Tuesday, August 31, 2010

八月三十一日(hachigatsu sanjyuichi nichi): August 31

The end of August, that is the end of the summer vacation for most of the elementary, junior, and senior high schools in the Kanto (関東) area.
How was your summer?
It has been extremely hot this summer. The sweltering night when the temperature does not go down below 25 degrees centigrade is called nettaiya (熱帯夜), tropical night. There were 47 sweltering nights in Tokyo this summer, which is the No.1 tied record as 1994. It's been sweltering nights since August 10, and the record will be renewed tonight.
It is estimated that this heat will continue during September.

Monday, August 30, 2010

八月三十日(hchigatsu sanju nichi): August 30

It's been a year since the election of the House of the Representatives was held and the ruling party has been changed from LDP (Liberal Democratic Party) to DPJ (Democratic Party of Japan). DPJ won a landslide victory in the election last year.
But at the election of the House of the Councilors in July they lost.
Therefore now it is the twisted situation at the diet which is called nijire kokkai (ねじれ国会).
In these days the attention has been focused on the representative election of DPJ which will be notified on September 1 and voted on September 14.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

八月二十九日(hachigatsu nijyuku nichi): August 29

I went to see three Japanese movies. Since today is the last Sunday of the summer vacation for most of the students, I thought there would be many people at the theaters, but on the contrary there were not so crowded.
The first movie was Karigurashi no Arrietty (借り暮らしのアリエッティ). This is the animation film. The original is The Borrowers by Mary Norton.

The second one was Odoru daisosasen The Movie 3 yatsura wo kaiho seyo!(踊る大捜査線 The Movie 3 ヤツラを解放せよ!). This was the movie from the popular TV drama. This is the third movie from the series. First one was released in 1998 and 7 million people watched and the sales was yen 10,100,000,000. The second one became the number one hit movie in Japan which released in 2003. 12.60 million people watched and the sales was yen 17,350,000,000. After 7 years it came back.

The third one was Hanamizuki (ハナミズキ),dogwood. It is a true love story of 10 years history. The story was made based on the song titled Hanamizuki released in 2004.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

八月二十八日(hachigatsu nijyuhachi nichi): August 28

Tonight I went to The Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant in Shinagawa (品川). The original Grand Central Oyster Bar and Restaurant has been at the Grand Central Station in New York since 1913. And this is the 2nd restaurant which opened in March 2004. There is the 3rd one in Marunouchi (丸の内).
The atomosphere is almost the same as that in NY. There are many American waiters and waitress who speak Japanese. The way of serving the clam chowder was different if my memory is correct. They brought soup in a stainless steel cup on the dish, and poured the contents on the dish at the table.
After that I went to the Shusaron (酒茶論). This is Japanese old sake bar where you can taste old sake since 1970. This is quite different from the image of Japanese sake bar but looked like a wine bar.


Friday, August 27, 2010

八月二十七日(hachigatsu nijyushichi nichi): August 27

It was another hot day. This year the temperature of the air conditioning of the train seemed rather high but today it was rather cool.

After reading the newspaper I knew it was 100th birth anniversary of Mother Teresa yesterday and since she was baptized on August 27 so it is considered her "true birthday" today. I did not know she was from Albania. I thought she was from India.
Did you know?

Thursday, August 26, 2010

八月二十六日(hachigatsu nijyuroku nichi): August 26

It was another hot day but not too hot as before.

Yesterday I was surprised to know that Ms. Seiko Noda (野田聖子), 49 years old Japanese politician, will have a first baby next February at the age of 50 by being offered the egg by a goodwill American lady.
She became pregnant before with her ex-husband of common-law marriage so called jijitsukon (事実婚), but unfortunately she miscarried. She has tried in vitro fertilizaiton (体外受精:taigai jusei) with him for 14 times. Then she wrote a book titled "Still I want to have a baby of my own." And she got divorced.
The progress of the medical world is great and what was impossible before has become possible now.
It must be a very good thing for her, but there may cause a controversial matter.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

八月二十五日(hachigatsu nijyugo nichi): August 25

It was another hot day. It seems this heat will continue for the next 2 weeks.

