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Monday, October 27, 2014

News in Japan - Is it time for Japan to stop connecting your personality and blood type? / 10 Types of Japanese Men / The Japanese Salary man

Is it time for Japan to get over trying to connect your personality and blood type?

by Casey Baseel - Japan Today

When I first moved to Japan in college, every weekend meant a party and a new group of people to meet, with a standard set of questions I got asked. The logic behind “What’s your name?” was obvious, and “Where are you from?” also makes sense when you’re one of the few non-Japanese people in the room. “Do you like Japanese girls?” was another common one, based on the widely held, if not always true, theory that foreign guys like Japanese women, and vice-versa.
Those three always came first, but it wasn’t long until someone would want to know my blood type. No, my school wasn’t filled with vampires or hemophiliacs, nor hemophiliac vampires (the most tragic undead demographic). People just wanted to get a sneak peak of my personality, which is thought to be strongly connected to what runs through your veins by many people in Japan.
One man who’s not a believer, though, is Professor Kengo Nawata from Kyushu University’s Social Psychology Department, whose recently concluded research shows no correlation between personality and blood type.
Let’s start with a quick primer on blood type personality theories. In simple terms, Type As are thought to be earnest and considerate, Type Bs passionate yet self-centered, Type Os laid-back and easy-going, and Type ABs creative and mysterious.
It’s pretty easy to notice that “self-centered” sticks out as an undesirable trait in group-oriented Japan, and it’s not unusual to hear singles say “I wouldn’t want to date someone who’s Type B.” And hey, when it comes to romance, people like what they like, and don’t what they don’t. The bigger problem, though, and the one Nawata is troubled by, is companies in Japan asking about applicants’ blood types during job interviews, something the professor calls “Blood Type Harassment.”

"Nawata, along with a team of economic researchers, conducted a survey of more than 10,000 people in Japan and the U.S. Participants were asked for their attitudes regarding a total of 68 statements, such as “I leave fun things for later on,” and “People shouldn’t gamble.” Sawata then sifted through their responses to look for statistical discrepancies between respondents with different blood types.
The results were published in June in the journal of the Japanese Psychological Association. According to Sawata, differences between blood types were only observed for three of the 68 statements, and even then, they were minute.
“This strongly indicates that there is no connection between blood type and personality,” Sawata concluded.
Japan’s Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare shares Sawata’s disdain for the popular form of pseudo-science, as well as his concern over individuals’ economic prospects being inappropriately affected by their blood type. “Blood type has absolutely no relation to a person’s work abilities or aptitudes,” the organization asserted in a statement. Likewise, Osaka’s Labor Bureau has asked certain companies to stop asking job-seekers for their blood type on applications.
So if psychologists and economists are speaking out against it, how did this whole blood type/personality thing become so prevalent? You can blame Masahiko Nomi, who wrote Understanding Affinity by Blood Type in 1971. From there, media outlets picked up his ideas, and the Japanese public imagination has never entirely let them go, despite some rather large contradictions to Nomi’s litmus/blood test of character.
For example, Al Capone’s Type O blood should have made him an easy-going guy, but history points to that label being less accurate than, say, violent mobster. And as for Type As? Well, O.J. Simpson and Adolph Hitler were Type A.
Wow, it’s like Nomi’s theories come from someone with almost no medical or psychological credentials at all. That’s not true though, at least until you remove the “almost” part. Nomi was a journalist who studied engineering in university. If being a writer without an educational background in mental health allows you to spout off on keys to a person’s psyche, my business degree and I want in on the action.
Some people are still unwilling to give up on Nomi’s ideas though, and usually cite two sources of anecdotal evidence. The first is that in Japan, where A is the most common blood type, being majime, earnest and responsible, is considered a virtue of the highest order. In contrast, blood type connection advocates say, the U.S. has many people who’re Type B, which is reflected in the American ideal of blazing your own trail in life.
Except, only about 11% of the U.S. has Type B blood, which doesn’t seem like nearly enough to be the driving force behind the country’s perceived national character. B isn’t even the most common American blood type (it’s O, and by a pretty decent margin). It’s more likely that Japan and America’s, on average, differing priorities are due to the influences of their differing historical and sociological circumstances.
The other defense of linking blood type to personality comes from people who swear their coworker/ex/friend from high school fits Nomi’s profile exactly. While it’s hard to argue with personal experience, once again you can’t ignore the sociological factors at play here.
While some people are more interested in blood types than others, pretty much everyone in Japan is aware of the basic profiles we described above, such as type Bs being predisposed to self-centeredness. Ask yourself this, though: Do you know anyone who’s never done a single selfish thing?

