Sunday, April 30, 2006

Tiring Golden Week?

Golden week is big consecutive holidays which have some national holidays from the end of April to the beginning of May in Japan.

Golden week contains Midori-no-hi (Greenery Day) on April 29th, Kenpou-kinen-bi (Constitution Memorial Day) on May 3rd, and Kodomo-no-hi (Children’s Day) on May 5th. These national holidays and Saturday and Sunday connect well, and it causes Golden week.

This year’s Golden week has started since on Saturday 29th. Unfortunately, May 1st and 2nd are Monday and Tuesday, so Golden week in this year have 5 holidays at least. On the other hand some companies or people are lucky since they have 9 holidays which is the longest Golden week in this year.

It is difficult to have long vacation except the Bon holiday period in mid-August and New Year in Japanese society. Even if you use paid vacation in Japan, it would be hard to take 2 or 3 weeks vacation.

Considering the above fact, everyone has the same holidays at the same timing in Japan. Consequently, amusement parks, movie theaters, shopping centers, sightseeing spots and wherever people have fun would be crowded badly even if you want to use your rare days calmly. Also, traffic congestion is terrible at this term in Japan. People definitely would be stuck among cars.

I am planning to go to Hanami in the middle of Akita. Although cherry blossoms are already fallen in western Japan and Tokyo area, it is good time to see cherry blossoms in northern Japan.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Let's Note in the Pouring Rain!

On April 25th, Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd (Panasonic) announced that new laptop "Let's note CF-Y5" will be put on the market on May 19th which doesn't break if you pour a glass of water.

Matsushita Electric Industrial Co., Ltd (Panasonic) sells a series of "tough book" whose selling point is the tough, and can be used even in the pouring rain.

"Let's note CF-Y5" has special features of its lightness (1490 gram) and durability.

If you should spill water on the keyboard, water will go through a drainage canal inside of the computer, and hard disc and circuit base will be protected.

" Japan popular blog "

I am not sure if this laptop is practical or not in normal life. However, this might be good for researchers who have to take date outside, like landslide or earthquake disasters.

P.S. "Laptop" is called "Note paso-com" in Japan. "Paso-com" comes from "personal computer" which is shortened and pronunced like the above. Most Japanese use the word "note paso-com" insted of "laptop".

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Yellow Dust from China 2

The cause of frequent Kousa occurrences is slight rain and high temperature in China. The desertification in northewest China develops rapidly, and it is supply source of a large amount of Kousa.

In fact, there is another aspect of the cause which is much related to Japan.

Some big Japanese companies have their factories in China and produce there to bring down costs. You can see many “made in China” products in Japan.

Japanese disposable chop sticks companies also do the same thing in China. They cut trees in China, make disposable chop sticks and sell them in Japan.

According to the research of the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, 57 billion disposal chop sticks are used in 2 years in Japan.

Almost 97% of disposal chopsticks of Japan rely on the import, and 99% on the inside is an import from China.

Desertification and Kousa is problem in China, but its direct cause is felling of trees.

Disposal chop sticks are used often in daily life. Restaurants in Japan of course, and people use them even at home, especially when they have guests at home and offer some food, and when they bring lunch box.

In my case, I see many used disposal chop sticks in my mother’s restaurant. It looks very waste, however, used chop sticks is never used again.

I think Japanese fastidiousness and pursuing convenient created disposal chop sticks. Moreover, it is now that necessary products in Japan.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Yellow Dust from China

The other day, my parents’ cars were covered with yellow dust which is very tiny and it is almost powder like.

This yellow dust is called Kousa (黄砂) in Japanese. Kousa rises into the sky in spring and falls in northwest China mostly that is visible as a haze in Japan.

Kousa flies from China to even Japan across the Sea of Japan. In northern Japan along the Japan Sea coast tend to be effected by Kousa. However, this year, Kousa covered Tokyo for after an interval of 6 years.

My throat sometimes feels strange because of powder Kousa. Kousa is so tiny that people breathe air with Kousa which is not healthy.

" Japan popular blog "

Friday, April 21, 2006

Winter in the Air?

Yesterday, It snowed in Akita.

My mom and I planed to

change winter wheels into summer ones, but...

Bring Spring to Me!

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Thursday, April 20, 2006

Snake doesn’t need Foot?

There are many interesting idioms in Japanese. One of them I like is “Dasoku (蛇足)”. 蛇 means snake, and 足 means foot in English. Dasoku is generally translated into English as “superfluous” or “unnecessary addition” when you look up a dictionary. Dasoku might have similar nuance with this expression; “The fifth wheel of the coach”.

Dasoku was produced at old Chinese history. You can find the story about Dasoku from the old book, “Sengokusaku”.

The story is like this.
“There was a competition which competes how fast people finish painting a picture of snake. A man finished painting really fast, and he added foot to the snake.”

Ancestors of snakes seemed to have foot, but snakes don’t need foot. It is Dasoku!

Tuesday, April 18, 2006

“Chou” Dogleg!

Do you remember this word, Chou? I’ve explained it before on my blog (here is my previous post of Japanese slang “Chou”

On April 17th, new road markings, “Chou Kyuu curve (超急カーブ)” were appeared with white letters on a road in Tokyo. A high school student had an accident at the road before, and police suggested this marking and realized taking advantage of the incident.

“Chou Kyuu curve” means “really sharp bend in the road”. This is of course the first attempt to name “really sharp bend in the road” as “Chou Kyuu curve” with Japanese young people word.

" Japan popular blog "

I feel “Chou Kyuu curve” sounds too casual since “Chou” is informal word, and often used among young people. However, when I think suitable word for the road marking, I cannot find suitable one but using “Chou”… Probably, “Chou Kyuu curve” is the best marking to show how the road is sharp bend.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

Let’s Janken!

