Tag Archives: 北海道

虎の「タイガ」 R.I.P.

26 Aug

Last May, at the Kushiro Zoo in 北海道 (Hokkaido, Japan), three baby tigers were born on the brink of death.

The zookeepers were able to save two of them. A male that they named 「タイガ」 (Taiga) and his sister 「ココア」 (Cocoa).

「タイガ」 (Taiga) and 「ココア」 (Cocoa) when they were cubs.

「タイガ」 (Taiga) and 「ココア」 (Cocoa) when they were cubs.

Soon after their birth, the zookeepers discovered that both 「タイガ」 (Taiga) and 「ココア」 (Cocoa) were handicapped.
Their hind legs and back bones had deficiencies and the tigers could only walk by dragging the back of their bodies.

「タイガ」 (Taiga) and  「ココア」 (Cocoa)

「タイガ」 (Taiga) and 「ココア」 (Cocoa)

I remember when a program about these two tigers was shown on TV here in Japan. They became very popular, and many people went to Kushiro Zoo to see them.

But tragically, today 「タイガ」 (Taiga), the male tiger choked to death on his food. The zookeepers attempted to save him with first aid, but 「タイガ」 (Taiga) was pronounced dead today at 5:28PM.

taiga-02

梅雨

10 Jun

Today is the official first day of 梅雨 (the rainy season) in Tokyo.

It didn’t rain at all today, though.
It is forecast to rain tomorrow in Tokyo…but not the rest of the week.

Weather forecast for 2009 June 11 - 17.

Weather forecast for 2009 June 11 - 17.

The rainy season in Japan starts this time of year (mid-June) and lasts a few weeks.
北海道 (Hokkaido (Japan’s northernmost island)) doesn’t have a 梅雨 (rainy season).

Japanese beer

22 Feb

Do you like beer?
Have you ever tried Japanese beer?

I beer!

「麒麟ビール」 (Kirin Beer) is my favorite…but I’ll take any cold lager!

Kirin Tanrei Double

Kirin Tanrei Double

Japan has five major brewers:

  • Kirin Beer – This beer began in the late nineteenth-century in 横浜 (Yokohama, Japan). It’s named after a mythological creature called a 「麒麟」 (kirin) that looks like a dragon (it’s featured on the beer cans)…not named after a giraffe (which is 「キリン」 (kirin), also).
  • A mythological "kirin".

    A mythological "kirin".

    Many people don’t know that hidden in the creature on Kirin Beer cans is the word 「キリン」 (kirin):

    「キ・リ・ン」 (Ki-ri-n) written in the creature's mane.

    「キ・リ・ン」 (Ki-ri-n) written in the creature's mane.

    (I wrote another post that mentions Kirin Beer. Click here to see it.)

  • Asahi Beer -Started in 大阪 (Osaka, Japan).
  • asahibeer_logo1

    The Asahi Beer brewery is a Tokyo landmark.

    The Asahi Beer brewery is a Tokyo landmark.

    (I have pictures of old Asahi Beer posters on the end of another post. Click here to see it.)

  • Suntory Beer – Also started in 大阪 (Osaka, Japan).
    Suntory Beer got it’s name because the founder’s name was Mr. Torii…or Torii-san. So, he took the words Torii and san and reversed them into San-torii and changed the spelling to Suntory.
  • (Another famous Japanese company got their name in a similar manner. The Bridgestone company was founded by Mr. Ishibashi…which translates into Stone bridge, which he reversed to Bridgestone.)

    Suntory Beer

    Suntory Beer

  • Sapporo Beer – Started in 北海道札幌 (Sapporo, Hokkaido, Japan).
  • Sapporo Beer

    Sapporo Beer

    Sapporo Beer bought the Yebisu Beer brewery (which was from Tokyo), so they make that beer as well.

    Yebisu Beer (pronounced "Ebisu")

    Yebisu Beer (pronounced "Ebisu")

  • Orion Beer – From 沖縄 (Okinawa, Japan)
  • Orion Beer

    Orion Beer

Have you ever tried Japanese beer? Which ones have you tried? Did you like them?
What’s your favorite beer in the world?

As I said above, I like 「麒麟ビール」 (Kirin Beer) best…and probably オリオンビール (Orion Beer) as my next favorite.

Niigata

20 Feb

Today my youngest daughter will leave with her class for a school field trip to 新潟 (Niigata, Japan)…which is on the other coast of Japan and further north from Tokyo.

(I mention it in an earlier post. Click here to read it.)

新潟 (Niigata, Japan) is near the 日本海 (Sea Of Japan).

When her older sisters were in the sixth grade (the grade my youngest is in), they went on the same trip. They both had a great time…and my youngest daughter is really excited about it.

This trip is five days long…they’ll return on February 24. On the trip, they’ll meet local craftsmen and make a traditional Japanese craft, go to an 温泉 (hot spring), and do some hiking…but what the kids are looking forward to is the snow skiing that they’ll do!

The weather in Japan has been really nice recently (although cold)…but it’s forecast to rain starting today and continue for most of next week (it’s also supposed to snow in 新潟 (Niigata).

I hope the weather is good for my daughter’s trip.

Here’s 全国の天気予報 (weather forecast for all of Japan) for today:

Japan's weather forecast for Feb. 20, 2009

Japan's weather forecast for Feb. 20, 2009

Here’s this week’s 天気予報 (weather forecast) for Tokyo for the next seven days:

Tokyo's weather forecast for Feb. 20-26, 2009

Tokyo's weather forecast for Feb. 20-26, 2009

It says there’s 90% chance of rain in Tokyo today…and 50-60% chance of rain on the 23rd and 24th.

