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Is Japanese comedy better than its Western counterpart? “Gaki no Tsukai” says – YES!

Japanese comedy shows are different in many aspects compared with European or American comedies. First of all, Japanese have a special word “owarai” which means “a laugh” and “a smile” to describe comedies shown on TV. Secondly, the younger team members respect the older ones. Thirdly, there is no humiliation aspect that you can see in “Jackass” episodes. Lastly, these comedies are made so that they are appropriate for a wide range of audience. Hence, if that is what you were really looking for in our European comedies but have never found that, there is hope for you. In this post, I am going to delve into details about one of my favorite Japanese comedy shows called “Gaki no Tsukai” (“This Is No Task for Kids!”).  This show is peculiar because so called characters are the real people who do not impersonate anyone but themselves.  In other words, it is a variety show that focuses on how the participants behave and react to various situations.

In addition to this, it is common that producers participate in games as well. For example, producer Yoshinobu Nakamura once let the members of Gaki team bake pizza on his forehead. Chief producer Kenji Suga appears on various posters, TV adverts during the game in order to amuse the cast and get them punished. I cannot imagine that producers in Europe would do something similar. Meanwhile in Japan, producers are ordinary members of the cast and participate in pranks the very same way others do.

This show is quite old and has its own traditions as the first episode kicked off back in 1989 and continues up to this day. Moreover, it has a variety of different segments such as: 1) Batsu-games, 2) No laughing batsu-games, 3) Kiki series, 4) Silent library and etc. The founders of this show are very famous Japanese comics Hitoshi Matsumoto and Masatoshi Hamada.

As far as their early career is concerned, Matsumoto and Hamada are life-long friends dating back to their elementary school days. They started their career as Downtown duo. They are not only the founders of “Gaki no tsukai” but they’re the oldest characters in this comedy show too. The members of the team broke a long-lasting Japanese comedy tradition as they have never been trained by elders.

Downtown formed in 1982 and is best known for sarcastic, short-tempered stage personas. Before becoming immensely popular the duo suffered from insults and lots of stress as they did not get any recognition at all. When they finally became extremely popular Hosei Tsukitei (formerly known as Yamasaki) joined Hamada and Matsumoto in 1990. This comedian is usually unfunny, notwithstanding the fact that he really tries so hard to make funny jokes. Few years later, in 1997, Cocorico duo joined the show.

Cocorico formed in 1992 when Shozo Endo invited Naoki Tanaka to start performing together.

As a result, there are five main characters in “Gaki no Tsukai” show: Hitoshi Matsumoto, Masatoshi Hamada, Hosei Tsukitei, Naoki Tanaka and Shozo Endo. Now that we know the brief history of “Gaki no Tsukai”, let’s talk about the things they do during the show.

Batsu games (penalty games) (1990-2003)

Each “batsu game” segment begins with a game or a bet ranging from “rock, paper and scissors” to “eating scolding hot food”.  Winning is important, however, you can easily notice that, winning in style and having fun in the process is more important. The team that loses the initial game has to be punished. They have to participate in the batsu-game where the winner (individual or a team) thinks of the punishments that have to be painful but most importantly fun.

For example, when Hamada lost the competition, he had to travel to Vladivostok to receive a back-hand slap to the face as part of a batsu game.  Matsumoto had to dress up in kimono and greet guests in a hotel after losing a competition. There are many funny situations, that I haven’t mentioned, that the losers had to deal with in batsu games, you can find most of those here.

 “No-Laughing Batsu-games” (2003-Present)

“No-Laughing Batsu-games” evolved from usual batsu games. As it has become immensely popular, a tradition has been established to show “No-Laughing Batsu-games” on New Year’s Eve (from 2007 onwards).

The main idea behind the “no-laughing batsu-game” is that the main cast has to perform the duties related to the particular theme for 24 hours. The theme is different every year – it ranges from prisoners to nurses and police officers. The game has 3 rules:

  1. They perform the duties of the particular profession for 24 hours.
  2. They cannot laugh, while doing their job.
  3. If anybody of the cast starts to laugh – that person is severely punished.

