Sunday, January 31, 2010

一月三十一日(ichigatsu sanjyuichi nichi): January 31

There are some world famous movie directors in Japan. One of them, Mr. Yoji Yamada(山田洋次) will receive the testimonial, Berlinale Camera at the Berlin International Film Festival in February. This is the third Japanese who receives this award.
His recent film "Ototo (おとうと)," younger brother which released on January 30 will be shown as the closing piece. He will have joined this festival for 7 times including the last work "Kaa bee(母べえ)," mother of 2008. Tonight I watched this movie on TV. 
Ototo is a comtemporary movie, but Kaa beeis the story before the World War II till now.
It is a family movie. In their family every one is called with "bee (べえ)" as suffix. Kaa (母) means mother. So Kaa bee(母べえ) is dearest way to call their mother among family. Their father was arrested and imprisoned under the Maintenance of the Public Order Act. And mother brought up two young daughters. It is a moving movie.

Saturday, January 30, 2010

一月三十日(ichigatsu sanjyu nichi): January 30

One of the good things in the new year is new year's card. There are some friends who only contact once a year with this new year's card and we can catch up. Some use their family pictures, others write only stereotyped phrases. I like the one with special messages.
Many people usually use so-called nenga hagaki (年賀はがき), new year's greeting postcard which has lottery. The drawing was held on January 24.
The first prize is hit one in 1,000,000. You can choose one gift from the five selected items (liquid crystal television,travel coupon, note PC, digital camera with printer, office goods). The second prize is hit three in 1,000,000. You can choose one gift from the five selected items (Wii, digital camera, DVD player, air cleaner, special rice). The third prize is hit one in 10,000. You can choose the one gift from 38 special local products. The fourth prize is hit two in 100, and the prize is a sheet of stamps for the year. There are special limited prize which is hit one in 100,000. The prize is gift tickets for yen 50,000.

You can check the items here:

If you win the prize, bring the cards to the post office from January 25 to July 26 to exchange the gift.
I only got 6 of the fourth prizes.

Friday, January 29, 2010

一月二十九日(ichigatsu nijyuku nichi): January 29

On January 30 last year four restaurants in Yokosuka (横須賀) started to sell "Yokosuka Navy Burger. " Less than one year they sold more than 100,000. On January 15, it recorded 101,020. There are 13 restaurants now.
There will be a special campaign from February 10 to March 22. The first 15,000 people who order the Yokosuka Navy Burger at the 12 restaurants will receive the original badge of each restarurant. 50 people by drawing will receive special T-shirts. 150 people will receive a meal coupon (yen 1,000) which is available at those 12 restaurants.
Living in the next city, I have never tried the Yokosuka Navy Burger yet.....

Thursday, January 28, 2010

一月二十八日(ichigatsu nijyuhachi nichi): January 28

Today there was the news of the State of the Union Address by President Obama. It is translated as ippan kyosho (一般教書) in Japanese, ippan means general, kyosho means message.
It was his first State of the the Union Address and in yesterday's newspaper, there was the article of the contents of bets such as the color of his tie, or the word he would use and seemed to draw attention.
I did not listen to the whole speech but just a few minutes one aired by the news. His word regarding job creation and export business was impressive. We don't quit. I don't quit.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

一月二十七日(ichigatsu nijyushichi nichi): January 27

They say January 27 is the anniversary of the establishment of the national flag. Until 1870 there were many different flags used on the ships, but on January 27, 1870 the design and the standard of the national flag was fixed. At that time the ratio of the length and width was 7 and 10.
On August 13, 1999 the new law of national flag (国旗:kokki) and national anthem (国家:kokka) was enforced. The ratio of the length and width became 2 and 3. The diameter of the red circle is 3/5 of the length.
Japanese flag is called hi no maru(日の丸) in Japanese. Hi(日) means Sun, no(の) means of, and maru (丸) means circle.

