Meet the 3 real life Onsens From Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’!

Meet the 3 real life Onsens From Ghibli’s ‘Spirited Away’!

Are the words “Spirited Away” ringing any bells for you? No? Well, stop whatever you’re doing right now and go stream it. This is a 2001 animation film that took the world by storm. It’s all about fantasy and adventure by the world-famous Hayao Miyazaki.

It’s thanks to this film that Japan’s tourism boomed. It’s just another masterpiece that proves that Studio Ghibli has no limits to their imaginations. Picture enchanted forests and floating castles among other fantasies you can think of.

But the thing is, every artist has their muse. Miyazaki was inspired by a few places in Japan to create Spirited Away. We can’t jump into our TV screens, but we can definitely pop by these inspired places when travelling to Japan.
Let’s take a look at the 3 onsens (温泉) that were muses to the art that is Spirited Away.

1. Dogo Onsen Honkan (Ehime Prefecture)

Image Credit: Dogo Official Website

The first onsen is Dogo Onsen Honkan. This is officially confirmed as the main source of inspiration for the bath house, Aburaya. It’s the only one that’s been recognised as one. You can find this hot springs in Ehime Prefecture, in Matsuyama City.

This onsen is the oldest onsen in Japan. It can be dated back to more than 1,000 years ago! I can’t even imagine the number of people who have taken a dip in here..

This bathhouse’s structure has been the same since it was first built. At the moment, the onsen is under renovation since 2019 for some preservation works. There’s some Western influence amidst the Japanese ones in the architectural design. That’s what makes it different from other onsens. The animation crew sketched Dogo Onsen before creating Aburaya. You can see clearly the similarity between the two buildings from the windy, maze-like interior.

2. Sekizenkan, Shima Onsen (Gunma Prefecture)

The next onsen is the Sekizankan in Gunma Prefecture. This ryokan has a few similarities with the bathhouse in Spirited Away. Can you miss the blaring red bridge in front of the building? Although Chihiro held a breath when crossing the bridge in the movie so others wouldn’t realise she was human, you don’t have to do that here.

This onsen town is called “Forty-thousand Hot Springs”. It’s also known as “the cure for forty-thousand ailments”. The mineralised waters here are believed to aid movement disorders, weight loss and other similar issues.

There are three buildings at this onsen. The first one is the Main Building, a wooden ryokan built in 1691. The second is the Sanso Building that’s built on a hill in 1936 in the Momoyama Era style. To get between these two buildings, you have to go through an underground passage. If you’ve watched the movie, you’d understand this reference.

The third building is the newest, called Kashotei. It’s also built in the woods, but at the highest points of the grounds. If you want a bit of privacy, here’s where you can get it.

3. Kanaguya, Shibu Onsen (Nagano Prefecture)

The third onsen is Rekishi no Yado Kanaguya. Although this is also not confirmed by Studio Ghibli as one of the sources of inspiration, it’s undeniable. This onsen has been around for more than 2 centuries, all the way back to 1758. It’s found high up in the Japanese Alps, in Nagano Prefecture.

This four-story wooden bathhouse is designed with so much detail. An example is a window that has the shape of the ryokan’s family crest. Another is the corridor on the third floor having a water mill gear that’s shaped like Mt. Fuji.

Even with 29 guest rooms, they are all designed differently from one another. Choose between a Japanese-style one or stained glass-decorated one. You can visit here numerous times and have a different experience each time.

It’s safe to say these onsens are worth visiting, regardless of whether you’re a Studio Ghibli fan or not. Watch the film before your Japan trip and you can look out for resemblances when you do visit. Immerse yourself in the culture and history of these Japanese bathhouses!

10 Very Best Sites to Watch Great J-Drama!

10 Very Best Sites to Watch Great J-Drama!

I remember when I was a teenager, I was obsessed with Japanese drama – I would keep tabs on my favourite actors and actresses’ upcoming releases, and as soon as they aired on Japanese television, I would hunt for them online. 

I consider myself an expert at finding online websites to stream Japanese dramas. As a teenager, I wouldn’t pay a penny to watch anything, but as an earning adult, I could afford to spend a few – so our list consists of a mix of both free and paid sites for you to watch Japanese dramas!

Paid Websites

1. AsianCrush

AsianCrush is one of the best paid websites out there, but it’s not fully paid, though – there’s their free site which you can still stream from, but ads are appearing on the video every now and then. With the paid version, at $4.99 per month, you get no disruptions and access to more uploads.

You can also watch tons of drama genres on this website like action, horror and comedy – all of the videos are of HD quality, at least 720p and up! This website is one of the more popular ones and has a range of listings, depending on which part of the world you’re in.

2. Viki

You might think that Viki is expensive, but it’s charged at $9.99 per year! Pay once and you don’t have to think about it again until the next year! Run by Rakuten, one of Japan’s leading companies, this website is also available to stream for free! You’re only limited to watching videos in 720p, but I think that’s a small sacrifice to make.

A distinctive feature of Viki is that you can watch a Japanese drama with your friends and family anywhere in the world – there’s a watch party function on it which is pretty unique to this website, in my opinion.

There’s also an app for Viki so you can stream easily on your mobile phone. 

3. Midnight Pulp

One of the largest video streaming platforms available, Midnight Pulp is a lot of people’s go-to for horror, thriller and action Japanese movies – their Japanese drama listing is pretty darn good as well. If you’re into interesting, dark Japanese drama plots, this website’s for you.

The downside to this website is that it’s a paid streaming service. It’s at $4.99 per month, but you can get a month of free trial to see if you like their services. Just a fair warning though, if you’re more into the lovey-dovey Japanese dramas, this one’s probably one to miss out on – they’re very committed to the darker storylines.

4. Netflix

Who hasn’t heard of Netflix? I use it on a daily basis! If you don’t already know, Netflix is one of the best sites to watch Japanese dramas! They don’t necessarily have the latest updates, but they’re convenient and almost always have English subtitles.

We all know Netflix comes at a cost of about $7.70 per month, but you can try it out for 30 days for free if you don’t have a subscription yet. Japan is opening up to online streaming services like Netflix, so there are ones that are Netflix-exclusive like Alice in Borderland!

5. Amazon Prime

Last but not least on our list of paid websites, we have Amazon Prime. Amazon is one of the world’s largest technology companies, and in Japan, Amazon and Amazon Prime are used widely. Some might say their streaming service is more widely used than Netflix! 

Even if you don’t have a prime membership, you can rent the shows to watch. Depending on which Amazon you use, you might not get subtitles, though – I have Amazon Prime for Japan but most of them don’t have subtitles to go with it, which is a shame! I bet if you have Amazon US or Amazon UK, they’ll definitely have subtitles for the shows!

Free Websites

1. KissAsian

Moving on to free websites, KissAsian is one of my favourite sites to watch Japanese drama! KissAsian is an online streaming site that’s free to use. They’re extremely on the ball when it comes to updating newer episodes that have already been aired on Japanese TV. In fact, as soon as it finishes airing in Japan, you’re going to be able to find it on KissAsian within the next few hours! 

A plus side I like about KissAsian is that you can request for a Japanese drama to be uploaded or report a problem, which gets solved almost instantly! 

One annoying thing about KissAsian is that it has one too many ads! You’re probably going to get a pop up with almost every click, not to mention some captcha along the way. Their domain always changes as well, which can be quite confusing. But, if you have it bookmarked, most of the time they’ll redirect you to the new domain.

2. DramaNice

Another free online streaming site for Japanese drama is DramaNice. It’s extremely up-to-date as well, just like KissAsian. Similarly, they’re not only just for Japanese dramas but other Asian dramas as well!

In comparison to KissAsian, DramaNice’s website is more mobile-friendly. You can download directly from the website to your phone or laptop and comment on the site. I personally find the discussion sections pretty useful at judging which Japanese drama I should put on my watch list and which to avoid.

While KissAsian has only subbed videos uploaded, DramaNice does have raw videos – meaning uploads without any subtitles. Hey, if you want something instantly, you can’t be picky, right? They do update the Japanese drama listing pretty fast, but not all of them are subbed!

However, on DramaNice, the advertisements come at the beginning of the video and you can’t skip them. But hey, if we’re pretty used to YouTube already, this website is a breeze. Oh, and also, be sure to bookmark the website as DramaNice also changes its domain quite frequently.

3. ViewAsian

Here’s another free website that I use to watch Japanese drama: ViewAsian. Most of the videos are subbed and you can search for drama by categories like crime, action and romance.

If you’re watching a movie then this won’t matter but if you’re watching a drama, there’ll be a thumbnail on the drama listing to show you how many episodes are in it. It’s much more convenient than having to click one by one – imagine deciding on watching one and then finding out it has hundreds of episodes!

4. Dramacool

Dramacool is one of the streaming sites I used when I was younger. It appealed to me more than the rest at some point due to its simple web interface – navigating around was a breeze and it was easy to find Japanese dramas that I wanted to watch. On top of that, it lists the latest episodes updated for the season on the front so you don’t have to go around clicking to check.

There are even multiple video servers for you to switch to if the default one is not playing or plays slow. There is also a “switch off light” function that darkens the website screen when watching your Japanese dramas to have that cinematic effect.

5. JDorama

The last of our free websites to watch Japanese drama is JDorama. It’s one of the most popular ones out there! On some other free sites, you won’t be able to find old dramas, but here, you can find those that were released from as far back as 1964! Oh, and don’t worry, there are also newer ones on the website as well.

JDroama is one of the oldest and yet popular websites to watch Japanese drama online for free. It has a section where you can find the most famous Japanese shows in each season of the year. Aside from that, you will find the trailer of each movie and TV show on its homepage. Moreover, it has a vast community where you can join and discuss trending shows in Japan. 

With both paid and free websites, five of each, what excuse do you have not to watch Japanese drama? Which will you choose — are you going to test out the free websites or bite the bullet and go for the paid ones? 

16 Best Sites to Stream Anime in 2021

16 Best Sites to Stream Anime in 2021

All the anime lovers out there, this one’s for you! The Japanese animation is great and all, until it’s hard to find a platform that streams it. If you’re getting into this magical world of anime and don’t know where to start streaming, you’ve come to the right place. Even if you’re not a newbie and are looking for alternative options, stick around. In this article, we’ve highlighted some of the best websites to stream the latest anime in 2021. These 12 sites are a mix of free and paid platforms. Rest assured that all provide the best quality animation.

1. KissAnime

The first option is KissAnime. This has been my go-to streaming site since the early days. A lot of other listicles on the web mentions that this site is down. It’s because it changes url all the time due to copyright issues. This streaming site offers free anime movies and shows. The parent company of this website also runs sister sites like KissAsian. This website updates often. You’ll be able to stream the latest episode of new anime series immediately.  KissAnime offers both sub and dub versions of anime. Whichever your preference is, this site has got you covered! You can even download and watch it later when you don’t have internet access. 

2. Crunchyroll

The next streaming site for all your anime needs is Crunchyroll. This website is a business started in the United States back in 2006. This is one of the most loved sites for anime lovers outside of Japan. It’s a leading global platform for Japanese media content. It provides sub and dub versions of anime. This site updates often so you don’t miss out on the latest episode. On the site, you can stream thousands of anime for free, whether it’s a classic or a new release. You can upgrade to the premium plan and get rid of ads for good!  This site also offers manga collections. The best part of it all is that Crunchyroll is 100% legal! 

3. 9Anime

9Anime the world’s best site to stream anime, both dub and sub. For English-speaking audiences who prefer dub, you’ll be content with 9Anime. 9Anime has a few different inbuilt servers. If one is not working, you can switch to another. You can stream any anime from the huge collection in 1080p quality. If you don’t see the one you want, their customer support replies fast via mail. It’s best to stream 9Anime on VPN as it’s not accessible worldwide. But don’t worry, their millions of users guarantee you safe usage of the site. 

4. Animelab

Animelab is perfect if you’re looking for a 100% legal streaming site that’s up-to-date. It updates as early as 1 hour after the broadcast of the latest episode. It has free features that allows you to stream without paying. There’s also the paid option to get rid of ads and other features.

5. GoGoAnime

Another worldwide popular anime streaming service is GoGoAnime. Like the previous one, this website has a few servers you can stream from. If one is not working, switch to one of the other seven. GoGoAnime aims to stream Japanese animation in the highest quality possible. Their big library of anime includes latest episodes, complete with dub and sub. You can even download it to your phone and watch on-the-go. A highlight of GoGoAnime is its chat room. You can have conversations with other users and discuss about anything anime.

