Tag Archives: accessibility

2012 Kanji of the Year

12 Dec

Every December (for the past seventeen years or so), a 漢字 (Japanese (Chinese) written character) is chosen which has a meaning that best summarizes the passing year.

Last year the character 「絆」 (bonding) was chosen because of the way the world came together to help Japan after the March 11th earthquake.

Well, this year, for the first time since this tradition began, the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“) will be a repeat.

In the year 2000, the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“) was 「金」 (“gold”) because Japan won gold medals at that year’s Olympics and also because “Kin-san” of the famous elderly Japanese twins “Kin-san and Gin-san died that year—and her name meant “gold”.

This year too, 「金」 (“gold”) was chosen again to be the 「今年の漢字」 (“Kanji of the Year“).
And once again the reason for this choice was because of the gold medals that Japan won at the Olympics. Other reasons cited were the opening of the Tokyo Sky Tree, the Nobel Prize won by a Japanese professor, and the solar eclipse last spring.

The character 「金」 for "gold".

The character 「金」 for “gold”.

Writing the Kanji of the Year for 2012 in the official ceremony.

Writing the Kanji of the Year for 2012 in the official ceremony.

Accessibility in Japan

24 Apr

“Accessibility” is a word that tells how easy a city is for handicapped people to go about their daily lives.

It’s not so easy for blind people, deaf people and those in wheelchairs to do the things that people who aren’t handicapped take for granted.

In your city…

how do people in wheelchairs manage all the staircases and curbs?

How do they get on and off the trains?

How do blind people use the vending machines?

How do they know how much a ticket costs? Or if a canned drink is cola or alcohol?

How can they tell the difference between the bottle of shampoo and conditioner?

How can blind people tell the difference between the denominations of monetary currency?

How do deaf people know when their station is coming up when they’re riding a train and can’t hear the announcements?

In Tokyo, there are now elevators in nearly every train station to help those in wheelchairs.

The train station staff have portable ramps to help the wheelchair go in and out of the trains.

And there is 点字 (Braille) all over Japan.

The sidewalks in Japan have Braille…

The beer cans in Japan have Braille (that says 「お酒」 (“alcohol”))…

The elevators in Japan have Braille.

And the train stations in Japan have Braille all over. For example, the signs have Braille…

And the handrails in the train stations have Braille that tell where the staircase leads to (the platform, or the exit, etc)…

This handrail says that the stairs lead to the 「改札口」 ("ticket gates").

Just like the sidewalks in Japan, the train stations have Braille on the floor and platforms…

Shampoo bottles in Japan have Braille to help blind people tell which bottle in the shower is shampoo and which conditioner…

The shampoo bottle has the Braille, the conditioner doesn't.

Even Japanese money has Braille on the different bills (and the bills are also varying sizes depending on denomination too).

And then there’s the electronic sign boards that are now on almost every train in Japan. They tell the name of the upcoming station. It helps the hearing impaired who can’t hear the conductor’s announcements.

What examples of  “accessibility” can be found in your city?