HORSE’S MOUTH: Fascinating Facts About Japan

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YOSHINAGA-GEORGEBy GEORGE YOSHINAGA

(Published Feb. 24, 2015)

Needless to say, I was warmed by the many letters I received from readers when I decided to forget about retiring and continue writing my column.

One of the letters was from Kiku Endo, who wrote:

“When I received my February 14th Rafu, I was so happy to see your byline again. I am so glad that you have decided that you still have some columns left in you. I hope you keep them coming for a very long time. Take care of yourself and I look forward to your future columns.”

Thanks to Kiku.

I have many more, but I thought the foregoing missive kind of told the thoughts expressed by the letters I received. They gave me the push to continue with my column.

Yes, I received a few that are contrary to the ones I decided to print, and if I had decided to hang ’em up, I might have used those instead.

So I guess I’ll warm up my engine so I can continue to entertain those who will continue to find enjoyment in the “Mouth.”

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Here are some “crazy facts about Japan” found on the Internet:

  1. Slurping when eating noodles is polite and indicates that the food is delicious.
  1. You can find the world’s shortest escalator, which has only five steps.
  1. The “ganguro” fashion (literally “black face”) consists of dyeing your skin as dark as possible.
  1. The Aokigahara forest at the base of Mt. Fuji is a traditional suicide spot.
  1. Every year men compete to get the title of “fastest shirt ironer.”
  1. In 1949, India sent the Tokyo Zoo two elephants to cheer the spirits of the defeated Japanese empire.
  1. Yaeba,” crooked teeth, are considered attractive, so much that girls go to the dentist to get them unstraightened.
  1. There’s a sacred shrine that is rebuilt every 20 years.
  1. The police have paintballs to shoot at fleeing vehicles so as to identify them easily.
  1. There are lactation bars where you can get fresh human breast milk.
  1. The most popular pizza topping is squid.
  1. If you are sick, you should wear a mask to prevent spreading the disease.
  1. Bus drivers turn the vehicle off at red lights to reduce pollution.
  1. Drinking or eating while walking is considered to be rude.
  1. Most homes have extra shoes for guests.
  1. People carry around towels to wipe their sweat.
  1. Snowmen are made of two snowballs, not three.
  1. It is impolite to tear a gift’s wrapping.
  1. It is rude to say “no” directly.
  1. Going to KFC is a Christmas tradition.
  1. The unemployment rate is less than 4 percent.
  1. The population is 98 percent Japanese; there are almost no immigrants.
  1. Japan has produced 18 Nobel Prize winners.
  1. There are coffee shops where you can play with kittens.
  1. There are almost 130 voice-acting schools due to anime’s success.
  1. Raised floors help indicate where to take off your shoes.
  1. “Karaoke” means “empty orchestra.”
  1. Japanese people live an average of four years longer than Americans.
  1. There are approximately 1.500 earthquakes yearly.
  1. The literacy rate is almost 100 percent.
  1. 70% of Japan’s surface is covered in mountains, with over 200 volcanoes.
  1. More paper is used for comics than for toilet paper.
  1. There’s a highway that goes through a building.
  1. Black cats bring good luck.
  1. There are over 5 million vending machines.
  1. 98 percent of all adoptions are male.
  1. More adult diapers are sold than diapers for babies.
  1. There are more pets than children.
  1. The average delay of a train is just 18 seconds.
  1. There are more than 50,000 people that are over 100 years old.

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This short filler is for those attending the Japanese American Historical Society of Southern California luncheon set for March l. Ikuko Kiriyama sent the following to me:

“Hi everyone — I’ve been hearing from some people the last few days asking for time, place, etc., so I decided to send reminders to those who might need some information and do not have information from past newsletters.

If you formed a group of non-members, please be sure to contact all at your table. Tables are full, prepaid only, no walk-in. For some of you, this may be a repeat message … See you next week!”

The date: Sunday, March 1, at 1 p.m.

The site: Gardena Valley Japanese Cultural Institute, 1964 W. 162nd Street, Gardena, between Western and Van Ness avenues, south of Redondo Beach Boulevard, north of Artesia Boulevard. JCI Hall (two-story building). Accessible from 405, 110, 91 freeways.

Street parking. Dress: casual.

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Being a newspaper columnist and a newspaper reporter sound alike, but when one is engaged in one or another, the difference is quite visible.

In recent years, I’ve become more of a newspaper columnist.

A columnist is faced with writing a lot of his own opinion. A newswriter usually has to stay with the facts.

One must be exposed to both to realize the difference between straight news writing and an opinionated column, but both must make an effort to maintain what being a journalist is all about.

Unfortunately, a straight newswriter finds that making the adjustment to becoming an opinionated columnist is a lot more difficult than what appears on the surface.

Many making the adjustment learn that success is not easy to achieve, so a journalist may want to establish his career as one or the other.

George Yoshinaga writes from Gardena and can be reached at [email protected] Opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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