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Topic: Japan Discussion

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RR529

741. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was "Womens' Nylons".

Nylons are a big part of Japanese culture, with some 70% of women between the ages of 18-80 wearing them daily. They can be found in department stores, grocery stores, & subway station kiosks, meaning customers can optain a pair 24/7, 365 days a year. The average pair costs between ¥500-¥1000, but in some cases can eclipse even ¥4000!

Japanese etiquette is the main reason they're so commonly worn, with women in the workforce culturally expected to wear them, & since it's rude to go bare foot in another's home, they allow women a solution to covering their feet when taking off their shoes in another's home. In fact, many public bathrooms in Japan have a feature unique to the country, a fold out foot stool that makes it easy for women to change nylons in the case their current pair tears.

Many features of Nylons, including standards of UV protection, physical durability, & antibacterial properties, include more rare features such as leg slimming effects, improved circulation, open toed designs, & special soles making it easier to wear high heels.

They were initially brought over to the country after WWII from the USA, when western styles of clothing were gaining popularity with Japanese women. During this time, nylons had a long seam up the back, which was unsightly, & a hassle to keep straight. During the 50's seamless nylons became popular in the west, but failed to take off in Japan because women worried that they'd be mistaken for going bare footed. Eventually, Japanese business' that got into the market, had to sell their stock overseas. With the profits gained from foreign sales, Japanese business' retried in the 60's, this time with an aggressive marketing campaign, which included gifting seamless nylons to graduating high school girls. This method was a massive success. With the rise of the mini skirt in the 60's, new nylons were designed to go up to the waist (instead of being individual for each leg). Their popularity peaked during the economic boom years of the 80's & early 90's, but has been in decline since, due to the more modest wardrobes of a fiscally responsible populace.

In recent times, however, they've been gaining popularity however, thanks to fasion trends. Fads such as colored nylons, stocking looks & more have made nylons popular amongst the younger generation of women. Many now come in a variety of stylish designs.

The technology used for nylons has even helped in the medical field as of late, as the same techniques have allowed doctors to create artificial arteries in patients with weak hearts, and real cells grow within the artificial artery, eventually replacing it with the real deal.

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742. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week, they went to the Seto Inland Sea, an area with dozens of small islands, about a dozen of which are taking part in an art fair.

They first stopped at the island of Ogijima. The first piece of art they noticed was a ferry dock, & gathering place for the locals. It's roof is made up of various words from across the globe all woven together into one frame (all of them are associated with the theme of water). Next up, along the shoreline, was an abstract piece called "Walking Art". It features an abstract design (colored white & blue, to blend with the ocean behind) set up on sculpted legs (the artist said the tale of Noah's Ark inspired the work). Finally, they came across an old house that had bottles strung across it's interior (all of them had pictures, or other small trinkets inside them). The piece was called "Bottled Memories", and showcases the feelings & emotions of the island's history through it's people. It's lightly illuminated, giving it a slight ambience.

While on the island, they also met up for a group of elderly women who were preparing bento lunches for the festival. They all had colorfully designed strollers, called "Onba", which are a staple of the island. As the island's narrow roads are too small for vehicles, the women of the island cart around all their goods in these strollers. They used to be plain, but a particular craftsman has took it upon himself to give each of the islsnd's women a unique design. He's always comming up with fancier new designs, but the women who he has already given onba to, always jokingly say he has given them the best one. The women also sang the island song.

Next, they went to the island of Ibukijima. This island is known for it's sardine fishing (in fact, it's the largest sardine producer in Japan). What attracts the host here, however, is an old elementary school. Inside is an art piece entitled "Unsinkable Ship". It consists of fishing net & over 60,000 brightly decorated fishing floats intricately strung up through the building, resembling an ocean full of life, with fish swimming about, getting caught in nets, and the overall beauty of the ocean.

Next, they went to Kanonji. Here, at night, the dark village brightens up as traditional Japanese art & characters dance along the city walls (via projectors), almost coming to life. It's like the entire town has fallen under some sort of magical spell, and is truly a sight to behold (I wish they would have spent more time here, simply beautiful).

