Thursday, December 31, 2009

大晦日(o misoka): New Year's Eve

New Year's Eve is omisoka (大晦日) in Japanese. There are some customs to do on New Year's Eve. We clean the whole house to welcome the new year.
At night we eat toshikoshi soba (年越しそば), New Year's Eve Buckwheat Noodles. Toshikoshi (年越し) means crossing over from one year to the next, soba (そば) is buckwheat noodles. People eat long thin toshikoshi soba, hoping for the long healthy life of the whole family in the coming year. This custom started in the middle of the Edo era.
Just before the new year the temples start ringing their bells for 108 times. This is called jyoya no kane (除夜の鐘). There are some theories why they ring 108 times, but the most popular one is 108 symbolizes the casting away of 108 earthly desires called bonno (煩悩).
There are many special TV programs. One of them is kohaku uta gassen(紅白歌合戦), Red vs White singing contest by NHK. Popular singers split into two teams, women in the red team and men in the white, and compete. This year was the 60th anniversary and the white team won.
After that there is a program titled yuku toshi kuru toshi(ゆく年来る年), going year and coming year. It covers the midnight celebrations of the country.
I hope you will have a chance to spend the new year in Japan someday.

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

取引所大納会(torihikijo dainokai): The last session of the year

There was the last session of the year at the Tokyo Stock Exchange today. This is called dai nokai (大納会), literally means big closing meeting. On dai nokai only half session has been held until last year, but from this year the session lasted for all day long.
On this occasion, the key person of the year is invited as a guest and rings the bell of ending. This year's guest was the professional golfer, Ishikawa Ryo (石川遼) who became the youngest prize winner.
This year's closing price was yen 10,546 which was yen 91.62 cheaper than yesterday, but yen 1,686.88 higher than last year. It's been 3 years since the stock price ends by exceeding the one of the previous year. The upturn rate of the year was 19%.
The first session of the year is called dai hakkai (大発会) and held on January 4. On this day usually young ladies attend the meeting with beautiful kimono.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

帰省ラッシュ(kisei rasshu): Returning home rush

The year-end holiday has just begun for most people, and those who live apart from the family have started going home today. The peak of going back home will be tomorrow, and the returning rush is expected on January 3. Airports, trains, and the express high ways will be crowded here and there.
The things to be done at the end of the year are: writing new year's cards (年賀状:nengajo), cleaning the whole house, and cooking for the new year.
If you post new year's cards by December 25, they will be delivered on the New Year's Day (元日:ganjitsu).
Cleaning the whole house is called osoji (大掃除). After cleaning, we decorate the new year's decoration called oshogatsu kazari(お正月飾り) at the gate, the door, the alcove, the car, and so on.
New year's foods are called osechi ryori(お節料理). They are beautifully arranged in lacquer boxes called jyubako(重箱). Many of the delicacies inside have special meanings celebrating the New Year.

官公庁御用納め(kan ko cho goyo osame): The last work day of the year at government offices

In 1873 the holidays of the public offices of the end of the year and the beginning of the year were fixed from December 29 to January 3 by law. Therefore December 28 is the last work day of the year. It is called kankocho goyo osame(官公庁御用納め) or kancho shigoto osame(官庁仕事納め). Kan (官) means government, ko (公) means public, cho (庁) means office or agency. Goyo (御用) means business. Shigoto (仕事) means work. Osame (納め) means closing.
According to this custom for many companies today is the last work day of the year which is called shigoto osame(仕事納め). After work we usually have the last meeting of a year called nokai (納会). We express our thanks to each other for the work we shared, and wish everyone a happy new year.
The first work day of the year is called goyo hajime(御用始め) or shigoto hajime(仕事始め), which falls on January 4 next year. Hajime (始め) means beginning.
Therefore people usually have 6 days off this year.
Have a nice holiday season!

Sunday, December 27, 2009

有馬記念(arima kinen): The Arima Kinen

There was the 54th Arima Kinen(有馬記念) today. It is a Grade I flat horse race in Japan open to thoroughbreds which are three-years-old or above. It is a race of 2,500 meters and held at the Nakayama Racecourse (中山競馬場:nakayama keibajo).
The event was first run in 1956, and it was titled the Nakayama Grand Prix (中山グランプリ) first, but from the next year it has been renamed in memory of Yoriyasu Arima(有馬頼寧:1884-1957), the founder of the race.
Until 1999 it was open to Japanese trained horses only, but now it is open to the foreign trained horses too.
This year 5 years old Dream Journey won the race at 2 minutes 30 seconds. The jockey was Kenichi Ikezoe(池添謙一). The prize was yen 180,000,000.
Dream Journey won the GI Takarazuka Kinen(宝塚記念) in June too. Therefore he became the 9th horse which won the two big championships in a year since the Deep Impact did in 2006.

Saturday, December 26, 2009

出国ラッシュ (shukkoku rasshu): Rush of departure

Japanese people usually have about a week off at the end of the year to the beginning of the new year. This year most companies close on December 29 and start on January 4, 2010. So there will be 6 days off. However some people take a few extra days off on 24, 25, and 28 to have a long vacation. If you take days off on 21and 22 too, you will have 16 days off.
Today was the departure peak of people who left Japan to spend holidays abroad. From the Narita Airport (成田空港:narita kuko) only about 40,700 people went abroad, and from Kansai International Airport (関空:kanku) about 16,900 people left.
The popular destinations are Korea, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, South-East Asian countries, Guam, and Europe.
The returning peak is expected be on January 2 or 3.
During the winter vacation (from December 18 to January 4) it is estimated that about 1,280,000 passengers will come and go through the Narita Airport.
The peak of homecoming by train is estimated on December 30, and of returning is on January 3.
How will you spend your winter vacation?

メリー・クリスマス(meri kurisumasu): Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!
How do you spend this day? It is not a holiday here, so I worked as usual.
Dec. 25 is the birthday of Jesus Christ, but it is also the death anniversary of the Emperor Taisho (大正天皇: taisho tenno) in 1926 in Japan. The Taisho Era (大正時代: taisho jidai) ended by his decease, and the Showa Era (昭和時代: Showa jidai) started on Dec. 25, 1926. Therefore Dec. 25 is the first day of Showa. The Showa era lasted for 64 years until Jan. 7, 1989. The Showa era was the longest reign of any historical Japanese emperor. The Showa era ended by Emperor Showa's decease, and the Heisei era (平成時代: heisei jidai) started on Jan. 8, 1989.
Heisei (平成) literally means flat become, but this came from two old books and actually means peace will be attained both inside and outside, and heaven and earth.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

クリスマス・イブ(kurisumasu ibu): Christmas Eve

Merry Christmas!
It is Christmas Eve. In Japan Christians are only 1 % of the total population in 2004. Among them there are about 450,000 Catholic, and 650,000 Protestant.
Christmas in Japan is different from the one in Christian countries. For us it is an annual event for the couples or families to have dinner with Champagne, eat "Christmas cake" and exchange presents.
My friends from high school and I have the Christmas dinner at the French restaurant every year. Yesterday we had this annual delicious dinner.
My most impressive memory of Christmas Eve was the one in 1992 when I went to Florence, Italy. I was invited to the party and after that I visited the Duomo. I had never been to the Mass until that time.
I wish you a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!!

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

天皇誕生日(tenno tanjyobi): The Emperor's Birthday

December 23 is the current Emperor's birthday. He became 76 years old today. Happy birthday!!
It is a national holiday and the celebration takes place at the Imperial Palace which, usually off limits to the public, opens its gates to general public. This is called ippan sanga (一般参賀), which is also held in New Year. Only in the morning about 24,000 people visited there to celebrate. This was the most number in Heisei (平成) Era.
This year is the special year of the 20th anniversary of the succession to the throne and the 50th wedding anniversary for him.
The Showa Emperor's birthday was April 29. During his reign it was a national holiday of the Emperor's Birthday. After his decease it became a national holiday called Midori no hi (みどりの日), Green Day in 1989 and Showa no hi(昭和の日), Showa Day in 2007.

冬至(toji): Winter solstice

December 22 is toji (冬至), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was taisetsu (大雪) on December 7, and the next one is shokan (小寒) on January 5.
Toji (冬至) literally means winter reach, and actually means winter solstice. It is the time when the day time is the shortest and the night time is the longest in the northern hemisphere.
In Japan we have a custom to take yuzuyu (柚子湯), a bath with yuzu (柚子), a kind of Japanese citrus and eat pumpkin on toji. If you do so, it is said you won't get a cold.
The thing Japanese I missed most whenever I was abroad was bath. In Japan we soak in the warm water (about 42 degrees centigrade) to relax. There are many kinds of bath powder to enjoy the fragrance or effect.
Do you have any customs on winter solstice?

Monday, December 21, 2009

ソユーズ:The Soyuz

Today's big morning news was the launch of the Soyuz. A Japanese astronaut Soichi Noguchi (野口聡一) is one of the crew members of the mission to the International Space Station (ISS) this time. He will stay at ISS for 5 months. This is the second time for Japanese to launch by the Soyuz after 19 years. He greeted in Russian that he was honored to launch from the same launching site as the Yuri Gagarin did.
He is from Chigasaki, Kanagawa (神奈川県茅ヶ崎市) prefecture. At the Civic Culture Center in Chigasaki there gathered 400 people to watch the live of the launch.
According to the newspaper he and the other crew use Twitter. It is very interesting to know that being far apart we can still contact. What a technology!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

日本有線大賞(nihon yusen taisho): Cable Broadcasting Grand Prix

What kind of music do you like? I like popular music.
Tonight there was the TV music program which decided the best hit song of the year, though I did not watch it. It was chosen by the amount of the requests to the cable broadcasting stations around Japan. This was the 42nd award ceremony.
Do you know enka (演歌), Japanese ballad? An enka singer, Hikawa Kiyoshi (氷川きよし) won the grand prix, the most requested singer award, and the most requested song award. He is 32 years old, and this is the 10th year for him to be a singer. It has been two years since he got the grand prix last time, this was the 5th time, and he renewed his record. The awarded song, Rokyokuichidai (浪曲一代) is his 18th single and released on February 4, 2009 and ranked in No. 1.
The best new artist award was given to BIGBANG, the 5 Korean dance vocal unit. They say this is the first time to be given the award to foreign group artists. They made a debut in June by "My Heaven."

