Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Making Japanese Rice –Sprouting—

Japanese live on rice. I eat rice at least once a day. I eat delicious rice everyday which is grown by my family. Rice culture is one of the oldest cultures in Japan. It goes back to the Yayoi Period.

My grandfather is a farmer. He has about 60 are fields. There are a lot of processes to make rice. I would like to talk about how to make rice through my experiences dividing into some progress.

I begin Japanese rice with “sprouting”. Putting out rice sprouts is not achieved by merely sow on the soil. Rice farmers use unhulled rice which is called “Momi-gome (もみごめin Hiragana, 籾米 in Kanji” or “Momi” in Japanese as seeds. They are soaked in salt water first to place on water not to float all Moni-gome. After measuring the specific gravity of salt water, some Moni-gome float on the surface of water and others sink into the bottom. Only submerged Moni-gome is used as seeds (light Momi-gome doesn’t sprout). Then they are washed with water and soaked in water again. As the last stage of sprouting Momi-gome, they are disinfected with special liquid which has sterilizing power, and soaked in it about 2 days. The temperature of the water must be 32 degrees, and it stimulate Momi-gome to sprout. My grandfather use bathtub to keep the temperature, which is nice for Momi-gome and bad for him because he cannot use bathroom for 2 days. This work is acted in the middle of April, waiting for warm weather in spring.

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Friday, May 26, 2006

Busy for Rice

My family and I have started to plant rice seedings.
Planting rice is called "Taue (たうえ in Hiragana and 田植え in Kanji)".

This is Taue machine.

Taueki (田植え機) in Japanese.

These are rice seedings in green-house.

Cute babies.

It took a day to finish planting rice seedings at my grandfathers rice fields.

I thought I should write and explain about Japanese farmwork, but I am too tired to write whole things... I will try to write about it later, so enjoy my photos first. See you soon!

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Monday, May 22, 2006

How to Pronounce “IKEA”?

The beginning of May, first IKEA in Japan has opened at Funabashi, Chiba. 5000 people waited the opening on the first day.

Here are explanations about IKEA for people who don’t know IKEA very much. If you already know IKEA, skip below paragraph.

IKEA was established by 17-year-old Ingvar Kamprad in 1943. IKEA stands for “Ingvar Kamprad Elmtaryd Agunnaryd.” Ingvar Kamprad is his name and Elmtaryd Agunnaryd is the village where he grew up. Today, there are 203 IKEA stores all around the world, and producing sales for 15.5 billion U.S dollars in 2004. Swedish new reported that Ingvar Kamprad had overtaken Microsoft’s Bill Gates as the world’s riches man. Believe it or not, he likes living a modest life. He flies in economy class, avoids wearing suits and lives in a discreet home.

Last year, I gave presentation about Sweden at my school in Canada, and searched about IKEA since that is such a representative company for Sweden. During the searching, I found first IKEA would open in Japan, and be called “Ikea” and is written as “イケア” in Katakana. I was a little confused why IKEA is called in some ways.

IKEA is generally pronounced “ikea” but in the U.S, it is pronounced “akia”. “Akia” is English reading probably, and “Ikea” is, if anything, alphabet reading.

I don’t know why IKEA or IKEA Japan decided to call IKEA as “Ikea” in Japan, but this choice might be a good idea for Japanese who read just English letters independently. (like Japanese call “tomato (tomeitoh)” as “tomato (トマト)”. Actually, I used to read IKEA as “Ikea” when I just had arrived Canada first time.

I hope there is cheap and nice ice soft cream in IKEA Japan which is my favorite when I visit IKEA.

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Thursday, May 18, 2006

Taste of 800,000 yen

Hokkaido which is the northernmost island of Japan is famous for good seafood and abundant firm ground. People say most popular fruit in Hokkaido is melon at Yubari city. The melon at Yubari is called “Yubari melon (夕張メロン)” , and it is praiseworthy branded melon. Yubari melon is a little more expensive than other melon, but the taste is great and melon melt in your mouth as soon as you eat it.

