Monday, January 31, 2011

1月31日(ichigatsu sanjyuichi nichi): January 31

The last day of January. One twelfth of the year has gone.
It was cold. In the northern and western part of Japan there are heavy snow this winter. Weather forecast says it is going to be warmer from tomorrow.
In December and January there are many chances to get together. In December they are called bonenkai (忘年会), the year end party. In January they are called shinnenkai (新年会), the new year party. I had some new year parties and have met some friends during this month.
Through Christmas cards and new year's cards I felt many connections to many people.
January is such a month for me. How about you?

Sunday, January 30, 2011

1月30日(ichigatsu sanjyu nichi): January 30

There was the final game of the soccer of the AFC Asian Cup Qatar 2011. Japan became a champion. It was the fourth victory which is the most in history.
I did not watch the game but knew by the news.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

1月29日(ichigatsu nijyuku nichi): January 29

I went to the Tokyo Disneyland with my high school friends today. It's been so long since I went there last. Recently a new attraction Mickey's Philhar Magic started. I wanted to see that but could not. There were so many people today. I also wanted to ride the Space Mountain but the waiting line was long and the fast pass was so late, and I could not.
Some attractions such as Big Thunder Mountain were closed due to renewal or under construction or something.
Even the lines for buying pop corn were so long. I did not know there were so many different taste.
I have never been to the Tokyo Disney Sea yet, so I hope to visit there someday.

Friday, January 28, 2011

1月28日(ichigatsu nijyuhachi nichi): January 28

I had a chance to visit one of the biggest newspaper companies in Tokyo this morning to have a meeting. There were many things I learned through talking with a person in charge and seeing the facilities.
One of the interesting things to find was the design of the doors of elevators. There were top pages of world newspapers. The other thing was that long time ago to transfer the data carrier pigeons were used. The journalists brought three carrier pigeons with them and wrote three different miscellaneous thoughts and let the pigeons bring them back to the company. If three of them returned, it is OK. But even if one or two of them did not return, from the rest they could write the article somehow.
I wondered if other countries also used the carrier pigeons long time ago or not.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

1月27日(ichigatsu nijyushichi nichi): January 27

Yesterday I wrote about the number of foreigners that visited Japan last year was the most in history.
In today's paper there were reasons for their visit. 57.8% came to Japan for sightseeing. 22.7% came to Japan for business. People from Asian countries such as Korea, Hong Kong, and Taiwan came to Japan mainly for sightseeing. People from the USA, UK, and Germany mainly came to Japan for business.
Among people who came to Japan for sightseeing, 52.9% were repeaters, but it was 3.5 points less than the previous year.
Tourists expect meals, shopping, and historical site visit.
What is your purpose for traveling abroad?

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

1月26日(ichigatsu nijyuroku nichi): January 26

Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO) announced that the number of the foreigners who visited Japan last year reached 8,612,000 people which was the most in history.
The most foreigners were from Korea, and the number is about 2,440,000 people. Next was from China, and the number is 1,410,000 people which was 40% more than last year.
From Thailand, Singapore, France, and Malaysia, most people ever came to Japan.
But since the latter half, there were problems of high yen and Senkaku shoto (尖閣諸島: Senkaku islands), the number of Chinese has been decreased.
Japanese Govenment has aimed to attract 10,000,000 people by 2010 and had a campaign called Yokoso Japan (ようこそジャパン: Welcome to Japan). But this goal was not fulfilled.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

1月25日(ichigatsu nijyugo nichi): January 25

It's been already 25 days since the New Year started. But yesterday I still got a new year's card. At this time usually we do not send new year's card but send kanchu mimai(寒中見舞い), midwinter greeting card. I also received kanchu mimai. They are usually sent by those who lost their family member last year and could not send the new year's cards. Before the new year comes, usually those family member send mochu hagaki (喪中はがき), mourning greeting card saying "please allow us not to send the new year's greeting because we are in mourning."
Recently I received some new year greetings from Spain, Argentine, and the USA too.

