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!!