Tag Archives: obama

Storm on Grandparents Day

16 Sep

It’s a three-day-weekend in Japan.
Today is 敬老の日 (Respect For Elders Day).

Even though today is a holiday, we’re staying indoors … and if you’re in the Tokyo area, you should too!

Because a big typhoon is currently hitting eastern Japan!

Trains have stopped, bridges are closed, houses and cars have been torn up, some parts of Kanagawa had a black-out, Kyoto and the city of 小浜 (Obama) have been flooded.

(Speaking of the Japanese city with the same name as the U.S. president, I wrote a post here:
https://tokyo5.wordpress.com/2008/09/10/obama/ )

Lady Kaga

30 Nov

In 2008, when U.S. president Obama was campaigning for the presidency, a small town in western Japan called 小浜 (Obama) was taking advantage to the similarity in their names in an attempt to draw tourists…they were especially hoping that Barack Obama himself would pay a visit to Obama, Japan (but he still hasn’t).

Well, there is another small town in western Japan that is trying to capitalize on a similarity in the town’s name to that of an American celebrity.
加賀 (Kaga) is a town near 日本海 (the Sea of Japan) that has many 温泉 (hot springs), temples, shrines and traditional Japanese culture.

The name “Kaga” is similar to “Gaga” (as in “Lady Gaga”, the American pop star). When the two names are written in Japanese カタカナ (katakana) characters, they’re even more similar…「カガ」 (“Kaga”) looks quite like 「ガガ」 (“Gaga”).

The town of Kaga gets many tourists from 「関西地方」 (the “Kansai” region) in western Japan, which includes 「大阪」 (Osaka)…but not so many from 「関東地方」 (the “Kanto” region) in eastern Japan, which is where Tokyo is.

So, Kaga has recently begun a new tourist campaign on TV in the Tokyo area in an attempt to attract more tourists from this area.
This new TV ad takes advantage of the similarity in name to “Lady Gaga”, and shows a number of women who work in the tourism industry in Kaga and calls them 「レディー・カガ」 (“Lady Kaga”).

Here’s the ad:

Supposedly, Lady Gaga is scheduled to come to Tokyo sometime next month. Maybe she’ll she the ad on Japanese TV while she’s here…and take a trip to Kaga!

Is it right to cheer?

3 May

It was reported on the news yesterday that the self-credited mastermind of the 2001 September 11 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in America, Osama Bin Laden, was killed by the American military.

Without a doubt, anyone responsible for crimes against humanity such as Bin Laden was should be brought to justice.

But I’m not sure I agree that the celebrations and cheering across America that was shown on the TV news yesterday is appropriate.

A crowd in Washington DC cheered the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with the U.S. military.

The Americans crowds that were shown on TV were chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and singing pro-America songs such as the American National Anthem.

It reminded me of the images of the reaction in some Middle Eastern countries about ten years ago after the WTC attacks on America.
There were some anti-American crowds in some countries who were cheering America’s loss.
It was quite offensive to see!

I certainly wouldn’t compare a villain such as Bin Laden to the innocent lives lost on 2001 September 11th…but seeing Americans cheering may fuel “anti-American” feelings in some countries.

Japan will bring bullet train to Florida?

23 Nov

Japan is well-known for it’s excellent public transportation system. Especially in big cities like Tokyo.
Japan’s trains, buses and subways are clean, safe, extremely punctual, convenient and affordable.

Even though the taxis here aren’t really affordable (a taxi ride in Japan is pricey), they’re also clean, safe and convenient.

You may also know that Japan has an excellent 「新幹線」 (“Bullet train” (or “Shinkansen” in Japanese)) system.

"Shinkansen" (Bullet train) passing Mt. Fuji.

Japan’s 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system is the world’s busiest and fastest bullet-train service.
The speed record was set a few years ago when the 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) reached a speed of over 580 km/hr on a test-run. With passengers though, the trains travel up to about 300 km/hr.

