Tag Archives: new years

New Years Postcard Lottery

25 Jan

New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday.  The holiday has many traditions in Japan.
One of the traditions is sending 年賀状 (New Years postcards).

One the back of Japanese New Years postcards, in the lower right-hand corner, is a six-digit number.
Every year in late January, the Japan Post Office has a New Years Postcard Lottery.

Yesterday was this years drawing.

The winning numbers for the 2010 年賀状 (New Years Postcard) lottery:

First Place (TV, computer, travel, digital camera or an office set)
– 975424

Second Place (Wii, digital camera, DVD player, TV)
– 259668,
– 446722, or
– 630838

Third Place (brand name merchandise)
– any number with the last four digits as 0977

Fourth Place (postage stamps)
– any number with the last two digits as either 00 or 52

“C” Prize (JTB ¥5,000 gift certificate)
– any number with the last five digits as 27520

There is also a Summer postcard lottery in Japan.
And I wrote a post about the New Years Postcard Lottery last year.

Did you get 年賀状 (Japanese New Years postcards) this year?
Do any of you cards have a winning lottery number?
I have three winning cards…all for postage stamps.

Happy New Year 2010

1 Jan

明けましておめでとうございます! (“Happy New Year!“)

It’s now 2010. The second decade of the 21st century!

2010 is the "Year Of The Tiger".

If you go to the Tokyo Tower by 2010 Jan 17 (8:00-10:00PM), you can see it lit up with "2010"

Every year on New Year’s Eve in Japan, many people watch 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) on TV.
It’s a music show with two teams of musicians (a “red” team and a “white” team…red and white are the colors or celebration) competing for points based on their live song performance.

Just before midnight, they countdown to the new year.

This show has been a New Year tradition in Japan for many years.

Last night we watched the show…as we usually do every year.
Here’s a clip of the show from yesterday.

And as I mentioned in an earlier post, Susan Boyle came to Japan to perform on this show last night. It was an excellent performance.
Here it is:

America also has a musical New Year countdown show that has been aired for many years. I used to watch it when I was a kid.
On this show, they show a illuminated ball descend a tower in New York City…the ball is timed to reach the bottom of the tower precisely at midnight on New Year’s Eve.

I haven’t seen this show since the mid-1980s…but I’m sure it’s still on the air every year.

As today is the start of a new decade, let’s look at Japan’s 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) from New Years Eve four decades ago (the year I was born)…

Here’s a clip from Japan’s 「紅白歌合戦」 (“Red And White Song Battle“) from New Year’s Eve 1969 → 1970:

I couldn’t find a clip from America’s “New Years Eve At Times Square” from the same time but here’s one from three decades ago (New Year’s Eve 1979 → 1980):

Time flies. TV and music (and life in general) is so different now!

How about ten years ago?
New Years Eve 1999 ushered in the year 2000 (the start of the 21st century). Remember the “Y2K scare” at that time?
Well here’s a clip that shows highlights of the New Years celebrations from that evening (1999 → 2000) from around the world:

Almost 2010

31 Dec

In Japan, it’s almost midnight on 2009 December 31.
In about ten minutes the year 2010 will start in Japan.

Click here and you see the current time in Tokyo on my main website.

Last year, I wrote about 大晦日 (New Year’s Eve) in Japan and some of the customs in Japan…including 年越しそば (New Year noodles), which we ate today as we always do, and the 「紅白歌合戦」 (Red And White Music Battle) TV show that we’re watching now.
Click here to read my New Year’s Eve post from last year.

Since the year 2009 will be over in a matter of minutes (at least on this side of the world), how about a list of new words that entered the English language in 2009 and new words that entered the Japanese language this past year too?

New English-language words for 2009 (according to the Oxford Dictionary (since I don’t live in an English-speaking country, these were all new (and interesting) to me):

Intexticated – Distracting by sending text-messages via cell-phone while driving.

Paywall – Part of a website that is only available to paying subscribers.

Sexting – Sending explicit photos and/or text via cell-phone email.

Funemployed – Unemployed people taking advantage of their free-time to pursue interesting activities.

Choice Mom – A woman who chooses to be a single mother.

