Archive | January, 2016

Book Review & Giveaway 25: Beyond The Tiger Mom

30 Jan

I have received another book from Tuttle Books!
And, as always, they have agreed to give (given) one free copy to a random visitor to my blog!

The book I’m reviewing today is titled “Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age” by Maya Thiagarajan.

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“Beyond The Tiger Mom”

I will put the details of the free drawing for this book at the end of this post.

Ms. Thiagarajan was born in India and then moved to America after she graduated from high school. She went to college in America and, afterwards, became a school teacher there.  Eventually, she moved to Singapore with her husband and their children and she became a teacher there.

From this, she has become familiar with the American way, the Indian way and the Chinese way of parenting and teaching children.

With her knowledge and experience of what works and what doesn’t work best for children’s education, she has written this extensive, easy-to-read guide.

Beyond The Tiger Mom: East-West Parenting for the Global Age” can be purchased through Amazon here.

But, as I said above, Tuttle Books has agreed to give (given) one random visitor to my blog a free copy of this book.

***** Updated February 14th, 2016 *****

This special promo ended on 2016 February 14th. One random winner was selected and contacted directly by Tuttle Publishers (via email) with the details about the free book.

Thank you to all who entered, but only the winner was contacted.
*****

 

Metal Excess Awards: The Best of 2015

29 Jan

Star Wars VII Stamps

22 Jan

About seven years ago I wrote a post about the collector Japanese “Star Wars” postage stamps I bought. (Click here to read it.)

Now, to commemorate the new “Star Wars Episode VII” movie, the Japanese post office is offering a new set of commemorative Star Wars postage stamps.

Just like the earlier set I bought, this set includes ten unique Japanese postage stamps with scenes from the latest Star Wars movie, and come in a special hard protective case.  The set costs ¥4280.

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Postcard Lottery 2016

22 Jan

New Years is the biggest holiday in Japan.  There are many traditions…one of which is sending 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) to friends and relatives.  A bit like Christmas cards in western countries.

One the back of “official” Japanese New Years postcards (which are the only kind that anyone sends) is a six-digit serial number.

Every year on January 15th, the Japanese post office chooses random numbers as winners in the お年玉 (New Years postcard lottery).

People who have postcards with winning numbers win nice prizes.

(Click here to read a post I’ve written about this before.)

Here are the winning numbers for the 2016 New Years postcard lottery:

toshidama

2016 New Years postcard lottery winning numbers

★ First place – cards with the number 667085 – the prize is ¥100,000 (approx. US$1,000).

★ Second place – cards with the last four digits of the number being  9648 – the prize is one of several wonderful things such as an onsen (hot spring) stay, a TV, a computer, Nintendo DS, etc.

★ Third place – cards with the last two digits of the number being either 69 or 90 – the prize is commemorative “Year of the Monkey” postage stamps.

 

Snow slows down Tokyo

19 Jan

SoraNews24

trains

As a natural phenomenon loved by many, snow can be pretty cool. Unfortunately, in Tokyo, it’s often more like a wet, cold monster that ruins everything!

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Snowy Day in Tokyo

18 Jan

The weather forecast yesterday said that it was going to snow in the Tokyo area this morning, so I wasn’t surprised by this morning’s snow.

It snows a lot in northern Japan, but only a couple of times each winter in Tokyo. And when it does snow here, it’s normally not very much. I have seen blizzards and heavy snow in Tokyo…but not so often.

Because it doesn’t snow so much here, Tokyo isn’t as prepared for it as they are up north. Most people don’t own a snow shovel here. You can often see people using dustpans to move snow from driveways.

And, the buses and trains will often be delayed when there is a lot (by Tokyo standards) of snowfall. There were a lot of delays this morning.
Though train and bus delays are an inconvenience that we’re not so used to in Japan (due to the extremely punctual public transportation system here), no one complains…everyone understands that the train and bus workers are doing their best to deal with the weather. Better “safe than sorry”.

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A picture I took this morning of someone’s flower garden covered in snow.

Train runs for one kid

11 Jan

CityLab website ran this story about a train in a very rural area of Japan that makes only two stops—one when a lone high-school student leaves for school and the other when she returns.

For years, there’s only been one passenger waiting at the Kami-Shirataki train station in the northernmost island of Hokkaido, Japan: A high-school girl, on her way to class. The train stops there only twice a day—once to pick up the girl and again to drop her off after the school day is over.

It sounds like a Hayao Miyazaki film. But according to CCTV News, it was a decision that Japan Railways—the group that operates the country’s railway network—made more than three years ago.

At that time, ridership at the Kami-Shirataki station had dramatically fallen because of its remote location, and freight service had ended there as well. Japan Railways was getting ready to shut the station down for good—until they noticed that it was still being used every day by the high-schooler. So they decided to keep the station open for her until she graduates. The company’s even adjusted the train’s timetable according to the girl’s schedule. The unnamed girl is expected to graduate this March, which is when the station will finally be closed.

People are tipping their hats to the Japanese government for making education a top priority. “Why should I not want to die for a country like this when the government is ready to go an extra mile just for me,” one commenter wrote on CCTV’s Facebook page. “This is the meaning of good governance penetrating right to the grassroot level. Every citizen matters. No Child left behind!”

Others, like the creator behind this YouTube video, grieve over the struggling railways of rural Japan. With the country’s record-low birthrate, aging population, and the threat of losing a third of its population by 2060, Japan faces a number of crises including a surplus of vacant housing and a shrinking workforce. The nation’s railroad system is being hit by these shifts.

The train's time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

The train’s time-table. One train at 7:04AM and another at 5:08PM.

Japan’s impressively efficient high-speed rails have continued to expand to the outskirts of the country, rendering many of Japan’s older, low-tech railways obsolete. Kami-Shirataki station, for example, sits in the town of Engaru in the rural part of Hokkaido, which lost at least 20 rail lines in the past few decades, according to Fortune.

But if this story of a young girl and her special connection to the Kami-Shiratki station is any indicator, Japan’s disappearing rural railroads will be remembered for their service to even the most remote parts of the country.