Tag Archives: kyoto

“New” Kanji of the Year

25 Dec

Every December a kanji character is chosen in Japan that represents the year that coming to an end, and the character is written in traditional 習字 (calligraphy) by the head monk at a temple in Kyoto and presented in a ceremony to the public.

Last year (2008), the character 「変」 (“change“) was chosen. Click here to read my post from last year to see why that character was chosen.

It was decided that since the U.S. elected a historic new President, Japan elected a Prime Minister from a new party, and also because of the global epidemic of “Swine Flu” which is called 「新型インフルエンザ」 (“New Flu”) in Japan…that the kanji character for 2009 is 「新」, which means “new“.

The 2009 Kanji of the year is the character for "New"

Here’s a picture of the head monk writing the character 「新」 (“new”) in traditional Japanese calligraphy:

Kyoto trip

7 Sep

My 二女 (second daughter) went to 京都 (Kyoto, Japan) and 奈良 (Nara, Japan) with her junior high school class for a three-day field trip.

She just returned a few hours ago.

Of course she had a great time. And she took many photos…but almost all of them have her and/or her friends in them, so I can only post here the few photos that don’t show my daughter or her friends.

DSCF5294

東大寺 (Toudaiji Temple)

DSCF5298-1

東大寺大仏 (Great Buddah of Toudaiji)

DSCF5309

平安神宮 (Heian Grand Shrine)

DSCF5322

A vending that sells only お茶 (green-tea).

A vending that sells only お茶 (green-tea).

DSCF5328

DSCF5333

DSCF5347

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

今週末

25 Aug

The 2008 Summer Olympics in 北京 (Beijing) have ended.
Did you watch the closing ceremony?

The top ten countries for medals:

  1. 中華人民共和国 (China) – 51 gold (100 total)
  2. アメリカ合衆国 (USA) – 36 gold (110 total)
  3. ロシア連邦 (Russia) – 23 gold (72 total)
  4. グレート・ブリテンおよび北アイルランド連合王国 (Great Britain) – 19 gold (47 total)
  5. ドイツ連邦共和国 (Germany) – 16 gold (41 total)
  6. オーストラリア (Australia) – 14 gold (46 total)
  7. 大韓民国 (South Korea) – 13 gold (31 total)
  8. 日本国 (Japan) – 9 gold (25 total)
  9. イタリア共和国 (Italy) – 8 gold (28 total)
  10. フランス共和国 (France) – 7 gold (40 total)

Speaking of sports, a Russian 相撲 (Sumo) wrestler in Japan named 若ノ鵬 (Wakanohou) was recently arrested for possession of marijuana and dismissed from the Sumo Federation.

Japan has very strict drug laws. If he is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison and / or deportation.

What a stupid mistake.

+++

Last Saturday (2008/8/23), lightning struck the 醍醐寺 (Daigoji Temple) in 京都 (Kyoto, Japan), which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, causing a fire which destroyed part of the centuries old cultural asset.

+++

Also on Saturday we took our oldest daughter to an exhibition of Tokyo high schools and colleges to help us decide which one should attend next school year which begins in April in Japan.
She’ll be starting high school (10th grade).

Here’s a picture I took of the event. It was pretty crowded:

+++

From there, we went to the 米国空軍有効祭 (U.S. Air Force Friendship Festival) at the U.S. Air Force base in western Tokyo.

This is the only time that the U.S. military bases are open to the public. Actually, going on the U.S. bases is almost like going to America. The food, clothes, and the way everyone speaks loudly (and in English) are all very American. It’s kinda a culture shock for me (and of course, my family)…I guess I’m not used to America anymore.

It was a little bit rainy the day of this year’s festival, so it wasn’t so fun (but it wasn’t hot, so that was nice). We went to this festival three years ago…it was nice sunny weather on that day (although quite hot).

I couldn’t get any nice pictures from this weekend’s festival at the U.S. Air Force base because of the weather…but here are a couple pictures from the event when we went in 2005. They had a sky-diving show and let the public look inside the aircraft:

+++

And yesterday (Sunday), I volunteered to help set up and run a booth at a local summer festival near our house.

It was still raining (and it’s still raining today 😦 ) but a fairly large number of people still turned up. I helped run the drinks and かき氷 (flavored shaved ice) booth.

The weather was pretty cool, so not many people wanted shaved ice…but we sold alot of drinks. Especially beer!

It was a 盆踊り (Bon dancing) festival…but I was surprised that so many people still did the dancing despite the weather.

I was busy helping out so I didn’t bring my camera. But I took a picture with the cell-phone. It didn’t turn out so good because it was rainy and evening.

It was fun.

林間学校

22 Jul

Tomorrow morning, my second daughter will leave with her school class for their 林間学校 (“Country school” “Camping school“ ”field trip”) in 新潟 (Niigata).

I’m not sure what to call 林間学校 in English. It translates to “Camp school”…but that’s not exactly what it is.

林間学校 is pronounced “Rinkan-gakkou” and is a three-day trip to the countryside by kids who live in the city, to let them experience country living. Japanese country living, of course.

She’s real excited about this trip. Her older sister did the same trip last year, and her younger sister will do it in 2010. (Older sister’s class took a 3-day 修学旅行 (school trip) to 京都 (Kyoto) this year…and this winter, youngest sister will go to 新潟 (Niigata) also—but for snow-skiing).

On this trip, from tomorrow until Friday, she and one of her classmates will stay in a local family’s house, learn to make something by hand from a local tradesman, and do some hiking.

When I was a kid, the schools I attended in America never had any field trips like this.

It’s a good experience.

Of course, though, whenever my kids are away from home, I can’t relax until they come back safe!

News

23 Jun

Today, my oldest daughter leaves with her school class for a field trip to 京都 (Kyoto).

They’ll travel by 新幹線 (Bullet train) and stay in Kyoto for three days.

My daughter’s very excited! But, as for me, I always have mixed feelings whenever my kids go on a field trip…I’m happy that they get to see many great places and experiences—but I can’t relax until they’re back home safe!

Kyoto is gonna be nice for her to see. It was once the capital of Japan and is very traditional. Kyoto still has many 芸者 (Geisha) (or 芸妓 (Geiko) as they’re called on that side of Japan). There are still Geisha in Tokyo, but not as many as in Kyoto.

I can’t wait to see the pictures my daughter takes on her trip!

Next month, my second daughter’s class will take a three-day trip to 新潟 (Niigata).

**********************

Last month, my wife started a small vegetable garden on our porch.

Last week, we ate (strawberries) from her garden and tonight we had a salad with ピーマン (green peppers) and トマト (tomatos) from the garden.

They were delicious!

**********************

It was raining all day yesterday. Probably due to that 台風 (typhoon) that hit the Philippines.

I hope it doesn’t hit Japan! (By the way, did you know that typhoon is from a Japanese word…in Japanese, it’s 台風 (taifuu)).

Anyways, the weather forecast for Tokyo this week:

June 23:

June 24:

June 25:

June 26:

June 27:

June 28:

June 29: