Tag Archives: Europe

Loudpark ’13

5 Oct

Loudpark, the annual heavy-metal festival that is held every October in either Saitama or Chiba (near Tokyo) will be held at the Saitama Super Arena on October 19th and 20th (2013).


Many bands will play, including Stone Temple Pilots, Europe, Lordi, King Diamond and many others.

Personally, I don’t like music festivals much. Usually there are too many bands that I don’t care about.
I did go to OzzFest Japan last spring because I wanted to see Black Sabbath … but I usually prefer regular concerts with only one or two bands.

But I’m definitely not going to Loudpark this year because it is scheduled on the same weekend as the KISS concert that I’m going to!

Are you going to Loudpark ?
Are you going to see KISS in Japan?
Which seems like a better concert to you?

The “Japanese Schindler”

31 Dec

Today is the last day of the first decade of the 21st century. And New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday. But this post is unrelated to that. Click here if you’d like to read an post I wrote about New Years in Japan.

This post is about a man who risked his career and even his life to help save thousands of Jews from Nazis in Europe during World War II.

杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune),
1900 Jan 1 - 1986 July 31.

His name is 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) and he’s often called the “Japanese Schindler” because his courageous actions were similar to the German Oskar Schindler whose story was made famous by the movie titled “Schindler’s List” by Steven Spielberg.

杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) was a diplomat for Japan in Lithuania during the war.

While stationed there he issued thousands of visas to Jews to enter Japan and transit to America, Canada or other countries.
He issued the visas without proper approval from Tokyo and without even requiring proper application paperwork from the people he gave them to.

If he was discovered by the Japanese government he would have be striped of his diplomatic credentials, removed from office and probably prosecuted.
If he was discovered by the Nazis, his fate would surely have been much worse.

When asked why he risked so much, he replied:

It is the kind of sentiments anyone would have when he actually sees refugees face to face, begging with tears in their eyes. He just cannot help but sympathize with them. Among the refugees were the elderly and women. They were so desperate that they went so far as to kiss my shoes, Yes, I actually witnessed such scenes with my own eyes. Also, I felt at that time, that the Japanese government did not have any uniform opinion in Tokyo. Some Japanese military leaders were just scared because of the pressure from the Nazis; while other officials in the Home Ministry were simply ambivalent.

People in Tokyo were not united. I felt it silly to deal with them. So, I made up my mind not to wait for their reply. I knew that somebody would surely complain about me in the future. But, I myself thought this would be the right thing to do. There is nothing wrong in saving many people’s lives….The spirit of humanity, philanthropy…neighborly friendship…with this spirit, I ventured to do what I did, confronting this most difficult situation—and because of this reason, I went ahead with redoubled courage.

— 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune)

There are monuments dedicated to 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) in America, Europe and Japan.


Monument to 杉原千畝 (Sugihara Chiune) in "Little Tokyo", Los Angeles, California, USA.


14 Aug

Do you know the Chinese yin-yang symbol?

Chinese yin-yang

Chinese yin-yang

It’s meant to symbolize how opposites complete everything.

Life and death. Male and female. Good and evil. And so on.

Many people in the West think that that symbol is used in all of Asia.

But it’s Chinese.

Other Asian countries have similar ones, though.

In Korea, they use a similar symbol but without the two contrasting colored dots. And their symbol is usually red and blue.korean-yin_yang

This symbol is on the Korean flag.

Flag of South Korea.

Flag of South Korea.

In Japan, the closest symbol to these is the 「三つ巴」 (“Mitsudomoe“).

Japanese 三つ巴

Japanese 三つ巴

There’s also a less-common version with two tomoe like the Chinese and Korean ones above…but it’s still uniquely Japanese. It’s called 「二つ巴 (“Futatsudomoe“):

Japanese 二つ巴

Japanese 二つ巴

In Japan, the mitsudomoe is more common than the futatsudomoe. It’s often seen on 提灯 (Japanese paper lanterns) and 太鼓 (Taiko drums).

I took this photo of a 三つ巴 on a 提灯 (paper lantern) with my cell-phone.

I took this photo of a 三つ巴 on a 提灯 (paper lantern) with my cell-phone.

Japanese 太鼓 drum

Japanese 太鼓 drum

It also can be seen as a 家紋 (Japanese family crest).

Here are a few common 家紋 (Japanese family crests)…the mitsudomoe is amongst them:



Japanese appreciate simple and less-flashy designs. So, 家紋 (Japanese family crests) are much simpler than colorful European family crests.

A European family crest

A European family crest