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Tag: Japan

Writing Stream Recap: Hamster Samurai

Over the past couple streams, whenever we browsed the Writing Prompts Subreddit, lots of people in chat would suggest even better ideas for prompts than the ones we were choosing from.

So for our most recent stream (with special guest Abbey), we decided to go ahead and create our own writing prompt, and then write it.

To help with that, we came up with a formula for creating a good prompt: normal idea plus twist equals prompt. For example, robots take over the world (normal idea) plus ducks (the twist) equal the prompt: “A.I. robots have taken over the world but have formed a pact with one species: ducks.”

This was a good exercise not only to come up with a prompt, but also for any story you want to write. We’ve all read sci-fi adventures, time travel mishaps, and romance drama novels before, so having a good twist to hook the reader can really make your story stand out.

After coming up with a bunch of fun prompts, we narrowed it down to these three:

Students in Finland, the world’s best-educated country, react to Japan’s harsh school rules

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is one for the kids: Students in Finland, the world’s best-educated country, react to Japan’s harsh school rules.

Youth education is a topic I’ve always been interested in. It’s a complex issue, but it can be usually boiled down into one question: what is the goal of school?

Let’s take a look at how the U.S. answers that question. If the goal of school is to “prepare kids for the real world,” then the schools fail; very few school teach classes that are applicable to daily life (cooking, nutrition, relationships, bills, taxes, etc). If the goal of school is to “help kids get a job,” then they also fail; what happens in classes usually resembles nothing like what happens at an office. If the goal of school is to “ensure an educated populace for the democratic process,” then they also fail; most of us have no idea how our government works beyond the extreme basics, and critical reading/discussion about current events is rarely encouraged.

So then what is the goal of the U.S. school system? It might seem cynical, but with the way classes are set up, it feels like the only answer can be “to prepare kids to work a mindless job in the future.” With a school system that praises memorizing and regurgitating useless facts, prohibits collaboration, and requires everyone to take the same classes sitting at a desk for eight hours every day, it doesn’t seem like it’s useful for much else.

Of course, I don’t think the teachers are at fault. Or the schools themselves. There are plenty of amazing teachers and schools in the U.S. who work hard to inspire their students, but unfortunately even they have a hard time escaping what is considered “normal school stuff.”

All of this then comes back to the topic of the article at hand: Finland schools. There, kids are given more freedom, less tests, less homework, and they excel far more than their counterparts in other countries.

Clearly, Finland answers the question of “what is the goal of school?” with the answer of “to educate students.” Who cares if they wear weird clothes? Who cares if they sit in bean bag chairs? Who cares if they take a nap? As long as they’re learning, everything else is just superficial.

And then there’s Japan’s schools. How do they answer the question of “what is the goal of school?” While I can’t say for sure, it feels like something close to: “to ensure a uniform, and uniformly educated, populace.” There’s good and bad there, encouraging group ideals is great but forcing students with natural non-black hair to dye it is kind of horrifying.

Anyway, check out the article if you want to see how Japan reacted to Finland’s lax schools. Personally I find the topic of education fascinating, since the way school systems are set up in a country can say a lot about their ideals and goals as a nation.

Featured image: PAKUTASO

Easter egg tribute to late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata found in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the heartwarming: Easter egg tribute to late Nintendo president Satoru Iwata found in Pokémon Ultra Sun and Moon.

Like I talk about in the article, when Nintendo president Satoru Iwata passed away two years ago, for me it was like a close friend had died. The man had personally coded three of my favorite games (EarthBound, Pokémon Silver, and Super Smash Bros Melee), and without him the games would’ve never been the same, if they’d been released at all.

So seeing Iwata’s memory enshrined in the latest Pokémon game release brought a smile to my face. It’s exactly as he would’ve wanted to be remembered, not as a businessman or leader, but as a man who simply loved bringing games to life so that others could enjoy them as much as he did.

Top image: Twitter/@JoeMerrick

Japanese company tries to create motivational poster, accidentally creates demotivational poster

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the depressing: Japanese company tries to create motivational poster, accidentally creates demotivational poster.

Sometimes the way Japan comes up with solutions to problems is hilariously sad. Nobody having children? Let’s have meetings until all hours of the night and discuss ways to fix it. Want students to all have “natural” hair color? Force the ones with naturally not-black hair to dye it black.

And here we have another example. When upper management is displeased with how their subordinates handle the last-minute changes that they demand, how do they fix it? By looking into themselves and seeing what they can do to create a better environment for the workers who look up to them?

Nah, just blame the young people!

Take a look for yourself by reading the article here, and at least take solace that most Japanese people found it as sad as we did.