On May 17th, there was first auction at Sapporo central wholesale market in Hokkaido. The highest price of Yubari melon in this year was 800,000 yen (U.S $ 8,000) for 2 melons. This is of course the highest price of Yubari melon in the past years. The successful bidder says he will exhibit the most expensive melon on the internet auction.

I cannot imagine how the Yubari melon tastes, and who will buy them at such a high price. In anyways, Yubari melon is great melon in Japan. I recommend you to taste it when you visit Hokkaido.

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Haha-no-Hi market in Japan

What did you do or preset to your mother on Mother’s Day? I sent red wine to my mother, and she liked it very much.

Mother’s Day is called “Haha-no-Hi (ははのひin Hiragana, 母の日in Kanji)” in Japanese. It is on second Monday in May. Haha-no-Hi is one of the important events in Japan. Children of course present their mothers, and wives try to give nice gifts to their mother-in-low (to be nice to mother-in-low?). There is a research result that the market of Haha-no-hi became as much as 500 billion yen in 2002. The market is more than Christmas and Valentine Day.

Most gifts on Haha-no-hi are carnation in Japan. Carnation is now that the flower which stands for Haha-no-hi. Therefore, even if you cannot find nice present, choosing carnation is escape route for the present.

When I was a child, I used to give my mother some original hand-writing tickets which are for when my mother need my help, for example washing dishes, cleaning bathroom or want me to massage shoulders.

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What did you give your mother on Haha-no-hi?

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Japanese Slang ,Maji

Girls are talking about a Hollywood star…

A: “Johnny Depp tte maji kakkoii!
(Johnny Depp is so cool!)”
B: “Soukana? (Do you think so?)”
A: “Kare no tamenara maji shindemoii!
(I can die for him!)”
B: “Majide?? (Are you sure??)”

Today’s expression, “Maji” is used to emphasize the meaning. “Maji” has meaning of “really” in English. It sometimes used as “Maji” or “Majide”, but there is almost no difference. (You can change the above conversations from Maji into Majide or Majide into Maji.)

This slang is very similar to other emphasis expression “Chou” which I wrote before. Maji needs adjective after it (Maji + Adjectives). For example, “Maji atsui. (very hot)”, “Majide nemui (really sleepy)” or “Maji kawaii (so cute)”. The difference between “Maji” and “Chou” is that you can use only “Maji” independently when you want to ensure something, just like “really?” However, you cannot use “Chou” independently, and “Chou” always needs adjectives.

Can you make examples using “Maji” about the above photo?

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Narcissist Narkissos loves Narcissuses

The weather in my hometown is getting better and better, and it has 26 degrees today.
I found narcissus is in bloom, so I took some photos of narcissus in my garden. (More photos).

Narcissus is called Suisen (スイセン in Hiragana, 水仙 in Kanji) in Japanese. Especially, daffodils are called “Rappa-Suisen” in Japanese. Rappa mainly means a trumpet. Daffodils’ central part is similar to a trumpet, and they are named as Rappa-Suisen.

In the language of flowers the narcissus means conceit, selfish desire, self-love, and mystery. The word “Narcissus” is comes from the legend of Narkissos which is the origin word of the “narcissist” as well.

In Greek myths, Narcissus is a beautiful young man, and he fell in love with himself reflecting his beautiful face on the water. He was so crazy about him that he was drowned in the river, and become Narcissus.

I like the flower Narcissus. They seem to spread their petals as if they stretch themselves from long cold winter. I feel roses and orchids are much more narcissist than narcissuses! (They look they are totally confident of their perfect appearances!)

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Monday, May 08, 2006

Geographic Research in Japan

Relating to the last post (Geographic Research in America), I found the similar research in Japan version from the web page of The Association of Japanese Geographers (AJG).

AJG conducted a survey of geographic features on 25 colleges and 9 high schools in Japan.

Japanese people who can point the exact place of the U.S are 96%, India is 96.8%, and Brazil is 92.8%. These are well-know countries in Japan. North Korea is 90.3%, France is 87.8% and Vietnam is 73.6%.