Finally, they stopped at the island of Teshima. Back in 1978, a huge corporation started to illegally dump on the island, & for the next 13 years would go on to dump 500,000 tons of industrial waste onto the island, killing the island's ecosystem, and shaming it into being the blight of the region. However, starting in the early 90's activists won over the island, and after nearly 20 years of revitalization, the island's beauty has returned in all it's glory, which is being celebrated during this art fair (the art of nature, so to speak). A big art attraction here is "Big Bambù", a huge boatlike structure suspened over the forest treetops. It's completely made out of bamboo stalks, and the only way up into it, is a system of scaffolding that winds it's way up through the trees (also made out of bamboo, of course). They lastly stopped at Shima Kitchen, a local restaurant that embodies the spirit of the island's revival. They use all locally grown & caught ingredients from the island, all brought to them fresh that day.

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743. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the PS3 exclusive, Rain, a PSN game that released on October 3. The boy follows a young boy as he searches for a young girl around a mysterious city, avoiding frightening monsters. The hook to the game is that all the characters are invisible, and that the player must use their knowledge of their surroundings & game mechanics to avoid the monsters (it's always raining, hence the name, and you must find shelter under a dry area, in order for the monsters to lose sight of your silhouette, for example). The game was the brainchild of the Playstation Camp program, in which promising young indie developers are allocated funds by Sony in order to bring their fresh ideas to life (last year's Tokyo Jungle was also a result of this program). They said it was difficult creating the game, since it's the first ever to feature an invisible cast. They wanted to make sure this wasn't too hard for players to follow, and yet they had no place to look for advice from, since the concept hadn't been done before. In the end, they use clever manoeuvring of the camera & interactive objects to make sure players can follow their character, while enemies have very abstract designs & pronounced, dramatic theatre like movements that ensure players won't miss their cues. They also used motion capture technology in order to give the game some extra flair. While the movements don't hinder or effect the gameplay in any way, the occasional slip like movements the characters make when running or climbing, add a realistic effect to the game (since it would be hard to do either during such a rain storm), and add a layer of suspense. The developers hope the game encourages other fledgling game designers to not be afraid to think outside the box. The hosts then got the chance to have a hands on with the game.

Side Theme: They mentioned The Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker HD (Wii U), a classic updated with high definition visuals, improved lighting effects, & other gameplay tweaks to perfect the adventure.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Kia Asamia, the mind behind the classic manga series, Silent Möbius. It originally made it's debut in the late 80's, and was a success due to it's unique mixture of near future sci-fi & supernatural elements (it has been adapted into two anime films, & anime TV series). He has started on a sequel manga, which is premiering this year.

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744. Posted:

Tokyo Eye was on today! This week, they had a Tama River Tour.

They started out at the river's beginning at the bottom of the Ogauchi Dam, in the northwestern part of Tokyo prefecture. This part is almost untouched by development, with lots of lush greenery around.

While there, they took part in rafting. Cost starts at ¥2,800, and you don't have to have any sort of reservations, or come with any equipment (they have it all available). Must be at least 8 years old. Be careful or the raft may capsize (this happened to the hosts).

They then went canyoning! They go to a tributary of the Tama River up in the mountains, and decend down the water's path. Your main methods of decent are sliding down rocks & jumping down into pools of water, all while being supervised by experienced canyoners, who are qualified in first aid. Beginners are welcome to take part, but must use a zip line down the steepest part of the path, down a waterfall. Cost starts at ¥8,000.

Also near this part of the river, you have the Nippari Limestone Cave. Admission is ¥600, and you can walk through this mysterious area untouched by time. It was discovered 1,500 years ago, and stays a cool 11ºC all year round. One cool feature is the sound of the Water Zither that was installed here back in ancient times (usually found in temples).

They then stopped by the small town of Ome. This town was a common stop for travellers in the past. A unique site, there are vintage movie posters displayed across town (from classic Japanese films, to films with big western stars like John Wayne & Charlie Chaplin). There are also traditional Japanese style homes that can be hundreds of years old. They also stopped by a local restaurant here, that specializes in various tofu dishes (their tofu is made using spring water from the Tama River). The "Flower Course" costs ¥3,990.

