Monday, May 31, 2010

五月三十一日(gogatsu sanjyuichi nichi): May 31

The last day of May. How fast time flies! How was your May?
For me I have been busy even though we have a long holiday called Golden Week for the first 5 days.
As for private life, I have watched 4 movies, one Japanese three foreign, traveled to the Ise & Atsuta Shrine , and to the Suwa Shrine, and have my hair cut and permed. I went to see my friend's concert and art exhibition.
I had a nice birthday, met many friends and relatives, and ate delicious foods. These are big events of my May this year.
As for official life, I have been busy too. I have overworked for a few hours every day.
I think I had a good month. I hope you do so too.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

五月三十日(gogatsu sanjyu nichi): May 30

It was rainy and cold. I can't believe this cold for late May.
One of the computers became out of order yesterday suddenly. I called the manufacturer and after checking they suggested to take the PC in to the shop to repair. So I brought it to the shop. I hope it will be repaired for nothing under the 5-year guarantee paper.
Usually you can get 1-year warranty, but if you pay the addition at the time of purchase, they guarantee for 5 years. I felt relieved to remember this.
After that I went to see a movie "Prince of Persia The Sands of Time" which I enjoyed.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

五月二十九日(gogatsu nijyuku nichi): May 29

Mizuho Fukushima (福島瑞穂), Minister of State for Consumer Affairs and Food Safety, Social Affairs, and Gender Equality in Prime Minister Yukio Hatoyama's (鳩山由紀夫) cabinet was dismissed because she opposed a bilateral agreement between Japan and the United States to relocate U.S. Marine Corps Air Station in Okinawa.
This was the 5th dismissal case under the Japanese Constitution, and the first case of the head of the party.
She used to be a lawyer before becoming a politician. I have been interested in her because she has got married in reality but not legaly and kept her maiden name. This marriage style is called jijitsukon (事実婚) and fufubessei (夫婦別姓). I would like to keep my name too.

Friday, May 28, 2010

五月二十八日(gogatsu nijyuhachi nichi): May 28

Today Apple's iPad was released in Japan. There has been a waiting line for buying in front of the direct management store since yesterday, though the store opened at 8 am.
Today's sales is only for those who booked during three days since May 10, because they rushed and the store decided not to take any more booking.
The price is from yen 48,800 of the wireless LAN model to yen 58,320 which is available for the mobile phone access.
With iPad you can enjoy Internet, emails, dictionary, games, music, movies and so on.
Would you like to have the one?

Thursday, May 27, 2010

五月二十七日(gogatsu nijyushichi nichi): May 27

They say today is hyakunin isshu no hi (百人一首の日), Day of 100 Poems by 100 People. They say in 1235 100 poems were selected by Fujiwara no Teika (藤原定家).
When we were primary school students or junior high school students we memoriezed these 100 poems. And in the new years we enjoyed card games called uta garuta (歌ガルタ).
There are reading side called yomi fuda (読み札) and picking side called tori fuda (取り札). In the reading side there are full poem written and in the picking side the latter half of the poems are written.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

五月二十六日(gogatsu nijyuroku nichi): May 26

Good news! At the French open women's singles game, the Japanese tennis player Kimiko Date Krumm (クルム伊達公子), 39 years and about 8 months old, defeated No. 9 seed and former world number 1, 2009 runner-up Dinara Safina in the first round 3-6, 6-4, 7-5, despite having a calf injury.
It's been 14 years since she won at the grand slam tournament because she once retired in 1996 and came back in 2008.
There are 26 players who were born after 1989 when she participated in the French Open for the first time.
Since she has the same name as mine, I am attached to her.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

五月二十五日(gogatsu nijyugo nichi): May 25

Tonight I watched two tennis related news. One is Kei Nishikori's (錦織圭) first match at the French Open (Roland Garros 2010). He won by 3-2. First two sets he lost, but he turned the table. It's been 17 years since Japanese men's tennis player won the game at the French Open. Congratulations!
I used to play tennis when I was a high school student. But I have not played tennis for a long time. When I was in Florida, I had a chance to see Kei Nishikori's match with Blake in Delray Beach. He became a champion there at the age of 18 on Feb. 17, 2008. That was the most impressive event in my Florida life. After the game I went to see him downstairs and took some pictures with him. He is a very nice person and I have been his fan since that time.
The other was documentary about the Paralympic gold medalist Shingo Kunieda (国枝慎吾)'s effor to walk. He got hurt his spinal cord when he was young and has used a wheel chair since then. Last year he started the rehabilitation training to walk at the J-Workout. And after a severe training he could stand and walk after a long time. It was a wonderful news.

