Monday, 13 January 2014

Know Japan before you Visit the Country

If you like travelling, and want to visit an interesting country, then the best place would be Japan. Many of us have misconceptions about the country of Japan as we think that is only a country where tradition exists. However, along with traditions and customs the people of Japan are extremely modernised. The country is the tech capital of the world but is also rooted in their history. If you want to visit Japan, it is extremely necessary that you study the country and its people before you reach your destination.

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The country of Japan is picturesque and exudes culture blended with modernity. The temples and shrines will give you an extremely spiritual feeling and the castles will take you back in history. Also, it is very important to know the kind of lives the people of Japan lead. The people of Japan are essentially busy and hardworking, the busy streets and train stations are proof of this fact. They are also extremely keen on fashion and you will seldom find a poorly dressed person on the streets of Japan.

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The Japanese lifestyle is a combination of following old customs and new trends. Japan could be really advanced in technology but there still are customs they follow like taking off shoes before entering the house. If you want to blend in to the Japanese culture, it is best to read up on the country and its people on a Japanese lifestyle blog. The city is always bustling with energy but the Japanese do go on weekend trips to take some time off in some peace and quiet.

A weekend getaway to hot spring resorts or onsen ryokans is a fabulous way they let their hair down. The warm water of the hot springs is tremendously relaxing and the comfort and delicious cuisine available at the ryokans is really something to look forward to. Another thing that Japanese people can’t do without are Japanese convenience stores or Konbini. These stores have become an integral part of Japanese life. These stores sell a lot of interesting and useful items like tea, puddings, eye masks, make-up items, various other sorts of edible items, etc.

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Life in Japan is extremely busy and the country is full of fun things to do. So, if you want to gear up to visit Japan, it is essential to read up on the country and also the lifestyle of the people. You can refer to a Japanese lifestyle blog or even read travel books.

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

Japanese New Year: Modernised yet Traditional

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Japan may be the tech capital of the world and highly advanced but the people of Japan still follow many traditions around the New Year. Japanese New Year celebrations may differ from the way the day is celebrated in other places around the world as there are various customs that the people follow which are inherently Japanese.

Importance of Food on New Year’s in Japan

Toshi-koshi Soba
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Food is a very important part of New Year celebrations and a certain kind of food is prepared and eaten during the New Year celebration that start on the 1st of January and continue till the 3rd of January. Different kinds of food items are prepared on these days and families feast together. Usually things get started on New Year’s Eve and as the Shinto bell rings at midnight, the festivities begin. On this day, toshi-koshi soba, a traditional Japanese delicacy is prepared. This dish basically comprises fish broth, soba noodles, solidified fish paste or kameboko, mirin and soy sauce. Each bowl of this noodle soup also comprises a deep fried prawn.

New Year’s breakfast is also something to watch out for as traditionally they are extremely elaborate and time consuming. But these days, people mostly keep it simple by having miso soup and mochi.

A New Year Tradition that isn’t Dead Yet

Osechi Ryori
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New Year in Japan is almost synonymous with Osechi ryori. Osechi ryori is a box that consists of traditional delicacies and sweets. These boxes are usually bought because it isn’t considered auspicious to cook on the first day of the New Year. The box has a lot of goodies like sweet black beans, rolled cakes, small fish, sweet egg, large prawns, etc.

The first day of the year begins by people watching the first sunrise and then digging into a light breakfast as the meals of the day are heavy. On the 2nd, family usually come over for a meal to the main family home and feast on things like crab, pork, etc. People of Japan also believe in eating ‘lucky’ food for the New Year like red snapper, shrimp, etc.

Few Other Traditions

Meiji Shrine
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People also visit the Meiji shrine and other important shrines during the first three days of the New Year. They also engage themselves in activities like Hanetsuki or Japanese badminton, karuta which is a card game and takoage or kite flying.

No matter how modernised Japan has become, most families still follow age old traditions. The New Year holds a lot of significance to Japanese families.

Monday, 30 December 2013

The Unique Way of Celebrating New Year and Christmas in Japan

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As whole world is gearing up to celebrate Christmas and New Year, how could Japanese stay away from the most anticipated time of year? Japanese people are known for their big heart and the way they celebrate various festivals.

New Year is one of the significant holidays of the year in Japan and the celebration is nothing less than the champagne-popping celebration in Western countries. On this day, most Japanese people, staying away from their homes for work, return to their hometowns and share special meal with their family members. The tradition of sending greeting cards and wishing for health and happiness of the loved ones holds stark similarity with the traditional Christmas celebration in Western countries.

On the other hand, Christmas is not a national holiday in this country, as Christians make up only 2 percent of the popular. However, it does not deter Japanese people from having fun on the Christmas Day.

The holiday songs and decorations are a lot like Christmas season in Canada, though the celebration is unlike the West. Typically, friends and family celebrate and exchange gifts on Christmas Eve, as the day is considered very romantic for couples, a lot like Valentine’s Day.