Top image: Twitter/@katokato 

Documentary on North Korean schools in Tokyo sheds light on bizarre, hidden part of Japan【Video】

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the unusually enlightening: Documentary on North Korean schools in Tokyo sheds light on bizarre, hidden part of Japan【Video】.

Over the years, I’ve always heard about the North Korean schools in Japan. But I always assumed they were small, isolated, and put into Japan by North Korea themselves as a sort of spy unit.

But this documentary completely changed my view. The North Korean community is huge, and they’ve been part of Japan ever since they were forcibly annexed by the Japanese empire.

Their history is long and complex, as is their current situation. Funding for North Korean schools is obviously a divisive issue, but at the same time these are actual children who just want to go to school.

Check out this crazy, mostly-hidden part of Japan yourself by reading the article.

Top image: YouTube/Vox

Doki Doki Literature Club is the best horror-game-disguised-as-dating-sim that you need to play

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is one of the best surprises I’ve had all year: Doki Doki Literature Club is the best horror-game-disguised-as-dating-sim that you need to play.

It takes a lot for me to play through a video game these days. When I was younger I’d play most games whenever they came out, finishing them to 100% completion no matter how bad they were.

But as I’ve gotten older I’ve unfortunately had less and less time to devote to games. If a game doesn’t grab me and hold my interest right away, then I’ll probably put it down and move on to something else after just a few minutes.

So I was shocked when this game, Doki Doki Literature Club, had me hooked from the very first screen, before the game even technically started.

Doki Doki Literature Club is both a visual novel and a dating sim, two genres which I’m not a fan of, and yet it’s become my favorite game released in 2017.

How did that happen? Read the article and then try out the game for yourself. It’s free, short, and will stay with you for a long time.

Foreigners misreading Japanese kanji of “two men one woman” is too pure for Japanese Internet

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is something that a lot of Japanese-language learners can probably relate with: Foreigners misreading Japanese kanji of “two men one woman” is too pure for Japanese Internet.

Anyone who’s studied Japanese before has probably tried to “sound out” kanji before, that is, attempting to read a kanji you’ve never seen before by deducing its meaning through the parts that make it up. Sometimes they can make sense (“person” plus “tree” equals “rest”) but more often than not they don’t (“sun” plus “sound” equals “darkness???”).

And when misreadings occur because of assumptions, they can have hilarious results, just like the example in this article. I won’t spoil what the Japanese-learner read the kanji composed of “man-woman-man” as, but let’s just say it’s pretty far from the actual Japanese definition.

Read it and find out for yourself here!

Top image: PAKUTASO (edited by SoraNews24)

Japanese Internet can’t agree on what to call this color, what do you think it is?

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the pupil-perplexing: Japanese Internet can’t agree on what to call this color, what do you think it is?

Color differences between languages and cultures has always fascinated me. Sometimes the colors that we use to refer to every day things (like grass, the sky, or apples) can vary slightly between languages. Maybe in another language the grass isn’t green, but “blue,” or maybe apples aren’t red, but “orange.”

It’s something that we take for granted, and then when it gets challenged, can be quite jarring. And if you want to see a great example of another culture having a problem with a color that you may not think is so difficult, be sure to check this article out.

Kim Jong-un’s “little red book” of quotes is the worst joke book you can buy for 500 yen

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the emotionally-confusing: Kim Jong-un’s “little red book” of quotes is the worst joke book you can buy for 500 yen.

Everyone knows about the Little Red Book of quotes put out by the Chinese leader Mao Zedong. And now it seems that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is not going to be outdone by his tyrant predecessor, creating his own “little red book” with nearly double the number of quotes.

While we didn’t get to see all of of the quotes in this Japanese translation, I think we get more than enough.

Want to see what goes on inside Kim Jong-un’s head? Then give the article a read here!

Featured image: Twitter/@huruya2100

“Death room” cleanup employee makes “beautiful” replicas of terrifying rooms people died alone in

My pick for the SoraNews24 article this week is the spine-tingling: “Death room” cleanup employee makes “beautiful” replicas of terrifying rooms people died alone in.

Dying alone is a fear that many people have which has always puzzled me. But now, having seen these intricately-crafted dioramas of “death rooms” from people who died alone in Japan, I can understand it a lot better.

What makes these dioramas so haunting isn’t just how horrifying they are, or how well-crafted they are right down to the brands of garbage in the rooms, but it’s the fact that they’re all real. Each and every one of them was experienced by the artist herself, who works for a “death room” cleanup company.

Seeing these made me realize how lucky I am, and I hope the same goes for you too.

Featured image: Twitter/@kamba_ryosuke