There are so many different flags in the world. I wonder how the children of the countries whose flags are so complicated would draw or paint their flags.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

一月二十六日(ichigatsu nijyuroku nichi): January 26

How do you get the news?
Newspaper (新聞:shimbun), TV (テレビ:terebi), Radio (ラジオ:rajio), or Internet (インターネット:intanetto)?
There are some nationwide newspapers in Japan. They are called zenkoku shi (全国紙). Other newspapers are circulated by region or by prefecture, and called chiho shi (地方紙). There are sports papers (スポーツ紙:supotsu shi) and specialty papers (専門紙:senmon shi) too. Some are issued twice a day. Morning paper is called chokan (朝刊), and evening paper is called yukan (夕刊). Usually morning paper has more pages and is more expensive than evening paper.
The first Japanese newspaper began in the 17th century as kawara ban (瓦版), literally tile-block printing.
The five major nationwide newspapers and their circulations are Yomiuri Shimbun (読売新聞), 10,020,000 copies, Asahi Shimbun (朝日新聞), 8,030,000 copies, Mainichi Shimbun (毎日新聞), 3,770,000 copies, Nihon Keizai Shimbun (日本経済新聞), 3,050,000 copies, and Sankei Shimbun (産経新聞), 1,850,000 copies.

一月二十五日(ichigatsu nijyugonichi): January 25

What nicknames do you have?
I have some nicknames. They depend on the people who call me or the depth of the relationship between me.
For example, yesterday I had a reunion of Expo'92 attendants. When I worked there, I was a graduate school student after working at a junior high school for several years. Therefore most of them called me "teacher(ティーチャー)." Some of them call me Kimiko-san, others call me Kitani-san. San (さん) means Miss, Ms., Mrs, or Mr. You can use this prefix for both men and women to address Japanese people politely.
My friends from high school call me Ham (ハム) because of my name. My name is written as 公子(Kimiko) in kanji character, and the first one is composed of two katakana character ハ(ha) and ム (mu). Therefore they call me Ham.
My friends from university and my cousins call me Kimi-chan. "Chan(ちゃん)" is usually used for small boys and girls. Regardless my age, they still call me Kimi-chan.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

一月二十四日(ichigatsu nijyuyokka): January 24

Today I went to Yokohama (横浜) to attend a farewell party for my friends from Expo '92. Twelve of us plus their son got together. They will leave Japan for Spain soon. Farewell party is sobetsu kai(送別会) or soko kai(壮行会) in Japanese. Sobetsu (送別) means send off, soko (壮行) means to encourage the departure, and kai (会) means meeting or party. A farewell gift is called senbetsu (餞別).
It's been almost 18 years since we worked together at the Japan pavilion of Expo 92 in Seville, Spain. However everyone looked almost the same as that time.
When I have a reunion of high school or other group, I have the same feeling. It's so interesting. Without seeing a long time, we still feel we know each other very well. Time goes back to the place where we were easily.
During these 18 years, everyone had a different history of their own. There were 35 attendants there. Some got married and became mothers, others are still singles. Some live in foreign countries, others live in Japan.
Whenever I see them, I feel everyone is very energetic, and I get inspiration.
I am glad to have such good friends.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

一月二十三日(ichigatsu nijyusan nichi): January 23

The January Grand Sumo Tournament (一月場所:ichigatsu basho, or 初場所:hatsu basho) has started on January 10. Today was the 14th day and there is one day left. But Yokozuna Asashoryu (横綱朝青龍) became the champion today without waiting for senshuraku (千秋楽), the last day.
This is his 25th victory after two tournaments. This is the third best record in history. The number one is 32 victories of Taiho (大鵬), and the number two is 31 victories of Chiyonofuji (千代の富士).

