Japanese Culture

In February, love is in the air

2013年02月14日 13:48
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Of course it’s Valentine’s Day !

In Japan, the 14th February is a real celebration…for chocolate-making companies.

In fact, women are supposed to offer chocolates to their lover and it’s the best occasion for love confession. Recently the trend is not limited to your beloved but also, all the people you love: family, friends, colleagues…Generally, girls like to make chocolate themselves as a proof of their affection.



For busy people, supermarkets, convenient stores, bakeries, chocolate factories are overflown with prettily wraped chocolates. You can find any shape, any taste for any price in the wide range of products.

As nothing is received without gratitude in Japan, they planned another occasion, the White day, to give men the opportunity of paying back. On the 14th March, men are offering gift to women (not necessarily chocolates, but bags, cookies, jowellery…) and sometimes, they are expected to spend a little more than their Valentine’s gift…Very gentleman isn’t it ?

Business or not, Valentine’s Day is part of Japanese culture and you must admit that it’s a delicious excuse to give up your diet.
It’s also Valentine’s day at JaLS and teachers gave chocolates to their students: yummy panda !

Coming of Age Day

2013年01月16日 16:24
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

What’s the age of a teenage turning into an adult in your country?


In Japan, young people gain the right to vote when they reach 20 years old#, which means they start carrying the social responsibility. In other words, 20 is the turning point in a Japanese’s life. To value this important stage, Japanese Government names the second Monday of January the Seijin-No-Hi (成人の日).

# Japanese are officially permitted to smoke and drink alcohols from 20s.


On the day of Seijin-No-Hi, people who reach 20 that year all dress up nicely. Young men dress themselves up in suits while young woman are in kimono wears.


And actually, the date and way to celebrate Seijin-No-Hi did change as time went on.


Long time ago, when Japanese were still adopting the lunar calendar, Seijin-No-Hi was on the 15th January. With the rise of Meiji Revolution in 1868, the Meiji Government abolished lunar calendar and adopted Gregorian calendar. Seijin-No-Hi thus changed from lunar calendar 15th January to Gregorian calendar 15th January. In 2000, Japan Government finalized the date of Seijin-No-Hi the second Monday of January every year.


In the past, young people reaching 20 years old that year celebrated with families. Nowadays, many young people take part in the official ceremonies organized by ward offices. For example, Sapporo Central District Ward Office has announced the Seijin-No-Hi Ceremony to be held at Sapporo Park Hotel this year.



Interested in the Seijin-No-Hi Ceremony?

Please feel free to drop by and have a look if you’ve got the chance next year  🙂


Want to share your opinion with us? How about leave a message in our Facebook : https://www.facebook.com/#!/hokkaido.jals

Japanese manners : toilet

2013年01月11日 15:29
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Of course, even in the most private part your daily life, manners are still after you. Today’s example : toilet.

Who would have imagined that going to the restroom is a big deal ? In Japan it is, sometimes.

First there are a HUGE different between what japanese called “Japanese-style toilet” and “western-style” toilet.

so-called Japanese-style :floor-bidet


so-called western-style :robot-toilet

No need to explain the first one, it makes sense. However, the western-style one is like a real computer, full of technology.

Be aware : it talks ! When you enter the cabin, it will politely inform you that it’s an automatic device so you don’t need to flush it…cool.

Sometimes when you go near the bowl, a little song (chirping, classic music…) will cover your business. If not, you will have to deal with a range of buttons near the seat. Their are not just here to turn on the cover-music but also, to control the jet position and power…Yes, there is a water-jet extention that exerts to wash everything properly…

If you take a look around there are always cover-sheets, disinfectant products, enough hooks to hang on each of your clothes individually…Everything is always cleaned and well-supplied so you will NEVER run out of something.

Last but not least, you should use special slippers dedicated to the restroom…and try not to forget to remove them when you go out.

Strangely enough, using Japanese toilet is really a funny experience. However, JaLS’s toilet don’t talk…


Japanese New Year

2013年01月04日 16:50
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

New year in Japan is a real big event.

Everyone is preparing to return to their family and enjoy this night together. The schedule is quite full !

First, you should send greeting cards to all the people you may know and it is not uncommon to send thousands of cards each year.

Then, be ready to spend time in the kitchen: make soba noodles (buckwheat long noodles), osechi, お節(various kind of food packed in pilled lunch boxes), and mochi (rice cake).


Typical New Year’s celebration in Sapporo:

On New Year’s Eve, eat soba noodles in front of Kōhaku Uta Gassen、 紅白歌合戦, a TV-show that select the best singer/ group of the year.

Around twelve, go to the nearest temple and to listen to the 108 bells ringing (じょやの鐘 joya no kane ) that chase away the 108 sins of human being.
Then, at Hokkaido Temple, 北海道神宮 throw your 5 yen coin into the altar (5 yen coin, pronounced “go en”, 五円, as the same pronouncation as “go en”, ご縁, which means “fate”) pick your omikuji, 御神籤 and discover your fortune for the year.

Hokkaido Jingu

After, you can buy a talisman, omamori お守り.


Then, go to Moiwa Yama,藻岩山 to see the first sunrise of the year. Back home, you can enjoy your osechi and mochi and receive your otoshidama, お年玉, envelops that contain money and generally offered to children.


If you manage to do all of this, then you can say that your New Year was purely japanese. But the most important thing is that you enjoyed this transition and be ready to start a brand new year !

Japanese manners : bathroom and onsen

2012年11月30日 15:49
カテゴリ:Japanese Culture

Living in Japan is a real challenge for foreigners.There are so many customs that are completely different from our occidental habits that in the end, we are lost.

Fortunately, we are here to teach you the right way and remember that as a foreigner in Japan, you will be forgiven. (But they will still make fun of you)

First rule of Japanese private bathroom or onsen (public bath): wash first before entering the bathtube because the water will be used by others.

Second, when you take your shower, sit in the little stool. Use the bucket to rinse out. There are many tools arround but don’t think too much about it and just wash yourself somehow.

In the onsen, be aware that you should be naked so no swimsuit, and also no tattoo. Bring the little towel with you but don’t drop it into the water!

To put everything in practice, why don’t you join us for our Winter course ? On January 26th, we are organising a trip to hot springs along with a barbeque in a snow house!