20 Facts About Astro Boy


This Friday at the Star and Shadow Cinema, the film The Echo Of Astro Boy’s Footsteps will play, about the sound designer for the anime ‘Astro Boy’ who  effectively created the soundtrack for all anime to follow and his sudden retreat from the public eye in the 1980’s.

But what is Astro Boy? And what should you know about it before you watch the film? Well luckily for you Geordie Japan is back with another in our 20 facts series; with 20 fun facts about Astro Boy!


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Geordie Japan’s 2012 Year In Review



Wow what a year, since launching on the 13th of March 2012 Geordie Japan has exploded far beyond what was ever expected of it. 2013 is set to be an exciting year for us but before we look to the future we should look back at the year that was 2012. In this review article you will find some interesting stats about the site and handily, for those of you who are new to the site, links to every article across the past year.


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How do you say Merry Christmas in Japanese?



A KFC Xmas in Japan, sent in by one of our readers, @CraigedyCraig, Thanks!

A KFC Xmas in Japan, sent in by one of our readers, @CraigedyCraig, Thanks!

Please note that for this article you will have to have Japanese characters turned on to get the best of it (a quick google of the name of your browser + turn on Japanese characters should sort you out)


In a quick Friday update you can learn in a few minutes how to wish someone Merry Christmas in Japanese.


The simplest answer is that Christmas is a foreign concept to the Japanese, so for them to say Merry Christmas they would simply say “Merry Christmas”. However those unfamiliar with the English tongue would adapt it to use Japanese syllables and say “Merii Kurisumasu”. It’s really that simple!


So how do you write this is Japanese? Well like so;


(Merii Kurisumasu)

This is written in Katakana, the Japanese alphabet for foreign words translated into Japanese. Write it in your Christmas cards this year to impress your friends!


Christmas is not a national holiday in Japan, you can read more about that next week. So people don’t tend to say it to one another as we do in the West, unless wishing it to a Westerner of course. So now you know, simpler than it may seem but impressive to write in cards!


Until next time, メリークリスマス!!!!


Japanese Christmas Music


December is Christmas extravaganza month on Geordie Japan, expect lots of Christmas Related articles in the run up to Christmas, starting today!


Ho Ho Ho! ‘Tis the season to be Jolly! But what’s that? You’re not feeling jolly and in the Christmas spirit yet? Well Geordie Japan has  just the remedy for you! What you need is some lovely Christmas tunes to get you in the mood, but forget Maria Carey or Bing Crosby, you need some Japanese Christmas music! But where would you find such a thing? Right here on Geordie Japan of course!


Click on the youtube video below for a playlist of 16 Japanese Christmas songs complete with music videos. Under the video you can find a track listing and individual links to all the songs! If you enjoy it, please share the link with your friends.


Click here to play the playlist from youtube

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Has it been one of those weeks? Job getting you down? Boss on your case? Maybe it’s time to hit the bar and drink away some of those sorrows!! But maybe if you fancy doing it in style, you could skip the beers, discard the alchopops, turn your nose up at the spirits and try your hand at sake. Sake as we know it in the West refers only to Ninhonshu (日本酒 – Literally ‘Japanese Drink’) where as in Japan in can also be used as a general term for any alcoholic beverage.


Generally though, if you ask for sake, you will get Ninhonshu. So what is sake? Well it’s commonly referred to on our shores as ‘Japanese rice wine’ and although not completely incorrect, the term misleads as sake is fermented and brewed from rice in a style closer to beer. Despite this sake is closer in its flavour to wine. Sake is made from surprisingly few ingredients; rice, water, yeast and a type of mould called Koji. These ingredients are then taken through a roughly one month brewing process (which is detailed here) by a Toji (杜氏 – sake brewer) before it is aged for a further six months. The average alcohol content is 15-17% and it is best drunk soon after it’s bought as after it peaks at the six month period, the sake will slowly deteriorate in quality over the next year.


There are five main types of sake (Thanks to Sake World for the descriptions);

  1. junmai-shu (rice only; no adding of distilled alcohol) – “Generic Sake”
  2. honjozo-shu (a tad of distilled alcohol is added)
  3. ginjo-shu (highly milled rice, with or without alcohol added)
  4. daiginjo-shu (even more highly milled rice, with/without added alcohol)
  5. nama-zake (refers to sake that is NOT pasteurized and basically is mutually independent of the above four)


Sake is intrinsically linked to Japan, Chinese records speak of an alcoholic drink drunk by the Japanese as far back as the third century, and it is confirmed that the drink was present in the seventh century. After becoming a firm part of Japanese life, when the Meji Restoration occurred it was written into the law that anyone with the money and the knowledge was legally allowed to set up their own sake brewery. This lead to over 30,000 breweries being established, although the government began to tax them heavily as the years went on, staggeringly in 1898 46% of the government’s tax income came from sake! During World War II sake production was hit hard as rice shortages were rampant and substitutes for rice were made, which kept up production but lowered quality. During post-war American occupation Sake was eclipsed by beer and spirit consumption, however sake brewers used new technologies to improve the quality and brewing process of the drink, before long sake was back on top. Now sake is drunk worldwide and is a cultural icon associated with Japan as it’s national drink.


So how do you drink sake? Well generally it is drunk from a wide variety of cups made for the specific purpose of drinking sake, these cups are called choko (猪口), or if in the box form called masu (枡). Sake is held, and poured from jars known as tokkuri (徳利). The most famous, and usually most confusing thing to those not in the know, about sake is if you should drink it hot or cold? As a general rule it should be served chilled. Hot sake is seen as a winter drink and was traditionally served warm; however the heating of the drink also forces aromas and flavours to be lost. Old or lower grade sake is often served warm however there are some less common sakes that are designed to be heated. Cool sake contains all the aromas, flavours and alcohol that the drink should. Sake can be drunk at room temperature as well.


So why not try some sake next time you have the chance? Sake can be purchased in Newcastle from HiYou, 7Days and Wing Hong, Sake sets are on sale in HiYou and Wing Hong. If you don’t fancy picking one out yourself, all of the Japanese restaurants usually have at least one sake choice on the menu.



Geordie Japan Featured In ‘Wor Diary’ 2013


We are very proud to announce that Geordie Japan is featured in ‘Wor Diary’ this year! Wor Diary is a yearly, collectively drawn, not for profit DIY diary. Each week is drawn by a different person in their own unique style, and the diary also features other things such as recipes, drawing pages, political info, how-to guides, useful info and resources for the local area.


There are plenty of helpful, interesting and unique things within the diary. Not least May 20th – 26th which features a hand drawn week by Geordie Japan! The week contains a guide to doing something Japanese in Newcastle for seven days straight. It’s great to have been included in the production of the diary and we are very proud to have our own page in it. We would encourage anyone looking for a diary to pick one up!


Geordie Japan Featured In Wor Diary 2013

Geordie Japan Featured In Wor Diary 2013


So how can you get your hands on one? Well there are two ways, firstly you can go in person to Travelling Man Newcastle (43 Grainger Street, NE1 5JE) and find one in the small press section for just £4. Alternatively you can buy one from the Wor Diary Etsy online store for the same price plus £1.50 p&p.


So why not pick one up if you are in the need for a unique diary? Numbers are strictly limited so if you want one, grab one as soon as you can!


20 Facts About Ghost In The Shell


This weekend the Tyneside Cinema is screening the classic anime Ghost In The Shell as well as the original Godzilla for just 75p each! We already covered some facts about Godzilla a few months back, but here are 20 Ghost in the Shell facts to get you up to speed for Sunday’s early morning screening.


  1. Ghost In The Shell (攻殻機動隊) began as a serialised managa story  in 1989 in the Japanese magazine “Young Magazine” (ヤングマガジン)
  2. The series was created and written by Masamune Shirow (士郎 正宗), also known for his manga ‘Appleseed’
  3. Ghost In The Shell was turned into a anime feature film in 1995 and was directed by Mamoru Oshii (押井 守)
  4. Oshii regularly uses quotes from the bible in his films, Ghost in the Shell’s quote comes from I Corinthians 13
  5. The film was highly praised by Western directors, with James Cameron calling it “the first truly adult animation film to reach a level of literary and visual excellence.”
  6. The film was highly influential on The Matrix, which ‘borrows’ several key concepts and camera shots
  7. According to the soundtrack’s liner notes, the haunting choral song that plays throughout the film is a wedding song, sung to get rid of evil influences.
  8. The entire film was reworked into Ghost in the Shell 2.0 (攻殻機動隊 2.0) in 2008. The whole film was reanimated using new CGI technology, the score was re-recorded and some of the voice actors replaced.
  9. One of the first films to mix cel animation with CGI
  10. Ghost in the Shell was the first anime film to ever be released in Japan, the USA and the UK at the same time. The aim was to bring manga to the mainstream in the West.
  11. The brand of beer that is drunk within the film is the real life brand San Miguel
  12. The film was actually less successful inside Japan than in the rest of the world, when the sequel was released in Japan it was only titled ‘Innocence’ and lost the ‘Ghost in the Shell 2:’ prefix.
  13. Although never specified in the film, it has been long rumored amongst fans that the film is set in futuristic Kobe.
  14. Hollywood has purchased the rights to a live action remake, although news has been quiet on the project recently
  15. The character of Motoko never blinks in the film, unlike other characters. This was a deliberate move to make her appear more “doll-like”
  16. A song played over the credits is credited to the band ‘Passengers’, in reality it is a combined effort between U2 and Brian Eno
  17. Weirdly, in Japan, two versions of the VHS were sold. One in Japanese, and one in English with Japanese subtitles. Commonplace now on DVD’s but extremely unusual back in 1995 on video!
  18. A television series, Ghost in the Shell: Standalone Complex followed the film, the TV series follows a different story arc and has far more in common with the original manga.
  19. The film cost around $10 million US Dollars to animate and produce
  20. Three video games based on the franchise have been produced for various PlayStation consoles. The first game featured specially animated story sections in keeping with the style of the film.