Friday, January 22, 2010

一月二十二日(ichigatsu nijyuni nichi): January 22

There was the 59th Japan Sports Award (日本スポーツ大賞:nihon supotsu taisho) Ceremony in Tokyo yesterday. The award was established by the Yomiuri Newspaper (読売新聞:yomiuri shimbun) in 1951. This award is given to those who played the active part in sports in the previous year.
The Grand Prix winner is Mr. Kohei Uchimura (内村航平), 21 years old who became the youngest champion of the World Artistic Gymnastics Championships in London last year at the age of 20.
The special award winner is World Baseball Classic Team, SAMURAI JAPAN and the director Mr. Tatsunori Hara (原辰徳) received the award.
The encouragement award winner is Mr. Ryo Ishikawa(石川遼), 18 years old who became the youngest leading money winner golfer.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

一月二十一日(ichigatsu nijyuichi nichi): January 21

They say today is the day of TV cooking program. In 1937 the first TV cooking program started in UK, and on the same day in 1963 Japanese popular TV program "3-minute cooking" (三分クッキング:san pun kukkingu) started broadcasting.

Do you like cooking?

Japanese foods are wa shoku(和食) in Japanese, wa (和) means Japanese and shoku (食) means meal.
Western foods are yo shoku(洋食), yo (洋) means western.
Chinese foods are chuka ryori(中華料理), chuka (中華) means China and ryori (料理) means cooking.
Korean foods are kankoku ryori(韓国料理), kankoku (韓国) means Korea.
Italian foods are ita meshi (イタ飯).
French foods are furansu ryori(フランス料理).
Ethnic foods are esunikku ryori(エスニック料理).
Cosmopolitan foods are mukokuseki ryori(無国籍料理).
You can find these restaurants in most places in Japan.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

一月二十日(ichigatsu hatsuka): January 20

Today is daikan (大寒), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), 24 solar terms. The last one was shokan(小寒) on January 5 and the next one is risshun (立春) on February 4.
Daikan literally means big cold. This should be the coldest season of the year. However this year in Tokyo and other places it was rather warm like April. Yesterday it was also rather warm, and maybe tomorrow too. But after that it will be cold again.

They say January 20 is tama no koshi no hi(玉の輿の日), day of marrying into the purple. Why? Because on January 2, 1905 George Dennison Morgan, the nephew of the founder of J.P. Morgan & Company got married a Japanese geisha Oyuki (お雪).

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

一月十九日(ichigatsu jyuku nichi): January 19

What do you image hearing "Japan" or "Japanese"? What kind of Japanese culture can you think of?

Samurai, Fuji-yama, geisha? Economic animal? Tea ceremony and kimono? Judo, kendo, sumo? Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Anime and manga? Sushi and sukiyaki? Toyota, Honda, Nissan? Nintendo and Sony Play Station? Ichiro and Matusi?
There are so much Japanese culture and so many Japanese known to the world these days.

They say today is day of nodojiman (のど自慢),amateur singing contest or day of karaoke (カラオケ), sing-along machine.
Nodo (のど) means throat and jiman (自慢) means pride. On January 19, 1946 the first radio program of amateur singing contest started. There were 900 people applied and 30 of them participated. There is still a TV program of amateur singing contest by NHK at Sunday lunch time. The applicants are 12 times as many as the fixed number.
Since 1980s karaoke has been very popular in Japan and in 1990s to the world.
It is one of the contemporary well-known Japanese culture.
Do you like karaoke?

Monday, January 18, 2010

一月十八日(ichigatsu jyuhachi nichi): January 18

Yesterday I attended hatsugama (初釜), the first tea ceremony in the year at my master's house. Hatsu (初) means first and kama (釜) means iron pot. When I was younger, I went to learn the tea ceremony once a week after work, but these days I only attend the special occasions.
In these occasions I wear kimono (着物), Japanese traditional costume.
There are many different types of kimono. On Coming-of-Age Day, women wear the long sleeves kimono called furisode (振袖). These are only worn by unmarried women.
At wedding ceremony, brides wear white kimono called shiromuku (白無垢), and at the wedding reception they put on a little bit longer one called uchikake (打ち掛け). Married women wear black one with family creast called tomesode (留袖).
I wore homongi (訪問着) with family crest yesterday. Homon (訪問) means visit, gi (着) means wear. Homongi is a semi-formal wear. The characteristic of homongi is its colorful pattern running continuously over the seams. Similar kimonos are called tsukesage (付け下げ). But they don't have continuous patterns over the seams.
I like wearing kimono.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