Soba Noodles on New Year Eve

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There is a tradition of eating a special soba, buckwheat noodle, dish, known as toshikoshi soba. The word toshikoshi means ending of the old year and beginning of the new one, whereas the long soba noodles signify long life in the coming year. One can eat soba noodles either hot or cold on the normal days but on the New Year, people eat the dish typically in a warm broth.

Christmas Cake is Different

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Christmas is an important part of Christmas Eve tradition. While the entire world eats fruit-filled loaf, Japanese prefer to eat a vanilla sponge cake with whipped cream or ice topping. The Japan’s version of Christmas cake looks a lot like a birthday cake, except that it is generally decorated with little Santa Clauses or greetings for holidays.

Mochi Flowers are used for Decorations

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The mochibana are popular decoration during the New Year in Japan. It is made as substitute because flowers naturally do not grow in the snowy, cold regions in the winter months. Mochibana brings a little beauty of spring during the dreary winter of Japan.

Parties are About Forgetting

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Most Japanese companies hold bonenkai parties that means forget the year party. At least one bonekai is hold for the employers in the December month. This is similar to the Christmas parties in the West. During this time, co-workers indulge in heavy drinking and forget their problems, relax their usual formalities and hope for a successful year ahead.

So, when it comes to celebrating the holiday season, Japanese lifestyle and culture can be said as similar to the West.

Monday, 23 December 2013

The Lives Japanese People Lead

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Japan is a country that is usually associated with culture, heritage, history and tradition. However, Japan is way beyond that. Japan is not just associated with the past but it is also an extremely advanced and modernised country. As we all know, Japan is the tech capital of the world but along with keeping up with modernity, the people of Japan are very well rooted in their customs and traditions.

The People of Japan

Japanese culture speaks volumes about the kind of people that live in the country and the lifestyle they follow. The people in Japan still follow a few important customs, especially during festivals. As the New Year celebrations are drawing close, you will find how the Japanese follow age old customs to celebrate it. Before the New Year begins, they clean their homes as they believe Gods will enter to bless them. As they step into the new year, they do not utter any bad words or recall any unlucky events as they believe that it might impact the new year negatively. They eat lucky food like, prawn and red snapper; they wear new underwear and use a new towel on that day as they hope for a new beginning. This is just an example of a few traditions they follow.

Their Habits and Lives

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When it comes to food, the Japanese believe in eating healthy food and they mostly eat a lot of seafood, juice, and herbal or organic tea. If you take a look at Japanese fashion, you will see how modern it is. If you believe that it is restricted only to kimonos, then you are highly mistaken. People in Japan are extremely fashion conscious and religiously follow trends that are current in the fashion capitals of the world. They are also ‘brand conscious’ and love shopping. However, the people of Japan don’t just shop at boutiques and they also shop at small shops in the shopping districts of Japan.

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Japan is a picturesque country and the people of Japan love to indulge in short weekend getaways. They go to bathe in Onsens or hot water springs and stay at comfortable ryokans (bed and breakfast). They basically like to mix work and pleasure to balance their lives. If you want to visit Japan anytime soon, then you can read up blogs about Japanese lifestyle, people and culture, so as to learn more about the country. This will help you adjust well once to reach Japan.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Japanese Fashion Blogs: Filling you in on Latest Trends

People in Japan are extremely fashion conscious. People from all walks of life are never seen ‘under-dressed’. Whether it’s a teenager or an office goer, everyone walking the streets of Japan is dressed for the occasion. The people of Japan seem to have an innate sense of style. Japanese denizens follow current trends of the fashion capitals of the world including Paris, Milan and New York. The trends in Japan change every season. Here are a few of the fashion trends that are doing the rounds in Japan presently.


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If you go by pattern, then the houndstooth print is extremely ‘in’ this season. It can be incorporated in any piece of garment, be it the jacket, top or pants, the print adds a certain zing to the entire ensemble. It can be sported in casual wear, you can also wear the print while you’re going clubbing and a houndstooth printed jacket will look fabulous when paired with semi-formals.

Colours this Season

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One of the best colours in this season is definitely navy. This colour can be sported very well in winter this year as it has the seriousness winter requires yet adds a dash of brightness that will turn the dull season around. The usual colours black and grey can never really go out of style as they are winter staples. Other colours that are ruling the fashion scene this season are emerald green and red. These two colours are bold and add a sense of vibrancy to winter.

Tartan Print

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Another pattern that is very ‘in’ this season is the tartan print. The print that has its roots in Scotland is not just ruling the streets in Japan, but has the whole world at its mercy. From coats, to caps to jackets to bags to blouses, everything has been touched by this print.

Short Blouson

For all the tomboys and women who like sporting a boyish style, the short blouson is here to save the day. Though made of a light material, the blouson is perfect when it comes to layering in winter.

Big Silhouette Jackets

This fashion trend has not died and continues its run this season as well. These big and slightly mannish jackets are still very popular with the crowd. This too is very good for layering in winter.

Japanese fashion trends are hard to keep up with because they aren’t widespread but if you do want to keep track of the trends read a blog about Japanese fashion. These blogs are written by citizens of Japan or people from the ‘in circle’ of the fashion world, therefore, they will have authentic information.

Monday, 2 December 2013

Gilt Helping Promote Ohne Titel

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People in Japan are extremely fashion conscious. You will seldom find a citizen not dressed in dapper clothes. The citizens of Japan, whether they are teenagers or office goers, are always dressed in their best and follow current fashion trends. They follow trends that are a rage in fashion capitals of the world like Paris, Milan and New York. However, the Japanese do not ape the west; they add a twist to the designs making them look a little different yet stylish.

Lately, the Japanese subsidiary of the Gilt Group, played host to a preview of the spring collection 2014 of Ohne Titel on Thursday in Tokyo. Designers Alexa Adams and Flora Gill were invited to a private club to mix with the local fashion press. The club was on floor number 51 of the Roppongi Hills complex. This event was to start off one of the initiatives of Gilt Japan.

The Gilt Japan Initiative

The web based retailers will soon open, for three days, a pop-up store in a stylish Montauk cafe which is located in Omotesando Avenue. This pop-up store will showcase a variety of international brands. Shoppers can go through the clothes in the shop and if they want to buy any, they can simply purchase it on the Japanese site of Gilt. Styles are mostly likely to sell out and therefore new collections will be showcased each day. Only the brand Ohne Titel will be on exhibit on all three days. Ohne Titel will most certainly get a lot of exposure in the Japanese market through this pop-up store as the distribution in Japan is still very low. The brand is only available in two of Tokyo’s departmental stores.

“Everything in the pop-up shop is curated international brands, so we really wanted to bring one of our favorite designers to really showcase not only their product but also just sort of be that American representative. [Gilt is] not only about one specific brand, it's about the mix of the different brands, but we really wanted to showcase their spring collection. It hasn't really made its way into Japan much yet, and I think it's so perfect for this market.”

- Joanna Dubin, chief executive and representative director of Gilt Japan


Adams and Gill truly hope that Japanese consumers will like the uniqueness and versatility of the brand. This initiative will bring the brand in to focus and make it readily available to the Japanese market.

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Important Things That You Are Expected to Follow While Visiting Japan

If you like travelling around the world and exploring various aspects of human life, Japan can be the place that you cannot afford to miss at any cost. The land of rising sun is said to be the epitome of traditions and culture, history and heritage and science and technology. The Japanese lifestyle is an awesome blend of westernisation and indigenous traditions. Japan has lots of unique things to bestow to the visitors.

So, are you planning a vacation in Japan? If yes, you must know about certain exclusive aspects of Japanese culture and day to day lifestyle. By learning about the customs of Japan your trip is guaranteed to be great and memorable. So, do not spend all of the time just looking at the beautiful landscapes and taking snaps, but also spare a few hours of your busy schedule for learning about the customs and lifestyle of the place.

Greetings and Etiquette

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Japanese people are quite humble and greet each other and their guests by bowing. They express respect and appreciation to the next person by bending at the level of their waist. This gesture is particularly used to greet “good morning” and “hello, goof afternoon” to the next persons. Bowing also refers to the gesture for apology and gratitude. While bidding adieu, they most frequently use “sayonara” but the world “bye-bye” is also used by many people.

Mobile phones have become quite common in Japan, reaching almost to 90 percent population. However, in spite of increasing use of mobile phones, people are expected to follow the etiquettes in public places.


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Eating habits vary across the boundaries. So, for the tastiest experience of eating foods from other culture, you should know the food habits and customs of the place. Japan has its own meal etiquette and visitors are also expected to follow their customs. The traditional meal format in Japan is the ozen, which is a mealtime table for single person and attached with legs. These tables are placed on the tatami mats on which people sit in seiza position, legs tucked under thighs. However, chairs and tables have become common for dining purposes in Japanese households. There are many other customs that one requires to follow while eating in Japanese-style dining set-up.

Most Japanese foods are eaten with the help of chopsticks, which are made from wood and have a tapered tip. In every household, each family member will have their own bowls and chopsticks. Children use shorter ones, which fit their hands’ size.

Lodging Accommodations

There are several customs followed at lodging facilities in Japan. You must know of such customs in advance to avoid the feel of embarrassment and surprise. From getting into the bath to the bedding, Japanese people follow different ways for everything.

If you are lodging at the hotels or availing services of taxis, restaurants and beauty salons, you are not required to tip the service providers, as everything is included in the bill itself. Another important thing to know is that many traditional homes want you to remove your shoes at the inner entrance of the building and wear room slippers inside the house or room. This is also applicable at traditional ryokan and other Japanese-style lodging accommodations.

There are many other customs and traditions that you are expected to follow while holidaying in Japan. Take some time off to know more and more about unique Japanese lifestyle.