Archive | September, 2009

Sister cities

27 Sep

Many cities in the world have a 姉妹都市 (“sister city“) partnership with a city in another country. Some cities have more than one “sister city”.

Tokyo, for example, has eleven sister cities.
– 中国北京市 (Beijing, China)
– Berlin, Germany
– Cairo, Egypt
– Jakarta, Indonesia
– Moscow, Russia
– New South Wales, Australia
– New York City, America
– Paris, France
– Rome, Italy
– Sao Paulo, Brazil, and
– Seoul, Korea
are Tokyo’s sister cities.

Cities make “sister city” contracts with other cities in the world to help promote each other’s culture, industry and tourism.

I just found out that the city I grew up in…Clearwater, Florida, USA is a sister city with 日本国長野市 (Nagano, Japan).

And that this year (2009) is the 50th year that Clearwater, Florida and Nagano, Japan have been sister cities.
To celebrate, both Nagano and Clearwater are doing more than usual to promote each other’s culture.

I also found out that every year, a small group of American students and teachers spend two weeks of the summer in Nagano, Japan…and a similar small Japanese group from Nagano visit Clearwater, Florida.
I wish I knew about that when I was a teenager in Florida! I might have applied for the program!

I remember, though, when I was in elementary school, a group of teachers from Japan visited my school in Florida. I guess they were from Nagano. I remember that they seemed very interested in my school lunch and what I thought of it (I know now that it’s because American school lunches are so very different from Japanese ones!).

What city do you live in? What’s your town’s “sister city”? Have you ever visited the sister city?

I have been to Nagano once. In 1998, to see the ’98 Olympics that were hosted by Nagano, Japan.
And I’ve only been back to visit Clearwater, Florida once since I moved to Tokyo in 1990 (in 2004, my family and I visited Florida for a couple weeks in the summer).

As for Tokyo’s sister cities, years ago, I visited Seoul, Korea and New York City once each.


26 Sep

As I mentioned in a post last January, 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) are very popular in Japan.
These postcards have a six-digit number printed on the back in the lower right-hand corner, and every January the Japanese post office draws random numbers for a Postcard lottery in which people with postcards that have a winning number receive a prize.

Click here to read that post.

Well, Japan also has a tradition of sending postcards to friends and family in the summer. This tradition isn’t practiced anywhere near to the extent that the New Years postcards are…but there’s also a Post Office Lottery for these cards as well.

Here are the winning numbers for the Japanese Post Card lottery for Summer 2009:

For the “A” Prize (¥200,000):
▲ 035890
▲ 723606
▲ 817512

For “B” Prize (a sheet of postage stamps):
▲ any number with the last three digits 352

The last prize (¥10,000):
▲ any number with the last four digits 4452

Did you receive any Summer Postcards this year?
Do any have a winning lottery number on them?

None of the postcards we received this summer won.

Leaders first meeting

26 Sep

Japan’s new Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, went to New York yesterday and had his first meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama.

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

Japan Prime Minister Hatoyama and U.S. President Obama

For the U.S., the issue of Japan continued help with the “War On Terrorism” is of top concern.
For Japan, it’s the issue of reducing the number of the U.S. military stationed in Japan…and abolishing nuclear weapons in the world.

But for this first meeting, the only major issue raised was about ridding the world of nuclear weapons.
Both Hatoyama and Obama said that they’d like to see an end to the nuclear threat in the world.

As the only country that has ever been attacked by nuclear weapons, this issue is important to Japan.
Prime Minister Hatoyama reiterated Japan’s stance that all nuclear weapons should be abolished and invited the the American president to visit Hiroshima and Nagasaki when he comes to Tokyo next November.

No U.S. President has ever visited Hiroshima or Nagasaki .

I Am Ozzy

25 Sep

Do you know who Ozzy Osbourne is?


Are you a fan?
Hopefully you know more about him than the MTV reality show about his family life called “The Osbournes“!

In the 1970’s, Ozzy was the lead vocalist of the epic heavy metal band from England, “Black Sabbath“.

His drug and alcohol problems caused him to get kicked out of the band that he helped found.
After that he was ready to give up on rock ‘n roll…but the daughter of Black Sabbath‘s manager became the manager of his solo career and she eventually became his wife.

With her help, Ozzy Osbourne became more popular as a solo artist than when he was with Sabbath.