忘年会その2(bonenkai sono ni): Year-end Party 2

I had another bonenkai (忘年会), the year-end party today at lunch time. It was the class reunion of the vocational school I attended for the half year from 2004 to 2005. Reunion is doso kai(同窓会) in Japanese. There were 30 classmates there. About one third attended. We learned about the techniques of the international business administration.
Time passes equally to everyone, but for some people these 5 years was the tempestuous period, and for other people it was the calm period. Three of them got married and became mothers or a mother-to-be. Two classmates got married and they brought their baby girl. What a difference!
Our homeroom teacher also joined from the post-party party. We call this party nijikai (二次会), literally means the second party. It lasted until evening. Some people left, and the rest had the post-post-party party and we ate dinner. We call this party sanjikai (三次会), literally means the third party.
I enjoyed meeting old friends, talking many things and came home by the last train, which is called shuden (終電) in Japanese.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

忘年会(bo nen kai): Year-end party

In December we have many year-end parties called bonenkai (忘年会), which literally means forget year meeting, and actually means the party to forget the troubles of the year.
Tonight I had the one at the Italian restaurant with colleagues. The restaurant was reserved and we could enjoy eating, drinking, talking and playing games. The foods were served. But there was a table with many different alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks and we could drink whatever we like as much as we want to. We call this system nomi hodai(飲み放題), though usually we order drinks whatever we like, this time we could arrange by ourselves. The party lasted for more than three hours.
Since it is Friday today, there were so many people who had bonenkai on the street and the train. The train was full. We call this situation manin densha(満員電車).
I had one bonenkai last Saturday, and the other tomorrow, and some more next week.
In January we have many new year's party called shin nen kai(新年会), which literally means new year meeting.
December and January are party season in Japan. How about in your country?

Thursday, December 17, 2009

飛行機の日(hikoki no hi): Day of airplane

On December 17, 1903 the Wright Brothers, Orville and Wilbur succeeded in the world's first powered airplane flight in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. They tried four flights, and the longest record was 59 seconds and 256 meters. The airplane name was the Wright Flyer or Flyer 1.
After 2 years they succeeded in 45km flight and the splendid achievement became to be known to the world.
Thanks to them, now we can travel around the world by airplane easily.
Airplane is hikoki (飛行機) in Japanese, and airport is kuko (空港). Pilot is pairotto (パイロット), and flight attendants used to be called stewardess (スチュワーデス:suchuwadesu) but nowadays they are often called cabin attendant (キャビンアテンダント).
There were very popular TV dramas of stewardess when I was young, therefore my first dream was to be an international flight attendant to go abroad on business.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Men of the Year 2009

December is the month when many things are rated. At the end of the year many newspaper choose the top 10 news of the year.
Today there was the announcement of the GQ Men of the Year 2009, CF Queen and CF King of 2009.
Five men were awarded as the men of the year 2009 today. They are Sakurai Sho (櫻井翔) of the popular group Arashi (嵐), the comic storyteller & TV performer Shofukutei Tsurube (笑福亭鶴瓶), the playwright & stage director Mitani Koki (三谷幸喜), the pitcher of the Tohoku Rakuten Golden Eagles (東北楽天ゴールデンイーグルス) Iwakuma Hisashi (岩隈久志), and the CEO of McDonald's Company (Japan), Ltd. Harada Eiko (原田泳幸).
The CF Queen is an actress Ueto Aya (上戸彩), 12 companies have used her for their commercial film. She was the queen in 2006 and this was the second time for her to be the queen.
The CF King is the professional golfer Ishikawa Ryo (石川遼) and the actor & singer of SMAP Kimura Takuya (木村拓哉), both of them were used by 13 companies this year.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

観光バス記念日(kanko basu kinenbi): Anniversary of sightseeing bus

They say December 15 is the anniversary of sightseeing bus. On December 15, 1925 the first sightseeing bus business started in Tokyo. There were one day tour, two days tour, and three days tour.
When you do not have enough time or proper transportation, the sightseeing bus is a good way to see around the city.
The most impressive sightseeing bus I had ever taken was in the Yellowstone National Park in the USA in the early summer of 1996, because there was only one passenger, that is me, in a big bus. I was worried if they really had the service. But I had a very good time there.

Monday, December 14, 2009

義士祭(gishi sai): Loyalist Festival

December 14 is known as gishi sai (義士祭) at the Sengakuji (泉岳寺) in Tokyo, Ako (赤穂) city in Hyogo (兵庫), and other places all over Japan.
Gishi means loyalist. They were from Ako, therefore they are often called Ako roshi (赤穂浪士). There were 47 loyalists therefore they are often called shijyushichishi (四十七士), 47 Ronin too. The story is also known as chushingura (忠臣蔵). It is a historical revenge story by forty-seven Ronin on the death of their master Asano Naganori (浅野長矩) or often called Asano Takuminokami (浅野内匠頭).
In the midnight of December 14, Genroku (元禄) 15, (Jan. 30, 1703 by the Western calendar) fourty-seven ronin went to their enemy Kira Kozunosuke's (吉良上野介) house and wreaked vengeance after 1 year and 10 months from their master's unfair treatment of hara-kiri. The head of them was Oishi Kuranosuke (大石内蔵助).
Asano and his loyal fourty seven ronin's graves are in Sengakuji, Tokyo.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

双子の日(futago no hi): Day of twins

They say December 13 is the day of twins. On December 13, 1874 the declaration of the order of twins was announced. Before that the first-born was the younger brother or sister, and the latter-born was the older brother or sister. But by the declaration the first-born became the older brother or sister, and the latter-born became the younger brother or sister.
In Japanese the older brother is ani (兄), and the younger brother is ototo (弟). The older sister is ane (姉), and the younger sister is imoto (妹). Brothers are kyodai (兄弟), and sisters are shimai (姉妹).
The identical twins are ichiransei soseiji (一卵性双生児), and the fraternal twins are niransei soseiji (二卵性双生児).
The birth rate of Japanese twins used to be one in 150 to 160, but these days it is increasing to about one in 100.
I am very interested in twins (futago:双子).

Saturday, December 12, 2009

今年の漢字 ”新” (kotoshi no kanji shin): Kanji of the Year ”New”

Every year Nihon Kanji Noryoku Kentei Kyokai (日本漢字能力検定協会), Japan Kanji Ability Examination Association appeal to the public for the one kanji character which reflects the social condition of the year.
This year 161,365 people voted and the word shin (新) pulled 14,093 votes (8.73%) and was chosen as the kanji of the year 2009. Shin (新) means new.
The new government started in Japan, the new president of the USA was inaugurated, Ichiro made the new records, Usain Bolt made the new record, many swimming new records were made, the epidemic of the new flu, the new judicial system was introduced in Japan, the new system for high way tolls was introduced in Japan, and so on.
For me something new happened this year were the new blog, the new job, the new car, the new PC, and the new business opportunity. How about you?

The kanji of the year 2008 was hen (変), change.

Friday, December 11, 2009

百円玉の日(hyaku en dama no hi): Day of yen 100 coin

They say December 11 is day of yen 100 coin. In 1975 the first yen 100 coin appeared in place of yen 100 bill. At that time they were made of silver, but later they became made of the alloy of 75% copper and 25% nickel.
There are 6 different coins in Japan. They are yen 1 made of aluminum, yen 5 of brass, yen 10 of bronze, yen 50 of cupronickel, yen 100 of cupronickel, and yen 500 of cupronickel. Yen 5 and yen 50 have a hole in the center. Yen 5 is regarded as a good luck coin, because it is pronounced as go en (五円) which is the same pronunciation of go en (御縁), that means chance or tie or relationship or link or knot.
As a memory of the 20th anniversary of the Emperor's accession, 10,000,000 commemorative coins of yen 500 were issued on November 12, 2009.
While I was in the USA from 2006 to 2008, I tried to collect all the 50 State's quarters, but I have not finished yet. Hope to finish soon.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

ノーベル賞授賞式(noberu sho jyusho shiki):Nobel Awards Ceremony

December 10 is known as the day of award ceremony of the Nobel Prize. There were no Japanese Nobel Prize winners this year. Therefore news were only focused on the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, that is, the US president Mr. Barack Obama. The ceremony was held in Oslo, Norway.
His speech was on air at the news and appeared on the Internet too. As he said in his remarks, compared to some of the giants in the history such as Schweitzer, King, Marshall, and Mandela, his accomplishments seems slight.
Among the Nobel Peace Prize winners, Dr. Wangari Muta Maathai from Kenya in 2004 is the most impressive person for me. She promoted the concept of Japanese word mottainai (もったいない) as a term that is roughly equivalent to the English phrase "Reduce, Reuse, Recycle". I have been to her honorable degree award ceremony in the Waseda University in Feb. 2006.
Among all the Nobel Prize winners, Dr. Esaki Leo (江崎玲於奈) is very special for me, because I escorted Mr. and Mrs. Esaki at the Expo '92 in Seville.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

漱石忌(Soseki ki): Death anniversary of Natsume Soseki

Today is the death anniversary of Natsume Soseki (夏目漱石: Feb. 9, 1867-Dec. 9, 1916). He is one of the most famous novelists at the Meiji era (明治時代:1868-1912). His well-known novels are Kokoro (こころ,1914), Botchan (坊ちゃん,1906), I Am a Cat (我輩は猫である: wagahai wa neko de aru, 1905) and his unfinished work Light and Darkness (明暗: mei an, 1916). They are translated into English therefore you must have read them.
Soseki is his pen name which is the similitude of sour grapes or strong character. His real name is Natsume Kinnosuke (夏目金之助). He was also a scholar of British literature and actually studied in UK from 1901 to 1903. However his life in UK seems miserable. After returning to Japan, he replaced Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲) at the First Higher School and later he became a professor of English literature at Tokyo Imperial University.
His portrait appeared on the front of the Japanese 1,000 yen note from 1984 until 2004, therefore if you have visited Japan before, you may have seen them.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

名前(namae): Name

How do you name children's name? In Japan we have kanji (漢字) characters which have meaning. Parents name their children's name by selecting a good combination of the kanji character, and making wishes on their names.
For example, my name Kimiko is written as 公子 in Japanese kanji character. Kimi (公) means public and ko (子) means child or girl. So my parents wanted me to be someone for the people. Girls name of our generation usually have ko at the end of the name.
Popular names are different depending on the era. In today's paper there are the ranking list of the popular names of babies who were born this year. Boy's No. 1 is Hiroto (大翔) and girl's No. 1 is Rin (凛). Hiroto has been No. 1 for 4 years in a row. There are three boy's names which have the same kanji character sho (翔) in top 10. Sho literally means to flap. Rin means handsome.
Popular names are influenced by the famous sports player or personalities. From next year there must be so many Ryo (遼) because of Ishikawa Ryo (石川遼), the youngest leading prizewinner golfer.

