Author Archives: Michael Gakuran

Hi! I’m a Foreigner! Racist Party Mask

Anyone who has lived in Japan for a reasonable amount of time (and many who have just visited) will have had the pleasure of visiting ‘Don Quixote’. A treasure-trove of sundry goods packed into a chain of multi-floored buildings splashed around the country. Quite central to one of the floor themes is costumes, ranging from […]
Posted in Japan | 6 Comments

Gunkanjima Geocache

Geocaching is always something I’ve wanted to get into, but there’s a lot of effort that goes into organising and maintaining caches for fellow explorers to find. With my interest in ruins and urban exploration, most of the places I visit are encapsulated in that Japanese saying, 一期一会 (ichi-go ichi-e).
Posted in Haikyo / Ruins | 3 Comments

Documenting Adventures in 2014

Greetings fellow explorers! It’s been quite a while since my last haikyo post – over half a year in fact. Although this one does not ring in as an account of exploration in itself, it’s nevertheless teeming with urbex stuff.
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The Japanese Zeitgeist: 10 Buzzwords of 2013

As a followup to my popular Top 50 Buzzwords of 2013, Anthony Joh, director at Gaijinpot and producer for the well-known Tokyo Podcast, asked me to hang out for a chat about this year’s zeitgeist. With an emphasis on buzzwords that pertain to Japanese culture, we discuss a ‘top 10’ list of my choosing and […]
Posted in Japan | 2 Comments

Top 50 Japanese Buzzwords of 2013

In what’s become something of an annual tradition here on, I’m back again analysing the Japanese words of the year – new lingo and hot terms from Japan. In addition to their annual compendium, the ‘Fundamentals of Modern Terminology’, Jiyu Kokuminsha publishes the list of buzzword nominees every year around this time and then […]
Posted in Japan | 28 Comments

Ama – The Pearl Diving Mermaids of Japan (Warning: Nudity)

One of the lesser-known but fascinating parts of Japanese culture is that of the Ama pearl divers. Ama (海女 in Japanese), literally means ‘woman of the sea’ and is recorded as early as 750 in the oldest Japanese anthology of poetry, the Man’yoshu. These women specialised in freediving some 30 feet down into cold water […]
Posted in Japan | 83 Comments

How to Buy the Things you Love from Japan

Have you ever wanted to buy certain products from Japan but found it difficult to do so? You may not have realised, but there is a special space occupied by companies whose mission it is to help you do exactly that! is the largest and most trusted service to help you buy the things […]
Posted in Japan | 21 Comments

Gakuranman: A History Through the Pages

Gakuranman is ten years old today! Okay. Technically ‘Gakuranman‘ is much younger, since I only started writing under this alias a few years ago, but my first steps into the world of online web-logging really began on this very day ten full years ago!
Posted in Journal | 7 Comments