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Fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

10 Oct

Today (2014 October 10th) is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Summer Olympics that were hosted by Tokyo.


This was the first time the Olympics was hosted by an Asian country.

The Tokyo government had new stadiums built (which are still in use today) and the world’s first 新幹線 (bullet train) was built by Japan Railways (called “Japan National Railways” back then). The bullet train connected Tokyo to Osaka, and it’s service commenced on October 1st, 1964…so, nine days ago was the 50th birthday of the world’s first bullet train.

Since Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics fifty years ago, Japan has hosted the Olympics two more times: the 1972 Winter Olympics were hosted by Sapporo, Japan and the 1998 Winter Olympics were hosted by Nagano, Japan.

A new bullet-train service was also started in 1998 to connect Tokyo to Nagano for the ’98 Games. My wife and I took that bullet train to see the Nagano Olympics atmosphere.

Tokyo put a bid in to host the 2016 Olympics, but lost. (I wrote a post about Tokyo’s 2016 bid and also my trip to Nagano in ’98…here).

Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics was successful though. In July 2020, Tokyo will not only be the first Asian city to host an Olympics Games…but also the first Asian city to host the Games twice!
(I wrote a post about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics here).

Both the 1964 Tokyo Olympics logo and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics commenced on 1964 October 10th. October isn’t summer…it’s autumn. The reason that the Games were in October is because summer is extremely hot and humid in Tokyo. The weather in October (now) is much more comfortable.
After the 1964 Olympics, October 10th became a holiday in Japan: 体育の日 (“Fitness Day”). The date of the holiday was changed in the year 2000 to ‘the second Monday in October’. So, 体育の日 (Fitness Day) isn’t today…next Monday (October 13th, 2014) is the holiday.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) changed the rules and now the Summer Olympics must be played in July. So, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be in July. It’s gonna be hot!


Man on the moon

20 Jul

Today (2014 July 20th) is the forty-fifth anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969 by American astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin.

30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Mission

Click here to read a Huffington Post article about this anniversary and to see a video of the Apollo 11 rocket that carried the first men to the moon.


14 Apr

My first car in Japan was a Nissan Skyline.

The Skyline is a nice car!

So, it was a nice surprise when I went to the shopping mall today with my family (in the car we have now, a Toyota) and I saw that they had vintage Nissan Skyline cars from the 1950s to the 1990s on display!

Here are a few photos I took:

1957 Nissan Skyline: 





1962 Nissan Skyline:



1965 Nissan Skyline:





Mine wasn’t this old. I had a 1986 Nissan Skyline Turbo years ago.


22 Nov

It’s November 22nd (2013). Former U.S. president John F. Kennedy was assassinated fifty years ago today.


JFK, 1917 May 29th – 1963 Nov 22nd, RIP

(His daughter, Caroline Kennedy, has recently become the U.S. ambassador to Japan, by the way. Click here to read my post about that.)

I was born in November 1969. Six years after the JFK assassination. My parents were junior high school students back then…so, of course, they remember that day well.

Since I hadn’t been born yet, I obviously have no memory of that event in history.

The earliest historical event that I can remember is the U.S. bi-centennial in July 1976. I was only six years old, so I didn’t really understand it…but I seem to remember it somewhat.

The earliest historical event that I can remember clearly and that I understood was was the U.S. diplomats in the U.S. embassy in Iran being taken hostage in 1979. There were yellow ribbons tied to trees, car radio antennas, etc all over America.

How about you?
Do you remember the JFK assassination? What are your memories?
What other historical events do you remember?

U.S. Ambassador Kennedy

14 Nov

On November 12th (2013), it was confirmed that the new U.S. Ambassador to Japan is to be Caroline Kennedy.

She is the daughter of the late former U.S. president John F. Kennedy.


Caroline Kennedy as a small child with her father, John F. (“JFK”) Kennedy.

She and her family will move into the U.S. Ambassador’s residence in Tokyo tomorrow…one week before the 50th anniversary of the 1963 November 22nd assassination of her father, JFK.

Caroline Kennedy and her husband are reportedly very fond of Japan…they spent their honeymoon in 1986 in Kyoto, Japan.

