What Happens When Japanese Students Have No Dresscode For Graduation?

Graduation in the U.S. is quite different from culminating ceremonies in Japan. While we generally imagine shiny graduation gowns and square-shaped caps, Japan doesn’t typically require such an outfit. Instead, junior and highschool students wear matching uniforms while college graduates wear formal clothing. This usually means men in suits and women in kimonos.

But the Kanazawa College of Art is not like other colleges. Graduates are apparently allowed to wear absolutely whatever they would like. So what happens when Japanese students have no dresscode for graduation?

Some of the best cosplay ever.

Of course, all the efforts put into their graduation costume has gained quite some popularity for the school and has gotten media attention.

Check out some of the creative graduation costumes below.

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The Real Reason Behind Japan’s Surgical Mask Trend

Even if we don’t understand it, we’ve all seen it before– the strange trend in some Asian countries to wear surgical masks.

So what’s the reason behind this phenomenon? In some cases, the justification is perfectly understandable. For instance, residents in China are often seen wearing masks because of the poor air quality. In some cases, this is even a requirement. During a runway show in Jiangsu province last year, models were forced to wear surgical masks because the smog was far too dangerous to inhale.

So what about Japan? According to Rocketnews24, there are 5 main reasons for the popular mask trend.

1.) For health purposes.
While China residents wear the mask to protect themselves from the unfit air quality, Japanese residents wear the mask for any sort of contagious disease. However, the mask is not used to protect themselves. Instead, it is used to protect other people. Because Japanese residents often come in close contact with one another, it is common courtesy to wear a mask if you are sick.

2.) To avoid social awkwardness.
Rocketnews24 reported that the mask is sometimes used by an individual who simply does not want interaction. A Japanese psychologist added, “When we deal with others, we have to judge whether to do things like smile or show anger. By wearing a mask, you can prevent having to do that. The trend of wearing a mask to prevent directly dealing with other may have roots in the current youth culture in which many of them are more accustomed to communicating indirectly through email and social media.”

3.) For warmth. 
Tired of wrapping a scarf around your face to keep it warm? Why not try a surgical mask?

4.) For the lazy.
Have you ever wanted to go out, but you’re too lazy to put on make up? Or maybe you have a pimple and you’re just too tired to cover it up. Maybe its just one of those days when you just want to leave the house for a quick errand and dolling yourself up seems like a hassle. Apparently, Japanese women have decided that a quick way around this is the surgical mask.

5.) In the name of fashion.
We certainly expected this one. As the popularity of the mask grows, more and more people are finding ways to incorporate it into their outfit. Black masks and printed masks were created for that very purpose.

 

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Fall In Love With Japan’s Women’s Hockey Team

Any fan of Japan’s women’s hockey team will admit that they don’t exactly expect the girls to take Olympic gold anytime soon– but the team is loved anyway.

Although the team places second in every Asian Winter Games since 1996, they are ranked 10th in the world and generally struggle with international competition. In fact, Japan’s spot at the Sochi Games is the first time in the country’s history that it qualified into the Olympics in women’s hockey.

Despite this, Japan’s women’s hockey team is consistently a fan favorite. They’ve been described as “the smiley-est group ever known.” This is perfect seeing as the team’s nickname is “Smile Japan.”

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The girls are known for their positive energy and love of celebration. Because of this, they have gained a handful of fans despite their scores at Sochi.

“We hoped to get a better result, but we are still positive,” one of the players said when Japan lost 4-0 to Germany. “We wanted to make our fans smile for us. Despite this, we hope we can still make them smile.”

This doesn’t seem like a very difficult task for the girls at all. Upon arriving at Sochi, the team was given some practice time. How did they utilize it? Certainly not by running drills or practicing every second they were given. Instead, they took pictures, played around in the ice and relished every moment of being on Olympic ice.

Check out the super cute pictures below.

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Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Women Yoko Kondo, Aina Takeuchi

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ADORABLE ASIAN FOOD: Radish Art Edition

If there’s one thing Audrey readers seem to be a fan of, that would be all things cute. This can be cute babies, cute cosplayers and above all, cute food.

Coffee art has gained quite some popularity over the years, but theres another edible art that’s threatening to take the spotlight: radish art.

Instead of using foam sitting on coffee, people have recently began shaping the grated radish that sits on top of Japanese hot pots and stews. These dishes, also known as nabe, are generally served during the cold weather and are often topped with grated daikon radish.

A typical nabe dish will have the daikon radish grated on to the bowl and simply mixed in with the other ingredients to add a fresh flavor. Talented folk have decided to use the grated radish as a medium to create delightful characters, animals and shapes.

Now, people are taking the time to squeeze the radish until the excess water spills onto the bowl. When the radish becomes just the right texture, it can be molded into all the adorable radish sculptures you see below.

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A Bra That Will Only Come Undone For Your “True Love”

We want to begin by saying we’re just as confused as you are.

But to the Japanese lingerie company Ravijour, a “True Love Tester Bra” makes perfect sense. Makers are claiming that the bra is able to analyze how a woman truly feels and will only pop open when the user finds her true love.

The lingerie company is marketing the bra as a safety device. Apparently, the bra will ward off unwanted sexual advances and will make sure that all people, except your true love, will not have access to your breasts.

How does this peculiar, high-tech undergarment work? According to the video promo seen below, the bra contains a sensor which syncs with an app on the user’s phone. The sensor will monitor and track the user’s heartbeat and once the heart rate reaches a specific point (the heart rate of true love, of course) the bra will come undone on its own.

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Of course, we’ve come across a number of problems with this device:

1. So what if you don’t find your true love? Do you have to keep the bra on forever? We’re certain that there are other ways to make the bra pop open on its own, but the video promo seems to constantly emphasize that the bra will only come undone in the presence of true love.

2. How accurate can that heart rate chart really be? What if I’m going out for a light run? Should I expect my bra to pop open because my heart rate has picked up? A person’s heart rate can rise and fall for a number of reasons. We highly doubt that this device is so intelligent that it can pinpoint the exact moment a woman finds her true love.

3. No, this is not an anti-rape product. As Huffington Post points out, “This high-tech bra will never “save” a woman from sexual harassment. Just because one’s brassiere isn’t being ripped off by an aggressive gentleman, doesn’t mean that the wearer isn’t experiencing a barrage of other forms of unwanted sexual attention before an evening gets to that point.” And getting into technicalities, what if one’s heart rate increases out of fear?

4. We’re pretty sure this thing can’t “know” how women feel. The creators (two men) can’t actually believe that true love can be measured based on a “one-size-fits-all” heart rate chart, right? I’d like to believe we’re much more complicated beings than that.

5. What if a girl just wants to have sex? In this day and age, there are plenty of women who are sexual beings. Believe it or not, women can actually want to have sex even if their partner isn’t their one true love. Shocking!

A woman should have the freedom to make these decisions for herself.

 

 

Japan Has Found “The Perfect Girlfriend” …And She’s A Video Game

The hit movie Her, now out in theaters, has received widespread critical acclaim and praise. The appeal to the movie? A man falls in love with an operating system. Some say they want to watch the movie simply because the concept is so strange. After all, to many of us, the idea of falling in love with a computer system sounds impossible. As it turns out, this may not be so unheard of after all.

Many people who are looking for love, company and comfort have decided to fulfill this with a girlfriend. A virtual girlfriend that is. LovePlus is a Japanese dating simulator for Nintendo DS.

LovePlus is sold exclusively in Japan so this may be the first time you’ve heard about it (it’s certainly my first time), but the game has picked up quite a bit of popularity worldwide. Thousands of men and women of all ages have been captivated by this real life dating simulator which offers three girlfriends to choose from– Rinko, Nene and Manaka. All of the choices have different backstories and adjustable personalities.

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Many LovePlus users claim that they use the game for comfort and emotional support. These players swear that though the girls are virtual, the affection and comfort feels very real.

“Manaka is the only — could I say person? … She’s the only person that actually supports me in bad times,”  one user tells Huffington Post. “When I feel down or I have a bad day, I always come home and turn on the game and play with Manaka. I know she always has something to make me feel better.”

Other users claim the video game helps them prepare for real world dating. Others have just gone through heartbreak or traumatizing loss and use the LovePlus girls as a method to cope with the loss. Because of this, there is a surprising amount of users who are heterosexual females simply seeking companionship.

