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On the way to work, it seems like I always drive past some sports car with the front license plate stuck nonchalantly in the front window or angled up or down. As it turns out, there is a big market for license plate modifications in Japan, despite the fact that they are pretty much affixed to you car with an anti-theft bolt.

The Japanese people have a reputation for hiding their personal feelings, especially amongst people who are not immediate family. But thanks to the wonders of the internet, the fine art of guchi (愚痴), or "complaining" can be done totally anonymously.

One place such website where Japanese people vent their frustrations and ask for advice is the Yomiuri Newspaper's hatsugen komachi (発言小町 or "small village of speech"). Let's take a look...


Just a mini-update about the juki card (住基カード), a government-issued identification card that was made available to foreign residents earlier this month.

As a reminder, the juki card is one of the few government ID cards available to foreign residents which can contain your 通称名 (tsuushoumei), or registered alias. If you're like me and have a long name, you may find that it's the only card you can get with a tsuushoumei on it.


Although Japanese is a relatively rule-abiding language when compared to English, there a plenty of foibles and ticks when it comes to the art of combining kanji. Let's take a look at some tricky kanji that have different readings when spoken.

Today's culprits: 私立, 市立, and 公立.

I am going to out on a limb and guess that most of our readers are not keenly following the fantastically exciting world of Japanese pharmaceuticals. So just in case you missed the big news, a recent Supreme Court ruling has lifted a ban on the online sale of almost all generic drugs (ippan-yo yakuhin 一般用薬品). That means, come later this year, you can finally buy your anti-hangover aspirin supply online and have it shipped directly to your house.


This little bit of information caught me off guard:

Just this year, Japan lifted its general ban on domestic political campaigning activities conducted online. It is now legal for Japanese political candidates to set up websites and advertise their platforms through social networking services. (That's right--it used to be a no-no in this country.)

Now, with this ban lifted, the Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications has identified as a potential issue the activities of minors--that's anyone under the age of 20 here--in relation to political campaign efforts.

To try to nip any such activity in the bud, the ministry has issued a blanket statement targeting minors, reminding them that they face potential fines of up to 300,000 yen ($3000) and up to a year of jail time should they express public support for a campaign during their online activities.