Of course you don’t. Even the most considerate people occasionally give into temptation or just suffer a lapse in concentration and put themselves before others. The difference is that when Yamada, who’s Type A, finishes the last of a pitcher of beer, people think, “Eh, he must be thirsty,” or “He probably had a rough week.” But when Type B Tanaka does the same thing, he gets a different reaction.
The human brain loves to look for patterns, and sometimes that’s a good thing. Long ago our ancestors put two and two together and realized everyone in the tribe who ate uncooked mammoth steaks that’d been lying out too long got sick and died, so maybe they should stop doing that, and our species got a little smarter and safer thanks to their powers of observation.
But sometimes, the brain goes into overdrive on its pattern hunt. When you stop and consider all of the life experiences, interpersonal relations, and soul-searching that goes into creating a person’s personality, it seems a little silly, and maybe even sad, to chalk it all up to the type of sugars attached to our red blood cells."



10 types of Japanese men, according to Japanese women

"If you or someone you know were described as a cabbage roll, how would you react? What if someone called you a hyena or said you were especially “creamy”?
There are apparently 10 distinct categories into which men fall in Japan, with women knowing exactly the type they’d like to get to know better or avoid altogether. Read on to find out whether you’re a Soy Milk, Bacon Asparagus, Creamy, or Cabbage kind of guy, or to learn how to apply these unusual tags to the men you meet in Japan.
Presented by Ilaria, the Italian curator of YouTube channel It’s All Manga’s Fault and long-time resident of Japan, the following list describes 10 different types of men as viewed from a romantic perspective. As Ilaria mentions, these personalty types are not her own creations, but rather those described online by Japanese women.
1. The Carnivorous Man
You might not think it to look at the guy in the video, but the men considered “macho” in Japan are often the same guys who spend a lot of time on their looks and buy expensive designer clothes and accessories. These nikushoku men are the kind of guys who actively hunt for women when out on the town and hone in on their “prey” with tried and tested move sets. They’re also, apparently, prone to cheating, so beware if you give in to that well-sculpted tuft of facial hair and wry smile.
2. The Herbivorous Man
Known in Japanese as “soshoku otoko” (literally plant-eating men), these are the polar opposites of the abovementioned Carnivorous Man. Whether or not they make good boyfriends, of course, comes down to personal preference, but if you’re interested in a guy who could be described as a herbivorous man then be sure to make the first move yourself or else you may be old enough to rock one of these epic walking sticks before he works up the courage to ask you out.
3. Bacon and Asparagus Roll Man
“Asupara behkon maki kei otoko” (asparagus bacon roll type men) are exactly what they sound like: meat on the outside, all veggie in the middle. They may well come on to girls as if they have all the confidence in the world and try to emulate the typical meat-eater look, but get to know them and you’ll find that they’re actually all soft and squidgy on the inside, or “all mouth and no trousers” as we say in my fair homeland. While some may think this a good thing, and will at least mean that they can skip all the awkward procrastination involved with dating a Herbivorous Man, others will find Bacon Asparagus Men’s macho posturing annoying or borderline pathetic.
4. Cabbage Roll Man
As Ilaria notes in her video, this type of man is often a big hit with the ladies since although he looks all soft and innocent on the outside, thus making him easily approachable, get to know him and you’ll find a man with the appetite of a carnivore. Those looking for a genuinely soft and cuddly man may be slightly disappointed, but others will be thrilled to find that their man is much tougher than he first seemed.
5. Creamy Man
“Creamy” men purportedly have wonderful skin and are mild and gentle, but when it all kicks off he’ll come out fighting and show himself to be tough. Kind of like a vanilla latte with a sneaky shot of alcohol, perhaps? Ilaria mentions that these men seem a little too good to be true, a bit too much like a character from a manga, perhaps.
6. Cashmere Man
Nope, I’ve never heard of this one before either. Apparently, having a welcoming smile and “shiny hair” makes this kind of man akin to the kind of fine, soft wool you’d knit a sweater out of. He also has a surprisingly strong personality. Aside from the colour of his hair, is anyone else wondering what the difference between this kind of man and a “creamy” type is?
7. Soy Milk Man
Named after his love of the healthy, bean-milk beverage, Soy Milk Men purportedly have a lot of the same interests as women, making them easy for girls to talk to an identify with. As someone who also drinks a lot of soy milk and unashamedly goes for head spas once a month, I can’t help feeling this one could do with being renamed since despite ticking those two boxes, I’m nothing like the kind of Soy Milk Man described here. That being said, the reason I enjoy said head spas so much is less because of what it does for my hair and more to do with the fact that a pretty girl is massaging my scalp and neck for half an hour while I recline in a comfy chair, so perhaps I’m less of a “Soy Milk Man” and more of a “Dude Who Has a Soft Spot for Pretty Girls and Thinks Soy Milk Tastes Nice”…
8. Hyena Man
AKA that creep who mistakenly thinks he’s handsome and tries to hit on everyone in the bar. Hyena Men prey on easy targets because they lack the charm to actually attract women who aren’t vulnerable in some way. Never a name to be associated with, unless you’re auditioning to play the villain in a stage production or something.
9. The Fasting Man
The No Thank-You Man as he’s otherwise known isn’t even worth approaching if you’re looking for love. For whatever reason, he’s finished with love and romance, and he isn’t afraid to make that painfully clear from the start. There’s also a good chance he plays sad songs on his guitar and keeps a blog about how the world just doesn’t get it. Whatever it is.
10. The Otaku Man

