Archive | September, 2011

One million hits

25 Sep

My blog reached one million hits yesterday! Thank you very much for visiting my blog…and I hope you’ll leave a comment often! The best part of having a blog is the feedback from visitors…so feel free to comment on any of my posts (recent ones, as well as old ones).

My blog averages about 1,500 hits a day. But the day with most traffic was just after the 2011 March 11 earthquake / tsunami in Sendai. My blog had 10,007 hits on that single day.

Just how big of a number is one million?
One million hours is over 114 years,
one million miles is more than four times the distance from the earth to the moon,
one million people is the approximate population of Sendai, Japan.

One million dots (each block in the picture has 10,000 dots!) ...(picture is from "")

Present for McDonalds 40th year in Japan

22 Sep

McDonalds opened their first shop in Japan in 1971…forty years ago.
Japan was one of the earliest overseas (ie: outside the U.S.) markets that McDonalds opened in.

To celebrate McDonalds 40周年 (40th anniversary) in Japan, they will be offering a few different special campaigns at different times.

The first campaign is a free hamburger.
From 5:00 PM Saturday, 2011 September 24th – Sunday, September 25th, if you order any Value Meal set at a McDonalds in Japan, you will receive a free hamburger with your order.

They haven’t announced yet what the following campaigns will be.

Message in a bottle

19 Sep

In March 2006, the sixth graders at an elementary school in Kagoshima, Japan wrote notes and put them into glass bottles along with photographs or whatever they decided.

Then they dropped the time-capsule bottles into the ocean.

This was done because in Japan the school year ends in March and sixth grade is the last year of elementary school…so those kids would move onto to junior high school the following month.

It took five-and-a-half years but last week an American sailor with the U.S. Navy found one of the bottles washed up on shore in Hawaii.
Inside was a note written by, then twelve-year-old, Saki Arikawa that said it was an “elementary school graduation memory”, a few origami cranes and a photograph of Saki and her classmates.

The photo of Saki Arikawa and her sixth-grade classmates that was in the time-capsule bottle

When a news reporter contacted Saki Arikawa to tell her that the bottle had been discovered in Hawaii, she said it was an “incredible miracle” because she had long given up hope that it would ever be found by anyone.

Saki and her classmates are all seventeen years old and will be graduating from high school next March. But after the news of the bottle’s discovery, Saki had a reunion with her sixth grade teacher and some of her classmates…all of whom had not seen each other since March 2006.

Now, Saki said, she would like to meet the kind American sailor who found her bottle.

Anniversary of one tragedy and another around the world

11 Sep

Today is the tenth anniversary of the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
No one will ever forget the two jumbo jets that were crashed into the World Trade Center towers and brought them down. It was a shocking and tragic event.
2,753 innocent people were killed in the attack on New York City.

But less often mentioned are the other two planes of the September 11th attacks.
American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into The Pentagon in Washington DC, killing 184 innocent people.
And United Airlines Flight 93 was also hijacked and most likely headed for another high-profile crowded target to be crashed into. But this flight was different. The hijackers of United 93 had their cowardly plan foiled by the heroic passengers and crew of that flight!
The passengers and crew of that plane called their loved ones on the ground and told them that they understood what had to be done…and then they overtook the terrorists and forced the plane to crash into an empty field rather than another building.
Tragically, 40 innocent people lost their lives from that flight…but if it wasn’t for their selfless actions, the death toll most likely would have been much higher.

Memorial to the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93

Some of the phone calls weren’t disconnected and a telephone operator heard the voice of one of the passengers named Tom Beamer as he led the revolt against the terrorists with rallying cry to his fellow passengers of “Are you ready? OK, let’s roll!

Shortly after the events of 2001 September 11th, the American heavy metal band “L.A. Guns” recorded a song about the heroes of United Flight 93.

The song is titled “OK, Let’s Roll!”.  Here are the lyrics:

United Airlines Flight 93
Left 8:01 from Gate 17
Victims of a war they never knew existed
Hell looked them in the eyes and still they resisted

Lost brave souls, your courage we remember
Sacrificed your lives that September
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

So began the massacre at twenty thousand feet
Red devils lead the charge and pulled the captain from his seat
They watched them cut and slash at anyone left standing
We knew deep in our hearts this plane would not be landing

Never once were they ever in control
Lives were lost, but they never took a soul
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

Skies of Pennsylvania became a battle ground
Two hundred miles away, the towers had come down
One last chance to say goodbye, he called her on his phone
Said he knew what must be done, “I am not coming home.”

Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

–“OK, Let’s Roll” by L.A. Guns

You can listen to it here:

Today is also the six-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku area of Japan.

There are still many people there living in evacuation shelters. And, just like the 2001 September 11 attacks, there are many heart-breaking stories of people who lost their loved ones. And there are stories of courage and people helping each other.

Both the events ten years ago in America and six months ago in northern Japan were terrible and shocking.  I hope we never have to see such tragedies ever again.

Autumn is coming

9 Sep

The weather is still hot and humid in Tokyo now, but some signs of Autumn (秋 (Aki) in Japanese) can be seen now that it’s September.

The leaves haven’t begun to change color yet. That’s called 紅葉 (Kouyou) in Japanese and it does happen in late October or so and it’s very beautiful…especially to someone like me who came to Japan from Florida where the leaves on trees are green all year round.

The signs of Autumn that can be see every year in Japan at this time of year are some foods and drinks that can be purchased now.

All of the major domestic beer brewers in Japan offer special seasonal brews at the turn of each of the seasons. Right now, they’re all offering their various Autumn beers.
I currently have in my house a case of Suntory 「秋楽」 (“Aki-raku“) beer.

Suntory "Aki-raku" autumn brew with 6% alcohol!

This beer’s name translates to “Comfortable Autumn”.
Kirin Beer offers a beer in a similar can called 「秋味」 (“Aki-aji“), which means “The Flavor of Autumn”.

Another sign that autumn is near is when McDonalds in Japan offers their special, popular 「月見バーガー」 (“Tsukimi Burger“).
This burger is only available for a limited-time each year in autumn.  And it’s currently on the menu again.

The "Tsukimi Burger" is currently available at McDonalds Japan

The Tsukimi Burger has an egg on it because the egg looks like a full-moon in the sky.
You may wonder what an egg resembling the moon has to do with anything…

But you’d need to understand that for centuries, 月見 (tsukimi)…which means “moon watching”…has been a popular autumn past time in Japan.
月見, autumn moon-gazing parties, are popular and McDonalds capitalized on that and offered a temporary burger for the occasion every year.

Another recent sign that autumn is approaching in Japan is the increasing number of stores that put up Halloween decorations.
When I came to Japan in 1990, Halloween was unheard of here…but, recently, it’s become much more well-known. But it’s still not really celebrated. Going “Trick ‘R Treating” around the neighborhood isn’t done here, and private homes aren’t decorated. But many stores capitalize on the western holiday and put up Halloween decorations in an attempt to draw customers.

Are there unique customs in your country in the transition between seasons?

Happy Birthday, Colonel

4 Sep

September 9th is the birthday of the late Colonel Harland Sanders, the founder of the American fast-food chain Kentucky Fried Chicken.

カーネル・サンダーズ (Colonel Sanders) died in 1980 at the age of ninety. But if he were still alive, he would turn 121 this Friday.

Colonel Sanders and his Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants are popular in Japan…especially at Christmastime. Many KFC restaurants in Japan have life-sized statues of Col. Sanders out front.

Most Japanese people think, though, that Colonel Sanders first name is actually 「カーネル」 (Colonel). They have no idea that his name is actually Harland Sanders and “colonel” is a rank in the military (the Japanese equivalent is 「大佐」).
And, also, Kentucky Fried Chicken is often shortened to “KFC” in America…but in Japan, it’s normally called 「ケンタッキー」 (“Kentucky“) for short.

Click here to read the post I wrote last year about the 40th anniversary of KFC in Japan. That post also has links to other posts I wrote that tell about the popularity of KFC at X-mas in Japan and also about the “Curse of the Colonel in Japanese baseball.

Anyways, to celebrate Colonel Sanders’ birthday, Kentucky Fried Chicken in Japan is offering a set called the 「カーネル・バースデー・パック」 (“Colonel Birthday Pack”), which has three “Original Chicken” and three “Colonel Crispy” chicken, for ¥990 until 2011 September 21st.

The special price of ¥990 was chosen for this campaign because Colonel Sanders birthday is the ninth day of the ninth month (September 9th).