mutsuki no yokka
Akemashite Omedetou!

Greetings, all! For those of you who do not follow the Chinese lunisolar calendar, then it's now the Year of the Snake. What we need now is a good snake-related story. Fortunately, I have one. This was originally related to me by my lovely fiancée, but I've edited it a bit for style.

Once upon a time there were two brothers who rarely got along. The older brother fancied himself an artist and lorded his ability over his younger brother whenever possible. This was the cause of many fights in that household, until at last their father stepped in. He had decided that his two sons should have a contest to settle the matter once and for all. The two of them would, to the best of their ability, draw a picture of a snake.

The older brother was secretly pleased, because what could be easier to draw? He quickly drew a snake, then waited while his younger brother slowly and patiently did his work. He already knew his snake would be better, but as he waited, he decided that his snake should be the best ever. So he began to draw in little details, like intricate patterns on its scales, and frightening fangs in its mouth. He even went so far as to add scary talons to his snake to make it look cooler.

Finally, the two brothers presented their work to their father. The old man considered for just a moment, and then declared the younger brother the winner. When the older brother protested, the father rightly pointed out that with all the additions made to his snake, it could no longer be rightly called a snake at all. The older brother lost, not because he was the poorer artist, but because he got too caught up in his work and added extra, unnecessary bits.

To this day, the word dasoku ("snake legs") exists in Japanese as a term for superfluous details, especially ones that go so far that they ruin the project they were intended to enhance.

In the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake, one community was unfortunately prominent in the news. The town of Kesennuma, a prominent fishing port and education center for its corner of Miyagi Prefecture, was smashed by the tsunami and rased by the fires that followed. As might be expected, recovery has been slow.

A few weeks back, we mentioned one way that Nintendo was helping to boost tourism in the region. On December 22nd, the company launched another special project aimed to attract attention and bring smiles to the local children.

At first glance, this looks like just any train on a JR line, only with a new paintjob. Trains like this aren't particularly uncommon on the Japanese railways. A quick look inside, however, reveals that this particular choo-choo is something beyond the ordinary.

All the seats have been re-upholstered in Pokémon designs, for starters, while the floor and wall panels are similarly decorated. But then there's the special car where kids can take off their shoes and bounce around on a plushy Snorlax, play with puzzles, and get special presents.

The train only ran for one week, from the 22nd to the 28th, but I'm sure it brought a lot of joy to the kids of the Kesennuma area. Even after all this time, I don't doubt that they still need all the joy they can find.

Source: Famitsu Online
12/17 ~ 12/23 Up / Down Title Publisher Platform
2 New Arrival! One Piece: Romance Dawn Bandai-Namco
5 Last seen at 4 Paper Mario - Sticker Star Nintendo
7 Last seen at 2 Inazuma Eleven Go 2 Level-5
10 Last seen at 8 Pokémon Mystery Dungeon: Magna Gate and the Infinite Dungeon The Pokémon Co.
14 Last seen at 3 Yakuza 5 Sega
19 New Arrival! Inazuma Eleven Strikers 2013 Level-5
20 Last seen at 10 Toriko: Gourmet Monsters Bandai-Namco
22 Last seen at 20 Pokémon Black 2 / White 2 The Pokémon Co.
24 Last seen at 16 Monster Hunter 3G Capcom

Shin Megami Tensei IV is a game of many mysteries, not least among them being how the protagonists, who are obviously from a mid-renaissance period European-like nation, can find themselves in a near-future version of Tokyo. Well, the last Famitsu magazine of 2012 didn't do much to explain that little conundrum, but it did add a few layers to it. For example, here are two of the new and important personages we know about.

Meet Mr. Tayama and Ms. Kaga. These two Tokyo urbanites represent two different groups involved with the demonic presence in Tokyo. Ms. Kaga represents the interests of the Cult of Gaia. This secretive religious group was one of the major players in the original Shin Megami Tensei's post-nuclear power struggle, though it wasn't quite as prominent in SMT2 and Nocturne. The Gaians are followers of the chaotic alignment path, preaching a ministry of freedom, mysticism, and the rule of might. Tayama is a member of the Asura Coalition, an organization that brings together the powers of many demons to further its goals. At a guess, it looks like the Coalition may have supplanted the Messian Church as the representative group for the Lawful alignment. In any case, the presence of these two groups suggests some interesting things for SMT4, though not as interesting as the third individual introduced, the Black Samurai.

Anyone else notice a resemblance to a certain power suit from a certain previous game?

Source: Famitsu Weekly

It's a new year, and in Japan that means one thing: lots of cards. Nengajo (New Year cards) are an omnipresent thing in late December and early January, and the Japanese gaming industry would like to wish everyone a good year as well. So, here are the cards!