So there you have it. If you are going to see either Ghost in the Shell or Godzilla on Sunday morning, we will see you there!


20 Facts About Ringu/The Ring


The patrons of the Tyneside Cinema voted the original Japanese version of The Ring (リング) (which from this point on will be referred to as “Ringu” for ease”) as the North East’s favourite scary movie. Which is rather nice to hear that there is such demand for Japanese films at Halloween, we covered some Japanese films to get you in the Halloween mood in a previous article and one of our recommendations was Ringu. In order to get you in the mood for the Tyneside’s screening we present Geordie Japan’s 20 facts about Ringu to get you up to speed for Monday.


  1. Ringu is based on a book of the same name by Koji Suzuki (鈴木光司) in 1991, Suzuki has also written all of the sequels. The officially released books are : Ring (1991), Spiral (1995), Loop (1998), The Birthday (1999) and S (2012)
  2. Suzuki latest novel in the series is titled ‘S’ and reportedly features the video being uploaded to the internet and the curse travelling via cloud computing.
  3. Suzuki has drawn comparisons to Steven King due to his popularity in Japan with Ringu, Dark Water and other terrifying novels.
  4. It is a little known fact that the first adaptation of Ringu was in 1995, this was a television movie named Ringu: Kanzenban (リング 完全版) which literally means Ring: Complete Edition.
  5. The original novel was once again turned into a feature film in 1998 called Ringu by Hideo Nakata (中田 秀夫).  This is the more famous adaptation of Susuki’s book.
  6. Ringu was released in tandem with an adaptation of the sequel novel Spiral in a ploy to generate more revenue. This film was made by Jōji Iida (飯田譲治) and is often referred to as the ‘forgotten sequel’ due to the fact that it bombed because of the success of Ringu. Its events are ignored by later Ringu films.
  7. Ringu was remade in Hollywood as The Ring in 2002 by Gore Verbinski starring Naomi Watts. The film went on to have one sequel.
  8. Hideo Nakata made his English language debut with The Ring Two, a sequel to the remake of his original film.
  9. While The Ring is the most famous remake of Ringu it is not the first. Just one year after Ringus release it was remade in South Korea as The Ring Virus (1999).
  10. In total there have been 9 official films (6 Japanese, 3 remakes/spin offs), 2 television series, 2 video games and one short film in the Ringu series.
  11. The latest film in the Ringu franchise was Sadako 3D. The film has yet to be given a UK release and sadly a cinematic release seems unlikely, a dvd release is expected at some point.
  12. When Sadako 3D was released in Japan last year the country went Ringu crazy and some of the more unusual marketing tactics included unleashing hundreds of Sadako’s in Tokyo, driving a giant Sadako around the capital and having Sadako throw out the first pitch at a baseball game. You can watch all this insanity here.
  13. According to a recent survey by Oricon Ringu is still considered to be the scariest Japanese film ever
  14. Ringu is also the highest grossing horror film ever in Japan
  15. When the film was released on VHS in England in 2001 the back of the box was labelled with a disclaimer stating the distributor was not responsible “for any injuries or fatalities that may occur during or after the viewing of this videocassette.”
  16. Sadako may seem to Westerners like a novel and original idea but in fact she is actually a very common ghost of Japanese horror tales. She is an Onryō, a vengeful spirit, often represented in a white burial kimono, white and indigo face paint and having unkempt long dark hair. Onryō are usually women and commonly returning from the dead to exact vengeance on those who have wronged them in life.
  17. Sadako was played by Kabuki theatre actress Rie Inou, to achieve her jerky movements she was shot walking backwards and then the film was reversed, giving Sadako her trademark freaky walk.
  18. The iconic shot of Sadako’s eye was not actually Rie Inou’s eye but a male crew members!
  19. A series of Manga novels has also been released in Japan based on the franchise
  20. Scarily the tale is inspired by real events. You can read about them here, however this page contains spoilers for Ringu.


The Tyneside Cinema will play Ringu at 6pm on the Wednesay  31 October 2012. Details here.