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Yokoso Japan!

14 Jun

「ようこそジャパン」 (Yokoso Japan!) means “Welcome to Japan!“, and is the Japan National Tourism Organization‘s official slogan of their campaign to attract foreign visitors to Japan.

「Yokoso Japan!」 logo

「Yokoso Japan!」 logo

Here are some of their Yokoso Japan! campaign ads.

Most of the scenes in this first one are of Tokyo (there are a few shots of Osaka, etc…but most of it is Tokyo):

These show many parts of Japan:

Do they make you want to visit this beautiful country?

Japanese Festivals in America

12 May

It seems that there are a number of Japanese festivals in America at various times of the year and in various cities around America.

I’d like to attend a Japanese festival in America and see how similar or different it is from a real Japanese festival!

Have you ever been to a Japanese festival in America (or another country)? How was it?

I found information online about a few Japanese festivals in different U.S. cities:

  • Japan Fest, Atlanta (Georgia, USA)

    japan-fest-atlanta

    2009年9月19日(土曜日)から9月20日(日曜日)まで。 (Saturday, 19 September 2009 – Sunday. 20 September).

    All of the Japanese festivals in America that I found online have already finished this year…except this one.
    If you’re in Atlanta, Georgia USA this September 19 -20, you should consider checking out this festival.

    They have scheduled martial arts shows, 盆栽 (bonsai), 生花 (ikebana), アニメ (anime), Japanese food, etc.

  • The Japan-America Society Of Houston (Texas, USA)

    houston-japan

    This festival was held in Texas, USA on 2009年4月25日から4月26日まで。 (2009 April 25-26).

    Do you go to it?

  • National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington D.C. (USA)

    japan-dc

    This year’s festival in Washington D.C. was held on 2009年3月28日から4月12日まで。 (2009 March 28 – April 12).

    Next year’s will be 2010年3月27日から4月11日まで。 (2010 March 27 – April 11).

    Did you go to this festival? Are you planning to go next year?

    I heard about this festival on the TV news here in Japan because Jero performed at it this year (I wrote a post about it last March. Click here to read it).

  • Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia (USA)

    philly-japan

    This year’s festival was on 2009年4月5日。 (2009 April 5).

There are many international festivals in Tokyo…

But I never knew there were so many Japanese festivals in America before. When I lived in America, I never heard about any Japan festivals. Are they a fairly recent* occurence? (* by recent, I mean since 1990.)
Is it because there’s currently a “Japan boom” in America?
Have you been to a Japan festival?

区民祭り

12 Oct

Every October we go to our local 区民祭 (Residents Festival). And when my kids were in the sixth grade, they were each in the festival’s marching band parade.

This year, my youngest daughter is in the sixth grade.

The 区民祭 (Residents Festival) was today and we just got home from it. My youngest daughter played the trombone in the parade.

This will be the last time any of my kids participate in this festival’s marching band. Of course we videotaped her in the parade (just as we did when her older sisters played in the parade).

Every ward in Japan has a local 区民祭 (Residents Festival) and they’re all a bit different (we’ve been to many of them…not just our local one).
A few things that they all have in common is the booths that sell food and drinks that are staples of Japanese festivals…but they also sell local specialties. They also have stages with local clubs and bands performing. And the local merchants and clubs have booths in which people can buy their wares…and in some cases, make something to take home–for free (for example, the local carpenters help kids make bookcases or stools to keep for free).

Here are a couple videos of booths selling food:

And here’s a huge pot of a delicious soup that was being sold:

And a video of it:

Do you know 太鼓 (Japanese Taiko giant drum)?
There was a 太鼓 (Japanese Taiko giant drum) show:

And three videos of the 太鼓 (Japanese Taiko giant drum) show:

There was a booth selling 盆栽 (Bonsai trees) too.
The least expensive one was ¥10,000 (about US$90):

They even had pony rides for the little kids. Here’s the pony on his break:

As it is every year…it was a good time!

盆栽村

3 May

Yesterday was my youngest daughter’s birthday.

She’s twelve now. So now my kids are 12, 13 and 14.

She’s the “baby” of the family…and she’s already almost a teenager! They’re growing up too fast!

*********************************

I read about a place in 埼玉県 (Saitama Prefecture) out in the countryside north of Tokyo called 盆栽村 (Bonsai Village) that has many Bonsai gardens.

(Bonsai is the art of clipping and shaping plants (usually small trees)).

I never had an opportunity to go there and I didn’t want to make a special trip all the up there just to look at Bonsai. But today I had to go up in that general area for a few hours…so I decided to check out Bonsai Village on my way home.

There were many beautiful gardens with very nice bonsai…but taking photos was forbidden. I was disappointed about that.

They had some bonsai for sale. The prices were between ¥5000 and ¥50,000 (about U.S. $40 -$400)!

I was able to take this photo of a bonsai tree in someone’s front yard in a house near one of the gardens.

This place really was out in the boonies (American slang. “Boondocks, Sticks, Countryside, Rural”).

There was nothing there. Not at all like urban Tokyo.

I saw a convenience store and it had a parking lot. In Tokyo, like many big cities (NYC, etc), most places don’t have parking lots…if you drive somewhere, you have to find a place to park (hopefully) nearby and walk. Most people in Tokyo use the punctual, clean, safe and affordable public transportation (trains in Tokyo arrive every 3 minutes or so).

Here’s a picture of the train tracks in this countryside town. There’s nothing but trees and farmland for miles.

Here’s a couple of trains coming down that track:

Here’s a couple more videos of trains arriving at the 大宮公園駅 (Oomiya-kouen Station). (One going away from Tokyo, the other going towards):

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