一月十七日(ichigatsu jyushichi nichi): January 17

It' s been 15 years since the Great Hanshin earthquake (阪神大震災:Hanshin dai shinsai) happened. About 6,434 people lost their lives, and 43,792 people got injured. There were the memorial services here and there around Kobe (神戸). There were 52,000 people got together to one of them, and the Crown Prince, Princess and the Prime Minister also attended the service.
There are many TV programs regarding the earthquake these days. Until that disaster the idea of volunteerism has not been known so much in Japan. Therefore 1995 became the first year of volunteer (ボランティア元年:borantia gannen). And January 17 is the day of prevention of disaster and volunteer (防災とボランティアの日: bousai to borantia no hi).

Saturday, January 16, 2010

一月十六日(ichigatsu jyuroku nichi): January 16

January 16 is known as yabuiri (薮入り), apprentices' holiday. There were only two days off in a year for those who worked at the merchant family living with them as an apprentice in the Edo era. They were January 16 and July 16.

It was the first day of the center shiken(センター試験), National Center Test for University Admissions today. There were exams of social studies, Japanese, and foreign languages today and will be science and math tomorrow.
553,368 students applied and 513,267 (92.8%) took the exam of English.
Good luck!

Friday, January 15, 2010

一月十五日(ichigatsu jyugo nichi): Jauary 15

January 15 was used to be a national holiday called seijin no hi (成人の日), Coming-of-Age day. But since 2000 it has been moved to the second Monday of January. Therefore today was just a Friday.

January 15 is known as koshogatsu (小正月), literally small new year. And there was a custom to eat adzuki porridge (小豆粥: adzuki gayu) wishing rich harvest of the year.
Between January 1 and 7 is called oshogatsu (大正月), literally big new year.
On koshogatsu there are events called sagicho (左義長) or donto yaki (どんと焼), a fire festival to burn the decorations of the new year and eat the dumpling burnt by the fire there.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

一月十四日(ichigatsu jyuyokka): January 14

The 142nd Naoki Prize (第142回直木賞:dai hyaku yonju ni kai naoki sho) winners were published today. The official name, Naoki Sanjugo Prize (直木三十五賞: naoki sanjyugo sho) is a Japanese literary award presented semiannually, which was created by Kikuchi Kan(菊池寛) in 1935. The award is given to the best work of popular literature (大衆文学:taishu bungaku) in any format by a new, rising or established author. He also created the Akutagawa Prize(芥川賞:akutagawa sho) at the same time. This is given to the best work of pure literature (純文学:jun bungaku) by a new comer.
This time there is no Akutagawa Prize winner, but two Naoki Prize winners. They are Mr. Jo Sasaki(佐々木譲), 59 years old who wrote Haikyo ni kou(廃墟に乞う), literally means beg for ruins and Mr. Kazufumi Shiraishi(白石一文), 51 years old who wrote Hokanaranu hito e(ほかならぬ人へ), literally means to the particular person.
Mr. Shiraishi's father, Mr. Ichiro Shiraishi(白石一郎) also received the 97th prize in 1987 after 7 times nomination. Therefore this is the first case both father and son received the same hornable prize in history.
Their interview was very interesting.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

一月十三日(ichigatsu jyusan nichi): January 13

The Best 10 of Kinema Junpo (キネマ旬報ベストテン:kinema junpo best ten), a Japanese academic film magazine which began publication in July 1919, was published yesterday. This was the 83rd Kinema Junpo Best 10. Since the Academy Award will be the 82nd this year, Kinema Junpo Best 10 has a very long history in the film award in the world.
The best Japanese movie which was released in 2009 was Dear Doctor directed by Miwa Nishikawa(西川美和). And the best foreign movie of 2009 was Gran Torino directed by Clint Eastwood. The award ceremony will be held on February 7.
Since the Japanese best one film of last year was Okuribito (おくりびと), Departures, and it got an Oscar last year. This may be nominated too.
Unfortunately I have not seen either of them yet, I hope to see them someday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

一月十二日(ichigatsu jyuni nichi): January 12

It was very cold today. Around 00:25 PM it snowed in Tokyo. This was the first snow (初雪:hatsu yuki) for this winter. It was 10 days later than average and 3 days later than last year. The temperature was about 3 degrees centigrade at that time, and the highest of today in Tokyo went up to only 6 degrees centigrade. Tomorrow it will be colder too.

Today the new record was made in the sumo world. Ozeki Kaio(大関魁皇), 37 years old set a record of 808th win. It has been 22 years since he entered into the sumo world in 1988 and this was the 99th grand sumo tournaments for him, which is also the best record in history. Yesterday his record became a tie with the ex-58th Yokozuna Chiyo no fuji's (元横綱千代の富士) 807th win. Congratulations!

Monday, January 11, 2010

一月十一日(ichigatsu jyuichi nichi): January 11

January 11 is known as kagami biraki(鏡開き), literally the mirror opening. The round piled rice cakes called kagami mochi(鏡餅) which were decorated for the New Year's displays are taken down, and divided up and then cooked in a traditional dish of sweet adzuki bean soup called oshiruko (お汁粉).

Today is the national holiday called seijin no hi(成人の日), Coming-of-Age Day. It is a day to celebrate those who became 20 years old, and encourage them to become aware of their responsibility as adults and make a resolution to survive. Until 1999 it was held on January 15, but from 2000 the happy Monday system has been introduced and held on the second Monday of January.
There is a ceremony called seijin shiki(成人式) at each municipality.
The total number of new adults nation-wide is 650,000 men and 620,000 women. Last year there were 1,330,000 in total. This is the first year below 1,300,000. The biggest number of new adults is Yokohama city. There are 34,443. The ceremony was held twice and attended by 20,644 which is about 60%.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

一月十日(ichigatsu toka): January 10

January 10 is known as toka ebisu(十日戎). It is a festival of the shrines which enshrine one of the seven gods (七福神:shichi fuku jin) named Ebisu sama(恵比寿様). It is held in western Japan. People visit the shrines wishing for the prosperous business (商売繁盛:shobai hanjo). Usually the festival lasts for 3 days from 9th to 11th.

Today I went to see the musical "Casa Blanca" of Takarazuka kagekidan(宝塚歌劇団) for the first time after becoming an adult. The Takarazuka Revue is a Japanese all-female musical troupe based in the city of Takarazuka, Hyogo prefecture (兵庫県宝塚市). There are two theaters now, one is in Takarazuka, and the other is in Tokyo.
There are five troupes. Hana (花): Flower, Tsuki (月): Moon, Yuki (雪): Snow, Hoshi (星): Star, and Sora (宙): Cosmos. I watched the Cosmos Troupe. 
Since its first performance in 1914, there has been so many fans.
Kabuki (歌舞伎) is played by all men.

Today the January Grand Sumo Tournament (初場所:hatsu basho) started at Ryogoku kokugikan (両国国技館)in Tokyo.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

1月9日(ichigatsu kokonoka): January 9

Today is the first day (初日:shonichi) of the three day weekend (三連休:san ren kyu).
I went to listen to the lecture of Mr. Ken Honda(本田健), a million seller writer. He studies about money and happiness and wrote The Millionaire's Philosophy for A Happy Life (ユダヤ人大富豪の教え:yudayajin daifugo no oshie). This book is translated into other languages. He has lived in Florida and met a Jewish Millionaire. He wrote about the experience.
It was the second time for me to attend his lecture. I was lucky enough to be invited for both times. The theme was "How to be a happy rich by doing what you like in 2010." He talked many things and his talk was very interesting.
First you need to find what you like to be a happy rich. To find what you like, he suggested the following magical questions:
1. What did you like most when you were a child?
2. What are you giving up without any special reason?
3. What are you afraid to do though you want to do?
4. What do you want to do for 30 people in a room?
5. What are 10 things you want to do before you die?
How will you answer them?

Friday, January 8, 2010

1月8日(ichigatsu yoka): January 8

On January 7, 1989 the Showa Emperor passed away. Since January 8, 1989 the new era Heisei (平成) has been started. Heisei is the 247th name since the first one Taika (大化) from June 19, 645 to February 15, 650. This is the 22nd year of Heisei.

