Archive | November, 2011

Lady Kaga

30 Nov

In 2008, when U.S. president Obama was campaigning for the presidency, a small town in western Japan called 小浜 (Obama) was taking advantage to the similarity in their names in an attempt to draw tourists…they were especially hoping that Barack Obama himself would pay a visit to Obama, Japan (but he still hasn’t).

Well, there is another small town in western Japan that is trying to capitalize on a similarity in the town’s name to that of an American celebrity.
加賀 (Kaga) is a town near 日本海 (the Sea of Japan) that has many 温泉 (hot springs), temples, shrines and traditional Japanese culture.

The name “Kaga” is similar to “Gaga” (as in “Lady Gaga”, the American pop star). When the two names are written in Japanese カタカナ (katakana) characters, they’re even more similar…「カガ」 (“Kaga”) looks quite like 「ガガ」 (“Gaga”).

The town of Kaga gets many tourists from 「関西地方」 (the “Kansai” region) in western Japan, which includes 「大阪」 (Osaka)…but not so many from 「関東地方」 (the “Kanto” region) in eastern Japan, which is where Tokyo is.

So, Kaga has recently begun a new tourist campaign on TV in the Tokyo area in an attempt to attract more tourists from this area.
This new TV ad takes advantage of the similarity in name to “Lady Gaga”, and shows a number of women who work in the tourism industry in Kaga and calls them 「レディー・カガ」 (“Lady Kaga”).

Here’s the ad:

Supposedly, Lady Gaga is scheduled to come to Tokyo sometime next month. Maybe she’ll she the ad on Japanese TV while she’s here…and take a trip to Kaga!

Unfinished Business

24 Nov

Peter Criss was the original drummer of the rock band KISS. His “character” was the “Catman”.
But Peter Criss left the band in 1980 and was replaced by Eric Carr…the “Fox”.

Eric Carr ended up being a member of KISS for a longer period of time than Peter Criss. Eric was in the band from 1980 until he passed away in 1991.
Eric Carr was a legendary hard rock drummer and also a classy person…he was happy to meet with fans after a concert and he personally answered all of his fan mail.

I was very sad when I heard the news that Eric Carr died of cancer on 1991 November 24th! And I can’t believe that today is already the twentieth anniversary of his passing!

To honor Eric Carr, his family and friends have put together some previously unreleased songs and interviews of Eric’s onto a new album titled “Unfinished Business“.

This album, Eric Carr “Unfinished Business” goes on sale today, 2011 November 24th, the twentieth anniversary of his death.

Here’s a promo clip for this new album:

Oh yeah…today is also the 20th anniversary of the death of Freddie Mercury, the lead singer of Queen. He died the same day as Eric Carr.

Rest in peace, both Eric Carr and Freddie Mercury.

Pictures of Hiroshima in autumn

20 Nov

Last Wednesday to Friday, my second daughter took a three-day field trip with her high school class to 広島 (Hiroshima).

Hiroshima is on the other side of the country from 東京 (Tokyo). I imagined that they’d go there by 新幹線 (bullet train)…but they took an airplane flight.

Here are some of the photos she took. (She took many more photos, but I’m not including any of the pictures that have her or her classmates in them.)

This is a famous landmark and symbol of Hiroshima. Before 1945 August 6th, it was an industrial exhibit hall.
The atomic bomb dropped in WW2 detonated directly above it, killing everyone who was inside…but the building was still standing.
It remains exactly how it was after the bombing but the name was changed to 「原爆ドーム」 (“Atomic Bomb Dome”). It’s now a peace memorial and a World Heritage Site.

「原爆ドーム」 ("Atomic Bomb Dome")

This (below) is a statue of Sadako Sasaki who died of leukemia when she was twelve caused by the atomic bombing of Hiroshima (her hometown).  While she was in the hospital, she tried to fold 「千羽鶴」 (1000 Paper Origami Cranes) which are a symbol of health and luck in Japan.
She died before she could complete them.
Click here to read a post that I wrote about her story (and another young Japanese girl with a big story, too).
(Some of young Sadako’s paper origami cranes are in the WTC Momument in New York. Click here to read my post about that.)

"Children's Peace Monument" with statue of Sadako Sasaki.

The 「広島平和記念公園」 (“Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park”):

In the Peace Park, there is the “Peace Flame” which will remain lit until there are no more nuclear weapons in the world, “Peace Bells” which can be rung be visitors to the park in a wish for world peace, and the “Cenotaph (empty tomb) For The Atomic Bomb Victims”…this monument lists the names of all of the victims of the bombing of Hiroshima and has the words 「安らかに眠って下さい 過ちは 繰返しませぬから」 (“Rest in peace, for we will never repeat this mistake”).

The "Cenotaph For Atomic Bomb Victims"

Looking through the Cenotaph For Atomic Bomb Victims, the "Peace Flame" and the "Atomic Bomb Dome" can be seen.

My daughter’s class took the ferry to nearby 宮島 (Miyajima), which is called the “resting place of the gods” and is another World Heritage Site.

The ferry to Miyajima that my daughter's class took.

There are deer on Miyajima.

Miyajima is most famous for 「厳島神社」 (“Itsukushima Shrine“) and it’s wooden Torii gate in the water:

Another landmark of the area is the wooden 「錦帯橋」 (Kintaikyou Bridge) with it’s five arches:

My daughter’s class also got to visit a cave. When they exited the cave, they saw this magnificent view:

All of the photos in this post were taken by my daughter. Please do not use or duplicate any of them without her express permission (which can be obtained through me).

Volleyball World Cup

19 Nov

Have you ever watched the volleyball World Cup championship games?
They are held every four years…and this year (2011) was one of the years that the matches are held. They are currently winding down…the women’s games ended a couple of days ago and the men’s will finish up soon too.

Did you know that Japan is always the host nation of the Volleyball World Cup?

Italy are the champions of the 2011 Women’s Volleyball World Cup. The American team are the second-place winners and China came in third.
Japan’s team are the fourth-place winners.

America came ahead of Japan in the final results, but Japan beat the U.S. (3 sets to zero) in the Japan vs USA match.

Since Italy, America and China came in first, second and third place (respectively), those teams qualified to play in the Olympics in London next summer.

Congratulations.

Let me introduce you to…

13 Nov

I have written a number of posts about interesting people. Most of whose stories are related to Japan in some way.
Maybe you haven’t seen many of them…so I decided to put links to all of them on a new page that I titled “Who’s Who?“.

Please check them out and leave comments to let me know what you think.

The new page is here.

Hideyo Noguchi’s birthday

9 Nov

野口英世 (Hideo Noguchi) was born 135 years ago today…on 1876 November 9th.

Hideyo Noguchi, 1876 Nov 9 - 1928 May 21. RIP

He was a doctor who died in Ghana when he contracted Yellow Fever, which he was doing research on.

In 2004, the Japan government changed the design of the ¥1000 and the ¥5000 bills. For the twenty years until then, the face on the ¥1000 note was of famous author 夏目漱石 (Natsume Soseki), but ¥1000 bills issued since 2004 have the face of 野口英世 (Hideyo Noguchi).

When I first came to Japan, ¥1000 notes had the face of 夏目漱石 (Soseki Natsume) on them. (The bill in this image has 「見本」 ("sample") print across the center).

But since 2004, 「野口英世」 (Hideyo Noguchi)'s face has been on the bills.

I learned that today was the birthday of 野口英世 (Hideyo Noguchi) when I checked Google today and saw the logo:

"Google" logo for the birthday of Dr. Hideyo Noguchi.

Other facts about Hideyo Noguchi:
-He was born in Fukushima (where the nuclear plant that was hit by the 2011 March 11 tsunami is).
-There is a statue of him in 上野公園 (Ueno Park) in Tokyo.
-His lived and worked in America for many years and married an American woman.
-His grave is in America.

The Emperor honored a great actor

7 Nov

Last Thursday (November 3rd) was 「文化の日」 (“Culture Day”), a Japanese holiday on which the Japanese Emperor personally presents medals and awards to people who have contributed to Japan culturally in some way.

At this year’s ceremony, the Emperor presented awards to novelists, historians, scientists and actor 大滝秀治 (Hideji Otaki).

Japanese actor Hideji Otaki

Mr. Otaki has acted for over sixty years and has starred in numerous Japanese movies. But, for me, his greatest role will be as the grouchy father in the Kincho bug spray TV commercials a few years ago.

There’s one commercial in particular that I like. In this one, he asks his “son” what’s so special about Kincho bug spray and as his son begins to explain, he yells 「つまらん!お前の話はつまらん!」 (“Boring! What you say is boring!”).
I have always liked that commercial.
Here it is:

(On the subject of Culture Day awards, my wife’s late grandfather received a medal from the Emperor on 「文化の日」 (Culture Day) a number of years ago for his fifty years of service as a volunteer in the Tokyo Fire Department.)

Does your country have any ceremonies similar to Japan’s Culture Day awards that honors citizens’ contributions to the country?
And are there actors in your country like Hideji Otaki?

Happy birthday, Mr. Gundam

5 Nov

Do you know 富野由悠季 (Yoshiyuki Tomino)?


If you’re a big fan of the Japanese anime series “Gundam” you might know who he is…because he’s the creator of the Gundam series.

Today (2011 November 5) is Mr. Tomino’s 70th birthday. He was born on 1941 November 5 in 神奈川県 (Kanagawa Prefecture), just south of Tokyo.

I wrote a post with photos I took of the “lifesize” Gundam robot when it was in Tokyo (click here to read it).
Actually, I’ve written a number of Gundam-related posts.

Have you ever watched Gundam? Are you a “fan”?