When U.S. President Obama announced that America would begin building and using bullet-trains systems in various parts of America with the first one scheduled to connect Tampa, Florida (my hometown) to Orlando and Miami, Florida many bullet-train companies around the world began bidding for the contract to build Florida’s first high-speed train service.

Map of Florida showing the planned bullet-train routes.

Companies in Canada, Germany and France are competing with Japan for the contract.

But it seems that Japan’s JR Tokai company has a good chance of winning the bid.

If Japan wins the bid then Florida will have a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) system like Japan’s.

 

One of JR Tokai's 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) trains.

I wonder if America will be able to maintain the punctuality, safety and convenience of Japan’s train systems.

Have you ever ridden a 「新幹線」 (Bullet train) in Japan? Or any of Japan’s trains or subways?
Have you taken public transportation in other countries?
What are your impressions?

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By the way, today is a national holiday in Japan…「勤労感謝の日」 (“Labor Day”). (Click here to read my short “F.A.Q.” about it.)

Chocolate for “adults”

18 Nov

I was going to write a post about U.S. President Barack Obama’s recent visit to Japan for the APEC Summit that was held in Yokohama, Japan last week.
This summit was for world leaders to discuss free-trade in the Asia / Pacific region.

President Obama made a speech when he visited Japan shortly after his election in which he mentioned that he had visited 鎌倉 (Kamakura, Japan) near Tokyo on a trip with his mother when he was six years old.
On that trip, he remembered, he visited the 大仏 (Great Buddah) and enjoyed “Green Tea Ice Cream”.

In that speech, President Obama said that he hoped to visit Kamakura again one day soon and eat Green Tea Ice Cream again.

His wish came true on his last day in Japan of this recent trip (well, he actually ate a “Green Tea Popsicle” rather than ice cream this time).

U.S. President Obama eating a Green Tea Popsicle in Kamakura, Japan on 2010 Nov 14.

U.S. President Obama in front of the 大仏 (Great Buddah) statue in Kamakura, Japan on 2010 Nov 14.

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I also wanted to write about the 2010 Asian Games which are currently being played in Guangzhou, China.
Forty-five countries are participating in these games which began on 2010 November 12 and will end with the closing ceremony on November 27th.
Japan is doing pretty good in these games…but China, the host country, has the highest number of gold medals so far.

Japan is upset though by the results of the women’s Judo matches. Judo is a Japanese martial art and Japanese athletes consistently excel in international Judo competitions…but in the women’s Judo match Tomoko Fukumi of Japan lost in her match against Wu Shegen of China.
Although it appeared to most people watching that Japan was winning, the judges awarded the victory to China.

Hopefully this doesn’t add more tension to the relationship between Japan and China.
In both Japan and China recently there have been protests against the other country due to Japan’s arrest (and eventual release) of a Chinese fisherman who entered disputed waters that are claimed as territory by both China and Japan.
And in the same waters, on two separate occasions a Chinese boat intentionally rammed a Japanese Coast Guard vessel that was patrolling the area.

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But I titled this blog post 「Chocolate for “adults”」 because I saw the Kit-Kat 「オトナの甘さ」 (“(Level of) Sweetness for Adults”).

I don’t eat junk-food often but two types of chocolate that I like are whiskey chocolate and dark / bitter chocolate.
This Kit-Kat is a bitter / semi-sweet chocolate so I decided to try it. It was pretty good.

The Japanese actress / singer 「黒木めいさ」 (Meisa Kuroki) is the promotion model for both the “regular” Kit-Kat (dressed in red) and the Kit-Kat 「オトナの甘さ」 “Sweetness for Adults” (dressed in black).

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Have you heard any of these news stories before?

Odd news from around the world

19 Apr

Here’s a summary of some unusual news stories that I read on 「毎日新聞」 (“The Mainichi Newspaper“) website:

● Japan’s Prime Minister, Yukio Hatoyama, is in Washington for the “Nuclear Security Summit”.
After Mr. Hatoyama met with U.S. President Barack Obama, the U.S. newspaper wrote an article that described the Japanese prime minister as “loopy”.