Page 1: Arc System Works, Idea Factory & Compile Heart, Irem Software, and Agatsuma Entertainment.

Page 2: AquaPlus, Acquire, Alchemist, and Imageepoch.

Page 3: Index & Atlus, SNK Playmore, MTO (with the cutest kitten ever), and Electronic Arts.

Page 4: Kadokawa Games, Capcom, Gambarion, and Gung-ho Online Entertainment.

Page 5: Grasshopper Manufacture, Craft & Meister, Koei-Tecmo Games (with Gust), and Code Masters.

Page 6: Konami, Comcept, CyberConnect 2, and Square Enix.

Page 7: Spike-Chunsoft, Sega, Sony Computer Entertainment, and Takara Tomy Arts.

Page 8: D3 Publisher, Take-Two Interactive, Nippon Ichi Software, and Nihon Falcom.

Page 9: Microsoft Japan, Bandai-Namco Games, 5pb. and Mages, and Bushiroad.

Page 10: Platinum Games, Furyuu, Broccoli, and Bethesda Softworks.

Page 11: Marvelous AQL, UBI Soft, Rocket Company (Medabots!), and Level-5.

Source: Famitsu Weekly
Title Publisher Release Date Platform
Digimon Adventure Bandai-Namco 1.17.13
Kami-sama to Unmei Kakumei Paradox Nippon Ichi 1.24.13
Demon Gaze Kadokawa Games 1.24.13
Monster MonPiece Compile Heart 1.24.13
Source: Dengeki Online
Not a Question for Gaijin

Dear Gaijin,

Congratulations on your engagement.

Just a word of caution regarding marriages with a foreigner in Japan. I had a brother who married a Japanese women in Japan for 7 years. They had a son there. One day, she wanted to divorce him, and never even brought up the subject of it before, seeing that Japanese do not seem to express their feelings that they feel right at the moment, and tend to hold them in until the last minute before it's too late to fix the problem. What ended up happening is that my brother lost not only his wife, but his son too. The reason is that when a foreigner who lives in Japan gets married to a Japanese and has kids amd if the 2 were to divorce, the Japanese parent gets full custody of the children in almost 100% of the cases, and that the foreigner is expected to not participate in the children's life at any point in their life ever again and is expected to continue his life as if nothing ever happened.

In cases where the Japanese parent were mentally ill, or unfit to take care of the child, the child would go to the next close of kin on the Japanese parent's side of the family rather than be given to the parent of the child who is the foreigner for full custody. In North America, if the father has never done anything bad to the children, he can get shared custody in some cases or even visitation rights, but I read that such a thing does not exist in Japan and I've heard of many foreigners not knowing this law existed in Japan and who have lost complete contact with their children after a divorce from their Japanese wife.

I've heard it works the other way around too; if a Japanese man marries a foreign women in Japan, and they divorce, the Japanese man gets to keep the children and the foreign women doesn't get any custody of her kids. I've also read many stories in where the couple married would even later move to the USA or Canada, and then when the Japanese parent divorces, he/she would abduct the child back to Japan and the foreigner would have zero power with the court system to bring the child back to his/her home country, even if the child has dual citizenship (such was the case with my brother, his child was Japanese/Canadian, and yet Canadian law couldn't protect him because there is no such law against child abduction towards Japanese since Japan never signed the child abduction treaty for the Hague Convention, making it one of the only first world countries to have not signed it.) I wish in the future Japan can be less discriminatory towards foreign parents. There are many good websites talking about this issue if you so wish to read up on it.

I wish you the best in your upcoming marriage, and that such a devastating thing would not happen to you.


Alberto Montiglio


Trust me, I am fully aware that this sort of situation exists. I also know many married foreigners in this city for whom this sort of thing thankfully does not apply. Like you said somewhere near the top, however, it often stems from a major breakdown in communications vis-a-vis the health of the relationship. I know what I am getting into, and I know who I am getting into it with, and I trust her implicitly.

I am also sadly familiar with how divorce works in marriages between two Japanese partners, so I can say that it's fairly messed up all-around. I try to live and learn, especially from watching the mistakes of others so I can avoid them. Thank you for your concerns, and I hope you don't mind me breaking up that wall of text with a few paragraph breaks. Also, next time you head up an email with the title "Questions for Gaijin," feel free to ask some questions, okay?

I hope everyone had a joyful, fun, and otherwise completely unproductive (except for gaming) holiday season. As of the eleventh day of Christmas (i.e. today) I have put far too many hours into video games, though I was able to write a review or two in that time. I am definitely looking forward to my local gym resuming its normal operating hours tomorrow.

And that's the news from Hi-no-Kuni,

Your man in Japan,

Gaijin Monogatari

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