“Janken” is the name of “Rock Paper Scissors” in Japanese. Japanese often use Janken to decide something first in daily life.

In Japan, “Rock” (shaping one hand either into a fist) is “Guu (グー)”, “Scissors” (peace sign) is “Choki (チョキ)”, and “Paper” (opening your hand) is “Paa(パー)” in Japanese. “Guu” wins “Choki”, “Choki” winds “Paa”, and “Paa” wins “Guu”. When people start Janken, they say “Janken-pon (じゃんけんポン)” together to get timing.

Do you have Janken in your country?

*I forgot to mention "Aiko" in Janken which means "being even or ending in a tie" in Japanese. If you Janken with someone and resulted in even, you start Janken again saying "Aiko-de-sho!"

Friday, April 14, 2006

21 leaves in the Clover

It is generally said that four-leaf clover brings good luck; however, Mr.Miyaji in Shizuoka prefecture, Japan found 21-leaf clover in his clover pot. He grows clovers in a pot.

This 20-leaf clover is of course the world record. Mr. Miyaji applied it to Guinness in England. Unfortunately, a new leaf appeared in the clover after his application, so the clover has 21 leaves now.

Current world record is 18-leaf clover which was found in Iwate prefecture, Japan.

I’ve seen 7-leaf clover which my uncle found in a tussock. He’s found 1, 2, 3 (normal), 4, 5, 6, and 7-leaf clover before.

Have you found lucky clover?

Thursday, April 13, 2006

ALT Reunion Party!

On April 11th, there was Reunion party for an ALT who is from the U.S and stayed my hometown for 2 years as an English assistant teacher in a junior high school.

I met him when I visited my other ALT friend in Los Angels, actually. The ALT visits my hometown after an interval of 2 years. People joined this party enjoyed conversation with him a lot, and so did I.

I put some photos of the party on Flickr (left sidebar).

" I join the Japan popular blog "

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Check Please!

When I visit restaurants in foreign country, I like to use this phrase, “Check please!” This phrase contains cool factor in short and simple words (I think). Interestingly, the same thing happens with the same meaning phrase in Japanese.

You surely would hear “Oaiso” if you visit sushi restaurant in Japan. “Oaiso” or “Oaisou” is the same meaning as “Check” in English. When you finish eating in a restaurant and want to pay, you can say “Oaiso”. “Oaiso” is written as “おあいそ” in Hiragana and “お愛想” in Kanji. “Oaiso-Onegaishimasu” is more polite expression.

“Oaiso” has a meaning of “I am sorry unamiable” in restaurant situation fundamentally when a staff gives a check to customers. Therefore, if a customer says “Oaiso!” it means “I am disgusted at this restaurant, so adjust my account soon.”

Now, “Oaiso” doesn’t contain the above meaning. People in Japan use the words when they just want to pay money in restaurants. Try “Oaiso!” if you visit Japanese restaurant or Japan.

" Japan popular blog "

Friday, April 07, 2006

When does a year start?

In Japan, fiscal year starts in April and ends in March. This month is quite busy season in Japan preparing for new life.

A year in old Japan used to start in September following the U.S system. However, it changed from September to April.

There are two reasons. First of all, the Japan army changed the opening day of notification which is to join the army from September to April. Secondary, financial year also changed like the above. Consequently, schools which are given subsidy from a prefecture and country had to change the entrance month to April. (students in Japan have entrance ceremony in April and graduation ceremony in March.)

I bet fiscal year is very different in the world. When years start in your country?

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View of 360 km/h

On 5th April, the next-generation Shinkansen, “Fastech 360 Z” were unveiled in Miyagi prefecture, Japan.

JR (Japan Railways) developed the Fastech 360 Z as mini Shinkansen which will be used in sections of Akita (which is my hometown) and Yamagata (which is next to Akita) Shinkansen.

The shape of Fastech 360 Z is quite smart. Its face is just like some kinds of animals because it has many ears which are used for when the Shinkansen stops in an emergency because of earthquakes happening.

What is the most attractive point of Fastech 360 Z is its speed. It travels 360 kilometers in an hour. This is the fastest Shinkansen in the world.

JR has test rides between Miyagi and Iwate prefectures. Practical sharing of the Fastech 360 Z with Akita Shinkansen will be possible in two years.

More Blog..."

*You can check the Fatech 360 Z.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

Exclamatory words in Japanese “Otto”

If you can use exclamatory words naturally in other languages, you seem to be good at speaking the language. When I was in Canada, I tried to use exclamatory words, but it was hard to say those words naturally without thinking.

Let’s look at useful exclamatory words in Japanese. Today is “Otto”. This is written as “おっと” in Hiragana and pronunced as "O-ttoh". “Otto” is used when you have fallen, dropped something, been surprised, made a small mistake. This is used just like “Oops” in English.

For example, “Oops, I dropped a pen” can be “おっと、ペンをおとした(O-ttoh, Pen wo Otoshita.”

*"O-ttoh, hold the unicycle tightly!"

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Saturday, April 01, 2006

Give me Sunshine!

I took this picture just yesterday. It snows heavily in northern part of Japan for a while. Japanese people were astonished at this weird weather of this month.

As you can see from the picture, it snowed about 20 cm in a day in my hometown. Moreover, in Tokyo or other east part of Japan had cherry blossoms with snow. People in those areas tried to enjoy Hanami (which is one of the big Japanese events to enjoy seeing cherry blossoms and drinking under the trees) on that day surly had cold Hanami.

Snow has stopped, but it seems to start again on 5th and 6th. By the way, there is a record that it snowed in middle of May in my hometown, Akita. I hope this record won’t be renewed this year…