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Silly political games again …

16 Aug

Yesterday (2012 August 15), was the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II.

And, as is done every August 15th in Tokyo, some Japanese politicans went to the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)… which is the shrine in Japan that honors all who died defending Japan in war… to pay tribute.

All who died in Japan’s defense are enshrined there … including those who were found guilty of war crimes by the U.S. war tribunals.

For that reason, many of Japan’s neighboring countries don’t like Yasukuni Shrine … and get upset when Japanese politicans visit it.

But really, the shrine doesn’t exclude war dead based on another country’s war court verdict … in the same way that all of America’s soldiers who die in battle can be buried at Arlington Cemetary, all of Japan’s soldiers are honored at Yasukuni Shrine.

But that isn’t the only political debate neighboring countries have with Japan.
China, Russia and South Korea have border disputes with Japan.

After their victory over the Japanese team at the Olympics,  a player on South Korea’s Olympic soccer team held up a sign declaring that the disputed Takeshima Island is Korean territory.  The Korean team almost lost their medal because of that.
Then, the South Korean president visited the island – – unannounced visits to disputed land by a political leader isn’t probably a wise move.
And then, yesterday … the anniversary of the end of World War II, some Korean men attempted to swim to the island. They didn’t make it there, so Japan didn’t need to take any action … but their attempt made the news.

And then yesterday, a Chinese boat was intercepted by the Japanese Coast Guard as it tried to head to the Senkaku Islands … which is disputed land between Japan and China.
The Chinese people onboard are currently in a Japanese jail. China is demanding that they be freed.

This seems to happen every year at this time.

Summer Olympics 2012…so far

30 Jul

Everyone, I’m sure, knows that the 2012 Summer Olympics are underway…and that they games are being hosted by London.

Have you watched the opening ceremonies?
Did you see “James Bond” escort the Queen of England to the games by helicopter…and “the Queen” parachuted in?
And Mr. Bean playing with the orchestra? David Beckham driving a speed boat? And the “legend” himself, Muhammad Ali?

It was a pretty good opening ceremony. I enjoyed watching it (on television…I’ve never seen an Olympics event “in person”. The closest that I came was when my wife and I took the 新幹線 (bullet train) to 長野 (Nagano, Japan) in 1998 to see the “Olympic city” atmosphere).

Anyways, are you watching any of the games?
Which events do you like best?

Last night, I watched Japan “almost” get gold in men’s judo…but lost to Georgia.

So far, the top three countries with medals won are China, America, and Italy.

Japan is currently in 15th place.

Arigato in London

12 Jul

To show gratitude to the people of many countries around the world for supporting and helping Japan in the aftermath of the Great Earthquake in Sendai of 2011 March 11, Japan will host a special event in London, England that will be called “Arigato in London“.

This event will feature many aspects of Japanese culture including photos and a movie of the Earthquake affected area that will also include many Japanese children expressing thanks to people around the world, Japanese food, beer and 日本酒 (Japanese sake alcohol), Japanese tradional games and traditional arts and music.

To allow many people from many different countries to attend, this event will be held in London from 2012 July 28 until August 11 to coincide with the Olympics that London will be hosting then.

Click here to visit the “Arigato in London” website.

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.

車イスカーリング

16 Mar

The 2010 Paralympics games started on 2010 March 12 and will continue until March 21.
Are you watching them?

(Click here to see the 2010 Paralympics medal count so far.)

At the time I wrote this post, Japan has one medal so far.
Kuniko Obinata won bronze in the Women’s Slalom Alpine Skiing event.
おめでとうございます! (Congratulations!)

I wrote a post last month about Japan’s oldest Paralympics athlete…the 75-year old 比田井隆 (Takashi Hidai).
He’s a member of Japan’s 車イスカーリング (Wheelchair Curling) team at the 2010 Paralympics in Vancouver.

(Click here to read it.)

So far in the Wheelchair Curling event, Japan won their match against Italy (9-6).
It was their first game of the Olympics and the Japan team was ecstatic, of course.

Mr. Hidai told the Japanese press after that match that he was “on top of the world!”

Takashi Hidai after Japan's Wheelchair Curling victory over Italy.

But their good luck didn’t continue for the next few matches.
The Japan team lost their games against Korea, Germany, and Canada. 😦

Today they’re scheduled to play Norway. And then Switzerland, America, Sweden and then Great Britain.

がんばれ! (Good luck!)

Sporting event news

27 Feb

Did you watch the 2010 Olympics women’s figure skating event?

