Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category

May 23, 2012

Francis Unson:

Festivals take place year-round in Japan. If Tokyo is too fast-paced for your tastes, try visiting the surrounding prefectures.

Originally posted on life to reset:

If there is one thing that best represent  Japan’s natural beauty, it has to be the highest mountain- Mt. Fuji.   The 3,766m symmetrical cone shaped mountain has inspired poet and artist for decades, where it was often depicted with the top- half covered in snow.

My first visit to the mountain was last year, during the hiking season where the  picturesque snow-capped was gone.  I was a bit sad to see the mountain on its “ordinary” state, so I promised to myself that on one fine day, I shall return to Yamanashi prefecture, to see the mountain on all its glory.

To view the mountain requires exceptional timing and preferably “sunny, clear” weather condition. So, I was checking out the weather forecast almost everyday, as I don’t want to waste a 3 hours commute to the unpredictable spring season.

Last Sunday was just the right day that I was waiting…

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Effect of Japan’s Earthquake & Tsunami on America’s Auto Industry

May 19, 2011

It may take some time before the earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan in March 2011 really affects America’s car industry, but when it does, here are some things you can expect to happen.  Since there were several parts suppliers that got wiped out by the earthquake, there will be less inventory at Japanese car showrooms, in turn, reducing inventory in the United States, which is supplied by Japan.  The popular Toyota Prius and other Japanese hybrid cars are already experiencing scarce inventory.

How would the earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Japan in March 2011 affect the auto industry in the United States?In addition, there could be an increase in the demand for used cars.  Used car prices may rise this summer if the demand increases.  However, this could be good news to those looking to trade their old vehicle for a new car.  Finally, a buying frenzy for American cars may occur.  There was a large recall on Toyota cars recently, putting the Ford Motor Company in the spotlight.  It looks like 2011 may be a good year for Ford, Chevy and Chrysler and other American car makers.

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Taylor P.

Aftermath in Japan: One Month Later

April 15, 2011

It has been a month since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, and many of you may be wondering how Japan is coping.  Here are some sobering statistics: the Japanese National Police Agency confirmed that there have been 13,127 deaths, 4,793 injured and 14,348 people missing.  There are over 125,000 buildings that have been damaged or destroyed.  These natural disasters have also caused heavy road and railway damage as well as a dam collapse in Fukushima.  There are around 4.4 million households in northeastern Japan that have been left without electricity and 1.5 million households that have been left without water.  Not only do the Japanese people have to deal with their losses, but they also have to stay alert and be attentive to their safety and health.

One month after the earthquake and tsunami that struck Northern Japan, the Japanese people are still struggling to put their lives back together.The tsunami resulted in more than 300,000 refugees.  There are shortages in food, water, and shelter.  The people of Japan really need our help.  Although some of us are not in the position to help, every little bit helps.  Imagine yourself in their position.  One day, you wake up to a natural disaster and realize that you’ve lost your family, home, and business.  I hope that the people of Japan are able to get back on their feet and heal from all the pain that this disaster has brought them.  If you are interested in helping, there are many foundations dedicated to helping the victims of this disaster such as the Jennifer Smart Foundation.

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Joie Montoya

How is the Car Industry Being Affected by the Tsunami and Earthquake in Japan?

March 30, 2011

The tsunami and earthquake of March 11, 2011 have had a devastating effect in Japan.  If you look through Japan’s history, they are usually prepared for earthquakes, but this time, they were taken by surprise.  With the earthquake shaking buildings off their foundation and the tsunami waves sweeping away everything in its path, it leaves you wondering: how is the disaster affecting the car industry? Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Suzuki all have their headquarters in Japan, not to mention their manufacturing facilities, as well.

