Tag Archives: Independence

Japan is a few (thousand) years older than America

4 Jul

Today is 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (America’s Independence Day).

"Spirit of '76"

America declared independence from England on 1776 July 4…two hundred thirty-five (235) years ago today.

Compared to other countries in the world America is “young”. Japan’s history, for instance, is over 12,000 years old.
America may be a young country, but it still uses the same Constitution that was written in 1776 after gaining independence. America is the only country whose government’s Constitution hasn’t been changed* (*amended, but not changed).

Since I was born, there have been only eight different U.S. presidents…but in the same time there have been twenty-three men to hold the office of Prime Minister of Japan.

Since I came to Japan in 1990, I have seen fourteen Japanese Prime Ministers so far…but America has had only four different Presidents in the same twenty-one years.

Anyways, America’s Independence Day isn’t a holiday in Japan, of course. It’s been many years since I’ve celebrated the “Fourth of July”.
I remember, of course, the fireworks displays…but I’m not sure whether or not it’s a legal holiday (a “day off”) in America. Is it?

Are you American? How do you celebrate the “Fourth of July”?
If you’re not an American, does your country have an “Independence Day”? When is it? How do you celebrate?

The closest holiday in Japan is 「建国記念日」 (“National Founding Day”) on February 11 to celebrate the establishment of Japan as a nation.
It’s a day off from work and school…but there’s not much in the way of any special celebrations on that day.

アメリカ独立記念日

4 Jul

Today is 7月4日 (July 4). 「アメリカ独立記念日」 (American Independence Day).

I don’t usually do anything special on this day. Although there are many 花火大会 (fireworks shows) in Japan during the summer, they don’t usually start until late July or early August.

Watching fireworks is a “Fourth Of July” tradition in America, but I don’t live in America.
(It’s possible that the U.S. military bases in Japan will have a fireworks show this evening. I’m not sure. I don’t live near any U.S. military base anyways).

But anyways, in honor of the 234th anniversary of America’s independence from England, I am writing a list of some of American inventions that have changed the world (in most cases, for the better).

So, according to the U.S. Patent Office, this is a list of some of the numerous things that have been invented in America:

  • Swim Fins: (1717) Invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Franklin Stove: (1742) Also invented by Benjamin Franklin
  • Refrigeration: (1805)
  • Circular Saw: (1813)
  • Dental Floss: (1815)
  • Morse Code: (1832) Invented by Samuel Morse
  • Revolver (Firearm): (1836) Invented by Samuel Colt (founder of the Colt Gun Co.)
  • Vulcanized Rubber: (1844) Invented by Charles Goodyear (founder of Goodyear Tires)
  • Safety Pin: (1849)
  • Potato Chips: (1853)
  • Rolled Toilet Paper: (1857) Surprised this one took this long. Before this invention, people were using pages from old newspapers and magazines or leaves from plants.
  • Escalator: (1859)
  • Roller Skates: (1863)
  • Cowboy Hat: (1865)
  • Paper Clip: (1867)
  • Barbed Wire: (1867)
  • Cash Register: (1879)
  • Electric Chair: (1881)
  • The “STOP” Sign: (1890)
  • U.S. "Stop" sign

    Japanese 「止まれ」 ("Stop") sign

  • Ferris Wheel: (1891)
  • Zipper: (1891)
  • Radio: (1893)
  • Flashlight: (1898)
  • “Teddy” Bear: (1902) A toy maker made a stuffed toy bear and named it “Teddy” after the U.S. President at that time, Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt, who went hunting but decided against killing a bear cub.
  • Air Conditioning: (1902) Before this invention, places in the southern U.S. such as Florida (where I grew up) were unpopular to live.
  • Airplane: (1903) Invented by the famous Wright brothers.
  • Ice Pop: (1905) Usually called by the brand name Popsicle in the U.S. In Japan, it’s called 「アイスキャンディー」 (“Ice Candy”). It was invented by an eleven-year-old American boy.
  • Automobile Self-starter: (1911) Eliminated the need to engine hand-cranks on cars.
  • Fast Food Restaurant: (1912) For better or worse, these changed the industrialized world.
  • Traffic Signals: (1912)
  • Fortune Cookie: (1914) Although many Americans associate it with Chinese food, the “Fortune Cookie” is only found in Chinese restaurants in America. Actually, it was invented by a Japanese-American man.
  • Ice Cube Tray: (1928)
  • Electric Razor: (1928)
  • Chocolate Chip Cookies: (1930)
  • Electric Guitar: (1931)
  • Stock Car Racing: (1936) Led to the formation of the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR).
  • Corn Dog: (1942) Called a 「アメリカンドッグ」 (“American Dog”) in Japan.
  • 「アメリカンドッグ」 (Corn Dog)

  • Napalm: (1943) A terrible substance used as a military weapon.
  • Supersonic Aircraft: (1947)
  • Windsurfing: (1948)
  • Cable Television: (1948)
  • Polio Vaccine: (1952)
  • Barcode: (1952) Invented in America, but Japan turned them into an art form.
  • Eight-track Tape: (1964) This impractical medium for playing music was actually popular for about a decade.
  • KISS "Alive II" on 8-track tape

  • Snowboarding: (1965)
  • Inline Skates: (1979)
  • Space Shuttle: (1981)
  • Nicotine Patch: (1988) To help people quit smoking. I wonder if it actually works.
  • Global Positioning System: (1993) Commonly known by it’s initials GPS.
  • Self-balancing Personal Transporter: (2001) Commonly known by the brand name “Segway“.