Thursday, April 30, 2009

図書館記念日(toshokan kinenbi): Anniversary of library

They say April 30 is toshokan kinenbi (図書館記念日), Anniversary of Library. It was established by Nihon Toshokan Kyokai(日本図書館協会), Japan Library Association in 1971 in memory of the enforcement of Library Act on April 30, 1950.
The first Japanese library is said to be build in 702. The modern style public library Tokyo shojaku kan(東京書籍館) was built on April 2, 1872 in Tokyo.  April 2 is tosho kinenbi(図書記念日), Anniversary of Books.

What kind of books do you like?

昭和の日(showa no hi):Day of Showa

April 29 is a national holiday called Showa no hi (昭和の日) since 2007. This day was used to be tencho setsu (天長節) from 1927 to 1948, tenno tanjyobi (天皇誕生日) from 1949 to 1988, and midori no hi (みどりの日) from 1989 to 2006. That is this was the day for ex-Emperor Showa(昭和天皇).
Since this is the official first day of golden week (ゴールデンウィーク), there were many events or traffic jams here and there. From Narita International Airport about 45,000 people went abroad today.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

横浜開港150周年(Yokohama kaiko hyakugojyu shunen): Yokohama port Opening 150th anniversary

It's been 150 years since Yokohama opened its port to the world. Today the memorial event called Yokohama kaiko hyakugojyu shunen (横浜開港150周年) kaikoku haku (開国博) Y150, Expo Y150 started.
This will last for 153 days until September 27. About 5 million visitors are expected to visit the sites. There are three pay facilities (Dream Front & Super Hi-vision Theater, Tomorrow Park, Hajimari no mori) and four free exhibition sites (Aka renga kaijo 赤レンガ会場, Osan bashi kaijo 大さん橋会場, Zo no hana kaijo 象の鼻会場, Yamashita koen kaijo 山下公園会場). Bay side area opened today and Hill-side area will open on July 4.
The entrance fee is yen 2,400 for adult. The mascot is called tanemaru (たねまる).
I hope to visit there sometimes.

日本一(nihon ichi): No. 1 in Japan

My city Miura (三浦) is very famous for tuna(まぐろ:maguro). The port is called Misaki (三崎). Yesterday (April 26) there was a big event titled Misaki maguro tekkamaki nihon ichi sushi zukuri taikai (三崎まぐろ鉄火巻日本一寿司づくり大会), Japan No. 1 Tuna-roll making of Misaki Tuna contest.
520 meters Japan's longest tuna-roll was made by 1,300 participants and more than 300 staff. This was the fourth trial and they renewed the record again. 80 kg of tuna and 270 kg of vinegar rice were used.
Tuna-roll is called tekka maki (鉄火巻) in Japanese. Tuna-bowl is called tekka donburi (鉄火丼) in Japanese. I hope you have a chance to try them sometime in the future.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

ゴールデンウィーク: Golden Week

In Japan from April 29 to May 5 is known as Golden Week (ゴールデンウィーク) because there are 4 national holidays during this period. However this year depends on the company there are 16 days off the longest. That is from April 25 to May 10 some people can take days off. How nice!
On April 25 only from the Narita International Airport about 40,000 people went abroad to have a vacation. The peak from the Kansai International Airport will be on May 2, about 19,100 people will leave for vacation.

What would you like to do if you have time and money?

Saturday, April 25, 2009

国連記念日(kokuren kinen bi): United Nation's Anniversary

They say April 25 is kokuren kinen bi(国連記念日), United Nation's Anniversary. From April 25 to June 26, 1945 representatives of 50 countries have met in San Francisco at the United Nations Conference on International Organization to draw up the United Nations Charter.
The United Nations officially came into existence on October 24, 1945. Therefore they have celebrated October 24 as United Nations Day (国連デー:kokuren day)since 1948.
Japan became a member state on December 18, 1956 as the 80th state.
There are 192 member states in the United Nations now.

Friday, April 24, 2009

記念日(kinen bi): Anniversary

How many anniversaries do you have?

