Archive | hanabi RSS feed for this section

Summer Festivals

29 Aug

Earlier this month, I participated in one of Tokyo’s biggest festivals.
(Click here to read that post.)

There are many great festivals all year round…but especially so in the summer.
(Click here to see a list I made of some of Tokyo’s best festivals.)

I like Japan’s festivals a lot…and I go to many of them.

In early August, my family and I went to watch a summer 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house that we usually go to every year.
The 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan are excellent! If you have a chance, you should see one!
(Here is a list of some of Tokyo’s biggest fireworks shows.)

It’s not easy to photograph fireworks with the camera I have…but here are a few that I took:

花火 (“hanabi”)…literally “flower (of) fire”, is the Japanese word for “fireworks”.

We also went to a festival at a temple not far from the Tokyo Sky Tree.

After that, we went to 上野公園 (Ueno Park):

(Click here to see some other photos I took in Ueno a couple of years ago.)

If you have any questions about festivals in Tokyo, things to do in this city, or whatever…feel free to contact me.

Advertisements

Japan is a few (thousand) years older than America

4 Jul

Today is 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (America’s Independence Day).

"Spirit of '76"

America declared independence from England on 1776 July 4…two hundred thirty-five (235) years ago today.

Compared to other countries in the world America is “young”. Japan’s history, for instance, is over 12,000 years old.
America may be a young country, but it still uses the same Constitution that was written in 1776 after gaining independence. America is the only country whose government’s Constitution hasn’t been changed* (*amended, but not changed).

Since I was born, there have been only eight different U.S. presidents…but in the same time there have been twenty-three men to hold the office of Prime Minister of Japan.

Since I came to Japan in 1990, I have seen fourteen Japanese Prime Ministers so far…but America has had only four different Presidents in the same twenty-one years.

Anyways, America’s Independence Day isn’t a holiday in Japan, of course. It’s been many years since I’ve celebrated the “Fourth of July”.
I remember, of course, the fireworks displays…but I’m not sure whether or not it’s a legal holiday (a “day off”) in America. Is it?

Are you American? How do you celebrate the “Fourth of July”?
If you’re not an American, does your country have an “Independence Day”? When is it? How do you celebrate?

The closest holiday in Japan is 「建国記念日」 (“National Founding Day”) on February 11 to celebrate the establishment of Japan as a nation.
It’s a day off from work and school…but there’s not much in the way of any special celebrations on that day.

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 new ベスト・キッド

27 Jun

I wrote an earlier post about the remake of the classic ’80s movie “The Karate Kid“.

Click here to read that earlier post. In it, I discussed the impact the original made on the world and how it almost seemed sacrilegious to attempt a remake.

Well, the remake version has been released in theaters in America on June 11th.
Here’s the U.S. flyer for the movie:

U.S. "Karate Kid" flyer

Have you watched this movie yet? What do you think? Is it good?

The date that this movie will hit theaters in Japan has been announced. The ロードショー (screen debut) will be Saturday, August 14th in Japan. I was skeptical about this movie until I saw the trailers.
You can see the U.S. trailer for this movie on my other post here or the Japanese trailer on the official 「ベスト・キッド」 (Japanese “Karate Kid”) website.

In Japan, both the original ’80s “Karate Kid” movie and this new remake are titled 「ベスト・キッド」 (“Best Kid“).

Here’s the Japanese flyer for the ’80s 「ベスト・キッド」 (“Karate Kid“):

Japanese flyer for 1984 「ベスト・キッド」 ("Karate Kid")

And here’s the new Japanese flyer for the 2010 remake version:

Japanese flyer for 2010 remake version of 「ベスト・キッド」 ("Karate Kid")

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

On a different subject…

It’s now summer in Japan. There are many summer festivals in Japan.
Check out my “Festivals In Tokyo” page for a listing of some of the major festivals in summer (and the other times of year too).

One of the most popular festivals in July and August in Japan is 花火大会 (fireworks shows).