Tonight I happened to see an interesting TV program which introduced a 360 degrees landscape taking camera. These days most of cameras are digital, and the use of film cameras are decreasing. If you ask the DPE of that film at the regular store, they will appear as 4 pieces of L sized pictures, but if you ask in the certain store, you can have a long picture showing 360 degrees landscape. The camera itself is made in Australia. They will start DPE in the middle of September.
We have had panoramic photos, but the next stage has begun.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

八月二十四日(hachigatsu nijyuyokka): August 24

I went to the complete medical checkup. It is called ningen dock (人間ドック) in Japanese. Ningen means human being. So it is like a ship in a dock to check up, human being also goes to hospital to check up.
This is the first time for me to have this complete general checkup. First I had to change the clothing which they rent. An interesting thing was they gave us a pair of socks. They provided the lockers and safe deposits but also they offered the small bag for valuables.
It used to take a few days but it took about 2 hours to finish today. And I had to wait to hear the simple result. The detailed results will be sent in 3 weeks.
Another interesting thing was they gave us about yen 1,000 meal coupon instead of offering lunch. I did not expect neither of this, so I felt it interesting.

Monday, August 23, 2010

八月二十三日(hachigatsu nijyusan nichi): August 23

Today is shosho (処暑), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms. The last one was risshu (立秋) on August 7 and the next one is hakuro (白露) on September 8.
Shosho is the time when the heat becomes weak and the coolness starts. However this year it has been extremely hot.
Today it exceeded more than 36 degrees centigrade which is moshobi (猛暑日), very hot day.
The heat of late summer which is called zansho (残暑) will be severe this year even in September.
Do you like hot summer or cold winter?
I like the moderate spring.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

八月二十二日(hachigatsu nijyuni nichi): August 22

Speaking of summer sports, it is swimming.
An Olympic gold medalist for Athene and Beijin, Kosuke Kitajima (北島康介) became a champion for the 200 meter breststroke with a world record of this year at 2:8.36 today at the Pan Pacific Swimming Championships 2010 in Irvine, CA.
He became a champion for 100 meter breststroke too. Congratulations!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

八月二十一日(hachigatsu nijyuichi nichi): August 21

Speaking of the Japanese summer sports, it is the high school baseball games held at Koshien (甲子園). Today there was the final match of the 92nd National High School Championship (summer Koshien) between Tokaidaisagami koko (東海大相模高校) from Kanagawa (神奈川) vs Konan koko(興何高校) from Okinawa(沖縄).
Since I live in Kanagawa prefecture, of course I supported the Tokaidaisagami for their victory after 40 years. However, unfortunately for them, Konan was very strong and defeated Tokaidaisagami by 13 vs 1. Congratulations!
It is the first time for the high school in Okinawa to become the champion and this was the 6th school which won both spring and summer Koshien tournaments in a year since 1998 the Yokohama High School at the 80th tournament. Now the winner pitcher of the Yokohama High School is active in the United States. He is Daisuke Matsuzaka (松坂大輔) of the Boston Red Sox.
Today's hero may be a hero of the future too.

Tonight I could see the beautiful fireworks festival from my house. I felt lucky.

Friday, August 20, 2010

八月二十日(hachigatsu hatsuka): August 20

I went to the Embassy of India, Tokyo to see the Indian Drum - Dance Pung-Cholom and Dhol-Dholok Cholom. It started at 7 pm and lasted for about an hour. There were 7 drum dancers and there were two different music. The addmission fee was free of charge.
The first one Pung Cholom lasted nearly for 40 minutes. They not only played the drums but also jumped and danced. They wore white pants with a kind of scarf.
The second one was Dhol Cholom. It is a drum dance performed during spring festival in Manipur State of India. They wore orange color costume. They also played the drum, jumped and danced. The audience also joined with clapping.
Both performances were so impressive. I am glad to see the performances. Thank you very much!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

八月十九日(hachigatsu jyuku nichi): August 19

Do you have any special mark put on the car if you are a beginner driver or a senior driver?
In Japan the beginner driver have to put the sign called shoshinsha mark (初心者マーク) in the front and back of the car. It is a green and yellow V-shaped symbol, and introduced in 1972. The beginner driver have to put them for a year after obtaining the official driver's license.
The senior people whose age are more than 70 years old are advised to put the sign called koreisha mark (高齢者マーク), an orange and yellow teardrop-shaped sign. This sign is also called momiji mark (もみじマーク:meaning maple leaf mark), kareha mark (枯れ葉マーク:meaning dried leaf mark), or ochiba mark (落ち葉マーク:meaning fallen leaf mark) and they are not good meaning.
Therefore they renewed the sign with four colors (orange, yellow, light green and green) clover-shaped sign with the designed letter S meaning senior today.
(see the picture).


