Tag Archives: samurai

Samurai Star Wars

10 Dec

As the new Star Wars will hit theaters soon, advertisements and tie-ins can be seen in many places in Japan now.

But one of daughters saw a unique, “only-in-Japan” tie-in yesterday … Star Wars characters dressed as the samurai that they were likely inspired by in the first place.

My daughter took these photos for me:








McDonalds “World Cup” menu

29 May

Do you know the FIFA soccer “World Cup“? Do you watch it?

It’s like the Olympics or “Super Bowl” for soccer.

I remember when Korea and Japan co-hosted the World Cup in 2002 and many matches were held in the Tokyo area. I tried to get interested in the event. I watched the games that Japan played, as well as the games that America played.

But, if I’m honest, I find soccer pretty boring.

I guess I’m in the minority with that opinion though because soccer, especially the World Cup, is very popular around the world.
In Japan, too.

It wasn’t always like that. When I first came to Japan, soccer wasn’t very popular here. Baseball was by far the most popular sport in Japan then.
When Japan co-hosted the 2002 World Cup, soccer-fever took off in Japan. And it’s been very popular here since.

Anyways, in anticipation of the 2014 World Cup, which will be hosted by Brazil from 2014 June 12th – July 13th, McDonalds in Japan is offering a special “World Cup” menu.

It says 「一番ウマい国はどこだ。」 (“Which country is the best?”)

They offer a Brazilian BBQ burger, German pork sandwich, Italian Risotto balls, Chicken McNuggets with Italian Basil and Cheese dip, JapaneseRamune” floats, and more.

Is McDonalds doing a World Cup campaign like this in your country too?

All You Need Is Kill

5 Jan

I’ve written a post before about some of the numerous Hollywood that were either inspired by Japan or were actual remakes of Japanese movies.

(Click here to read it.)

Well, recently Hollywood has made more Japan-inspired films.

For example…

– Japanese title: ウルヴァリン SAMURAI (Wolverine Samurai) / U.S. title: “The Wolverine

「ウルヴァリン SAMURAI」 (“The Wolverine”)

–  “47 Ronin

47 Ronin

– Japanese title: ゴジラ (Gojira) / U.S. title: “Godzilla


And now, I’ve heard that Tom Cruise is in a new movie called Edge Of Tomorrow which is an adaptation of the Japanese novelオール ユー ニード イズ キル」 (All You Need Is Kill).

Edge Of Tomorrow

「オール ユー ニード イズ キル」(“All You Need Is Kill”)….the Japanese novel that Edge Of Tomorrow is a remake of.

Interview with an Italian Samurai

6 Dec

Have you ever heard of Holy Martyr? My great friend Masa told me about them.

They are a heavy metal band from Italy. But their album titled “Invincible” is quite unique because the songs on that album are about famous Japanese samurai stories and battles!

The guitarist of Holy Martyr, Ivano Spiga, did an interview with me.

The interview is on my website’s “Interviews Page“…Click here to read it.

Even if you’re not a fan of heavy metal, you should read the interview to learn why they decided to make a Japanese-themed album and also if it’s true that Italians use a spoon when they eat spaghetti, as many Japanese people believe.

Of course, I also recommend that you check out the music of Holy Martyr.

After you read the interview, come back to this page and leave a comment to let me know what you thought.

In honor of the modern day Samurai

25 Mar

Have you ever heard of the 「福島50」 (“Fukushima 50“)?

After the explosion at the nuclear power plant in Fukushima, Japan that was caused by the tsunami on 2011 March 11, all of the plant workers were evacuated…except fifty.

These fifty brave men stayed behind, despite the extreme risk to their lives, to try to bring the nuclear plant back under control.

Due to the health risk of prolonged expose to the radiation, a few hundred more volunteers came back to the plant so that they could work to repair the plant in shifts in groups of fifty men each.

The "Fukushima 50" working to bring the plant back online.

I saw an interview on TV with the teenage daughter of one of the Fukushima 50. She said that her father said after the accident at the plant that his experience was needed there and he knew he had to go. She said that she was proud of him for risking his life for the good of the rest of us.

