SUSHI is the most famous Japanese dish outside of Japan, and one of the most popular dishes among the Japanese themselves who usually enjoy sushi on special occasions: raw fish on small rice balls. If you will try it, you sure like it. And above all ...it is very healthy! During the Edo period, "sushi" refered to pickled fish conserved in vinegar. Nowadays sushi can be defined as a dish containing rice which has been prepared with sushi vinegar. There are many different types of sushi but commonly it is the rice ball topped with raw fish.


World-known Japanese conductor
SEIJI OZAWA was born Sept.1, 1935. Leonard Bernstein appointed him as assistant conductor to the New York Philharmonic in 1961. Later he worked as music director of the Toronto Symphony from 1965 to 1969, and as music director of the San Francisco Symphony from 1970 to 1976. With the 2000-2001 season, Seiji Ozawa marks his twenty-seventh anniversary as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. In the fall of the year 2002, Ozawa has begun a very new phase in his career when he assumed the prestigious post of music director of the Vienna State Opera.


Sumo is a Japanese style of wrestling and Japan's national sport. It originated in ancient times as a performance to entertain the Shinto gods. Many rituals with religious background are still followed today. The basic rules of sumo are simple: The wrestler who either first touches the floor with something else than his sole or leaves the ring before his opponent, loses. The fights themselves usually last only a few seconds only sometimes about one minute.

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.... means to dye ones hair, a big fashion amoung the young Japanese, boy or girl, man or woman.

TOKYO is the capital of Japan (since 1868). With its about 12 million inhabitants it is a true megapolis and you can find anything in Tokyo you are looking for. It is an interesting city like Paris, New York or London, with many japanese and western cultural events all over the year, great museums and many places to relax or to enjoy life during day ...

and night ...

TABAKO very often means cigarette and although smoking is allowed in Japan only from 20 years old, you can see many teens smoking, while the public is mostly indifferent to this.


UKIYO-E means "floating picture" and the themes of these pictures normally show scenes from everyday life. Ukiyo-e are prints and this art reached the height of its popularity towards the end of the Tokugawa period ( mid 19th century). But even more today Ukiyo-e prints are in steady demand, especially among foreigners.


There is no V in the Japanese alphabet, but in the body language, the V-sign is also known in Japan. Nobody knows why, but as soon as you are going to take a photo of someone, surely he or she will flash the V-sign.


WA stands for peace, concord and harmony and is the basic element of the japanese way of living. Actually, Japan is often referred to as the land of WA. In the Japanese vocabulary there was no word for right like in the western languages as their daily life was based on harmony with their neighbours and the community. The interest of the individual was not fixed, they had to exist within the community and for the community. Still today this is the basic thought, although human rights issues are taken more and more seriously.


Sorry again, but there is no "X" in the Japanese alphabet.


YAKUZA are members of traditional organized crime groups in Japan. Outside of Japan, the term also refers to traditional Japanese organized crime in general. Today, the Yakuza are one of the largest crime organizations in the world. Nationwide, there were some 84,700 known members of Yakuza. In Japanese legal terminology all the yakuza organizations are referred to as boryokudan, literally violence groups, and is considered an insult to Yakuza members as it can be applied to any violent criminal. Often in Western press, Yakuza groups are referred to as the Japanese mafia with reference to Italian-Sicilian organized crime.

Yakuza with cut-off finger, a sign for repentance.


ZEN is an offshoot of Buddhism. It goes back to Boddhidharma who went from India to China. He is said to have sat for nine years in mediation staring at a blank wall. Consequently the main characteristic of Zen has become its practice of mediation as the only way of enlightenment. When Zen was brought to Japan, it influenced the japanese culture deeply, like for example the Tee Ceremony or the art of flower arrangement. Today Zen is practiced all over the world, often not any more in connection with Buddhism.

TENNO (literally "heavenly sovereign"), is always the term for the Japanese Emperor. Here you see a picture of him, Akihito, together with his wife, accepting congratulations to his birthday on Dec.23, which is a national holiday. According to Japanese legend, Emperor Akihito, 67, is Japan's 125th imperial sovereign in an unbroken line from Emperor Jimmu, who ascended the throne in about 660 B.C. Therefore Japan is considered as the world's oldest existing hereditary monarchy. All emperors put their reign under a motto, Akihito's reign is called Heisei, meaning achievement of complete peace on earth and in the heavens.

A government white paper on juvenile delinquency showed 54% of adults surveyed turning a blind eye to juvenile delinquency. Only 11.5% said they speak to juveniles between 14 and 19 years of age when they see them engaged in acts such as smoking. As for the reason for turning a blind eye to juvenile delinquency, 78.8% said they fear the juveniles might use violence against them, and 14.3% said they think the juveniles will not listen. (Kyodo News)

UTADA HIKARU was born January 19, 1983 and is a third culture Japanese pop singer-songwriter, arranger and record producer. She has been hailed as one of the most successful, influential and acclaimed musicians in Japanese music history. With the release of her seven studio albums, including one compilation and two all-English, 24 solo singles (18 Japanese and 6 English) and several VHS/DVD releases, she has sold a combined estimated total of some 36,000,000 records in Japan as of 2007, making her the 9th most successful musical act ever in Japan.


The number of violent incidents that occurred in the nation's junior and senior High Schools has increased dramatically during the recent years and about 70 percent involved students attacking teachers, and many students were arrested or placed under guidance as a result. But sleeping at school is also a common sign and tolerated by many teachers to keep the lessons without any disturbance from the rowdy students.

Despite the fact that the veteran Japanese actor KEN WATANABE has been appearing in films since the early '80s (foreign film buffs may remember him from a supporting role in the 1985 art-house "noodle Western" Tampopo), it wasn't until his breakthrough role in the Tom Cruise adventure The Last Samurai that the frequent onscreen samurai eventually came to the attention of the world. Watanabe has been a mainstay of Japanese cinema and now beloved by legions of fans overseas.

The artwork of YOSHITOMO NARA
(born 1959 in Hirosaki), is deceptively simple. People with entities that call to mind toddlers or infant animals with their balloon heads, persimmon pit-eyes and pinprick noses. A long-term resident of Cologne, Nara is being met with increasing international attention, having already exhibited in Milwaukee, L.A., Seoul and New York. With a couple of books, a limited edition wristwatch and a clothing line that incorporates motifs from his artwork, Nara is well on his way to developing a cult in Japan.


ZEN cannot be tought by books it has to be experienced. You can experience ZEN for example in special shaped gardens like the garden of the Ryouanji Temple in Kyoto (above) the so called dry landscape garden, consisting only of rocks and white sand.


For those who are on the right, the emperor means a lot. However, for many of us, the emperor does not mean anything. He might have controlled Japan a while ago, but he does not do anything now, he just has no power and sometimes it seems a waste of money to have him around just opening some kind of event or making some speaches at events when anyhow nobody of us is listening.
(Ken Nakagawa, 25)

SMOKING People never says anything to me when I walk along the street smoking a cigarette or when I am blind drunk. We even smoke openly in train stations or near a police box, nobody cares. (Ken Yamada, 16)

J-POP Culture
Although music from Western countries (USA) is very popular in Japan, they also have plenty of their own music and musicians. Japanese pop music, also known as J-Pop, has a big following, not only in Japan, but also in Korea, Taiwan, China, Singapore and other Asian countries and has developed into a Japanese led Asian pop culture covering also films, fashion and most manga books and characters. Japanies boy-groups are copied all over Southeast Asia.

The very famous boy-group V6 which is very popolar all over Southeast Asia.


Making a V sign when we pose for a photo is taken for granted in public in Japan. When I was small, my mom asked me to make the peace sign and say peace peace whenever she took my photo. Anyway, a V looks better than just clenching your fist and it looks cooler. Anyway, I do not know why we call it a peace sign when it really looks like a Y to me. (Mami Koami, 16)


Well, there are many reasons why people do not help each other. In today's Japan, it is not a common thing to have dinner or breakfast together with one's family. Nobody really learns now about good communication or manners at home anymore. We may have had WA (harmony) in families or at school, work or with friends once, but that is all collapsing now. Everyone is thinking about only themselves. (Yosuke Kubozuka, 22)

YOPPARAI means beeing drunk, intoxiated and getting drunk is alright in the Japanese norm for male drinking and the society is tolerant with drunken people.
I really think Japanese people's drinking habits are bad. It's OK to get drunk among ourselves, but we shouldn't get drunk in front of others, vomiting in the streets or in trains without giving it a thought or get seriously drunk and sick and end up sleeping in streets. (Kenji Suzuki, 33)

Getting drunk is alright is the Japanese norm for male drinking and the society is tolerant with drunken people.


In Tokyo as well in many other cities of Japan you will find young street musicians playing just for the fun of it not for money as you will find in many european cities.

CLICK here for a video.



Uyoku stands for hard core right-wingers who ride around in black trucks, play marching music and yell imperialist slogans. An embarrassment which most people ignore, they possess a surprising amount of political influence through yakuza connections. Their campaigning centers around increasing Japan's military, kicking foreigners out, and making the Emperor the head of Japan again.


A 14-year-old boy was arrested for trying to kill his junior high school teacher with a baseball bat because he scolded him for getting his ears pierced. "I really wanted to kill him," the second-grade student was quoted by police as saying.
(Compiled from Mainichi and wire reports, Feb. 4, 2003)


The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare said in a report that an estimated 530,000 young people aged between 15 and 24 remained without work and were not interested in taking jobs. "Many senior high school dropouts and teenagers remain in seclusion at home, are not making any effort to find jobs and don't show any inclination to enter society," it said. (Kyodo News November 27, 2003)


Yakyu (Baseball) is the number 1 sport in Japan since Japan's first professional team, the Great Tokyo baseball club was established in December 1934. The Giant's Sadahara Oh had 868 home runs in his twenty-two year career (1958-1980), exceeding both Babe Ruth and Hank Aaron of the U.S.A. The country's love for the game is summed up by the saying, "Baseball is perfect, if the Americans hadn't invented it, we would have.


Yokohama has more than 3 million inhabitants and is the second largest city in Japan. It is a very important port city with a proud history. Here the first Japanese newspaper 'The Yokohama Shimbun' was published, it had the first brewery, butcher shop and horse race course in Japan. Being overshadowed by near-by Tokyo, today Yokohama has lost a lot of its importance and some regard it just as a bed-town of Tokyo.