Archive | April, 2009

Forever 21

29 Apr

I’m not really interested in fashion brands. I’m especially unfamiliar with the latest brands in other countries (outside Japan).

But I heard on the TV news today about a clothing store in America called Forever 21.

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Do you know this store? Do you shop there?

First of all, it seems that Forever 21 has a clothing line titled “Shibuya Mon Amour“.
It’s supposedly a cross between Tokyo fashion and French fashion. (Shibuya is a part of Tokyo popular with young people).

I was surprised by that! Is 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) famous overseas?
Before I came to Japan, I had never heard of Shibuya, Akihabara, Roppongi, or any other sections of Tokyo (I came to Japan in 1990. Before the internet. So it was a different world back then).

I also heard that the American pop singer Gwen Stefani loves the 原宿 (Harajuku) section of Tokyo, which is popular with a different group of young people that those who like 渋谷 (Shibuya).
There are “Harajuku girls” and “Shibuya girls” in Tokyo. Even though those two areas are close to each other, the fashion of each is quite different from the other. That singer, Gwen Stefani, calls her back-up dancers “Harajuku Girls”.

Anyways, the reason that the American clothing store chain “Forever 21” was on the news in Japan today isn’t because of their “Shibuya Mon Amour” line…it’s because they opened their first store in Japan today.
It’s in the 原宿 (Harajuku) section of Tokyo.

Whenever a new store opens in Japan, they almost always have a big “Grand Opening Sale”…which results in a crowd of customers waiting to get in even before the store opens.

Here’s a picture of the crowd that was waiting to get into the Forever 21 Tokyo store today for their Grand Opening sale:

Grand Opening of "Forever 21" in Tokyo.

Grand Opening of "Forever 21" in Tokyo.

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縁日祭

29 Apr

今日は「昭和の日」 (Today is “Showa Day“).

Until 1989, April 29th was 天の誕生日 (the (Showa) Emperor’s birthday), but when the (Showa) Emperor died in 1989 his son became the (current) Emperor…so in honor of the Showa Emperor’s love of nature, his birthday became the Japanese holiday 緑の日 (Greenery Day).
But a few years ago, 緑の日 (Greenery Day) was changed to May 4th and April 29th became known as 昭和の日 (Showa Day).

You can read about Japanese holidays on my FAQ page by clicking here…and you can read about 昭和の日 (Showa Day) in particular by clicking here.

At a 神社 (shrine) near our house, our town had a 縁日祭 (Neighborhood Festival).
We usually go to this festival every year.
In past years at this festival, my youngest daughter has played the Koto* with her Koto class, my oldest daughter played the trumpet with her brass band when she was in Junior High, and I volunteered once to help at one of the booths.
(*Koto is a traditional Japanese instrument).
Even though this festival is small, I enjoy it alot because I have lived in this neighborhood for many years so I know many people and it’s enjoyable to have a beer and talk with friends and neighbors and enjoy the festival.

This year, my wife volunteered in help at one of the booths. She helped at the booth selling かき氷 (shaved ice).

Today is Wednesday but it’s a day off. It was nice to have a day off in the middle of the week. A nice break.
We all had a good time at the festival. Each of my daughters went to the festival with their friends.
I saw my father-in-law there talking with some neighbors…I sat with them and had some beer and food and small talk.
I saw my daughters and their friends walking around, so I bought them all some イカ焼き (grilled squid).

We all had a good time.

Here are some photos I took:

「こいのぼり」 (Carp streamers). It's a traditional 子供の日 (Children's Day (May 5)) decoration.

「こいのぼり」 (Carp streamers). It's a traditional 子供の日 (Children's Day (May 5)) decoration.

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お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki)

お好み焼き (Okonomiyaki)

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What types of neighborhood festivals do you have where you live?

東京ディズニーランドの写真

25 Apr

Last weekend, my daughters went to 東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland) together. They took their young six-year-old cousin with them.

While the four of them were at the amusement park, my wife and I went to IKEA (I wrote about that last week. Click here to read it.)

Here are some of the photos that my daughters took (I’m not posting any of the photographs that have my kids or niece in them):

The Tokyo Disney Resort bus

The Tokyo Disney Resort bus

"Daisy Duck"

"Daisy Duck"

"Pooh-san"

"Pooh-san"

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey with Cinderella's Castle in the background.

A statue of Walt Disney and Mickey with Cinderella's Castle in the background.

"Buzz Lightyear"

"Buzz Lightyear"

++++++++++

I’m sure you’ve heard in the news about the recent outbreak of a new epidemic in Mexico that has spread to America.
It’s a 豚インフルエンザ (Swine (Pig) Flu)!

First, there was “Mad Cow“, then the “Bird Flu“…and now it’s pigs. Will fish be next?

Japan did a pretty good job of keeping the mad cow and bird flu out of this country. Hoping this new swine flu won’t spread here either!

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Anyways, “Golden Week” has officially started today. Students still have school and most people still have to work until Thursday…but some people get to begin their holidays today.
As with most people though, my family all have our Golden Week holidays from next Saturday (May 2) until Wednesday (April 6)…plus this Wednesday (April 29) is off too (But, Thursday (April 30) and Friday (May 1) are work days).