Looks easy? Not at all, as there are “laughter assassins” all over the place that have a single purpose – to make the cast laugh while they do their job.

The cast meets with a former Downtown manager Hiroshi Fujiwara at 9 a.m. in the morning. Fujiwara is usually dressed in funny clothes that are related to the theme of the game. The members of the team have to change their clothes as well to suit their temporary profession. Hamada usually is dressed up in woman clothes. Hosei has sleeves or trousers that are often too short. Sometimes the whole team is dressed up in women clothes. What amuses me most is that they know how to make fun of themselves and do not feel embarrassed at all.

As I’ve mentioned before, “No-Laughing Batsu-game” usually takes all day, the participants have no permission to laugh, otherwise they are punished with a “weapon” that is humorously related to the theme such as: a riding crop, a bamboo “sword”, straight stick baton and so on.

Silent Library (2004, 2008)

The “Silent library” consists of six members: main cast and Heipo or other guests. In “Silent library” show participants sit among other people who are reading books in an ordinary library. Before each round, the punishment is being presented and each member has to draw a card. The person who draws the Skull card receives a punishment that was presented previously, for example: a two-finger slap, pulling nose hair, hot teabag on the face and etc. The main rule? They cannot burst into laughter and have to remain silent no matter how funny or painful the situation is.

As this segment was extremely successful, there were efforts to adapt it for the global audience all around the world. The most popular of spin-offs was MTV reality game show “Fist of Zen” (2009).

silent library

Silent library

Absolutely Tasty series (2003-Present)

This game is different from the games that I’ve mentioned before as there is no punishment element in it and it is all about having fun. The members of the team choose a type of food and then everyone has to prepare it with traditional or “exotic” ingredients. Usually, the preparation of food is very amusing as the members not only try to make it tasty, but it has to be funny while they prepare it as well. For example, when preparing pizza, they tried ingredients that made no sense, for instance: mint, pig’s face and sea-grass. However, to their great surprise, some pizzas were delicious. Having prepared the food, the cast taste it together and evaluate each other’s meal in stars or in skulls if the dish is horrible.

"Exotic" pizza

“Exotic” pizza

Kiki series (1998-Present)

“Kiki series” is another segment of “Gaki no Tsukai” that is food related.  I do not recommend watching this show in the evening as participants taste various dishes, sauces and drinks and you cannot stop thinking about food!

Each show features a different kind of products for tasting. For the particular product type (chocolate, for instance) there are up to 20 different brands of the same product. The game starts when a taster tries a few bits of food or drink with blindfolded eyes. If the theme is milk – they will try the same number of different brands of milk, until they find the one that they have originally tasted. If they pick up the wrong brand, they are punished. The punishment is always related to the theme, for example, if they drank milk, it is most likely that the punisher will be a man dressed in a cow’s costume. If the cast was tasting chocolate – the punisher is a plantation worker who “teaches idiots” how to recognize the brands correctly. The winner receives 100,000 yen and losers get the punishment which depends on the theme.

Some of the product types the cast has to taste are downright hilarious and are not related to food or drinks at all. In one “Kiki series” segment, they had to guess the brand of cigarettes or toothpaste.

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As Endo couldn’t recognize the Castella brand, he is being punished by “Portuguese traider” who brought Castella into Japan

There are various other segments of the “Gaki no Tsukai” show that I may not have mentioned. If you have your favorite one, please share it with me in the comments section. The second post will be a review of the main members of the cast of the Gaki no Tsukai team. Stay tuned!

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Everything you should know about relocating to Dublin (III)

In the first part of this series, I have shared my own relocation to Dublin experience from accommodation and cost of living perspective. The second part was focused on essential things that you have to do if you want to start working or studying in Dublin. This time I am going give an overview of learning institutions (universities, colleges, schools) in Dublin.

Education System in Ireland

Parents with children who are coming to Ireland should know that the compulsory school age in Ireland is 6 and all forms of pre-primary education are optional.

Primary education consists of an eight-year cycle: junior infants, senior infants, and first to sixth classes. Pupils normally transfer to post-primary education at the age of twelve.