It was probably the biggest event of these Olympics in both Japan and Korea.

Japan’s best skater 19 year-old Mao Asada competed against Korea’s star Kim Yu-na, who is also 19 years old.

Of course, both Japan and Korea were sure that the skater from their country would win the gold medal for this event.

In the end though, Korean Kim Yu-na won the gold and Japan’s Mao Asada won silver. Canadian Joannie Rochette got the bronze medal.

Asada Mao is in the black dress.

Mao Asada tried her best and she did two “triple axel” jumps. It’s her signature jump and she is the only current women’s skater in the world who can do that particular jump.
She executed the triple axels perfectly, but she tripped up and almost fell at another point during her rountine and it cost her points.

Mao Asada skating in the 2010 Olympics women's figure skating event.

The 2010 Olympics will be over tomorrow. Japan currently has a total of four medals from these games…two silver and two bronze.
It looks like Japan won’t be taking any gold from these games.

***

Also, tomorrow is the day of the annual “Tokyo Marathon“.


32,000 people will running 42 km through the streets of Tokyo.

This year a friend of mine will be running in the marathon.
ガンバレヒデキさん! (Good luck, Hideki!)

***
And the pitcher from the Japanese baseball team, the Chunichi Dragons, Maximo Nelson (from the Dominican Republic) was arrested yesterday for bringing a bullet in his luggage in the airport in Okinawa (where he was going for his team’s spring training).

Japan is very strict with it’s drug and firearms laws.

***

Speaking of Okinawa, there was a very big earthquake in Okinawa this morning.
Hopefully everyone is OK.

***

Different subject, but I finally admitted that my eyesight isn’t what it used to be and got eyeglasses yesterday.
So, now, for the first time, I wear glasses for reading.

I can’t deny that I’m getting older. 😦

比田井隆

20 Feb

It snowed again in Tokyo the day before yesterday. There was only a few centimeters of snow on the ground when it stopped snowing at around 9:00AM…and it was all melted away by that afternoon.

But I took a few photos of the snow with my cell-phone camera while I was on my way to work.

At the train station

The weather was much nicer yesterday and this week’s forecast says it’ll be sunny everyday. 🙂

I considered writing a post about:
the news that the Australian government is trying to force Japan to end it’s whaling,
or about Toyota Motor Company‘s recent problems with massive car recalls around the world and the news that the company’s president will be traveling to America soon to testify before the U.S. Congress,
or that the Japanese Olympic team got their third medal yesterday…this one in Men’s Figure Skating (Click here to see Japan’s 2010 Olympic medalists…and here to see the total number of medals each country has so far.)

But there’s enough written on the internet about all of those stories already.

I want to write about someone that you probably haven’t heard of.

「比田井隆」 (Takashi Hidai).

He’s a member of Japan’s 2010 パラリンピックス (Paralympic) “Wheelchair Curling Team“.

「比田井隆」 (Takashi Hidai)

Do you know what the パラリンピックス (Paralympics) is?
It’s the Olympics games for athletes who are physically handicapped or blind.

These games are sometimes confused with the “Special Olympics“…which are the games for athletes who are mentally handicapped.

I think the athletes who participate in both the Paralympics and the Special Olympics are amazing.

As I said Takashi Hidai will be participating in the 2010 Paralympics Games, which will be held in Vancouver, Canada from 2010 March 12 – 21. Shortly after the “regular” Olympic Games are over.

I heard about Takashi Hidai in the Japanese news.
He’s 75-year-old. The oldest person to ever join the Japanese Paralympics Team.

When he was 31 years old, he was working in Tokyo as an electrician on a construction site when suddenly a crane fell over on top of him and fractured his spine…paralyzing him from the waist down.

He credits the love of his wife and daughter (who was three years old at the time) with helping maintain his positive attitude after his tragedy.

About ten years after the accident, someone at the physical rehabilitation center that he was a patient at suggested he try his hand at archery.
His family agreed that it sounded like a good idea so he bought a bow and practiced earnestly.
He enjoyed it alot and became skilled at it and in 1980, he entered the National Archery Competition…competing against non-handicapped archers.

About five years ago, an acquaintance who participated in a local Wheelchair Curling workshop suggested Mr. Hidai try it.
He doubted that he would be able to maneuver his wheelchair on ice at the age of seventy…let alone compete in such a sport against people forty or fifty years younger than him.
But he went ahead and tried it and found that he really enjoys it…not to mention, excels at it.