For me yesterday (April 23) is one of them. I had been very healthy in my life but last year was exceptional. Yesterday last year I was in the hospital in Florida and had a surgery. This was the first experience for me to do so. On my way to the hospital, my best friend's car suddenly broke down, and we were at a loss. I asked my host mother to come to pick us up and we went to the hospital by my car.
The surgery was supposed to take only a few hours but it took longer than the doctor expected and I had to stay there for a few days for the first time.
I felt very anxious about having a surgery abroad, but with a good insurance I could have a surgery. Therefore I am fine now.
I am thankful to my doctor, family and host family, friends, boss, colleagues, insurance company, sponsors and of course to my body.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

サン・ジョルディの日(san jorudi no hi): La Diada de Saint Jordi

April 23 is known as san jorudi no hi (サン・ジョルディの日, La Diada de Sant Jordi). This was established in 1986 by Nihon shoten kumiai rengokai(日本書店組合連合会 Japan Bookstore Association) and Nihon Katarunya yuko shinzen kyokai(日本カタルーニャ友好親善協会 Japan Catalonia Friendship Association). The bookstore in Catalonia spread the custom that men give red roses to women and women give books to men.
April 23 is related deeply to books. It is the anniversary of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra who wrote Don Quijote that passed away in 1616. It is also the birthday of Shakespeare in 1564. UNESCO adopted the day as World Book and Copyright Day in 1996. In Japan in December 2001 it was established as kodomo dokusho no hi(子ども読書の日), children's reading books day. In Spain it is hon no hi (本の日) the day of the book.
What book do you like the best?

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

地球の日(chikyu no hi): Earth Day

They say April 22 is Earth day, which is designed to inspire awareness and appreciation for the Earth's environment. It was founded by the U.S. Senator Gaylord Nelson as an environmental teach-in in 1970 and is celebrated in many countries every year.
In the first year there gathered 20,000,000 people. In 1990 more than 200,000,000 from 141 countries participated.

The United Nations calso elebrates an Earth day each year on the March equinox,usually on March 20, a tradition which was founded by peace activist John McConnell in 1969.
Do you do anything special?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

温泉(onsen): Hot spring

Japan is a volcanic country and there are many hot springs (onsen, 温泉 )here and there. Japanese people love taking the hot springs.
When I was in the USA for the past two years, I missed the Japanese style bath very much, and I have wanted to go to hot springs when I got back.
The chance has come. I could go to Hakone on business trip yesterday and today, and I could enjoy the hot springs there.
I hope you will have a chance to try Japanese onsen someday.

Monday, April 20, 2009

穀雨(koku u)

Today is koku u (穀雨), one of the nijyushisekki (二十四節気), 24 solar terms. The last one was seimei (清明) on April 5 and the next one is rikka (立夏) on May 5.
Koku u literally means grain rain. That is, the rain which helps to grow the grain. There are many grain such as barley, wheat, oats, rice, maize, millet, sorghum. In Japan our staple diet is rice.
Rice is kome (米) in Japanese. If we cook rice, it is called go han (ご飯). Go han also means meals.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

地図の日(chizu no hi): Day of Map

They say April 19 is chizu no hi(地図の日), Day of Map or saisho no ippo no hi (最初の一歩の日), Day of the First Step. Why? Because Ino Tadataka (伊能忠敬) who completed the first map of Japan created using modern surveying techniques left Edo (江戸) to survey Ezochi (蝦夷地, now Hokkaido) on this day in 1800 at the age of 56.
According to Wikipedia, he spent 3,736 days making measurements and travelled 34,913 kilometres. An atlas collecting all of his survey work, entitled Dai Nihon Enkai Yochi Zenzu(大日本沿海輿地全図:maps of Japan's coastal area) was published in 1821.
In those days when there were no cars, trains and planes, I wonder how he could manage traveling such a long distance.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

同音異義語(doon igigo): Homonym

There are many doon igigo(同音異義語), homonyms in Japanese.
For example today is April 18, which is written as 418 and read as yo (4) i (1) ha (8). Therefore today is yoi ha no hi (よいはのひ). If we write it in hiragana, we can imagine many things, because there are many homonyms of ha (は). If we write ha (は) in kanji, we know the meaning easily.
Actually today is yoi ha no hi (よい歯の日), Day of good teeth and yoi ha no hi (よい刃の日), Day of good blade.   Day of good teeth was established in 1993 by Nihon shika ishikai(日本歯科医師会), Japan Dental Association. Day of good blade is just from pun.