They then came to the calm middle part of the river, which has lots of suburban Tokyo scenery in the background, but the river's shores haven't been developed, an oddity for the Tokyo area. Families barbecue & have other activities along the shores.

There are lots of biking trails along the river, and you can rent a bike for ¥2,000 (they will personally deliver it to whatever location you want). The hosts biked for awhile.

Then they came across a group of conservationists who were swishing nets in the river. They were doing a study on the river's species, and trying to remove invasive species. Many Tokyoites will put their exotic fish in the river when they tire of them, some of which have thrived there (mostly Amazon species, to the point the Tama River has been nicknamed the "Tamazon"). He has set up a fish shelter where people can bring there pets (as a safer alternative), and he'll find them new homes.

Finally, they came by a boating club run by a member of Japan's boating team of the 1956 Melbourne Olympics. The calm waters of the middle Tama River are a great spot for pro and amateur boaters to practice alike. His club will gladly accept beginners, and initial lessons cost ¥500. Must be at least 9 years old.

From here, the river flows out into Tokyo Bay.

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745. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week, they discussed Remote Islands!

Japan made up of a total of 6,852 islands, over 400 of which are inhabited (the third highest number of inhabited islands in the world).

The host did the show from Oshima, which is a small island inside the Tokyo area, that is reliant on it's fishing culture. It has an active volcano, and smokey area around it is often used to film movies in Japan. The host also tried out some of their local cuisine, such as a very spicy sushi (they don't traditionally have wasabi on the island, so they use a local pepper which gives it a spice, & helps preserve it), and a pickled fish with a pungent odor, but mild taste.

They mentioned various remote islands around Japan, such as one off the coast of Hokkaido that's known for it's towering mountain (often called the Fuji of the ocean, it's a hot spot for skiiers), one in the south that's known for it's sandy beaches & lively ocean life (typhoons close it to the mainland a couple times a year, though), an island in the middle of Japan's lake Biwa (one of the few inhabited freshwater islands in the world), an abandoned island that was once a booming mining town (this run down industrial fortress is referred to "Battleship Island", and is now open to tourists), and an island that's completely the opposite (a lush haven of wildlife & nature).

Traditional culture also tends to live on within the daily lives of people who live on such islands, such as one island that has over 60 Noh stages (one of the key founders of Noh was exiled to the island in the past, and it has 1/3 of Japan's total Noh stages), one that has it's own unique spin on Sumo (each match has two rounds, and the winner of the first round purposefully loses the second, that way no one loses), and one that has Kabuki deep in it's DNA (all the locals take part in various Kabuki shows).

They then told the tale of an old fishing island that has an aging population. In the past, it had around 500 residents, but as the younger generations left & with the rest aging, they were down to 8 residents in 2010 (all men in their sixties & seventies). They tried renovating the island & set up a guest house for travelling fishermen & tourists in the hopes of encouraging new people to settle down, and their efforts have finally borne fruit (the island is now up to 20 residents).

They also showcased how other islands are modernizing to stay relevant. One has set up a state of the art medical facility to cater to it's aging populace, while another has resorted to croudfunding to revitalize their business' (their fishermen, for example, used to have trouble keeping their catch fresh enough to sell on the mainland, but now have a state of the art cooling machine that not only makes it easy to sell in all of Japan, but also China, a market they never thought of selling to). Their backers are repaid with shipments of island products (4 times a year).

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746. Posted:

I use a program called keyholetv to watch some tv channels from Japan. The 2 main ones I watch are TV Asahi(airs New Japan every saturday) & Tv Tokyo(if im ever in the mood for anime except without subtitles XD)

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747. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on today! This week they went to Toyama prefecture, to cover the Kaze no Bon festival. (a festival that's traditionally held to pray for a good harvest)

It's a festival centered around dance, many of which are centered around representations of rice harvesting. They showcased a program where the traditional dance was being passed down to children.

Traditional instruments play a big part as well, such as the Kyoku (a three stringed Violin-like instrument). They showed a craftsman who repairs them in preperation for the event.