Monday, May 24, 2010

五月二十四日(gogatsu nijyuyokka): May 24

Natsu basho (夏場所), 2010 May Ground Sumo Tournament has been held from May 9 to 23 at the Ryogoku Kokugikan (両国国技館) in Tokyo. Yokozuna Hakuho (横綱白鵬) took the top division championship with a 15-0 record for his 14th Makuuchi (幕内) division title. Since there was nobody but hakuho that did not lose any matches until 13th day, his victory was fixed without waiting for the last day. And this became his 6th complete victory. He has been winning for 32 matches since this January Ground Sumo Tournament.
Another big news in the sumo world is Ozeki Kaio (大関魁皇) made the 1000 wins yesterday which is the 2nd most winning records in history. The best record is 1045 wins made by ex-Yokozuna Chiyonofuji (横綱千代の富士).

Sunday, May 23, 2010

五月二十三日(gogatsu nijyusan nichi): May 23

It's has been raining.
I went to one day trip to Suwa Yokoya Onsen (諏訪・横谷温泉). It was the invitation trip by the supermarket I go to once a week. Last year I went to the same kind of trip to the Lake Kawaguchi (河口湖: kawaguchi ko).
It started at 6:30 am and ended at 8:40 pm. The total distance was more than 500km. There were 2 buses. We stopped some service areas before arriving at the destination Yokoya Onsen (横谷温泉). Onsen is hot springs. Japanese people really like hot springs. There was an open-air bath (露天風呂: roten buro)too where we could see the beautiful green mountain and hear the sound of river.
After taking the bath, I went to see Otomedaki (乙女滝), the waterfall named Maiden which was very nice.
We visited Suwa Taisha (諏訪大社), Suwa shrine too. There are more than 10,000 Suwa shrines in Japan but here is the head of them. Every 7 years they have a big festival called Onbashirasai (御柱祭), which happened to fall this year. Please check the following site.
I enjoyed the trip very much. It would be much nicer if it was fine though.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

五月二十二日(gogatsu nijyuni nichi): May 22

I went to the Friendship concert in Yokosuka (横須賀). It is the 15th anniversary concert. One of my best friends from high school has been a core member of the joint concert and she has sent me invitations every year. Whenever I am in Japan and available, I go to see her sing with other friends from high school. At the hall, I saw one of the teachers from high school. This is also my pleasure to go to her concert.
After that we usually go to the French restaurant where my other best friend's sister's couple runs. This is another pleasant event. We go to that restaurant at least twice a year.

五月二十一日(gogatsu nijyuichi nichi): May 21

There was an article about the average family income of the year 2008. It was yen 5,475,000 which was minus yen 87,000 than the previous year and the worst in the past 20 years.
The peak was yen 6,642,000 in 1994.
The ratio of the household which was under average occupies 61.5% and it was the most in history.
Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare analyzes that the reason is the increase of the household which has elders whose incomes tend to be low. Another reason is the increase of unemployment rate since the Lehman Shock in the fall of 2008.
The ratio of the income amount is as follows:
From more than yen 2 million to less than yen 3 million: 13.9%
From more than yen 3 million to less than yen 4 million: 13.3%
From more than yen 1 million to less than yen 1 million: 12.7%

Friday, May 21, 2010

五月二十日(gogatsu hatsuka): May 20

I went to the National Art Center, Tokyo to see a special exhibition of Sankiten (三軌展) because one of my friends whom I met on the Peace Boat in December 2003 sent me an invitaion post card. The postcard allowed me to bring one more guest, so I went there with my colleague.
I have never been to that museum, but it was rather big and worth visiting.
And it was just next door to GRIPS (National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies) where I have wanted to visit for a long time. The builiding was rather unique.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

五月十九日(gogatsu jyuku nichi): May 19

Today I went to the Tokyo Tower (東京タワー), the Imperial Palace (皇居:kokyo) , and Asakusa (浅草) . These are very popular touristic places in Tokyo.
Everywhere was filled with students of school excursion or foreigners of sightseeing.
The Tokyo Tower is 333 meters high and built in 1960 and has been the tallest tower in Japan, but now it became the second.
The number one is Tokyo Sky Tree which is still under construction and will be 634 meters high in December next year.