Post-primary education consists of a three-year Junior Cycle (lower secondary), followed by a two or three-year Senior Cycle (upper secondary), depending on whether the optional Transition Year (TY) is taken.

Students usually begin the Junior Cycle at age 12. The Junior Certificate examination is taken after three years. The Senior Cycle caters for students in the 15 to 18-year age group.

Having received the Leaving Certificate, it is time to think about upper education opportunities in Dublin.

Universities and Colleges in Dublin

As there is a wide range of universities and colleges in Dublin, it is not easy to make a decision which educational institution is the best option for you. Therefore, I will give you a short introduction about top three universities and two private colleges in Dublin.

Trinity College Dublin is one of the oldest higher education institutions and one of the seven “ancient universities” in the territory of the UK and Ireland. Trinity was modelled after the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and is the most prestigious learning institution in Ireland.

University College Dublin has its roots in the Catholic University of Ireland. The university consists of five colleges, 34 schools and 18 research institutes and centers.

Dublin City University is situated in the northern part of the Dublin city. The university has an impressive selection of on-campus facilities, including The Helix – a large arts venue with several different-sized performance spaces.

Here are the rest of the Universities that would also be an attractive option:

If none of the above mentioned universities are suitable for you, there is no reason to get upset as one could look into Private Higher Education Institutions.

Griffith College is one of the largest independent colleges in Ireland, offering both academic and professional programmes. All programmes enjoy external recognition and approval and are taught by highly respected lecturers to give students an inspiring and rewarding education.

National College of Ireland (NCI) has been ranked for the fourth year in a row as the Best for Jobs in the Sunday Times University Guide 2015. Practical courses were developed closely collaborating with the “major players” in the industry as well as professors from world leading Universities (such as Stanford, UC Berkeley and Cornell).

Here are the rest of the Colleges that would also be an attractive option:

So are you interested in applying to university? How to get there?

Most of the universities in Dublin have the same (or similar) application rules. For example, it does not really matter whether you are an international or EU student as you are very likely to register through CAO system anyway. The closing date for applicants usually is the 1st of February. However, if you are a mature student (aged 23 +), then different rules might apply to you. For instance, you will have an extended application term and lower entry requirements compared to younger students. Hence, my advice is to visit universities directly and to inquire about the application process because different universities might have different requirements and terms.

From my own experience, I can say that it doesn’t really matter how a website or facilities of the university look – the most important thing is how you find yourself in the university. You shouldn’t choose the first university that you heard about from media. The better choice would be to visit different learning institutions, talk with staff, find out about study programmes and then make an informed decision.

This is the third post of the series where I share some tips and things I wish we have known before relocating to Dublin. Do you have any experience with learning institutions in Dublin? Feel free to share it with us in the comment section below!

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Everything you should know about relocating to Dublin (I)

Relocating from one country to another is never an easy process. However, a small preparation for it can help you avoid unpleasant surprises and make all the difference. In this post I am going to share my own experience of relocation to Dublin and give you some tips.

Accommodation

A year ago, when my friend and I were considering moving to Ireland, little we had known about renting an apartment in Dublin. However, what we already knew was that it was going to be a “fierce competition” for renting an appropriate flat in a city with more than 1 million residents.

First of all, you have to make up your mind and decide whether you can afford to rent a flat on your own at a higher cost or sharing one with other people is a more suitable option for you. As for us, we chose to rent an apartment on our own, but I truly understand those people who want to save their money.

There are a few websites where you can start looking for an apartment:

The most popular among the bunch is DAFT (some might argue). Bear in mind that you will not be able to rent an apartment without participating in an arranged viewing. This is usually set by a landlord/real-estate agent and is attended by a group of potential tenants. However, you have three short term solutions:

  • you can rent an apartment using Airbnb which offers short term rentals,
  • stay at a hotel,
  • stay at the place of your relatives.

Tips: usually you have to bring a letter from employer and put a deposit which is the amount of the one-month rental price that you agreed to pay. Also, it is beneficial to bring a letter from your previous landlord if you had one.