They say today is gaikoku yubin no hi(外国郵便の日), day of foreign mail. In 1875 the post service between the USA and Japan started by the Japanese government, and the opening ceremony was held in Yokohama post.

Japanese schools usually have three terms, first term: April to July, second term: September to December, and third term: January to March. The length of vacations between the terms is different depending on the region. But usually January 8 is the first day of the third term for many schools. This day is called shigyoushiki (始業式), literally opening ceremony, and we usually have an assembly at the gymnasium in the morning.

Thursday, January 7, 2010

1月7日(ichigatsu nanoka): January 7

January 7 is known as nanakusa (七草), seven herbs. In the morning of January 7, the rice porridge with seven spring herbs (七草粥:nanakusa gayu) is eaten for breakfast as a way of wishing for good health throughout the year. Seven spring herbs are seri (芹):Japanese parsley, nazuna (薺):shepherd's purse, gogyo (御形):Jersey Cudweed, hakobera (繁縷): common chickweed, hotokenoza (仏の座): nipplewort, suzuna (菘): turnip, and suzushiro (蘿蔔): daikon.
In New Year's week we eat many delicious foods therefore eating rice porridge means to rest the stomach. This custom is said to have begun in the Heian (平安) era (794-1185) and have become popular in the Edo (江戸) era (1600-1868).
They say today is the day of cutting nails. The day to cut the nails for the first time in the new year. After soaking the nails into the water with seven herbs to make them soft and cut them, it is said that you would not get a cold in the year. I have never heard of this custom before.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

1月6日(ichigatsu muika): January 6

As annual events of January 6, there were dezomeshiki (出初式), the Tokyo Fire Department's (東京消防庁:Tokyo shobo cho) New Year demonstration and daruma ichi (だるま市),Daruma doll festival in Takasaki, Gunma (群馬県高崎市:Gunma ken Takasaki shi).
At the Tokyo Big Sight (東京ビッグサイト) the Firemanship Preservation Association members performed acrobatic stunts atop bamboo ladders during the dezomeshiki. About 2,700 firefighters and 150 fire engines participated in this annual drill.
At the Shorinzan Darumaji (少林山達磨寺), there was the annual Daruma Doll Festival today. It will last until noon of 7th throughout the night, and about 200,000 people are expected to visit the festival to buy new good luck dolls for the year. The festival also features the Buddhist service of reading the 600 volumes of sutras by Shorinzan monks for world peace.
More than 50 farmers of Takasaki city produce 1,300,000 Daruma dolls per year which occupies 80% of the total in Japan.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

1月5日(ichigatsu itsuka): January 5

Today is shokan (小寒), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was toji (冬至) on December 22, and the next one is daikan (大寒) on January 20.
Shokan (小寒) literally means small cold. It is the time to start getting cold. Today is also kan no iri (寒の入り), literally enter of cold. From today till setsubun (節分) on February 3 is called kan (寒), the cold season.
During the New Year Week, the greeting cards are called nengajo (年賀状), but after that the greeting cards are called kanchu mimai (寒中見舞い), midwinter consolatory letter. They are either late replies for New Year's cards or the greeting cards from those who lost family members in the previous year and could not send the New Year's Cards. Usually those who lost family members send so-called mochu hagaki (喪中ハガキ), literally mourning postcards, from November to December before people mail the New Year's cards.
Today there was the first auction called hatsu seri (初競り) at the Tsukiji Fish Market (築地市場: Tsukiji shijo), the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. The highest price of the tuna today was about yen 16,280,000 for one whole tuna (yen 70,000/kg) from Oma, Aomori (青森県大間産:aomoriken oma san). I had a chance to eat Oma tuna (大間マグロ:oma maguro) this new year, actually they were so delicious. I hope you will have a chance to taste.