6. My Anime List

The best part about MyAnimeList is that you can stream anime without any ads. This website is quite underrated compared to the rest. The interface is great at helping users to search for anime they’re interested in. On top of updating their catalogue often, MyAnimeList offers both sub and dub anime. You can browse through their anime library based on reviews, popularity and ranking.

7.  Hulu

Founded in the US, Hulu has been providing unlimited anime streaming since 2007. It only offers paid subscription of as low as $10 a month. You’re guaranteed quality, regular updates and secure streaming. 

8. Funimation

This next one is an American based company owned by SONY. Funimation is one of the most loved anime streaming sites in the present day. It aims at offering foreign content, including Japanese anime, to the Western viewers. Funimation provides anime with subtitles. Yet, a lot of their viewers love watching anime with English audio. That’s because the website caters to Western anime viewers as the main audience. One downside is that Funimation is only available in specific countries. This includes the US, Canada, the UK, Ireland, Australia and New Zealand. Don’t let that stop you, though. Accessing the site is possible if you use VPN.

9. Anime Heaven

Another favoured free anime streaming site is Anime Heaven. All episodes on this site are of 720p quality and above. You get both dub and sub versions of your favorite anime series. A great feature of Anime Heaven is that it allows users to download videos to watch later on.

10. Anime Planet

Anime Planet is among the top recommended sites for streaming anime. Not only do you have access to high quality anime content but you can also read manga series, too! This streaming site is 100% and has thousands of episodes for you to browse through. A feature that I love about this streaming site is that you can track your progress. Not only that, you can create a collection to share with your friends.

11. Chia-anime

This next streaming site has more than anime. Chia-anime has the largest library of Japanese animation, movies, series, soundtracks and manga. It’s your one-stop website for all Japanese content you need. Its interface is easy to manoeuvre and everything is well-categorised. It also has various streaming players so you’ll get to switch to another one in case of any problems. Best of all, this anime streaming site is free!

12. AnimeFreak

I’ve used this streaming service since Day 1. Anime Freak is great for streaming anime because you don’t have to sign up for an account. You can stream as much content as your heart desires.  Not only can you stream the latest anime in high quality but you can also get the latest anime news. It keeps you updated on anime-related information, so you don’t have to go anywhere else to be in the loop.

13. D Anime Store

D Anime Store is a fan favourite. Launched by Japan’s mobile phone company, NTT Docomo in 2012, it offers a monthly subscription of $4 a month. One downside is that they don’t have subs or dubs with their anime. If you’re confident with your Japanese, this is an accessible streaming service.

14. U-Next

This next anime streaming site is also a popular one in Japan, but you can access it overseas as well. It does not only have anime but also TV shows and dramas. You can access this on various platforms like TV, computers and game consoles. It’s a paid subscription but you’re not going to break the bank with it.

15. Netflix

Who doesn’t know Netflix? This streaming service is now one of the most popular sites to stream anime. Recently, its catalogue of anime shows have been rising. There have been partnerships with companies like Ghibli Studios with this franchise. You can count on more! The best part is that some anime are Netflix exclusives! This means you can’t stream them anywhere else but Netflix!

16. Amazon Prime

Last but not least, we have Amazon Prime. A lot of anime, both classic and latest series, are available for streaming on this platform. It’s a great one if you’re a regular Amazon shopper. A lot of anime series are part of the subscription. Even if it’s not, you can rent it for cheap. Trust me, it’s worth it!

You have all these choices. What’s stopping you from streaming your favourite anime series now? Or you could rewatch the old ones. Regardless, our list of free and paid streaming services has got you covered on where you can go to watch them!

Let’s Purikura! All you want to know about Japanese Photo Booths!

Let’s Purikura! All you want to know about Japanese Photo Booths!

I don’t know about you but I’ve noticed how popular those photo booth stickers are at the moment. When I first came to Japan, I was surprised at how popular they are in Japan, too.

Introducing “purikura”, the Japanese word for that exact thing we’re talking about. Before TikTok dances and Instagram filters became huge on the streets, purikura was top on the vain game.

So what exactly is it? How did it come about? Where can I find them? How do I take a purikura picture? All your answers are just a scroll down away!

What is Purikura?

So, what is purikura (プリクラ)? This word is a short form of “purinto kurabu” (プリント倶楽部), which means “print club”. Print club refers to the photo booths that you see all around Japan. It’s incredibly popular – all the local youths are crazy about it.

It’s the perfect activity with friends or on a date. It’s also the perfect souvenir because it’s a unique Japan activity.

You might be thinking, “it’s just a picture in a photo booth.” True, but purikura is more than just that. Worldwide, we have those official photo booths for ID photos. Sometimes, at events, you get photo booths that print pictures in film roll style. In Japan, it can be done any time, anywhere. You can customise it however you like.

While it functions the same way of any other photo booth, it’s more like a photo shoot. After you’ve taken your 5 consecutive pictures, you get to edit them. Everything from stickers and fonts to filters and frames. You’re in control of how it’s going to look when it’s printed.

The History of Purikura

Purikura

So how did this fun activity come about? It all started in 1995 when the first ever print club machine was invented. The Tokyo-based game software company, Atlus, was the brains behind it. Originally, it was just a pose-and-print situation. You could only add frames around it.

Then comes other gaming companies like SEGA. They developed the print club machines to include so much more. This was also the time when the word “purikura” was tossed around.

In 1997, things really took off for the machines. An extremely popular Japanese band called SMAP featured purikura on local television. Amusement centers and arcades where they were found were filled with people getting their own purikura.

Nowadays, you get all sorts of purikura. Some machines have themes. I know people who prefer certain photo booths over others because they have better filters. 

Where to Find Purikura

Purikura

So you’re interested in taking some purikura of your own. Where do you go to get them? Where can you find them? The better question is, where can’t you find them? They’re quite literally everywhere. I don’t think you can go a day walking around any part of Japan without coming across a few purikura booths. 

Almost every arcade in Japan has a floor dedicated to purikura machines. If you’re in Shibuya, you’ll likely spot them on the first floor. Sometimes, they’re bunched up in an area. So if you cross the street, you’ll see another group of purikura booths!

If you just want your picture taken to mark the occasion, any purikura will do. But if you’re like me and some of my friends, you want the best purikura booth. Venture around to find the one that has filters and edits you like best.