Not only has Japan's agriculture taken a hit, but so has its automobile industry.  Nissan, Subaru, Honda, Mazda, Mitsubishi, Toyota and Suzuki have experienced both an interruption in production as well as a loss in inventory.Most of the major auto factories have been closed due to the circumstances.  This is going to affect sales and production significantly, locally and worldwide.  Many of the plants are unsure as to how long they will need to close down production.  Along with this delay, auto manufacturers must also deal with the massive loss of inventory.  Nissan lost 2,300 of its cars, 1,300 of which were meant to be exported to the United States.  For every day that the facilities are closed, there is a loss of USD$72,000,000.  Let’s hope that Japan has seen the last of these tragic events and that the car industry can start getting back on its feet and move forward.

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Joie Montoya

Japanese Culture: Japanese Cuisine

March 23, 2011

Japanese cuisine (日本料理) has come a long way, spanning several periods in Japanese history.  In the Ancient Era, also known as the Heian Period (平安時代) (794-1185), the main meal choices were derived from Chinese cuisine.  Boiled, plain rice, also known as gohan or meshi, was and still remains the main staple of Japanese cuisine.  During this period, Japanese society went from a semi-sedentary, hunter-gatherer lifestyle to an agricultural society.  Meals began to include fish, jellyfish, octopus, and meat.

Japanese cuisine has come a long way, spanning several periods in Japanese history.  Changes in the lifestyle of the Japanese people, political change, and even Western influence have played a role in shaping Japanese cuisine.The start of the Kamakura period (鎌倉時代) in the 12th century also marked political change in Japan.  Military government became nobility which, in turn, changed the etiquette of dining, rather than the meal itself.  The menu of this era consisted of dried abalone, jellyfish aemono, pickled ume called umeboshi, salt and vinegar for seasoning, and rice.

The period after the Kamakura period marked the beginning of the modern era in Japanese cuisine.  Centuries of changes have boiled down to this finalized list of staple foods that makes up their cuisine.  Since many Japanese people are Buddhists, they do not eat meat, resulting in a cuisine that consists primarily of seafood although, in recent years, meat and chicken have made their way into Japanese cuisine.  Noodles, rice, and vegetables are essential components to every Japanese meal.  If you would like to try Japanese food in your own home, here is a recipe for Chicken Teriyaki, a common dish served in many Japanese households.

CHICKEN TERIYAKI

1/4 c. teriyaki sauce
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. white vinegar
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
2 chicken breast halves, skin and fat removed

Stir all ingredients, except chicken, together in a baking dish or pan.  Add chicken pieces and turn a few minutes to coat well.  With flesh side down in sauce, cover and bake at 375 degrees for 45 to 50 minutes.  Makes 2 servings containing 160 calories and 6 grams of fat per serving.

The video, below, shows you how to make sushi in eight easy steps.

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Joie Montoya

Japanese Culture: Japanese Festivals

March 18, 2011

Matsuri (祭) is the Japanese word for “festival” or “holiday”.  In Japan, it is often said that you will always find a festival going on somewhere.  Most Japanese festivals are derived from Chinese festivals.  However, some are so different from the Chinese festivals, you can hardly tell where they came from.  Festivals are usually sponsored by a local Shrine or Temple, though they can be held by other people, as well.  There are no specific days for festivals and holidays for all of Japan, as they vary throughout each region.  Japanese people do not celebrate the Chinese New Year, but instead celebrate the Western New Year, although Chinese residents in Japan still celebrate the Chinese New Year.

Japanese festivals take place throughout the year, ranging from shrine or temple-sponsored Buddhist festivals to more secular festivals that honor cherry blossoms or children.

Tōdai-ji Temple (東大寺) - Nara, Japan

The Sapporo Snow Festival (さっぽろ雪まつり) is a famous festival in Japan.  It is one of the largest festivals and is held in Sapporo (札幌市).  It occurs in the month of February for one week.  During this festival, around a dozen huge ice sculptures are made along with hundreds of other, smaller sculptures.  There are also some concerts held during this event.  Omizutori (or Shuni-e修二会) is a series of events held annually from March 1-14 at Tōdai-ji Temple (東大寺).   It is a Buddhist repentance ritual and has been held every year for over 1250 years.   It is one of the oldest Buddhist events in Japan.  Otaimatsu is the most famous and spectacular event that goes on during Omizutori.  There are many festivals and holidays that go on in Japan throughout the year.  Many involve traditional clothing, traditional food, fireworks, and floats.  These great festivals and holidays continue to be celebrated today.