Friday, April 17, 2009

新記録(shin kiroku): New Record

Today Seattle Mariners' Ichiro (35 years old) made a new Japanese baseball record. He has made 3,086 base hits in total during his career in Orix for 9 years and in Mariners' since 2001.
He tied the Japanese record for hits (3,085 by Mr. Isao Harimoto) with his first grand slam in six years yesterday.
He's been making a record of 200 base hits in a year for 9 years, which is the new record for the Major Leagues.
He led the Samurai Japan to victory at WBC the other day after having bad times. And the tie record was the grand slam. How dramatic his life is!

Thursday, April 16, 2009

給料日(kyuryobi): Payday

If you are working, you must be looking forward to the payday. In Japan usually there is only one payday in a month. Depends on where you are working, the date is different. From my experience, they were either 16th or 18th or 25th.
Nowadays there are many working styles, such as sei shain(正社員:regular employee), keiyaku shain(契約社員:contract staff), haken shain(派遣社員:temporary staff), paato (パート:part timer), arubaito (アルバイト:albite). Sei shain is paid by month and has a chance of promotion. Keiyaku shain is usually one year contract with a possibility of renewal up to three years. Haken shain, arubaito, and paato are usually paid by hour.
In the salary there are basic payment, commutation allowance and additional payment such as overtime pay, housing allowance, family allowance, and so on. But employment insurance, health care insurance, nursing care insurance, social security pension, and income tax are deducted automatically.
Cash payments were popular until early 1990's, but these days companies send money to each bank account of their employees and give them just a list.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

ヘリコプターの日(herikoputa no hi): Day of helicopter

They say April 15 is herikoputa no hi(ヘリコプターの日), Day of helicopter. Why? In 1986 zen nihon kokujigyo rengokai(全日本航空事業連合会), All Japan Air Transport and Service Association Co., Ltd. established this anniversary after the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci who thought of the theory of helicopter. He was born on April 15, 1452 and passed away on May 2, 1915.
He is known as an almighty genius or "uomo universale." He was an Italian polymath being a scientist, mathematician, engineer, inventor, anatomist, painter, sculptor, architect, botanist, musician and writer of the Renaissance.
I wonder why some people are so talented and others are not.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

春の高山祭(haru no takayama matsuri)

Each place has its unique festival. In Takayama, Gifu(岐阜県高山市) they have two big festivals in a year. One is called haru no Sanno sai(春の山王祭, spring festival in Sanno), the other is called aki no hachiman sai(秋の八幡祭, fall festival in Hachiman shrine). Spring festival is held from April 14 to 15, and Fall festival is held from October 9 to 10. Floats of spring festivals are designated as Important cultural property.
Haru no Takayama matsuri (春の高山祭) is known as one of the three most beautiful festivals in Japan. The other two is Chichibu yomatsuri(秩父の夜祭)in Chichibu, Saitama(埼玉県秩父市) which is held from December 1 to 6, and Gion matsuri (祇園祭) in Gion, Kyoto(京都祇園) which is held entire month of July, and is also chosen as the three most famous festivals in Japan.

I hope you will have a chance to come to see these festivals.

Monday, April 13, 2009

喫茶店の日(kissaten no hi)

They say April 13 is kissaten no hi(喫茶店の日), Day of Tea Room. On April 13, 1888, the first tea room in Japan was opened in Ueno (上野). Its name was kahiisakan (可否茶館). The building was western-style and there was a pool hall on the first floor and the tea room was on the second floor. They offered a cup of coffee cheaper than a glass of milk. However it was closed after 5 years.

When I was in the USA for the past two years, I missed something. One of them was so-called kissaten (喫茶店) in Japanese, which is a coffee shop or a tea room. I do not drink coffee, but I like to have tea and cake there. There are so many kissaten in Japan, especially in Aichi (愛知) prefecture. Japanese kissaten is different from coffee shops in the USA. I hope you have a chance to visit Japanese kissaten someday.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

世界宇宙飛行の日(sekai uchu hiko no hi)

They say April 12 is sekai uchu hiko no hi (世界宇宙飛行の日), Day of World Space Flight. On April 12, 1961 the Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, launching to orbit aboard the Vostok 3KA-2. His flight around the Earth was 1 hour 48 minutes.
"The Earth is blue... How wonderful . It is amazing." was his comment which became very famous.
There are only a few people that can see the Earth from the outer space. I hope more and more people will be able to experience this someday near future.