Monday, January 24, 2011

1月24日(ichigatsu nijyuyokka): January 24

The pleasures of getting new year's cards are to know people's recent conditions and to have chances to get otoshidama (お年玉), new year's gifts. On new year's postcards issued by the post office there are numbers printed at the bottom of one side which should be written address and name. There are 4 prizes. The top prize is the choice of one of five items such as TV, travel abroad ticket, domestic travel ticket, PC + digital camera + printer, and electric bicycle. The second prize is also choice of one from five items, the third prize is local speciality food from 38 places, and the fourth prize is a stamp sheet of the year of the rabbit of yen 80 and yen 50. The domestic postage for envelop is yen 80 and for postcard is yen 50.
Yesterday the drawing was done. The probability of the first prize is only one out of 1,000,000 and the total number is 3,835. The second prize is three out of 1,000,000. The third prize is one out of 10,000. The fourth prize is one out of 100.
Last year about 3,800,000,000 new year's cards were issued and 3,400,000,000 were sold.
I am looking forward to checking the numbers this weekend.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

1月23日(ichigatsu nijyusan nichi): January 23

There was Hatsugama (初釜:literally first pot), the first tea ceremony of the year at my master's house. It started at 11 AM and finished around 4 PM. 13 pupils joined this year. All of us wore the traditional Japanese costume called kimono (着物). Male master wore hakama (袴).
The ceremony consists of four parts. They are sumidemae (炭手前:charcoal arrangement procedure), koicha (濃茶: making thick tea procedure), kaiseki (懐石:simple dishes), and usucha (薄茶: making thin tea procedure).
Usucha is served in many places such as temples or gardens or tea houses for yen 500 or so. Green tea is very good for your health. So please try when you come to Japan.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

1月22日(ichigatsu nijyuni nichi): January 22

January Grand Sumo Tournament started on January 9 at Kokugikan (国技館) and will last until tomorrow. But before that Yokozuna Hakuho (横綱白鵬) became a champion. He has been a champion for 6 times straight. And this is his 18th victory.

Friday, January 21, 2011

1月21日(ichigatsu nijyuichi nichi): January 21

An entertainer, Mr. Kampei Hazama (間寛平), 61 years old finished the earth marathon. He started the race on December 17, 2008 and went around the earth by yacht and marathon. The total length reached 41,000 km and he passed 18 countries including Japan. It's been 766 days. In January 2010 he published that he had prostate cancer in Turkey and stopped the marathon to take radiotherapy. And after that he started the race again.
Nobody has ever done such an accomplishment. Congratulations!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

1月20日(ichigatsu hatsuka): January 20

Today is daikan (大寒), one of nijyushisekki(二十四節季), the 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. And it was cold today.

Today's good news was the reduction in prices at the theaters. Usually the entrance fee for a new movie at the theater costs yen 1,800. But TOHO Cinemas decided to reduce it to yen 1,500 from March in certain theaters and from next year in other places. It's been 18 years since the price fixed. These days because of deflation, many things became lower prices than before. Therefore they decided to reduce.
Since I like to watch the movies, this is a good thing.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

1月19日(ichigatsu jyuku nichi ): January 19

Japan is an island country. There are four big islands, namely Hokkaido (北海道), Honshu (本州), Shikoku (四国), and Kyushu (九州). There are many small islands. Can you guess how many?
In today's Nikkei (日経) evening paper, there was an answer. The number of islands which circumference is more than 100 meters is 6,852. Among them Northern four islands and Takeshima (竹島) are under control of other countries.
The research has not been conducted since 1987 because there was no new upheaval by volcanic activities.
Nagasaki (長崎) prefecture has 971 islands which is the most, followed by Kagoshima (鹿児島) 605, Hokkaido 508, Shimane (島根) 369, Okinawa (沖縄) 362, Tokyo (東京)330, Miyagi (宮城) 311 and so on.
Inland prefectures and Osaka (大阪) do not have islands.
Hokkaido has the longest coast line of 4,377km.
The easternmost island and the southernmost island belong to Tokyo.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

