Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Shall We Dance?

This is the title of Japanese movie, and remade by Hollywood last year. The movie was a big hit as romance comedy movie in 1996 in Japan.

As you know from the title, this movie is about a social dance. A middle-aged man has an uneventful life. He works hard everyday for his living, and has nice family. However, he feels bored at his monotonous life after his living become steady. One day, a dance classroom attracts his eyes. There was beautiful lady standing by the window. His feeling is somehow lifted, and he decides to learn a social dance at the classroom.

I’ve seen the Hollywood “Shall We Dance?” and Japanese one later. In my opinion, I prefer former movie to original one. All actors and actress in former movie perform very well, specially two main characters, Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez. They are attractive in that movie. The movie closely follows the original one.

On the other hand, my friends in Canada who love to see movies prefer Japanese version. According to their comments, the original one describes real Japanese business situation or business man in Japan. People can feel delicate changing of man feeling.

I recommend this movie for people who are bored their lives. I am sure that you feel you want to start dancing after you see this movie. Shall we dance?

*Have you seen "Shall We Dance?"

"Japan popular blog ranking"

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Japanese slang "Moe"

This word is most popular phrase in Japan now, and it is really hard to explain in English at the same time.

“Moe” is written as “萌” in Kanji (pronunced like Mo-eh). It originally means “sprout” or “bud”. However, “Moe” as a slung is very different.

This word was born in Akihabara, Tokyo which is famous as a town of electrical appliances. You can buy any kinds of electrical things there, even tiny parts of radio and minute parts.

There are many, what is called, “Otaku” who are crazy about figures, anime (cartoons), or pretty characters in a cartoon in Akihabara. When these people see pretty girls and feel happy, they express their feeling as saying “Moe”. They seem to feel relieved and relaxed when they see their idols or girls who wear costume of maid. It became now that not a word only for Otaku people but also for people in any different generations in Japan. Probably, men and young girls use the word when they find “Moe” girls.

Japanese anime, "Sailor Moon" and "Evangelion" are typical "Moe anime".

For example, "Sailor Moon is chou moe moe." (you can repeat moe to emphasize.)

"Japan popular blog ranking"

Monday, March 27, 2006

Feel the Live

On March 27, there was music live of my father’s band, Hotline at ski place in my hometown. The live name is “Twilight Concert 2”. The live at ski place was second time for Hotline. I supported the band as a chorus at the live. (I don’t remember when I started to join lives as a chorus, but I keep doing it still).

Most songs which were played at the live were original which my father composed by himself. Hotline played the songs with lyrics and instrumental.

Hotline has a popular number, “Itsumo Saka wo Nobotteitai (Always want to go up the slope) which is absolutely played every live. This song is very positive and gives people courage. It might be good to listen to this song when you want to decide something. (You can hear it from my father’s blog→

After Hotline performance, audiences requested one more song. Therefore, we played the popular song again.

All audiences stood up and sang the song together. They looked so happy, and so did Hotline members.

In my case, I was about to cry when I saw the people were singing along with Hotline. I felt the power of song at the moment. Also, I thought live is much much better than listening to CD. My father and I are said that the CD which is produced by my father is really nice, but we are not sure how much the ones think so. On the other hand, we can know audiences reactions directly through lives. If an audience thinks a song is nonsense, s/he would leave the place, and if an audience feels comfortable, s/he would sings the song together.

Today was not about Japan but about the impressive live, sorry. I wanted to tell you what I felt at the live.

*I added some photos of the live

Saturday, March 25, 2006

“Come here! But Get away!”

What would you do if you want to tell somebody who doesn’t know your language? When I was in Canada, I often used gestures to show non-Japanese people what I want to say instead of words which I don’t know in English. It works actually, but sometimes it is different from country to country.

Here is an example. In Western countries, the gesture waving your hand up and down with your palm down means “Get away!”What does this gesture mean in your country?

The gesture means “Come here” in Japan. This difference is quite surprising for Western people. Therefore, Japanese people are often misunderstood with the gesture when they call people from other countries. (Don’t be angry and go away even if you see the gesture in Japan!)

Does the gesture have different meaning in your country?