Mr. Hidai also went to England in 2005 to compete in the World Archery Championship.
He said “Being 70 years old (at the time), I was really surprised to make it to the World Championships!”

But fate dealt Takashi Hidai another blow.
His daughter, whom he said constantly encouraged him with a smile, died nineteen years ago of cancer.
She was only 28 years old and had just became a mother only six-months prior.

He wishes she was still here to encourage him when he plays at the 2010 Paralympics in Canada next month.

ショコラブルワリー

17 Feb

As I mentioned in my previous post, I got Valentines chocolate from a few people, as is common in Japan…but the best ones were the chocolates that my daughters made me.
And also, the gift from my wife.

This year’s Valentine’s Day, my wife bought 「サッポロ ショコラブルワリー」 (“Sapporo Chocolat Brewery”) chocolate beer for me.

I love beer and I don’t have much of a sweet tooth…so this was perfect for me. It was a slightly dark beer with a hint of bitter chocolate.

A Canadian who’s living in Tokyo also wrote a post about this beer on is blog…click here to see his post.

+++++

Also, Japan got it’s first two medals in the 2010 Olympics yesterday.
Both were in the Men’s 500 meter Speed Skating competition.

Keiichiro Nagashima won the silver and Joji Kato got bronze.

Olympic tragedy

14 Feb

We’re watching the 2010 Winter Olympics live on TV right now.
It started this morning (Sunday) and it’s currently about 1PM here in Tokyo. So I guess the games are being played in the evening in Canada (Sunday, 1:00PM in Tokyo = Saturday, 8:00PM in Vancouver).

As of right now, Japan doesn’t have any medals yet.
Ten countries have at least one medal each so far.

2010 Olympic medal stats (as of 2010 Feb 14, 1:20PM, JST)

If you want to see an up-to-date listing of the medal statistics, check out the 2010 Olympics medals page.

But, I’m sure you’ve heard how the 2010 Olympics started in tragedy.

Nodar Kumaritashvili, who was a 21 year old athlete from the country of Georgia who was on his country’s luge team, died in a terrible accident before the beginning of the games’ opening ceremony.

He flew off the Olympic luge track at high speed and smashed into a metal pillar during a training run.

He was air-lifted to hospital unconscious but died at the hospital.

The Georgia team was going to pull-out of the 2010 Olympics because of this tragedy, but finally decided to continue.
They wore black armbands in remembrance of Nodar Kumaritashvili as they marched in the opening ceremony.

Nodar Kumaritashvili, R.I.P.

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On a different note, today is Valentine’s Day.
Click here to see the post I wrote that explains how this holiday is different in Japan compared to Western countries.

So, my youngest daughter made some homemade chocolate for me.
I took a couple pictures:

The box of chocolate that my daughter gave me.

The chocolates she made for me...they were delicious!

The chocolates that my daughter made for me...they were delicious!

The 11th, 12th, 13th and 14th

12 Feb

Have you seen the photos of the “2001 September 11th attacks” on the World Trade Center towers in New York City that were recently made public?

These photos were taken by New York Police Officers who were on the scene in a police helicopter.

Here are some of the photos they took:

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The 2010 Winter Olympics will take place in Vancouver, Canada.
The opening ceremony is scheduled to begin on Friday, 2010 February 12th in the evening…Canada time. So, it’ll be Saturday, 2010 February 13th here in Japan when the ceremony begins.

The official 2010 Olympics logo.

The games will go from 2010 February 12-28 (Canada time).
Do you watch the Olympics?
I watch them…but the games go for over two weeks—I don’t watch everyday of the games. I like to watch some of the opening ceremony and some of the closing ceremony and a few games in between.

This year, Japan is sending 95 athletes to compete in the Olympics, America is sending 216, and Canada (the host country) will have 206 athletes play.
How many athletes from your country will be at the 2010 Olympics?

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Sunday, February 14th will be Valentine’s Day.
How is Valentine’s Day celebrated in your country?

In Japan, it’s done the opposite of how America celebrates it. And Japan has another holiday (called “White Day“) in March that is more similar to Western-style Valentine’s.

Click here to read my FAQ about Valentine’s Day in Japan…
and click here to read my post that explains Japanese Valentine’s (and other holidays in February) in more detail.

Also, this year on February 14 will be the Chinese New Years.
I mentioned it on my site’s “Festivals In Tokyo” page….click here to read it.

Have you ever experienced a Chinese New Years ceremony?
If you’re in the Tokyo area this weekend, you can go to 「横浜中華街」 (“Yokohama China Town“) and see a Chinese New Years ceremony.