Saturday, April 11, 2009


It was very hot today. Many places made the highest records in April including my city, Miura (三浦) at 26.5 degrees centigrade. The highest of today was 29.9 degrees centigrade in Kameyama, Mie (三重県亀山市). It was like the temperature of the end of July.

If the highest temperature of the day reaches 25 to 30 degrees centigrade, it is called natsu bi (夏日), literally summer day. If it reaches 30 degrees centigrade, it is called manatsu bi (真夏日), literally midsummer day. If it reaches 35 degrees centigrade, it is called kokusho bi (酷暑日), literally intense heat day.

Usually it takes 8 days for cherry blossoms to start blooming till falling. If cold days last, cherry blossoms stay about 20 days. If it is warm, they will be full in bloom in 3 days.
Since it has been warm these days, petals of cherry blossoms are fluttering like snow flakes (桜吹雪 sakura fubuki) and making a carpet of flower petals. They are so beautiful.

Friday, April 10, 2009

金婚式(kinkon shiki): Golden wedding anniversary

It has been 50 years since the Emperor and Empress got married on April 10, 1959. It was a histric event because the then Crown Prince chose to marry Miss Michiko Shoda who is not from the Imperial family. It was the first case. Their marriage symbolized the new image of the Imperial family. They met at the tennis court in Karuizawa (軽井沢) in August 1957. On their wedding day, more than 500,000 people crowded along the road to see the wedding parade, and more than 15,000,000 people watched the parade on TV.
The Imperial couple tried to have an ordinary family life, therefore the couple lived together with their children which was different from the Imperial tradition. The Empress breast-fed her babies (two sons and a daughter), ablolishing the wet-nurse system.
Today they invited the 100 couples who also celebrate their golden wedding anniversaries this year to the Imperial palace.
Emperor is 75 years old and Empress is 74 years old now. We pray that they will be blessed with good health and long lives.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

満月(mangetsu): Full moon

It is a full moon (満月 mangetsu) tonight. It was warm today and will be warm tomorrow too. So it is a very good time to see yozakura (夜桜, night cherry blossoms) with a full moon.

There is a yojijyukugo (四字熟語), four-kanji phrase, ka cho fu getsu(花鳥風月), which literally means flower, bird, wind, and moon. They are the beauties of nature. These four letters are often used in the poems.

Let's learn some Japanese regarding moon (月: tsuki). New moon is shingetsu (新月). Crescent is mikaduki (三日月). The moon in its first quarter is jyogen no tsuki(上弦の月). Half moon is hangetsu (半月). The moon in its last quarter is kagen no tsuki(下弦の月). Full moon is mangetsu (満月).
To view the moon is tsukimi (月見). Especially the full moon in the fall is very beautiful, so there is a special event called otsukimi (お月見).

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

花まつり(hana matsuri)

April 8 is known as hanamatsuri (花まつり, literally means flower festival), or kanbutsue (灌仏会). It is Buddha's birthday. The Prince Siddhartha Gautama was born in Lumbini in modern day Nepal about 2,500 years ago.
On this day, all temples in Japan have celebratory events. The first event is said to have been held at Asuka dera(飛鳥寺) in 606. Japanese people pour amacha (甘茶, literally means sweet tea) on small Buddha statues in the small temple decorated with flowers called hanamido (花御堂), as if they bathe a newborn baby.
In Kansai (関西) area they celebrate his birthday on May 8. (Wow, it is my birthday!)

Since cherry blossoms are now in full bloom, there are many actual flower festivals (花まつり) here and there too.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009


There is a famous temple called Zojoji (増上寺) near the Tokyo Tower(東京タワー). It is the main temple of Jodo shu(浄土宗:Pure Land Sect) of Buddhism. It was founded in 1393 and relocated to the present site in 1598 after Ieyasu Tokugawa (徳川家康), founder of the Tokugawa shogunate, entered Edo (江戸) in 1590. It became the family temple of the Tokugawa family. Therefore there are some graves of the Tokugawa shoguns there.
Today I happened to pass the temple. They were having a special memorial service called gyoki(御忌).Gyokiis the memorial service for the anniversary of the Jodo shu founder Honen Shonin's (法然上人) death. He passed away on January 25, 1212 at the age of 80.
Here attached the picture.

