KISS vs Momoiro Clover Z song titles announced

18 Dec

As I mentioned last month (in this post), the American hard rock band KISS and the Japanese pop band Momoiro Clover Z are collaborating on two songs.

KISS vs ももいろクローバーZ

My friend Masa just told me that the titles of the songs (which will be released on 2015 January 28th) have just been announced.

Momoiro Clover Z will release a CD with a song titled 「夢の浮世に咲いてみな」. It will feature Momoiro Clover on vocals and KISS playing the music.
And KISS will release a CD with a song titled “Samurai Son” which will have KISS singing and playing the music, and Momoiro Clover on singing the chorus!

2014 Kanji of the Year

15 Dec

Every December, a kanji (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen that represents the biggest news of the year that is just ending. It’s called 「今年の漢字」 (“The Kanji of the Year“).

Last Friday, the kanji of the year for 2014 was chosen. It’s 「」 (zei) which means “tax“.

Every year, when the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) is chosen, it’s presented to the public at a special ceremony at a temple in Kyoto where the head monk writes the character and it’s broadcast on TV, newspapers and the internet.

The Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字) for 2014 is 「税」 (“tax”).

The reason that this character was chosen to represent 2014 is because the sales tax in Japan was increased this year for the first time in years.

When I came to Japan in 1990, the sales tax here was 3%. (Until just a couple of years before I came to Japan there was no sales tax here at all!)
It stayed at 3% until 1997 when it was raised to 5% (that year, a law was also passed that the after-tax” price must be shown on all products).
Japan’s sales tax was 5% for seventeen years. It was increased to it’s current 8% last spring (thus the Kanji of the Year is “tax”).
The Japanese government plans to increase the sales tax again next year (in 2015) to 10%!

BABYMETAL keeps turning metalheads, voted Best Metal Album of the Year

13 Dec Featured Image -- 11341


I don’t like BabyMetal. Sorry. Pop and metal don’t mix.

Originally posted on RocketNews24:


What’s cute, frilly and metal all over? BABYMETAL of course! From relative obscurity only two years ago, to doing various concerts around the world in 2014, the presence of BABYMETAL has been sudden, if not shocking. It’s hard to believe that the combination of idol music and hardcore metal has created something that many people are getting fired up over. In fact, BABYMETAL has such a fan base now that their self-titled first album was voted as the Number 1 Metal Album of 2014. Say what?!?

View original 294 more words

Imperial Palace inner grounds

10 Dec

If you have ever visited the Imperial Palace in Tokyo, you most likely have only seen the outer grounds.
That is the area that is normally open to the public. There are only a few days each year that the general public are permitted to enter the inner grounds (and on those days, you must line up and go through a baggage search and pass a metal detector).

Last weekend was one of the rare occasions that the Imperial Palace inner grounds were open to the public.
People were allowed in to view (and photograph) the beautiful autumn colors in the royal gardens.

Last Sunday, my wife and I went there. Here are some of the photographs I took of the inner grounds:

2014-12-07 14.30.25

2014-12-07 14.30.53

2014-12-07 14.37.47

2014-12-07 14.39.13

2014-12-07 14.52.38

2014-12-07 14.57.40

The staff quarters.


2014-12-07 14.59.02

2014-12-07 15.08.23

2014-12-07 15.10.57

2014-12-07 15.12.32

2014-12-07 15.16.27

2014-12-07 15.17.35

2014-12-07 15.19.28

2014-12-07 15.26.08

2014-12-07 15.28.16

2014-12-07 15.29.12

2014-12-07 15.37.53

This foundation is the remnants of the original castle from centuries ago. The roof of the famous Nippon-Budokan can be seen in the distance.


2014-12-07 15.44.10

The Imperial music hall.


2014-12-07 15.55.51

One of the original guards’ quarters


2014-12-07 16.15.39

2014-12-07 16.15.42

2014-12-07 16.27.01

From there, we walked to the 100 year old Tokyo Station for dinner.



10 Dec

I’ve lived in Japan for most of my life now, and I have only been back to visit America a few times. In fact, my most recent visit there was over ten years ago ( Click here to read about the reverse-culture-shock I experienced on that trip.)

I was thinking about some things that seem normal to most Americans…but are actually unique to America and kinda odd to people who don’t live there.

1. Flags everywhere / “Pledge of Allegiance” -
Every country flies their national colors. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the American flag is flown everywhere, everyday in the U.S. Even car dealerships and in school classrooms.
Speaking of school classrooms, American children stand with their hand on their heart, facing the flag in the classroom, and recite and pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.
A bit like North Korea.


2. “Sales tax” -
By this I mean, the price shown on the products in stores in America is the pre-sales tax price.
To be honest though, it was the same way in Japan when I first arrived here. At that time, sales tax here was 3% and the after-tax price wasn’t listed on the price-tags. (Just before I came to Japan, there was no sales tax here at all!)
But in 1997, the law was changed that all stores in Japan must show the after-tax price on their products (the sales tax went up to 5% that year too. (Currently, it’s 8%)).

3. “Toilet stalls” -
When people from other countries visit America, the public restrooms are quite a culture shock! The doors are too small! It’s disturbing when you’re using a public toilet but don’t feel like you have privacy.


4. “Tipping” -
There is no tipping in Japan. When I visited America, I was never sure who to tip or how much! I had to check my guidebook. Waitresses, taxi drivers, hotel staff, bartenders, et al. It felt like, no matter how mediocre the service, I had to tip everyone! And after tips were factored in, the cost for many things in America were actually higher than in Japan.

5. “Guns” -
Besides the police and military, there are virtually no gun owners in Japan.
All of the gun-related violence in America that is reported in the news is sad and shocking.

6. “Alcohol rules” -
In America, beer can’t be enjoyed outdoors in public. And there are hours (and even certain days) that stores don’t sell alcohol.

There are beer vending machines in Japan.

I’m not putting America down.
I’m just pointing out some peculiarities about the culture of the country of my birth. Every country has them…and sometimes it takes stepping outside the country and experiencing a different culture to see them.

What are some unique cultural peculiarities about America, Japan or any other country that you’ve noticed?

Hi-Chew is such a hit that the Japanese candy is getting its own factory in North Carolina

9 Dec Featured Image -- 11306

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

HC 1

Every time I go back to the States to see my family, before hopping on the plane, I swing by the convenience store to pick up some treats for my nieces and nephew. I figure if I can’t do anything about being “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year,” then I’m at least going to be “Uncle Who Only Visits Once a Year, but Brings Candy!”

The stuff I get for them isn’t anything particularly fancy. A few pieces of melon bread, whatever the newest mix of matcha green tea and chocolate is, and maybe a few packs of fruity Hi-Chew candy. This year might be my last chance to score some easy points with that last one, though, since in 2015 the makers of Hi-Chew are opening a factory in the U.S. to satisfy America’s sweet tooth with Japanese candy.

View original 507 more words

Japanese palindromes and semordnilaps

4 Dec

Do you know what a “palindrome” is?  In Japanese, it’s called 「回文」 (“kai-bun“).
It’s a word or phrase that is the same word or phrase when it’s written backwards.

English examples are:
-“Race car“. Written backwards, it still spells “race car”.
-“Never odd or even“. That phrase is the same when it’s read back-to-front, too.

A Japanese palindrome is:
– “トマト” (tomato). In English, “tomato” is “otamot” when it’s written backwards, so it isn’t a palindrome in English. But written in Japanese, 「トマト」 is the same word back-to-front.

Then there are semordnilaps. These are words that spell a new, different word when written in reverse.

Examples in English are:
– “Star“. It spells “rats” when written backwards.
- “Live” → “Evil“.
– “Desserts” → “Stressed“.
And – “Semordnilap” is a semordnilap of “palindromes“.

In Japanese, a couple examples:
– “すずき” (“Su-zu-ki”) → “傷す” (“Ki-zu-su”) (“scratch”)
– “砂糖” (“Sa-to-u”) (English: “sugar”) → “疎さ” (“U-to-sa”) (Eng.: “sparse”)

But, because of the way that Japanese is written (with 漢字 characters), the Japanese language has a unique kind of “semordnilap“.
There are Japanese words that, when written in reverse, not only have a different meaning, but the words also have a totally different pronunciation. I mean, they aren’t pronounced as a backwards reading (like “star” and “rats”, etc).
They do, though, have the same 漢字 characters…just in the reverse order.

Let me show you an example:
– “花火” (“hanabi”) (Eng.: “fireworks”) → “火花” (“hibana”) (Eng.: “spark”).

Both of those words have the same two 漢字 characters, but in reverse order.

Here are some others:
– “神風” (“kamikaze”) (Eng.: “kamikaze” (lit. “Wind of God”) → “風神” (“fu-u-jin”) (Eng.: “God of the Wind”).
– “会社” (“kaisha”) (Eng.: “The office”) → “社会” (“shakai”) (Eng.: “society”).
– “日本” (“Nippon”) (Eng.: “Japan”) → “本日” (“honjitsu”) (Eng.: “today”).

There are also words in Japanese which have more than one pronunciation…and sometimes even different meanings.
For example:
風車 … it can be pronounced “fuu-sha” and mean “wind mill” and it can also be pronounced “kaza-guruma” and mean “pinwheel“.

風車 (fuu-sha)

風車 (kaza-guruma)

What are other “semordnilaps” and “palindromes” that you can think of (in any language)?


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 237 other followers