Friday, April 30, 2010
For me I have been busy in many aspects, but there were some interesting experiences. On April 11 I had a chance to eat French lunch at the very special restaurant in Tokyo Bay Court where only members are permitted. On April 16 I had a reunion of Washington State University at Hyatt Regency Hotel in Tokyo. I got together with my old friends from Expo 2005. I went to see the live stage of my ex-boss of Panasonic with my old friend. I went to see 5 movies.
April is usually a month for new encounters. But for me I had not only new encounters but also reunited meetings. That was fun.
There was the opening ceremony of Expo 2010 in Shanghai tonight. Since I have worked at Expo '92 in Seville and Expo 2005 in Aichi, I feel like visiting Shanghai Expo 2010 too.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
It is the beginning of the Golden Week. If you take a day off tomorrow, you can get a week off vacation. If you take three days off on April 30, May 6, and 7, you can get 11 days off. I wish to take such a vacation to travel to Patagonia and Florida, but I could not.
Instead I went to see two movies today. One is Wolfman, the other is Shutter Island. This time the common theme was mental institution. I liked the latter one better, though it is rather long.
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
Samples or booklets or leaflets or tissue paper are often given away on the street, especially near the station. If you walk on the busy street in Shinjuku (新宿) or Shibuya (渋谷) , you will get many tissue paper which is very handy.
By the way the language of flower of Gerbera is hope, always progress, patience, and mystery. Red garbera is mystery, Pink garbera is noble beauty, Yellow garbera is ultimate beauty, and Orange garbera is patient.
I happened to get the pink one.
Tuesday, April 27, 2010
Bad wife is akusai (悪妻) in Japanese. The opposite is ryosai (良妻), good wife. There is a four character word, yoji jyukugo (四字熟語), using ryo sai. That is ryo sai ken bo (良妻賢母), which means a good wife for a husband and a wise mother for children. This was the ideal for women's education for a long time in Japan.
How about in your country?
Monday, April 26, 2010
One is about the musical CATS. Have you ever seen that musical? I have seen it a long time ago in Japan. Now there is a special theater for the musical CATS by Gekidan Shiki (劇団四季: Shiki Theatre Company), literally the four season theatrical company in Yokohama, Kanagawa. This is one of the biggest theatrical companies in Japan, there are more than 700 actors and actresses, and their performances reach 3,000 stages in a year. Their CATS performances compiled 7,486 times on April 25th and exceeded the records performed in Broadway, New York. Shiki Theatre Company has performed CATS in 9 cities in Japan starting in Tokyo in 1983. The number of stages of CATS is the most in the musicals in Japan and the total number of audience attended is 7,650,000.
The other is about the new Japan record of making a tuna roll in Misaki (三崎), Kanagawa. There was the event to make a longest tuna sushi roll on April 25. About 1,300 people joined and made 530 meters long roll using 82 kg of tuna called mebachi maguro (メバチマグロ: Bigeye tuna), and 270 kg vinegared rice. It took 40 minutes to make. This is the 5th year trial and they renewed the record. Misaki is very famous for tuna.
Sunday, April 25, 2010
The Japanese titles were プレシャス (pureshasu) and 17歳の肖像 (jyunana sai no shozo) meaning the Portrait of the 17 years old. The former is the same pronunciation of Precious written in Japanese, and the latter was translated the meaning of the contents itself. But here again, what a difference between the original title and the Japanese one!
If the original title "An Education" was translated into Japanese directly, nobody must have been interested in the movie.
Both stories dealt with the lives of girls aged 17. But how different their lives are!
How did you spend your 17 years old? Was it a really teenage dream to be seventeen when you were younger than that?
Saturday, April 24, 2010
Please check the following site.
Between the year 630 and 894 Japanese missions to Imperial China called ken to shi (遣唐使) were dispatched. They were sent to Tang Dynasty to learn culture, system, technology, and Buddhism. International relationship between Japan and other countries has such a long history. Amazing, isn't it?
April 23 is also World Book and Copyright Day, which was established by UNESCO in 1995 and has been observed since 1996. It seems there are so many famous writers born and dead on April 23 historically.
April 23 is also day of reading for children.
Today I went to the live of my ex-boss of Panasonic. He mentioned a book titled "Ami, el nino de las estrellas (Ami / the child of the Stars)" by Enrique Barrios. Have you ever read this book? I felt like reading it.
