Tag Archives: kobe

19 Years Ago …

17 Jan

Today (2014 January 17th) is the nineteenth anniversary of the Great Hanshin Earthquake which struck Kobe, Japan on 1995 January 17th.

I wrote a post about it five years ago.

It was the first of two major earthquakes that have struck Japan since I’ve been here … hopefully there won’t be another!

Tokyo is to Osaka what New York is to California

26 Nov

My oldest daughter’s high school class took a three-day field trip to the Western Japan city of 大阪 (Osaka).

All of the photos in this post were taken by her during this trip.

The headquarters of the Japanese "Glico Candy Co.", Osaka, Japan

Have you ever visited Osaka? Have you ever visited Tokyo?
Did you notice how different they food and the people are?

Some people say that Tokyo is famous for fashion and Osaka is famous for food.
Do you know the delicious Japanese dishes 「お好み焼き」 (Okonomiyaki) and 「たこ焼き」 (Takoyaki)? Did you know that they are both “Osaka dishes”?

That’s not to say that Tokyo doesn’t have delicious food. In fact, Tokyo has more Michelin Star restaurants than any other city in the world.

And Tokyo has original dishes as well. Have you ever tried 「もんじゃ焼き」 (Monja-yaki)?
I guess you could call it “Tokyo-style Okonomiyaki”.

People from Osaka are more outgoing and friendly compared to people in Tokyo. A large number of Japan’s most famous comedians live and work in Tokyo but they’re actually from Osaka.
People in Osaka are famous for asking shop clerks for a discount when they shop. But that’s not done in Tokyo…here people just pay the listed price. People in Tokyo don’t feel comfortable “bargaining” for a discount.

Personally I think Osaka is a fun place to visit but I feel more comfortable in Tokyo than any other city. I enjoy living here. It has become “home”.

Anyways here are the rest of the photos that my daughter took that don’t have her or any of her friends in them:

The famous "Kani-Doraku" seafood restaurant

A type of "Takoyaki" called "Akashiyaki"

"Carl Corn Puffs" snack logo

The famous "Kuidaore-Tarou" statue

A train advertising "Universal Studios Japan" amusement park, which is in Osaka

Entrance to Universal Studios Japan (USJ) with X-mas decorations

Snoopy and Hello Kitty "Nikuman" meat-rolls at Universal Studios Japan. I guess Universal Studios in America doesn't have these.

Is "Hello Kitty" at the Unversal Studios parks in the U.S. too?

The giant X-mas tree at USJ.

Top 5 X-mas Illuminations in Japan

21 Nov

In Japan, Christmas isn’t a national holiday. If December 25th falls on a weekday then it’s just a normal workday in Japan.

But that said, クリスマス (X-mas) is still a big holiday in Japan. Not the biggest though…the most important holiday in Japan is 正月 (New Years).

I wrote a post before that explains a bit about Christmas in Japan…and another one that explains a bit about New Years in Japan.

To summarize though, Christmas isn’t the same in Japan as it is in Western countries.
Even though New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday, stores and streets in Japan put up X-mas decorations on November 1st (as soon as the Halloween decorations come down) and take them down on December 26th.
On December 26th in Japan, the Xmas decorations are quickly replaced with New Years decorations which stay up until around January 5th.
So Japan is decorated for the imported holiday of Christmas for fifty-six days but only about two weeks for New Years.

Basically the image of X-mas in Japan is a romantic evening for couples on クリスマス・イヴ (Christmas Eve) and a day for families with children on クリスマス (Christmas Day).

One of the popular dates spots for couples on and before X-mas Eve is to look at クリスマス・イルミネーション (X-mas lights (or, as they’re called in Japan, “Christmas illumination“)).

X-mas illumination at "Roppongi Hills" in downtown Tokyo.

There is a website that shows some of the best 「全国イルミネーション・スポット」 (Illumination Spots around Japan).

One part of that website lists 「イルミネーションおすすめスポット Best 5」 (“Top 5 Recommended Illumination Spots”).

The list is:

  • 六本木ヒルズ Artelligent Christmas 2010」 (“Roppongi Hills Artelligent Christmas 2010” in Tokyo, Japan)
  • 神戸ルミナリェ」 (“Kobe Luminarie” in Kobe, Japan)
  • 2010SENDAI光のページェント」 (“2010 Sendai Light Pageant” in Sendai, Japan)
  • 第30回さっぽろホワイトイルミネーション」 (“30th Sapporo White Illumination” in Sapporo, Japan)
  • OSAKA光のルネサンス2010」 (“Osaka Light Renaissance 2010” in Osaka, Japan)

Also, check out this post that I wrote with photos of the X-mas illumination at Tokyo Tower and in Roppongi, Tokyo.
And also this one that I wrote about Omotesando, Tokyo turning the X-mas illumination back on last year after eleven years of not decorating.