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

八月十八日(hachigatsu jyuhachi nichi): August 18

Welcome to Japan!!
Today my favorite American actress Julia Roberts(42) came to Japan for the first time for the promotion of her new movie "Eat, Pray, Love" which will be released on September 17 in Japan.
Since this is her first visit, more than 350 journalists got together at the press interview.
What her movies do you like?
I like Pretty Woman(1990), Pelican Brief (1993), Notting Hill (1999), Erin Brockovich (2001) and so on.
I am very looking forward to watching the new one in September.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

八月十七日(hachigatsu jyushichi nichi): August 17

It was another very hot day. In Tokyo it went up to 37.2 degrees centigrade which was the highest in this summer. The highest in Japan today was 38.2 degrees centigrade. 124 people were brought to hospital because of the heat injury.
The price of vegetables is increasing. The production of beer is also increasing 10% up.
It seems to be very hot this week in the Kanto (関東) area, and the next week too in the Kansai (関西) area.

Monday, August 16, 2010

八月十六日(hachigatsu jyuroku nichi): August 16

It was very hot today. There are 134 points where it exceeded more than 35 degrees centigrade which is called mosho bi(猛暑日),day of very hot, and 680 points where it exceeded more than 30 degrees centigrade which is called manatsu bi(真夏日), day of midsummer all over Japan. In Tokyo it went up to over 36 degrees centigrade which is higher than nomal human temperature.
Many people were brought to the hospitals by ambulance because of heat injury. They say not only in the daytime but also at night even in the rooms heat injury happens.
Therefore we need to be very careful about the room temperature.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

八月十五日(hachigatsu jyugo nichi): August 15

It's been 65 years since the World War II was over in Japan. It is called shusen kinenbi (終戦記念日), the anniversary of the end of the war. There were many memorial events here and there. 
Every year media pay attention to cabinet minister's movement if they visit the Yasukuni Shrine (靖国神社:yasukuni jinja) or not. In this shrine those who died for the country at wars are enshrined. This year no cabinet members visited, but some other politicians visited.

The website of the Yasukuni shrine is as follows:

Saturday, August 14, 2010

八月十四日(hachigatsu jyuyokka): August 14

It is the time of obon (お盆), the Bon Festival when the spirits of ancestors come back from the other world. As a custom we visit the grave yard, so I did too. There were many people there.
At this time people can take days off and return to their home town to get together or travel. So there are traffic jams here and there. Tomorrow will be the peak of returning, and there must be heavy traffic on the highways back to Tokyo area.

Friday, August 13, 2010

八月十三日(hachigatsu jyusan nichi): August 13

Today I went to the Seiji Togo Memorial Sompo Japan Museum of Art to see the Special Exhibition titled World of Trick Art - It's fun to be fooled-. Usually the museum opens at 10 and closes at 6, but on Fridays they open until 8 pm. That is very good. The admission fee is yen 1000 for adult, but you can get the advance ticket for yen 800 at the convenience stores.
There was the same kind of exhibition last year at the different museum, and I wished to visit, but when I decided to go, it was already over. So I am glad to visit the exhibition this time.
It was fun to see many interesting works. It will last until August 29, so if you have a chance I recommend you to visit.


Thursday, August 12, 2010

八月十二日(hachigatsu jyuni nichi): August 12

The typoon No. 4 hit the north part of Japan today. This is the first tyhoon in this summer, and it's been three years since the typhoon hit in August. It was windy and rained a little bit in Tokyo. But now the sky is clear so that I am looking forward to seeing the shooting stars.

It's been 25 years since the crash of a Japan Airline jumbo jet at the Osutaka(御巣鷹) mountain. 520 lives were lost. The bereaved family members climb the mountain every year on this day to have a memorial service there. There were 302 people climbed this year including a mother and a son. She was 3 months and a half pregnant at that time. Here attached the link of the article.