At the Imperial Palace we could happen to see the Emperor passing by car. I felt we are lucky.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

五月十八日(gagatsu jyuhachi nichi): May 18

Tonight I was going to stay at a hotel in Shinagawa but had to go to the Shinjuku office first, so I decided to leave my baggage at the coin locker at the Shinagawa station which is on my way. It has been a long time since I used the locker before.
To my surprise there was a new system to use the locker. We used to use the locker with coins, so it was called coin locker. But nowadays, depends on the place, you can leave your belongings at the locker with PASMO or SUICA. They are IC Cards. Without having any changes you can use the locker. That is very convenient.

Website of PASMO is as follows:

Monday, May 17, 2010

五月十七日(gogatsu jyushichi nichi): May 17

It was rather warm today. Outside it reached more than 25 degrees centigrade in Tokyo.
Since yesterday the diagram of the Keihinkyuko (京浜急行) train line has been revised. However it was Sunday I did not notice about this until today. One minute in the morning is equal to 5 or 10 minutes at night. I could manage today, but I wished to know earlier.
By this change the connection between Shinagawa (品川) or Yokohama (横浜) to Haneda (羽田) airport became very convenient.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

五月十六日(gogatsu jyuroku nichi): May 16

I read an amazing article today. It is about the 16 years old Australian girl who sailed around the world by herself. This is the youngest record in the world that sailed around the world alone without any assistance.
She left Sydney on October 18 last year with a 10-meter long yacht. The 7 months sailing reached about 43,000 km. She has overcome the 12-hour storm and 12-meter waves many times. She ate instant foods, fished and baked a cake too.
She said "If you believe in your dream and make efforts for that, there is nothing that is impossilble."

I like traveling, and I often travel by myself, but sailing alone is quite different. I admire her.

Her name is Jessica Watoson. The following is her website.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

五月十五日(gogatsu jugo nichi): May 15

I watched a movie Charlie and the Chocolate Factory starring Johnny Depp on TV. It was released in 2005. I did not expect but it was interesting.

What movies of Johnny Depp do you like?
Edward Scissorhands(1990)? What's Eating Gilbert Grape (1993)? Sleepy Hollow(1999)? Chocolate(2000)? The Man Who Cried(2001)? Pirates of Caribbean series(2003,2006,2007)? Or Alice in Wonderland(2010)?

Friday, May 14, 2010

五月十四日(gogatsu jyuyokka): May 14

My colleagues and I went out for lunch at the Chinese restaurant. There were 5 of us. To eat Chinese dish the more the better because we can order many different dishes. Today we could taste about 5 dishes for yen 950.

Whenever I travel around the world, I saw many Chinese restaurants even in a small town. They usually offer delicious meals for the reasonable price. Thank you very much.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

五月十三日(gogatsu jyusan nichi): May 13

The room I stayed was realy nice. I hope that someday I can stay at such a nice room always.

What is your dream?
One of my dreams is to travel around the world light. That is, I do not need to carry heavy bags.....
If I am rich enough, I can do it.....

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

五月十二日(gogatsu jyuni nichi) : May 12

Today I checked in the hotel in Tokyo, but I could not connect the Internet. Since I needed to use Internet, I asked to change the room. Fortunately they offered me the better room. So here is the saying, wazawai wo tenjite fukutonasu (災いを転じて福となす), literally "turn misfortune into a blessing." That is "Make the best of a bad bargain."
Good luck might be seen as bad luck at first.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

五月十一日(gogatsu jyuichi nichi): May 11

My birthday is May 8, but today I got some presents from my colleagues, though I got a message card last Friday. I love receiving message cards very much.
I like to celebrate birthdays on their actual birthdays, so I try to send the message to be delivered on birthdays. But sometimes it is difficult because if it is colleagues' birthday and if it falls on Saturday or Sunday, we won't see each other.
When I was in Florida, my host mother taught me many things. One of them is "extended birthday." It is to celebrate not only on birthday but also other days maybe for a month or so. Don't you think it is nice? Since that time, I like extended birthday.