Thursday, April 22, 2010
They say today is Earth Day which started in1970. From 1970 to 1990 it was held once in 10 years, but since 1991 it has been held once a year. But I am not sure what is exactly done on this day. It seems it is a day to think of protecting the mother earth.
There were the Earth Day events in Tokyo on April 17 and 18 this year. On 17 about 55,000 people joined, and on 18 about 80,000 people joined. In total there were 135,000 people.
To protect the Earth, what do you do in your daily life? We classify the garbage.
There is a saying "If you mix they are garbage, if you classify they are resource."
For example in my city general garbage is collected three times a week on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. On Tuesday and Friday plastic garbage is collected. On Wednesday paper waste is collected. On Thursday cans and bottles are collected. On 2nd and 4th Wednesdays pet bottles are collected. On 1st and 3rd Tuesdays plants are collected. On 2nd and 4th Tuesday garbage to be reclaimed is collected.
If you want to dump bulky refuse (粗大ごみ : sodai gomi), you have to call the city office to ask the special collection and pay yen 500.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
There is a saying san kan shi on (三寒四温), three cold days four warm days. But these days the weather changes day by day, summer to winter, winter to summer, very hot to very cold, very cold to very hot. It is unusual.
How is the weather in your country?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Koku u (穀 雨) literally means grain, corn, cereal, and rain. That is the rain to help grain growing. Actually it rained in the afternoon today.
Today is also the anniversary of the postal service. It was established in 1934 to commemorate the new postal system practiced on March 1, 1871 in place of express messenger called hikyaku (飛脚) system. A week including this day is called kitte shumi shukan (切手趣味週間), Stamp Hobby Week.
I happened to visit the post office today and found a very beautiful sheet of the stamps for the Stamp Hobby Week of this year. And I bought a sheet for yen 800. There are 10 pcs of 4 different yen 80 stamps. Since this year is the year of Tiger, the picture of the tiger is included.
Monday, April 19, 2010
It may be a good movie, but I don't know why this became the best film.
Among ten nominated films, I only watched four of them. They are Inglorious Bastards (イングロリアスバスターズ：inguroriasu basutaazu), Up (カールじいさんの空飛ぶ家 : karu jiisan no sora tobu ie), Avatar (アバター：abataa), and The Hurt Locker (ハートロッカー：haato rokker). I want to see the rest too, but I am not sure if they are still showing.
The interesting thing regarding the title of these four movies is three of them are not translated into Japanese but they are just written in katakana (カタカナ) as they sound. The Japanese title of "Up" is quite different. But it means the Grandfather Carl's Flying House. I think this expresses the contents of the film well. If "Up" is used as other films for Japanese title, Japanese people must have no idea what is all about.
Among ten nominated movies, what do you like the best?
Sunday, April 18, 2010
Saturday, April 17, 2010
I went to Shibuya (渋谷) to have dinner with my old friends from Expo 2005. It's been 5 years since the Expo, but it's been 2 years and a half since I saw them last time when I visited them in Venezuela. One of them lives in Japan, the other came to visit Japan, and three of us could get together in Tokyo again. How wonderful!
We had worked together at the Andean Amazonian Pavilion of Expo 2005 for 6 months and during that time we went to Kyoto together , we went to see the Cirque Du Soleil's Alegria2 , and so on.
We talked about many interesting stories we have shared before. One of the most interesting stories was about the signal in Venezuela. When I was there, my friend drove the car in spite of the red light. I asked why. They said in Venezuela, nobody cares about the light.
Today I asked what the red light means. They laughed and said "Everything is the same, green: go, yellow: go fast, and red: go with care. We laughed and laughed.
I like the humor of people from different culture.
It was a very cold rainy day again. Depends on the place it even snowed.
I had the Washington State University Alumni Reception in Tokyo tonight. It was held at the 28th floor of the Hyatt Regency Tokyo in Shinjuku starting at 7:00 PM. This seemed the second reunion in Japan. Last time they said there were nearly 100 people. But this year maybe about 50 people joined. Alumni Reception is dosokai (同窓会) in Japanese.
I was an exchange student at WSU when I was a graduate school student in 1996. I only studied there for one year but it was a wonderful experience for me.
Before going to the reunion, I only knew one person who would attend, but through the party I could talk with several people and get to know each other. It was fun to know people from different back ground but who shared a kind of same experience.
I hope to keep in touch with them.