The Japanese government said in a news conference that Japan was displeased with the lack of respect and courtesy that the newspaper showed a state leader.

● The New York Society Library, the oldest library in New York, discovered that the first American president, George Washington, borrowed two books from the library and failed to return them.

The books are still listed as checked out by George Washington and overdue since 1789 November 2!

Mr. Washington owes the library over 220 years in late fees!

● A man in America was recently arrested after he got into a quarrel with another guest at a motel he was staying at…and then hit the man in the face with his 1.2 meter (4 feet) python snake.

● In Germany, a meat supplier delivered steaks to a restaurant but was angered when the restaurant manager informed him that the restaurant didn’t have enough cash on hand to pay his €400 (¥50,120 (US$541)) bill.

Rather than wait to be paid later, the meat seller recollected all of the steaks…including the ones that were already cooked and on customer’s plates at their tables.

● Reminiscent of Orsan Welles famous radio show “War Of The Worlds” in which he described an attack on Earth by aliens from the planet Mars in the 1930′s in America that caused mass panic when the public believed the show was actual live news….a newspaper in the country of Jordan printed an “April Fools” joke in their paper on the first of this month.

The paper said that giant aliens from space were attacking their city of Amman in Jordan. It caused mass hysteria.
Even the city’s mayor believed the story. He sent troops to search for the aliens and was considering a citywide evacuation.

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Have you heard these news stories? have you heard any other odd or funny news stories recently?

“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:

End of the first decade

21 Dec

The year 2009 will be over in ten days…but not only that, it’ll also be the end of the first decade of the 21st century.

So I began thinking about the biggest news stories of 2009 to the American public compared to the Japanese public.

So first the biggest U.S. news stories of 2009:

10. “The Miracle On The Hudson River” – The pilot of U.S. Airways flight 1549, Chesley Sullenberger safely crash landed his plane in the Hudson River and saved all of his passengers’ lives.

9. “U.S. Senator Edward Kennedy Died” – Brother of former U.S. President John F. Kennedy died on 2009 August 25.
8. “Fort Hood Rampage” – Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan of the U.S. Army went on a shooting rampage on 2009 November 5 and killed 13 people and injured 30 others.
7. “Michael Jackson Died” – On 2009 June 25 at age 50.
6. “Obama To Send More Troops To Afghanistan” – On 2009 December 1, U.S. President Obama made the announcement that 30,000 more soldiers would be sent to Afghanistan by the summer of 2010.
5. “Swine Flu” – Called 「新型インフルエンザ」 (“New ‘Flu“) in Japan, the World Health Organization announced it as an international public health concern in 2009 April.
4. “Auto Industry” – In early 2009, two out America’s “Big Three” auto-makers filed for bankruptcy…the other, Ford, nearly did.
3. “Health Care” – America’s health care system underwent reform.
2. “Obama Inauguration” – In 2009 January, U.S. President was sworn into office.
1. “The Economy” – Just like the rest of the industrialized world, America fell into a recession.

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And the biggest news stories of 2009 in Japan:

10. “Ichihashi Arrested” – On 2009 November 11, Tatsuya Ichihashi was finally arrested for the murder of an English teacher from England.

(Click here to read my post for more details).

9. “¥12,000 Handouts” – In an effort to boost the economy, the Japanese government gave ¥12,000 to every resident in Japan.
8. “First-ever Budget Debate” – A large number of Japanese went to the first-ever debate of wasteful government spending. Such a thing has never been attended by the public before in Japan.
7. “Obama Inauguartion” – This was big news in Japan too.
6. “Noriko Sakai Arrested For Drugs” – Drug use is extremely uncommon in Japan, and Noriko Sakai is a celebrety who had a very clean image in Japan…until she and her husband were arrested for using the drug called “Ecstasy“.
5. “¥1000 Flat Toll Road Charge” – In another effort to stimuate the economy, tolls on roads were given a flat rate of ¥l000 per day regardless the distance on certain days.
4. “Lay Judge System” – Some cases in Japanese courts have begun using a “lay judge” (“Jury”) trial system. Until this year, all verdicts in all court cases were decided by a judge (or panel of judges).
3. “Democratic Party Landslide” – Prime Minister Hatoyama was elected this year. He’s a member of the Deocratic Party Of Japan…the Liberal Democratic Party has won every previous election in Japan for many years.
2. “Michael Jackson Died” – This was big news all over the world.
1. 「新型インフルエンザ」 – The “Swine Flu”. About a hundred people have died from it in Japan.

