Friday, May 31, 2013

My Number: Welcome to Japan's new unified tax and benefit number system

Get ready folks, because come 2015, you will be the proud owner of brand spanking new My Number (マイナンバー) issued by the friendly folks at the Japanese Government. On May 24th, the three major parties in the National Diet finally got off their duffs and managed to put together a brand new law that gives everyone residing in Japan (foreigners included) a single unified identification number akin to a US Social Security number.

The so-called mai nannbaa-ho (マイナンバー法), or "My Number Act" (officially called the shakai hosho zei bango-ho 社会保障・税番号法 or "Social Benefits and Tax Number Act") will have far reaching effects on just about everyone who uses a government service (i.e. the whole country). Lets take a peek at what the law entails.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Japanese Internet Slang

Where the internet goes, slang will surely follow. This axiom is as true of Japanese as it is of the modern English language. The Japanese language netscape is filled with all sorts of interesting slang, much of it originating from popular websites such as 2-Chan, Twitter, and Nico-Nico Doga. However, even if you have nearly perfect Japanese, deciphering some of these cryptic words can prove to be a challenge if you are new to a given net community. Let's take a look at some slang decoding resources.

Monday, May 20, 2013

6 Varieties of Japanese Green Tea

Last week, we covered four popular kinds of tea in Japan. We ended the article with a note on green tea (緑茶, ryokucha) and its ubiquity in Japan, so much that the general term "tea" is understood in this country to mean "green tea" unless otherwise specified. Here are some of the many varieties of green tea in Japan:

Friday, May 17, 2013

Annual Automobile Tax in Japan

Yes, folks, its that time of year. The time when posters of consternated anthropomorphic vehicles with cute faces get plastered all over government buildings and mysterious official envelops get dropped in your mail slot. It can only mean one thing...time to pay your annual automobile tax!

Monday, May 13, 2013

4 Kinds of Tea in Japan

Though not all of these tea varieties originated in Japan, they are all quite popular drinks across the country:

Friday, May 10, 2013

Automated Speed Cameras in Japan

Despite being the home of Toyota and Honda, Japan is not a land known for its generous speed limits. As a matter of fact, I am hard-pressed to think of any posted speed limit in excess of 80km/h, and that is on the expressway! So what keeps lead-footed drivers in check in Japan? Is it Japan's legendary adherence to societal rules? Or perhaps it's the iron fist of The Law?

The answer, as it turns out, is much more of the latter. Take a quick trip down any highway and you are bound to come across a set of jido sokudo ihan torishimari sochi (自動速度違反取締装置, literally "automated speed violation control devices"), better know as "speed violations cameras."

Monday, May 06, 2013

How Japanese People Take Their Tea

Black tea is a popular "Western" drink in Japan, and it is widely available at restaurants, cafes, and in bottled form at supermarkets and in vending machines. Specialty shops offer a wide variety of black teas to the enthusiast, but in casual restaurants and cafes, the popularly available black tea is Earl Grey.

Black tea is usually served in one of four forms in Japan:

Friday, May 03, 2013

Stamp Taxes and Revenue Stamps in Japan

I have long wondered what the deal is with Japan's obsession with postage size "revenue stamps" (shunyu inshi 収入印紙) that you have to stick on just about every offical document. Anyone who has ever gone to the immigration office has had to a least by one or two of these expensive little suckers in order to get a visa renewed. Not to mention you probably have some reciepts laying around somewhere with stamps stuck to them. Lets take a look at what exactly these expensive postage stamps are for...