Sunday, December 31, 2006

The Last Day of Year

New Year’s Eve is called Ohmisoka(大晦日) in Japanese. As you can know from its Kanji, Misoka(晦日/三十日) stands for the last day of month, and Oh(大) means big. Therefore, Ohmisoka is the last day of year.

Especially Ohmisoka night is called Joya(除夜). There used to be a custom that people stay up late to welcome God, and this day was the only day children allowed to stay up late. There was a superstition that if you go to bed early at Joya, you will have white hair and the number of winkles on your face will increase.

On Ohmisoka, people eat Toshikoshi Soba(年越しそば) which is normal Soba but people have to eat before New Year comes. If you cannot eat Soba all, there is said you won’t have luck of money next year.

The reasons why people eat Soba come from its shape and name. Soba is a kind of Japanese noodle, and it is thin and long. One reason is praying for “people can live long and thin just like Soba”. Also, “gather the happiness at nearby” comes from the name, Soba which has the same pronunciation with nearby(nearby is Soba<側> in Japanese).

Moreover, chopped sliced spring onion, Negi(ねぎ) on Soba has meaning of “Rou o Negirau(労をねぎらう),appreciation for pains and troubles” from its same pronunciation.

Happy New Year everyone!
I wish all will have pleasant year! Have a good Ohmisoka eating Toshikoshi Soba! From Kayanon to All you.

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

Japanese Slang “Yabai”

Yabai’s original meaning is “inconvenient” and “dangerous”. It of course still has original meaning and has new meaning at the same time as slang.

Some people living in Japan may have chance to listen to Japanese people saying Yabai. This is mainly used in among close friends and very informal situations. Especially, young people say Yabai when they are impressed and surprised at something. This is used independently.

For example, when you eat delicious cake, you can say “Kore Yabai!” which means “this is delicious!” When you see a really handsome guy on the street, you can say “Kare, Majide Yabai!” which means “He is so cool.” (See the meaning of Majide)

People also say “Yabê” instead of “Yabai”. “Yabê” is a kind of a derivative of Yabai. Both men and women can use this, but not suitable for women to use because it sounds a bit coarse in my opinion.

Friday, December 22, 2006

“Christmas Eve”

Christmas is now that such a big event through the year in Japan. People celebrated and enjoy it by exchanging presents, having party and eating cake with family and couple.

Here is a beautiful and great Japanese hit song for you, “Christmas Eve” by Tatsuro Yamashita. This song was first released in 1983, and its highest rank was 44. Since this song was used in a commercial of JR Tohkai, its popularity has been up, and the song won the first place 6 years after its release. Now, “Christmas Eve” has been in top 100 for 20 years running and became a represent Christmas song in Japan.

“Christmas Eve” is broadcast everywhere in Japan in this season, and Japanese people feel the coming of Christmas.

Friday, December 15, 2006

How Can You See Moon?

It is very honor that two towns near my hometown are once elected in top 3 of all Japan starry sky ranking. My hometown, of course is great spot to look at stars and do celestial observation. The sky here is much more clear and healthy than big cities.

By the way, how can you see moon? In Japan, people see the moon shape as rabbit making rice cake. This is old way, but when people make rice cake, they use Usu and Kine. Usu is a wooden bowl and Kine is like a big wooden hammer to mix rice up. This thing appears in Japanese old story, “Taketori Story”

I heard moon shape is different from countries. How can you see moon?

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Akinomiya Hot Spring Town

The place is celebrated for the oldest hot springs in Akita, called Akinomiy Onsen-kyo(秋の宮温泉郷) close to my hometown. Whole town is very still, calm and good place to relax. 12 hotels wait for people from all over Japan.

I went Akinomiya and bathe in one Onsen there called Tarobei(太郎兵衛). The Onsen was small but has very relaxing water. The water was a little hot for me. It was like 42℃ or more, but there is no wonder because the temperature of source is over 70℃.

Luckily, there were no people when I bathe in, so I could stretch my body and didn’t need to be embarrassed at all. Most Onsen has effects for body, and the Onsen has effects of rheumatism, wounds, menopausal disorder and 6 more disease symptoms. I bathe there for 30 minutes, and it kept me sweat a lot after I got out of it.

The fee of Onsen is just 300 yen, but there is coolest and cheapest hot spring in Akitanomiya. That is Kawara-no-Yukko(川原の湯っこ) under a retro suspension bridge just next to a river! The fee is completely free, and only you need to do there is dig sand and adjust the temperature of water. There hot water is boiling in some spots, and anybody can bathe in free Onsen adding cold water from a river. Kindly, scoops are set beside the river, so you don’t have to worry about carrying it! Most people visit there from spring to autumn and make Ashiyu by themselves. It is great natural Onsen and you can enjoy taking a forest bath at the same time. Thanks to media, this place is so popular in Japan that people come here from all over Japan.