Robots and Japan

The December 20th issue of the Economist contains a fascinating, must-read story about robots and Japan. Why is that Westerners tend to be afraid of artificial intelligence, and yet many Japanese actually prefer the company of robots to real humans? The answer, the Economist says, has to do with religion and popular culture:

Few Japanese have the fear of robots that seems to haunt westerners in seminars and Hollywood films. In western popular culture, robots are often a threat, either because they are manipulated by sinister forces or because something goes horribly wrong with them. By contrast, most Japanese view robots as friendly and benign. Robots like people, and can do good.

The Japanese are well aware of this cultural divide, and commentators devote lots of attention to explaining it. The two most favoured theories, which are assumed to reinforce each other, involve religion and popular culture.

Japanese Emoticons

Guess what this is:

Why, it’s a cuttlefish, of course. Duh!

Check out some more Japanese emoticons.

Reason Number 819 I Wanna Go To Japan

Check out this Japanese game show — women wear hats of meat and test their courage in the face of a hungry lizard!

(Via BoingBoing.)

Tokyo: Affordable?

CS Monitor:

Japan is stereotyped as the land of the $80 watermelon and the $90 mushroom. Many expats think it easier to rearrange the rings of Saturn than use the word “affordable” and “Tokyo” in the same sentence.

Yet as urban real estate values rise globally, and as prices for Japanese basics like food and clothing drop, Japan is being seen as less prohibitively expensive. Apart from three uniquely Japanese money guzzlers – buying property, elite dining, and taxis – costs seem less extreme these days, say expats and Japanese interviewed.


Japan had Castles?

Why, yes they did.



Reason Number 812 I Wanna Go to Japan





Japan Times:

SAGA (Kyodo) Kidsbeer, a nonalcoholic brew aimed at children, is catching on with young drinkers and is posting monthly shipments of 75,000 bottles, according to maker Tomomasu Co.



Sausage Carving Tips…

from the Japanese. I like this one the best:


Advice on Teaching English in Japan

“I’m Going to Teach English in Japan, but I’ve Never Been to Asia. Any Tips?”

Rolf Potts — with input from yours truly — provides some feedback over on the new World Hum.