Cost of living

Everyone hold a different view on the cost of living (as well as on other things) in Ireland. If you had asked me about it a year ago, I would have said that it is not as expensive as it looks. However, as I got to know the city and its culture better, now I would say that there are things that could be cheaper, for example, restaurants, take-away meals, but you can always eat at home if you like.

Rental prices are crazy expensive compared to Vilnius, but keep in mind that Dublin is a much bigger city in terms of the number of residents. As a result, be prepared to pay a lot for an apartment. The prices depend on the area. In general, it is more expensive to live in South Dublin, particularly in Dublin 4 and Dublin 6 as they are more attractive due to better commuting options, quality of life, etc.

Personally, I do not recommend living in North Dublin because of the commuting problems. Buses belonging to “Dublin bus” are very noisy and slow and on top of it you can easily fall and injure yourself while descending from the stairs (be especially careful if you go with small kids as stairs are too big for them).

Food prices. It is generally more expensive to buy food in Tesco or Dunnes Stores. Fortunately, there are other options if you want to save your money! Lidl and Aldi are the most popular shops because of the affordable pricing system for customers and great deals as well. If you don’t own a car – it’s not too problematic as Tesco and Super Valu have home delivery services.

As far as public transport is concerned, it is quite expensive too.  Hence, if you want to save more money, you should buy Leap card or ask for TaxSaver tickets from your employer.

Tips: don’t be distracted by cheap clothes in shops like Penney’s, as they are of poor quality. Also, bear in mind that shopping centers usually work until 7 p.m.    

All in all, if you want to check the further information about clothing, restaurants or pubs pricing visit numbeo.com.

This is the first post of the series where I share some tips and things I wish we have known before relocating to Dublin. Stay tuned!

The Cliffs of Moher_1

Touring in Ireland. Mission (im)possible?

A part of life here in Ireland is to understand one simple fact: if there is a slight possibility of rain – it will definitely rain. Some Irish people would say that the rain comes not only from the sky, but from the bottom as well. I’ve heard this phrase many times from the very first day since I came to Ireland.  As sunny days are scarce, you have to follow weather forecasts very carefully in order to plan your vacation in Ireland.

At first, my boyfriend and I wanted to rent a car from Thirfty, but as it turned out that they would not give us a car because his six years of driving experience was not enough to get a car without any additional fees. The fact that I don’t have a driving license does not help either. All we could think of was to book tickets at Irish day tours. There were a few tours available to the 7 nature wonders of Ireland, but we chose the Cliffs of Moher as I have heard of its beauty beforehand. My English teacher Garret once told me that visitors have to be extremely careful while being on those cliffs as some people died when a gust of strong wind took them off the cliffs. Nevertheless, I was relaxed because the day we chose was sunny and peaceful.

The Cliffs of Moher

The Cliffs of Moher

The journey started very early at 6:50 a.m., I was still sleepy, but our guide Mack was full of energy: he kept us interested by telling a few jokes and stories about astonishing buildings in Dublin. The first leg of the journey was spent travelling to the Cliffs of Moher and it took us more than 3 hours to get there. We were all ears to hear the interesting pieces of Irish history from our guide as well as some Irish folk songs (Mack is a wonderful singer) that added to an exceptional experience. When we got to the Cliffs, a breath taking view appeared in front of our eyes. Despite the fact that it was a sunny day, you could feel how the wind tries to take away your phone from your hands or even throw you off those cliffs. It was a little scary, but my boyfriend and I managed to take some pictures and enjoy our time to the fullest. Being on the Cliffs of Moher is something that you cannot simply convey to others. You have to experience it yourself.

Mack gave us ample time (1h 30 min) to enjoy the spectacular scenery until 12.30 p.m.  Having seen the cliffs of Moher, we had lunch in the village of Doolin, which is located nearby Atlantic Ocean. The second leg of the journey was spent visiting the Burren National Park. The Burren looks really impressive because of its extremely picturesque and unique nature. While we were looking at the hills of The Burren, we noticed walls made of rocks which served no clear purpose. Mack explained that those walls were built by starving people during the Irish Potato famine. The problem was not that there was a lack of food, but food was beyond the reach of the poor people because of its price. The British government forced people to build the walls that surrounded nothing and roads which led to nowhere, instead of stopping to export Irish food from the country or working to make it affordable to the local residents.