Monday, December 7, 2009


Today is taisetsu (大雪), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was shosetsu (小雪) on November 22, and the next one is toji (冬至) on December 22. Tai setsu (大 雪) literally means big snow, and it is the time when snow starts falling heavily. Actually it was very cold today.

Today's big news of the newspaper was the professional golfer, Ishikawa Ryo (石川遼), 18 years old. This was the second year for him, but he became the leading money winner (賞金王:shokin o) of the year. He received yen 183,524,051. He is the youngest prizewinner in the history. He greatly renewed the Japanese youngest record of prizewinner of 26 years old when Ozaki Masashi (尾崎将司) achieved in 1973. Besides this he was awarded 9 titles including MVP and Most Impressive Player award. This was also the most in history.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

名古屋 その2(nagoya sono ni): Nagoya 2

Each place has its specialty. Nagoya's special foods are called Nagoya meshi (名古屋めし) in Japanese. Some of them are miso katsu (味噌カツ: cutlet with miso sauce), doteni (どて煮: miso stew of variety meat), miso nikomi udon (味噌煮込みうどん:Udon noodle cooked in miso soup), kishimen (きしめん:flat wheat noodles), tebasaki (手羽先:fried chicken wing), Nagoya kochin (名古屋コーチン:Nagoya cochin), hitsumabushi (ひつまぶし: rice and eel), tenmusu (天むす: rice ball with tempura), uiro (ういろう:steamed cake made of rice flour and sugar). Since haccho miso (八丁味噌) is very famous, their seasonings are rather thick and heavy for the people from other region.
The most famous sight seeing places are Nagoya castle (名古屋城:nagoya jo) and Atsuta shrine (熱田神宮:atsuta jingu).
There are four sister cities in four countries. They are Los Angels since April. 1, 1959, Mexico City since Feb. 16, 1978, Sydney since Sep. 16, 1980, and Torino since May 27, 2005. In all of these cities the Olympics were held.
Another things famous in Nagoya is the width of the road, it is called 100 meter's road.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

名古屋: Nagoya

How many cities in Japan do you know?
I went to Nagoya (名古屋) this weekend. Nagoya is located in the central area (中部地方: chubu chiho), and is the seat of the prefectural government (県庁所在地: kencho shozaichi) of Aichi(愛知), and one of the ordinance-designated cities (政令指定都市: seirei shitei toshi).
It is the fourth most populous urban areas (2,257,888 in Oct. 2009) in Japan. No. 1 is Tokyo (東京:8,742,995 in Jan. 2009), No.2 is Yokohama (横浜:3,654,427 in Jan. 2009), No. 3 is Osaka (大阪:2,661,700 in Oct. 2009).
The three men who unified Japan in the 16th century have strong links to Nagoya. They are Oda Nobunaga (織田信長:1534-1582), Toyotomi Hideyoshi (豊臣秀吉:1536-1598), and Tokugawa Ieyasu (徳川家康:1543-1616).
I have lived there for 6 months while I was working at Expo 2005 Aichi Nagoya.

Friday, December 4, 2009

E.T.の日(i tee no hi):Day of E.T.

On December 4, 1982 the movie E.T. was released in Japan. More than 10,000,000 people watched. It has been the best hit movie until 1997 when Mononoke hime (もののけ姫), Princess Mononoke exceeded by 14,200,000 audience.
E.T. is Extra-Terrestrial. I liked the movie very much. What movie do you like? I like "Pay It Forward."
I have been to the theater for 22 times this year so far. Among them I liked This Is It by Michael Jackson, The Time Traveler's Wife, Red Cliff Part II, Slumdog Millionaire, and The Rare Case of Benjamin Button. I hope to see some more this month.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

秩父夜祭(chichibu yomatsuri): Chichibu Night Festival

There are many festivals in Japan. I have seen some of them, but usually I just know the festivals by names and just through TV news.
One of such festivals was held tonight. That is Chichibu Night Festival. It is a festival of Chichibu Shrine in Saitama (埼玉). It has a history of more than 2,000 years. It is one of Japan's three greatest hikiyama (曳山:float) festivals. The other two are the Gion Matsuri (祇園祭) in Kyoto (京都) from July 1 to 31, and the Takayama Matsuri (高山祭り) of Gifu (岐阜) from April 14 to 15 and from October 9 to 10.
The most exciting scene of the Chichibu night festival takes place in the evening of December 3.

Please check the following site.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

流行語大賞(ryukogo taisho): Vogue-word grand prix

On December 1 every year top ten of the vogue-words and the grand prix are announced. It has been started since 1984, and this year was the 26th. The title, the sponsors and the kinds of awards have been slightly changed, but outlines are the same, that is the new words or vogue-words of the year are selected and the people or organizations related to the word are awarded.
The grand prix of this year is seikenkotai (政権交代), change of power. By the 45th general election held on Aug. 30, the ruling party has been changed from the Liberal Democratic Party to The Democratic Party of Japan. This was the first time in the history. The winner is the prime minister Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫).
One of the grand prix of the last year was ara fo (アラフォー), which is around 40, meaning the people who are around 40 years old.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

師走(shiwasu): December

Another month has come. How fast time flies! There is only one month left. December is jyunigatsu (十二月) in Japanese. The other name is shiwasu (師走), which literally means teachers or priests run. People feel rushed in December.
In Japan we feel it is the end of the year and that January is the totally new month of the new year, therefore at the end of the year we do the general housecleaning (大掃除:osoji) to welcome the new year. We usually have about a week off between the end of the year and the beginning of the year, which is called nenmatsu nenshi(年末年始).
December is also the season of the year-end gift called oseibo (お歳暮). The summer time gift after the bonus season is called ochugen (お中元). Beers or coffee or hams or fish or meat or oils or soaps are some of the popular items.

Monday, November 30, 2009

カメラの日(kamera no hi): Day of Camera

On November 30, 1977 Konica (a Japanese manufacturer of film, film cameras, camera accessories, photographic and photo-processing equipment, photocopiers, fax machines and laser printers) sold the world first autofocus camera "Jasupin" (Konica C35 AF). 1,000,000 pieces were sold for 2 years. To commemorate this, November 30 is called Day of Camera.
Since 1995 the digital camera has been popular. I like taking pictures. Whenever I traveled abroad, I used to bring about 5 cameras (1 single-lens reflex for wide-view pictures, 3 digital cameras - one for zooming, the other for snapshots another for video-taping, and 1 compact camera.) But these days for everyday life I only bring Panasonic D-snap with me. This was the gift from my colleagues of Panasonic when I left the company in 2003. It is very small and easy to bring. Many people are usually very surprised to see the camera for the first time because it is very thin and small.

全勝優勝(zensho yusho): Complete victory

Today was the senshuraku (千秋楽), the last day of Kyushu basho(九州場所) or jyuichigatsu basho(十一月場所) of the Ground Sumo Tournament.
Yokozuna Hakuho(横綱白鵬) became a champion by 15-0, that is he won the championship with a complete victory(全勝優勝:zensho yusho). It was his 12th victory, and the 4th complete victory. He made another record of 86 wins in a year, which is the most in the history.
The prizes (懸賞:kensho) of the match between Yokozuna Hakuho and Yokozuna Asashoryu (横綱朝青龍) was 47, which was also the most record in Kyushu basho. Before that 38 was the most.

Sunday, November 29, 2009

太平洋記念日(taiheiyo kinenbi): Anniversary of the Pacific Ocean

They say November 28 is the anniversary of the Pacific Ocean. In 1520 the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan first entered the South Pacific ocean. Since the weather had been very nice and the ocean was very calm, he named the waters El Mar Pacifico (Pacific Ocean). He was killed in Philippines but the rest of his crew sailed around the world and became the first people who proved that the earth is round. At that time it took about 3 years to sail around the world.
I have circumnavigated by the Peace Boat from Dec. 25, 2003 to March 31, 2004, that is it took 98 days.

According to the era, what the Seven Seas means are different, but in the modern days they are the South and North Pacific Ocean, the South and North Atlantic Ocean, the Antarctic Ocean and the Arctic Ocean, and the Indian Ocean. They are minami taiheiyo(南太平洋), kita taiheiyo(北太平洋), minami taiseiyo(南大西洋), kita taiseiyo (北大西洋), nankyokukai (南極海), hokkyokukai (北極海), and indo yo (インド洋) in Japanese respectively.

Friday, November 27, 2009

ノーベル賞制定記念日(noberu sho seitei kinenbi): Anniversary of the establishment of the Nobel Prizes

On November 27, 1895 the Nobel Prize was established according to the Swedish chemist who invented the dynamite, Alfred Nobel's will. The first award was given in 1901. There were 5 fields, Physics, Chemistry, Physiology or Medicine, Literature, and Peace. In 1969 the Economic Sciences was added. Every year on his death anniversary, December 10, the award ceremony is held in Stockholm, Sweden. However only the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held in Oslo, Norway.