Vlogger Ken Tanaka has made a great introductory video to what goes on at Matsuri on his YouTube channel.

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Taylor P.

Japanese Culture: The Art of Japanese Theater

March 15, 2011

Japanese theater has been around for centuries.  There are four main forms of Japanese theater; Noh (), Kyogen (狂言), Kabuki (歌舞伎), and Bunraku (文楽).  Kyogen was mainly used during intermission between Noh acts.  Noh was performed for the upper class.  Performers who had roles in Noh plays did not wear masks.  The most well-known form of theater is Kabuki, which, unlike Noh, combined music, drama, and dance.  The extravagance came in dressing up in crazy costumes and real-life sword fighting.  Bunraku is the Japanese term for “Puppet Theater”.  Puppet dolls were 3 to 4 feet tall and were handled by puppeteers.  The puppeteers who controlled the movement of the puppets had to wear all black while the main puppeteer who controlled speech wore colorful clothing.  Music played a large role in all types of Japanese theater.

Japanese theater has evolved over hundreds of years, from the formal, symbolic, and solemn 14th century Noh theater to the extravagant 16th century Kabuki theater.In modern theater, the Japanese adopted naturalistic acting and contemporary themes.  In the postwar period following World War II, many plays focused more on the developing history of Japan.  Western themes also made it to Japanese theater which was called, “Shingeki (新劇)”.  Some plays performed in this theme included the works of William Shakespeare such as “Hamlet” and “King Lear”.  Over the years, you can see how Japanese theater has changed and developed but one thing that has stayed the same is the Japanese peoples’ love for theater.

UNESCO has a video clip about Kabuki Theatre on their YouTube channel.

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Joie Montoya

Japanese Culture: Traditional Japanese Clothing

March 15, 2011

Traditional Japanese clothing are worn mainly for ceremonies and special occasions like weddings or festivals.  Japanese clothing also reflects two different types of change: seasonal change as well as change resulting from Western influence.Even though clothing styles change over time, traditional Japanese clothing (和服) makes a comeback in times of weddings or other festivities.  The kimono (着物) is a well-known piece of traditional clothing in Japan.  Some still wear it today on special occasions.  There are a few different types of kimonos to choose from; the Kurotomesode (黒留袖), which is worn by married women; the Tsukesage (付け下げ), which is a modest version of an elaborate kimono; the Edo Komon (江戸小紋), a casual garment with tiny dots in dense patterns that both married and unmarried women can wear; the Susohiki, which is worn by Geishas, or stage performers; and the Furisode (振袖), which is worn by unmarried women.  Over the years, there have been visible changes in the designs of the kimono.

Traditional Japanese clothing are worn mainly for ceremonies and special occasions like weddings or festivals.  Japanese clothing also reflects two different types of change: seasonal change as well as change resulting from Western influence.

The Kurotomesode (黒留袖) is worn by married women, often by the mothers of the bride and groom at weddings.

Chinese fashion was a huge influence on Japanese fashion.  Japanese clothing is designed to reflect the colors of the seasons, especially the colors found in nature during each season.  Although Japanese clothing looks simple, its designs are complex and elegant.  The kimono holds more meaning than just being a piece of clothing.  Even the kimonos of married and unmarried women can change to fit the season.  Silk, by law, was only used for the upper class while hemp, ramie and other plant-derived fibers were used by the common people.  However, traditional Japanese clothing is mostly worn during weddings and festivals now.  It is common to see Western influenced clothing styles in Japan, nowadays, reflecting not just a seasonal color change, but a cultural change, as well.

The following video is a demonstration of how to dress in Kurotomesode.

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Taylor P.

Japan Relief Effort: How You Can Help the Earthquake & Tsunami Victims

March 14, 2011

Around the world on Friday, March 11, 2011, we watched in horror as a magnitude 8.9 earthquake, with an epicenter 231 miles (373 kilometers) northeast of Tokyo and 80 miles (130 km) east of Sendai, Honshu in the Pacific Ocean, generated a tsunami that devastated the mostly rural region of Northern Japan.  The immediate destruction of the earthquake and tsunami included destroyed or toppled houses and buildings, overturned train cars, and mud and debris pushed miles inland.  The livelihoods of millions of people were wiped out, the human toll incalculable.

The disaster has made even the most basic of necessities – food, clothing, and shelter – hard to come by.  The international community and nonprofit organizations have stepped in, mobilizing rescue workers and providing relief to the victims of the disaster.  You, too, can help the victims of the disaster by providing relief supplies or donating money.  The fastest way to help is to make a $10 donation by sending a text message from your mobile phone to an organization’s short code.  Ten organizations have established a text message short code so far.

You can help the victims of the devastating earthquake and tsunami in Japan by donating money with a simple text message.Simply text the specific word to the organization’s designated short code:

Adventist Development and Relief AgencyADRA Relief

  • Text SUPPORT to 85944

American Red CrossJapanese Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami Relief

  • Text REDCROSS to 90999

Convoy of HopeDisaster Response

  • Text TSUNAMI or SUNAMI to 50555

GlobalGivingJapan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund

  • Text JAPAN to 50555

International Medical CorpsEmergency Response Fund

  • Text MED to 80888

Mercy CorpsHelp Survivors of Japan’s Earthquake

  • Text MERCY to 25383

Salvation ArmyJapan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Efforts

  • Text JAPAN to 80888

Save the Children FederationJapan Earthquake Tsunami Relief

  • Text JAPAN or TSUNAMI to 20222

World ReliefJapanese Tsunami Relief

  • Text WAVE to 50555

World VisionJapan Quake and Tsunami Relief

  • Text 4JAPAN or 4TSUNAMI to 20222

The $10 donation will show up on your next phone bill.  Every little bit helps.

Canadian vlogger, BusanKevin, lives in Kobe, Japan.  He has appealed to Canadians and Americans to help in any way they can.

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Francis M. Unson

8.9 Magnitude Earthquake & Tsunami Strike Japan

March 12, 2011

On Friday, March 11, 2011, an earthquake struck off the shore of Northern Japan with a magnitude 8.9.  This earthquake created a 23-foot tsunami, devastating the mostly rural area.  More than 50 aftershocks have occurred since the main quake, some being over magnitude 6.0.  Friday’s earthquake ranked as the fifth largest earthquake since 1900.  Hundreds upon thousands of people were left dead, injured, or missing.  People in Tokyo and the surrounding metropolis were left stranded because the rail network went offline immediately after the quake.  33 shelters have been set up in city hall, university campuses, and in government offices so far.  Evacuations were ordered for those closest to nuclear power plants, requiring people to move at least 2-3 miles away from the plant.  Although the plant was not leaking any radiation, it was still hot even after shutdown.

On March 11, 2011, a powerful 8.9-magnitude earthquake struck the coast of Northern Japan, triggering a 23-foot tsunami, devastating farmland and leveling infrastructure in its path.

Natori City, Japan. Photograph: Kyodo/Reuters

The entire Pacific Rim area was put on alert, but the waves were not as strong as expected in the state of Hawaii.  At around 9 AM EST, a 7-foot high tsunami hit the island of Maui, while neighboring islands Oahu and Kauai recorded waves at least 3 feet high.  Jordan Scott, spokesperson for the California Emergency Management Agency, said that it could take 10 to 12 hours for the effects of the earthquake to completely fade away.  Evacuations were made all along the California coast, including 6,000 people near the town of Santa Cruz.  Coastal residents continue to stay on watch for any possible emergencies.  People are encouraged to make any donations they can to an international relief fund supporting the victims of this disaster such as American Red Cross’s “Japan Earthquake and Pacific Tsunami” disaster relief page on Amazon.com.

The tsunami wave, as seen from the sea before making its way inland:

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Taylor P.

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