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.