Monday, April 6, 2009

城の日(shiro no hi) : Day of Castle

They say today is the day of castle (城の日:shiro no hi) because of the pun of 4 (shi) 6 (ro). Shiro (城) is castle. It was established in 1991 in Himeji (姫路) city where there is one of the most beautiful castles in Japan. Its name is Himeji jo (姫路城), or Shirasagi jo(白鷺城). It was raised in 1333 and became the shape as it is in 1619. It became a national treasure in 1912 and the World Heritage in 1993.
Japanese people like to choose something three. Some people say three famous castles in Japan are Kumamoto jo(熊本城), Himeji jo(姫路城), and Nagoya jo(名古屋城). Others say they are Kumamoto jo(熊本城), Osaka jo (大阪城), and Nagoya jo(名古屋城).
Here is a list of 100 famous castles in Japan by Japan Castle Foundation though it is written in Japanese.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


Today is seimei (清明), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was shunbun (春分) on March 20 and the next one is kokuu (穀雨) on April 20. Seimei (清明) literally means clear and bright. It is the season of bright spring.

There was an opening ceremony (開校記念式典:kaiko kinen shikiten) and an entrance ceremony (入学式:nyugaku shiki) of the Yokohama Science Frontier High School which opened today. Many schools will have entrance ceremonies this week, and many students will start the new lives at the new schools.
Good luck!

Saturday, April 4, 2009


Japanese people tend to choose the good date to do something important such as wedding or moving or buying something expensive. The luckiest day is called taian (大安) in rokuyo (六曜), the Japanese calendar. There are 6 days in a cycle of that calendar. They repeat in the following order: sensho (先勝), tomobiki(友引), senpu(先負), butsumetsu(仏滅), taian(大安), shakku(赤口).
Each meaning is
sensho(先勝): good in the morning, bad in the afternoon
tomobiki(友引): only noon is bad
senpu(先負): bad in the morning, good in the afternoon
butsumetsu(仏滅): worst all day long
taian(大安): lucky all day long
shakku(赤口): only noon is good, morning and evening are bad
This idea came from China and became popular in the Edo era.
There are many weddings on taian and few weddings on butsumetsu. People avoid having funeral on tomobiki because friends (友:tomo) will be taken (引く:hiku) to the other world.
Today is Saturday and taian, I think there are many weddings here and there.

Friday, April 3, 2009

お花見シーズン(o hanami sizun): Cherry blossom viewing season

Japanese people like cherry blossoms (桜: sakura) very much. In Tokyo they started blooming around March 21 this year but after that it has been very cold. Therefore the cherry blossoms are in full bloom now. They are so beautiful.
This weekend is a good time to go out to see the cherry blossoms. We call this activity "hanami (花見)," which literally means flower-viewing. Cherry blossom is Japanese national flower, so flower means cherry blossom. We call "yozakura (夜桜)" when we see cherry blossoms at night.
Since it is Friday and it was rather warm today, I believe there are many people who went to see yozakura.
We usually sit on mats under the trees, eating, drinking, singing cheerfully and enjoy viewing the cherry blossoms.
This is our popular spring event. I hope you have a chance to come to Japan to see cherry blossoms someday.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

初優勝(hatsu yusho): First Victory

Seiho High School (清峰高校) from Nagasaki(長崎) prefecture became the champion at the 81st National High School Baseball Invitational Tournament known as Senbatsu (センバツ). It is the first time for them to win the tournament and it was also for the first time for Nagasaki prefecture to have a champion team.
The game started at 12:32 PM at the Hanshin Koshien kyujo (阪神甲子園球場) in Hyogo (兵庫). There were about 27,000 spectators. They played with Hanamaki Higashi High School (花巻東高校) from Iwate (岩手) Prefecture and won by 1-0. Congratulations!
The tournament started on March 21st and there were 12 days and there were about 435,000 spectators in total.

Tomorrow both of the professional baseball league matches (Central league and Pacific league) will begin at the same time after 6 years. This season is the 60th anniversary for both leagues.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

四月(shigatsu): April

A new month has just started. April is shigatsu (四月) in Japanese. It is also called uduki (卯月). April is a starting month in Japan. So today is the beginning of the new year (新年度:shin nendo).
Many companies had entrance ceremonies for new employees today. This is called nyusha shiki (入社式). Schools have entrance ceremonies for new students. This is called nyugaku shiki (入学式).
In Japan students who were born between April 2 and April 1 next year enter the elementary schools at the age of 6. That is students become 7 years old in their first grade. So those who were born on April 1 is the youngest in their grade.