Thursday, April 15, 2010
They say today is day of helicopter. It was established in 1986 by zen nihon koku jigyo rengo kai (全日本航空事業連合会), All Japan Air Transport and Service Association. It is decided for the birthday of Leonardo da Vinci in 1452. He thought of the theory of helicopter for the first time. The day is to let the people recognize the helicopter as the second transport of the air.
Talking of the transport of the air, I was surprised to know that the eruption in Iceland caused many cancellation of the flights around the world.
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
In return on March 14 boys and men give something sweet to girls and women who gave them chocolates on St. Valentine's Day. It is called White Day. This is the custom conducted only in Japan.
And today April 14 is Orange Day which I did not know by now. It seems it was established in 1994 by the citrus farmers in Ehime (愛媛) prefecture. It is a day to confirm the love between the couple which started from St. Valentine's Day, and to visit the partner with oranges or something orange.
Why orange? Because in Europe and America orange is a symbol of productivity, and they are given to newly married couples.
But unfortunately Orange Day is not well-known yet.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
Tomorrow it will be cold again.
With this strange cycle of weather, the plants have been damaged, and the prices of vegetables have been increasing.
In Wakayama (和歌山) where is one of the most famous places of the harvest of ume (梅), Japanese apricot, the amount of damage reached to more than yen 1,800,000,000.
In Odawara, Kanagawa (神奈川県小田原市： kanagawa ken odawara shi) where is also famous for ume, the amount of damage is estimated about yen 138,000,000. This is the biggest damage in history.
Monday, April 12, 2010
I had a chance to visit a library in a university in Tokyo today. At the entrance there was a saying which drew my attention. It was written in Japanese, so I am not sure if I can translate it exactly, but it was:
The important points are to move, to love, to hope, to tremble, and to live.
It is the word of Francois-Auguste-Rene Rodin (1840-1917), who was a famous French sculptor. The Thinker (考える人: kangaeru hito) must be his representative work.
What are important points for you?
Sunday, April 11, 2010
Saturday, April 10, 2010
At the seminar two lecturers talked about creative thinking and Kojiki (古事記), literally record of ancient matters, which is the oldest extant chronicle in Japan dating from the early 8th century.
Regarding creative thinking, there are two circles. Inside is influence circle, outside is interest circle. Influence circle consists of three ways of thinking. One is zero based thinking, the other is hypothesis thinking, another is positive thinking. The lecturer asked the audience each question.
Zero based thinking is to reset something. He asked "What do you want to reset?" Some people said, age, health, partner, children, etc. Regarding hypothesis thinking, he asked "What kind of "if" can you think of? Other people said " if I were rich enough, if I were a man, if I were a woman, if I were extremely beautiful, if I was born today, etc....
Each person has a different idea, but some people shared the same idea too. It was fun to hear many ideas.
What would you like to reset or change your life?
By the way, it seems today is the 51st wedding anniversary of the Emperor and the Empress.
Friday, April 9, 2010
Thursday, April 8, 2010
April 8 is known as hanamatsuri (花まつり) in Japan. Hanamatsuri literally means flower festival, but actually it is Buddha's birthday. He was born on April 8 in the Chinese calendar, but in Japan we adapted the Gregorian calendar, therefore Buddha's birthday is celebrated on April 8 or May 8 in many Japanese temples.
On this day all temples hold the event called Kanbutsue (潅仏会), the celebration of Buddha's birthday. The first event was held at Asuka era (飛鳥時代：asuka jidai) in 606. Japanese people pour ama cha (甘茶), literally sweet tea, on small Buddha statues decorated with flowers as if bathing a newborn baby.
Unfortunately I have never seen this event by myself.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Today's big news happened in the space. Two Japanese astronauts, Ms. Naoko Yamazaki (山崎直子) 39 years old and Mr. Soichi Noguchi (野口聡一) 44 years old met at the ISS (International Space Station) after docking of Discovery at 4:44 pm of Japan Time. This was the first time for Japanese to work together in the space.
Since the Space Shuttle Discovery will retire within this year, this may be the first and the last chance for Japanese to meet in the Space.
Tuesday, April 6, 2010
It was very fine and warm today. I got a few hours off this morning and decided to visit Komagome (駒込) to view the cherry blossoms there, because it is the birthplace of Somei-yoshino (ソメイヨシノ), the most popular cherry blossom tree in Japan.
Near the JR (Japan Railways) Komagome Station, there is a small memorial park named Somei-yoshino Sakura Kinen Koen (染井吉野桜記念公園). There was a plate explaining about the park. Within 10 to 15 minutes walk there are some small parks too. The park where the festival was held last Sunday seems small. The cherry blossom trees in the temple and the graveyard were very beautiful.
It is the season of nyugakushiki (入学式), entrance ceremonies for schools. Beautiful cherry blossoms are really matched to this special occasion.
Monday, April 5, 2010
But in Florida, it seems very fine and there was a good news there. It is the success of the launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery. It launched at 7:21 pm in Japan time. The Japanese astronette Ms. Naoko Yamazaki(山崎直子), 39 years old is one of the crew. She became the astronette 11 years ago, after that she got married and became a mother. This is the first space trip for her and she will be back after 2 weeks. She is the second Japanese woman who went to the space after Ms. Chiaki Mukai (向井千秋) who went twice.
She hopes to play the koto (琴) in the space. Good luck!
Sunday, April 4, 2010
In today's night news the cradle of the cherry blossom tree called somei yoshino (ソメイヨシノ) which Japanese people love was found in Komagome, Tokyo(東京都駒込). Somei yoshino is a breeding of ooshimazakura (オオシマザクラ) and edohigashi (エドヒガシ). Around Komagome area used to be called Somei mura(染井村), Somei village. The gardeners there are said to have made somei yoshino.
Today there was a cherry blossom festival in Komagome. People there were proud of hearing that Komagome is a birthplace of somei yoshino.
I felt like visiting there someday too.
Saturday, April 3, 2010
It was fine and warm today. This is the best weekend for hanami (花見), flower viewing. In this case flower means cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are sakura (桜) in Japanese. Japanese people really love to go out to see them. There are many famous spots. One of them is Ueno Park(上野公園: ueno koen) in Tokyo (東京). There are 670 cherry blossom trees called somei yoshino(ソメイヨシノ) for 300 meters long. Every year about 2 million people come to visit there to enjoy beautiful flowers. Only today there were 100,000 people. Since yesterday morning some people came to the park to secure the good position to view the flowers. And today their colleagues and friends came to join and enjoyed drinking, eating, and singing under the beautiful cherry blossoms. This is the annual scene you can see many places in Japan. Japan is islands country which stretches from south to north, therefore the period you can see the cherry blossoms is quite long from March in south to May in north. I hope you can come to see this beautiful season.
Today there was the final game of the selected high school baseball teams. This 82nd meeting ended in the first victory of the Konan high school (興南高校: konan koko) from Okinawa (沖縄). The game lasted until 12 innings after 5 vs 5, and finally they won by 10 to 5. Congratulations!!
Friday, April 2, 2010
When I became a junior high school teacher after graduating from university, I was assigned as a teacher in charge of the handicapped students' class as well as teaching English. There were seven students in that class. Each student had different reasons to be in that class. One of them was autism. I have never seen autism until that time, and I did not know how to deal with the students. He had some special abilities such as memories of TV programs or dates, drawing, and handicraft. He was so talented in many ways but he did not know how to communicate with others and he liked to be in his own world.
At first I was at a loss every day, but when I look back the days I spent with them, I really appreciate to have met them.
When I saw the movies Rain Man, I thought Dustin Hoffman acted really well.
When I saw What's Eating Gilbert Grape, I thought Leonardo Dicaprio also acted really well. Autistics' abilities are really amazing.
Thursday, April 1, 2010
Many companies usually have an entrance ceremony called nyusha shiki(入社式) on April 1. Schools have an entrance ceremony called nyugaku shiki(入学式) in early April around April 5 or 8.
As a big news of Kanagawa prefecture (神奈川県：kanagawa ken) today was the changeover of the Sagamihara city (相模原市：sagamihara shi) into the 19th ordinance-designated city (政令指定都市: seirei shitei toshi). This is the third ordinance-designated city in Kanagawa prefecture after Yokohama (横浜) and Kawasaki (川崎) and the first one since World War II. The population as of March 1 was 712,635.
The person in charge of finance and accounting will be very busy for the next few weeks.
Japanese schools starts in April and ends in March. Therefore it is the time of personnel transfers. It is called jinji ido (人事異動). On the newspaper of March 31 there are teachers' full names who get the new positions or move to other schools and who leave schools. I found some ex-colleagues' names who promoted to principals (校長：kocho) and vice-principals (教頭：kyoto). Congratulations!!