Styles of purikura booths include Harajuku-style kawaii (かわいい), princess style or hime (姫) and natural beauty. Trust me, there are others that are way more dramatic. Some places even have preparation areas for you to get ready!

How To: Purikura

Tokyo2010_MG_5722-1  Purikura

It might be pretty straightforward for some people, but others might be intimidated by purikura if it’s their first time. Don’t worry, we got you covered. We’ll guide you through how to take purikura pictures! 

Step 1: Posing for the pictures

It’s simple, really. A lot of these purikura booths suggest pose options for you. All you have to do is follow them. But you don’t have to if you don’t want to. You can go all out and pose any way you want.

There’s a timer for everything, so don’t take too long to pose. As soon as you walk in the booth, the timer begins. Usually you only have a couple of seconds before it flashes. Be quick!

You’ll usually have a green screen behind you so you can choose cute backdrops. I highly recommend to not wear anything close to the colour green.

Step 2: Edit the pictures

Don’t worry if you didn’t pose too well. You can edit yourself after the pictures have been taken. Remember when I said there’s a timer for everything? There’s a timer for editing, too. Don’t worry, it’s not a few seconds. It’s a few minutes.

But even then it’s not enough. There are so many ways to edit. You have to choose between hundreds of stickers, animal ears, time and day stamps, markers and borders. You’ll have all the privacy you need to edit behind the curtains, so don’t be shy to go crazy.

There’s really no one way to do it. That’s the best part about purikura editing.

Step 3: Print out the pictures

All that’s left to do is print. After the timer runs out, you get options on which layout you want your pictures to be printed in. Pick the one you like and wait a minute or two. It’ll be printed out and you’ll have your sticker pictures!

Usually, the booths print two copies. You can choose to cut it out and divide it among your friends or partner. If you join their rewards program, you can order a digital copy for free! This way, everyone has a version of the original.

Will you be trying purikura when you go to Japan? I have to admit that it’s one of my most favourite things to do in Japan. It’s cheap, fun and fast! On top of it all, you get to mark that special day with your friends or partner.

All You Need to Know About Kigurumi

All You Need to Know About Kigurumi

I bet you’ve seen the pictures on social media. Heck, I bet you’ve seen it in real life. Everything from animals to cartoon characters, it’s in the form of a onesie. This trend has been catching on even more worldwide, but did you know that it originated in Japan?

Yup, that’s right. These pyjama onesies started in Japan and now it’s a worldwide phenomenon, some say. And they’re called “kigurumi”. Now, I bet you have more questions than answers. But you’ve come to the right place. We have all the answers you have about kigurumi here. All you have to do is read on!

What is Kigurumi?

Cute Harajuku Kigurumi

The word kigurumi (着ぐるみ) comes from combining two words. The first word is kiru (着る) which means “to wear”. The other word is nuigurumi (ぬいぐるみ) which means “stuffed toy”. Kigurumi refers to costumed characters, like mascots. They’re a huge part of Japanese culture, similar to how cosplay is.

Kigurumi is originally used for promotional purposes and by cosplayers. Most of the time, you get an oversized headgear in the chibi (チビ) style. Basically, you’re going to look like an anime character. You’re dressed from head to toe in a full bodysuit.

Nowadays, especially outside of Japan, it’s more widely known as animal onesies. They look and feel way more comfier than the former. If you’re invited to a kigurumi party, you’re expected to look like an animal, not an anime character.

Kigurumi, whichever type it is, is everywhere on the streets of Japan nowadays. It’s so common that it’s normal. It could be a green dinosaur onesie or a schoolgirl anime character. No one would really bat an eye at the sight.

Types of Kigurumi

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So we briefly mentioned the two common variations of kigurumi. Kigurumi comes in various types: kigurumi cosplay, kigurumi masks and kigurumi pyjamas.

Kigurumi cosplay, or kigurumi kosupure (着ぐるみコスプレ) in Japanese, focuses on Japanese pop culture. People dress up in kigurumi-style costumes in the character they like. This includes anime characters as well as some American fictional characters. Common kigurumi cosplay includes Pikachu, Hello Kitty, Pokemon and anime characters. 

Sometimes, kigurumi cosplay can revolve around sex appeal, especially when it comes to anime characters. Not all the time, though. This type of kigurumi is also used for stage shows of anime both in Japan and overseas. 

Another type of kigurumi is kigurumi masks. In Japanese, this type of kigurumi is called animegao (アニメ顔) to mean “anime face”. It’s similar to the previous type we mentioned. The only difference is that this kigurumi involves only the face. The body is then dressed up in normal clothes.

Kigurumi masks started off as masquerade masks, but now has evolved to be anime characters. Now, kigurumi masks have included other types of cartoon characters like Frozen and other Disney shows.

The last type of kigurumi is kigurumi pyjamas. It involves pyjamas usually in the style of a onesie. Most of the time, the kigurumi pyjamas are in the shape of animals. This type of kigurumi is the one we see often on social media. It has become a hit in countries outside of Japan. Europe and America have embraced kigurumi pyjamas with open arms.

Kigurumi Origins

Kigurumi

Kigurumi began in the mid-1990s. It’s said that a company called SAZAC started it all in the fashionable streets of Harajuku and Shibuya, where most Japanese subcultures are born. It was used as a simple way out of cosplay. All you had to do was wear the mascot-like outfit and you’re a walking anime character!

Some say that kigurumi could be traced back to the 1600s when kabuki (歌舞伎) and bunraku (文楽) were formed. Kabuki is a traditional and theatrical dance-drama that is still performed today. Performers wore masks and elaborate makeup to look like creatures and ghosts. Bunraku is a traditional puppet theatre performance. Puppeteers would be in black clothes with hand-made masks on.

When kigurumi took off in the 90s, so did the manufacturing of masks. Japanese entertainers like musicians and celebrities started following this trend. By the time the mid-2000s rolled around, kigurumi was the norm.

Despite the media reporting on kigurumi, it wasn’t until the early 2010s that the Western countries caught onto the trend. Now, even though kigurumi isn’t interpreted as it was originally, it’s a hyped-up Japanese trend worldwide! 

The Boom of Kigurumi Outside of Japan 

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Before the late 2000s, kigurumi was merely an underground trend. The hype of the kigurumi trend in America and Europe boomed when anime and manga started to spread in these countries. People started loving Japanese media. People wanted to dress up as their favourite anime characters. 

