If Star Wars was set in feudal Japan

27 Aug Featured Image -- 13471

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

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With just under four months to go until we finally get Episode 7 of Star Wars, many people have a galaxy far, far away on their minds. Some people are clamoring for any and all kinds of movie tidbits, while other fans are desperately trying to avoid all spoilers. Which means it’s the perfect time to release some “alternate realityStar Wars toys to the public.

Although, when your toy is this cool looking, any time is the perfect time.

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New 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo?

23 Aug Featured Image -- 13321

Originally posted on RocketNews24:

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A Japanese graphic designer and percussionist who currently resides in Seville, Spain, has devised an alternate design to the officially selected 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo in light of the recent plagiarism scandal.

Fan reaction to his creation has been incredibly positive, to the point where many people are asking, “Can we please make this a reality?”

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灯篭流し

16 Aug

Yesterday (2015 August 15th) was 終戦記念日 (VJ day) and there were ceremonies for that around Japan.
It was also the day that 灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is done at the Sumida River in Tokyo.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

Tokyo landmarks, Tokyo SkyTree and Asahi Beer HQ are near the Sumida River.

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) is a ceremony that is usually held at the end of O-bon (“O-bon” is mid-August usually (some places have it in July) and is a ceremony tradition to honor relatives and ancestors who’ve passed away.)

灯篭流し (“tourou-nagashi“) means “floating lanterns“. On this ceremony, people can purchase a lantern and write a message to relative(s) who have passed away and then the lanterns are lit and set afloat on the river.

It wasn’t easy to take photos that do it justice, but it looks beautiful.

This is the boat that some of the lanterns were set afloat from

A huge crowd to watch and set lanterns into the river.

The first of lanterns in the river.

Many people wore ゆかた (traditional Japanese summer kimono), such as this girl standing near the river’s edge.

More lanterns passing near the Tokyo Sky Tree.

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Here’s the line of people waiting to set their lanterns into the river.

The first group set their lanterns afloat from the boat, but after that a ramp from the dock was used.

Review & Giveaway 21: Tokyo – Capital of Cool

16 Aug

One more review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As always, they have agreed to give one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

(Other book giveaways that you can enter, by August 31st, are for a kanji book, katakana book, a hiragana book, and a type of language guide.)

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Tokyo: Capital of Cool” by Rob Goss.

Tokyo: Capital of Cool

Tokyo: Capital of Cool

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

This is a handcover book full of wonderful, large color photographs of Tokyo’s landscape, architecture, people, festivals, restaurants, and much more!

It includes maps of the areas shown and explains about them in detail.

There is also a chapter about Tokyo’s neighboring areas.

This book is perfect for anyone living in Tokyo, planning a visit, or just interested in Japan in general (and especially Tokyo, in particular)!

Tokyo: Capital of Cool” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:


Review & Giveaway 20: More Making Out In Japanese

13 Aug

Here’s another review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As always, they have agreed to give one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations – A Japanese Phrase Book” by Todd Geers and Erika Hoburg; revised by Elisha Geers.

More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations - A Japanese Phrase Book

More Making Out in Japanese:  A Japanese Phrase Book

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

This is a Japanese language phrase book mainly aimed at people looking to hook up romantically with a Japanese person, either short-term or even possibly long-term.

Most of the language and phrases in it are extremely casual…and some are even vulgar. So, it’s not particularly useful as a standard phrase book / study guide.

Though it’s best to stick to speaking polite Japanese in almost all cases…especially if you’re not really strong with the Japanese language – but there are some situations where this type of language is more appropriate…but, if you’re unsure, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and use “standard” polite language.

More Making Out in Japanese: Completely Revised and Updated with new Manga Illustrations – A Japanese Phrase Book” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:


(Also, you can enter, by August 31st, drawings for a kanji book, katakana book, and a hiragana book too.)

Review & Giveaway 19: Mastering Japanese Kanji

11 Aug

Yet another review of a book I’ve received from Tuttle Books!
As always, they have agreed to give one free copy of this book to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)” by Glen Nolan Grant.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

The written Japanese language has three scripts: hiragana and katakana (collectively known as “kana“) and thousands of kanji.

The script that is taught in this book is kanji. These are the characters that make up most of the Japanese written language. They were introduced to Japan from China. The Chinese written language uses these characters (albeit often a bit different from Japanese ones), but because Japanese grammar is quite different from Chinese, kana characters are needed in addition to kanji to write Japanese.

These characters are the most difficult to learn because there are so many of them, they are often complicated to write, and almost all have more than one possible pronunciation.

But, if you can read kanji, it helps a lot if you live in, or even visit, Japan!

If you’re serious about learning Japanese, you should begin studying kanji after you learn hiragana and katakana.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters” is an excellent tool for studying Japanese kanji.
It tells the most common pronunciation for 200 common kanji characters, the English meaning, gives examples of compound words with that character, and example sentences.
It also tells how to write each character properly and has spaces to practice. There are quizzes throughout the book to test you comprehension (with the answers at the back of the book).
In addition, there is a free CD-ROM included that demonstrates how to write the characters and how to pronounce words using the characters.

Mastering Japanese Kanji: The Innovative Visual Method for Learning Japanese Characters (CD-ROM Included)” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

To enter the drawing for the free book, submit this form by 2015 August 31st:


Night Zoo

11 Aug

One week in August, Ueno Zoo in Tokyo has a “Night Zoo” event. We went to it yesterday. We’ve been to it before too (click here to see my post about it in 2011).

Before we went to the zoo, we stopped for lunch at 東京駅 (Tokyo Station):

An 「駅弁」 (Train station “bento”) shop. Have you ever had a Japanese “bento”?

You can watch them preparing the bento meals.

The 「銀の鈴」 (“Silver Bell”) in Tokyo Station…a popular meeting spot.

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「チキンラーメン」 (“Chicken Ramen”)

The one on the left says 「有休とります」 (“I’m gonna take a holiday”) to give your boss or co-workers. The other says 「ごめんね」 (“I’m sorry”) to give someone as an apology.

The Ultraman Shop’s “manager”.

The less-photographed entrance of 東京駅 (Tokyo Station).

Break time

The popular Japanese cartoon character “Doraemon” in the small children’s mini-amusement park outside Ueno Zoo.

I have many memories of taking my kids to this 「こども遊園地」 (Kids’ Amusement Park) when they were little.

The entrance to Ueno Zoo in Tokyo. We went to the zoo in the afternoon and stayed until the end of the “Night Zoo” event.

We could see the pandas eating, rather than sleeping – as they usually are.

パンダ (Panda)

シンシン (メス) … (“Shin-Shin” the female panda).

リーリー (オス) …. (“Ri-Ri” the male panda).

The polar bear was a highlight for us because it was feeding time when we happened to go to that exhibit…and also, Ueno Zoo has added a new viewing area where we could watch him swim!

Huge ゾウガメ (Giant Tortoise)

コビトカバ (Pygmy Hippo)

Sleeping seals.

The sun was setting and “Night Zoo” began.

 

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