You can see a basic listing in English of the fireworks shows around Tokyo on my “Festivals In Tokyo” page by clicking here.

But for a more comprehensive listing of this year’s fireworks shows for Tokyo and anywhere else in Japan, you can visit the 「花火カレンダー2010」 (“2010 Fireworks Calendar”.

This fireworks calendar site is a collaboration between the “Walker Plus” magazine and Suntory 「金麦」 (Kinmugi) beer.

It’s in Japanese only though.
But if you can’t read Japanese and want help finding a fireworks show in your area, Email me and I’ll help you.

Have you ever watched a fireworks show in Japan? It’s crowded but a lot of fun.

日本の夏

18 Jun

It’s now summertime.

Currently it’s 「梅雨」 (“Rainy season“) in Japan. As usual for this time of year, it’s forecast to rain a lot for the next few days.
But also, the temperature is rising steadily and it’s quite humid. Today it was a muggy 31°C (88°F) in Tokyo.

Summer is hot and humid here…but it’s still very enjoyable. There’s so much to do.
Autumn, Winter, Spring and Summer are all very different in Japan. Of course the weather is different…but I mean the food, festivals, and general atmosphere is different and unique to each season.

In a couple of earlier posts I mentioned that fast-food chains in Japan have spicy items on their menus  (Click here to read one of those posts)…but fast-food isn’t a traditional Japanese summer tradition of course, and actually their spicy summer foods aren’t extremely popular in Japan (I haven’t even tried any of them).

There are traditional foods that are very popular in Japan during the summer to help you deal with the summer heat.
Some of them are:

冷やし中華 (“Hiyashi Chuuka“). Cold noodles, cucumbers, ham, tomatoes, and cold soy sauce.

スイカ (watermelon)

かき氷 (shaved ice)

ビール (beer)…Popular all year long, of course. But excellent to help you cool down in the summer.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). This is said to help keep up your stamina in hot weather.

うな丼 (Freshwater eel on rice). I enjoy this dish a lot!

Some other aspects of summer in Japan include:

– the beaches and pools become crowded. Especially in August.

– the numerous summer festivals including 花火 (summer fireworks shows).

insects. The “sound of summer” in Japan is the chirping of the セミ (cicadas). There are also カブト虫 (beetles)…and, unfortunately, ゴキブリ (cockroaches) and (mosquitoes).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense).

蚊取線香 (mosquito repellent incense) often is shaped like a pig

To stay cool, there’s also ウチワ and 扇子 (types of paper fans), and ジンベイ and ユカタ (traditional Japanese summer clothing).

This isn’t an all-exclusive description of a summer in Japan, of course. It’s difficult to describe…you should come to Japan in each of the seasons and see “four different Japans”.

What’s summer like in your country?

花火

11 Jul

梅雨 (The rainy season) will be over soon in the Tokyo area and then the rest of summer will be filled with hot, humid, sunny days.

In Japan, (summer) means スイカ (watermelon), (festivals), (the beach), 小鳥線香 (mosquito repellent coil)…

kotorisenko

and 花火 (fireworks)!

hanabi

宮島水中花火大会 in Hiroshima.

In the evenings of July and August (usually on the weekends), there are summer 花火大会 (fireworks shows) all over Japan.

If you go to a fireworks show in Japan,
– you should bring a picnic style food and drinks for yourself and your group…there’s no BBQ grilling done at fireworks shows in Japan,
– bring a plastic tarp sheet for your group to sit on…but, although many people do it, you’re not supposed to use the sheet to reserve a spot for yourself ahead of time,
– if you want to use 線香花火 (sparklers), don’t wave them around…it’s considered dangerous in Japan,
– you can wear 「ゆかた」 (summer kimono) or 「じんべい」 (Japanese traditional summer shorts / shirt outfit) if you want to,
– and Japanese people call out 「たまや!かぎや!」 (“Tamaya! Kagiya!“*) when the fireworks go up…you can yell that out too, if you want. (* Long ago, Tamaya and Kagiya were competing fireworks companies in Japan. Fireworks spectators began to call out their names to egg on their competition to make bigger and bigger displays. Today it remains popular to shout it out at fireworks shows.)

