Discussion

SIM-jacking and scamming

Technology has been quite a godsend for fraudsters. In the past, if you wanted to recreate a valuable painting you needed to painstakingly paint it, or if you wanted to open a fraudulent bank account, you had to physically grow a moustache to fool a bank teller. But these days, it's much easier. To beat two-factor authentication, scammers can simply transfer your phone number to a new SIM card and gain access to every penny you own.

Tokyo garden loses a fortune

An attendant at a popular garden in the heart of Tokyo has cost the facility millions of yen because he was “too frightened” to ask foreign visitors to pay the admission fee.

The attendant, who is in his early 70s, admitted failing to collect the fees for Shinjuku Gyoen national garden after an investigation was launched following a tip-off by another employee. The unnamed man said he had stopped collecting admission fees of 200 yen (US$1.80) for adults and 50 yen (US45¢) for children in April 2014, and had continued to allow foreign visitors in free of charge for about two and a half years. As a result an estimated 160,000 people entered the garden without paying. The environment ministry said that it had lost at least 25 million yen ($220,000).

Wabi-sabi: Beauty in imperfection

A key part of the Japanese Aesthetic—the ancient ideals that still govern the norms on taste and beauty in Japan—wabi-sabi is not only untranslatable, but also considered undefinable in Japanese culture. It encapsulates a more relaxed acceptance of transience, nature and melancholy, favouring the imperfect and incomplete in everything, from architecture to pottery to flower arranging.

When you can't stop buying books

Do you have a habit of picking up books that you never quite get around to reading? If this sounds like you, you might be unwittingly engaging in tsundoku—a Japanese term used to describe a person who owns a lot of unread literature.

The Japanese word doku can be used as a verb to mean "reading", and the tsun in tsundoku originates in tsumu—a word meaning "to pile up". So when put together, tsundoku has the meaning of buying reading material and piling it up.

On the other hand, Bibliomania is the title of a 19th century novel by Thomas Frognall Dibdin which claimed to explore "book madness"—the act of being unable to stop collecting literature.

Is McDonald's a foreign agent?

A Russian politician proposed labeling American fast food chains like McDonald's and KFC as foreign agents, following recently passed legislation which provides the same classification for international news outlets.

Boris Chernyshov, a 26-year-old Moscow lawmaker in the federal Russian Assembly, described advertisements made by American restaurants for Russian consumers as manipulative and nontransparent about their longterm health effects. The State Duma deputy added that chains like McDonald’s, available across Russia, were contributing to the decline of the nation's cuisine, according to local reports.

The latest measure to classify news outlets like CNN and Washington Post as foreign agents followed the U.S. requiring Russian outlets like RT and Sputnik to register under the same label. Not even three days later, the Russian lawmaker took the tit-for-tat a step further by once again pulling food chains into the feud.

Japanese KFC Christmas tradition

Every Christmas, Ryohei Ando gathers his family together for a holiday tradition. Just like their father did as a child, his two children will reach deep into a red-and-white bucket and pick out the best piece of fried chicken they can find.

Yes, it’s a Merry KFC Christmas for the Ando family. It may seem odd anywhere outside Japan, but Ando’s family and millions of others would never let a Christmas go by without Kentucky Fried Chicken. 

“My kids, they think it’s natural,” says Ando, a 40-year-old in the marketing department of a Tokyo sporting goods company.

Every Christmas season, an estimated 3.6 million Japanese families treat themselves to Kentucky Fried Chicken, in what has become a nationwide tradition.