How is Christmas celebrated where you live? Are stores already decorated for X-mas? Is looking at 「クリスマス・イルミネーション」 (X-mas lights) popular?

泣きピタ!

16 Apr

There is a website by the Japanese company “Benesse” called 「たまひよweb」 (“Tamahiyo web“) based on their 「たまごクラブ」 (“Tamago Club“) magazine for pregnant women and their 「ひよこクラブ」 (“Hiyoko Club“) magazine for new mothers.

「たまごクラブ」 (means "Egg Club") magazine for pregnant mothers.

「ひよこクラブ」 (means "Chick Club") for new mothers of babies.

Their 「たまひよweb」 (“Tamahiyo web“) website has a new feature called 「泣きピタ!コンテスト」 (“Nakipita!  Contest“)…which means basically “Suddenly Stopped Crying! Contest”.

On this site people upload videos of their baby crying and then suddenly stopping because the baby was distracted by something else…often the baby resumes crying as soon as the distraction is gone, and then stops again when distracted again.
And then visitors to the site vote for their favorite one.

It’s cute.
My kids sometimes did the same thing when they were babies.

Here’s one of the videos from the site:

Click here to see the site. On the site you can click the pictures of a clip from the different videos to watch one…and you can vote for the ones you like by clicking the round, pink button on the right-side of the video.

You can also see the current “Top 3″ listed on the site.

***********

Unrelated, but do you know 吉田えり (Eri Yoshida)?

She’s only eighteen years old. But she’s a baseball pitcher with an unusual style…she’s a “sidearm knuckleball” pitcher.

There are few male pitchers that throw this style, let alone female ones.

She has recently been signed to play professional baseball in the U.S. for the minor league team the “Chico Outlaws“.She was playing pro baseball in Japan for the Japanese minor league team the “Kobe 9 Cruise” before getting signed by the American team.

This makes her only the second women to ever play pro baseball in America…and the first women ever to play pro baseball in two different countries.

(You can click here if you want to read more about her story on the the “Chico Outlaws” website.)

Earthquake

18 Jan

Yesterday was the fifteenth anniversary of the 阪神淡路大震災 (Kobe Earthquake).
It was a level 7 earthquake that flatten the Kobe area of Japan and killed over 6,000 people.

Click here to read the post that I wrote about the fourteenth anniversary of this quake last year.

And one year earlier, in 1994, an earthquake hit southern California in America.
Both the California earthquake and the Kobe earthquake happened on January 17th…only a year apart.

Of course everyone knows about the recent earthquake in Haiti last Tuesday.
Hopefully that country can recover from the damage soon.

I hate earthquakes but they’re a fact of life in this part of the world.
Growing up in Florida I never experienced an earthquake until I came to Japan.

The fifteenth anniversary of the Kobe, Japan earthquake and the sixteenth anniversary of the California one…as well as last week’s quake in Haiti made me remember the major earthquakes that happened around the world in the twenty years since I came to Japan.

Do you remember:
△ 1990 June – a level 7 earthquake killed about 50,000 people in Iran,

△ 1991 October – a level 6.8 earthquake killed about 2,000 people in India,

△ 1992 December – a level 7.8 earthquake killed about 2,500 people in Indonesia,

△ 1993 September – a level 6 earthquake killed about 9,700 people in India,

△ 1994 January 17 – a level 6.8 earthquake killed about 60 people in California, USA,

△ 1995 January 17 – a level 7 earthquake killed about 6,000 people in Kobe, Japan,

△ 1996 February – a level 6 earthquake killed about 300 people in China,

△ 1997 May – a level 7 earthquake killed about 1,500 people in Iran,

△ 1998 May – a level 6.6 earthquake killed about 4,000 people in Afghanistan,

△ 1999 August – a level 7.6 earthquake killed about 17,000 people in Turkey,

△ 2000 June – a level 7.9 earthquake killed about 100 people in Indonesia,

△ 2001 January – a level 7.7 earthquake killed about 20,000 people in India,

△ 2002 March – a level 6 earthquake killed about 1,000 people in Afghanistan,

△ 2003 September 25 – a level 8.3 earthquake killed zero people in Hokkaido, Japan,

△ 2003 December 26 – a level 6.6 earthquake killed about 31,000 people in Iran,

△ 2004 December 26 – a level 9 earthquake killed about 228,000 people in Sumatra,

△ 2005 March 28- a level 8.6 earthquake killed about 1,300 people in Sumatra,

△ 2005 October – a level 7.6 earthquake killed about 80,000 people in Pakistan,

△ 2006 May – a level 6 earthquake killed about 5,700 people in Indonesia,

△ 2007 August – a level 8 earthquake killed about 500 people in Peru,

△ 2008 May – a level 7.9 earthquake killed about 87,500 people in China,

△ 2009 September – a level 7.5 earthquake killed about 1,100 people in Indonesia,

△ 2010 January 12 – a level 7 earthquake in Haiti (death toll currently unknown).

Have you ever experienced an 地震 (earthquake)?

History timeline

21 Nov

By no ways a complete list, but here is a timeline of some highlights of world history.

Japan-related dates are written in red.

  • 1281: Mongolia was conquering most of Asia. As the Mongolian Navy was heading to Japan to invade, a giant typhoon sunk their entire fleet. Thus saving Japan.
    That typhoon was called 「神風」 (“Kamikaze“), which means “Divine Wind“, in Japan.The World War 2 Kamikaze pilots were named after this typhoon.
  • 1346: The Black Plague started and eventually killed nearly half of Europe’s population.
  • 1492: Christopher Columbus lands in America. But he believed he was in India and called the inhabitants “Indians“.
  • 1603: 「江戸時代」 (The “Edo Period“) begins in Japan.
  • 1680: The 将軍 (Shougun), Tsunayoshi, loved dogs and enacted a number of laws protecting dogs and making harming them a criminal offense.He is therefore often called “The Dog Shogun”.
  • 1776: America declares it’s independence from England.
  • 1789: French Revolution began.
  • 1804: Napoleon became the Emperor of France.
  • 1854: U.S. Naval Commodore Matthew Perry forced Japan to open to trade with the West.At first Japan resisted and the island of Odaiba was built in Tokyo Bay to defend Japan from the American forces. But Perry’s fleet of black ships were too intimidating and Japan enacted law to allow trade with the West in general and America in particular.The resulting influx of American goods and culture sparked Japan’s “Westernization”.

An Ukiyoe portrait of Cmdr. Perry. His name is written as 「ぺルリ」 ("Peruri") because that's what it sounded like to the Japanese when Perry said his name with his American accent.

  • 1859: Charles Darwin published his book “The Origin Of Species“.
  • 1861: The U.S. Civil War began.
  • 1868: 「明治時代」 (The “Meiji Period“) started in Japan. This was a period of modernization.
  • 1876: Alexander Graham Bell patented the telephone.
  • 1904: The Russia-Japan War began. Russia underestimated Japan and lost the war.
  • 1905: Albert Einstein published his “Theory Of Relativity” (E=MC?)
  • 1912: The “unsinkable” RMS Titanic sunk.
  • 1914 – 1918: World War 1.
  • 1937: The zeppelin Hindenberg exploded over the U.S. state of New Jersey.
  • 1939 – 1945: World War 2.
  • 1941 December 7: Japan attacked the U.S. Naval base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
  • 1945 August 6: America dropped an atomic bomb on the Japanese city of 広島 (Hiroshima).
  • 1945 August 9: America dropped a second atomic bomb on Japan. This time on the city of 長崎 (Nagasaki).
  • 1961: Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gargarin became the first man in space, starting the “Space Race” to the moon between America and Russia.
  • 1964: Tokyo, Japan hosted the Summer Olympics. The first Olympic games hosted in an Asian city.
  • 1969: U.S. Astronaut Neil Armstrong was the first (and so far, only) man to walk on the moon.
  • 1972: Sapporo, Japan hosted the Winter Olympics.
  • 1990 October 17: I (“Tokyo Five”) came to Japan.
  • 1995 January 17: 「阪神淡路大震災」 (Hanshin-awajidai-shinsai), (“The Kobe Earthquake“) destroyed the city of 神戸 (Kobe, Japan).

    A collapsed overpass after the Kobe Earthquake; 1995 January.

  • 1998: Nagano, Japan hosted the Winter Olympics.
  • 2001 September 11: Both of the World Trade Center in New York City, USA and The Pentagon in Washington D.C. are attacked by commercial airplanes hijacked by terrorists. Both of the towers in NYC were destroyed completely.
  • I know that I left out many important dates. Feel free to write any that you can think of in the comments section of this post.

    And did you witness any historic events?

    鉄人28号

    5 Jul

    I wrote a post on 15 June about the giant 18-meter (59-feet) tall Gundam robot in Tokyo (Click here to read it.).

    But soon it won’t be the only 18-meter tall robot in Japan…in August, construction is set to begin in 神戸 (Kobe, Japan) on an 18-meter tall 「鉄人28号」 (“Iron Man #28“).

    tetsujin

    The Gundam robot in Tokyo is temporary and will be removed next month (August 2009). But the 「鉄人28号」 (“Iron Man #28“) statue is set to be completed in October 2009…and will remain there permanently.