So just how real can these girls get? While they may not look real, they apparently act the part completely. For instance, abruptly leaving a conversation may upset your virtual girlfriend and she’ll want you to say and prove your love. Her temper can raise so high that she’ll actually “slap” you out of anger. Generally, the LovePlus girlfriends are known to be caring, interested in your day, worried about you and ready to listen to whatever you want to talk about. If you’re feeling down, you can activate “comfort mode” and the virtual girlfriend will tell you how important you are to her and how she wants nothing but your happiness.

Apparently, creators have thought about making an “SOS” button that can be used once per game for users who may be feeling suicidal and need to hear words of encouragement. After all, many people have begun to be emotionally dependent on their LovePlus girlfriends.

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As a result, many LovePlus users treat their virtual girlfriends with the attention and care that any real girlfriend would want. Users will take their girlfriends out on dates, weekend trips, buy them presents on their birthday and even exchange flirty emails.

Patrick Galbraith, an anthropologist researching Japanese culture, tries to explain this peculiar phenomenon. “You have — always — this warmth and smile and happiness available at the touch of your fingers,” he says. “It’s the kind of relationship that is instantly rewarding and is always giving. You don’t have to give much to the game and it gives to you every time you turn on the machine.”

“The [LovePlus girlfriends] will kiss, model bikinis and moan when players stroke their chests with a stylus, but sex and nudity are out of the question,” Huffington post explains. “Neither the chastity nor young age of the girls has kept players from being attracted to their girlfriends, however.”

To try and make this relationship even more realistic, if you consider it realistic at all, there are hugging pillows with the images of the LovePlus girls printed on them. Apparently, there are clothed and semi-nude versions available.  Of course, users still swear that the main appeal is the emotional, not physical, support.

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This strange, but wide-spread phenomenon has been captivating the hearts of many. People have claimed their virtual relationships have not only lasted longer than real relationships, it has felt more rewarding.

While we’re personally not ready to pour our emotions into a video game, it turns out many people already have. Tell us what you think.

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Yoko Ono Writes Letter to Japanese Fishermen for Killing Dolphins

Story by Taylor Weik.

Yoko Ono, Japanese artist, peace activist and widow of Beatle John Lennon, wrote a letter to the Japanese fishermen of Taiji, who on Tuesday continued their controversial annual capture-and-kill of bottlenose dolphins.

Taiji, a rural whaling town in Japan, has been the focus of controversy recently for their infamous annual dolphin drive hunt, which takes place every year from September to April. Drive hunting involves corralling dolphins into coves, where they can be cornered and trapped, or killed. The practice has been highlighted in the 2009 Oscar-nominated documentary “The Cove,” which depicts graphic scenes of slowly dying dolphins and blood-stained ships and waters.

250 dolphins were driven into Taiji’s “killing cove” on Thursday, where they spent four days in a selection process. 52 dolphins were sold to marine parks and aquariums, while 40 more were slaughtered and sold to butchers. It is unclear what the fishermen plan to do with the rest of the corralled dolphins.

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Ono voiced her opposition in a letter addressed to the Taiji fishermen on her website she shared with Lennon, Imagine Peace. In the letter, she pleads for the fishermen to think of the reputation of their country, and how killing dolphins will only portray Japan as a country of violence.

“I am sure that it is not easy, but please consider the safety of the future of Japan, surrounded by many powerful countries which are always looking for the chance to weaken the power of our country,” Ono writes. “The future of Japan and its safety depends on many situations, but what you do with Dolphins now can create a very bad relationship with the whole world.”

Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga defended the practice during a news conference in Tokyo, stating that dolphin fishing “is a form of traditional fishing in our country.”

Strange New Japanese Photo Trend?

One of Japan’s most popular subcultures is the gyaru/gal subculture. Gyaru is largely characterized by having heavily bleached or dyed hair fashioned in big and eccentric hairstyles, highly decorated nails, dramatic makeup and equally dramatic clothes.

Even more interesting, this Japanese street fashion has various subcategories which have distinct styles. Some wear more glitter, some dress up in school uniforms, some even sport dark spray-on tans. Needless to say, these boys and girls are not afraid to catch attention.

And that’s exactly what they’ve been doing. The current trending topic on Japanese twitter as well as 2ch, the country’s largest and most popular online forum, is a new Japanese photo trend that seems to be gaining popularity in the gyaru subculture.