That’s how everyone in Japan feels about all of the Fukushima 50. We are all grateful for their willingness to give the ultimate sacrifice for us.

Here’s an excellent video that someone made and posted on YouTube as a tribute to these modern-day Samurai:

Have you heard about the Fukusima 50 on the news in your country?

McDonald’s cell-phone straps

5 Sep

In America, key chains are popular (at least they were when I lived there. Are they still popular there?).

Key chains aren’t popular at all in Japan. Here, 携帯電話ストラプ (cell-phone straps) are very popular.

I wrote a post about “Samurai cell-phone straps” and another post about “Snoopy cell-phone straps”.

I had meant to write about the cell-phone straps that McDonalds in Japan began offering last July but I didn’t get around to it until now.

Unfortunately, if you want one of these straps it’s too late now. The campaign has recently ended.
I thought the straps were a good idea and they were fairly popular. They looked just like McDonalds burgers, fries, coffee and apple pie…but they’re too big, in my opinion.
I wouldn’t put one on my phone. I have a strap on my phone but it’s nothing like these.

To get one of these “McDonalds Food Straps“, you had to order a large size value meal set and a strap would be included with the set…during the campaign period.

Would you put one of these on your cell-phone? Do you already have one? Which one do you like best? Does McDonalds offer things like this in your country?


30 May

Last August I wrote a post about Star Wars Lightsaber Chopsticks.

(Click here to read that post.)

Well, the company that sold those chopsticks (Kotobukiya) is now offering 「日本刀箸」 (“Samurai Sword Chopsticks“).

As I said in my post about the Star Wars chopsticks, I don’t really have an interest in gimmicky chopsticks. I eat with chopsticks everyday…but I use normal chopsticks.

That said, I’d rather use these 「日本刀箸」 (“Samurai Sword Chopsticks”) than the 「ライトセーバーチョップスティック」 (“Lightsaber chopsticks”).
They’re kinda cool. Besides, when George Lucas made the Star Wars movie a lot of his inspiration came from Japan…the “Lightesabers”, for example, were based on 「日本刀」 (Japanese swords).

Anyways, these 「日本刀箸」 (“Samurai Sword Chopsticks”) are available in three different designs. They’re modeled after the swords of three famous samurai in Japanese history:  「伊達政宗」 (Date Masamune), 「真田雪村」 (Sanada Yukimura), and 「前田慶次」 (Maeda Keiji).

Chopsticks based on the samurai Date Masamune's sword.

Chopsticks based on the samurai Sanada Yukimura's sword.

Chopsticks based on the samurai Maeda Keiji's sword.

Chopsticks based on the samurai Maeda Keiji's sword.

The 「箸置き」 (chopsticks rests) for these chopsticks have the Family Crest for the samurai whose sword the chopsticks are designed after.

Each pair of these chopsticks cost ¥1,050.

Pepsi Samurai

10 Jan

Pepsi-Cola Japan is has a new campaign.

Last summer, they gave away Snoopy cell-phone straps with bottles of Pepsi NEX.
Click here to read my post about that.

Now they are giving away Samurai cell-phone straps (well, one of them is Matthew Perry. Click here to read what I wrote about him.)

If you buy a bottle of Pepsi‘s “zero calorie” NEX cola at a convenience store or supermarket in Japan during this campaign period, it will come with a Samurai cell-phone strap.

(click to enlarge)

Personally, I don’t drink much cola…and I never drink “zero calorie” or diet drinks (they taste terrible).
Also, although I think 「侍」 (samurai) are cool, I don’t really need any more cell-phone straps (I have one on my phone that looks like a skull and I’m happy with it).

How about you? Would you buy this? Do you like “zero calorie” Pepsi?
What type of cell-phone strap do you have? (Does your country have straps on the phones like in Japan?)

47 Ronin

25 Mar

浪人 (Rōnin) means “masterless Samurai“.