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

八月十一日(hachigatsu jyuichi nichi): August 11

The time of the Perseid meteor shower (ペルセウス座流星群:peruseusu za ryusei gun) has come. It seems from the 12th to 14th of August is the peak.
Tomorrow night if you are lucky, you may be able to see about more than 50 shooting stars in an hour in Japan.
When I was in Florida, whenever there were meteor showers, my best friend and I went to see them in the middle of nowhere. The one that wanted to see the shower more was I, but my best friend saw more stars than I saw.
I like to take pictures. I have a dream to take a picture of stars around the pole star (北極星:hokkyokusei) someday. I had the other dream to take a picture of midnight sun moving. I had tried in Barrow in Alaska, but could not get the one as I wished. Maybe someday.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

八月十日(hachigatsu toka) : August 10

It slightly rained this morning. I could see a beautiful rainbow. Since it has been extremely hot these days, the rain was a kind of relief. It will be hot again for the rest of the week.

Recently I read an interesting article regarding the reason of traveling in Japan. It is a result of surveys taken at the Narita (成田) Airport and Kansai (関西) International Airport for three times in a year (winter, summer and fall) for about 15,000 foreigners who had traveled in Japan for more than two days.
The best foods in Japan are sushi (寿司), ramen(ラーメン), and sashimi(刺身). What expected most before coming to Japan was also meals.
Those who from Thailand, England, and many other countries chose sushi as the best. Those who from Taiwan chose ramen the best. Those who from China chose sashimi, raw fish best.
The second expected thing was shopping, and the third was onsen (温泉), hot spring.
Yes, there are so many delicious foods in Japan. I am sure you will love them.

Monday, August 9, 2010

八月九日(hachigatsu kokonoka) : August 9

It's been 65 years since the Atomic Bomb called Fat Man was detonated over Nagasaki (長崎). There was a memorial ceremony and about 6,000 people attended including the representatives from 32 countries. 15 among them were the first comers. There were representatives from the nuclear powers, U.K. and France, and Israel which is considered to have nuclear weapons. But there was not the one from the United States though he attended in Hiroshima on August 6.
The total death number by this bomb reached 152,276 by now.
At 11:02 AM when the bomb was dropped, the participants offered a one-minute silent prayer to mourn the victims and wish for world peace.
I wish the World Peace too.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

八月八日(hachigatsu yoka) : August 8

Yesterday I watched two movies which I recorded the days before. One is an American movie "Hachiko: A Dog's Story" starring Richard Gere. It was released on August 8, 2009 in Japan. Just a year ago. The Japanese title is "Hachi, yakusoku no inu(ハチ 約束の犬)" Hachi, dog of loyalty. The original story happened in Japan in the early 1920s. It is a stroy of a faithful dog called Hachiko that had waited for the master every night at the station for 9 years after his death. There is a statue of Loyalty Dog Hachiko at Shibuya (渋谷) station where is the meeting spot now. I wonder how they can make with real dogs.
The other is a Japanese movie titled "Yogisha Muroi Shinji (容疑者 室井慎次)", The Suspect which was released on Augsut 27, 2005. This is one of the spin-off movies of the popular TV drama and movie titled Odoru dai sosasen (踊る大捜査線).
For both movies one common thing is dealing with a promise.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

八月七日(hachigatsu nanoka) : August 7

Today is risshu(立秋), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms. The last one was taisho (大暑) on July 23, and the next one is shosho (処暑) on August 23.
Risshu literally means stand autumn. It is the first day of autumn by the old calendar. It's been 8 days straight that exceeds 35 degrees centigrade. It is still middle of summer.
However the greeting is changed to "zansho omimai moshiagemasu (残暑お見舞い申し上げます)" instead of "shochu omimai moshiagemasu(暑中お見舞い申し上げます)" meaning "I hope you are doing fine in spite of this lingering summer heat."
Speaking of Japanese summer, it is a time of high school baseball tournament. It started today.