There are 16 Japanese Nobelists by now. They were awarded in every field but not Economic Sciences.

This year U.S. President Barack Obama will be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, which seems the shortest record from the decisive accomplishment to the receipt of the award.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

ペンの日(pen no hi):Day of PEN

On November 26, 1935 the Japan P.E.N. club was founded. To commemorate this day, they decided the day as day of Pen in 1965. Pen is the symbol of writers, but also means P for poet and playwriter, E for essayist and editor, and N for novelist.
The first president of the Japan P.E.N club was Shimazaki Toson (島崎藤村), who is one of the greatest writers in Japan.

What do you use for writing? I like a fountain pen (万年筆:man nen hitsu) for letters, and mechanical pencils (シャーペン:sharpen) for taking notes, four-color ball-point pens (四色ボールペン:yonshoku boru pen)for working.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

OLの日(o eru no hi): Day of OL

They say November 25 is day of OL. What do you think OL is? OL is a Japanese English stands for Office Lady. On November 25, 1963 this abbreviation was first appeared in the lady's magazine "Josei jishin (女性自身), Women themselves." Since that time in Japan the word OL has been used to mean women who have a job at office.
Working men are often called "salary man (サラリーマン)" in Japanese. It is also Japanese English. In English they are salaried workers or office workers.

Day of OL was established by the OL network system in 1994. The OL network system is a club activity to exchange among working women whose job types are varied in many industries.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

年末ジャンボ宝くじ発売(nenmatsu jambo takarakuji hatsubai)

The pleasure of the end of the year has started. That is the sales of the lottery. It is called nenmatsu jambo takarakuji (年末ジャンボ宝くじ). Nenmatsu (年末) means the end of the year. Jambo is jumbo. Takarakuji (宝くじ) is lottery. One ticket costs yen 300.
The first prize is 70 of yen 200,000,000. The number before and after that prize is called zengo sho(前後賞) and it is yen 50,000,000 each. Therefore if you buy 3 lottery tickets, and if you are lucky enough, there is a possibility for you to get yen 300,000,000 for just yen 900.
The second prize is 140 of yen 100,000,000. The third prize is 700 of yen 5,000,000. Special prize for 2010 is 7000 pcs of yen 1,000,000.
They will be sold until December 22 and the drawing is December 31. The total sales amount will be yen 210,000,000,000.

According to the Mizuho bank yen 2,150,000,000 of winner prizes of last year has not been cashed yet. The expiry is Jan. 5, 2010.

What would you like to do if you win? I would like to be a snowbird.

Monday, November 23, 2009

勤労感謝の日(kinro kansha no hi): Labor Thanksgiving Day

Today is a national holiday called kinro kansha no hi (勤労感謝の日), Labor Thanksgiving Day. It was established in 1948 to respect labor, celebrate production, and extend gratitude for others' effort.
November 23 was used to be niiname sai (新嘗祭), rice harvest festival, and a holiday. Even now, the Emperor dedicates the year's harvest to the god and taste the year's rice for the first time.
In the USA the fourth Thursday of November is Thanksgiving, and people have a turkey dinner.
But we do not do anything special on this day, just thank to have another holiday. It was a very warm nice day here.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Today is shosetsu (小雪), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was ritto (立冬) on November 7 and the next one is taisetsu (大雪) on December 7.
Shosetsu (小雪) literally means small snow. It is the time the snow starts falling a little bit. It was actually a cold day today.
小雪 is also read as ko yuki. There is an actress named Koyuki (小雪). She appeared in the Hollywood movie "The Last Samurai (2003)" by Edward Zwick. So you may remember her.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

三連休(san ren kyu): Three-day weekend

Next Monday is a national holiday, therefore this weekend is a three day weekend. This is the fifth and the last one in this year.
At this time of the year it is the season for outings. Many leaves turn to yellow and red and very beautiful. We call this colored leaves koyo (紅葉), literally red leave. 紅葉 is also read as momiji, which means maples. Going maple viewing is momijigari (紅葉狩り) in Japanese.
You can check the good view points from the following site though it is written in Japanese.....

ピザの日(piza no hi): Day of pizza

They say November 20 is day of Pizza.
The birthday of Margherita di Savoia (1851-1926) is November 20, and her name became the one of the most representative pizzas of Italy, that is Pizza Margherita. In 1889 when Margherita visited Naples and wanted to have a pizza. Then Don Raffaele Esposito made the pizza of national flag motifs of three colors: green-basil, white-Mozzarella, red-tomato. This became to call Pizza Margherita.
In Japan you can eat many kinds of national foods. Pizza and pasta from Italy, hamburger, hotdog, and fried chicken from the USA, borsht from Russia, curry from India, noodles and tea from China, barbecued beef and kimchi from Korea, croissant, baguette, and sweets from France, etc.....
What kind of Japanese foods can you find in your country?

Friday, November 20, 2009

ボジョレーヌーボー解禁(bojore nubo kaikin)

The third Thursday of November has been known as the day of Beaujolais Nouveau since 1984. Because of the time difference Japanese people can taste the newest wine the first among the advanced countries.
They say this year's Beaujolais Nouveau is exceptional, once in 50 years. I am not a big fan of wine but hearing this comment I feel like trying. Have you already tried?
This year the price seems less expensive according to the TV news. Some of them use pet bottles instead of glass bottles.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

土木の日(doboku no hi): Day of civil engineering

They say November 18 is day of civil engineering. Why?
Civil engineering is doboku (土木) in Japanese. Do (土) boku (木) literally means dirt tree. Kanji character of do (土) is divided to ten (十) and one (一), that is eleven (十一). Kanji character of boku (木) is divided to ten (十) and eight (八), that is eighteen (十八). Therefore it is eleven eighteen, that is November 18.
And the foundation day of the Japan Society of Civil Engineers is November 18, 1879. Therefore they decided November 18 as the day of civil engineering in 1987 by the support of Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism.

将棋の日(shogi no hi): Day of shogi

Do you know shogi (将棋)? It is an indoor game in which two persons sit across from each other at a board of 9 x 9 and move each of their pieces strategically. It is like a chess. Both origin is India, the one went to Europe became a chess and the other came to Japan through China became a shogi. One of the difference between shogi and chess is the use of opponents' piece. In shogi after getting the opponent's piece, you can use it as your own piece.
They say November 17 is the day of shogi which is established by Nihon shogi renmei (日本将棋連盟), Japan Shogi Association in 1975.
Professional players of shogi are called kishi (棋士). 

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

幼稚園記念日(yochien kinenbi): Anniversay of preschool

They say November 16 is anniversary of preschool.
In 1875 the first Japanese women's teacher training institute was opened. It is known as Ochanomizu University (お茶の水女子大学:ocha no mizu joshi daigaku) now. It is one of only two national women's universities in Japan.
On November 16, 1876 the first preschool in Japan was opened within the precincts of the university. There were 50 infants of the upper class entered the preschool.
In Japan there are two kinds of preschools. One is called yochien (幼稚園), kindergarten which is under control of the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology. There are 13,949 kindergartens in 2005. Among them 49 is national, 5,546 is public, and 8,354 is private.
The other is hoikuen (保育園), nursery school, which is under control of the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare. There are 22,925 nursery schools in 2009. Among them 11,008 is public and 11,917 is private.

Monday, November 16, 2009

七五三(shichi go san): 7 5 3

November 15 is known as shichi go san (七五三), literally means seven five three. It is a traditional annual festival in Japan for three and seven years old girls and three and five years old boys. It is not a national holiday, but generally observed on the nearest weekend.
On this day parents take their sons (3 years old and 5 years old) and daughters (3 years old and 7 years old) in exquisite kimono or suits to shrines to pray for their healthy growth.
Chitose-ame (千歳飴), literally thousand year candy, is given to children on this day. Chitose-ame is a long, thin, red and white candy, which symbolizes healthy growth and longevity. They are put in the paper bag with a crane and a turtle on it, which represent long life in Japan.
There is a saying tsuru wa sennen, kame wa mannen (鶴は千年、亀は万年), cranes live for 1,000 years and turtles live for 10,000 years.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

パチンコの日(pachinko no hi): Day of Pachinko

Do you know pachinko? Pachinko is a Japanese gaming device used for amusement and gambling. A pachinko machine resembles a vertical pinball machine, but balls are much smaller. A ball costs about yen 4. So for yen100 you get about 25 balls. If the ball enters the certain spot, you get many balls. According to the volume of the balls, you can exchange them to daily necessaries such as foods or closings or amusement goods or household utensils or others.
According to the White paper of Leisure 2008, the population of pachinko players was 14,500,000, and of workers was 440,000. The market scale is yen22,980,000,000,000. As of July 2009, there are 13,000 pachinko parlors in Japan.
The first pachinko parlor appeared in Nagoya (名古屋) on Novmber 14, 1930. On the same day in 1966 Zenkoku yugi kyodo kumiai rengokai (全国遊技共同組合連合会), National game cooperative union (?) was established. Therefore they decided November 14 as the day of Pachinko in 1979.

漆の日(urushi no hi) : Day of japan

They say November 13 is urushi no hi (漆の日), day of japan. It was established by the Nihon urushi kogei kyokai (日本漆工芸協会), Japanese lacquer Association Japan in 1985.
Both China and Japan are country names, but if they are written in small letters like china and japan, they mean porcelain and lacquerware.
There are many famous lacquerware in Japan. Some of them are Kamakurabori (鎌倉彫) in Kanagawa (神奈川) prefecture, Wajimanuri (輪島塗) in Ishikawa (石川) prefecture, Yamanakanuri (山中塗) in Ishikawa prefecture, Wakasanuri (若狭塗) in Fukui (福井) prefecture, Negoronuri (根来塗) in Wakayama (和歌山) prefecture, and so on.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

天皇陛下ご即位20周年(tenno heika gosokui nijyu shunen)

There was a celebration event of the Emperor's 20th year anniversary of the succession to the throne in front of the Imperial Palace this evening. There 30,000 people got together.
His father, the Showa Emperor (昭和天皇:Showa tenno) passed away on January 7, 1989. Since that day the present Emperor became the Emperor, but the enthronement ceremony was taken place on November 12, 1990. They held the 10th year anniversary ceremony on November 12, 1999, therfore the 20th year anniversary was also held on November 12.
It's been 50 years since the Emperor and the Empress got married, and it's been 20 years since they became Their Majesties.