In 新潟 (Niigata):

Weather forecast for Niigata for Feb. 20-26, 2009.

Weather forecast for Niigata for Feb. 20-26, 2009.

It says it’ll snow and rain in Niigata today…and snow again tomorrow, then rain on the 23rd and 26th.

When I was in my twenties, I went snow skiing a couple times. I’ve only ever skied in Japan…in 北海道 (Hokkaido) and 新潟 (Niigata) (where my daughter’s going today).

Have you ever gone skiing? Where? In Japan?

節分

4 Feb

Yesterday was 節分 (Setsubun).

Click here to read a post I wrote last week about it.

On this holiday (the first day of Spring in the old Lunar calendar), people (usually children) throw soy beans at someone dressed as the (demon) (usually the father) while shouting 「鬼は外!福は内!」 (“Bad luck out! Fortune in!”).

Setsubun demon masks.

Setsubun demon masks.

Also, many temples and shrines have festivals on 節分 (Setsubun) that often include sumo wrestlers and other celebrities throwing beans at the crowd.

Tokyo’s 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) is one of the most popular places at 節分 (Setsubun).

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

Setsubun 2009 at Zoujyouji

This year’s celebrities at 増上寺 (Zoujyouji Temple) included Chadha, the Indian singer of Japanese Enka music and Tamao Nakamura, an actress.

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Tomorrow, the world famous annual 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) begins and goes for one week.

2009 �幌雪まつり

2009 札幌雪まつり

I went to this festival in 1992. It was great! I’d like to go again one day.

A highlight of the festival are the big, elaborate snow sculptures.

snowcastle

Click here to visit the 札幌雪祭 (Sapporo Snow Festival) website in 日本語…or click here to visit the English version.

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横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) is having various 春節 (Chinese New Year) events until February 28.

You should check it out if you have a chance…even though the best parts (lion dance, dragon dance, etc) were on January 26, the date of Chinese New Year this year…there are still parades are other things scheduled various days this month.
Click here to visit the official 横浜中華街 (Yokohama Chinatown) website’s 春節 (Chinese New Year) page. (Japanese only).

I wrote a post about Chinese New Year (click here to see it) and I mention in that post about the difference between the Chinese dragon dance and the Japanese one.

At New Years time, both China and Japan also have lion dances…but, just like the Chinese and Japanese dragons are quite different, so are the Chinese and Japanese lions.

The Chinese one:

Chinese Lion dance

Chinese Lion dance

The Japanese one looks and moves quite different. In Japan, it’s called 「獅子舞」 (Shishimai):

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

Japanese "Shishimai" Lion Dance

Fourth of July

3 Jul

I have been asked a number of times if Japan “celebrates the Fourth Of July (American Independence Day)”.

I’m surprised anyone would even wonder that.

Of course, Japan (or any country other than America) doesn’t celebrate America’s Independence Day.

Normally, one country’s national holidays aren’t celebrated in other countries.

Japan does have excellent 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in the summer…mostly late July – early August.
We go to the riverbank near our house to watch the fireworks every year. And sometimes we go to other shows during the summer, as well.

花火大会 (Fireworks shows) in Japan are alot of fun. People wear summer kimono and set up a picnic near the river and eat things like おにぎり (rice balls), いか (squid), sandwiches, スイカ (watermelon), and beer.

The fireworks are always really great! (“Fireworks” is written as 花火 in Japanese…and a literal translation would be “fire flower”).

But there are no fireworks on July 4th in Japan (except on the U.S. military bases).

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Did you know that this summer’s 主要国首脳会議 (Group of Eight (G-8)) Summit is being held in 洞爺湖 (Tōyako) in 北海道 (Hokkaidō) Japan next week?

The G-8 stands for the eight “industrialized” countries (America, Canada, the U.K., Japan, Russia, Italy, Germany, and France).

This year, Japan’s Prime Minister is the President of the G-8.

They’re meeting to discuss climate change, the environment, nuclear energy, etc.

Because of the potential of a terrorist attack of some sort anytime there’s a G-8 meeting, the Japanese police are on “high alert”. They’re being posted all over train stations in the Hokkaido area…as well as the Tokyo area.

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At the top of this post, I mentioned beer being popular at summer fireworks shows (actually it’s popular at all of Japan’s festivals 🙂 ).

I love beer. I drink it everyday…not too much, though—just a can or two with dinner.

I’ll drink any brand…but my favorite is the domestic (in Japan) brand 麒麟 (Kirin). Especially 淡麗生 (“Tanrei Nama”).

麒麟淡麗生

BTW, many 外国人 (foreigners) who know a little 日本語 (Japanese language) think that this beer’s name means “Giraffe”. This is because giraffe in Japanese is キリン (kirin), but “Kirin Beer” is 麒麟…this “kirin” is a mythological creature similar to a dragon (hence the picture on the can).

Besides Kirin, the other major Japanese brewers are Asahi, Sapporo, Suntory and Orion (from 沖縄 (Okinawa)).

After Kirin, I like Orion best.

My favorite imported beer is Corona from Mexico.

I guess I should clarify…I like Lager beer. I don’t particularly care for dark beers like Guinness.

I was quite shocked the first time I tried a Guinness Beer“. It’s dark and flat! And the can had a ball inside and it said to shake the can! Not at all what I consider a beer.

All Japanese beer cans have braille on the top that tells blind people that it’s an alcoholic drink. I noticed that other countries’ beer cans don’t have this.

I wonder why not.