Monday, September 25, 2006

Harvesting Rice in Japan

Here, north Japan is season to work on rice cultivation. Since my grandfather has several rice fields, my family helped him to cultivate rice. This is from my window.

Most of works are done by machines in modern Japan. Combine below is a machine which unites reaping and threshing at the same time.

The machine gathers and cut rice plants, and separate rice and stems automatically.

After rice is reaped, rice need to be dried by drying machine. The machine dries rice slowly taking 12-24 hours.

It takes about 2 hours per a rice field in my family’s case. Here is an example progress of work. You can see sky is getting dark as time goes.

It took 2 days to finish reaping rice. I am not sure how much tons rice we harvest, but it was a LOT. One bag of rice has 40-50 kg. My father and I especially had to carry this bags many times. It is ok for man to carry the bags, but was terrible physical labor for me... This is my mother and father.

Since the combine was broken a few times, I devoted my energies to take photos to kill time, and these are my results.

This is a movie of harvesting rice. Never mind with quality. I used my 2-year old compact camera.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Shinzo Abe = New Prime Minister in Japan

The Chief Cabinet Secretary, Shinzo Abe was elected for the Liberal Democratic Party President on September 19th. He competed with 2 rivals; Taro Asou, Foreign Minister and Sadakazu Tanigaki, the Minister of Finance. Shinzo is not prime minister of Japan yet, but it is certain that he will be top leader of Japan at extraordinary diet session on 26th which has a final election for him.

Now, Shinzo became the minimus Liberal Democratic Party President in Japanese history at 51 years old. Today, September 20th is his birthday, so he turned 52 years old now. Besides, he is the first LDP President who was born after World War Ⅱ.

It was no wonder for Japanese people that Shinzo was elected because of full popularity. This is not known well in Japan, but Shinzo is what is called “sarabret of political world”

There are so many outstanding relatives in his family tree. Starting with Toshimichi Okubo who appears on Japanese textbook, there are Shigeru Yoshida who was 45th-51st Prime Minister, Nobusuke Kishi who was also 56th and 57th Prime Minister, Eisaku Sato who was 61st-63rd prime minister and other relatives who were politicians.

Especially, Eisaku Sato corresponds to the great-uncle for Shinzo, Kishi Nobusuke is Shinzo’s grand father, and his father was also a politician.

Moreover, Taro Asou who was a rival of Shinzo at party race has Shigeru Yoshida as his grand father. It is getting confusing, but this means that Shinzo and Asou are relatives.

Anyway, new leader was born in Japan. I hope he will demonstrate his skill without reverse for “beautiful Japan”

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

A Nation of Long-Lived People

September 18th was national holiday in Japan called “Keirou-no-hi (敬老の日)” which was born in Japan. This is translated “Respect-for-the-Aged Day” in English. “Keirou-no-hi” is a day to love and respect old people who rendered to society for a long time, and celebrate their long life. This day is celebrated on the third Monday in September.

I haven’t done anything to my grandparents, but I am thinking to bake a cake for them. My maternal grandfather is 76 years old and grandmother is 73 years old. They had surgery a few years ago, but are very fine today.

Japan is a nation of long-lived people. World Health Organization (WHO) published the World Heath Report on September 7th. According to the report, countries which have the longest average life span in the world in 2004 are Japan, Monaco and San Marino, and the average life span is 82 years old. The average life span for Japanese female is 86 years old, and for Japanese male is 79 years old. The shortest life span country is Zimbabwe in Africa, 36 years old.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare in Japan, a population of full 100 years old or more Japanese is 25,554. Female is 21,775 and male is 3,779.

The most aged woman in Japan is Yoko Minakawa, 113 years sold in Fukuoka, and man is Tomoji Tanabe, 111 years old. Tomoji cerebrated his 111th birthday on Keirou-no-hi. He said the secret of long life is not to drink alcohol.

I think the reasons of long-life span in Japan are good food and medical technology. Japanese food, washoku is very fatless, well-nourished and healthy. Japanese food is even eaten for diet food in other countries. Besides, medical technology develops day by day and it keeps people live longer with surgery or medicine.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Beautiful Waterfall

I should have introduced this video! These videos were created by T-kayano introducing Hottai waterfall in my hometown. Who is do you think the gril in the video? That's secret!! Have a look at them! About Hottai waterfall.

Monday, September 11, 2006

Japanese Won Air Guitar World Championship 2006

On September 8th (9th in Japan time), Ochi in Japan won at Air Guitar world championship in Oulu, Finland at the fist time. This is the first brilliant achievement in Japan and Asia.

In the Air Guitar contest, 13 countries participated (Australia, Austria, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, the United States, Germany, France, Japan, Italy, and the Great Britain), and Ochi qualified for the next round as 1st. Ochi played “Are You Gonna Be My Girl” by JET for a minute wearing sultry sweater and sunglasses which reminds Japanese people of old fashioned guy in Japan. He performed powerfully on the stage with his dynamic body, and an audience commented s/he could see even a guitar was broken. Judges spoke very highly of his simple and traditional guitarring. Ochi received transparent guitar called “flying Finn” and an amplifier from Brian May, Queen Guitarist.

Air guitar is a performance how people play fictional guitar splendidly. Ochi started playing air guitar a month before. He took part in Japan contest with half joking, but he passed it and became a Japanese representative.

When I heard this news on TV, I couldn’t believe it because Ochi is a comedian in Japan. He plays manzai with a partner, and the duo is called Dainoji.

Air Guitar is now well-know and popular performance in Japan. It doesn’t need expensive guitar and an amplifier; you just need music and heart to rock on. This developped into not only guitar but also piano, drams, saxophone base and even vocal! I have seen some bands without instruments playing music like air guitar. I don’t have courage to try air guitar but still fun to see people playing.

Here is Ochi performance at Finland. (thank you, soursop!)
Here is Air band by Japanese top idol group, Arashi.

I should have introduced about Takeshi Kongouchi as well. He is No.4 air guitar player in the world who spread air guitar in Japan by performing on TV. He even released a CD. I like his performance too.

Here is information for people who want to master air guitar.
Air guitar text book
Air guitar DVD

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sake Town, Akita

In recent years, Sake is loved by people all over the world now that it is known as Japanese represent drink. The special features of Sake are its mellow aroma as Sake is translated into Japanese wine in English. Once you open a Sake bottle, the fragrance spread and come into your nose. Moreover, you can enjoy drinking sake warm or cool. In summer, cool Sake is good much, and warm Sake would warm your body in winter.

Main ingredients of Sake are rice and water. There are plenty places where brew Sake in Japan, but the places called Sake centers are a few like Niigata, Yamagata, Aomori prefecture which has good rice and clean water for Sake. My hometown, Akita is also famous for good Sake place as you can know from my pictures.

On August 17th, an article was introduced on a local paper. That was about Akita’s Sake will be entertained at a reception of the United Nations Headquarters, New York in September. According to the persons concerned, Sake’s participation at an event related to UN is first challenge, and it is very exceptional case. Sake producers and companies are enthusiastic about this chance to promote Akita’s Sake to the world. Enering Sake are "Junmai-Ginjo Chokaisan" from Tenju brewery, "Yamahai-Junmai-Ginjo" from Naba store, and "Junmai-Ginjo Benimansaku" from Hinomaru brewery. You can buy their Sake on the internet (possibly within Japan).

By the way, some foreign people call Sake as “Saki”, but it should be pronounced “Sake” in fact. (This was a troublesome word when I was in Canada. Everybody talked about Sake but I didn’t understand what they were talking about because they pronounced “Saki”)