Yesterday, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park) for 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing). 桜 (Cherry Blossom) season has just begun. Having a picnic under the trees in bloom is a popular pasttime in Japan. Ueno Park is a very popular place for Cherry Blossom Viewing in Tokyo … so it was very crowded yesterday when we went. Here are some photos I took:
Today (2013 March 11) is the second anniversary of the biggest earthquake in Japan’s history and also one of the world’s top ten biggest.
The “2011 Tohoku-Region Pacific Earthquake” occurred at about 2:45PM on 2011 March 11th…two years ago today.
The terrible tsunami that did more damage than the earthquake that caused it.
It shook buildings, including my house, even done here in Tokyo very strongly! It was an experience that I hope never happens again.
On the day of the earthquake, I wrote a post…click here to read it.
At 2:46PM today, all over Japan people will have a minute of silence to remember those who suffered and those who died in that tragedy.
In Tokyo, the Emperor and Empress of Japan will attend a ceremony to remember the victims.
Unlike down here in Tokyo, where the weather has been very mild recently…there was a snow blizzard in northern Japan a couple of days ago.
I watched a heartbreaking story related to the storm on the television news here in Japan yesterday.
I edited an article from The Telegraph about it:
Father freezes to death protecting daughter from blizzard in Japan
A nine-year-old girl has been found weeping in her father’s arms after he froze to death sheltering her from a blizzard in northern Japan, it has emerged.
(Policemen try to dig out a vehicle in Nakashibetsu, Hokkaido (photo: AP))
Mr. Mikio Okada died as he tried to protect his only child, Natsune, against winds of up to 109 kilometers (68 miles) per hour, as temperatures plunged to -6°C (21°F).
Mr. Okada’s body was uncovered by rescuers looking for the pair after relatives raised the alarm. Natsune was wearing her father’s jacket and was wrapped in his arms, newspapers and broadcasters said.
The pair had last been heard from at 4PM on Saturday, after Mr. Okada, a fisherman, picked his daughter up from a school where she was being looked after while he was at work.
Mr. Okada called his relatives to say his truck had become stranded in the driving snow, which was several meters deep in places. He told them he and Natsune would walk the remaining kilometer.
The two were found just 300 meters from the truck at 7 am on Sunday.
Mr. Okada was hunched over his daughter, cradling her in his arms and apparently using his body and a warehouse wall to provide shelter.
He had taken his jacket off to give to his child.
Rescuers said she was weeping weakly in his arms.
The young girl was taken to hospital where she was found to have no serious injuries. Her father was officially pronounced dead by doctors at the same institution near their home at Yubetsu in Hokkaido.
Natsune’s mother had died two years ago from an unspecified illness.
Neighbors said that Mr. Okada had been a doting father who would often delay the start of his working day to enjoy breakfast with his daughter.
His death came as families all over Japan celebrated Girls’ Day.
“He reserved a cake for his only daughter and was looking forward to celebrating Girls Day together,” a neighbor told the “Yomiuri-Shinbun” newspaper.
Do you ever look at the “Huffington Post” website? I have their app on my smartphone. I like animals a lot … so I liked this slideshow of cats sleeping in funny positions that I found on their site: Click here to see it.
Then there’s “Maru”, the cute cat here in Japan that has become a bit of a YouTube celebrity:
In Japan, cute mascot characters are very popular to help promote many stores, restaurants and merchandise.
Even the Tokyo police, fire department and Japanese military have mascots.
Also, cities and prefectures in Japan have cute or funny mascot characters that are related to some local food or animal.
They are used to help promote tourism to the area.
These characters are normally cute … or at least try to be.
So, the new mascot for the northernmost Japanese prefecture of Hokkaido was on the news recently because not only is the character not cute… but it’s actually on there scary side!
Hokkaido is famous for the wild bears (熊 (kuma) in Japanese) and the cantaloupe (メロン (melon) in Japanese)… so the character is 「メロン熊」(“Melon-kuma“).
It’s a bear with a Japanese cantaloupe melon for a head … and has angry eyes and huge teeth!
It’s also fond of trying to bite people!
Quite different from the usual mascots in Japan!
Here’s a video of the melon-kuma trying to bite people and promote tourism to Hokkaido:
Summer in Tokyo is very hot and humid. There is a typhoon season and sometimes a sudden thunderstorm with heavy rain will start seemingly out of nowhere…and then stop just as suddenly with blue skies returning.
Japanese people are sometimes surprised if I tell them that summer in Florida (where I grew up) is very similar.
Summer in Florida is also hot and humid. There is a hurricane season (hurricanes, for all intents and purposes, are basically the same as typhoons) and sometimes sudden short thunderstorms occur there too.
In fact, the area in Florida where I lived, Tampa Bay, is called “the lightning capital of the world”.
When the weather is sunny and then a rainstorm suddenly starts…with the sunny weather returning just as suddenly, Floridians call that a sun shower.
So I also referred to the same phenomenon in Japan as a sun shower, as well.
But a few years ago, the Japanese media gave these storms an original Japanese name. Here in Japan, these storms are called 「ゲリラ豪雨」 (“Guerrilla rainstorms“) because of the way they violently come out of nowhere.
Well, yesterday, there was a sudden, short, ゲリラ豪雨 (Guerrilla rainstorm)…and someone photographed it from the Tokyo Sky Tree tower.
The 「ゲリラ豪雨」 (guerrilla rainstorm) that hit the Tokyo area yesterday. It looks like a tornado!
Yesterday (2012 July 5th), Shin-Shin, the female Giant Panda at Tokyo’s 上野動物園 (Ueno Zoo) gave birth to a baby.
The proud mother, Shin-Shin, in Tokyo’s Ueno Zoo.
(Photo from the Ueno Zoo website).
This is the first time that a panda has been born in a zoo in Japan in twenty-four years.
That means that the last time a panda was born here was in 1988…two years before I came to Japan.
So, this is big news and Ueno Zoo will surely be full of visitors hoping to see the baby panda.
Edited on 2012 July 12: It was announced that the newborn baby panda died of pneumonia yesterday.
Yesterday my wife and I went to a special “Machu-Picchu” exhibit at a museum in Tokyo.
Have you heard of Machu Picchu ?
They are an ancient Inka ruins in Peru that wasn’t known to the Spanish when they invaded South America…therefore it wasn’t plundered when it was discovered by an American archaeologist in 1912.
Since this year is the one-hundred anniversary of the discovery of Machu-Picchu, the 「国立科学博物館」 (National Science Museum) has a special exhibit about the Inka people and Machu-Picchu, titled 「マチュピチュ発見100年インカ帝国展」 (“The Inka Empire, 100 Years after the Machu-Picchu Discovery”).
The flyer for the special “Machu-Picchu” exhibit.
Among the items in this collection, you can see actual mummies and a short twelve-minute 3-D movie that takes you “into” Machu-Picchu.
This exhibit can be seen at the 「国立科学博物館」 (National Science Museum), not far from 上野駅 (Ueno train station) in Tokyo until Sunday, 2012 June 24th.
The 2012 Tokyo Marathon was held today.
Twenty-nine year old Michael Kipyego of Kenya, Africa came in first place with a time of 2 hrs 07.37 seconds.
藤原新 (Arata Fujiwara) came in second just a few hundredths of a seconds later.
Arata Fujiwara of Japan and Michael Kipyego of Kenya show their silver and gold medals, respectively.
I don’t enjoy running…or even jogging, for that matter. So I can’t imagine running a 42 kilometer (26.22 miles) marathon!
Do you like to run or jog? Have you ever run a marathon? The Tokyo Marathon?
Now that it’s getting closer to the end of winter and 花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing”) season will be here before long, many Japanese brewers have begun selling beers in cans decorated with 桜 (Cherry Blossoms).
On Saturday (2011 December 10th), many parts of the world, including Japan, could see a 月食 (full lunar eclipse).
A lunar eclipse occurs when the sun, earth and moon are all aligned in a straight line causing the moon to be completely hidden by the shadow cast by the earth.
In Japanese, it’s called 「月食」 (“Gesshoku“). The written characters could be literally translated to “Eaten moon” (hence my title for this post).
Before the moon was completely covered in the earth's shadow, some of the sun's reflected light caused the moon to appear red. (The picture was taken in Tokyo).
This photo shows the earth's shadow beginning to cover the moon. (Tokyo Tower is in the foreground).
Were you able to see the lunar eclipse where you live?
(The two photos in this post were found on Google Images. My camera’s not powerful enough to take such close-up shots of the moon.)