Comic and anime conventions started becoming a regular occurrence in the West. Cosplay, the act of dressing up, started to grow. And what better way to dress up as anime characters than embracing the original kigurumi type of animegao?

Around the same time, popular shops in Japan like Don Quixote started selling “hot” and “must-have” souvenir items that include kigurumi onesies. Travellers from the West brought them back home to share with friends and family. Bloggers and influencers wrote about and posted them all over the web. 

And the rest, as they say, is history.

Kigurumi seems to have undergone a couple of changes throughout time. And it seems like it’s going to undergo a few more changes. Now they’re Halloween costumes, toddler sleepwear and even kigurumi accessories. What can’t this hot Japanese trend do? 

Onomatopoeia – Japanese Words that are sounds & What You Need To Know!

Onomatopoeia – Japanese Words that are sounds & What You Need To Know!

If you’ve ever watched anime or Japanese drama, you might’ve heard some Japanese words that sounded like sounds. You’re right. There are some words in the Japanese language that are just sounds. In fact, there are a lot of them! If I start to list all of them here, this article would be pages long!

That’s not what’s going to happen. In this article, we’ll look at the various types of Japanese onomatopoeia and a few common ones in each category. 

What is Japanese onomatopoeia? 

Some of you might not know what onomatopoeia is. Onomatopoeia are words that recreate a sound or feeling. Even in English, we use them to express stuff like animal noises and noises in general. The simplest examples are “woof” for a dog’s barking and “vroom” for the noise a car makes.

In the Japanese language, it takes onomatopoeia to a whole new level. You really can’t go a day without using at least a handful of them in conversation. There are five types of Japanese onomatopoeia: 

The first one is giseigo (擬声語). If you notice, this uses the kanji for voice (声). This refers to noises made by living things like humans and animals. This is the one we’re familiar with the most. Most Japanese onomatopoeia aren’t the same as English onomatopoeia. 

The second is giongo (擬音語). It uses the kanji for sound (音). This type of onomatopoeia refers to noises made by non living things like inanimate objects and nature. 

The third is gitaigo (擬態語). The kanji used for this is condition or appearance (態). This refers to noises that describe states and conditions.

The fourth one is giyougo (擬容語), using the kanji for form (容). For this type, it refers to sounds that describe movements and motion.

The last one is gijougo (擬情語). The kanji used is feelings (情), so the type of sounds are of those that describe emotions.

Grammar Usage of Japanese Onomatopoeia 

There are three grammatical forms of Japanese onomatopoeia. There’s the double form (わくわく), which usually describes a continuing state of the sound. The second type is the とform (はっと), and this one expresses a quick and short sound. The last one is a りform (のそり), expressing the action or sound is slow. Exceptions include those ending with ん (ゴンゴン), and this one expresses the sounds being echo-ey or lengthy.

You can pair an onomatopoeia with と and followed by a verb. This makes it an adverb. Sometimes, you can use に instead when it’s a state.

Change an onomatopoeia into a verb with やる or する.

And lastly, you use の after the onomatopoeia to change it into adjectives or noun modifiers. 

Now, let’s take a look at the five categories of Japanese onomatopoeia and a few common ones in each!

Giseigo: Sounds Made by Living Things

A Dog looking at the camera

Giseigo (擬声語) are sounds that are made by living things. This can be humans and animals. They’re pretty similar to what we learn when we’re younger. They’re like sound effects. Here are a few common examples of animal noises:

Wan wan (ワンワン) – Woof 

Nya nya (ニャーニャー) – Meow

Gao (がおー) – Roar

Gero gero (ゲロゲロ) – Ribbit/Croak

Bun (ブーン) – Buzz

Hi hin (ヒヒーン) – Neigh

Mo mo (モーモー) – Moo

Bu bu (ブーブー) – Oink

Uki uki (ウキウキ) – Oo oo aa aa 

Me me (メーメー) – Baa

Human noises are also classified as this. This can include those similar to chuckles, mutters. These can be interesting ways to express your actions. Here are a few examples:  

Guu guu (ぐうぐう) – loud snoring

Wai wai (ワイワイ) – children playing or people talking loudly

Kushu (クシュ) – sneezing

Kohon kohon (コホンコホン) – coughing lightly

Gyaa gyaa (ギャアギャア) – crying loudly

Gami gami (ガミガミ) – being nagged or lectured by someone

Niko niko (ニコニコ) – smiling at something funny 

Pura pura (プラプラ) – to be able to speak a foreign language fluently 

Kusu kusu (クスクス) – laughing quietly 

Ohon (おほん) – clearning your throat when you want to get attention

Pecha pecha (ペチャペチャ) – chatting about random things

Zuru zuru (ズルズル) – slurping loudly

Kya (キャー) – Screaming 

Gabu gabu (ガブガブ) – guzzling down a drink

Giongo: Sounds Made by Non-Living Things

Field of grain against a blue sky

The next category is giongo (擬音語). This type of onomatopoeia are sounds that’s made by non-living things. This includes noises by vehicles like cars, as well as natural sounds like thunder and wind. These are a few common ones in this category: 

Para para (パラパラ) – light rain, or flipping pages of a book

Za za (ザーザー) – heavy rain

Gobo gobo (ゴボゴボ) – gushing water

Sawa sawa (サワサワ) – rustling

Pyu pyu (ピューピュー) – strong winds

Gashan (ガシャン) – crashing

Gatan gaton (ガタンガトン) – train clacking 

Goro goro (ゴロゴロ) – thunder, or large objects rolling

Kon kon (こんこん) – knocking 

Rin rin (リンリン) – ringing, like a bell

Kopo kopo (コポコポ) – water bubbling

Saku saku (サクサク) – stepping on sand or dirt

Tata tata (タタタタ) – running fast

Gitaigo: Sounds Describing Conditions

a child with sweat on their forehead

Gitaigo (擬態語) is a category of Japanese onomatopoeia that are sounds which describes a state. It can be a condition of something, like if your body is warm or if you feel sticky. Here are some examples that are common from this category: 

Kara kara (カラカラ) – sweating

Fuwa fuwa (フワフワ) – fluffy

Kira Kira (キラキラ) – sparkling

Pika pika (ピカピカ) – shining

Guru guru (グルグル) – dizzy

Peto peto (ペトペト) – feeling sticky because of swear

Hoka hoka (ホカホカ) – steamy or warm food

Bisshori (びっしょり) / bisho bisho (びしょびしょ) – soaking

Mushi mushi (むしむし) – humid

Piri piri (ピリピリ) – spicy

Shinwari (シンワリ) – slowly soaking with tears or sweat

Gira gira (ギラギラ) – glint in eyes

Giyougo: Sounds Describing Movements and Motions

A man walking passed windows with his head down.