If you were upset that the duckface ruined pictures, you haven’t seen anything yet. This possible new photo trend seems to defeat the purpose of the picture all together.

According to Kotaku, the latest photo trend to hit Toyko is to hide your face by looking down while a picture is being taken. Everything else about the photo seems natural. Many of the girls are even still throwing up a peace sign.

You can bet people have been confused about this pose which Japanese media is calling the “Face Down Pose.” People have tried to find the meaning and purpose behind the photo trend. Some claim the teens are trying to make their head/hair appear larger. Others have said that the culture is shy and ashamed of how they look, but we doubt that one.

Realistically, trends may not have a reason behind them at all. Someone could have looked down once and others followed along for humorous purposes.

Whatever the reason, let’s just hope the trend doesn’t make its way here. The last thing we need is a bunch of faceless pictures. pt 2 pt 3 pt 4 pt 5 pt 6

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Full Length Trailer for Live-Action “Kiki’s Delivery Service” Disappoints Viewers

When it was announced that Japan was creating a live-action version of Hayao Miyazaki’s beloved classic, Kiki’s Delivery Service, it seemed as if the world could hardly wait.

This news was especially exciting for dedicated Miyazaki fans who were saddened by Miyazaki’s news of retirement. Although the  film director, animator, manga artist, producer, and screenwriter would no longer create brilliant works, fans took comfort that his legacy could live on through this live-action film.

Unfortunately, this excitement quickly dropped with the release of the film’s teaser trailer a few months ago. Although the teaser gathered well over 1 million views, this number does not accurately explain fan reactions to it. The teaser had over 400 likes, but it also gained over 2,300 dislikes. Clearly, the public had no problem expressing their opinion.

Some complained about the special effects while others claimed there was no way it could accurately portray the magic of Miyazaki’s work. Some even broke out into arguments about the 1985 novel by  Eiko Kadono which inspired Miyazaki’s work in the first place.

Whatever your opinion of the trailer was, there was simply no denying that fans seemed unsatisfied.

Recently, the first full length trailer of the live-action film made its way to the internet. This time, the trailer is a minute a five seconds. Although this may seem short for a full length trailer, this is still longer than the 40 second teaser released earlier.

This trailer reveals more of the island which Kiki appears to live on, the bakery she works in, a boy we suspect is Tombo, and more shots of Kiki flying on her broom.

The full length trailer is only a couple of days old, but it has already gained nearly 600,000 views on YouTube. Unfortunately, the dislikes almost double the likes. Once again, some ghibli fans do not appear to be pleased while others argue that it’s a “must see.”

Watch it below for yourself and tell us what you think.

 

Facebook Depresses Japan, Loses Popularity

Here at Audrey, we’ve known the dangers of facebook and social media for quite some time now. In our Fall 2013 issue, we pointed out that a 2013 study conducted by two German universities showed one in three people felt worse and more dissatisfied with their lives after visiting Facebook.

Users felt envy, loneliness and isolation, with the most common cause of Facebook frustration stemming from others’ vacation photos. The second most common cause of envy was social interaction — feeling a “lack of attention” from having fewer birthday greetings, comments and “likes” compared to friends.

 

And it wasn’t just college students. The study found people in their mid-30s were most likely to envy family happiness, while women were more likely to envy physical attractiveness. After all, what is Facebook but an online brag book for all to see? A 20-something colleague recently summed it up when asked why she posted so much food porn on Facebook: “To make people jealous.”

 

The term “facebook depression” began in 2011 after the study Cyberpsychology, Behavior and Social Networking was published by sociologists Hui-Tzu Grace Chou and Nicholas Edge. The study showed that those who spent less time on facebook seemed to live happier lives.

Of course, the repercussions of facebook depression is not simply confined to the US. In particular, Japan seems to have finally become overwhelmed by facebook depression.

In 2008, facebook launched in Japan and seemed to head towards instant success. At the end of 2012, the Japanese facebook site had over 17 million users. However, five months later, the amount of users became 13 million.

So what could be the cause of this very sudden and large drop? According to RocketNews24, Japanese Psychologist Kouji Yamada claims Japanese facebook users are “developing an inferiority complex about their lonely, boring and unsatisfying lives.”

Apparently, we’re not just too sensitive over here. The facebook depression syndrome may actually be a global issue.

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