Author Archives: Michael Gakuran

How to Argue in Japanese

In a recent scuffle over the controversial whaling issue, I managed to seriously offend a couple of Japanese friends. Political and ethical issues are volatile topics, but add to that cultural differences when arguing and you have a recipe for disaster. So here’s some insight to help you avoid making the same mistakes.
Posted in Japan | 72 Comments

Secret Japan Blog Matsuri

What’s your best kept secret about Japan? That was the question aimed at fellow J-bloggers for this month’s Japansoc Blog Matsuri. Quite a tricky topic, especially for those who don’t actually live in Japan, but nevertheless, we had 10 awesome entries letting us in on some lesser known parts of Japan.
Posted in Japan | 6 Comments

10 Beautiful Cherry Blossom Pictures

Sakura Season is almost over and the final petals are falling gracefully to the floor. So before this ephemeral phenomenon has passed for another year, here’s a collection of 10 of the best pictures I shot in Okazaki, central Japan.
Posted in Photography | 26 Comments

Becoming a Samurai – The Ieyasu Parade

This past Sunday on 4th April, I was honoured to take part in a huge Japanese festival. Donning heavy metal armour coloured bright vermilion red, sitting atop a steely brown horse and grinning like a fruitcake while waving to the crowds. It’s safe to say my ‘Last Samurai’ aspirations have been fulfilled.
Posted in Japan | 39 Comments

Japansoc Blog Matsuri 2

Last July I hosted the immensely popular ‘Weird things about Japan‘ blogging festival. This time, in celebration of the new focus on Gakuranman.com, I’m holding the Spring matsuri on the topic of ‘Secret Japan’. I want you to let me in on your hidden dirty little secrets!
Posted in Other | 12 Comments

The Hazards of Haikyo and Urban Exploration

Ruins are known in Japan as ‘Haikyo’ (廃墟) – literally ‘abandoned place’. The word has become synonymous here with Urban Exploration, or Urbex for short, which is the exploration of man-made sites usually hidden or restricted from the general public. But with such exploration comes inherent dangers.
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 49 Comments

Japanese Penis Festival

More respectfully known as the ‘Japanese Fertility Festival’, but let’s not beat around the bush here, this is a bizarre matsuri that is full of phallic shaped sweets, giant wooden penises and rice cakes as hard as canon balls.
Posted in Japan | 53 Comments

The Secret Doctor’s Shack

The Doctor’s shack lies hidden in rural Japan, its location closely guarded by haikyoists and folk who like to explore. And for good reason – inside is a goldmine of pre-war medicines and medical books, dusty bottles and old rusty instruments.
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 39 Comments