What were the biggest news stories of 2009 to you?
How about the biggest news story of the first decade of the 21st century? I think it must be the 2001 September 11 attack on the World Trade Center in America.

A few headlines

11 Nov

A few of the major news headlines in Japan right now:

  • Tatsuya Ichihashi, who was a fugitive in Japan accused of murdering a British English-language teacher named Lindsay Hawker near Tokyo in 2007, was finally arrested today in Osaka.

    He has had plastic surgery done in an obvious attempt to alter his appearance to try to remain on the lam.

    The father of Lindsay Hawker was interviewed via telephone in England by the Japanese television news media and he expressed his relief that his daughter’s accused murderer has finally been captured after over two years.

  • U.S. President Obama is due to make an official visit to Tokyo this Friday and Saturday.

    Before his visit, the cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki invited him to visit their cities…as they are the only cities to have been hit with atomic bombs by the United States.

    Hiroshima and Nagasaki have invited every U.S. President since the end of WW2 to visit their cities…but due to the potential of an uproar in America if they did visit, every President has declined the invitation (former Presidents have paid the cities a visit, but never a sitting President)….until now.

    U.S. President Obama told the Japanese media that he will make an official visit to those cities while he’s in office. He said he won’t be able to visit them on this trip due to a tight schedule, but he will visit them on another trip to Japan before his Presidency ends.

  • The U.S. military in Okinawa has arrested a U.S. solider on hit-and-run charges. The soldier hit an Okinawan man and left him to bleed to death in the street.

    The Okinawan public and government want the U.S. military to hand the soldier over to Japanese authorities to be tried in Japanese court.

    This case comes at a time when the people of Okinawa are trying to get some of the U.S. military bases in Okinawa moved off their island and relocated either to mainland Japan or a U.S. territory such as Guam or Hawaii.

  • Also, it has been discovered that members of the U.S. military stationed in Japan have been abusing a privilege that official U.S. military vehicles have.
    An agreement that the U.S. military has with Japan is that official U.S. military vehicles traveling off of their bases on Japanese toll-highways on official military business can use special passes and travel without paying any of the tolls…the taxpayers in Japan (includes me) pay their toll-fares.

    Well, it seems that the U.S. military has been giving the passes to any members of the military who want to take a personal trip around Japan on their personal free time.

Japanese Empress is 75

20 Oct

Today is the birthday of the Empress Of Japan.
She’s 75 now.

Last year, I wrote a post about her 74th birthday (and a few other things). Click here to read it.

For her birthday statement this year, she mentioned her sympathy to all who have had hardship due to the poor economy and she also expressed her happiness about U.S. President Obama’s Nobel Prize and his wish for a nuclear-free world.

She always expressed her gratitude to everyone who offered the Royal couple congratulations on their Golden Anniversary (50 years) this year, and the Emperor’s 20th year on the throne.

The Empress Of Japan

The Empress Of Japan

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Also, beginning today, doctors, nurses and other hospital staff in Japan were able to receive the 新型インフルエンザ (Swine Flu) inoculation.

Next week, young children and pregnant women will be able to receive theirs.

After that, people with chronic disease (such as asthma) will be in line to get the shot.

And finally other people.

The medicine that people in Japan will be receiving to protect themselves against this new flu is “made in Japan“…so it’s supposed to be safer.


By the way, speaking of 新型インフルエンザ (Swine Flu), did you know that a company in Japan is selling a business suit that looks just like a normal suit businessmen wear to the office…but it’s being promoted as the first suit that “protects the wearer from the Swine Flu”?

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