Wednesday, April 29 is 昭和の日 (Showa Day). (It used to be 緑の日 (Greenery Day)).
Sunday, May 3 is 憲法記念日 (Constitution Day).
Monday, May 4 is now 緑の日 (Greenery Day). (It used to be 国民記念日 (Residents Day).
And Tuesday, May 5 is 子供の日 (Children’s Day).

Because 憲法記念日 (Constitution Day) is on a Sunday this year, it’s observed on Tuesday, May 6.
So most people’s Golden Week is from Saturday May 2 – Tuesday May 6.

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Click here to read my FAQ about the Golden Week holidays.

Also, this year (2009) in Japan, there will be a second Golden Week in September!
This is because 敬老の日 (Respect For The Aged Day) is on the third Monday of September…and 秋分の日 (Autumn Equinox) is on September 23.

This year, the third Monday of September will be on September 21. So since September 21 and 23 will be off…the government made September 22 between them a day-off too.
So, many people will have Saturday, September 19 until Wednesday, September 23 off…a second Golden Week.

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School clubs

25 Apr

In Japan, most kids join an after-school activity…a 部活動 (school club). Such as the baseball team, band, or science club.

How about in your country? Do most kids join a school club?

The school year begins in April in Japan…so a new school-year has just begun this month.
So this year, my youngest daughter just began junior high school and she joined the girls’ basketball team. Tomorrow we’re taking her shopping to buy her basketball sneakers.

My second daughter is in her final year of junior high school. She’s joined the English club. And yesterday she applied for a twelve-day overseas home-stay.
Do you know about the student home-stay program?
It allows kids to experience what life is like in other countries by staying in the home of an average family in another country.
If my daughter is accepted, she will stay for twelve days with a family in either Australia, Canada, England or America this summer.
If she goes, she’ll enjoy it, I’m sure…but I will worry until she’s back home!

My oldest daughter has begun high-school this year. She played trumpet in the brass band for the past two years…but she decided not to join a club this year.
She wants to get her first after school part-time job instead!
I can’t believe my daughter’s old enough to have a job!

Did you work part-time when you were a high-school student?
When I was in high school, I worked at a variety of part-time jobs. My first job was at the fast-food chain “Wendy’s“. I chose to work there because it was near where I lived and they were hiring.

IKEA

19 Apr

Do you know IKEA?

ikea-logo

IKEA is a chain of stores that look like warehouses and sell furniture, food, toys, and various other items for the home.
IKEA stores are all over the world now, but the company is Swedish (the store’s colors are the same as the Swedish flag).

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In the 1970’s, IKEA opened stores in Japan but they weren’t successful in Japan and had to withdraw from the Japanese market in the 1980’s.
But, a few years ago, they decided to try their luck in Japan again…and they seem to be doing much better this time.

There are currently five IKEA stores in Japan.

I had never been inside an IKEA store until yesterday.
I remember, though, when they were building their first store in Japan a few years ago…because it was built on the spot that the “SSAWS Ski Dome” had been for so many years.

The SSAWS Ski Dome was the world’s biggest indoor downhill-skiing arena. It was called “SSAWS” because it offered snow skiing all year round, and the name was an acronym for “Spring, Summer, Autumn, Winter Skiing”.

The outside of the "SSAWS Ski Dome".

The outside of the "SSAWS Ski Dome".

Inside the "SSAWS Ski Dome".

Inside the "SSAWS Ski Dome".

I used to see the giant, cool-looking SSAWS Ski Dome all the time and I always thought to myself that I was going to go in there and try it out one day. But that day never came because about five or six years ago, they closed down and it was torn down.

And then IKEA bought the land a few years ago and built their warehouse store. I had never heard of IKEA before then and I wondered what it was.
I was kinda disappointed when I found out. The world’s largest indoor ski-lift was there…and it was replaced with a giant furniture store! How disappointing!

But yesterday, my wife and I decided to look inside the IKEA store.

I had heard that many foreigners shop there because, mainly, they miss food from their home-country and IKEA sells imported food.
I did see many foreigners shopping there, so I guess it’s true.

But, for me personally, I’m more used to Japanese foods…so actually alot of the imported foods that I saw in IKEA looked odd to me.

We enjoyed looking around IKEA…but we didn’t buy anything.

IKEA Japan

IKEA Japan

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2016 Olympics in Tokyo

17 Apr

This October (2009), the International Olympic Committee will announce which city is chosen to host the 2016 Olympic Games.

The four finalist cities are Tokyo, Japan; Chicago, USA; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil and Madrid, Spain.

I believe Tokyo should be chosen to host the games…Tokyo is safe and clean, the public transportation is extremely punctual and affordable, their is plenty of interesting places to see in the city, the food is excellent, and it’s a beautiful city.

Here is one of the official promotional videos for Tokyo’s campaign to win the 2016 Olympics host-city bid. Watch it and see why I love living here: