Thursday, August 31, 2006

8 Planets in the Solar System

On August 24th, International Astronomical Union (IAU) carried that they eliminate Pluto from the planets in the solar system. It sounds like big historical change for astronomy, but it doesn’t affect my life at all even if a planet is eliminated or added, I think.

By the way, there is interesting way to memorize 9 planets including Pluto in English. “My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets” for example is well-know method, I heard there are several different saying like “…served us 9 pies” and “…served us nothing!”

In Japanese there is also one way to memorize 9 planets. That is “Sui Kin Chi Ka Moku Do Ten Kai Mei (Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune, Pluto)” It may sound like Okyoh, but every Japanese people learns this at school, and can say anytime.

Sui Suisei (水星) Mercury
Kin Kinsei (金星) Venus
Chi Chikyu (地球) Earth
Ka Kasei (火星) Mars
Moku Mokusei (木星) Jupiter
Do Dosei (土星) Saturn
Ten Tennousei (天王星) Uranus
Kai Kaiousei (海王星) Neptune
Mei Meiousei (冥王星) Pluto

I think English version is much easier to memorize 9 planets. What about you? Are there any ways to remember 9 planets in your country?

If you are interested in 9 planets in Japanese, why don’t you remember them using “Sui Kin Chi Ka Moku Do Ten Kai Mei”?


Suisei (Mercury), Kinsei (Venus), Kasei (Mares), Mokusei (Jupiter), Dosei (Saturn) are visible with naked eyes, and they are considered as different from stars which make constellation. These Japanese names come from the thought in China. In China, people thought all things are constructed with 5 element; tree, fire, soil, gold and water. Therefore, Suisei is with water, Kinsei is with Gold, Kasei is with fire, and Mokusei is with tree and Dose is wit soil Chinese characters.

Tennessee (Uranus), Jalousie (Neptune) and Meioses (Pluto) are not visible with naked eyes, so they were discovered after telescope was invented. These names were simply translated from English name.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Buddha Dwells in the Waterfall

Hottai waterfall is one of the best sight spots to visit in my hometown. Its dynamic fall attracts people from all over Japan, and it arouses a feeling of coolness as well. In summer, people can swim at Hottai waterfall, but the water is so cold because the water is melted water from a mountain.

This majestic waterfall is constructed from first waterfall, second waterfall and third waterfall with the length of 100 meters and the drop of 57.4 meters. Third waterfall is the longest one on the photo. Hottai (法体) means Buddha, Buddha of the Pure Land, by intoning “Namu Amida Butsu” or priest. Surprisingly, the water is clear, and the color of deep place looks like emerald green which is absolutely beautiful.

The origin of the name, Hottai comes from fairy take-like story…
Once upon a time, a Buddhist priest visited the waterfall. When he was fascinated by the great waterfall, an old man with white hair appeared all of sudden. The priest asked the old man “what’s the name of this waterfall?” and the old man answered “Hottai”. The priest wondered about the old man, and asked him “where are you from?” The old man said “I live here. I am an immovable monarch for this waterfall.” The old man said like that and vanished all at once. The priest prayed 3 times for the waterfall and trained for 37 days in a cave close to the waterfall.

In fact, the Buddhist priest is considered as Kouboudaishi/Kukai who started Shingon-shu. That’s why the cave he trained is called “Koubou Douketsu (Cave for Koubou).

You can look down the water fall from an observation platform. Also, you can approach to fist and second waterfall which is really exciting and thrilling to see them. Since there is no rope, you have to be careful with their foot; otherwise, you fall easily from top of the waterfall. Here is a video I took first and second waterfall at thrilling place.

Hottai waterfall attracts people in every season because it has different faces. In spring, new green is beautifully much with the waterfall. In summer, people can cool down by swimming in the river and the place is crowded with tents to have BBQ. In autumn, red and yellow leaves show lovely appearance.

People can visit Hottai waterfall anytime except winter time because of massive snow. Here is an example tragedy of snow. This rest house was pushed by snow.

Here is several photos of Hottai waterfall.

Monday, August 21, 2006

Sherbet for Old Lady with Spatula 

The yummy-looking sherbet on the picture is called “Babahera (ババヘラ)”. It costs about 150 yen (US$ 1 and some cents). There are always 2 flavors in Babahera; strawberry and banana. The taste has moderate sweetness, and is loved by people from children to old people. The reason of the name, Babarahera comes from people who sell Babahera. Babahera sellers are normally old women who are in their 60s to 70s. Those called “Baba” in Japanese slang which is neither formal nor polite word. “Baba” serves Babahera using spatula which is called “hera” in Japanese. Therefore, this sherbet is called “Babahera”.

Babahera is really special street sherbet because it exists only in Akita. Since Babahera is such a familiar sherbet since my childhood, I had thought it was very Japanese thing. However, I had noticed it is only in Akita, when I was in Yokohama, and told about Babahera by Yokohama people. Babahera is usually sold at a festival or on a national street which has frequent traffic in Akita; however, now that Babahera is famous and popular sherbet in Japan, people can buy it on the Babahera site or enjoy it in a few area; “Namuko Nanja town ice cream city” and Namahage dining in Tokyo.

Babahera is really good to have in burning Japan summer. Whenever I find it, I buy it to cool down.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Japanese Culture –Slurp-

Do you slurp when you eat noodles? Is slurp allowed in your country? I would answer these questions I slurp noodles and it is allowed in Japan.

Most Japanese slurp noodles in Japan. It doesn’t matter to slurp noodles if you are woman or man. Eating noodles with sounds is considered to make noodles good. Conversely, if you don’t make noise when you eat noodles, some Japanese may think the way you do is strange. I cannot say exact reason why Japanese slurp, but a blogger I fond on the internet said “Japanese people slurp because they enjoy more food flavor by slurping noodles.”

In my case, I decide noodles to slurp and not to slurp. I slurp cold noodles mainly like Zaru Soba and Hiyashi-Chuka. I don’t slurp spaghetti and hot noodles because I don’t want to splash sources or soup on my face and clothe.

I could know slurp is special culture in Japan when I had learned that slurp is considered as a bad manner in the U.S or Europe in my English class. Making noise during eating is bad manner in western countries. Sometimes, people can see parodies that Japanese eat spaghetti with making noise at a restaurant, and other westerners gaze him with unpleasant faces.

Interestingly, people who don’t slurp in their lives cannot slurp. I have watched a video that a westerner tried to slurp ramen, but he couldn’t slurp like Japanese do.

How about in your country? Do you slurp noodles? Is the action is allowed?

Friday, August 11, 2006

Large Steam Valley

As I already attached photos on flickr, I visited an exciting valley, Oyasukyou in Akita. Although I live in 2-hour away from the place, I visited there only once when I was a little girl with my family. I went there again in July to ensure what it’s like. It rained when I visited there, but it was still fun to see dynamic steams.

Oyasukyou was encroached by a river, and became a valley which has 60 meters height from the bottom of valley and its entrance. It is called “Jigokudani” as well which means “Hell Valley” because hot air and steam blow out violently, and it reminds of hell. In fact, 98 degree hot water blows out 10 ton every hour. Once you get the valley, you can smell sulfur everywhere, and can feel hot and humid air. If you are caught in the big steam, you cannot find the direction. On the way back to the up ground, I had to go up 303 stairways!

There are countless Onsen in Oyasukyou; I didn’t go any of them though. It might be good to take Onsen after the hard exercise.

Here is an exciting video I took!

This valley and Ashiyu place is in the same area, so you can enjoy two exciting experiences at one place! (it takes 1 minute walk from Ashiyu place to the valley.)

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

How Do You Stop Shakkuri?

I had Shakkuri on the other day which was really troublesome and took a long time to stop it. It is funny to see people have Shakkuri, but it is troublesome once you get it.

Shakkuri (しゃっくりin Hiragana) happens due to inflammation of the diaphragm, and it is called “Hiccup” in English. The name, Shakkuri comes from its sound when you have it, and it could be said in hiccup as well.

Since Shakkuri happens without people’s intention, it is annoying and cannot be stopped even if you try to stop.

In Japan, there is a popular account that if you have 100 times Shakkuri, you will die. This is totally untrue, but especially children tease each other by saying it.

There are some traditional ways to stop Shakkuri in Japan. Surprising someone who has Shakkuri, for instance is most well-known way to stop Shakkuri. Stopping breath for 30 seconds or 1 minute is also orthodox way to struggle with Shakkuri.

I am sure Shakkuri must have various saying or legend all over the world. I would like to know traditional or effective methods to stop Shakkuri. Can you tell me Shakkuri situation in your country, and how do you call Shakkuri in your language?

Saturday, August 05, 2006

The Day Japanese People Eat Unagi

There are days people eat Unagi (eel in English) in Japan. The days differ from every year, and their outstanding days are especially in July and August. These days are called “Doyou no Ushi no Hi” which indicates especially in summer.

This custom of eating Unagi started in Edo period (1603-1867). There are some origins about this Japanese custom. Ohtomo Yakamochi (717?-785) who is well known as a tanka poet recited a poet “maintain your health by eating eel” in the Man’yoshu; the earlist extant anthology of Japanese verse, it comprises some 4,500 peoms and was compiled in or after A.D 759.

In fact, Unagi is well-nourished fish. People in Japan especially eat Unaju which has broiled Unagi on rice. This dish is good for people who loose her/his appetite because of the summer heat when they want to get energy.

In my opinion, Unaju is delicious dish. There are of course some people who don’t like Unaju because of eel itself or gross looking once you turn it back and see the skin. I wonder weather there is country eat eel. Have you eaten eel? 

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Hotline Live in Yashima

On July 29th, there was a festival about a road race in Yashima, Akita. This road race is famous now that thousands people come to Yashima to join it. My father was asked to compose an image song of this road race 2 years ago, and he composed nice song for the annual festival.

The road race was 20th anniversary in this year. My father’s band, Hotline appeared this event and played the theme song, “天空への挑戦者たち (“Challengers for the Sky” if I translate the Japanese title into English).” You can listen to the song from below music bar.

Hotline played 9 songs in the festival, and I helped the band as a chorus who was luck of tense. I took some videos using my digital camera on the stage.