There are too many fireworks shows around Japan to list them all, even just in the Tokyo area there are too many to list.
But here’s a list of the main ones in the Tokyo area and the date of the summer 2009 shows (also you can click here to see a list of some of Tokyo’s Fireworks shows on my “Festivals in Tokyo“):

  • 宮島水中花火大会 (Miyajima Suichu Fireworks Show) in 広島 (Hiroshima) – Friday, August 14
    (It’s far from Tokyo…but this show gets special mention. The photo in this post above is of this fireworks show. (The rest of the shows on this list are in Tokyo.)).
  • 調布市花火大会 (Choufu-shi Fireworks Show) – Saturday, July 18
  • 葛飾納涼花火大会 (Katsushika Nouryou Fireworks Show) – Tuesday, July 21
  • 足立の花火大会 (Adachi Fireworks Show) – Thursday, July 23
  • 隅田川花火大会 (Sumida River Fireworks Show) – Saturday, July 25
  • 飯田橋花火大会 (Iidabashi Fireworks Show) – Saturday, August 1
  • 江戸川花火大会 (Edo River Fireworks Show) – Saturday, August 1
  • 青梅市納涼花火大会 (Oumeshi Nouryou Fireworks Show) – Saturday, August 1
  • 昭島市民くじら祭夢花火 (Akishima-Residents Whale-Festival Dream-Fireworks Show) – Saturday, August 1 – Sunday, August 2
  • 江東花火大会 (Koutou Fireworks Show) – Tuesday, August 4
  • 日刊スポーツ主催2009神宮外苑花火大会第30回記念大会 (30th Nikkan Sports Shusai Shrine Outer-Garden Fireworks Festival 2009) – Thursday, August 6
  • 東京湾大花火祭 (Tokyo Bay Grand Fireworks Festival) – Saturday, August 8
  • 八丈島納涼花火大会 (Hachijyoujima Nouryou Fireworks Show) – Tuesday, August 11
  • 第五回せいせき多摩川花火大会 (5th Performance Tama River Fireworks Show) – Tuesday, August 11
  • 世田川区たまがわ花火大会 (Setagawa-Ward Tama River Fireworks Show) – Saturday, August 22

If you want any more information about these or other 花火大会 (Fireworks shows) in Japan (such as how to get there, the times of the shows, etc), please feel free to post a comment (click here), or contact me with this E-mail form, and I’ll help you as much as I can:

July 4

4 Jul

Today is America’s 独立記念日 (Independence Day).

Of course, Japan (or any other country) doesn’t observe other countries’ Independence Day holidays.

In America on this day, people commonly have BBQ dinners and watch 花火大会 (fireworks shows).

Do you live in America? Do you watch the fireworks? Do you have a BBQ? What do you cook? Hamburgers and hotdogs?

On many weekends in the summer, Japan has amazing 花火大会 (fireworks shows).
We always go to the 花火大会 (fireworks show) near our house, and my wife packs an excellent picnic dinner.
We have stuff like イカ (squid), chicken, おにぎり (rice balls), 枝豆 (soy beans), salad…and beer (cola for the kids).
It’s alot of fun and great food!

Anyways, besides America’s 独立記念日 (Independence Day), here are some other notable events that happened on the fourth day of July:

  • 1959 July 4: A 49th star was added to the U.S. flag in honor of Alaska becoming a state.
  • 1960 July 4: The 50th star was added to the U.S. flag in honor of Hawaii becoming a U.S. state.
  • 1826 July 4: Both Former U.S. President John Adams and former U.S. President Thomas Jefferson (second and third U.S. Presidents, respectively) died.
  • 1872 July 4: Former U.S. President Calvin Coolidge was born.
  • 1973 July 4: Japanese pop-singer Gackt was born.