In the meantime, people who can point the place of Ukraine are 43.8%, Greece is 67.9% and Iraq is 54.6%.

This survey shows that unfamiliar or faraway countries seem to be difficult to be known the places for Japanese people. Since Japan is surrounded by the ocean and not bordering on the any country, it might be a little hard to perceive the continental and boarding countries.

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For me, I still cannot point countries in Europe and Middle East with complete confidence. Furthermore, I honestly have no idea about countries in Africa (Sorry).

Friday, May 05, 2006

Geographic Research in the U.S.

An American magazine, National Geographic published a research result on May 2nd. They conducted a survey of geographic features on 18-24 American. According to the result, people who could point the exact place of Japan on a map were 49%, and that didn’t reach to half. Here is the survey of other countries.

People who can point…
China on the map are 69%.
India on the map are 53%.
North Korea on the map are 30%.
Iraq on the map are 37%.
Iran on the map are 26%.
New York (U.S.) on the map are 50%.

70% say that they haven’t traveled overseas, and 22% have passport.

In Japan case, I am sure most Japanese can point the U.S on the map because the U.S is huge country. Small islands like Japan are hard to be found in the map probably.

When I was in collage, I took American history class and I memorized the locations of whole states in America, however I almost forget it now except big and famous states. (I know where New York is!)

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How about you? Do you know where Japan is located?

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Children’s Day

May 5th is a national holiday in Japan to respect children’s personality and wish their happiness. This day is called Children’s day in English and Kodomo-no-hi in Japanese.

People celebrate Kodono-no-hi by putting up carp streamers which is called Koi-nobori in Japanese (Koi means carp in English). Koi-nobori is made of papers or clothes, and shaped like carps.

Kodomo-no-hi is mainly for boys. Girls’ celebration is held on March 3rd, Hinamatsuri, it is not national holiday though.

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Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Sick of May

After May sets in, Japanese people start to say like the following things. “I might be Gogatsu-byou” or “S/he is Gogatsu-byou”. People talk about Gogatsu-byou frequently in May.

Gogatsu-byou (五月病 in Kanji, ごがつびょう in Hiragana) is the depression that afflicts incoming students and employees during the first few months of new life. It is like neurotic situation which happens in May. Gogatsu means May and Byou means sick in English.

People who are serious, methodical, introverted, nervous and bashful tend to become Gogatu-byou.

Symptoms of Gogatsu-byou are for instance, you are unwilling to do something, become irritated, depressed, get tired of doing something and feeling tense in spiritual aspects. Moreover, you are easy to get tired, cannot get up in the morning, feel giddy, headache, palpitations in bodily aspects.

Gogatu-byou, its name is not a medical term and not used in hospital. Instead of Gogatsu-byou, people who have Gogatsu-byou are diagnosed as an adjustment disorder medically.

It is sometimes hard to adapt one to the new surroundings. Gogatsu-byou happens not only in May but also any time in a year, actually.

I remember I was pretty Gogatsu-byou in my school life when long vacation just like summer and winter vacations were getting to end. I feel I don’t want to go to school or work after holidays. I used to spend end of vacations with finishing homework.

Be careful, Japanese people who have been in long Golden week!

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Monday, May 01, 2006

Twist Your Tongue!!

Just experience and have fun with Japanese tongue twists. It will probably be good way to pronounce Japanese many times with tongue twists.

Now, let’s try one of the most famous Japanese tongue twists. “Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago (なまむぎ、なまごめ、なまたまご in Hiragana / 生麦、生米、生卵 in Kanji). This tongue twist means “raw wheat, raw rice, raw egg.” Please don’t think deeply about the meaning. Most tongue twists don’t make sense generally in any language.

“Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago”
“Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago”
“Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago”
“Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago”
“Nama-mugi, Nama-gome, Nama-tamago”

Can you make it? This might be easy for you! (This is much easier than English tongue twists like “Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled pepper” which makes my lips confuse). Just try to open and close your mouth a lot. Do you have favorite tongue twists??

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