When a (Samurai) lost his leader or master because of death or any other reason, he would either commit 切腹 (ritual suicide) or become a 浪人 (Rōnin).

There’s a famous story of the 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin).

The tale of the 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin) is a true story (probably embellished over the years).

Basically the story is of a Samurai who unintentionally insults a higher-ranking Samurai.
One thing led to another and finally the slighted, higher Samurai accuses the other of attempted murder…and he’s found guilty and forced to commit 切腹 (ritual suicide).

The higher ranking Samurai knew that the other had 47 Samurai who served him (who were now 浪人 (Rōnin)) that would surely try to avenge their master…so he surrounded himself with extra bodyguards to protect himself from their attack.

The 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin) knew that they couldn’t kill the other Samurai with so many guards protecting him…so they did nothing for months.

The whole town lost respect for them and mocked them as cowards.

It was all a part of the 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin)’s plan…once the higher Samurai let his guard down because he no longer felt any threat from the “coward” 浪人 (Rōnin)—that’s when they struck!

After they killed the man responsible for their master’s death, they all committed 切腹 (ritual suicide) to retain their honor.

The graves of the 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin) is at the 泉岳寺 (Sengakuji Temple) in Tokyo.

I went to the graves of the 四十七士 (forty-seven Rōnin) and took some photos. It was raining a bit today…I think the overcast, rainy weather added to the atmosphere.

Here are the photos I took today:

Not 泉岳寺...but outside the subway station.

Not 泉岳寺...but outside the subway station.

Entrance to 泉岳寺 (Sengakuji Temple).

Entrance to 泉岳寺 (Sengakuji Temple).

Shop selling souvenirs...including 「四十七士提灯」 ("47 Ronin paper lanterns")

Shop selling souvenirs...including 「四十七士提灯」 ("47 Ronin paper lanterns")





Some of the 47 Ronin's graves

Some of the 47 Ronin's graves

Some more of their graves

Some more of their graves

And more...

And more...


By the way, did you know that the American actor Keanu Reeves will star in the upcoming Hollywood movie to be titled “47 Rōnin” about this tale?

Also, in modern Japan, the term 浪人 (Rōnin) is sometimes used to describe someone who’s failed their high school or college extrance exam and must wait a year to try again.


5 Nov

Last Monday was 文化の日 (Culture Day). (You can read a very short FAQ that I wrote about Culture Day if you click here).

On 文化の日 (Culture Day), the Emperor awards medals to people who have contributed to Japanese society that year. My wife’s grandfather was a volunteer firefighter in Tokyo for over 50 years when he was young. On his 50th year with the Tokyo Volunteer Fire Department, he received a medal from the Emperor on 文化の日 (Cuture Day).

There are also many festivals in Japan on 文化の日 (Culture Day)…東京時代祭 (Tokyo Era Festival), 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery), etc.

We went to the 東京時代祭 (Tokyo Era Festival). This festival is every year on 文化の日 (Culture Day) at 浅草 (Asakusa, Tokyo).


This is a fun festival with the main part being a large parade of people in costumes representing different eras in Tokyo’s history.
There’s Samurai, Geisha, traditional Japanese dancers, U.S. Commodore Perry and his crew and many more.

Here are some of the many photos and videos that I took (if you wanna see all of the videos I took, they’re on My YouTube Page. Click here):

This sign says 「東京時代祭」 (Tokyo Era Festival):




The 天狗 (Tengu):


歌舞伎 (Kabuki):


神輿 (Portable Shrine):


Common people, including children, brought huge stones across the country to 東京 (Tokyo) (called 江戸 (Edo) back then) to build the Edo Castle:







Japanese firefighters:


七福神 (Seven gods of fortune):


芸者 (Geisha):




This group represents Commodore Perry and his crew of the U.S. Navy who, with his fleet of black ships, forced Japan to open up and trade with the West:



At the end of the parade, they carried this sign to promote Japan’s campaign to host the 2016 Olympics. It said 「日本だから、できる。 あたらしいオリンピック!」 (“We’re Japan, so we can do it. A new Olympics!”):