Rounding the list off is the good ol’ otaku; the kind of guy who’s so into his hobby that he’s probably not even looking for love, but if he finds it he’s at least not likely to abandon it (unless, of course, it gets in the way of his beloved hobby). Otaku men are often considered to have bad dress-sense and be slightly immature, but they’re also kind and thoughtful, so it’s hard to be too judgemental of them. And, as we’ve seen, there’s a broad spectrum of otaku out there, so these guys probably deserve to have a little asterisk attached to the name of their category.
What do you make of this list? If you’re a guy, do you feel that you could be easily classified as one of these men? If you’re a girl or a gay guy, do you have a personal preference for one of these types? While we may not all agree with some of these distinctions, it is at least good to be armed with the lingo used in Japan to types of men. At least that way, the next time you’re described as a “cabbage roll” you’ll know not to be immediately offended."
Hilarious comment ... 
What about Vacuum man? The guy who loudly sucks a lot of air as he tries to think of an answer to a question but is so, well, vacuous inside and he has little or nothing to say that is not standard reply.



Japan's sozzled salarymen: the lost tribe in a modern pickle

Jacket folded neatly on his briefcase and necktie loosened only slightly, insurance broker Chiba is no Johnny Rotten, but earns hearty applause from his workmates nonetheless, before passing the microphone with a bow and raising his beer glass with a drunken leer.
“I wanted to be an astronaut when I was a kid,” father-of-two Chiba told AFP. “My dad told me to stop being silly. He worked for (Japanese computer giant) Fujitsu for 40 years and wanted me to work for Fujitsu too.
“But I failed the exam,” he added over the din as a colleague belted out a Japanese folk song. “I’ve been in insurance for 13 years. It is getting tougher with the economy the way it is.”
Chiba’s party of five fit the stereotype of the “salaryman” to a tee, guzzling beers and smoking at a furious pace as the clock ticked towards the last train on a rainy Thursday night.
Japan’s identikit corporate samurai are cultural shorthand for the world of work, an army of back office grafters that swelled as the country’s post-war economic miracle took shape.
They squeeze daily onto famously crammed rush-hour trains to work lengthy shifts at the office—12 hours or more is relatively common—not daring to leave before their managers.
In the evenings they might be boozing with clients or summoned to practically compulsory company drinks, where much of the corporate bonding goes on.
Unsteadily, many rush later that night onto the last train, desperate to avoid the exorbitant cost of a long-distance taxi ride home.
Most struggle manfully to stay awake, fearful of missing their stop, but the sight of those who gave in—snoring, dribbling and with their suits askew—is not uncommon.
“The salaryman is Japan’s favorite figure of mirth,” said Jeff Kingston, director of Asian Studies at Temple University Japan. “They’re the sad, fat punching-bag, but in some ways they’re admired. They are the foot soldiers of Japan Inc.”
The one-time paragon of modern Japan came of age in the booming 1980s.
Back then, men graduating from a half-decent university could be almost certain of finding a good job. They would trade a lifetime of loyalty for a solid career path where promotions and pay rises came with time served.