Monday, January 4, 2010

1月4日(ichigatsu yokka): January 4

Today is the first working day of the year for most companies. It is called kankocho goyo hajime (官公庁御用始め) or shigoto hajime (仕事始め). Kankocho means public offices, goyo means business, shigoto means work, and hajime means start. Since 1873 it has been decided that the public offices are closed from December 29 to January 3 by law.
The first session of the new year at the Stock Exchange is called daihakkai (大発会). As a custom young ladies wear beautiful kimono on this day. From today new system was totally reformed at Tokyo Stock Exchange, and it dramatically improved. One transaction time will take 5/1000 seconds, within one blink 200 orders will be handled. This is 500 times quicker than ever.
As a world news I am interested in the completion of the world's highest tower "Buri Dubai." About 820 meters high! The Taipei 101 which was used to be the highest is 508 meters high. There are 160 floors, 57 elevators, and an observatory deck on the 124th floor. It took about 5 years and at its peak time there were 12,000 workers. The total construction cost was about $1,500,000,000. I hope to visit there someday.

Sunday, January 3, 2010

1月3日(ichigatsu mikka): January 3

The first Sunday of this year. That means the new NHK taiga drama(大河ドラマ),literally Big River Drama, the annual year-long historical fiction television series started at 8 pm. This year's title is Ryomaden (龍馬伝). This is the 49th series.
Sakamoto Ryoma(坂本龍馬) is a very famous hero at the end of the Edo era. The story is told through the eye of Iwasaki Yataro(岩崎弥太郎), the founder of Mitsubishi(三菱財閥:Mitsubishi zaibatsu).
Ryoma is starred by a popular singer and songwriter, and actor Fukuyama Masaharu(福山雅治). I have just watched the first episode. The child actor was very cute.
As January 3, there were two big sports events. One is the Rice Bowl, the annual American Football national championship game pits the Japanese college champion and the champion of the corporate X-League. This year there were 35,742 audience and the champion of the corporate X-League Kashima (鹿島) won by 19-16.
The other was the second half of the 86th Hakone Ekiden(箱根駅伝). Toyo University (東洋大学:Toyo daigaku) won this year again.

Saturday, January 2, 2010

1月2日(ichigatsu futsuka): January 2

The things on January 2 are hatsu yume(初夢): first dream, kaizome (書初め): literally first writing, but actually the special New Year calligraphy, hatsu uri(初売り): first sale, ippan sanga(一般参賀): the New Year's visit to the Imperial Palace, and Hakone ekiden(箱根駅伝): the first half of the long-distance relay road race between Tokyo (東京) and Hakone (箱根) by college students of the Metropolitan area.
Regarding hatsu uri, Sendai (仙台) is very famous for its free gifts.
Many department stores and other shops prepare for the special grab bag called fukubukuro (福袋), literally fortune bag. People are looking forward to the first sale of the fukubukuro and wait in a long line before stores open.
At Nihonbashi MitsukoshiHead Store (日本橋三越本店) before it opened there were 8,000 people waiting, therefore they opened 15 minutes earlier than usual.
At Seibu Ikebukuro Head Store (西武池袋本店) there were 20,000 people waiting and they opened 15 minutes earlier than usual. They prepared 7,000 bags but they were sold out within less than one hour.

Friday, January 1, 2010

謹賀新年(kin ga shin nen): A Happy New Year!!

Happy New Year 2010!
It's been a year since I started writing about Japanese culture. I am glad to have written something Japanese for 365 days last year. Thank you for reading.
The new year has just begun. This is the year of tiger (寅年:tora doshi). In Japanese calendar it is Heisei 21 nen(平成21年:heisei nijyuichi nen). January 1 is called ganjitsu (元日). And in the morning of ganjitsu is called gantan (元旦).
January 1 has been a national holiday to celebrate the new year since 1948. New Year's Day is called shogatsu (正月), especially for the first three days are called shogatsu sanganichi (正月三箇日).
The things of the New Year's Day are hatsu mode(初詣): the first visit of the year to the shrines or temples, hatsu hinode (初日の出): the first sunrise of the year, and nenga (年賀): greetings. New Year's greeting cards are called nenga jo(年賀状). I really like to get New Year's cards. Everyone has a unique card. Nengajo is a once a year present to family and friends here and there.