Japanese Columbo, RIP

24 Sep

石田太郎 (Taro Ishida), a Japanese actor who also did voice dubbing for many Japanese releases of Hollywood movies.  He was the “voice” of Gene Hackman in most of Hackman’s movies in Japan.  He was also the Japanese voice of the late Peter Falk’s TV detective character “Columbo“.


Mr. Ishida died this past weekend.


Taro Ishida, 1944 Mar 16 – 2013 Sept 21, R.I.P.

Aliens in Tokyo

15 Aug

Did you know that there are aliens in Tokyo?


Have you ever seen these aliens in Tokyo?

Do you know where they are?
I’ll give you a hint:  Do you know where 「中野ブロードウェイ」is?

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.

Best movie quotes

31 Mar

Sometimes quotes from songs and movies become so well-known and often used that eventually many people don’t even know that the expression came from a pop song or movie.

For example, have you ever heard this quote:

Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans.

Do you know where that simple but inspiring quote is from?

It’s a line in the song “Beautiful Boy” by John Lennon that was written for his son Sean Lennon.

John Lennon's "Double Fantasy" album (which includes the song "Beautiful Boy")

Here are some of the most often quoted lines from movies that I could think of off the top of my head (in no particular order):

I’m gonna make him an offer he can’t refuse!

-Marlon Brando (from “The Godfather“)

(I have a feeling) we’re not in Kansas anymore

-Judy Garland (from “The Wizard Of Oz“)

Go ahead, make my day!

-Clint Eastwood (from “Sudden Impact“)

What we’ve got here is failure to communicate.

-Strother Martin (from “Cool Hand Luke“)

Take your stinking paws off me, you damn dirty ape!

-Charlton Heston (from “Planet Of The Apes“)

Have you seen any of these movies? Surely you’ve heard those quotes before. Did you know they were from those movies?
What other famous movie quotes can you think of?

A real-life “Tiger Mask”

13 Jan

Maybe you know that Japanese school students wear a uniform to school.
But did you know that they wear the uniform in junior high school and high school only?

In Japanese 公立小学校 (public* elementary schools), kids wear their regular “street clothes” to school.
*(Japanese 幼稚園 (private kindergartens) and 私立小学校 (private elementary schools) have uniforms that their students wear).

Even though students at Japanese public 保育園 (nursery schools) and 公立小学校 (public elementary schools) wear street clothes to school, they still have some mandatory things that they must wear…for example, a school hat while walking to and from school (it’s almost always yellow so that drivers in cars can notice them easily), gym uniform, and a uniform school bag.

The school bag that kindergarteners carry is small and light but Japanese elementary school kids are given a ランドセル (Randoseru bag) from their parents or grandparents just before they begin the first grade.

These bags are high-quality hand-stitched genuine or synthetic leather and are designed to last for at least the six years of elementary school. Usually though they last much longer.

Most schools allow the students to use a ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) of any color they like…but the majority of girls choose a red one and boys choose a black one.

When my daughters were in elementary school they each had a red one.

Since ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) are hand-made and very durable, they’re also pretty expensive. About ¥30,000 (US $360) on average.
Because of it’s high price many lower-income families have to give their children used or hand-me-down ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags).

ランドセル (Japanese elementary school "Randoseru" bags)

Well, it was on the TV news here last month that an orphanage in Japan received an anonymous donation of ten brand new ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) around X-mas time.
Without this donation, worth about ¥300,000 (about US$3,300), the children in the orphanage who will start first grade this April would have had to use hand-me-down school bags from older kids.

The anonymous donation had a note that that they were from 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”).

「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) is a Japanese マンガ (manga (comic)) from the late 1960s – early 1970s about a professional wrestler called 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) who wears a mask that looks like a tiger.
The 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) character was an orphan who gives large anonymous donations to the orphanage where he grew up.


Due to the fact that the 「タイガーマスク」 (“Tiger Mask”) comic is over forty years old, the news media has begun speculating that the donor of the ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) must be middle-age and that he might even have grown up in an orphanage.

Also, this news has inspired numerous “copy-cats” recently. Other orphanages around Japan have recently received anonymous donations of ランドセル (Japanese elementary school “Randoseru” bags) or money with notes from “Tiger Mask” or other famous Japanese fictional characters.