And the 2009 English-language “Word Of The Year”…Unfriend – To remove someone from your list of “Facebook friends”.

Are these words common in America (or other countries)?

And the new Japanese-language words in 2009:

「歴女」 (Rekijo) – (Eng. “History Women”) – Japanese women who are interested in Japanese history. It’s a new trend. They enjoy visiting historic spots in Japan such as graves of famous Samurai and other historic landmarks.

「ファスト・ファッション」 – (Eng. “Fast fashion”) – Due to the bad economy, cheap retail fashion stores such as “Uniqlo” and “Forever 21” have seen an increase in business.

「派遣切り」 (Haken-giri) – (Eng. “Temp Staff Cutbacks”) – It used to be that temporary staff of large companies could almost count on becoming permanent staff one day, but the economy has caused many companies to lay-off their temporary workers.

「政権交代」 (Seiken-Koutai) – (Eng. “Regime Change”) – The Liberal Democratic Party has won every Prime Minister election for decades…but this year Yukio Hatoyama of the Democratic Party Of Japan became the Prime Minister.

「新型インフルエンザ」 (Shingata-influenza) – (Eng. “New Flu”) – The Swine Flu is called New Flu in Japan.

Big America

27 Dec

McDonalds Japan will be offering four new versions of their “Quarter Pounder” burger starting next month.
Only one of the new burgers will be available at a time though.

All four of the new burgers are known as “Big America burgers. And individually they are: “Texas Burger“, “New York Burger“, “California Burger“, and “Hawaiian Burger“.

The first of the four that will be available is the “Texas Burger“. It will be available starting on 2010 January 15.
It has bacon and BBQ sauce.

Next will be the “New York Burger“. It will go on sale in early February 2010.
It’ll be like a BLT meets a Quarter Pounder“…bacon, lettuce and tomato on the burger.

Then in late February 2010, the “California Burger” will be the one available.
It’ll have Monterrey Jack cheese.

And finally, in March 2010, the “Hawaiian Burger” will be on the menu.
It’ll have a egg and is called a Hawaiian Loco-moco style burger.

On the McDonalds Japan website, visitors an click a button if they intend to try all four of the Big America burgers. When I checked the site, it said that “105,423 people will try all four burgers“.

To me, none of them sound all that special. I don’t think I’ll buy any of them.
How about you? Which of them sounds good to you? Would you try all four?

Are these burgers available at McDonalds in your country…or is it only in Japan?

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Anyways, the Xmas decorations went down yesterday in Japan and were replaced with the traditional Japanese New Years decorations.

New Years is Japan’s biggest holiday.

Here’s a New Years window display at a store that my family and I went to today.

And while we were out, we passed a little league baseball game near the river:

Emperor’s birthday

24 Dec

Today is Christmas Eve.

In many ways X-mas and New Years are exact opposites of each other in Japan and Western countries.

In Western countries, Xmas is the biggest holiday of the year with the post office busy delivering Xmas cards, many stores are closed and families gather to enjoy a big dinner together and give gifts to children.
And then New Years is celebrated on New Years Eve and quietly ends the next day.

In Japan, it’s the other way around.
Here, Christmas is often celebrated in Xmas Eve by couples going on a date and families having a dinner of chicken and Xmas cake for dessert (just as many people have this dinner on Xmas Day as do on Xmas Eve). But Xmas ends quietly and people get ready for New Years…Japan’s biggest holiday.
Just like Xmas in the West, in Japan New Years is the biggest holiday of the year with the post office busy delivering 年賀状 (New Years postcards), many stores are closed and families gather to enjoy a big dinner together and give gifts (お年玉) to children.

Click here to read the post I wrote about Japanese Xmas last year.

Also, yesterday was 天皇誕生日 (the Emperor of Japan’s birthday).
Christmas isn’t a legal holiday in Japan…it’s a regular work / school day, but the Emperor’s birthday is a legal holiday.
It’s also one of the only two times a year that the public is allowed inside the inner grounds of the Imperial Palace (the other time is just after the New Year).
People who go into the Palace grounds can see the Japanese Royal Family and hear the Emperor give his annual birthday speech.

Last year, I wrote a post about the Emperor’s birthday too. Click here to read it.

