Tagged: beauty

Yahoo Comparison Exposes Quirky Japanese Culture

On January 1st 2008, Yahoo! Japan officially unveiled their redesigned web portal. Despite Yahoo’s popularity among the Japanese (over 60% share of the search engine market), we’ve had to wait this long for them to come up with a flashy web 2.0 style homepage.

Pushing slow adopters to increase their screen resolution

With so many people in this country using Yahoo! I was quite surprised they dropped the old 800-pixel-wide layout and opted for 1024 pixels. This could be one of the most overlooked steps in forcing people to increase their screen resolution. Not everyone in Japan is a tech-savvy otaku, and even my own mum was using 800×600 until recently. Anyway, it’s a positive step and gives us more room for advertising! 😉

Examining cultural differences with the Yahoo navigation menu

Here is a picture showing the US (.com) version of Yahoo’s navigation menu on the left, and the Japanese version on the right, complete with my dodgy translations.

Yahoo navigation menu comparison

I find comparing the two quite fascinating and it shows a lot about Japanese culture. For example:

  • Yahoo Auctions are right up there below Shopping in the Japanese menu. I realize the US version is in alphabetical order, but the Japanese menu is probably in order of popularity, showing Japan’s love for retail.
  • Travel in the Japanese menu refers to “rail routes”. When you follow the link, you choose your starting station and destination, click the button, and are instantly presented with a step-by-step guide to getting where you want to go. Very fancy, but essential for Japan’s millions of train commuters.
  • Cuisine, restaurants, food, gourmet, whatever you want to call it. Japan loves food, and that’s an understatement. Yahoo knows this all too well, and satisfies their passion for eating in and out with restaurant and cooking guides galore.
  • Beauty is a new section, and one that will be welcomed by the masses. Second to their craving for good food, Japanese people are obsessed with beauty. Yahoo lists all the latest trends in cosmetics, massage and dieting. This will be of particular interest to those suffering from metabolic syndrome, which almost everybody here believes they are!
  • Divination is much more than just horoscopes. We’re talking superstitions of supernatural proportions. It could be astrological predictions by Kazuko Hosoki, Ehara’s ghostly meetings with the deceased, lucky charms made of elephant dung, or the years of bad luck that can only be yakudoshi. Japanese people love this stuff!
  • Pets is another new category and seems to tap into the Japanese need to ooooh! and aaaah! at the cute little dogs in pet store windows. There’s not much more than pet photo albums on Yahoo, but that’s probably all they need to keep people using Yahoo forever and ever and ever.

That pretty much sums up modern Japanese culture, and shows just why Google is still lagging behind Yahoo in Japan. We don’t need accurate search results here! We just need horoscopes, cosmetics and puppies!

Japanese Beauties – Shaku Yumiko, Inoue Waka and Ayase Haruka

I don’t watch  a lot of Japanese TV, but every night when I get home from work, I sit down to eat dinner and watch whatever Japanese drama is on. This is a pattern I’ve followed for three years now, so I’m getting better at recognizing some of the actors and actresses that appear, reappear, and then appear again.

My favorite actor is Smap’s Kusanagi Tsuyoshi, but for this post I want to tell you about my favorite Japanese actresses, most of whom I like for reasons other than their acting, but aren’t we all guilty of that?

Shaku Yumiko

1. Shaku Yumiko

Shaku is 29 years old and, like most Japanese actresses, is also a model. I thought her role in Himitsu no Hanazono was the first time I had seen her, but apparently she co-hosted Eigo de Shabera Night, which I’ve seen a few times. This was a show asking famous people whether or not they can speak English, but unfortunately I can’t find a video clip showing Shaku speaking English, if indeed she can.

From JapanSugoi.com:

She’s most famous to overseas audiences for her role in the Godzilla movie Mega Godzilla, where she had extensive self-defense training and managed 300 sit-ups a day! She is a self described fan of anime and gaming and has played one of the characters in the 2003 Playstation 2 game Kidou Senshi Gundam Meguriai Uchuu.

Find Shaku Yumiko on Google Images and on Youtube.

Inoue Waka

2. Inoue Waka

This 27 year old Japanese idol is mostly known for her above average bust size, and she is sometimes referred to as the “Japanese Monroe”, due to her measurements being similar to Marilyn Monroe’s. Perhaps that’s how she got my attention when she was in the first season of Oniyome Nikki (Diary of Life with a Devil of a Wife ).

Since Oniyome, she’s been in a string of dramas whch I’ve mangaed to miss, but I did catch her naked in a Wood One commercial.

Waka was once the star of TV commercials for the loan company, Promise. Generally, people see these kind of companies as unethical, so it would be interesting to hear what she thinks about them. If you can read Japanese, you might want to take a look at her blog, but I don’t think she explores anything more controversial than her the best foods and desserts.

Find Inoue Waka on Google Images and on Youtube.

Ayase Haruka

3. Ayase Haruka

Ayase is the youngest of the three at only 22 years of age. Ayase is a singer, actress, and like the two before her, a bikini model. According to JDorama.com,

Pretty face and body to die for, it’s no wonder she was selected from 723 girls to play Aki in the unforgettable Sekai no Chuushin de Ai o Sakebu (04), for which she won best supporting actress. This led to major roles on the big screen and her award winning performance in the drama Byakuyakou. She was also one of the top 10 celebrities of 2004 by Yahoo Japan Entertainment Awards.

I’ve only seen Ayase once in a drama, and that was the recent Hotaru no Hikari, which has been my favorite Japanese drama of 2007.

Find Ayase Haruka on Google Images and on Youtube.

Those are my top three favorite actresses at the moment. If you enjoyed this post, please subscribe to my rss feed.