They also talked to a master Kyoku player, his son, & grandchild (passing down the family tradition). When asked if he felt pressure in taking on his father's art, the son said that yes, there was a lot of pressure from all around. When asked about his son's ability (remember, the son is an adult man, sitting right in the room), the master said that "at least he'll no longer embarrass himself in public"... (very shrewdly put). The grandson said he wants to keep the tradition alive when he's grown up.

They then caught up with a fisherman who was catching Ayu in the river. They are salted & broiled, and can be eaten whole. He can never attend the festival, because this is a busy time for his restaurant, since tourists always want to try the fish.

They then spent some time with a 24 year old woman who was getting ready to take part in the evening's dance. This is the last year she'll be able to do it, as she's getting married in two months, and married women aren't allowed to take part.

Finally, they showed the intricate dance, which the woman from earlier was taking part in, and they were taking their cues from the Kyoku master & his son, who were playing the music. Lastly, the dance proceeds down the quiet streets of town, where anyone can join in.

If you want to visit during this time of year, it's suggested you set up reservations at a traditional Ryokan in advance, as they'll find you good dance watching spots.

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748. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered Pokémon X & Pokémon Y for Nintendo 3DS. It's an international mega hit franchise, and the overall top selling video game franchise in Japan. They spoke to the game's director, Junichi Matsuda, about the global simultaneous release. He said that it's something he's been wanting to do for over 7 years, that way people won't spoil the game for themselves by looking stuff up online (since it wouldn't be known yet by anyone). They talked to the art director about adapting all the creatures into polygonal 3D images, and the localization team that makes up all the Pokémon names for each of the 7 included languages. They usually try using Japanese & English words when coming up with the original names, but may change a name so it can keep it's meaning in another language (Gogoat, for example, is a combination of Go-Kart & Goat, but it's literal German translation is a combination of Goat & the sound of a large engine). They also talked about the biggest new features, such as Mega Evolutions, and the addition of the Fairy type (Matsuda said that tournaments were getting boring, since everyone was using the same overpowered Dragon types, so that needed to be addressed). The hosts then got their hands on the game, where they toyed with "Pokémon-Aime". They discussed the series' start on the Game Boy, of which the female host fondly reminisced on.

Side Theme: They covered two new artsy anime films, which are being released theatrically. The first of which shows Japanese life in the 1890's. The second is a cute love story between two children.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed the Manga Brothers (a three man team of a manga artist, musician, & actor). They came up with a childrens' manga called The Nato Samurai, that teaches kids the importance of food. It's so popular that they have created sequels, and are making even more.

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749. Posted:

BEGIN Japanology was on today! This week's theme was mascots.

The host started out in a popular mascot merchandise shop in Harajuku, where famous people like Michael Jackson, Madonna, Brad Pitt, & Angelina Jolee have shopped. Mascots are cute characters that represent a company or other organization, like the Pokémon characters which have been popular since the 1990's. It's said that some 80% of the Japanese populous owns some sort of mascot merchandise.

Some of the earliest modern mascots are a girl who looks like she came out of an American comic book (to represent a western confectionery shop), and an elephant that represents a pharmaceutical company (in Japan, elephants are associated with long lives). Both were invented in the 1950's, and are used to this day.

Government offices also have mascots, such as the Tokyo Police's Pipo (Pi=people Po=police, signaling the unity between people & the authorities). Over 60 public prosecutors have their own mascots.

They also spent some time with NHK's own mascot, Domo, who has a worldwide following. His mouth is designed to look like a TV, and like television, the word "domo" in Japanese, has lots of versatility.

Since around 2007, there has been a growing fad of local mascots, that represent a town or other location. They don't have the same sleek designs of corporate mascots, but each have their following. One of the most popular is Hikonyan, a samurai cat (a castle lord in the area, was said to have been saved by a cat in legend).

The Japanese affinity for mascots goes back to ancient times, as they believed everything (including trees & rocks) have souls. There were "gods" dedicated to natural phenomena like lightning & wind, who looked dangerous on the outside, but were revered by people. In the 18th century, people stated carrying around Natsuka on their kimono sashes, which were designed after animals, Chinese Zodiac signs, and other creatures of myth. These were the forerunners to modern mascot keychains that hang from cell phones.