    The reason that this statue will be in 神戸 (Kobe) is because the creator of the 「鉄人28号」 (“Iron Man #28“) manga, Mitsuteru Yokoyama, was born in 神戸 (Kobe) in 1934 and he died in 東京 (Tokyo) in 2004…so this statue is a tribute to him.

    The story of 「鉄人28号」 (“Iron Man #28“) is about a Japanese scientist who tries to make a giant robot to help Japan win World War 2. His first twenty-seven attempts weren’t successful…but the 28th one was. But by the time the scientist created the 28th Iron Man robot, Japan had already surrendered and the war was over. So he gave the 18-meter robot to his son, who used it as a crime-fighting robot.

    The 「鉄人28号」 (“Iron Man #28“) manga debuted in 1956 and some people say that the American comic book character “Iron Man“, which debuted in 1963 was an uncredited copy of the Japanese character.

    iron-man

    裁判員制度

    21 May

    In the 1930′s, Japan had a 裁判員制度 (jury system) in the courts similar to America has.

    But it wasn’t popular and was changed in the early 1940′s to a system where professional judges determine the verdict of defendants in criminal cases, and it stayed that way…until today.

    Beginning today (21 May 2009), courts in Japan are using the 裁判員制度 (jury system) again.

    It’s surprising that the government decided to adopt this system…since polls conducted since the bill for this was passed into law five years ago consistently have shown that the majority of Japanese are against the idea of having a 裁判員制度 (jury system).

    But the law was passed…and went into effect today.

    Slightly different from the jury system in America, the Japanese 裁判員制度 (jury system) will consist of a panel of six jurors and three judges who will decided verdicts in court cases and decide what sentences to give those found guilty.
    In cases where the jurors rule one way but the judges rule the other…the judges ruling will stand.

    ++++++++

    The 新型インフルエンザ (New Type Flu (Swine Flu)) has spread to Tokyo. :(
    Until Wednesday, all of the cases of this flu were in the 関西地方 (Kansai area) of Japan…but two teenage girls from the 関東地方 (Tokyo area) went on a school trip to America and came back with the flu.

    ++++++++

    The World Health Organization determined that once again Japanese women have the highest life expectancy rate in the world.

    Japanese women live to be an average of 86 years old.

    Men from a country near Italy that I’ve never heard of called San Marino have the longest life expectancy rate for men. Their average life span is 81 years.

    阪神淡路大震災

    17 Jan

    Fourteen years ago today, on Tuesday, January 17, 1995 at 午前5時46分 (5:46AM JST), the 阪神淡路大震災 (Kobe Earthquake) struck the Western Japan city of 兵庫県神戸市 (Kobe in Hyogo Prefecture, Japan).

    It registered as a 震度7 (Level 7 on the Japanese Shindo scale*). I hope I never experience a major earthquake like that! (The small earthquakes are bad enough).

    (* Japan uses the 震度 (Shindo earthquake scale) (震度7 (Level 7) is the highest) rather than the Richter Scale).

    kobe01

    kobe02

    Kanji Of The Year

    14 Dec

    漢字 (Kanji) is one of the three type of Japanese written characters. They’re the characters that Japan originally borrowed from China…(Japan’s original characters are ひらがな (hiragana) and カタカナ (katakana).)

    (This post isn’t about explaining Japan’s written characters. But, if you’re wondering, basically Chinese uses 漢字 (Kanji) exclusively…but the Japanese language is different and needs ひらがな (hiragana) and カタカナ (katakana) also.
    For example, a sentence like “Canada is a large country” uses kanji, hiragana and katakana and would look like: 「カナダ大きい国です。」).

    Starting in 1995, every year on December 12th Japan chooses a 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year).
    It’s a character that is chosen by popular vote that represents the biggest events of the current year and is written out in a large 習字 (Japanese calligraphy) character in a ceremony by the lead monk at a temple in 京都 (Kyoto).

    In 1995, there was a large 地震 (earthquake) in 神戸 (Kobe, Japan), and a sarin gas attack on the subways of 東京 (Tokyo). So, that year 「」 (tremor) was the 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year).

    This year (2008) saw alot of major good and bad changes such as the Japanese Prime Minister changing suddenly, a historical American election on a campaign of “change”, and major changes in the world’s economy.

    So, last Friday (December 12), this year’s 今年の漢字 (Kanji Of The Year) was announced as 「」 (“change“).

    (Here’s a picture of this year’s character (“change”) being written by the lead monk):

    2008-kanji

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