Ozzy‘s antics in his younger days are infamous though.

For example, when his manager / soon-to-be wife was trying to get Ozzy a record contract for his solo career (which was no small feat due to his well-known addiction problems), she suggested that he show up to the meeting with the record executives with some white doves as a sign of peace.
But he showed up drunk…and bit the head of one of the doves clean off!

It made quite the impression!
He got the record deal but was forbidden from stepping foot in the record company’s office again!

Another time, during a concert, a fan threw a live bat onto the stage…and Ozzy bit that animal’s head off too! (He had to get rabies shots after that).

At one time in the 1980s, Ozzy urinated on “The Alamo” in the U.S. state of Texas.
“The Alamo”, it seems, is a state treasure and for that the Governor Of Texas (who was future U.S. President George W. Bush) banned Ozzy from stepping foot on Texas soil for ten years!

Ironically, during Bush’s presidency Ozzy was invited to a White House dinner and President Bush gave a glowing speech to Ozzy in which he said, among other things,  that his mother (Barbara Bush) listens to Ozzy‘s music.
Somehow I can’t imagine Mrs. Bush enjoying Ozzy Osbourne‘s music!

Anyways, Ozzy Osbourne, “The Godfather Of Metal”, will be releasing a new album next year.

And next month, his autobiography, titled “I Am Ozzy” will be in bookstores.

The cover of Ozzy Osbourne's autobiograhy

The cover of Ozzy Osbourne's autobiograhy

I want to read it!

And due in theaters in 2010 is a documentary about Ozzy‘s life (produced by his son, Jack Osbourne), titled “Wreckage Of My Past (The Story Of Ozzy Osbourne)“.



23 Sep

Today is 「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“).

In Japan, both 「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“) in September and 「春分の日」 (“Vernal Equinox“) in March are holidays (Click here to read my short FAQ about Vernal Equinox and here for the one about Autumn Equinox).

The time around 「秋分の日」 (“Autumn Equinox“) and 「春分の日」 (“Vernal Equinox“) are both called 「お彼岸」 (“O-higan“).

There’s a type of Lily flower that grows around the 「お彼岸」 (“O-higan“) period in both Spring and Autumn. So it’s called 「彼岸花」 (“Higan-bana”) in Japanese.

「彼岸花」 (Higan-bana)

「彼岸花」 (Higan-bana)

And there’s a Japanese expression:


It means “Both the hot weather and the cold weather ends at O-higan.

「お墓参り」 (O-haka-mairi (visiting the family gravesite)) is tradition at 「お彼岸」 (“O-higan“).
And that’s what we did today.
Then we went on a bike ride around the river because the weather was nice today.

Tokyo’s high quality of life

22 Sep

I just found that Monocle magazine ranked the “World’s Most Livable Cities (Quality Of Life)”.

Their criteria was:

  • Safety / low crime
  • International connectivity
  • Climate
  • Quality of architecture
  • Public transportation
  • Tolerance of others
  • Environmental issues and access to nature
  • Urban design
  • Business conditions
  • “Pro-active policy developments” and
  • Medical care

Tokyo ranked as the third most livable city in the world.


Their entire Top ten “most livable cities” are:

  1. Zürich, Switzerland
  2. Copenhagen, Denmark
  3. Tokyo, Japan
  4. Munich, Germany
  5. Helsinki, Finland
  6. Stockholm, Sweden
  7. Vienna, Austria
  8. Paris, France
  9. Melbourne, Australia
  10. Berlin, Germany

Tokyo runs like clockwork and its service culture beats any competition.

Monocle magazine

Personally, I think Tokyo should be number one! Especially in regards to safety, international connectivity, tolerance, access to nature, business conditions, medical care, and public transportation.
All of those are top-notch in Tokyo!

Pop culture quotes

22 Sep

Many times lines from movies, TV shows, TV commercials, and songs enter pop culture.

For example, everyone know Arnold Schwarzengger‘s line in the movie “The Terminator“:

I’ll be back!

Let’s play a pop culture quotes game.

To play, in the comment section of this post, correctly name where the quote in the most recent comment is from…and then write a well-known quote from pop culture for the next person to identify.

Like this…if someone writes “I’ll be back“.
The next commenter writes “The Terminator“…Next quote: “Who Shot J.R.?”

So, I’ll start.
Name where this quote came from:
Where’s the beef?