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No.42
No.42 ,Society  Dec 08, 2017

What Impresses Foreign Tourists When They Come to Japan?
― Explaining Japanese society and culture to foreign tourists

As an tour guide-interpreter, Hagimura Masayo sometimes spends as long as two weeks traveling around the whole of Japan with foreign visitors, so no-one has more first-hand knowledge of exactly what interests, attracts and impresses tourists. In this article, she taps her rich professional experience to discuss some tourism resources of which Japanese people might not be aware. Introduction When the Japanese government launched its Visit Japan campaign back in 2003, the number of foreign tourists visiting Japan each year was only 5.24 million. Ten years later the figure had reached 10 million, and over time it gradually increased. From January to October 2016, more than 20 million people visited Japan. (The exact figure was a record 20,113,000 people, compared to 16,316,000 for the same period in 2015). As this happens, the amount of work we tour guide-interpreters are asked to do is growing. ... ... [Read more]

No.42
No.42 ,Society  Nov 30, 2017

Inbound Tourism and Japanese People
― Issues related to the increase in tourists visiting Japan from abroad

The influx of foreign tourists into Japan reminds one sociologist of American soldiers stationed in Japan immediately after the Second World War. What does he think of the current tourism boom? In this essay, Professor Miyajima’s essay covers several perspectives that are critical to thinking about this issue. Early Memories of the Post-War Period Perhaps it is just a fancy of mine, but for someone who spent their childhood and youth in post-war Yokohama, the current influx of foreign tourists to Japan reminds me of the officers and soldiers of the American occupation. Looking back, it seems like a storm that blew fiercely, then passed; seven or eight years during which there were several American bases and barracks in the city. Of course, Okinawa has been experiencing the same thing continually since the war, but elsewhere there has never before, or after, been so ... ... [Read more]

No.41
No.41 ,Society  Oct 26, 2017

The Topic of Japan Viewed from Oxford

How do people at universities overseas view Japan? What do those universities teach students about Japan? I would like to answer these questions in this special feature of Chuokoron based on my own experiences over the last nine years I spent as a professor at the University of Oxford, one of the oldest and top-ranked universities in the UK. In addition to answering these questions, I would like to examine the problems involved in the topic (that is, what is taught about Japan overseas), which interests people in Japan to the point of urging Discuss Japan editors to come up with a special feature like this. I would like to do so because this second theme brings problems in Japanese society and Japanese education to the forefront. Report on the State of Japanese Studies Overseas Before touching on interest in Japan and research and ... ... [Read more]

No.41
No.41 ,Society  Sep 19, 2017

Kagaku-Tsushin
Island Signs: The Sign Language of Miyakubo in Ehime Prefecture

    Yano Uiko Matsuoka Kazumi Yano Uiko, one of this article’s two authors, comes from Miyakubo Town, which is a part of Imabari City in Ehime Prefecture. The town is located on the island of Oshima, which is part of the Shimanami Kaido, a sea route connecting several Seto Inland Sea Islands. This area was notable during the Warring States period, and features the remains of a base that belonged to the Murakami Pirates. It has a thriving fishing industry, and there are many places where you can see rows of boats at their docks. Seafood is also a mainstay of the region’s economy and cuisine. According to the 2010 national census some 2292 people lived in Miyakubo, and of those 18 were deaf. About 30 years ago more than 30 deaf people lived in the town, where Yano is from. All of ... ... [Read more]

No.41
No.41 ,Society ,Discussions  Sep 19, 2017

Dialogue: Is Artificial Intelligence Versus Humans Reflected in Shogi as Well as Everyday Life?
AI Raises Again the Question of How Humans Should Live

    Sakai Kuniyoshi Habu Yoshiharu AI Cuts a Path for New Shogi Moves Habu Yoshiharu: AI (artificial intelligence) has been a popular conversation topic over the last few years. I think the long-awaited appearance of AI in visible forms, such as humanoid robots and automated driving, has been a large turning point for this trend. AI has also achieved developments in the world of board games, including chess, shogi and go. Recently, the fields which implement AI have expanded. What was once a fantasy has begun to show potential for successful real world application. People are pinning their hope on such potential for AI. However, they also seem to fear the possibility that AI will surpass them, otherwise known as the singularity. Sakai Kuniyoshi: I’m a scientist who specializes in the language function of the brain. Thinking about AI leads to thoughts about ... ... [Read more]

No.41
No.41 ,Society  Sep 11, 2017

Vacant Houses are Undermining Tokyo
Reconsider the Relaxation of City Planning Regulations

Distortions in a “Society with Excessive Residential Supply” Created by the Industry, Government and Private Sector

New Real Estate Loans Are Exceeding Those During the Bubble Economy, Reaching New Record Highs As an city planning researcher hoping to share with as many people as possible the future risk of sustained uncontrolled housing construction in spite of the realities of the decreasing population and rapid growth in the number of vacant houses, the author published a book titled Oiru Ie Kuzureru Machi: Jutaku Kajo Shakai-no Matsuro (Aging Houses and Deteriorating Cities: the fate of a Society with Excessive Residential Supply) as part of Kodansha Ltd.’s Gendai Shinsho series of pocket-size paperbacks in November 2016. In February 2017, the Bank of Japan (BOJ) released data in a timely manner that supported my perspective on the problem that led to the publication of this book. According to the data published by the BOJ, new real estate loans extended by financial institutions in 2016 ... ... [Read more]

No.40
No.40 ,Society  Jun 19, 2017

Cats and Japanese People

This, they say, is the age of cats. Each year, the number of pet cats in Japan increases and is now approaching 10 million. On the other hand, the number of pets dogs has dropped from a one-time peak of over 13 million to less than 10 million.* As Yamane Akihiro, an assistant professor of animal ecology at Seinan Gakuin University explains: “I think that behind this affection for cats is the way that present-day Japanese society makes people feel trapped. People are controlled by a results-driven system, and companies are restructured. People can’t live their lives freely and as they wish. Perhaps that is why they are so attracted to free-living cats.” Cats are attractive for their suppleness, beauty and distinctive behavior, side-products of their nature as hunters, able to strike down their prey with a single blow. “Their large beautiful eyes evolved ... ... [Read more]

No.40
No.40 ,Society  Jun 19, 2017

Natsume Soseki’s Cat

You might say that the blossoming of modern Japanese literature began with Natsume Soseki’s pet cat. During the summer of 1904, a cat wandered into Soseki’s home in Tokyo’s Sendagi district. Although Soseki’s wife Kyoko disliked cats and immediately threw it out numerous times, when she wasn’t looking the cat would come back, curl up on a wooden rice tub, and go to sleep. One day, Soseki finally noticed the cat and said, “Since it keeps coming back, why don’t you let it be?” Having thus received the seal of approval from the master of the house, the cat became the official Soseki pet. Another stroke of luck for the cat was something said by an elderly masseuse who came regularly to visit Soseki’s wife. The old lady stared at the cat, which had stripy black grey fur from head to tail, and muttered ... ... [Read more]

No.39
No.39 ,Society  Apr 16, 2017

Visiting the Offices of Large Companies Where the Retirement Age Has Been Extended
― Will the New Way of Working Bring Happiness to Companies and Employees?

It is about a 10-minute drive north from the center of Shizuoka City to the Chiyoda branch of the Gusto chain of family restaurants. The branch faces a main road, but its location is not particularly good. This restaurant has achieved top results among some 3,000 Gusto, Jonathan’s, Aiya and other chain restaurants operated by Skylark Co., Ltd. nationwide, and it has received awards from the company again and again. Mochizuki Isuzu, 63, began working at this family restaurant as a part-timer 36 years ago. Mochizuki has been the manager of this Gusto branch since 2009, when she became a permanent employee of Skylark. “I tell our young staff members to phone me day or night if anything happens, because our store is open around the clock,” says Mochizuki. “They actually call me quite often. I don’t get angry, even if the reason for ... ... [Read more]

No.39
No.39 ,Society  Apr 16, 2017

The Men Supporting the Paralympians
―The struggle of the engineers behind the evolution of prosthetics

In June of this year, the 26th Japan Para Athletics Championships took place at Denka Big Swan Stadium in Niigata. Due in part to this being the last major event in qualifying for the Rio Paralympics, the press area was full of media teams wearing photographers bibs. The jumbled rows of camera lenses were pointing at the likes of Yamamoto Atsushi (34), who set a world record of 6.56 m in the men’s long jump in the T-42 class (single above-knee amputation or equivalent), Nakanishi Maya (31), who holds the Japanese and Asian records in the women’s long jump in the T-44 class (single below-knee amputation or equivalent), and Takakuwa Saki (24), who finished seventh in both the women’s T-44 100 and 200 meters at the 2012 London Paralympics. The championships featured a steady stream of athletes with prosthetic limbs who have become well-known ... ... [Read more]

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