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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.

Steve Spangler X でんじろう先生

25 Jul

In Japan there is a famous science teacher who is often on TV demonstrating amazing science experiments that are more like magic tricks.
He appears on many TV shows and he has a show of his own.

His name is 米村でんじろう先生 (Yonemura Denjirou sensei), or simply “Denjirou-sensei” as he’s usually referred to as, and he’s a former high school science teacher who didn’t enjoy science class when he was a kid so he decided to teach it in a way that would make it fun for kids (and adults!).

He has even traveled to places overseas, such as Africa, to help school children in other countries appreciate and learn science.

Here’s a clip from Denjirou-sensei‘s TV show. He makes a foam rise suddenly out of a large beaker with a loud whistling noise:

Well, a few days ago, my sister told me about an American former elementary school science teacher named Steve Spangler who does amazing science experiments.

I had never heard of Steve Spangler, so I searched YouTube and watched some of his experiments.
My first reaction was “Did this guy copy Denjirou-sensei?”, because he does some of the same experiments.

This is one of many experiments that Steve Spangler has in common with Denjirou-sensei

Here’s a video clip of Steve Spangler doing a similar experiment as the one that Denjirou-sensei did in the video above (but there’s no whistling noise):

I had never heard of Steve Spangler before, but I’ve watched Denjirou-sensei on TV for years.
How about you? Have you heard of either? Both?

The Holy Diver has passed away

18 May

When I go online, first I check my email.
Today one of my emails was from my friend Masa. He told me that the legendary heavy metal vocalist Ronnie James Dio has passed away.

After I check my emails, I always check my favorite websites for updates. There are a number of blogs, news sites, and others that I visit everyday.
But once I knew that Dio has died, I knew that some of my favorite music-related blogs would have posts about it…Hard Rock Hideout, Metal Excess, Metal Odyssey, Heavy Metal Addiction, and Heavy Metal Time Machine all wrote excellent posts about Ronnie Dio’s passing.

Ronnie James Dio was most famous as the lead vocalist for the metal bands Rainbow, Black Sabbath (after original vocalist Ozzy Osbourne was fired), and his solo band Dio.

I knew that he had been fighting stomach cancer but I was still surprised and saddened to learn that he died on May 16.

Ronnie James Dio, 1942 July 10 – 2010 May 16, R.I.P.

Here are a couple official promotion videos for two of his biggest hits with his solo band Dio, “Holy Diver” and “The Last In Line“.
The videos seem pretty “cheesy” nowadays, but when they were first released in the ’80s they were cool (at least to the teenage heavy metal fanatic that I was back then).


Already 15

11 Jan

Today is my second daughter’s fifteenth birthday.
They grow up so fast!

Also today is 「鏡開き」 (Kagami-biraki). They day to eat 「お汁粉」 (O-shiruko)…which is a traditional bean and mochi dish.
We had it for breakfast today.

In addition, today is the Japanese holiday 「成人の日」 (Adults Day). It’s the day for young people in Japan who are twenty years old (an adult now) to dress up in suit or kimono and attend a special ceremony…after which they usually go somewhere with their friends (Tokyo Disneyland is popular).

So, if you’re in Japan today, you’ll see many young adults dressed in kimono.

Yesterday one of my favorite TV shows aired.
It’s called 「欽ちゃん&香取慎吾の全日本仮装大賞」 (Kinchan & Shingo Katori’s All-Japan Costume Talent Contest).
This show airs only twice a year.

One of the best skits, I thought, was called 「腹ペコのカエル」 (“The Hungry Frog“).
In it, the father was the frog’s “tongue” and his two very young kids were a bumble-bee and a lady-bug.
The “lady-bug” was nervous and cried and didn’t want to participate. Her father tried to lure her with a cookie.
It was cute.
Here it is:

In the end, this family didn't win any of the prizes…but I still thought it was one of the best.

Click here to read my post about my favorite TV shows.

Click here to read my post about 「欽ちゃん&香取慎吾の全日本仮装大賞」 (Kinchan & Shingo Katori’s All-Japan Costume Talent Contest).

Click here to read my post about 「鏡開き」 (Kagami-biraki)…and it also has a video from last year’s 「欽ちゃん&香取慎吾の全日本仮装大賞」 (Kinchan & Shingo Katori’s All-Japan Costume Talent Contest) show.

Click here to read my post about 「成人の日」 (Adults Day).

東京消防出初式

6 Jan

Today I went to the 2010 「東京消防出初式」 (“Tokyo Fire Departements New Year Drill“).

チラシ (Flyer) for the 2010 「東京消防出初式」 (Tokyo Fire Dep't New Year Drills) show.

This is an event that takes place at the 「東京ビッグ・サイト」 (“Tokyo Big Sight“) near お台場 (Odaiba, Tokyo) on January 6 every year.

The "Tokyo Big Sight" venue.

Modern art near the "Tokyo Big Sight".

I mentioned this event in my “Festivals In Tokyo” page.

At this event, a number of firefighters from fire stations all over the Tokyo area come for a day of fire drills. It’s also a day to teach the public about fire and earthquake safety and to let people look and the fire trucks and fire-fighting equipment.
There are also hands-on things to try…such as practice fire extinguishers, trying on a firefighter’s uniform, and an earthquake simulator.

But the highlight of the event is definitely outside the venue.

First, the Tokyo Fire Department band plays and an official opening ceremony commences.
Then, there’s a parade of firefighters wearing various Japanese firefighter uniforms, rescue dogs, and all of the various fire trucks, fire cars, motorcycles, super-pump trucks, firefighting cranes, 救急車 (ambulances), super-ambulances…and in the water, the fire department boats, and in the sky, the fire department helicopters!

And then, some firefighters, dressed in traditional Japanese fire-fighters garb perform amazing aerobatics on traditional Japanese bamboo ladder. Long ago in Japan firemen had to be able to climb these ladders and hang on with their legs while they fought fires.
Japanese firemen still practice this skill for strength and dexterity.

And after that, another amazing show began.
Two buildings on either end of the court were set ablaze, “civilians” were in one of the buildings and needed rescue, an “earthquake” toppled telephone poles and cars, and other “civilians” were in need of rescue at sea!

Firetrucks, cars, motorcycles, cranes, ambulances, firefighters, rescue dogs all rushed to the scene with sirens wailing!

Rescue workers rescued the civilians from the burning building, rescue helicopters pulled people from the water, rescue dogs found “people” in the earthquake rubble!
Meanwhile, cranes lifted the telephone poles and the toppled truck!
And at the same time, hosemen fought the blaze in the burning buildings!
It was quite a show! So much action…I was swept up watching it and forgot to take many pictures!

In the closing ceremony, the fire boat and fire trucks sprayed water into the air and the ladder trucks all lifted a fireman each as high as their ladders went straight up…and then the firemen dropped streamers of flags down.

It was alot of fun to watch this event.

If you’re in Tokyo on January 6 in the future and you have a chance, I recommend checking out the 「東京消防出初式」 (“Tokyo Fire Departements New Year Drill“).

There were a number of news outlets there.
Here’s ANN News report on this event today:

And click here for information about the 2010 「東京消防出初式」 (“Tokyo Fire Departements New Year Drill“) from the 「東京ビッグ・サイト」 (“Tokyo Big Sight“) website (in Japanese only).

Happy New Year 2010

1 Jan

明けましておめでとうございます! (“Happy New Year!“)

It’s now 2010. The second decade of the 21st century!

2010 is the "Year Of The Tiger".

If you go to the Tokyo Tower by 2010 Jan 17 (8:00-10:00PM), you can see it lit up with "2010"

Every year on New Year’s Eve in Japan, many people watch 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) on TV.
It’s a music show with two teams of musicians (a “red” team and a “white” team…red and white are the colors or celebration) competing for points based on their live song performance.

Just before midnight, they countdown to the new year.

This show has been a New Year tradition in Japan for many years.

Last night we watched the show…as we usually do every year.
Here’s a clip of the show from yesterday.

And as I mentioned in an earlier post, Susan Boyle came to Japan to perform on this show last night. It was an excellent performance.
Here it is:

America also has a musical New Year countdown show that has been aired for many years. I used to watch it when I was a kid.
On this show, they show a illuminated ball descend a tower in New York City…the ball is timed to reach the bottom of the tower precisely at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I haven’t seen this show since the mid-1980s…but I’m sure it’s still on the air every year.

As today is the start of a new decade, let’s look at Japan’s 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) from New Years Eve four decades ago (the year I was born)…

Here’s a clip from Japan’s 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) from New Year’s Eve 1969 → 1970:

I couldn’t find a clip from America’s “New Years Eve At Times Square” from the same time but here’s one from three decades ago (New Year’s Eve 1979 → 1980):

Time flies. TV and music (and life in general) is so different now!

How about ten years ago?
New Years Eve 1999 ushered in the year 2000 (the start of the 21st century). Remember the “Y2K scare” at that time?
Well here’s a clip that shows highlights of the New Years celebrations from that evening (1999 → 2000) from around the world:

One Piece Vol.0

21 Dec

Do you know the Japanese manga (comic book) and TV anime (cartoon) titled 「ワンピース」 (“One Piece“)?

Do they sell the manga or show the anime in your country?

One Piece is about a boy called 「ルフィ」 (Lufi (pronounced: “loofy”)) who grew up in a port town idolizing the pirates.

He decides the he wants to find the “One Piece” treasure that will make him the “King Of The Pirates”.

He also mistakenly eats a magical fruit that makes his body become elastic and rubbery.

The story revolves around the adventures that Lufi and his pirate crew have while they search for “One Piece”.

Anyways, a new One Piece movie titled “Strong World” has just been released in Japan a few days ago.

I have never watched any of the One Piece movies…but my kids like to watch the anime on TV on Sundays and they have a few of the manga.

So I started watching the anime with them sometimes, and I read a few of their manga…it’s a fun story.

Well, the “Strong World” movie has been released at the ten year anniversary of the release of the first One Piece movie.

So to celebrate, they’re giving away free Volume Zero One Piece comics and 「ワンピーベリーマッチダブル」 (“OPBMW“) game cards to people who buy tickets to the new movie.

A flyer telling about the Vol. 0 comic and "OPBMW" cards

One Piece vol. 0 comic

Some "One Piece" game cards

Do they show One Piece movies in your country? Have you ever watched any?

Do you like Japanese anime and / or manga?

Here’s a trailer for the new movie: