryū: The Ancient Japanese Martial Arts

bojutsufeat

Japanese martial arts have a long and colorful history intimately connected to the history of Japan and the samurai. The art of war has greatly shaped and influenced Japan’s warrior class, which in turn contributed to shaping Japanese martial arts. Japan has endured many years of conflict. Due to this, the earliest people of the […]

Wagasa : Traditional Japanese Umbrellas

umbrella2feat

An umbrella can serve a number of purposes: as a shield from nature’s elements, a cane or walking stick, a weapon, or even a fashion statement. The traditional Japanese umbrella, wagasa (和傘 ), was introduced to Japan from China during the early Heian period (794-1185). The much earlier versions of a wagasa looked more like a straw […]