Archive | September, 2015

Animals Quiz

25 Sep

Here are the names of some common animals in Japanese. Do you know what animals they are?

Take this easy, multiple-choice quiz.

After you take the quiz, leave a comment on this post to tell me how you did. Also, tell me what you thought of the quiz (Too easy? Too difficult?), and how you knew the answers that you got right (Lucky guess? You study Japanese?).

Thanks.
Here’s the quiz:

(Also, if you liked this quiz, I have another similar one, here.)

Silver Week

21 Sep

Today is a Japanese public holiday called 「敬老の日」. In English, it means “Respect For Elders Day“. Sometimes it’s called “Grandparents Day“.
It occurs on the third Monday of September. (When I first came to Japan, this holiday was on September 15th, but was changed around fifteen years ago).

Google Japan's logo shows Japanese bento lunches made for "Grandma & Grandpa" today.

Google Japan’s logo shows Japanese bento lunches made for “Grandma & Grandpa” today.

And, on September 23rd is 「秋分の日」 (Autumn Equinox). In Japan, the Spring and Autumn equinoxes are days to pay a visit to the family grave-site.

So, on years like this year…where these two holidays fall close together, the day between them becomes a “filler holiday” to make a series of consecutive days off similar to Japan’s “Golden Week” in Spring.
Golden Week is an annual occurrence…but a long holiday period only occurs occasionally in September. When it does, it’s called “Silver Week“.

Right now, Japan is in Silver Week. Most people have holiday from last Saturday until Wednesday.
The next Silver Week won’t occur until 2026!

Japanese regional Kit-Kat souvenirs

14 Sep

In Japanese culture, when someone goes on a trip or even to a major amusement park, they feel compelled to buy お土産 (souvenirs) for friends and family…and even their co-workers (if they’re aware of the trip).

Normally, they like to give a “regional” souvenir. Something that represents the city or country that they visited…even a “I NY ” key-chain from a trip to New York could be a gift good enough for a co-worker or such.

When Japanese people go on a domestic trip (visit another town or city within Japan), it’s popular to buy a local food item as a souvenir.

So, currently, Kit-Kat Japan are offering ご当地お土産 (Regional Souvenirs).

Map of Japan showing regional Kit-Kat flavors for various areas.

Map of Japan showing regional Kit-Kat flavors for various areas.

I’ve written a number of posts about the myriad of Kit-Kat flavors in Japan. (Click here to see my posts about a large variety).

Some of the special Kit-Kat flavors that the map above shows:

  • Rum Raisin flavor Kit-Kat for Tokyo
  • Strawberry Cheesecake flavor Kit-Kat for all of Japan in a special Mt. Fuji box
  • Strawberry Cheesecake flavor Kit-Kat for Yokohama
  • Kobe Pudding flavor Kit-Kat for Kobe

What Kit-Kat flavors have you tried? How did you like them?

Japanese frustration with Amazon UK in a comic

13 Sep

Police Box

4 Sep

Are there “police boxes” in your country?

I have never seen a police box in America.  I don’t think that there are any there.
But, thanks to the internet, I’ve learned that the UK has them.

A police box in England. Quite different from Japan's 交番 (police boxes)!

A police box in England. Quite different from Japan’s 交番 (police boxes)!

The police boxes in England, according to what I read, are very small and simple. Just a phone that people can use to contact a “real” police station, and a small desk and a first-aid kit.
They aren’t manned by a police officer…just a way for people to contact the police before cell-phones became an item carried by everyone.

These are very different from the 交番 (police boxes (called “Ko-ban” in Japanese)) in Japan!

That particular police box in eastern Tokyo has actually become semi-famous because of a popular manga / anime.

That particular police box in eastern Tokyo has actually become semi-famous because of a popular manga / anime.

In Japan, 交番 (police boxes) are an important and helpful part of every neighborhood in Japan.  They can be seen all around Japan…especially near train stations and many major intersections.  But there are also 交番 (police boxes) at many seemingly random places too.

Unlike the ones in Europe, Japanese 交番 (police boxes) are always staffed by at least one police officer (busy areas have bigger police boxes with more officers) at all times of day and night.
The officers stationed at them make periodic patrols around the neighborhood…so small 交番 (police boxes) that only have one officer will be unmanned during those brief periods – but there will be a sign in the window that says 「パトロール中です。」 (“On patrol“).

交番 (police boxes) in Japan are probably most commonly used by the public for asking for directions. This is no problem. If you’re lost while in Japan, you can go into a 交番 (police box) and ask for directions. The officers stationed there are very knowledgeable about the neighborhood and it’s part of their duties to help people find their way.
Other helpful services provided by 交番 (police boxes) include: “Lost and Found” … if you find some misplaced property (train pass, keys, wallet, cell-phone, etc) or if you’ve lost something, go to a 交番 (police boxes) for help.
Also, of course, they are police officers, so crimes or other emergencies can be reported there.

There are some koban in Japan that are designed to resemble an owl.

Ikebukuro, Tokyo has a 'koban' that looks like an owl because of a play-on-words in Japanese.

Ikebukuro, Tokyo has a ‘koban’ that looks like an owl because of a play-on-words in Japanese (Ikebukuro doesn’t mean “owl”, but the name sounds like some type of an owl in Japanese).

A koban near Chiba train station looks like an owl, too. It's eye light up at night.

A koban near Chiba train station looks like an owl, too. It’s eye light up at night.

A koban in Shibuya, Tokyo looks like an owl, too.

A koban in Shibuya, Tokyo looks like an owl, too.

Please, by all means, leave a comment in this post and tell about your impressions / experiences with police boxes in Japan and/or other countries!