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World’s oldest person

20 Apr

Yesterday, 2013 April 19, was the 116th birthday of the world’s oldest living person … Jiroemon Kimura of Japan.

image

Mr. Kimura was born on 1897 April 19th.

(edited on 2013 June 12th:
Mr. Kimura died this morning.
RIP, Mr. Jiroemon Kimura, 1897 April 19th – 2013 June 12th, aged 116 years and 54 days.)

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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.

Claude Monet art exhibit in Tokyo

10 Jan

I’m not an expert on art by any means.

My tastes might be considered “low brow”.
I listen to heavy metal music, my favorite TV shows aren’t really educational or anything, and I don’t see the appeal of “over-rated” movies such as “Lost In Translation“, “Forrest Gump” and “The Lord Of The Rings“…those movies were all boring to me.
The movies I like are more exciting.

And I don’t feel comfortable eating in “four star” fancy restaurants…I prefer a simple 「居酒屋」 (Japanese izakaya “blue collar” type restaurant).

Even though I may be a “simple man” I can appreciate art sometimes.
I have never attended an opera or even a musical on stage, but I have watched 歌舞伎 (Kabuki) plays and sometimes I go to art exhibits at museums.

I have seen a number of 浮世絵 (Ukiyoe Japanese woodblock prints) exhibits…and yesterday, my wife and I went to 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) to see the 「モネとジヴェルニーの画家たち」 (“Claude Monet and the Giverny Artists”) exhibit.

It’s at the “Bunkamura Museum” in Shibuya, Tokyo until 2011 February 17th.

I learned that Claude Monet moved to a tiny French village called Giverny and painted the natural views that he saw there. And his work inspired many artists from other countries, but the vast majority were Americans, to go to Giverny and set up an “artist colony” there to learn from Monet.

Also, Monet was inspired by Japanese art (other famous Western artists, including Vincent Van Gogh, were too) and he had a collection of Japanese Ukiyoe prints.

Monet's painting of his wife in Japanese kimono.

Monet's painting of his garden in Giverny, France.

Monet's painting of a hay stack.

 

Are you interested in art? Monet? Ukiyoe?
How about your taste in food, movies, music, etc?

Disaster Prevention in Tokyo

1 Sep

Today is 2010 September 1. The 87th anniversary of the 「関東大震災」 (“Great Kanto Earthquake“) that destroyed the Tokyo area on 1923 September 1.

So every year on September 1st in Japan, it’s called 「防災の日」 (“Disaster Prevention Day”).

On this day, fire departments give fire and earthquake safety tips to people, schools hold earthquake drills, and people are encouraged to check and maintain their “earthquake kits” that are recommended to be in every home.

It is said that in Japan’s history, a major earthquake has struck on average every eighty years. So it is expected that Tokyo is due for another one.
I really hope not!

No major earthquakes have struck Tokyo in a long while (“knock on wood”), but a different disaster has hit Tokyo this summer.
A heat wave.

It was reported on the news today that the temperature this summer in Tokyo has been the hottest in 113 years!
The temperature reached 35°C a number of times this summer.
Over a hundred people died from heat stroke and thousands were hospitalized.

It has been brutally hot in Tokyo this summer…and the forecast for the rest of this week says the heat and humidity will continue.

"Uchimizu" is a traditional Japanese custom of throwing water onto the streets to lower the temperature in the city a bit.

アメリカ独立記念日

4 Jul

Today is 7月4日 (July 4). 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (American Independence Day).

I don’t usually do anything special on this day. Although there are many 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan during the summer, they don’t usually start until late July or early August.

Watching fireworks is a “Fourth Of July” tradition in America, but I don’t live in America.
(It’s possible that the U.S. military bases in Japan will have a fireworks show this evening. I’m not sure. I don’t live near any U.S. military base anyways).

But anyways, in honor of the 234th anniversary of America’s independence from England, I am writing a list of some of American inventions that have changed the world (in most cases, for the better).

So, according to the U.S. Patent Office, this is a list of some of the numerous things that have been invented in America:

  • Swim Fins: (1717) Invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Franklin Stove: (1742) Also invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Refrigeration: (1805)
  • Circular Saw: (1813)
  • Dental Floss: (1815)
  • Morse Code: (1832) Invented by Samuel Morse
  • Revolver (Firearm): (1836) Invented by Samuel Colt (founder of the Colt Gun Co.)
  • Vulcanized Rubber: (1844) Invented by Charles Goodyear (founder of Goodyear Tires)
  • Safety Pin: (1849)
  • Potato Chips: (1853)
  • Rolled Toilet Paper: (1857) Surprised this one took this long. Before this invention, people were using pages from old newspapers and magazines or leaves from plants.
  • Escalator: (1859)
  • Roller Skates: (1863)
  • Cowboy Hat: (1865)
  • Paper Clip: (1867)
  • Barbed Wire: (1867)
  • Cash Register: (1879)
  • Electric Chair: (1881)
  • The “STOP” Sign: (1890)
  • U.S. "Stop" sign

    Japanese 「止まれ」 ("Stop") sign

  • Ferris Wheel: (1891)
  • Zipper: (1891)
  • Radio: (1893)
  • Flashlight: (1898)
  • “Teddy” Bear: (1902) A toy maker made a stuffed toy bear and named it “Teddy” after the U.S. President at that time, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who went hunting but decided against killing a bear cub.
  • Air Conditioning: (1902) Before this invention, places in the southern U.S. such as Florida (where I grew up) were unpopular to live.
  • Airplane: (1903) Invented by the famous Wright brothers.
  • Ice Pop: (1905) Usually called by the brand name Popsicle in the U.S. In Japan, it’s called 「アイスキャンディー」 (“Ice Candy”). It was invented by an eleven-year-old American boy.
  • Automobile Self-starter: (1911) Eliminated the need to engine hand-cranks on cars.
  • Fast Food Restaurant: (1912) For better or worse, these changed the industrialized world.
  • Traffic Signals: (1912)
  • Fortune Cookie: (1914) Although many Americans associate it with Chinese food, the “Fortune Cookie” is only found in Chinese restaurants in America. Actually, it was invented by a Japanese-American man.
  • Ice Cube Tray: (1928)
  • Electric Razor: (1928)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies: (1930)
  • Electric Guitar: (1931)
  • Stock Car Racing: (1936) Led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
  • Corn Dog: (1942) Called a 「アメリカンドッグ」 (“American Dog”) in Japan.
  • 「アメリカンドッグ」 (Corn Dog)

  • Napalm: (1943) A terrible substance used as a military weapon.
  • Supersonic Aircraft: (1947)
  • Windsurfing: (1948)
  • Cable Television: (1948)
  • Polio Vaccine: (1952)
  • Barcode: (1952) Invented in America, but Japan turned them into an art form.
  • Eight-track Tape: (1964) This impractical medium for playing music was actually popular for about a decade.
  • KISS "Alive II" on 8-track tape

  • Snowboarding: (1965)
  • Inline Skates: (1979)
  • Space Shuttle: (1981)
  • Nicotine Patch: (1988) To help people quit smoking. I wonder if it actually works.
  • Global Positioning System: (1993) Commonly known by it’s initials GPS.
  • Self-balancing Personal Transporter: (2001) Commonly known by the brand name “Segway“.

The oldest person in the world has died

5 May

Kama Chinen, of Okinawa, Japan, was born on 1895 May 10 and she became the oldest person in the world on 2009 September 11 at the age of 114.
(Click here to read the post I wrote when she became the “World’s Oldest Person”.)

It was just reported that she died a few days ago on 2010 May 2. Only eight days before her 115th birthday.

Kama Chinen, 1895 May 10 - 2010 May 2, R.I.P.

Now the World’s Oldest Person is Eugenie Blanchard from France. She was born on 1896 February 16…about nine months after Kama Chinen was born.