The next category is giyougo (擬容語). This type of onomatopoeia are sounds that describe any movement or motion. It’s basically like verbs. It can be walking from place to place or falling asleep. Here are some common examples from this category:

Uro uro (ウロウロ) – wandering aimlessly

Koro koro (コロコロ) – something rolling

Guru guru (グルグル) – spinning around

Noro noro (ノロノロ) – slow and sluggish movement or pace

Suta suta (スタスタ) – brisk walking

Gussuri (ぐっすり) – asleep completely

Gu Tara (グータラ) – no willpower

Yukkuri (ゆっくり) – slowly

Gachi gachi (ガチガチ) – chattering teeth

Shiba shiba (シバシバ) – rapidly blinking

Gaba- (ガバッ) – waking up with a start

Kaba kaba (カバカバ) – chowing down food fast

Kyoro Kyoro (キョロキョロ) – restlessly looking around 

Buru buru (ブルブル) – trembling 

Gijougo: Sounds Describing Feelings

An older man looking shocked

The last category is gijougo (擬情語), which are sounds that describe feelings and emotions. They’re used quite often in manga and anime. This includes emotions like feeling a shiver down your spine or being excited. Here are some common examples: 

Doki doki (ドキドキ) – nervous, heart racing

Uki Uki (ウキウキ) – cheerful

Ira Ira (イライラ) – to be irritated

Bikkuri (びっくり) – surprised 

Waku waku (ワクワク) – excited or happy

Boro boro (ぼろぼろ) – to be mentally drained

Noro noro (ノロノロ) – to feel lazy

Zotto (ゾッと) – a chill down the spine

Muku muku (むくむく) – thinking of an idea or when inspiration hits

Yakimoki (ヤキモキ) – extremely worried

Run run (ルンルン) – happily humming

Musu- (むすっ) – pouting

Zuki zuki (ズキズキ) – throbbing pain

Moya moya (モヤモヤ) – wondering what to do

These Japanese words that are just sounds are used on a daily basis. It’s a win-win: it’s easy to remember and you can up your nihongo game! Express your inner colours with some of these Japanese onomatopoeia! 

What Is Gachapon? Japan’s Totally Kawaii Capsule Toys!

What Is Gachapon? Japan’s Totally Kawaii Capsule Toys!

There’s nowhere like Japan for toys and collectables. This country has everything from your favourite cartoon character figurines to silly knick-knacks. If you’re wondering where the best and cheapest place to get them at is, the answer is: gachapon.


These capsule machines are popular nationwide. Now, its fame has spread overseas. People are intrigued by this idea of machines with cute toys in them, and only for pennies! Anime lovers and Japanophiles, you’re going to want to stick around. Everything you need to know about Japan’s one-of-a-kind capsule toys is just a scroll away!

What is gachapon?

Aisles of Gochapon!


So, what exactly is it? In short, gachapon is a coin-operated machine that dispenses a toy when a coin enters the machine. This word can also refer to the capsule toys themselves. The term actually comes from the sound that the dispenser makes when cranking the knob of the machine (“gasha”). Combine that with the sound of the thud when the capsule toy dispenses (“pon”). Gachapon is also sometimes known as gachapon. “Gasha” and “gacha” are both onomatopoeiae of the sound.


These capsule toys are usually ¥100 to ¥500. They’re not expensive at all! The catch is that you don’t get to choose what you get. It’s a surprise. You’ll be able to see a range of what each machine offers, though. There would be a picture at the front of the machine. If there are five options, your chances of getting the one you like are roughly 20%.


These toys that are in gachapon machines aren’t just silly toys that you’re going to throw away the next day. For both children and adults, these toys are high-quality and sometimes limited-edition goods. Collectors go crazy for them.


There’s no guarantee that you’re going to get what you want. Because of that, customers keep coming back until they complete their set.

Gachapon origins

Gachpon store!


The outlook of gachapons resembles the likes of gumball machines and vending machines in the West. One might assume that that’s where it came from. But that’s all the similarities between them. The gachapon we know and love is all thanks to Ryuzo Shigeta.


Back in the 60s, Shigeta wanted to improve a vending machine he got from the United States. He decided to put each item in a plastic container and tested it out. It was a huge hit! And the rest is history. Today, there are almost half a million gachapon in Japan alone, and the numbers are only rising.

Types of gachapon toys

Pokemon themes capsule toys


So, what kind of toys can you get from gachapon? I hate to break it to you, but the question should be, “what toys can’t we get?” You can quite literally get anything from one of these machines. The most common types of toys you’d find in gachapon machines are small figurines of anime characters and Japanese pop culture products. Magnets and keychains are really common, too. There are others that offer miniature versions of games like Crocodile Teeth (I have one myself).

Gochapon toys


Don’t be surprised if you find a gachapon that gives you underwear or something similarly weird. I’ve seen a couple that’s covered with black paper and has the red “over 18 only” sign. I didn’t bother finding out what that was…
You will also be able to find machines that offer miniature versions of everyday items like furniture and condiments. You can build your own miniature house! These machines offer limited run products and the stock changes quite frequently. Customers are always back to see what new things they can add to their collection.
Honestly, listing out every single gachapon toy is impossible. There’s always something new brewing. I have no doubt a new type of gachapon machine is in the works as we speak.

Where to find gachapon?

Gochapon machines


So where can you find these gachapons? You don’t really have to look for long to find one. Most of the time, you can find gachapons outside stores on random streets throughout the whole country. If you’re not in the mood to stroll around, arcades definitely have them. Stores that sell manga, anime, games and electronics would have them nearby as well.


If you’re really in pursuit of them, Japan’s capital city Tokyo is the best place to start. It’s basically the mecca of gachapons with rows and rows of those machines. Tokyo Station has Tokyo Gachapon Street, where there are more than 50 unique gachapon machines lined up. Here, there’s everything from anime and manga character figurines to random trinkets.