Friday, August 6, 2010

八月六日(hachigatsu muika) : August 6

It's been 65 years since the world's first atomic bomb was dropped in Hiroshima (広島). Up to now 269,446 people have been recorded as death as a result of the atomic bombing.  We are not sure how many people were suffered in total. But there are still many people struggling for both physically and mentally.
There was a memorial ceremony today and the representatives from 74 countries including the USA, UK, and French attended. The U.N. Secretary general also attended and made a speech.
As a citizen of Japan, the only country that experienced the catastrophe, I really wish the World Peace.

Tonight I went to see a movie "SALT" starring Angelina Jolie. I did not expect before watching, but I found she was a great action actress. It is a double spy story, a series of betraying. As a movie it is powerful but as a story I am not sure what SALT wanted to do after all. I believe there will appear the Part II someday.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

八月五日(hachigatsu itsuka): August 5

It was another hot day. In 177 places it recorded more than 35 degrees centigrade. Tomorrow is supposed to be the hottest day in this summer all over Japan, and for about 2 weeks more it is going to be hot.
Speaking of the Japanese summer, besides fireworks, we can think of the songs of insects, especially cicadas. Cicadas is semi (蝉) in Japanese. There are many cicadas in Japan, but the sound is different depends on the species and time (morning, afternoon, evening).
Today I found a very interesting thing in the center of Tokyo. Please see the picture. I have seen many cast-off skins of cicadas in my life, however, it has been always one of them. But today I found many of them on a leaf. I could not believe at first. But when I looked up the cherry tree, there were so many cast-off skins of cicades on a leaf here and there, especially at the tip of the trunks.
The life of a cicada is considered very short like a week, but they have a longer life in the ground. For the very short life, they come up the trunk all the way. And they hatch on a leaf together! I was impressed.

八月四日(hachigatsu yokka): August 4

It was another hot day.
I had a send off party for an ex-colleague who will go to the USA next week to teach Japanese at the university for a year.
We went to the Kyoto (京都)style restaurant & bar called izakaya (居酒屋). The name of the place is Machiya washoku Kyomachi Koishigure(町屋和食 京町 恋しぐれ).
The design of each private room is interesting. So was the washbowl of the restroom.
There are some things I missed about Japan when I was abroad. One of them is izakaya and the other is kissaten (喫茶店), tea or coffee room. There are so many of them in Japan and they are very popular and convenient to eat and drink. At izakaya you can order many dishes and a variety of beverages. They are not so expensive as restaurants. At kissaten there are many desserts. We do not need tips, so it is easy for us to pay. They offer many coupons.
When you come to Japan, please try them.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

八月三日(hachigatsu mikka): August 3

It was another hot day. In the night I went to see the fireworks festival in Miurakaigan (三浦海岸). It is the 30th anniversary. It was supposed to start at 7:30 pm and end at 8:30 pm, but it started a little bit late and ends a little bit early. I wanted to take the video of the climax but I thought we had more and missed taking the video. The climax was very beautiful. The 30th anniversary's special version was also nice. Here attached some parts. I hope you enjoy.

Monday, August 2, 2010

八月二日(hachigatsu futsuka): August 2

It was very hot again.
Another big festival in Tohoku (東北) started today. That is Aomori Nebuta Matsuri (青森ねぶた祭り). It will last until 7th and is estimated to attract about 3 million spectators.

In Nagaoka, Niigata(新潟県長岡市:niigata ken nagaoka shi), there was Nagaoka Matsuri (長岡祭り) with fireworks festival. There will be fireworks festival tomorrow too. With those two days about 20,000 fireworks will be shot off.
Nagaoka fireworks festival is one of the three biggest fireworks competitions in Japan.
Fireworks is hanabi (花火) in Japanese. Hana (花) means flower and bi (火) means fire. Beautiful name, isn't it?

Sunday, August 1, 2010

八月一日(hachigatsu tsuitachi): August 1

A new month has just started. August is hachigatsu (八月) in Japanese. The old name is hazuki (葉月), literally leaf month.
For students it is a time of the summer vacation. For adults they can take some days off around the middle of the month at the time of obon (お盆), the Bon Festival.
It is a time of summer festivals. There are five or six big festivals in Tohoku (東北) area. Among them two of them started today. One of them is Sansa odori(さんさ踊り) in Morioka (盛岡) which started in 1978.
The other is Hirosaki Neputa matsuri(弘前ねぷた祭り) which is supposed to attract about 1,500,000 to 1,600,000 visitors.