Monday, May 10, 2010

五月十日(gogatsu toka): May 10

May 10 is my mother's death anniversary. Death anniversary is mei nichi (命日) in Japanese. Mei (命) means life, nichi (日) means day. Though it is a day of death, the name is a day of life. Mei (命) is also read as inochi (いのち), which means life.
I want to introduce one more word. That is seizen (生前). Sei (生) means to be born, and zen (前) means before. So the letters themselves mean before being born, but the actual meaning is while one was still alive. That is it is talking about the dead person .
Don't you think it is interesting?
Anyway it's been 8 years since my mother passed away suddenly from my life.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

五月九日(gogatu kokonoka): May 9

The second Sunday of May is Mother's Day here in Japan so as in the United States. We usually send carnations to mothers. When my mother was alive I did so with some other presents.
This year I got together with my cousins who live in Aichi (愛知) and Gifu (岐阜). Both of them are my mother's side. They brought their daughters too. Five of us got together at Atsuta (熱田) station and went to the Atsuta Jingu (熱田神宮), Atsuta shrine, where is also very famous shrine in Japan.
There are three treasures which are thought as the signs of Emperors. They are called sanshu no jingi (三種の神器). One is mirror, the other is sword, another is comma-shaped bead. One of them, the sword is said to be enshrined in the Atsuta jingu.
Near the shrine, there is a very famous restaurant which offers the eel dish called hitsumabushi (ひつまぶし). So five of us visited the restaurant and enjoyed eating hitsumabushi, though it is rather expensive for lunch. Before opening at 11:00 am, there was a long line of people waiting to eat hitsumabushi.
After that I visited the hospital to see my aunt. I felt she looked like my mother whom I miss a lot.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

五月八日(gogatsu yoka): May 8

Happy Birthday to Me!

I arrived at Nagoya (名古屋) around 6:20 am. I went to the hotel which I booked for the night to ask to keep my baggage during my trip to Ise and changed the clothings. I ate breakfast at the coffee shop (喫茶店: kissaten), though I do not drink coffee. There I ordered the morning set cost yen 580 because it was May 8 (58). Hahaha...
I got on the Kintetsu express train bound for Ise at 8:10am and arrived at Shimaisobe (志摩磯部) at 10:10am.
I have visited many places such as Amanoiwato (天の岩戸), Gegu (外宮), and Naigu (内宮). They are parts of Ise jingu (伊勢神宮), Ise Shrine, where is one of the most famous shrines in Japan.
The weather was fine and everywhere was so beautiful.
After that I went back to Nagoya to meet my old friends from the 44th Peace Boat cruise and had nice dinner. And after that I met another friend from Expo '92.
I had a very nice birthday.  
Thank you everyone those who thought of me and sent me gifts, messages, greeting cards and shared precious time on this special occasion.

Friday, May 7, 2010

五月七日(gogatsu nanoka) : May 7

It is the birthday eve for me. I wanted to go to Florida to spend my birthday but the sudden business schedule change made my plan different. So as an alternative, I decided to go to Ise (伊勢) this year.
To go to Ise, first I need to go to Nagoya (名古屋). There are some choices to go there, but I chose the night bus. Night bus is yako basu (夜行バス) in Japanese. It is the cheapest way. The most expensive way is to go there by shinkansen (新幹線:bullet train). It is a fast and comfortable way. However if I go there by shinkansen on Friday, I have to book the hotel room for the night, and if I go there on Saturday, I needed to wake up VERY early to get on the first train. First train is shihatsu densha (始発電車).
So to save some money and to be the most efficient, I decided to use the night bus. Depends on when you book, the fare varies. Since I booked rather earlier, I could get the very cheap ticket, about one third of that of shinkansen.
I rode on the bus from Shinjuku (新宿) at 11:20 PM. They provided a blanket, a pair of slippers and a pillow. There were many buses to go many places, and there were so many people going here and there.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

五月六日(gogatsu muika): May 6

After 5 days vacation many people went back to the normal life again. It was rather warm today.
Since I have my hair about 30 cm cut yesterday, many colleagues (同僚:doryo)were surprised to see me. Some people even did not recognize who I am. Everyone gave me compliments which made me happy.
So I think this became a very good birthday present for myself.
I like to celebrate something on the actual date such as birthday or anniversary. However when I had stayed at a home stay family in the US, my host mother liked extended celebrations. Therefore I have become to enjoy the extended birthday starting May 1.
This year I prepare the special treat for my birthday. So I am looking forward May 8.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