There are many congratulatory events regarding this. One of them is to issue commemorative gold coins. 90,000 pieces were issued. Its face value is yen10,000. 90,000 pieces were issued but about 580,000 people applied. Its selling price is yen80,000. Only one out of 6 to 7 can get the 20g special gold coin.

When I was working at Expo 2005 in Aichi (愛知), they came to visit our neighbor pavilion, therefore all of the staff of our pavilion were standing in line to welcome, and we could see them very close. Some of the foreign staff even had chances to talk with them. These experiences is the treasure of working at Expo.

電池の日(denchi no hi): Day of battery

There are so many anniversaries regarding November 11 which I have had no idea until today. November 11 is written as 1111 or 十一十一(juichi jyuichi) in Japanese, therefore most of them were decided by its shape. Among them one anniversary attracted my attention. That is day of battery.
Can you imagine why? Because eleven is written as 十一 (jyuichi) in Japanese character which looks like + and - , that is positive and negative of batteries. Don't you think it is interesting?
The day was established in 1986 by Nihon kandenchi kogyokai (日本乾電池工業会), Battery Association of Japan. Kandenchi (乾電池) means dry battery.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

トイレの日(toire no hi): Day of toilet

They say November 10 (11.10) is day of toilet. Why? Because 11.10 is read 11 (ii) 10 (to) ire. Ii (いい) means good, 10 is read "to" and toire is toilet. This day was established by Japan Toilet Association in 1986.
Japanese traditional style toilet is different from the western style toilet. Men stand and women have to squat. Some people still like Japanese style because they don't have to sit directly on the seat.
However these days the Japanese style toilet has been changed a lot. The shape has become very similar to the western style toilet. But our toilets have so many unique functions such seat warmer, warm-water bidets, warm-water washer and drier, and flushing-sound-maker called oto hime (音姫), literally sound princess, to save extra water.
Usually toilets are separate from bathroom.
They say Japanese public toilet was first introduced in November 1872 in Yokohama. There appeared 83 of them. At that time to urinate outdoors on the street became to be fined.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

119番の日(hyakujyukyu ban no hi): Day of dial 119

November 9 (11.9) is Day of 119. What is 119? It is an emergency telephone number in Japan. In case of fire or medical emergency, call 119. If you call, you have to make it clear that if it is fire or emergency. This day was established by Fire and Disaster Management Agency in 1987.
A week from this day is called Fire Prevention Week of Fall. It is followed to the Fire Prevention Week of the USA set in 1922 after the Chicago's big fire.
I found the fire once in my neighborhood many years ago, and called 119 for the first time. It was connected to the central office, and they did not know the local area. Therefore when you call, you have to tell them the details (such as how to get there).
In the USA I have called 911 once when I happened to find the dead person in the golf course. I can't forget the experience.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

日本シリーズ (Nippon series ): The Japan Championship Series 2009

The Japan Championship Series is a seven-game championship played by the teams of Japan's two professional baseball leagues (the Central leagues and the Pacific league).
This year the Yomiuri Giants, alias Kyojin (読売ジャイアンツ:巨人) became a champion on Saturday, November 7. It's been 7 years since they became the champion last time in 2002 and this was the 21st victory for them.
I am not a big fan of Japanese baseball teams, but I like to see the activities of Japanese players in the United States such as Ichiro (イチロー) and Matsui (松井).
After the Nihon series, the sponsored department stores often have special victory sales for a few days, that is an attractive event.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

立冬(ritto): The first day of winter

Today is ritto (立冬), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was soko (霜降) on October 23 and the next one is shosetsu (小雪) on November 22.
Ritto is the first day of winter. It is middle of shubun (秋分), autumn equinox and toji (冬至), the winter solstice.
If you divide the season by the length of day and night, from ritto to one day before risshun (立春), the first day of spring is winter. Winter in Japanese is fuyu (冬).
It was rather warm today.

Friday, November 6, 2009


The New York Yankees beat the Philadelphia Phillies 7-3 to win the World Series on Wednesday in New York. It was the 27th victory after 9 years for them.
Hideki Matsui (松井秀喜), a Japanese player was named Most Valuable Player after batting 0.615 with three home runs and eight RBIs over the series. On Wednesday he had 2 home runs and 4 RBIs, that is 6 RBIs, which is the tie record for most RBIs in one game with Bobby Richardson in 1960. He became the first Japanese player to be the world series' MVP. Congratulations!!
He's been playing in the Yankees since 2003 and this is the last contract season for him. We are not sure where he will play from next season.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

電報の日(denpo no hi): Day of Electrical Telegraph

They say November 5 (11.5) is denpo no hi(電報の日), Day of Electrical Telegraph. Why? Because when you want to send the electrical telegraph, we dial 115.
In Japan the first telegraph service started on December 25, 1869 between Tokyo and Yokohama.
In 1960s the telephone became popular, in the latter 1980s the facsimiles became popular, and in the latter 1990s cellphone, Internet, and emails became popular. Therefore as a measure of telling emergency, telegraph is not so popular as before any more.
However in Japan we still use telegraph service when there are ceremonial occasions such as wedding, funeral, and other special events. There are special covers using embroideries or pressed flowers which cost a lot. The most expensive one costs like yen12,000 plus yen25 per one character or so.
Telegraphs for happy occasion is called shukuden(祝電), congratulatory telegram and telegraphs for sad occasion is called choden (弔電), telegram of condolence.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

ユネスコ憲章記念日(yunesuko kensho kinenbi): Anniversary of UNESCO Constitution

November 4 is the anniversary of UNESCO Constitution. The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) was established on November 16, 1945 and came into force on November 4, 1946.
Its stated purpose is to contribute to peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science, and culture in order to further universal respect for justice, for the rule of law, and for the human rights and fundamental freedoms which are affirmed for the peoples of the world, without distinction of race, sex, language or religion by the Charter of the United Nations.
There are 193 Member States and six Associate Members. The organization is based in Paris.
Among the many projects UNESCO does, I am very interested in securing the world cultural and natural heritage (World Heritage Sites). I hope to visit the World Heritage Sites as much as possible, and I would like to work for that someday.
Japan joined UNESCO on July 2, 1951. From November 1999 to October 2009 Mr. Koichiro Matsuura (松浦晃一郎) from Japan was the 8th Director-General of UNESCO.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

文化の日(bunka no hi): Culture Day

Today is a national holiday called bunka no hi (文化の日), Culture Day. It was first held in 1948 to commemorate the announcement of the post-war Japanese constitution on November 3, 1946.
Between 1873 and 1911 this day was called tencho setsu (天長節), and from 1927 to 1947 it was called meiji setsu (明治節). Both were to celebrate the birthday of the Meiji Emperor (明治天皇:1852-1912).
Since 1937 the award ceremony for prestigious Order of Culture has been held on this day at the Imperial Palace. This year 5 people were awarded by the Emperor. Three of them were scholars and two of them were artists. They are between 70 to 84 years old. Congratulations!

Monday, November 2, 2009

佐賀唐津くんち(saga karatsu kunchi)

Kunchi (くんち) means festival. There are three biggest kunchi in Kyushu(九州), the southern island of Japan. One is Hakata okunchi(博多おくんち) on October 23 and 24, the other is Nagasaki kunchi(長崎くんち) from October 7 to 9, and another is Karatsu kunchi(唐津くんち) from November 2 to 4.
Today is the first day of Karatsu kunchi which is the annual festival of the Karatsu shrine (唐津神社), in Saga (佐賀). During the festival about 500,000 people are said to get together.
The feature of the festival is daily parades of fourteen hikiyama (曳山), massive floats in the form of samurai helmets, sea bream, dragons, and other fantastical creatures. They are constructed from wood, lacquer, and other materials. Each float is about five to six meters tall and they weigh from two to five tons. They say the gorgeous Japanese lacquer handiwork of floats are measured in the current yen 100,000,000 to yen 200,000,000.
In 1980 the festival was designated an "Important Intangible Folk Cultural Property."

Sunday, November 1, 2009

十一月(jyuichi gatsu): November

Another month has come. November is jyuichi gatsu (十一月) in Japanese. The old name is shimo tsuki (霜月), literally frost month.
However it was very hot today, like summer. In Haneda (羽田), Tokyo it marked 26.1 degrees centigrade which renewed the highest record in November.
There was the 41st zen nihon daigaku ekiden (全日本大学駅伝), All Japan University long-distance relay road race. The total length was 106.8 km, there were 8 relays from Atsuta jingu (熱田神宮:Atsuta Shrine), Aichi to Ise jingu (伊勢神宮:Ise Shrine), Mie. Both are very famous shrines in Japan. There are Three Sacred Treasures of Japan (三種の神器:sanshu no jingi), the sword Kusanagi(草薙劍)the mirror Yata no kagami(八咫鏡), and the jewel Yasakani no magatama(八尺瓊曲玉). Two of them are said to be located in those shrines.
The result of the race was the victory of Nihon University (日本大学=日大) at 5 hours 21 minutes 4 seconds. It was the third victory for them after 4 years in this race. Nichi dai (日大) accomplished the second victory of the three biggest ekiden (駅伝)after Izumo ekiden (出雲駅伝)in October. Congratulations!!

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Happy Halloween!

