Tag Archives: blowfish

The Sound of Summer in Japan

18 Aug

Are they (Cicadas) in your country?
(Cicadas) are a large insect that spends most of it’s life underground in it’s egg. It spends a few years underground before it hatches, then it digs it’s way to the surface.

(Cicadas) emerge from the ground every summer in Japan. Shortly after emerging from the ground still a “baby” that can’t yet fly, they grow into an adult and shed their hard skin.

As an adult, (Cicadas) can fly but they are harmless. They don’t bite or sting…they feed on tree sap so they spend most of their time on tree trunks.

Once they mature, they have a short life-span. They need to quickly find a mate because they will die in just a few weeks.
In order to find a mate, the male (Cicadas) chirp loudly and continuously during the daytime.

So the sound of (Cicadas) chirping is the “sound of summer” to Japanese people.

Anyways, yesterday I had some errands to run in downtown Tokyo. After I finished, I took a few photos…including photos of (Cicadas) that I saw in 上野公園 (Ueno Park).
I also took a short video of a couple (Cicadas) so you can hear them.

Here are the photos and video I took:

Kasumigaseki Police Station

Kasumigaseki Police Station

The engine of Japan's first train in front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Stn (one of Japan's oldest train stations))

The engine of Japan's first train in front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Stn (one of Japan's oldest train stations))

In front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Station)

In front of 新橋駅 (Shinbashi Station)

不忍池 ("Shinobazu Pond") at 上野公園 (Ueno Park)

不忍池 ("Shinobazu Pond") at 上野公園 (Ueno Park)

A Cicada's skin after shedding.

A Cicada's skin after shedding.

蝉 (A Cicada) on a tree

蝉 (A Cicada) on a tree

A Cicada against Tokyo's skyline

A Cicada against Tokyo's skyline

不忍池 (Shinobazu Pond)

不忍池 (Shinobazu Pond)

Mr. Cicada serenading the ladies.

Mr. Cicada serenading the ladies.


At Ueno’s Toshogu Shrine, there are monuments in honor of the first pair of eyeglasses in Japan, Japanese instrument called “Biwa“, and blowfish.

「ふぐ供養碑」 ("Monument to the blowfish")

「ふぐ供養碑」 ("Monument to the blowfish")

Cicada in front of Ueno's Toshogu Shrine.

Cicada in front of Ueno's Toshogu Shrine.

And here’s a video I took where you can hear the chirping of the (Cicadas):


12 Jan

今日は成人の日 (Today is Adult’s Day).


Some girls dressed in kimono for their 成人式 (Adults Day ceremony).

I wrote about this holiday here and here.

All around Japan on this day, there are many twenty year old young people dressed up (girls in 振袖 (formal kimono for single women) and young men in suits usually (some men wear (kimono for men))).

After their 成人式 (Adults Day ceremony), many of them will go to a photo studio with their family to have their portrait taken…and then they usually go somewhere to celebrate with friends.
In Tokyo*, you can see many young people in their kimono at 東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland).

(*Well, actually near Tokyo. Tokyo Disneyland is actually in 千葉県 (Chiba Prefecture, near Tokyo). 成田空港 (Tokyo Int’l Airport) is, too.)

Alot of the twenty-year-olds will go drinking with their friends, too. Twenty is the legal drinking age in Japan.


Today, my wife and two youngest daughters went shopping. My oldest daughter and I are staying home…she needs to study for her upcoming high-school entrance exam.


Yesterday was 鏡開き (Kagami-biraki).

Click here to read a post I wrote about it.

So for breakfast yesterday, my wife made 汁粉 (Shiruko).


My wife made this 汁粉. It was very good.


Yesterday was also my second daughter’s fourteenth birthday.
She got an I-pod® and some clothes for her birthday presents. We also went to a restaurant for her birthday dinner yesterday evening.

I can’t hardly believe that she’s already 14!


As I mentioned above, my oldest daughter has two high-school entrance exams coming up.
She studies hard…and, as many Japanese kids her age do, she attends 学習塾 (Special cram school) after school twice a week for extra study.

All three of my kids do quite well in school. Much better than their father did when he was a student (more like their mother). 🙂

After breakfast yesterday, we went to 亀戸天神 (Kameido Tenjin Shrine) for wish for my daughter’s good luck in her upcoming entrance exams.

亀戸天神 (Kameido Tenjin Shrine) is one of the shrines in Japan dedicated to a deity of knowledge and study.
Most Japanese people don’t actually believe in deities…it’s just a tradition.

The 亀戸天神 (Kameido Tenjin Shrine) is fairly famous. The well-known 浮世絵 (ukiyoe) artist 広重 (Hiroshige) painted it (as did a few other artists):


Hiroshige's ukiyoe of Kameido-Tenjin

Here’s a recent photo of the same scene (still looks the same centuries later):


Another thing that this temple is famous for is a festival in January called 「鷽替え」 (Uso-kae).
Uso is the Japanese name for the “Bullfinch” bird. And 替え kae means “change”.
But it’s a play on words because 嘘 (uso (written with a different kanji character)) means “a lie”.

At this festival, people bring in the wooden Bullfinch statue that they bought last year and have it burned…and then they buy a new one. It represents a clean slate for any lies you’ve told the previous years and a eagerness to do better this year. (Actually, in Japan all New Years ornaments from the previous year are meant to be burnt at a shrine before new ones are bought for a new year.)

Near the 亀戸天神 (Kameido Tenjin Shrine), I saw this large Bullfinch as a post on the road-railing that looks like the smaller wooden ones that people can buy:


On the way to the temple, we passed a store that was selling the American potato-chips “Pringles” in different flavors.
I didn’t buy any, but I wonder: Do they sell these flavors in others countries?


マスタード・マヨネーズ・ポテト (Mustard Mayo Potato)


フェタ・チーズ (Feta Cheese)

As with all shrines in Japan, 亀戸天神 (Kameido Tenjin Shrine) sells 絵馬 (wooden plates) on which you write a wish and hang near the shrine.


Here’s the 絵馬 (wooden plate) that I bought for my daughter:


She wrote:


Which means “I hope to pass into high school.”

Then she hung it here:


As we were leaving the shrine, we passed by this フグ (blowfish) restaurant.
They serve フグ刺 (blowfish sashimi (raw blowfish)).


フグ (blowfish)

Chefs that prepare フグ刺 (blowfish sashimi) need a special license because フグ (blowfish) has a deadly poison gland and if it’s pierced, it poisons the food.

Anyways, after that we went to a shopping mall (because girls love shopping) and then to a restaurant for my second daughter’s birthday dinner.