They then talked about Hello Kitty (known as Kitty in Japan), who is possibly the biggest Japanese mascot in the world. She started out in the 1970's, but by the 80's was loosing popularity. They discussed how they started following yearly fashion trends in her design to keep her relevant & gain popularity. Eventually turning her into a global brand that even targets adults.

They then talked about a modern mascot, Hatsune Miku. A CGI idol that is able to sing on stage & gather large crowds. She first gained popularity in the mid 2000's, when her software was first released to the public, and people could create & share songs they had created with her. Recently she has put on her first ever classical style music performance.

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750. Posted:

Journeys in Japan was on earlier today! This week, they went to Gokayama in Toyama.

The area is known for it's very traditional style village, which has been here for 700 years, and here the people live in harmony with nature.

The old wooden houses are three stories high, and have a fire pit in the middle of the bottom floor. It keeps the entire house warm, and the smoke makes the wood harder & more durable over the years. The triangular rooftops are designed to minimize the weight added by snow in the winter (the area gets some of the heaviest snow in Japan). The dried plants they make the roof out of have a natural waterproof property that helps even more against the snow, and only has to be replaced every 40 years (the entire village helps out with this task, when it comes).

In the morning, the host went out to the fields with the family that was hosting her, and helped them harvest eggplant & squash. They then went back home & made a hearty breakfast with the plants they harvested.

The village is down to about 50 people, after younger generations have left to go to the city, but young people who have left the city are starting to move here, because they want their children to appreciate nature.

3 of the families here still make "Washi", a traditional Japanese paper making art. The host spent some time with one such artisan, who let her make her own washi. He has various crafts in his home, including a piece of washi with Monsters Inc characters drawn onto it, a gift from one of the film's creators.

They then showcased Kokiriko, perhaps Japan's oldest performing art, which is named after the dance's most important instrument. This is still practiced in the village, and visitors can see it here.

There is also a boat tour in the area, which will give you a scenic view of the surrounding area.

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751. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered Sonic Lost World for Wii U! It's the newest release in the popular long running platforming series, featuring the titular hedgehog. The first release in the series, Sonic the Hedgehog, released in 1991 to 15 million sales, and now there are even fan events, like the U.S.A.'s Sonic Boom. The game has Sonic venturing to the mysterious continent of "Lost Hex", battling his nemesis Dr. Eggman & his new companions, a group of ogres known as the "Deadly Six". Talking to the game's director, he mentioned that he wanted to somewhat take away the series' trademark speed, for a couple of reasons. A focus on speed limits them to a very linear game progression, and they are limited to a small number of styles & obstacles so players aren't overwhelmed. Slowing the game down allows them more creative freedom to come up with fun & fresh new ideas to make Sonic a more varied "action" game. There are even 3 set speeds players can choose from, so everyone from newcomers to veterans can have Sonic move at a speed that is comfortable for them, and parkour elements were added to accomodate new players (new players generally complained that speed makes Sonic games too difficult). The new "Deadly Six" enemies were originally designed after Japanese style ogres (featuring tiger print clothing), but after extensive focus grouping with American audiences (a first for the series), they were altered to appeal to American kids. Many elements from past games return, such as the popular "Color" powers, many of which are controlled with the Wii U gamepad. It has also been released on 3DS with different levels & powers, in the hopes of maximizing the potential new audience. The hosts then got some hands on time with the Wii U version of the game.

Side Theme: They mentioned the anime film Madoka Magica the Movie 3, & Tecmo Koei action game Warriors Orochi 3: Ultimate (Vita).

Creator's Interview: They interviewed manga artist Sakura. She is currently releasing a series about a boy who comes across a mysterious blog, that tells him he'll have luck with girls if he follows it's instructions. She is also a popular cosplay model, has released a popular Final Fantasy acapellega album, and has appeared at an anime convention in L.A.

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752. Posted:

Imagine-Nation was on tonight!

Main Theme: They covered the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (PS3/PC). It's actually a reboot/sequel to 2010's FFXIV, which was poorly recieved by fans & critics. This new reworked version was a hit at this year's TGS, and has broken records for the number of people playing a Japanese MMORPG. Despite being sort of a reboot, it actually continues the story set in the original, so players who enjoyed it can continue their adventure, but it's open to newcomers. They wanted extreme details to the game's setting, as there are over 6000 unique characters, and dungeons are given history, that way they feel like a natural part of the game world. The game has improved graphics & a faster battle system when compared to the original (amongst other changes for the better). They plan on opening up the "Crystal Tower" to players soon, and it's a nostalgic throwback to FFIII that will bring old & new fans together. The first Final Fantasy game was released in 1987 for the Famicom, but it became a household name, and must play for gamers, with 1997's FFVII, which is still the series' pinnacle. They have high hopes for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn though, as they say it's the game that gamers are going to look at to judge their (Square Enix) quality as a game maker, more than any other.

Side Theme: They mentioned the second release in the Ghost in the Shell Arise series, and that it will connect closer to the original GitS series.

Creator's Interview: They interviewed Atsuko Ishida, who started her work in anime by animating in Ranma 1/2, Evangelion, & Crayon Shin Chan. Her first release as a manga artist was a title called I Work in Manga, and she is putting her love for baseball to good use with her current serial, Ball Park Lovers.

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753. Posted:

BTW, sorry I haven't given any updates in awhile. The last few shows I've caught have been repeats, and turning back the clock has changed which programs I'm able to catch (since Japan doesn't turn back as well).

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754. Posted:

Fikachu wrote:

When I hopefully move to Japan, I plan to boycott the 2020 Olympics

Why?

On another note, I found out I should still be able to catch Tokyo Eye & BEGIN Japanology, so I might be able to start updating more frequently again!

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Fikachu

755. Posted:

Why?

Long story short, I regard the Olympics as a waste of money

I don't see how the Olympics is going to help Japan get out of the economic predicament it's in

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CanisWolfred

756. Posted:

By attracting lots of advertising and tourism? Do you even know what the olympics is?

Doesn't talk about games.

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757. Posted:

Fikachu wrote:

Why?

Long story short, I regard the Olympics as a waste of money

I don't see how the Olympics is going to help Japan get out of the economic predicament it's in

Believe me, the amount of money these kinds of events bring in, is well worth the money spent to get them in the first place.

They'll become the tourism hot spot for the year (and it'll probably have a positive effect on their tourism numbers for a few years after that), and that'll bring in an unprecedented amount of funds for not only the Tokyo area, but the nation as a whole.

Furthermore, they'll have the attention of the entire world, which will give them the best chance yet to restore foreign confidence in goods produced in the country, especially within the Fukushima area, which are currently a hard sell.

Last year the MLB All-Star game came to Kansas City (the nearest big city to our area), and all the shops, restaurants, etc. in the area were astounded at the amount of money that brought in to them, and the city as a whole. the Olympics would be like that, at least a thousand fold.

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The_Fox

758. Posted:

Hosting the Olympics is more of a status symbol for a country than anything. China spent $20-30 billion (with a return of less than a quarter of that amount) and Greece wound up going through something like 7% of their GDP just for hosting the Olympics. Crazy.

That being said, boycotting the Olympics is going to do nothing other than making you an official party pooper. And who wants that?

Edited on by The_Fox

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Fikachu

759. Posted:

Do you even know what the olympics is?

Yes

back on-topic
I've managed to translate a couple of Arabic words into Japanese

Edited on by Fikachu

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Turnip

760. Posted:

Fikachu wrote:

Do you even know what the olympics is?

Yes

back on-topic
I've managed to translate a couple of Arabic words into Japanese

If you're thinking of learning Japanese, my best advice is to be sure not to slack on studying grammar. I made the mistake of focusing mainly on vocab for the first year or so of my Japanese studies, and I feel like I could be light years ahead of where I am now if I had put the time I spent studying vocab into studying grammar.

Cringing is really fun.