Today is Halloween. In Japan it is not so popular as Christmas. How do you spend Halloween? What kind of costume do you wear? I only spent Halloween three times in the USA, but I have some memories.
First time was in 1996, in Washington State. I made a Jack-o'-lantern for the first time. We do not have such big pumpkins in Japan. Japanese pumpkins are small and their skins are very hard, so I thought it must be difficult to carve the pumpkin, but it was not. It was fun to make it.
Second and third times were in 2006 and 2007 in Florida. It is very hot there, it's easy for pumpkins to rot, therefore I did not carve. I joined the interesting lunch gathering of my host family's company. All of them dressed up. It was fun too.
Speaking of Halloween, I remember the movie E.T. which is one of my favorite. Recently I went to see four movies. I liked the Michael Jackson's "This is it" very much. He is a real entertainer. I miss him. I liked "The Time Traveler's Wife" too.

Friday, October 30, 2009

十三夜(jyusan ya)

Autumn is the good season to see the moon. Especially on the 15th night of the eighth month and the 13th night of the ninth month in the Japanese old calendar are famous for moon-viewing, tsukimi (月見) or o tsukimi (お月見). 15th night is called jyugoya (十五夜) , it is a full moon night, and it is also called chushu no meigetsu (中秋の名月), the harvest moon. 13th night is called jyusanya (十三夜). They fall on in September and October of the modern calendar. Today is jyusanya.
On jyugoya we decorate Japanese pampas grass called susuki (すすき) and offer and eat dumplings called tsukimi dango (月見団子) to celebrate the beauty of the moon. Sweet potatoes are also offered. On jyusanya beans and chestnuts are offered. Therefore alternative names of the celebrations are imo meigetsu (芋名月), literally potato harvest moon, and mame meigetsu (豆名月), bean harvest moon, and kuri meigetsu (栗名月), chestnut harvest moon.
The custom of jyugoya came from China, but the custom of jyusanya is original in Japan.
We could see the beautiful moon tonight.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ホームビデオ記念日(homu video kinenbi): Anniversary of Home Video

They say October 29 is homu video kinenbi (ホームビデオ記念日), anniversary of Home Video. On October 29, 1969, Japanese three big electrical appliance manufacturers Sony, Panasonic, and Victor Company of Japan, Limited published the development of the home video tape recorder. Sony was beta system, and Panasonic and Victor adopted VHS (Video Home System). For the next few years there were keen competitions between the two standards. There are many recording media such as DVD, Blu-ray Disc, and Hard Disk now.
I like the TV programs which broadcast the funny home videos taken by general people.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

速記記念日(sokki kinenbi): Anniversary of Shorthand

They say October 28 is sokki kinenbi(速記記念日), anniversary of shorthand. On September 19, 1882 Mr. Koki Takusari(田鎖綱紀) published about how to record hearing on the newspaper. It was Pitman's system, Graham way. On October 28, 1882 he held the first training course of shorthand in Tokyo. To commemorate this day, Nihon Sokki Kyokai(日本速記協会), Japan Shorthand Association decided the day as anniversary in 1888.
Shorthand gave an eye-opening impression to the people at that time, and he was called denpitsu shogun(電筆将軍), electric pen general.
The world history of shorthand is very long, since the ancient Greece. There are so many ways. However Japan is the only country among the advanced nations that has the complete records of minutes of the Diet from the very first time because shorthand was adopted from the beginning of the Imperial Diet in 1890.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

読書週間(dokusho shukan): Reading Week

Speaking of autumn, the night becomes longer, therefore reading is recommended. Today is the first day of dokusho shukan(読書週間). Dokusho (読書) literally means read books, and shukan (週間) literally means week. Week usually means 7 days, but regarding Reading Week it is from October 27 to November 9. That is two weeks.
In 1947 the first Reading Week was held. At that time it was a week from November 17 to 23. But from the second time in 1948 it became two weeks from October 27 to November 9, two weeks between November 3, the Culture Day. This is the 63rd year, and its catchword is omowazu muchuni narimashita(思わず夢中になりました), "I am absorbed in reading in spite of myself."
During this period, if you buy books more than yen500 at a bookstore, you get a shoten kuji(書店くじ), bookstore lottery. So you may have a chance to get a prepaid book card of yen50,000. Good luck!

Monday, October 26, 2009

柿の日(kaki no hi): Day of Persimmon

They say October 26 is kaki no hi(柿の日), Day of Persimmon because the famous poet of the Meiji era (明治時代), Masaoka Shiki(正岡子規) made a very famous haiku(俳句)including the word kaki (柿) on October 26, 1895. Therefore zenkoku kajyu kenkyu rengo (全国果樹研究連合), National Fruits Research Association established the day in 2005. Isn't it interesting?
The haiku is as follows:
Kaki kueba kanega narunari Horyuji(柿食えば 鐘が鳴るなり 法隆寺), Eating persimmon, the bell of Horyuji temple rings.
Speaking of autumn, it is the season of fruits. There are many fruits now, but kaki (柿), persimmon, nashi (梨), pear, and budou (葡萄), grapes are especially rich. Mikan (みかん), mandarin orange will be a season soon. The landscape with kaki or mikan is very beautiful because of the color green and orange.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

民間航空記念日(minkan koku kinenbi)

They say October 25 is minkan koku kinenbi(民間航空記念日), anniversary of private aviation. In 1951 Nihon koku(日本航空), which was the first Japanese private aviation company after world war II, started the domestic operation from Tokyo (東京) to Osaka (大阪) to Fukuoka (福岡). The first plane "Mokusei go(もく星号)" was entrusted to Northwest Airline, therefore all the crew were foreigners and there were only 36 passengers.
The company became a state-owned airline of Japan on August 1, 1953 and began its first international services from Tokyo to San Francisco on February 2, 1954.
On November 18,1987, it was privatized again. In 2002 Japan Airlines merged with Japan Air System and became the sixth largest airline in the world by passenger carried.
In the 2008 fiscal year, the JAL Group's operations include 220 destinations in 35 countries worldwide, carrying 52.9 million passengers and 1.2 million tons of cargo and mail.
However this fall it was reported that JAL is in the serious management crisis. It's hard to believe.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

国連の日(kokuren no hi): United Nations Day

They say October 24 is kokuren no hi(国連の日), United Nations Day, and a week from October 20 to 26 is United Nations Week.
The United Nations (UN) officially came into existence on October 24, 1945 upon ratification of the Charter by the five permanent members of the Security Council-France, the Republic of China, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom and the United States-and by a majority of the other 46 signatories.
Japan became a member on December 18, 1956 as the 80th country. There are 192 member states now. There are 6 official languages: Arabic, Chinese, English, French, Russian, and Spanish.
The current operating budget is estimated at $4.19 billion for the 2-year period of 2008-2009. The top 10 contributors to the UN budget 2009 are United States (22.0%), Japan (16.624%), Germany (8.577%), United Kingdom (6.642%), France(6.301%), Italy(5.079%), Canada (2.977%), Spain (2.968%), China (2.667%), and Mexico (2.257%).
The Headquarters is in New York. Whenever I have a chance to go to NY, I visit the UN, wishing to work there someday!

Friday, October 23, 2009


Today is soko (霜降), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms. The last one was kanro (寒露) on October 8 and the next one is ritto (立冬) on November 3. Soko (霜降) literally means frost fall. It is the time to turn the leaves of maple trees and ivy red or yellow. The north wind from today to ritto is called kogarashi (木枯らし),cold winter wind.

They say today is denshin denwa kinenbi(電信電話記念日), anniversary of telegraph and telephone. On October 23, 1869 the construction of building telegraph poles and electric wire between Tokyo (東京) and Yokohama (横浜) began. To commemorate this, the anniversary was established in 1950 by Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corporation (NTT). Telegraph service started on January 26, 1870.
I did not expect that I would have a cellphone by myself, but when I had to move to Nagoya (名古屋) to work for Expo 2005, I bought the first cellphone. Now I can't think of the life without it.....

Thursday, October 22, 2009

時代祭(jidai matsuri): Festival of Ages

There are three well-known festivals in Kyoto. One is Aoi Matsuri (葵祭) in May, the other is Gion Matsuri(祇園祭) in July, and another is Jidai Matsuri(時代祭) in October.
October 22 is the day of Jidai Matsuri(時代祭), Festival of Ages. It is a festival of the costume procession from the Heian era (平安時代) to the Meiji era (明治時代). About 2,000 people parade dressed in authentic costumes representing various periods and characters in Japanese feudal history for about 5 km for 3 hours. The procession line itself is about 2 km long. They start from Kyoto gosho(京都御所), the Kyoto Imperial Palace and end in the Heian jingu (平安神宮), the Heian Shrine.
The festival started in 1895 to commemorate the 1100th year of the relocation of the capital to Heian (平安遷都), Kyoto. It is the 105th festival this year.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

青いバラ(aoi bara): Blue Rose

What flower do you like the best? I like roses, pink roses or red roses.
In today's newspaper, there were two articles regarding roses. One is a local news about the park full in bloom of roses. The other is the outstanding news.
Do you know the Japanese beverage company Suntory? They created the Blue Rose for the first time in the world in 2004 after 13 years of joint research by an Australian company Florigene. I saw the flower in the Gifu Flower Festival Commemorative Park in 2005 for the first time. The color was rather lilac.
They decided to sell the Blue Roses finally from November 3. The name is Suntory blue rose APPLAUSE. Its language of flower is yume kanau(夢叶う), dreams come true.
To make blue roses was thought to be impossible for a long time, therefore blue roses signify a mystery or attaining the impossible. Now they became to exist.
It costs about yen2,000 to yen3,000 for a rose.
They say today is day of light because Thomas Edison created the incandescent lamp with the Japanese bamboo filament today in 1879.
Many things which seemed to be impossible have been realized by now. What kind of dreams would you like to realize?

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

百聞は一見に如かず(hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu): Seeing is believing.

There is a phrase hyakubun wa ikken ni shikazu (百聞は一見に如かず), literally seeing once is better than listening 100 times. That is seeing is believing.
There are some Japanese sayings which are also found in other languages, but there are other sayings which seem to exist only in Japan.
Many Japanese sayings are from old Chinese books, and many English sayings are from either Bible or Greek books or something.
What kind of sayings do you like?
I like isseki nicho (一石二鳥), literally one stone two birds. That is to kill two birds with one stone.