The salaryman worked hard during the week—he was expected to be in the office early and to socialise in the evening. At weekends he would play golf, often as a way to keep up professional relationships.
On the one day a week he was not in hoc to his company, he would sleep.
The hardships were many—men often barely saw their children—but the guarantee of a job for life with a company that would always look out for you made the trade worthwhile.
But then the bubble burst and Japan’s economy floundered. Hiring programs were trimmed. Salaries were frozen, but the overtime stacked up as firms tried to get more bang for their buck.
More than two decades on, lifetime contracts are the exception.
Nowadays, even some graduates from top universities struggle to find a full-time, permanent job; instead, they do the same job as their tenured colleagues, but with little security and lower wages.
However, says Kingston, it’s a two-way street, and for some younger Japanese the toll exacted on their fathers and grandfathers is giving them pause for thought.
“They are much more zealous about guarding their private life and not allowing the job to take over,” he said. “Corporate Japan has broken the social contract. Why make all the sacrifice if it’s not going to be reciprocated?”
And the sacrifices for the hard-slogging salaryman can be big.
Japan’s labor ministry keep statistics on the number of lives claimed by “karoshi”—death from overwork—every year.
“There is clearly a correlation between overwork and depression, and alcoholism and depression,” said Kingston. “Society was long in denial about these problems.”
“All that has changed in the last decade or so. People are recognizing that untreated mental health issues are a major factor in the high suicide rate.”
There are more than 21 suicides per 100,000 people in Japan, according to figures from the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), against a group-wide average of less than 13.
“Today’s salarymen are wondering perhaps if they’ve become the lost tribe—the tribe facing extinction with job security under siege,” said Kingston.
“They’re the ones who aren’t being paid overtime, their incomes are declining, their lifestyle has been downsized.”
The hard-drinking and long-hours culture among salarymen is cited as one of the reasons Japan has relatively few women in the workforce.
While Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has promised to boost their number, critics say no amount of legislation will make a difference if mothers cannot get home to their children because they are expected to stay late at the office.
Clambering noisily into a tiny elevator, Chiba’s pickled revelers decide to have one for the road.
“Drinking helps us relax,” chuckled 54-year-old bank employee Kiyoshi Hamada, sporting the classic “barcode” comb-over of thinning hair, and nibbling on chicken gizzards at a traditional izakaya restaurant.
“It’s always been hard work, but it’s even more of a slog now. Putting work before family is strangely Japanese maybe.”"


Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Random blog post - Jamaica Being Marketed Negatively in Japan, or is it?


So I always tend to look at both side of things and always try not to jump on any band wagon whatever it maybe. Whether it be the Trayvon Martin shooting, Israel's behavior with the Palestinians or most recently, the "negative" publicity of Jamaica in Japan.

Wait..... Aren't those Japanese ?!?!?!?!?!

Somethings are outright wrong, like the caucasian billionaire owners of sports clubs who perpetually bad mouth blacks. Even their black employees who help them to maintain their billionaire / multimillionaire status. Donald Sterling et al. Anyway, moving right along....


So there was this programme on a Japanese TV channel -  Nihon TV (channel 4 in Kanto) this past Monday, October 20th, with a somewhat famous Japanese promoter lady living in Jamaica.

I watched the program myself and I did irk at some of the stuff they chose to put on Japanese TV...with the general Japanese population being extremely gullible and will believe that all of Jamaica / all Jamaicans are like this.... Many a people are upset with the lady (maybe for highlighting the "negatives of Jamaica"), Nihon TV for bringing it on and of course Japan in general for pretty much making fun of other cultures to their benefit/pleasure.

Borrowing your facebook video Kevin !

I was a bit taken a back by some of the stuff but why though? This is a part of our culture. Some people hate it, some people love it, but it is still Jamaica. And I embrace my country and culture for what it is... Bad, good and all. Minus the crime stuff. I'm all for entertainment and culture. In parts of Africa, some ladies dance naked, likewise, in parts of Jamaica, some ladies dance and do all manner of "acrobatics" I call it. Heck, at a Scotland wedding the men wear skirts and no underwear !!!