1月18日(ichigatsu jyuhachi nichi): January 18

Yesterday there was an announcement of the 144th Akutagawa Prize (芥川賞:akutagawa sho) and the Naoki Prize (直木賞:naoki sho).
They are Japanese literary awards presented semi-annually in January and July. The Akutagawa Prize is for serious literatures in memory of Akutagawa Ryunosuke (芥川龍之介). The Naoki Prize is for popular literatures in memory of Naoki Sanjyugo (直木三十五). Both receivers are given a watch and one million yen.
Kikotowa (きことわ) by Ms. Mariko Asabuki (朝吹真理子) , 26 years old, and Kueki ressha (苦役列車) by Mr. Kenta Nishimura (西村賢太), 43 years old got the Akutagawa Prize.
Hyosa no utau (漂砂のうたう) by Ms. Nobori Kiuchi (木内昇), 43 years old, and Tsuki to kani (月と蟹) by Mr. Shusuke Michio (道尾秀介), 35 years old got the Naoki Prize.
I have never read any of their works, but someday I hope to read them.

Monday, January 17, 2011

1月17日(ichigatsu jyushichi nichi): January 17

On January 17, 1995, at 05:46:52 (JST) the Great Hanshin Earthquake (阪神淡路大震災: Hanshin Awaji Daishinsai) happened. It was the biggest earthquake ever happened in the Kansai Area. 6,434 lives were lost from this earthquake. It's been 16 years. People living that area still have memorial services at 05:46:52 on January 17 every year.
How many things in your life do you remember what happened when? You must remember many things happened on the specific days. But how about time? It must be very rare to be remembered the exact minutes and the seconds.
In this sense this big earthquake is one of the very outstanding events happened in Japanese history. There are still many people suffering from the trauma.....

Sunday, January 16, 2011

1月16日(ichigatsu jyuroku nichi): January 16

It was the coldest day this winter. In many places the temperature went down below zero, which is called fuyubi (冬日), winter day. And in many places it snowed, but not here.

Second day of the Center shiken (センター試験), National Center Test for University Admissions.

There was the 29th National Women's Ekiden (全国都道府県対抗女子駅伝:zenkoku todofuken taiko joshi ekiden), long distance relay race in Kyoto (京都). There are 9 distances for 42.195 km. It was a competition among 47 prefectural teams. Kyoto team won at 2 hours 17 minutes 16 seconds. This was the 14th victory for Kyoto team.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

1月15日(ichigatsu jyugo nichi): January 15

It was cloudy, windy, and cold but did not snow here.
It is the first day of the Center shiken(センター試験), National Center Test for University Admission. There are 706 venues and the number of the applicants is 558,984 which is 1% more than last year. Today's subjects are civics, geography and history, Japanese, and foreign languages.
Tomorrow's subjects are science and mathematics.
To enter the 161 public universities you need to take these examinations. 504 private universities and 163 colleges also make use of these examinations.
Every year at this time weather is bad. It snowed in many places this year too.
It will be cold tomorrow too.

Friday, January 14, 2011

1月14日(ichigatsu jyuyokka): January 14

It was very cold. At night the windshield was frozen for the first time this winter.
Usually at the time of Center shiken (センター試験), the unified university entrance examinations, the weather is very cold and snowy. It was fine today but may be snow in many places tomorrow.....

The biggest national news of today was the inauguration of the second reshuffled cabinet. Some ministers remained, but there are four new faces. The Chief Cabinet Secretary was replaced to Edano Yukio (枝野幸男), 46 years old, who is the youngest in history for that position.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

1月13日(ichigatsu jyusan nichi): January 13

It was very cold.

There was the announcement of the 84th Kinema Junpo best 10 movies (第84回キネマ旬報ベストテン) of last year.
The best Japanese movie was "Akunin (悪人,Villain)". The heroine Eri Fukatsu (深津絵里) got the best actress award at the Montreal Film Festival last year.
The best foreign movie was Korean movie "Iki mo dekinai (息もできない, Breathless)."
Among Japanese best 10 movies, I watched only two of them, No. 1 and No.2.
Among Foreign best 10 movies, I watched only three of them.
Though last year I went to see 33 movies at the theaters, only five of them entered the best 10, and there are 15 movies I did not see.
I hope to see as many good movies as possible.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

1月12日(ichigatsu jyuni nichi): January 12

A goodwill contribution activity has been popular since the last Christmas. This is called Date Naoto gensho (伊達直人現象, Date Naoto Phenomenon) or Tiger Mask undo (タイガーマスク運動、Tiger Mask Movement).
Date Naoto is a name of the hero of the popular comic "Tiger Mask" written in the late 1960s. He was raised in orphans' home and became a professional wrestler and donated his prize money to the orphans' home.
On December 25 last year 10 randoseru (ランドセル, school bags for primary school children) were donated to the Children's Office under the name of Date Naoto. Since that time many gifts such as randoseru, stationery, toy, food, and cash (yen 1,000,000 or yen 100,000) have been donated to the nursing institutions for children.
As of January 12, they are reached 299 cases in 47 prefectures, that is all over Japan.
What heartwarming stories they are!

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

1月11日(ichigatsu jyuichi nichi): January 11

It is very cold today.

January 11 is known as kagamibiraki (鏡開き), literally mirror opening. It is a day to eat the new year's rice cake called kagamimochi (鏡餅). We usually eat them as o shiruko (お汁粉) which is sweet red bean soup.
I ate the delicious one.

Monday, January 10, 2011

1月10日(ichigatsu toka): January 10

Today is a national holiday called seijin no hi(成人の日), Coming of Age Day. It was established in 1948 and has been celebrated on January 15 until 1999, but from 2000 according to Happy Monday System, it has been moved to the second Monday of January.
In Japan being adult is being 20 years old. We can drink, smoke, and vote.
This year about 1,240,000 people became adults in Japan. It was the least number in history. Japanese society is an aging society. Birth rate is decreasing, and people are getting old. The number of 20 years old this year was about half of that of 1970's.
Each city or town has their own celebration ceremony. The biggest one was held in Yokohama in Kanagawa, and about 34,000 people attended. The number of new adults in Kanagawa prefecture is 85,299.
On this occasion women wear the beautiful long sleeve kimono called furisode (振袖). If you come to Japan on this day, you can see many beautiful ladies for sure.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

1月9日(ichigatsu kokonoka): January 9

It is middle of 3-day weekend. It is very fine but cold.

NHK's Taiga drama (大河ドラマ:literally Big River drama) "Go (江)" will start tonight at 8. It is the 50th anniversary drama.
Last year's hero was Sakamoto Ryoma (坂本龍馬) acted by the multi-talented singer Fukuyama Masaharu (福山雅治). And the drama was a big hit.
This year's drama is a story about a princess of the Warring State Period. The story consists of 47 episodes.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

1月8日(ichigatsu yoka): January 8

It's been a week since the New Year started. How is your 2011 so far?

It's been getting colder and colder here, but the air is clear and the scenery looks beautiful, so do the moon and stars.

Today I had a new year's party at my friend's house. The new year's party is called shinnenkai (新年会). Tomorrow I have another new year's party at the Spanish restaurant.

Friday, January 7, 2011

1月7日(ichigatsu nanoka): January 7

January 7 is known as nanakusa (七草), seven herbs. It is a day to eat rice porridge with seven herbs in the morning to wish the good health for the year.
There are 2 sets of 7 herbs: haru no nanakusa (春の七草), spring seven herbs and aki no nanakusa (秋の七草), autumn seven herbs.
Today is for spring one. They are seri (セリ:Japanese parsley), nazuna (なずな:Shepherd's purse), gogyo (ごぎょう:Jersey Cudweed), hakobera (はこべら:Common chickweed), hotokenoza (ほとけのざ:Henbit), suzuna (すずな:Turnip), and suzushiro (すずしろ:Daikon).

Thursday, January 6, 2011

1月6日(ichigatsu muika): January 6

Today is shokan (小寒), one of nijyushisekki (二十四節季), the 24 solar terms. Last one is toji (冬至) on December 22, and the next one is daikan (大寒) on January 20.
Shokan literally means small cold. It is the start of getting cold. Until daikan is the coldest season in Japan.
Actually it was very cold.
But there is a hot news. Ms. Seiko Noda (野田聖子), a member of the House of Representatives, gave birth to a boy today at the age of 50. It was in vitro fertilization between her partner and the third party donor. She has really wanted to have her own baby, and finally her dream came true.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

1月5日(ichigatsu itsuka): January 5

There was hatsuseri (初セリ: the first auction of the year) at the Tsukiji (築地) Market in Tokyo. Tsukiji Market is the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market. It is very famous and popular among foreign travelers too.
A whole tuna from Hokkaido (北海道) was knocked down for yen 32,490,000 which was the highest in history. It weighed 342kg. It was about double price of last year's highest price of yen 16,280,000. The highest ever was yen 20,200,000 in 2001.
It was bought by a long standing sushi shop in Ginza (銀座) and Hong Kong's restaurant chain.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

1月4日(ichigatsu yokka): January 4

The first day of work is called shigoto hajime (仕事始め). Today was shigoto hajime of this year.
The first auction is hatsu seri (初競り).
The first shipment is hatsu ni (初荷).
The first sale is hatsu uri (初売り).
The first session of the year is daihakkai (大発会).
Since this is the year of rabbit, people want their business jump up like the rabbits do.

Monday, January 3, 2011

1月3日(ichigatsu mikka): January 3

The first three days of January are called shogatsu sanganichi (正月三が日). Shogatsu is new year. Sanganichi is 3 days. Most office workers have holidays until today.
Today's big news was the second day of the Hakone Ekiden.
Waseda University (早稲田大学:waseda daigaku) won the race at 10 hours 59 minutes 51 seconds which was the new record in 87 years' history. It was the 13th victory for them after 18 years. They won Izumo Ekiden (出雲駅伝) in October and Zen Nihon Daigaku Ekiden(全日本駅伝, all Japan collegiate long distance relay race) in November, so they accomplished the triple crown of the main long distance relay races. It is the third university that got the triple crown.
The second was Toyo University after 21 seconds which was also the new record. They got 4 distances awards.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

1月2日(ichigatsu futsuka): January 2

Things of January 2 in Japan are hatsuyume(初夢:first dream), kakizome (書き初め:first writing),Kokyo ippan sanga (皇居一般参賀:People's visiting at the Imperial Palace for offering their congratulations), and Hakone Ekiden(箱根駅伝:first day of the collegiate long distance relay race between Tokyo and Hakone).
It is a very nice day for Kokyo ippan sanga and Hakone Ekiden, and many people visited both places.
I watched the live telecast of the first day of the 87th Hakone Ekiden. 20 university teams joined and competed the 5 distances of 108 km from Tokyo (東京) to Hakone (箱根). Toyo University (東洋大学: toyo daigaku) won the race at 5 hours 29 minutes 50 seconds for 3 years' straight. It was their new record.
The 5th runner of Toyo University, Ryuji Kashiwabara (柏原竜二), aka Yama no kami (山の神: God of the Mountain) did not renew his record, but he got the 5th distance award for 3 years' straight. When he got the sash, he was in the 3rd, there were about 2 minutes 22 seconds behind. But he finished as the first, and the second runner came 27 seconds behind.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

1月1日(ichigatsu tsuitachi): January 1

Happy New Year 2011!! I hope you will have a wonderful year!

新年あけましておめでとうございます。(shinnen akemashite omedeto gozaimasu)今年もどうぞよろしくお願いします。(kotoshimo dozo yoroshiku onegai shimasu

When I was a child, I looked forward the new year to come because children get money gifts so-called otoshidama (お年玉). This is once a year chance to get extra money.
After becoming an adult, I look forward the new year's cards to come because new year's cards are gifts from somebody that think of me.

At this holiday season, we exchange the Christmas cards and new year's cards. I like to receive them a lot especially when they are written something personal. There are many people whom I contact only once a year, but still we feel we are connected. Thank you for thinking of me. I hope to keep in touch as long as possible.