五月五日(gogatsu itsuka): May 5

May 5 is a national holiday called kodomo no hi (こどもの日), Children's Day. Families with boys display a helmet replica (兜: kabuto) or samurai dolls inside the house, and fly carp stremers (鯉のぼり: koinobori) outside. The carp (鯉: koi) is thought to be a lucky fish symbolizing success in life. On this day we take a bath with leaves of iris (菖蒲湯 : shobuyu) and eat special treats called kashiwamochi (柏餅 : see the picture), rice cakes wrapped in an oak leaf with sweet adzuki beans inside and chimaki (粽), a rice dumpling wrapped in bamboo leaves.
Today is rikka (立夏), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節気), the 24 solar terms. The last one was kokuu (穀雨) on April 20, and the next one is shoman (小満) on May 21. Rikka is the first day of summer. It was really hot like summer.
This is the end of the golden week for most people. I went to the beauty salon to have my hair cut today. It cost yen 14,000 for shampoo, cut, perm, and blow. In the US, it cost $20 for cutting.
I think I had a good golden week to have met many friends, seen many movies, and relaxed.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

五月四日(gogatsu yokka): May 4

May 4 is a national holiday called midori no hi (みどりの日), Green Day. Green Day was used to be on April 29 from 1989 to 2006 when was used to be Showa Emperor's Birthday before that. Since 2007 it has been on May 4.
I went to see Alice in Wonderland yesterday, a Japanese movie titled "My Darling is a Foreigner(ダーリンは外国人:darlin wa gaikoku jin)" and an American movie "Up in the Air" today.
To see 3D movies we have to pay the extra charge for yen300. Usually a theater ticket costs yen1,800 for an adult, so in total it is yen 2,100. This was the second 3D movie after Avatar.
I really enjoyed two movies I watched today. The common thing between these two movies was there were interviews: one for regarding international marriage, the other for lay off.
The Japanese title of "Up in the Air" is "Mileage, My Life (マイレージマイライフ:mai reji mai raifu)." Here again there was the difference of translation. If the English title was used as it is, Japanese people would not have imagined what it is all about.
After the movie I went to see the Flamenco show which my friend from high school danced.
I enjoyed meeting friends today.

Monday, May 3, 2010

五月三日(gogatsu mikka) : May 3

May 3 is a national holiday called kenpo kinenbi (憲法記念日), Constitution Memorial Day. Yesterday I saw the drama I recorded in March. During the commercial film, I happened to see the program of the next week of that time. The program was not familiar, but I was so surprised to see the guest.
She was Ms. Beate Shirota Gordon who tried to write the equal rights for both men and women in the Japanese Constitution after the World War II. At that time she was in her early 20s.
I read a book titled "Christmas in 1945" written by Ms. Beate Gordon about some 15 years ago, and I was moved. That book became one of the most favorite books in my life.
When she came to Japan and had a lecture in Fujisawa (藤沢), I went to see her for the first time. After the lecture, I had a chance to have tea in front of her with some other people. And I got to know her and we have started exchanging Christmas cards since that time.
After a few years later, there was a play titled "Pearl Necklace" dealing with her life. When I went to see the play in Tokyo (東京), I happened to see her again. And there was a movie titled "The Gift from Beate" in 2005. I saw that in Nagoya (名古屋).
I am glad to happen to see her again yesterday by the recorded video and know she is fine. Japanese women really appreciate her great job. Thank you, Beate-san!

Sunday, May 2, 2010

五月二日(gogatsu futsuka): May 2

May 2 is known as hachijyuhachiya (八十八夜), literally 88th night. It has been 88 days since risshun (立春), the first day of spring. It is a peak season of picking tea leaves.
Japanese people love to drink tea. There are many kinds of tea among ryokucha (緑茶:green tea) such as gyokuro (玉露), sencha (煎茶), bancha (番茶), genmaicha (玄米茶), and hojicha (ほうじ茶).
The most famous prefecture of tea production is Shizuoka (静岡). About 200,000 ton is produced. Other famous prefectures are Kagoshima (鹿児島), Mie (三重), Miyazaki (宮崎) and Kyoto (京都).
Globally China produces 28.8%, India 24.5%, Sri Lanka 8.5%, Kenya 8.5% and Turkey 5.6%. Japan ranks in 8th and produces 2.5%.
Green tea is good for your health. I recommend you to drink green tea. We drink it straight.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

五月一日(gogatsu tsuitachi): May 1

A new month has just started. May is go gatsu (五月) in Japanese. It is my favorite month because of my birthday and comfortable climate. May is also called Satsuki (さつき) in Japanese. If you know somebody whose name is Satsuki, ask her birthday, maybe she was born in May.
A catch phrase of May is "kaze kaoru gogatsu (風薫る五月)," which means May is the month of early summer breeze.
Birthstone is emerald and jade.
This year today was the first day of the 5 consecutive holidays. Therefore it was the peak of the traffic jam of transportation such as roads, railways, and flights to go far away.
Have a nice vacation!