I too wish more of the positive sides of Jamaica was shown. They do show the positive sides of Jamaica from time to time. I have seen several programs of such. Our Japanese co-workers may ask questions about some weird stuff in our culture but hey... it is still a part of our culture. Japan is a somewhat safe country but many weirdos and suicidal people are here. I think we should embrace our culture wholeheartedly.... If the Japanese or whoever else don't like it then too bad for them.

The problem I think though is Japan and their media are being hypocritical or they are trying to hide the Japanese underground stuff from the public. Like say.... the Japanese reggae dancers who do the same thing like their Jamaican counter parts .... Here are some of them ... Just a week ago at a party in Yamato, Kanagawa... I will make it big and nice.

Here are some more to add to those ......

And for the unbelieving Japanese out there...... Yes they are 100% Japanese ... not from some other Asian countries or hafu.

The only problem is that you probably may never see these on a regular Japanese TV program. To be fair to them, they are going off ratings and if the general public isn't interested in something, then why show it? Money/Ratings talk ..... This is Japan, and I doubt it's gonna change.

Monday, October 20, 2014

News in Japan - ( What’s wrong with English education in Japan? / Tokyo 4th in Global Rankings / Naruto Ends Next Month )

What’s wrong with English education in Japan? Pull up a chair

By KK Miller - Japan Today

"When you speak to foreign English educators in Japan, one thing becomes crystal clear: English education in Japan isn’t working. It’s just awful. While English classes are mandatory in Japanese schools, the percentage of students who emerge with actual English abilities are surprisingly low. Students in China, Korea and Japan are in an arms race to see who can produce students with the best English, and Japan seems to be trailing far behind in third place.
With the Olympic Games coming up in 2020, the Japanese government has proposed changes to increase the level of English ability in their students. Changes like starting introductory English classes in 3rd grade elementary school and making the subject compulsory from the 5th grade. Are these changes really going to help? We’ve gathered opinions from both foreign teachers and Japanese citizens about issues with the system and what might improve it.
Every foreigner who spends any amount of time in Japan will understand the fundamental need to change the way students study English. But a recent thread on the Japan subreddit, which seems to have been started by an English educator, tried to assemble as many opinions as possible about the matter in one place. Many of the complaints fell into three main categories:
1. Teaching to the tests
For those unfamiliar with the Japanese school system, most high schools and universities have a test that prospective students must take and pass. Especially in the case of high schools, there is a mandated set of content that appears. And so, Japanese Teachers of English (JTEs) focus on the grammar and vocabulary that will be on the test. A broader understanding and the practical uses of English are largely ignored because they have to cover the specific material and don’t have time for anything else.
So, if Japanese students have to learn specific material for the tests, why should they learn anything else? There is no point in actually learning the language if all that is required is being able to pick the correct answer on a multiple choice test. Many Japanese netizens agree, “Why change anything unless the style of testing is changed?”
2. The quality of the textbooks is quite low

Many foreign language teachers criticized the textbooks used in the classrooms, complaining about all manner of things including content and grammatical errors. Even more specifically, many people found the choice of grammar included to be suspect, saying it wasn’t grammar used very often in native English. The JTEs have to teach these archaic forms through topics such as recycling plastic, people and animals dying in WWII and boring Japanese history, causing students to be apathetic. (Topics like these are required in government approved textbooks.)
3. A focus on translating into Japanese and JTEs speaking in only Japanese. Where is the English?
Perhaps one of the biggest complaints was the amount, or lack of English used in the classrooms. The JTEs often teach all the grammar in Japanese, and check that the students can follow the textbook by translating the English into Japanese. Assistant Language Teachers (ALTs) are regulated to human tape recorders, and then set free to roam the class and “help” the students. Of all the hours of English education, how many of those hours were spent actually listening to and speaking English? (Repeating English is not the same as speaking it.)
Japanese people agree that the current teaching style often limits students to what little English they hear from the teachers and what words are put in front of them. Successful teaching should include as many senses as possible to surround students in English. One Japanese netizen suggests that TV dramas should be utilized to hear real English, while seeing the facial expressions and mouth movements all together in one package. How can a student not be excited to learn phrases like “OK, I’m on my way”, “What’s the problem?” or “Freeze! You’re under arrest!”
Which brings us to the main problem with the current system: Japanese students don’t understand the benefits of learning English. This is certainly not limited to Japanese learners, but how many time do you hear a student say, “I’m Japanese, so I will never use English in the future.” Studying English as a language is one of the least interesting things about it. But, what about all the different things that you can experience when you understand English? TV shows, movies, books, games, and it’s not even limited to entertainment, scientific journals, international business and the majority of the Internet is conducted in English.
When the exposure of English is limited to the classroom and the unfortunate textbooks, a majority of the students will disengage from it and end up not learning anything. When students are forced to study and learn about certain grammar points and vocabulary, with no knowledge about how you can apply it to all the amazing things in English, of course, the students are going to do poorly. Expose them to the idea that, yes, this is a subject you have to study, but look at what you can do with it outside the classroom. You can excite students with that and promote self-study, which is a much better approach than learning “This is a pen” for the sake of a test."



Tokyo stays fourth in global city ranking

by Masaaki Kameda - Japan times

Tokyo topped the list in the economy category and came in second in research and development, but ranked a lowly 17th in livability, ninth in environment and 10th in accessibility

"Tokyo remained fourth out of 40 major cities in an annual global city ranking released Thursday, trailing London, New York and Paris.
The latest Global Power City Index, compiled annually by the Institute for Urban Strategies at the Mori Memorial Foundation since 2008, assesses 70 indicators in six categories: economy, research and development, cultural interaction, livability, environment and accessibility.
“Though Tokyo came in fourth place, the same as last year, in the overall ranking, the city improved to sixth from eighth in the cultural interaction category,” said Hiroo Ichikawa, a professor at Meiji University’s Graduate School who helped compile the ranking.
Ichikawa said the hefty increase in the number of foreign travelers to Tokyo last year contributed to the improvement in its cultural interaction rating. The capital drew 6.81 million tourists from overseas in 2013, up 22.5 percent from the previous year.
Tokyo topped the list in the economy category and came in second in research and development, but ranked a lowly 17th in livability, ninth in environment and 10th in accessibility.
Ichikawa said that despite the high economy ranking, Tokyo could stand to improve its market attractiveness and regulatory environment.
One way to improve the poor score in accessibility, meanwhile, would be to increase the number of flights to and from Japan, he said.
Tokyo should take advantage of the 2020 Summer Olympics to improve on its weak areas, Ichikawa added.
Rounding out the top 10 was Singapore in fifth place, followed by Seoul, Amsterdam, Berlin, Hong Kong and Vienna."




After 15 years of ninja action, manga Naruto is ending next month

By Casey Baseel - Japan Today

“Naruto,” creator Masashi Kishimoto’s wildly popular weekly ninja series, is just weeks away from its final installment.
When “Naruto” made its debut in the pages of Weekly Shonen Jump in 1999, it’s doubtful that even the most optimistic editors at the magazine expected it to last as long as it did. Stories about a plucky warrior in training, who teams up with his friends (one he has a rivalry with, and the other he has feelings for) to face evil foes and overcome challenges had already been done by numerous other series before Kishimoto ever drew sketches of main characters Naruto, Sasuke, and Sakura.
The devil’s in the details, though, and while readers may have seen the broad strokes before, the fine points of Naruto struck a chord with readers and drew them in. It has had such a strong hold on fans that the manga now stands at 694 chapters, with 70 collected volumes that have sold more than 130 million copies in Japan, and another 70 million overseas.

And now, after 15 years, it’s all coming to a close. Kishimoto announced two years ago that “Naruto” would be winding down, and this week publisher Shueisha announced that the manga’s 699th, and final, chapter will be published in the issue of Shonen Jump that hits newsstands on November 10.
Given that Kishimoto is just 39, it’s likely we’ll more manga from the artist after he takes a well-deserved break. Naruto and company aren’t going to immediately disappear altogether either, as there’s a new anime movie, “The Last – Naruto the Movie” scheduled for release on December 6. Shueisha has also promised some form of “Naruto entertainment” is coming in 2015.
But even though November 10 isn’t going to be a complete and final goodbye, it still marks a big change for fans who have become used to getting together with their ninja buddies once a week for the past decade and a half.