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Snowy Day in Tokyo

18 Jan

The weather forecast yesterday said that it was going to snow in the Tokyo area this morning, so I wasn’t surprised by this morning’s snow.

It snows a lot in northern Japan, but only a couple of times each winter in Tokyo. And when it does snow here, it’s normally not very much. I have seen blizzards and heavy snow in Tokyo…but not so often.

Because it doesn’t snow so much here, Tokyo isn’t as prepared for it as they are up north. Most people don’t own a snow shovel here. You can often see people using dustpans to move snow from driveways.

And, the buses and trains will often be delayed when there is a lot (by Tokyo standards) of snowfall. There were a lot of delays this morning.
Though train and bus delays are an inconvenience that we’re not so used to in Japan (due to the extremely punctual public transportation system here), no one complains…everyone understands that the train and bus workers are doing their best to deal with the weather. Better “safe than sorry”.

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A picture I took this morning of someone’s flower garden covered in snow.

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Xmas Sky Tree

24 Dec

It’s クリスマス・イヴ (Xmas Eve) in Japan now.
My wife and I went to the Tokyo Sky Tree, the world’s tallest tower, which was illuminated in green for Xmas.

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メリー・クリスマス (Merry Xmas).

2014 Kanji of the Year

15 Dec

Every December, a kanji (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen that represents the biggest news of the year that is just ending. It’s called 「今年の漢字」 (“The Kanji of the Year“).

Last Friday, the kanji of the year for 2014 was chosen. It’s 「」 (zei) which means “tax“.

Every year, when the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year”) is chosen, it’s presented to the public at a special ceremony at a temple in Kyoto where the head monk writes the character and it’s broadcast on TV, newspapers and the internet.

The Kanji of the Year (今年の漢字) for 2014 is 「税」 (“tax”).

The reason that this character was chosen to represent 2014 is because the sales tax in Japan was increased this year for the first time in years.

When I came to Japan in 1990, the sales tax here was 3%. (Until just a couple of years before I came to Japan there was no sales tax here at all!)
It stayed at 3% until 1997 when it was raised to 5% (that year, a law was also passed that the after-tax” price must be shown on all products).
Japan’s sales tax was 5% for seventeen years. It was increased to it’s current 8% last spring (thus the Kanji of the Year is “tax”).
The Japanese government plans to increase the sales tax again next year (in 2015) to 10%!

Fiftieth anniversary of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics

10 Oct

Today (2014 October 10th) is the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Summer Olympics that were hosted by Tokyo.

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This was the first time the Olympics was hosted by an Asian country.

The Tokyo government had new stadiums built (which are still in use today) and the world’s first 新幹線 (bullet train) was built by Japan Railways (called “Japan National Railways” back then). The bullet train connected Tokyo to Osaka, and it’s service commenced on October 1st, 1964…so, nine days ago was the 50th birthday of the world’s first bullet train.

Since Tokyo hosted the Summer Olympics fifty years ago, Japan has hosted the Olympics two more times: the 1972 Winter Olympics were hosted by Sapporo, Japan and the 1998 Winter Olympics were hosted by Nagano, Japan.

A new bullet-train service was also started in 1998 to connect Tokyo to Nagano for the ’98 Games. My wife and I took that bullet train to see the Nagano Olympics atmosphere.

Tokyo put a bid in to host the 2016 Olympics, but lost. (I wrote a post about Tokyo’s 2016 bid and also my trip to Nagano in ’98…here).

Tokyo’s bid to host the 2020 Summer Olympics was successful though. In July 2020, Tokyo will not only be the first Asian city to host an Olympics Games…but also the first Asian city to host the Games twice!
(I wrote a post about the 2020 Tokyo Olympics here).

Both the 1964 Tokyo Olympics logo and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics logo.

The 1964 Tokyo Olympics commenced on 1964 October 10th. October isn’t summer…it’s autumn. The reason that the Games were in October is because summer is extremely hot and humid in Tokyo. The weather in October (now) is much more comfortable.
After the 1964 Olympics, October 10th became a holiday in Japan: 体育の日 (“Fitness Day”). The date of the holiday was changed in the year 2000 to ‘the second Monday in October’. So, 体育の日 (Fitness Day) isn’t today…next Monday (October 13th, 2014) is the holiday.

The IOC (International Olympic Committee) changed the rules and now the Summer Olympics must be played in July. So, the 2020 Tokyo Olympics will be in July. It’s gonna be hot!

 

Teru-teru Bozu

12 Mar

It’s not cold in Tokyo today…the temperature is very comfortable.  And it’s forecast to stay this warm all week at least.
It’s nice weather today but it’s forecast to rain tomorrow and Friday.

If you have outdoor plans on a day that it’s forecast to rain, what do you do in your country?

In Japan, people (especially children) hang a Teru-Teru-Bozu up.

Do you know what a “Teru-teru-bozu” is?

Teru-Teru-Bozu is a Japanese charm that is supposed to keep rain away.

When Japanese kids have an outdoor event, such as a school “Sports Day” or a field trip, and it’s forecast to rain on that day (and cause the event to be cancelled), they will make a Teru-Teru-Bozu out of cloth or, more commonly, tissue paper and hang it up.

There’s also a song for the Teru-Teru-Bozu that is along the lines of the English song “Rain, Rain, Go Away”.

Actually, I’ve written about Teru-Teru-Bozu once before, five years ago. (Click here to read it.)

Japan in January

1 Mar

Japan is beautiful in January … and every other month!

Snowstorm of 2014 Feb 8th

10 Feb

Last Saturday (2014 February 8th), as forecast, a heavy snowstorm hit Tokyo!

It was the biggest snowstorm to hit the Tokyo area since 1998. I remember that ’98 snowstorm! I had tickets to a KISS-Fest in Yokohama the next day. It was difficult walking in the deep snow to the venue from the the train station!

Last Saturday’s storm was just as bad! Strong wind and 27cm (11″) of snow covered Tokyo.

I grew up in Florida so my only experience with snow is in Japan. I’ve been to really cold places in the wintertime a few times…Hokkaido, Niigata, and Nagano in Japan, and New York in America. But those were only for short trips.
I’ve lived my whole adult life in Tokyo…so I’m used to Tokyo’s weather more than any other place.

It normally snows once or twice every winter in Tokyo…but not very much.
Snowstorms like last weekend’s are, thankfully, very rare here.

Here are some photos I took:

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