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Japanese slang “Chou”

Even though people study Japanese hard with text books, you may not be able to find Japanese slung unless you find a book about it. I will introduce you cool and exciting slung on my blog.

Today’s lesson is “Chou”. I often use this word in my daily life. In Japanese, “Chou” is written as “超” in Kanji. This basically means “to overdo things” or “to go too far.” However, “Chou” as slung is used when you want to emphasize something like the words “super” or “ultra” in English. “Chou” is used as “Chou + adjectives.” For example, “Chou Kawaii! (Super cute!)”, “Chou Oishii! (Delicious!)” and “Chou Samui (Terribly cold)”. “Chou” is really useful word to express how much you feel something. Particularly, young people from teenager to 30s use this word often. When you have a chance to talk with Japanese, try the word “Chou”.

* "Hana, Chou kirei!!"

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Omedetoh Japan!

I am so excited about WBC! I didn’t expect that Japan would go into final games and be the champion of the world baseball!!!!!

Every Japanese players did their best, and I think especially Ichiro’s motivation was special. When Japan team was beaten by Korea team, he said “this game is most humiliating game in my baseball life”. I ensured that Ichiro’s Yamato spirit has still taken root in his heart.

Ichiro is now that popular Japanese as great baseball player in the world, but do you know the meaning of his name?

“Ichiro” is devided into two Kanji; “一(ichi)” and “朗(rou)”. The name is quite old fashion considering his generation. “Ichiro” is named for first born child generally because “一” means “first”. Therefore, a boy who is born next is named “二郎”. “二” means two”. After that the thing is the same as “三郎”, “四郎”, “五郎”, “六郎”…

However, Ichiro Suzuki’s case is interestingly different. Ichiro is not first born child, he is actually second born. Nobody knows the reason why his father named like that. Probably his father already knew that Ichiro would be “first” in the world.

*I added pictures of Ichiro when I took them at Safeco field. (click the left side, flickr)

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Kids with Leather Bags

Most graduations ceremonies have finished at schools in Japan. Students who will have next school need to prepare for their new lives.

Children who will enter elementary school need the leather bag, “Randsel”. This word is Japanese English which was came from Dutch, “Ranseal” and changed into “Randsel” in Japan. “Randsel” is used like school bag to put textbooks, note, pencils, and papers in it when students go to school. You will definetly see those students in the morning in Japan.

Since it is made of leather, it costs about 40,000 yen to 50,000 yen (U.S$ 468 to $585). It seems to be expensive for children, but it may be appropriate purchase considering for being used for 6 years (children go to elementary school for 6 years in Japan).

Generally, Randsel is given to children by their grandparents. Old people find fun to give expensive Randsel to their grandchildren.

In my case, I was given Randsel by my grandmother, and so does my brother. My Randsel was red, and my brother’s was black. In my generation, the color of Randsel was certain as black Randsel is for boys and red Randsel is for girls. However, various colors of Ransel pop up today; cherry pink, blue, yellow, green, charcoal gray and so on. (

I hard Randsel is popular among femal students in America. I probably feel wired if I see women go to university having Randsel.

Saturday, March 18, 2006

Onomatopoeic words in Japanese –Animals-

It is interesting to listen to onomatopoeic words in different languages. It depends on the of course languages and cultures in every areas. I will show you onomatopoeic words in Japanese .

Animals →English ⇔ Japanese

Dogs→ Bowwow! ⇔ Wanwan!

Cats → Meow ⇔ Nyâ 

Cattle → Moo ⇔ Mô 

Pigs → Oink ⇔ Buhibuhi   

These are standard onomatopoeic words in Japanese. Some words are similar each other, but the others are quite different like pigs.

What do you say these onomatopoeic words in your country?
*the dog on the photo is my cutie.

Friday, March 17, 2006

Enliven the Towns!

In recent years, something funny craze has hit all over Japan quietly. That is called local idols or characters; "Ringo-musume (Apple girls)" in Aomori (because Aomori is famos for Apples), "SHIP" (S⇒Sakata city H⇒Hatsu  I⇒Idol P⇒Project)in Yamagata prefecture, "Kasseika men (Invigoration men)" in Nagano. Mainly, most local characters have their original costumes and songs, and some of idols are getting popular in Tokyo like "SHIP".

The purpose of local character is to invigorate local and let people in other prefectures know about the prefecture.

There are, of course, local idols in my hometown, Akita. In particular, I would like you to know cool hero in Akita whose name is “Neiga”.

Neiga looks like Kamen rider who is well known in Japan as a fictitious hero in a children’s program. Neiga has some weapons to beat the enemy off. “Kiritampo sword”, for instance, is not simple sword but looks like beautiful Kiritampo. Kiritampo is special products in Akita made of rice. His mask has an impression of Namahage, frightening devil in Akita. Other famous things in Akita are put in Neiga’s costume or arms which is pretty good way to advertise Akita.

What I like most about Neiga is that people use Akita dialect in Neiga’s world. As you may know from the name of Neiga, it is already Akita dialect which is comes from Namahage’s saying, “Warigo-ha-iNEIGA( Are there any bad kids)?” Furthermore, all names of his enemies are related to Akita dialect; Hojine (fool in Akita dialect), Han-kakusai(silly), Heyamikogi(lazy), Yogutagare(greedy) et cetera. Probably, it brings laugh for only people who know the dialect like me.

I know some local characters in other prefectures; however, I would strongly recommend you new hero in Akita. I can declare that Neiga is not unsatisfactory character but very orthodox. I wish Neiga would break out some good effects to g economy of Akita.

Neiga Official HP


Kasseika men HP

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Snow Shoes and Three Hairs

This is Snow shoes for when people clear snow. This picture is a kind of Western snow shoes which is made of plastics.

In Japan, there is very similar snow shoes which is called "Kanjiki" (In my hometown, it is called Kyanjigi because of its dialect.)Japanese Kanjiki has ropes and need to be tied around ancles. Plastic snow shoes are likely to slip compared with Japanese one because Japanese Kanjiki is made of wood.

What is interesting thing about Kanjiki is it is written as “” in Kanji. The left side “” means “wood” (probably it is natural to think this comes from Kanjiki’s material). The right “” is “hair” in English. However, there are three “”. Therefore, this Kanji “” means the gathering of small pieces like Kanjiki needs pieces of branches to be made.

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

"Out" is "Dame"?

My morning started with WBC (World Baseball Classic) yesterday. The game Japan vs. the U.S was air on TV from 6 a.m to 9 a.m. I usually don’t watch Japanese professional baseball games, but I was glued to the television this time since it was the country vs. country game just like Olympics.

I remembered a thing about Japanese baseball after I watched the game, and I fond the details on the internet.

Baseball came from the U.S into Japan in 1873. An American teacher taught Japanese students how to play baseball. Since baseball was imported from the U.S, of course people in Japan used English words when they play baseball; “Strike”, “Ball”, Safe”, “Out”, “Time” et cetera. However, Japanese people were banned to use English words and must use Japanese instead because of a thing, the Pacific War.

At the beginning of Showua period, about 66 years ago, Baseball League of Japan announced an outline. Here is examples; “1, Abolition of splendid dress, 2, Change the letters on uniform and team names into Japanese, 3, Umpires must judge in Japanese”

Since the new announcement, teams changed their English name into Japanese like “Tigers” into “阪神軍(Hanshin-gun)” and “Eagles” into “黒鷲(Kuro-Washi)”. Also, hiding ball into fielder’s glove was prohibited since it was considered as opposing Japanese spirit.
Moreover, every baseball terms in English changed into Japanese completely. Score board changed into Kanji as well.

“Strike” ,“Hit” and “Safe”     “Yoshi(よし)!”
“Strikeout”               “Soremade(それまで)!”
“Foul”                   “Dame(だめ)“
“Out”                   “Hike(ひけ)”
“Balk”                   “Hansoku(はんそく)“
“Home in”                “Seikan(生還)“

Now, Japanese use English baseball terms. I guess people at the war period must be so confused when they play baseball and try not to use English since they were already familiar with English words. What I feel that I know this fact is that Japanese really like baseball. I think if old Japanese people wanted to oppose the U.S, it had been better not to play baseball anyway. However, old Japanese seemed that they couldn’t stop playing exciting baseball from America.

In result, Japan team lost the game against the U.S at WBC yesterday. However, I cheer Japan up with fair play.

Sunday, March 12, 2006

God Fish, Hata-hata

Have you ever heard about Hata-hata or Buriko? Hata-hata is a prefectural fish in Akita. Every Akita people know about this fish, but I shouldn't say every Akita people like it.

Hata-hata is really sticky and strange-looking fish because it doesn’t have any scales. What the most famous about Hata-hata is its egg, Buriko. It is really big about to explode, and the taste is chewy and jelly like. It is cooked as Shotsuru nabe, Hata-hata pot, Hata-hata sushi, and broiled fish. To be honest, I don’t like Hata-hata very much, but many old Akita people love it because of its history.

According to my parents, people in my grandparents and my parents generation ate Hata-hata almost every day in winter instead of sweets since fishermen had a big catch of Hata-hata, and it was really cheep like 500 yen per one box which contained about 50 Hata-hata. However, the number of Hata-hata decreased because of too mach catch, and Hata-hata costs 500 yen for 3 at present. Therefore, old Akita people miss Hata-hata in their memory, and want to eat it even if it costs high.

In Japanese, Hata-hata is expressed in Kanji as Fish plus God, or Fish plus Thunder. Since Hata-hata gather close to beach when it thunders, people might think Hata-hata is God of fish.

Friday, March 10, 2006

Good news!


The other days, I subscribed a photo contest sponsored by a newspaper in Akita, and the above photo won a prize and appeared in the newspaper!! Since I didn’t have any call from the publisher, I was really surprised when I saw it. I took this picture when I went to see a winter festival in my hometown. You may not figure this picture out, but here is the explanation about the festival quoted from my old msn blog.

「Bamboo Battle –Takeuchi-」

Have you heard about “Takeuchi festival” in Rokugo, Akita? The festival is held in middle of March every winter.

“Takeuchi” is very traditional winter festival which has started since the Kamakura period (Kamakura period started from 1192). Young men are divided into north team and south team, and they fight using about 5 meters tall bamboos praying for a bountiful harvest. There are three matches. If the north team wins, people will have a good harvest, and if the south team wins, the price of rice will go up. “Takeuchi” is determined as an important intangible and ethno cultural asset by a nation.

The place for the fighting, where the festival is held is full of people. All young men who participate in the “Takeuchi” were helmets and thick gloves so as not to be hurt. Basically, it is forbidden to poke bamboos; therefore, people need to bring the bamboos down on the enemy’s heads.

Since the “Takeuchi” is so violent, some men start to fight with their fists seriously which take place every Takeuchi festival.

According to a participant, bamboos which were used in the festival will be thrown away after the festival since most bamboos were hardly used and break easily, they don’t be useful for the next “Takeuchi” festival.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Thrilling taste, "Nodoyake-Dango"

Do you know Japanese sweet, Dango? If you have read Japanese fairy tale, “Momo Taro (peach boy)”, you may know it from Kibi-Dango.Dango is a sort of rice cake, Mochi with beans jam, Anko. There are hundreds of various Dngo in Japan.

The Dango I’ve found in Yamagata is really is interesting. The name is “Nodoyake-Dango” which means “Dango burns your throat.” It looks ordinary Dango you can find it anywhere else in Japan. However, it is not! That is the most dangerous sweets in Yamagata, I think. 

There are 8 Dango in a box, and they look completely the same. However, the only 1 Dango pretends to be nice whose flavor is really thrilling, Wasabi. “Nogoyake- Dango” would be good for parties or some events.

I have of course tried the thrilling Game with my family. I picked a Dango first, and my dad, mom and brother ate each Dango together.Then, I noticed something strange in my mouth!Smell of Wasabi…I just threw it away immediately. The Dango I picked contained plenty of Wasabi in it which is obvious.I was totally deceived by Dango…My mom suggested me to have a candy whose name is “Nodoyake-Naoshi-Ame” means “candies to cure your burnt throat.” It is like a set with Nodoyake-Dango. I took the candy, and my damaged tongue got better.

What to wear?

