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Is there Halloween in Japan?
Yes and no. You won't find trick or treaters except perhaps among the foreign community. You will, however, find "Cosplay", which is a Japanese portmanteau of the English terms "costume" and "play". The phrase was coined by Nobuyuki Takahashi, a Japanese reporter, to describe what he saw. As with other global celebratons, the Japanese have adopted Halloween for commercial and "cosplay."
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Japanese Oshogatsu (New Year Celebration)
"The three-day New Year holiday is a very special time in Japan, a time of solemn prayers and joyous greetings. While New Year's Day is a holiday in many parts of the world, the occasion has a unique significance to the Japanese, who take the opportunity to begin anew many aspects of their lives." 
 
Coca Cola Translated in Chinese - "Bite the Wax Tadpole"
Foreign words adopted for the Chinese market are often created phonetically, while, at the same time, suitable Chinese characters are selected. One of the first attempts to find the most suitable name for Coca Cola in Chinese resulted in the following...ke-kou-ke-la.  Unfortunately the Chinese translation was..."bite the wax tadpole or female horse stuffed with wax".  Once the error was discovered, another translation was quickly prepared...ko-kou-ko-le.  This resulted in a much better translation..."happiness in the mouth".
 
Betty Crocker in Japan - "Cakeron"
Two giant confectionaries introduce cake mixes to the Japanese market.  They were not prepared for the results!  After considerable time and money, General Mills and Japanese confectionary giant, Morinaga, realized that even thought the Japanese loved western-style cakes, most homes did not have ovens! "Cakeron" was re-introduced as a cake mix adapted for the rice cooker.  Problem solved?  No, because no one considered the fact that rice is sacred in Japan, and housewives felt the flavors contaminated the rice, even if they thoroughly washed the rice cooker.  The product was a big flop!
 
But the Japanese Love Golf
An American company attempted to sell golf balls in Japan.  The Japanese love to play golf, but the venture failed!   The American company designed an attractive package, containing four golf balls.  Knowing the Japanese loved both beautiful packaging and golf, they were sure they had a winner.  Later it was discovered that in Japanese, the number four has the same pronunciation as the Japanese word for death.  Never sell anything in sets of four!
 
Dominos Pizza - Niche Marketing - Japanese Style
Years ago, Dominos Pizza successfully carved out a niche in Japan. Interestingly, market research indicated that home delivery of pizza would not succeed.  The owner of the franchise decided to go with his "gut feeling". One reason, he felt, was the fact that more and more women are working and do not have time to spend in the kitchen cooking. The owner was right, and Dominos became big business in Japan. He changed the size of the pizza, added different toppings that appeal to the Japanese, such as pineapple, squid, etc. The delivery truck, a three-wheeled motorcycle with a pizza warming container on the back, was ideal for zipping through Japanese gridlock traffic.
 
Nengajo - Japanese New Years Cards
The Japanese send New Years greetings, rather than Christmas cards.  The custom of sending nengajo, or year-end post cards, apparently began during the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and were issued by the Postal Service.
The popularity of these cards increased dramatically when prizes were attached to them and awards given out.  Often, the design incorporates the current year's zodiac animal. 
 
Valentine's Day - Japanese Style
February 14th was originally designated as the day to honor the martyr Saint Valentine. The story is that the Roman Emperor refused to grant permission to a soldier to marry his sweetheart..  Valentine Priest disagreed with the Emperor and was executed. The day became known as St. Valentine's Day. In many Western countries, Valentine's Day has become a day of celebrating love, and exchanging gifts--chocolate, flowers, jewelry.  The Japanese do the same, but with a slightly different twist.  February 14th is a day when women give to men.  Chocolate is the most popular gift.  There are, however,  two types of Valentine's chocolate:  giri-choco, and honmei-choco.  Giri means obligation--gifts one gives to repay kindnesses from friends, colleagues, bosses, family, whereas honmei, meaning homemade, or that given from the heart.  The Japanese have created a second "Valentine's Day" on March 14th, and call this one "White Day."  Men who received Valentine's Day gifts from women are expected to give a gift back to the women.  Again, this marketing idea came from a Japanese confectionary company.  Needless to say, the sales on March 14th do not come close to those on February 14th!
 

Cell Phone Etiquette in Japan "Manner Mode"
Cell phones, or keitai (denwa) in Japanese, are everywhere in Japan.  They are small, light weight, extremely convenient, and relatively inexpensive.  For many, they are the preferred form of communication. When riding trains in Japan,in movie theaters,restaurants and other public places, one is expected to observe proper etiquetteYou will often see or hear announcements requesting that you observe "manner mode", meaning to set the phone to vibrate, or turn it off completely. It is considered appropriate etiquette to use the phone only in designated areas.

 

Karaoke
The Japanese and others around the world love to sing.  It is popular for several reasons:  It is a way to unwind after a stressful day at the office. It is also an effective way to establish a good relationship with staff members or business colleagues.  Do not underestimate the importance of karaoke invitations.
Note:  Be sure to pronounce the word correctly!   The correct pronunciation is "kara-OK", not "kari-oki". 
Karaoke, in Japanese, comes from "kara" means empty in Japanese, and "oke", which is short for orchestra.  The meaning is "empty orchestra, representing the sound system found in most bars.  Almost everyone gets invited to a Karaoke Bar at some time or another.   Be prepared to sing, and be prepared with a few selections that you know relatively well. You do not need to be a good singer, but you need to participate in the activity as a member of the group.  Don't be shy - show you are a good sport! The Japanese, and other Asians, take their singing very seriously. Many visit their favorite bar and practice religiously. There are schools in Japan that teach karaoke.  Even when singing in bars one needs to take into consideration the rank of people in the group. Defer to your host-and wait to be asked.  If you really want to impress your colleagues, learn a couple of songs in the native language.!

 
American - British English Words
Elevator = Lift
Apartment = Flat
Can = Tin
Hood (car) = Bonnet
Trunk (car) = Boot
Restroom = Loo
Subway = Underground
Television = Telly
French fries = Chips
Pharmacy = Chemist
Cookies = Biscuits
Period (grammar) = Full Stop
Truck = Lorry
English Words of Indian Origin
bandana khaki
chai kismet
chintz loot
chutney nirvana
pajamas cot
cummerbund pundit
dinghy curry
dungaree shampoo
swami guru
juggernaut  veranda
yoga jungle
 
 
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