Akiharabara is another gachapon heaven. This neighbourhood is famous for its abundant anime and manga shops. Little do people know it’s also one of the best spots for gachapon. At Akiharabara Gachapon Kaikan, there are over 500 gachapon machines for your choosing. Every month, the stocks and designs change. This is the place that has the biggest variety of gachapon toys!


You could also pop by Akihabara Radio Kaikan. On the fifth floor, there’s a shop of one of the most well-known companies for anime figurines. Called Kaiyodo, it has over 60 capsule toy machines and have quite the range of toys. Look out for collaboration items that you can only get here!


Osaka’s go-to spot for gachapon is in the Nipponbashi area. In and amongst the other shopping attractions, you’ll find dozens of gachapon machines of the most popular types out there.


Long story short, gachapon machines are everywhere. You won’t leave Japan without coming across a few rows at least once a day for your entire trip.

Gachapon has quite the significance in Japanese culture. Getting capsule toys from these machines are not only a unique experience but they make great souvenirs. They’re cheap, high-quality and one-of-a-kind. Whether you’re an anime lover or just interested interested in all things Japan, be sure to include gachapon on your Japan to-do list!

Learn Japanese Now! Here are 7 Awesome Reasons.

Learn Japanese Now! Here are 7 Awesome Reasons.

Have you ever found yourself wanting to learn Japanese? You’re not alone. By learning a new language you can also get a glimpse at the culture behind the language. Without the ability to communicate, you can never understand a culture on its own terms. Discovering and learning about Japanese language and culture is easier now than ever thanks to Nihongo Master. Learning a new language is a logical step to expand our own horizons. There are lots of reasons to learn Japanese. Let’s find out why.

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What To Love About Japan

What To Love About Japan

Introduction

People all around the world dreams of going to Japan. Regardless of what occasion you’re in Japan for, this country will far exceed your expectations in more ways than one. At one point or another, you definitely have stumbled across pictures or videos of the Japanese sakuras, maybe even the rustic streets of Kyoto. For some of us, they were what drew us into the fascination of Japan. 

This country has more in store for you than just the jaw-dropping landscapes — every corner is full of excitement and new ventures, even for those of us who are in Japan for longer than just a week or two-long holiday! Food, fun and freshness — what more can one ask of a country? Out of the thousands of reasons why, here I highlight the top 5 that will definitely get your hypes up about Japan!

1. Alcohol

Can anyone actually say no to good alcohol? When you’re in Japan, all alcohol is good alcohol; you definitely won’t be able to say no to them! Brace yourself for the huge alcohol range Japan has — not only are the Japanese beer of the best quality you can ever get in the entire world, but you also have other Japanese alcohol like umeshu (梅酒) and sake () at dirt-cheap prices! 

That’s not even the best part. I personally love the fact that every konbini (コンビニ) is fully stocked with a variety of alcoholic beverages! Everything from beers to fruity-flavoured three percenters like Horoyoi (ほろよい) — my ultimate favourites — is just footsteps away from your home. 

What’s more, unlike some countries in the world, Japan has no time limit on purchasing alcoholic beverages — so you don’t have to rush down to the nearest konbini two minutes before 11pm to get your night’s alcohol fix. I know that has been one of the best parts of Japan for me!

2. The Summer Is Nothing Short of Fantastic

Image Credit: Toshihiro Gamo

While Japan is famous for its spring season where the cherry blossoms dominate the country’s already beautiful nature, the summer in Japan is also a time of the year to be excited about. 

 The warm weather has the perfect combination for a getaway holiday: sun, sand and sea. Japan has more than a few beaches that are ideal for your sunbathing as well as beach and watersport activities. Okinawa might be the first stop that pops in your head — after all, it is Japan’s very own Hawaii — but even the cities not too far from Tokyo have awesome beaches that are even less crowded. 

Even the cities and towns have tons going on during the summer, so much that even the beach lovers might give a pass on a trip to the beach for a chill at a summer beer garden nearby or a day out dressed in yukata at a summer festival.

Summer Festivals

Enjoyed by both locals and travellers, summer festivals are ones to definitely be on your calendar! There’s the traditional Japanese summer festival that everyone looks forward to each year. Both guys and girls get dressed up in yukata, the summer version of a kimono, and walk down the rows and rows of stalls. After a whole day of munching on local street food and playing games, visitors end their day watching the fireworks in the evening.

Summer festivals aren’t just limited to the traditional one, though. There are quite a few other types of summer festivals — music ones are quite popular, consisting of local as well as international artists and attracting people all around the world; also keep an eye out for others like film festivals.

Summer Beer Gardens

Image Credit: sodai gomi

What’s a summer beer garden, you ask? Well, it’s exactly like how it sounds. Japan has a trend of indulging in refreshing beer during the hot summer months — so much like it’s a seasonal rite of passage. Beer gardens pop up in these months to cater to the demand of the people. Reasonably priced with a casual party atmosphere that’s perfect for gatherings of family, friends and even colleagues — what’s not to like about beer gardens?

Beer isn’t the only thing on the menu. Some of these stalls offer delicious foods that are perfect for both a la carte and food pairing to your beer. 

3. A Food Heaven

Speaking of food, who doesn’t love food? More correctly, who doesn’t love Japanese food? Sushi, ramen, yakiniku — you name it, of course, Japan has it; it is their local cuisine, after all. The best part of it all is that this is the only place on Earth where you can get the most authentic and truest flavours of Japanese cuisine.

Hiroshima is for okonomiyaki (お好み焼き); Osaka is for takoyaki (たこ焼き); Kobe is for beef (牛肉); Yokohama is for ramen (ラーメン); Fukuoka is for blowfish (ふぐ); Hokkaido for cheese (チーズ) — but what’s best is that you can get all of them in any city in Japan! 

Other than the Japanese food you already know, there are tons more you don’t! What about their unique cuisines like the kaiseki or kappo cuisine, where you sit back and relax while being served by the head chef of only the finest ingredients available during the season. You might think you know seafood before the dining experience, but be prepared to admit defeat and learn a thing or two from it. 

4. A Perfect Blend of Modern And Traditional, City And Nature

Japan has the best of both worlds: the modern city landscape and the preserved nature. One moment you’re surrounded by high rise buildings and neon lights, the next you’re deep in the woods surrounded by the cool natural breeze. Having both at your fingertips is extremely convenient, especially for an escape from the busy city life to the peaceful nature, or a buzzing night out instead of the quiet suburban life.

