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Japan brought back the steam locomotive

22 Jun

Have you ever visited Japan? Even if you haven’t, maybe you’ve heard about Japan’s excellent, clean, safe, affordable, extremely punctual and high-tech public transportation system.

Especially in big cities such as Tokyo, there are train and subway stations and bus stops all over the city.

The trains, subways, and buses are on time to the minute. They’re very comfortable…upholstered seats, air-conditioning in the summer and heated in the winter.

The fare can be paid with the swipe of a convenient IC-card.

And, of course, the trains and subways are electric. It’s been that way for decades. Japan hasn’t used the steam locomotive (SL) for a long time.

But, for something fun to do this summer (especially for families with young boys) and also to show support to Fukushima, Japan Railways (JR) will offer the chance to ride on a steam locomotive train.

This is only temporary (for the summer of 2011) and also the trains will only run in the countryside area of 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), north of Tokyo.

Have you ever ridden on a steam locomotive? If you’re able to visit Gunma, Japan this summer, this is your chance.

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Shin-chan’s creator is missing

19 Sep

Do you know the Japanese cartoon 「クレヨンしんちゃん」 (“Crayon Shin-chan“)?

shin-chan
It was created in 1990 (the year I came to Japan) by 臼井義人 (Yoshito Usui).

It’s about a mischievous kindergarten-age boy named Shinnosuke, nicknamed “Shin-chan”.
Shin-chan and his family and friends live in 埼玉県春日部 (Kasukabe, Saitama, Japan) near Tokyo…which is where 臼井義人 (Yoshito Usui) lives.

Some of the characters in the show are Shin-chan and his friends and classmates in his kindergarten, including the bossy Nene-chan who likes to force the boys to “play house” with her, and the principal of the kindergarten who looks and acts like he used to be a mobster in the Japanese mafia, as well as Shin-chans mother, father, younger sister and their dog.

I found out that 「クレヨンしんちゃん」 (“Crayon Shin-chan“) is shown around the world in many countries, including America…but that it’s usually edited alot due to Shin-chan‘s habit of playfully exposing himself and speaking impolitely.
I heard that many countries even edit out the fact that Shinnosuke often flirts with pretty young women and that his father likes to drink beer.
After all that editing, I wonder what’s left of the cartoon? 😉

I watched the show on TV last night. Did you see it?
It was about the adventure Shin-chan and his father had when they went grocery shopping together and couldn’t find the key to the father’s bicycle when they were ready to go home.
It was pretty funny.

Well, the creator of the 「クレヨンしんちゃん」 (“Crayon Shin-chan“) cartoon, 臼井義人 (Yoshito Usui), told his family that he was going hiking in the mountains in Gunma Prefecture last weekend.
He has been missing since then.
The police have been searching for him since last Monday.
He’s been missing for nearly a week now…but hopefully they can find him safe.

竜巻

28 Jul

Yesterday at about 2:00PM, a 竜巻 (tornado) hit 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture), a couple hours north of Tokyo.

tatsumaki3

About 200 homes and shops had their windows broken and many had the roofs ripped off. A number of cars were flipped over. And other damage like that.

tatsumaki

tatsumaki-2

It was reported that there were about two dozen injuries but no deaths were reported so far.
The worst injury was sustained by an elderly woman who was hit by a bicycle that was thrown by the high wind. She’s in serious condition at the hospital.

It’s unfortunate that people were injured and had their property damaged. But it’s good that there were no deaths caused by the 竜巻 (tornado)!
群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture) is a rural area. If the 竜巻 (tornado)* struck a densely populated area like Tokyo, surely there would have been alot more damage and casualties!

*(竜巻 (tornado) in Japanese literally translates to “rolling dragon“).

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?

Volcano eruption

2 Feb

浅間山 (Mount Asama) is a 火山 (volcano) between 群馬県 (Gunma Prefecture) and 長野県 (Nagano Prefecture).

It’s about 150 kilometers (93 miles) northwest of Tokyo.

asama

Yesterday, the 気象庁 (Japan Meteorological Agency) issued a level 3 warning* that 浅間山 (Mount Asama) could erupt within 48 hours. About 45,000 residents near the volcano were told they may need to evacuate.

* (There are five volcano warnings. Level 1 is normal / safe. Level 2 is stay away from crater. Level 3 is non-residents should stay away from the volcano. Level 4 is nearby residents need to prepare to evacuate. Level 5 is evacuation / major eruption imminent.)

Japan has many 火山 (volcanoes)…the most famous is the symbol of Japan, 富士山 (Mt. Fuji)…but most are dormant.
浅間山 (Mount Asama) is one of Japan’s most active 火山 (volcanoes).

The 気象庁 (Japan Meteorological Agency) was correct.

浅間山 (Mount Asama) had a minor eruption this morning (Monday, February 2, 2009) just before 2:00AM (JST).
No one was injured and there was no reported property damage.

The last time 浅間山 (Mount Asama) erupted was on September 1, 2004. That eruption was also fairly minor…although ash from that eruption went 200 kilometers from the volcano.
It’s biggest eruption was about 220 years ago. There were 1500 casualties and alot of property damage in that eruption.