It was about this time last year. There was graduation of my university in March. I remember that I was quite happy because I was released from long English essays in a writing class.

After the last period in the collage, students seemed to have nothing to be nervous about school, but my girl friends and I had to decide a thing. That is “what to wear at the university graduation”.

There were at least two choices; pleated trousers for formal wear, Hakama in Japanese or suit. The majority of girls prefer wearing Hakama at the university graduations because it is conventional clothing among university graduation in Japan. However, I hesitated to choose Hakama for some reasons.

Commonly, people rent Hakama from Kimono shops. These shops offer the “Hakama set” for graduates, specially for women. It includes Hakama, a pair of Geta, a bag, a hair ornament, and helping people get dressed. It costs about 100,000 yen. Probably, people need to go a beauty salon for make-up and setting their hair which would cost about 5,000yen. Furthermore, graduates need dress for graduation party which is usually held after graduation ceremony. If you want to wear nice dress, it would cost at least 1,000yen.

When I considered about money, I couldn’t say that I would absolutely wear Hakama. I even wondered why I have to pay such a big money only for a short moment. I don’t think that Hakama in past is expensive, however, the quality of it is getting high in recent years since people want to make their Hakama more outstanding or beautiful. People think money is no object, and the traders offer nice expensive Hakama meeting the supply.

Boys don’t seem to have such a problem. These above things happen to only girls generally.

In result, I chose cheap course for my graduation. I decided to wear a suit for the ceremony and evening dress for the graduation party since both of clothing would be useful in the future.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The Warmth of Trees

I usually feel the coming of spring when I see this scenery. The amount of snow of course is completely different compared with the snow peak season. People who see this scenery may notice a thing.

When I was a kid, I had wondered why snow around trees melts. My parents taught me that trees have body temperature and, so it melts the snow around them. The answer my parents gave me was acceptable for little kids, but it was not complete explanation for me.

After I become older, I remembered the story of the body temperature of tree, and searched about it. Here is explanation I translated Japanese sentences into English.

Plants usually don’t have structure for controlling the body temperature, and their temperature would change depend on the air outside. However, there are certain spiece of plants which can develop a fever. Symplocarpus foetidus which grow wild in a cold district of Japan have the ability to maintain its temperature about 20℃. Moreover, the plants adjust the calorific value at least ±0.5℃ according to the change of temperatures…

Now, I can say the reason with confidence why the snow around trees melts is trees have body temperatures. If you meet with a disaster in a cold mountain, why don’t you hold trees?

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Secret of Girls

Hinamatsuri is the Girl’s Festival on March 3rd. It is a day for wishing girls good health and happiness in the future. Special dolls are displayed on stairs. The top man and woman are the Emperor and Empress. The second row has three ladies in waiting, San-nin-Kanjo and the third row, five court musicians, Gonin-Bayashi. This entire collection represents the Emperor’s wedding of Japan from more than 1000 years ago.

The above introduction is well-know fact for everyone. What I will tell you about Hinamatsuri today might be surprising even for Japanese.

I of course have a set of Hina dolls since I was a girl. My Hina dolls who are Emperor, Empress and three ladies are already set in a showcase. Since the number of my dolls a few, I used to enjoy staring every Hina doll and find differences.

One day, I noticed (it was quite later after I have Hina) only the center lady of San-nin-Kanjo doesn’t have eyebrows, the other ladies have natural eyebrows though. What happened to her? Does she have just thin eyebrows from birth? Or she was a girl who used to be bad? All my silly concerns have turned into good incentives to know about Hina dolls.

According to information from the internet, the center lady in San-nin-Kanjo is called “a person who doesn’t have eyebrows, Mayu-nashi.” There used to be a custom in old Japan that women who get married have to shave their eyebrow and paint their tooth black, what is called, Ohaguro. Looking at Hina dolls carefully from that point, the Mayu-nashi lady should be considered to be married and the other ladies are singles. Therefore, elaborate designed Mayu-nashi dolls have black tooth and no eyebrows.

Small Hina dolls not only give people beautiful scenery but also tell them history of old Japan. However, what is most pity thing I have found is that the beautiful Empress needs to shave her eyebrows after the wedding, following this old custom which probably would ruin her beauty.