With about 3,000 kilometers from north to south in the Japanese archipelago, locals and travellers alike are spoilt for choices when it comes to natural sights — everything from the mangrove jungles in Okinawa to the drift ice in the seas of Hokkaido are experiences not to be missed out on. You don’t even have to travel to the ends of the country for some natural views; take in the beautiful coastlines and breathtaking volcanoes alongside preserved forests housing thousands of monkeys, deers, bears and other wildlife.

On the other side of the coin, there’s the wild and exciting city life of Japan that has the complete opposite atmosphere as well as activities to offer. The major cities like Osaka and Tokyo are definitely city stops to take if you’re an outgoing soul who needs bubbly afternoons and pumping evenings. For the shopaholics, better get your shopping shoes on — there’s a lot of ground to cover in Japan!

5. As Safe As Houses

Japan is one of the safest countries in the world. Their crime rates are only getting lower and they have the second-lowest homicide rate after Iceland and the second-lowest assault rate after Canada. 

The best thing about being in Japan is not having to fear for your safety every second as you walk down the streets. No one will mug you in public, pickpocket your phone from the back of your jeans pocket or snatch your wallet on the top of the table you’re dining at. 

It’s so safe that there is at least a police box every five minutes’ walk down a neighbourhood street, so if you’re ever feeling unsafe during your walk back home, just pop in them and let the officers know.

Conclusion

The reasons mentioned are just the tip of the iceberg — there are so many more reasons as to why Japan is awesome. Most of the time, you have to experience it for yourself to understand the level of awesomeness this country is. There’s nothing quite like The Land of the Rising Sun, and I confidently believe that it’s a country everyone should at least once in their lives step foot on. So, what’s holding you back? Get your tickets booked now!

5 Tips to Shopping in Japan

5 Tips to Shopping in Japan

Introduction

For those big shoppers out there, I bet you’ve picked up a few tricks along the way when it comes to shopping. Well, so have I — I definitely have a few takeaways from my time in Japan, and I’m here to share them with you in hopes that it will make your shopping experience even more fun and exciting. They will not only help you in Osaka and Tokyo but also in other parts of the country when you just randomly walk into a local store. 

Sometimes, Japan can be quite different from the rest of the world. Shopping is no different. Obviously, most of the basics are the same — you browse, try something on, fall immensely in love with the piece and then you buy it. On occasion, it may not be as smooth as you expect it to be here.

What can be so different from one’s perspective of Japan shopping, you ask? Well, let’s go through the important tips that will highlight the key differences and how to slightly tackle them!

1. Know your budget

First and foremost, you have to know your budget. Generally, one would have a rough estimate of how much they would want to spend on their trip. Here’s a tip: instead of setting aside a sum of money just for shopping, why not budget yourself to how much you’d put as a maximum amount for a piece of clothing?

Trust me on this, you’ll get easily swayed by the prices of the stuff in Japan. Imagine budgeting yourself spending ¥50,000, and when you see a pair of trousers that costs ¥15,000, you’ll be like “oh that’s not so bad, I’ll still have ¥35,000 left for the rest.” At the end of the day, you’ll end up with 3, maybe 5 pieces of clothing.

If you set a budget for each piece of clothing — say, ¥5,000 maximum for a shirt and ¥8,000 maximum for trousers — you’ll end up with more stuff for the same overall budget of ¥50,000!

2. Basic phrases are lifesavers

You’re right, the Japanese language is hard to master. But, it’s not that difficult to memorise a few sentences to make your shopping experience that much more smooth-sailing! To be very honest with you, people can get away with just knowing a few vocabulary words and not even a full sentence, so there’s no excuse!

The easiest ones to remember are colours: kuro () for black and shiroi (白い) for white are just your basic two colours that you’ll soon find out you’ll be using the most. If you want something that’s white in black, just point at the item and say “kuro arimasuka?” (黒ありますか?) — it’s that simple!

A sentence that you can remember easily is “ikura desu ka?” (いくらですか?) which means “how much?” Learn your basic one through ten before using this sentence though, as you wouldn’t be able to understand the response if you use it and not know the numbers. Once you do, this sentence is a lifesaver!

There are a few other simple and basic phrases to ease your shopping experience — it will 100% make it a lot more fun, if anything!

3. Be aware of the size conversion

Image Credit: paulStarPics

This one can get quite tricky. Just like how the UK size chart is different from the US size chart, the Japanese have their own size chart! Their shoe sizing follows a different kind of measurement and the S/M/L sizing can run rather small to accommodate the smaller physique of the locals. 

Do your research in advance or have the size conversion charts for all the various types of clothing and accessories saved on your phone. Some shops, especially the small, local ones, do not allow customers to try on the clothes or accessories, so you have to roughly guess if the items fit you or not.

Basically, the thing to note is that everything just runs smaller than usual. The Japanese are slim and petite in general, so some lengths may not be suitable for taller people, either. Be sure to check before you make your payment — some places, just like the “no trying” rule, have the “no refund or exchange” rule!

4. Don’t forget your passport

Oh, the privilege of tax-free! Visitors are lucky enough to claim the taxes back, but unlike some countries where you claim them all at once at the airport, in Japan, you can claim them at the store itself! There’s one catch, though: you have to have your passport.

I have made the mistake countless times — when I was first in Japan for travel — of not bringing my passport along with me and had to face the consequences of not getting the tax amount refunded. I guess if you’re as forgetful as me, you have to pay the price — literally!

5. Keep your eyes wide open

One thing I notice about Japan is that the good and great things are, more often than not, hidden. Sometimes, there wouldn’t even be signs to point to these amazing stores! I guess that’s just the exclusivity factor in play.

Because of that, make sure you get your cup of brewed coffee in the morning so you’re on high alert with eyes wide open to spot these hidden gems. These treasure chests of stores can gift you with all sorts of stuff — from unique, rare items to bargain prices!

The best ones are the ones that are underrated and underground, and that is no less for Japan shopping. Some are even literally underground! Who wouldn’t want one-of-a-kind items that only you have and no one else can get?

Conclusion

So there you have it — 5 exclusive tips from my own personal shopping experience in Japan. In my opinion, Japan is one of the best countries to shop in, and every piece is guaranteed quality. Whether you’re into luxury goods or thrifted items, rest assured you won’t be disappointed when shopping in The Land of the Rising Sun.