The Burren

The Burren

The last stop was at Corcomroe Abbey which is a medieval monastery made of limestone. It’s not very common to see cows in a rocky landscape. By the way, while we traveled from one spot to another there were cows everywhere! Mack said that there are about 8 million cows and 6 million residents in Ireland. Hence, the joke that “there are more cows than people in Ireland” actually makes sense.

Corcomroe Abbey

Corcomroe Abbey

The tour ended in Dublin (where we started) at approximately 7:20 p.m. We had a nice chat with Mack, thanked him for the lovely journey and slowly headed home, enjoying the wonderful streets of Dublin.

All in all, I would highly recommend this tour even if you have a car. For us it was extremely beneficial because Mack showed many stunning sights and taught us the aspects of the Irish history that we have never heard of. If you decide to travel in your own car to go there for the first time, I bet that you will not find those places easily or even give up and go straight to Galway. Hence, a tour is a better option for the first-time visitors.

We want you!

6 fatal communication mistakes that no recruiter should ever do

Getting in touch with a recruiter should always be a pleasant experience, as they are highly qualified professionals that should know how to attract you to the job position. However, sometimes we can get a nasty feeling while communicating with them and have no idea why this happened to us.

Here are 6 mistakes that no recruitment professional should ever do:

  1. Call me while I am at work without informing me in advance. I count it as a bad habit.

Imagine the situation when you discuss the brand new strategy with your team and suddenly get a call from a person who you don’t even know, asking you do you need a job? Well, why should I care?

Advice: Instead of being rude, you should always inform your candidates that you want to contact them and to enquire when they will be available for a confidential chat.

  1. Next fatal mistake is when a recruiter who is looking for new candidates calls a person who is already working in their client’s company. What a shame!

Advice: A recruitment professional should do their homework about their candidates before contacting them. Well, some of the recruiters might say, “I have checked our local data base”, but when was the last time you updated your candidate’s profile? If you are so tired that you don’t want to check your candidate’s LinkedIn profile, don’t contact him. Instead of this, do some research and when you feel that you are ready contact him.

  1. Another potential mistake is to call a candidate who has just started working in a new company.

Think about the situation. How should I feel when recruiter’s client or even the recruiter himself asks me, “why do you want to leave the company”?

Advice:  I think it is not wise to contact a candidate who has just started working in a new role or company. Have more patience!

  1. Sometimes the candidates receive strange emails from recruiters and don’t know how to reply to them. Dear recruiters, you should never ever write an initial email like this: “If I understand it correctly, you wouldn’t like to work in my country”. Well, what can I say to such a great statement?

Advice:  think about candidates and send them the right message, why it is worth contacting a recruiter.

  1. I would highly recommend to avoid comments that could be misunderstood and offend your potential candidate. For example, if it comes out that the candidate has just started working in a new company recruiters should avoid comments such as: “oh, ok ok, no problem”.

Advice:  Instead of this, you should show him some respect and congratulate him, because otherwise it will look like you don’t even care about the candidate. So tell me, how will he be happy to be contacted by you later on? Communication skills are crucial in recruitment and failing to represent the client’s company (or even his employer) in an attractive way will harm the company’s image, no matter how much money investors put into marketing.

  1. A friend of mine had a call from a recruiter who called him two weeks in a row. When he called the first time he told his name so quickly that he couldn’t hear it properly. My friend explained him the situation that he has started working in the company and he is not interested in the recruiter’s offer. A week later the same recruiter called and asked same questions. Isn’t it ridiculous?

Advice:  Coordinate the search with your colleagues and don’t forget to write down the notes for yourself.

All things considered, I know that working as a recruiter can be challenging, however, politeness and positive attitude as well as careful research before contacting your selected candidate might help you to avoid such blunders.

Please share any awkward moments that you have encountered.

Hello world!

My name is Vida Kazlauskaite. I am a student of Business Administration (Marketing) of Griffith College. As I have passion for learning new things, I want to introduce my blog which will be about everything I can think of. Enjoy reading it!