Monday, October 19, 2009

オリオン座流星群(orion za ryuseigun): Orionid Meteor Shower

The season of the Orionid Meteor Shower has come. Its peak is said to be from October 19 to 23. There will be about 20 shooting stars in an hour. If you are lucky enough, you might see about 50 shooting stars in an hour.
Since 2006 the numbers of shooting stars have been increasing, and this year would be the last year you could observe under the good condition because there is no moonlight this year. The reason of increasing the number from 2006 to 2010 is the dusts from the Halley's Comet of 3000 years ago would be close to the earth.
Next big cycle will come 70 years later. So don't miss this opportunity.
From my experience, the sleeping bag is the best thing to bring. Believe me.

鉄道の日(tetsudo no hi): Day of Railway

They say October 14 is tetsudo no hi (鉄道の日), Day of Railway. On September 12, 1872 in old calendar which is equivalent to October 14 in the new calendar, the first railway between Shimbashi (新橋) and Yokohama (横浜) was opened. It took 53 minutes. In those days it took a day from Shimbashi to Yokohama if they walked. Now it takes 24 minutes by JR Tokaido honsen (東海道本線).
They say October 14 is also World Standards Day which is established by International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

Sunday, October 18, 2009


Today I attended the special celebration event in my city Miura (三浦).
There is a traditional festival called Chakkirako (チャッキラコ) in Misaki (三崎). This festival was designated as UNESCO The Intangible Heritage [The Representative List] / country's important non-tangible cultural assets on September 30.
This festival is held at 10:00 AM on January 15 every year at Kainan Shrine (海南神社). Girls aged 5 to 12 perform dances holding fans and bamboo sticks called chakkirako. There are 6 different dances: Hatsuise (初いせ), Chakkirako (ちゃっきらこ), Nihon odori (二本踊り), Yosasa bushi (よささ節), Kamakura bushi (鎌倉節), and Oise mairi (お伊勢参り).
This festival is just for girls and women and it has more than 250 years history.

Please check the following site.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

世界体操(sekai takso)

The 41st World Artistic Gymnastics Championships is now held in London. On the 3rd day October 15, Kohei Uchimura (内村航平), 20 years old became the Japanese youngest champion ever at the point of 91.500. It's been 4 years since Japanese became a champion. He is the 4th Japanese to be a champion at the World Championships.
On the 4th day October 16, Koko Tsurumi (鶴見虹子), 17 years old got a bronze medal at the point of 57.175. It's been 43 yeas since Keiko Ikeda (池田敬子) got the bronze medal at the World Championships in 1966. On the 5th day October 17, she got the silver medal for the uneven bars too.
On the last day, October 18, Kazuhito Tanaka (田中和仁), 24 years old got a bronze medal for the parallel bars at the point of 15.500.

Friday, October 16, 2009

15万キロ走破(jyugo man kiro soha)

Recently I read an interesting article in the newspaper. The cyclist Mr. Daisuke Nakanishi (中西大輔), 39 years old has run the entire course of 151,180 km of 130 countries. It took 11 years to finish. 82 tires, 13 chains, and 5 pedals have been changed. He received the Pedalian Grand Prix.
After graduating from college, he has worked and saved money. He has started his journey from Alaska, and been to South America, Europe, Africa, Asia, and Australia. His bicycle weighs about 70 kg with cooking utensils, tent, sleeping bag and so on. He said, if you run every day, your body will be accustomed and you can run 100 km per day.
I like traveling very much, but I don't think I can travel for 11 years.

His website is

Thursday, October 15, 2009

キノコの日(kinoko no hi): Day of Mushroom

They say October 15 is kinoko no hi (キノコの日), Day of mushroom. Speaking of autumn, it is kinoko. Its demand is the peak in October. Therefore Nihon tokuyo rinsan shinkokai (日本特用林産振興会), Japan Special Forest Product Promotion Association decided the day in 1995.
There are many kinds of kinoko in Japan. The most expensive one in the season in Japan is matsutake (松茸), which has a good smell and is chewy.
The most popular one is shiitake (椎茸). I like eringi (エリンギ), which is also chewy, for stir-fry and nameko (ナメコ) for miso soup, and enokidake (エノキ茸) for nabemono (鍋物).

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

サツマイモの日(satsuma imo no hi): Day of sweet potato

They say today is satsuma imo no hi (サツマイモの日), Day of Sweet Potato. It is a little bit difficult to explain. There is a phrase "Kuri yori umai jyusanri (栗よりうまい十三里)." Kuri (栗)means chestnut, kuri (九里) means 9 ri (ri is about 3.9273 km). Yori (より) means than, yori (四里) means 4 ri. Umai (うまい) means delicious. Jyusanri (十三里)is 13 ri. 9 + 4 = 13. Jyusanri (十三里)is alias of sweet potato.
This phrase was made because the sweet potatoes of Kawagoe (川越) which is 13 ri (about 52 km) away from Edo (江戸) were delicious.
October is the season of sweet potato, therefore Sweet Potato Friendship Association of Kawagoe made this day.

Monday, October 12, 2009

体育の日(taiiku no hi): Health and Sports Day

October 10 was used to be taiiku no hi (体育の日), Health and Sports Day, but it has been moved to the second Monday of October since 2000. It falls on October 12 this year. Health and Sports Day was established in 1966 to commemorate the opening of Tokyo Summer Olympics of 1964.
October 10 is said to be fine every year. Around this time schools and companies often have an athletic meeting so-called undo kai (運動会). So do communities.
Speaking of October 12, it is Columbus Day. So maybe in the USA you also have a three day weekend.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

三連休(san ren kyu):

October 10 was used to be Physical Education Day. But it's been moved to the second Monday of October since 2000. Therefore this weekend is a three-day-weekend.
This year we have three-day-weekend for 5 times, and five-day-weekend twice. It is very rare.
We can't take a long vacation as European people do. There are traffic jams here and there during these three-day-weekend. Since the toll fee of some express roads reduced to yen 1,000 on weekends from March 28, 2009, this spur the congestion.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

ノーベル賞(noberu sho): Nobel Prize

Another gogai(号外) was issued by the news of Barack Obama's winning the Nobel Peace Prize. This was the very big news, because almost nobody expected the fact. It seems the President Barack Obama himself was also surprised at the news.
It is a very good thing, but I am not sure if this was the best timing for him to receive the prize. He may have changed the world in a sense, but it's been only 9 months since he has the power and started working for the USA and the world. I hope he will work hard to deserve the prize in the future.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


Kanro (寒露, literally cold dew) is one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), 24 solar terms. The last one was shubun (秋分) on September 23 and the next one is soko (霜降) on October 23. It is the time to start freezing the dew by coldness, and winter birds such as wild goose start migrating, chrysanthemums start blooming, and crickets stop chirping.
This year the extremely big typhoon No. 18 hit Japan. The strongest wind velocity was 40 meters per second. It has been 2 years since the typhoon No. 9 hit Japan in September 2007. It is very rare that the typhoon came in October. In Tokyo about 20 % of schools (277) decided to close. This typhoon left many damages.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

長崎くんち(nagasaki okunchi)

Each place has its own festival. In Nagasaki (長崎), Nagasaki kunchi (長崎くんち)or Nagasaki o kunchi (長崎おくんち)is the most famous festival. It is held from October 7 to 9 every year.
It began as a celebration of autumn harvests in the late 16th century and became a shrine festival when Suwa Shrine (諏訪神社) was founded in 1642.
One of the most attractive performances of this festival is the "Dragon Dance."
Since Nagasaki was the only place allowed to trade with foreign countries during Japan's self-imposed isolation (sakoku:鎖国) of the Edo period (江戸時代), from 1641 to 1853, the festival has been also influenced by Portugal and Holland.
Nagasaki kunchi is one of three biggest kunchi along with Hakata okunchi (博多おくんち) and Karatsu kunchi (唐津くんち).

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

国際協力の日(kokusai kyoryoku no hi): Day of International Cooperation

They say October 6 is kokusai kyoryoku no hi (国際協力の日), Day of International Cooperation. It was established by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency) in 1987.
On October 6, 1954 Japan joined the Colombo Plan to do technical cooperation to developing countries as a first step of international cooperation. A week from this day is International Cooperation Week.
The President of JICA is Dr. Sadako Ogata (緒方貞子) who used to serve as the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees from 1991 to 2001. I think she is one of the most famous contemporary Japanese women in the world.

Monday, October 5, 2009

号外(gogai): Extra edition

When there is a big news, an extra edition of newspaper is issued. That is called gogai (号外) in Japanese. It is sometimes a good news, but other times a bad news.
Yesterday it seems the gogai was issued.
Many people must have remembered the last Japanese Minister of Finance who had an TV interview after the Rome Summit in February. Shoichi Nakagawa (中川昭一) looked drunk at that time, and resigned after that.
Yesterday morning he was found dead in his bedroom at home. We do not know the reason but it seems he died of any kind of disease. We were astonished by the news. He was 56 years old.
His father was also a politician and passed away suddenly. After his death, he decided to be a politician. He served as Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry, and Ministry of Finance.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

104の日: Day of 104

Today is October 4 which is written as 10.4. Therefore they say today is day of 104. What does this mean? Can you guess? It is the telephone number. When you want to know any telephone number, and dial 104, the operator will tell you the number you need.
This service was used to be free of charge. But now it costs yen 60 to ask one number from 8 AM to 11 PM, if they are more than two numbers, after the second asking it costs yen 90. It costs yen 150 per one number from 11 PM to 8 AM.
If you can use the Internet, go to and it is free of charge.
They say today is also day of sagashimono no hi (探し物の日), Day of Search because of this Day of 104.

There is a lyric. What are you looking for? Is it difficult to find? Did you try to find inside the drawing of the desk and bag? But you could not find? However even if you could not find it, if you stopped looking, it often happens you can find it.....

Even if it is a small thing, if you lose it, you want to find it by all means. And when you find it, you feel a great relief and become very happy. Don' you think so?