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Completely unrelated, but I heard about a website called 「美人時計」 (“Beautiful Girl Clock“).

It show a new photograph every minute of a pretty girl in the Tokyo holding a board with the current time (of course in Japanese Standard Time (JST)).

This site is extremely popular. So they decided to make another version…now there’s a 「ギャル時計」 (“Gal Clock“) too.
Gal” is a type of 渋谷 (Shibuya, Tokyo) girl fashion.

Click here for the 「美人時計」 (“Beautiful Girl Clock“).
And Click here for the 「ギャル時計」 (“Gal Clock“)

大晦日

31 Dec

It’s now 11:50PM on December 31, 2008 (Japan Standard Time (JST)). Shortly, it’ll be 2009.

In late December, Japanese people say よいお年を (Yoi-otoshi-o) for “Happy New Year”…then January 1-3, it’s 明けましておめでとうございます (Akemashite-omedetou-gozaimasu).

As I’ve mentioned before (click here), お正月 (New Years) is the biggest holiday in Japan.

Today is 大晦日 (New Years Eve). On 大晦日 (New Years Eve) in Japan, many people eat 年越しそば (New Year’s noodles) and at midnight go to a temple for the Buddhist tradition of the temple priest’s ringing the temple bell 108 times.

(Click here to read my short FAQ entry about 大晦日 (New Years Eve) in Japan.)

Alot of people (including us this 大晦日 (New Years Eve)), watch one of the popular 大晦日 (New Years Eve) TV shows.
Most people watch 紅白歌合戦 (Red And White Team Music Battle)…but my kids wanted to watch ダウンタウンのガキの使いやあらへんで!! (Downtown’s No Job For Kids!!)…it’s a crazy comedy variety program.

Tomorrow we’ll go to my in-laws (many of my wife’s relatives will come too) and we’ll have a big, traditional Japanese New Years dinner. My kids will get お年玉 (New Years Gift Money)…and we’ll give my kids’ cousins お年玉 (New Years Gift Money) too.

It’s a good time.

Oh, look at the time…5…4…3…2…1…明けましておめでとうございます (Happy New Year)!

Japanese New Years

27 Dec

In Japan, お正月 (New Years) is the biggest holiday.
It can be compared to クリスマス is Western countries because stores and houses are decorated, families get together for a large traditional dinner, kids get gifts, cards are sent, and many shops are closed for the holiday (although nowadays most stores stay open).

There’s alot to お正月 (Japanese New Years), so I hope I can explain it clearly.

Until about two-hundred years ago, Japan followed the Chinese year with New Years in early Spring, but now follows the Western calendar with New Years Day on January 1. But the Chinese zodiac is still used with each year being represented by an animal. There are twelve animals (well, actually eleven animals and a dragon 😉 )…2008 is the “Year Of The Mouse” and 2009 will be the “Year Of The Cow”.

In late-December, many people go out drinking with friends or co-workers for a 忘年会 (End-Of The-Year Party), (or they may go out with them in January for a 新年会 (New Year Party) instead).

In December, people clean their houses from top to bottom (similar to “Spring Cleaning” in the West) and they may decorate their house with traditional Japanese New Years decorations such as 鏡餅 (kagami-mochi), 門松 (kado-matsu), おかざり (okazari), and ダルマ (daruma).

ダルマ (Daruma)

Also in December, people write and send out 年賀状 (New Years Postcards), which are kinda similar to Xmas cards in Western countries.
年賀状 (New Years Postcards) are written by hand on special New Years postcards that can be purchased from the post office or some other stores.
Many people buy blank postcards and draw their own picture on it that usually incorporates the new years Chinese zodiac animal and some New Years greeting, or they buy postcards with New Years pictures and greetings on them, or nowadays it’s become popular to print them on the computer (Japanese Microsoft Office Word® software on Windows® comes with a function to design 年賀状 (New Years Postcards)), or another option many people use is to have a photo studio make their 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) with a family photo (usually if there was a major event that year in their family, such as their kid’s 7-5-3 Festival).
Regardless of how they make their 年賀状 (New Years Postcards), a personal message to the addressee is handwritten on each one.

If 年賀状 (New Years Postcards) are put in the mailbox during dates specified by the post office, they are guaranteed to be delivered on January 1 exactly.

Also, each 年賀状 (New Years Postcard) has it’s own serial number printed on the back. In January, the post office announces a series randomly drawn numbers for a New Years Postal Lottery…whoever has a postcard with a winning number can receive a prize which is often something like a paid vacation in Hawaii, a television, a stationary set or stamps.
(I have never won anything yet, except stamps).

Then on New Years Eve, people might watch one of the popular music theme shows on television or they may pay a visit to a temple for the temple priest’s ringing of the temple bell 108 times…which is a Buddhist tradition.

On New Years Day, firsts are important. The first meal of the New Year should be 年越そば (New Year’s noodles), many people watch the year’s first sunrise, the first dream of the year is important, as well as the first calligraphy, first tea ceremony, etc.

Just like Xmas in the West, families get together on New Years Day for have a traditional Japanese お正月 (New Years) dinner called お節料理 (O-sechi-ryouri). Children are given お年玉 (gifts of money in special envelopes). These envelopes are usually decorated with popular cartoon characters…so, often, when the kids are little, the envelopes are more appealing to them than the money inside!
And playing お正月 (New Years) games like かるた (Karuta) or 福笑い (Fukuwarai) is popular.

Finally, on New Years Day and for a few days following, stores often have big sales…so shopping is popular (especially with young women). Many stores also have 福袋…which is often translated as “Happy Bag” or “Lucky Bag“. These are bags of various items from the store put inside a sealed bag and sold at a discount. The only catch is…you can’t look inside the bag until you pay for it (the stores tell if whether the items are for men, women or children and what the sizes are (if there are clothes inside)).

お正月 (New Years) is also one of the two times a year that the public is allowed inside the Imperial Palace grounds to hear the Japanese Emperor’s New Year’s greeting.

So, お正月 (New Years) is a busy time…but it’s also fun.

Photos

28 Aug

I went thru some of my photos and decided to post a bunch of them on my blog. Mostly as Slideshows.

For convenience, here’s a menu of the pictures, slideshows, and video on this post:

Turtle Butterfly Beetle
Cicada Kawasaki Halloween Kamakura Horseback Archery
Asakusa Horseback Archery Asakusa New Years Tokyo Disneyland
Park Cherry Blossom Viewing Ibaraki
Yokohama Kameido-Tenjin Harajuku / Shibuya
Ueno Tokyo Tower Tokyo Dome area
Tokyo Stn / Imperial Palace University of Tokyo Tobu Zoo
Ryogoku Bottom of this post

First are some of the small animals that have been living in our house recently.

Our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

My YouTube video of our ミドリ亀 (Red-eared slider turtle):

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The アゲハ蝶 (Swallowtail Butterfly) (and his (cocoon)).

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Here’s a slideshow of our カブト虫 (Rhino beetle) eating gelatin.

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A slideshow of our (Cicada) emerging from it’s moult (outer shell).

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Here’s ハロウィーン (Halloween) at 川崎 (Kawasaki):

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And here’s a slideshow of the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 鎌倉 (Kamakura):

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And the 流鏑馬 (Horseback Archery) at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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And here’s a slideshow of New Years at 浅草 (Asakusa):

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東京ディズニーランド (Tokyo Disneyland):

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A park near our house:

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花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing):

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茨城県 (Ibaraki) is a countryside prefecture to the north of 東京都 (Tokyo):

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横浜 (Yokohama):

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亀戸天神 (Kameido-Tenjin Shrine):

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原宿 (Harajuku) and 渋谷 (Shibuya):

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These photos are from 上野 (Ueno):

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東京タワー (Tokyo Tower):

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The 東京ドーム (Tokyo Dome) area (including the amusement park and 小石川後楽園 (Koishikawa-kourakuen Japanese Gardens)). There happened to be a cosplay event on the day I took these photos:

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東京駅 (Tokyo Train Station) and the 皇居 (Imperial Palace):

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東京大学 (The University of Tokyo):

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東武動物公園 (Tobu-Doubutsukouen Zoo):

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両国 (Ryougoku), the area of Tokyo with the 国技館 (Sumo Arena):

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Please leave a comment of what you think of these photos!

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