Archive | January, 2012

2012 New Years Postcard Lottery

23 Jan

As I’ve mentioned in earlier posts, including last year, Japan’s 年賀状 (New Year Postcards) that are mailed in Japan to friends and family every New Years season have a six-digit number in the lower right-hand corner on the back.

And every January, the Japan Post Office draws random numbers for the New Years Postcard Lottery. People who have cards (from the current year) with a matching number win prizes.
Every year the prizes are basically the same…but they’re very nice prizes.

This year’s (2012) winning numbers were drawn today.
The winning numbers are:

First Place Prize: 030625 (Odds of winning: 1 in one-million)
Choice of prize includes: a 40″ Sharp TV, Canon printer, Toshiba computer, overseas or domestic (Japan) trips.

Second Place Prize: 071658, 153787, or 675457  (Odds of winning: 3 in one-million)
Choice of prize includes: a Canon digital camera, X-Box, domestic (Japan) hotel stay, or a folding bicycle (with “no-flat tires“).

Foldable bicycle

Third Place Prize: cards with the last-four digits being 2511 (Odds of winning: 1 in 10,000)
Choice of prize: One of many wonderful food items such as cookies, cakes, tea, curry, etc.

Fourth Place Prize: cards with the last-two digits being 27 or 44 (Odds of winning: 2 in 100)
Prize (no choice): A set of two commemorative “Year of the Dragonpostage stamps.

2012 "Year of the Dragon" postage stamps

Once again, I won a few sets of the stamps but none of the “big” prizes. Well, there’s always next year.

How about you?
Are you in Japan? Did you win any of these prizes?
If you live in another country…does your post office have a similar lottery?

(By the way, it’s snowing in Tokyo right now. The first snow of this winter for Tokyo. It normally snows two or three times each winter in this city.)

Are dogs more humane than us?

21 Jan

In the news recently there have been stories about parents killing their own children, an American woman who let her ten-year old son get a tattoo, a nurse in Japan who enjoyed torturing her patients, a ship’s captain in Italy who abandoned the ship he crashed while his passengers were stranded on board to die, and other terrible stories about people mistreating other people who they were supposed to help and protect.

Of course, there are stories about people who act honorably too. The Italian Coast Guard officer who berated the aforementioned captain is one recent example.

But there were another two stories in the news recently too.
A dog in Australia and another one in Korea risked their own lives to save their respective families.

In Australia, a family with two daughters aged two and seven had a pet dog that loved the children.
One day last week, the two girls were in their backyard with the dog playing…but there was a very deadly Brown Snake there too!

The highly venomous Australian Brown Snake

The girls didn’t notice the snake, but the snake noticed them and it wasn’t pleased by their presence.
Just as the snake coiled to attack the girls, the dog saw the snake and didn’t hesitate to protect the girls.
The dog jumped on the snake and killed it…but not before the snake bit the dog.
The dog was rushed to the veterinarian to receive anti-venom treatment and is expected to recover…and will be get a “hero’s welcome” when he returns to his home.

The puppy in Korea was hiking with his elderly owner in the cold Korean winter last week when the old man slipped and fell.
He was knocked unconscious and would have frozen to death by the time his family found him…by his dog laid on top of him and keep him alive with his own body heat.
The young dog nearly froze to death himself to save his owner.

These dogs acted more humanly than some humans do.

The “Copperfield” of Japan

15 Jan

Do you like to watch magicians? I do. I like magic shows.

There is a famous magician in Japan named 高山セロ (Cyril Takayama). He’s of French-Japanese descent but he was born and raised in America.

セロ (Cyril), as he’s known in Japan, does amazing magic tricks at seemingly random locations around the streets of Tokyo. He does such things as throw a deck of cards at a window where they become imbedded inside the glass or pull food from a picture in a menu.

It’s quite dramatic and amazing to watch!

Since Cyril is “half” French and was born in the U.S., as a gimmick, he speaks a mixture of English and Japanese in his act.

Here’s a video of Cyril at a coffee shop in Tokyo in which he puts a “magic” marker into a poster-menu and uses it as a “tap” to fill a cup with coffee for a customer:

And here’s one where he “pulls” a hamburger from a picture of the burger in a menu-board at a fast-food restaurant:

In this one he visited a clothing store in Korea and stunned the store clerk when he “magically” tried on a shirt right in front of her (Cyril doesn’t speak Korean, so he spoke entirely in English):

Back to the ’80s

9 Jan

I grew up in the 1980s. By “grew up”, I mean from 1980 until 1989, I was between the ages of ten to 19.

Do you remember the ’80s? What do you remember that decade for the most?

Ronald Reagan was the U.S. President for just about the entire decade, it was also the decade of Pac-Man, the Rubik’s Cube, and the (cassette) Walk-man.
The microwave, VHS VCRs, and CD players were invented in the ’80s.
Movies such as E.T., Indiana Jones, Die Hard, Crocodile Dundee, and Back To The Future were released.

And, regarding popular music of the ’80s, there was pop music that I personally never liked…such as Duran Duran, Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Wham! and Michael Jackson.
And then there was the type of music which I’ve always likedheavy metal. In the ’80s, some popular metal bands were Whitesnake, Ratt, Bon Jovi, Motley Crue, The Scorpions, Twisted Sister, Quiet Riot and Def Leppard.

Well, there’s a new, young rock band from Australia called “De La Cruz“. They are too young to remember the heyday of these bands…but De La Cruz are obviously fans of ’80s heavy metal.

They sound just like the ’80s bands that inspired them.

I have their self-titled debut EP…and I like their music a lot!

De La Cruz has a video for their song “Back To The ’80s“. In the video, the band members are wearing black concert shirts from the bands RATT, Bon Jovi and Judas Priest. That’s how I used to dress in the ’80s!

Here’s their video for “Back To The ’80s“:

The life of Japanese college students compared to that of American ones

5 Jan

Look at this video of A Vision of (American) Students Today:

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And compare it to A Vision of Japanese University Students:

Lucky bag

2 Jan

Have you ever been in Japan in early January, just after New Years?
Did you notice many stores selling bags (usually red and white) that are sealed shut so no one can see inside them?

Do you know what those bags are?

They’re called 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“). The Japanese word 「福袋」 is normally written on the bags…but sometimes the English words “Lucky Bag” or “Happy Bag” is written on them.

「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) translates to “Good fortune bag” or “Lucky bag”.

These are a post-New Years tradition in Japan. Most stores offer them. They fill the bags with various items from the previous year’s merchandise that they need to get rid of to make room for new merchandise…and they sell the bags at a big discount—often 50% or more!

Many stores offer different price ranged bags…usually about ¥3,000, ¥5,000 and ¥10,000. But, of course, some stores 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) could be priced higher or lower depending on the type of items the store sells.

This store has two types of "Fukubukuro", priced at ¥1050 and ¥2100.

The catch is…customers can’t look inside the bag before the purchase it. Clothing stores will label the bags “Men’s”, “Women’s” or “Children’s” wear and the size of the clothes in the bag. But other than that, the contents are a mystery.

Young women and teenage girls love to shop (as the father of three teenage girls…believe me, I know this!), so 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) from stores that cater to them are especially popular.
Every January 2nd, young women line up outside the trendiest women’s fashions stores before they open…and as soon as the doors open, it’s a mad rush to buy the 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“)!

The 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“) from these stores in Tokyo are known to be all sold within two minutes!

Then, the young women all can be seen outside the stores looking at the things they’ve just purchased…and trading the items amongst each other.

A crowd of young women lining up to buy Fukubukuro at a popular store in downtown Tokyo.

Would you buy a 「福袋」 (“Fukubukuro“)? Have you ever bought one?
I never buy them…but my daughters like them. They usually buy one every year…including today.

Year of the Dragon

1 Jan

It’s now 2012 January 1. 明けましておめでとうございます! (“Happy New Year!”)

2012 is 「辰年」 (the “Year of the Dragon”) according to the Chinese zodiac which is popular in many Asian countries, including Japan.

If you want to know what year you were born in according to the Chinese zodiac, check on this chart.

The chart above translates the year “animals” into English…but they can be translated slightly differently too.
For example, ネズミ年 (Year of the Rat) can also be called “Year of the Mouse”.

I prefer to translate them as such:
+ 子年 : Year of the Mouse
+ 丑年 : Year of the Ox (or Cow)
+ 寅年 : Year of the Tiger
+ 兔年 : Year of the Rabbit
+ 辰年 : Year of the Dragon (this year)
+ 巳年 : Year of the Snake
+ 午年 : Year of the Horse
+ 未年 : Year of the Sheep (or Ram)
+ 申年 : Year of the Monkey
+ 酉年 : Year of the Rooster (or Chicken)
+ 戌年 : Year of the Dog
+ 亥年 : Year of the Wild Boar (or Pig)