Saturday, October 3, 2009

引退試合(intai jiai): Retirement game

A Japanese woman tennis player, Ai Sugiyama(杉山愛), 34 years old put an end to her 17 years tennis career at the doubles final of The Toray Pan Pacific Open Tennis Tournament in the Ariake Colosseum (有明コロシアム), Tokyo.
Unfortunately she could not finish with the victory, but it was the first time for Japanese players to be a finalist at this tournament. About 9,500 audience watched the retirement ceremony and the final game.
Her best ranking in singles was 8th in Feb. 2004, and in doubles was 1st in Oct. 2000. She also became a champion at the mix doubles of The US Open Tennis Championships in 1999. She is the first Japanese player that became No. 1 in Women's Tennis Association (WTA) and ranked in top 10 for both singles and doubles.
She also made the record of participating the four grand slam tournaments for 62 times in straight.

The 2016 Olympics

The 2016 Olympics will be held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. It will be the first Olympics held in the South America. Congratulation!
Chicago, Tokyo, Madrid and Rio de Janeiro were proposed for the 2016 Olympics, but Rio de Janeiro was chosen after three votes by 100 committees.
Until 2004 I have felt the South America was far away and I would not have a chance to visit there. So when there was a monetary crisis in Argentina, it seemed there was nothing to do with our direct life.
However I have circumnavigated the world by the 44th Peace Boat Cruise from Dec. 2003 to March 2004, I have visited some South American countries and felt they were rather close. I could not believe that I could visit there in my life.
There are still some places I would like to visit in the South America. I hope I can visit there near future.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

十月(ju gatsu): October

A new month came. October is ju gatsu (十月) in Japanese. The old name is kami na zuki or kan na zuki (神無月), literally means god without month.
Different from Christianity or Islam which believe the existence of only one God, there are so many gods in Japan. They are called yaorozu no kami(八百万の神), eight million gods.
In ancient times people admitted the spirits in every natural being, and were struck with awe, and worshiped them, which is called animism. It was developed to shamanism.
When the agricultural society began, people started to worship the gods in the land, and they started to build shrines to enshrine gods here and here. It is said there are more than 80,000 or 100,000 shrines throughout Japan. Among them Ise jingu(伊勢神宮), Ise shrine and Izumo taisha(出雲大社), Izumo big shrine are special.
Every year in October, gods from everywhere are said to get together in Izumo taisha in Shimane (島根). Therefore there is no god everywhere. So people called October kan na zuki(神無月) the month without god. However on the contrary there are so many gods in Izumo area, therefore they say kami ari zuki (神有月), meaning there are gods month in Izumo area.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

上半期(kami hanki): The first half year

The fiscal year in Japan starts in April and ends in March. Therefore today is the end of the first half year. We call this 6 months kami hanki(上半期), literally top half term. Usually the persons in charge of accounting are vey busy at the end of September and the end of March.
From October to March is called shimo hanki(下半期), literally bottom half term.
Kami (上:top) and shimo (下:bottom) are prefix to mean half of something. The kanji character of kami (上) and shimo (下) are also read as jo (上) and ka (下) or ge (下).
For example the first 10days of the month is called jo jun(上旬), and the last 10 days of the month is called ge jun(下旬). The top shelf is called jo dan(上段), and the bottom shelf is called ge dan(下段). Elegant is jo hin(上品), and dirty is ge hin(下品). Upper is jo ryu (上流), lower is ka ryu(下流). The upper half of the body is called jyo hanshin(上半身) and the lower half of the body is caled ka hanshin (下半身). The first book of the two volumes is called jo kan (上巻), and the second book of the two volumes is called ge kan (下巻). The Upper chamber is jo in (上院), the Lower chamber is ka in (下院).
If those two kanji characters are written as 上下, it is read as joge.

自民新総裁(jimin sin sosai): New President of LDP

On September 28, the new president of the Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) was elected. There were three candidates. The total number of votes cast was 499 and Sadakazu Tanigaki (谷垣禎一), 64 years old gained 300 of them and became the 24th president of the LDP. He served as Minister of Finance in the cabinet of Junichiro Koizumi (小泉純一郎) and as Minister of Construction and Transport in the cabinet of Yasuo Fukuda (福田康夫).
After the World War II between 1955 and 2009 the LDP had been a ruling party in the Japanese politics, and the president of the LDP had been the Prime Minister at the same time.
However because of the big lost of the last general election they became the opposition party, and the leader of the Democratic Party of Japan, Yukio Hatoyama (鳩山由紀夫) has become the Prime Minister since September 16.
Mr. Tanigaki is the second president who could not be the Prime Minister after Yohei Kono (河野洋平) in 1993. His term will be until the end of September of 2012.

Monday, September 28, 2009

13年ぶりV (jyusan nen buri V): Victory after 13 years

In today's newspaper there were two articles about Japanese women's tennis players. One is about Kimiko Date Krumm(クルム伊達公子), and the other is Ai Sugiyama(杉山愛).
Kimiko Date Krummdebuted in 1989 and retired in 1996 once, but she came back to the tennis world in April 2008. Yesterday she became a champion again after 13 years in Hansol Korea Open 2009. She beat Anable Medina Garrigues by 4-6,7-6, 6-3.
Today is her 39th birthday. She became the champion at the age of 38 years 11 months 30 days. This is the second oldest record after Billie Jean King of 39 years 7 months 23 days in 1983.
Congratulations and happy birthday!! Girl's name Kimiko is popular, and there are many variations of kanji characters. Among them she and I use the same character (公子), therefore I want to support her as a fan.
The other news was about Ai Sugiyama's retirement ceremony at Toray Pan Pacific Open 2009. She will put an end to her career with this tournament after 17 years at the age of 34.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

秋場所千秋楽(aki basho senshuraku)

Today was the last day for the September grand sumo tournament a.k.a. akibasho (秋場所), the Fall Tournament at Ryogoku kokugikan(両国国技館) in Tokyo. Until yesterday only Yokozuna Asashoryu(横綱 朝青龍) won full 14 matches. Today he and another Yokozuna Hakuho(横綱 白鵬) had the final bout. Hakuho won quickly, that made their scores 14-1 vs 14-1. Therefore they played off a tie. As a result Asashoryu won, and he became a champion.
This is the 24th victory for him after 3 grand sumo tournaments. Furthermore today is his 29th birthday. How happy he must be!
The 24th victory is the 3rd best record in the history along with Kitanoumi (北の海).
Baruto (把瑠都) who beated 5 Ozeki (大関) got the fighting spirit prize. Kakuryu (鶴竜) got the technique prize.
All these four sumo wrestlers (Asashoryu, Hakuho, Baruto, and Kakuryu) are from abroad.
I hope more Japanese wrestlers will be active.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

八雲忌(yakumo ki): Death anniversary of Koizumi Yakumo

Do you know Patrick Lafcadio Hearn, who is also known as Koizumi Yakumo (小泉八雲) after gaining the Japanese citizenship? He was an author at the Meiji (明治) era and he is one of the most famous introducers of Japan.
His books are such as Glimpses of Unfamiliar Japan (1894), Out of the East: Reveries and Studies in New Japan (1895), Kokoro: Hints and Echoes of Japanese Inner Life (1896), Gleanings in Buddha-Fields: Studies of Hand and Soul in the Far East (1897), Exotics and Retrospectives (1898), Japanese Fairy Tales (1898) and sequels, In Ghostly Japan (1899), Shadowings (1900), A Japanese Lyrics (1900)- on haiku, A Japanese Miscellany (1901), Kotto: Being Japanese Curios, with Sundry Cobwebs (1902), Kwaidan: Stories and Studies of Strange Things (1903), Japan: An Attempt at Interpretation (1904), and The Romance of the Milky Way and other studies and stories (1905).
He was born in Greece on June 27, 1850 and passed away on September 26, 1904 at the age of 54 in Tokyo. Therefore today is his death anniversary.

Friday, September 25, 2009

十円カレーの日(jyuen kare no hi): Day of yen 10 curry rice

There was the 37th "yen 10 curry charity" at the restaurant named Matsumoto ro (松本楼) in the Hibiya Park (日比谷公園), Tokyo. The restaurant has 106 years of history, but in 1971 it was burnt, and restarted in 1973. To commemorate the day they started the charity. Usually it costs yen 760 for curry rice but they offer the first 1,500 dishes for the donation of more than yen 10.
Last year there came 2,099 people and they donated yen 525,949 in total. The Matumoto ro added yen 200,000 and contributed to UNICEF. During 36 years 83,997 people participated and the total amount of donation reached yen 18,005,199.
This year by 10 AM more than 2,000 people got together in front of the restaurant, though they were going to serve for the first 1,500 people from 11 AM. The average donation of this year was yen 204 which was more than yen 100 higher than last year.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

畳の日(tatami no hi): Day of tatami mats

Have you ever seen a Japanese style house? It is difficult to see the totally Japanese style house these days because many houses are the mixture of Japanese style and Western style.
The characteristics of Japanese houses are made of wood. They have sliding doors, there are an entrance space to take off the shoes called genkan (玄関) and a closet for shoes called getabako (下駄箱). Rooms are covered by the tatami (畳) mats, and the size of the room is measured by the numbers of tatami mats, such as yojohan (四畳半), 4 1/2 mats (9 ft x 9 ft) or rokujyo (六畳), 6 mats (9 ft x 12 ft) or hachijo (八畳), 8 mats (12 ft x 12 ft), though the size of a tatami mat is different depends on the region. Tatami is made of igusa (イグサ), rush.
Japanese room is used for many purposes such as a dining room, a living room, and a sleeping room.
They say today is tatami no hi(畳の日), Day of tatami mats. It was established by zenkoku tatami sangyo shinkokai(全国畳産業振興会), Japan Tatami Industry Promotion Association. They decided 2 days of tatami mats in a year. One is on April 29 because the color of raw material is green and April 29 is midori no hi(みどりの日), Green Day. The other is September 24 because it is seiso no hi(清掃の日) Day of Cleaning therefore to promote cleaning by taking up tatami mats from the floor.
I did not know about this anniversary at all.