Tag Archives: Osaka

Birthday of two famous Japanese

5 Mar

Today, 2015 March 5th, is the birthday of two famous Japanese people.
They’re famous in Japan, at least. Are they known in your country too?

First of all, the world’s oldest person, 大川ミサヲ (Misao OKAWA), was born on 1898 March 5th in Osaka, Japan. She is celebrating her 117th birthday today with her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren!

Next, also from Osaka (but wasn’t born there)…today also would have been the birthday of 安藤百福 (Momofuku ANDO).
He is the man who invented instant Cup Noodle!

「カップヌードル」

He was born Taiwan on 1910 March 5th. At that time, Taiwan was a Japanese territory.

At the age of 22, he moved to Osaka, Japan and eventually became a naturalized Japanese citizen.
When he became a Japanese citizen, he changed his name to Momofuku Ando.
“Ando” is a common Japanese family name…but “Momofuku” is an unusual name in Japan. But his first name was changed to Momofuku when he became Japanese because it is an uncommon pronunciation in Japanese of his Chinese first name (pronounced “Baifu” in Chinese). It is written 「百福」 and literally means “One hundred fortunes“.

The logo of Google’s Japanese homepage today is of Momofuku ANDO.

KISS Shrine Lanterns

9 Jan

Udo Music Promoters, the Japanese company in charge of organizing and promoting the upcoming KISS Japan Tour 2015 (My post about it) has put up many billboards and flyers around Japan about the KISS concerts, they’ve also had KISS on Japanese TV programs.
Those are normal for concert promotion.

But sometimes Udo Music will do something unique and unusual to promote a band.
For example, before the 2013 KISS Japan Tour, there were “KISS Spicy Niku-man” dumplings available at convenience stores here. (They were delicious!)

Well, often when shrines in Japan have a festival, there will be rows of 提灯 (Japanese paper lanterns) with the names of companies, organizations and individuals who made monetary contributions to the shrine.

Rows and rows of 提灯 with contributors’ names printed on them at the “Mitama Festival” at Yasukuni Shrine in Tokyo.

They’re a very common sight in Japan.

But what is unusual is the Udo Music has arranged to have two KISS 提灯 (Japanese paper lanterns) at a festival at the famous 「今宮戎神社」 (“Ima-Miya-Ebisu Shrine”) in Osaka, Japan!

One says “Gene Simmons” and the other says “Paul Stanley“.

They say 「ジーン・シモンズ」 (“Gene Simmons” (l)) and 「ポール・スタンレー」 (“Paul Stanley” (r)).

I don’t know if Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley made contributions to the shrine, or if Udo Music made the contribution in their names…but either way, these lanterns are cool!
I want them!
I wish they were at a shrine in Tokyo rather than on the other side of the country in Osaka!

Hey, Ima-Miya-Ebisu Shrine, after the festival, give me those lanterns, please!

KISS Monster Tour, Japan

10 Jun

KISS is scheduled to play four shows in Japan to promote their latest album “Monster”.

image

The scheduled dates are:

Saturday, October 19, 2013 – Chiba, Japan

Monday, October 21, 2013 – Osaka, Japan

Wednesday, October 23, 2013 – Tokyo, Japan (still unconfirmed)

Thursday, October 24, 2013 – Tokyo, Japan (still unconfirmed)

Here is the チラシ (flyer) for the KISS Monster Japan Tour 2013:

flyer

And when major world-famous musicians are scheduled to play in Japan, there is usually an ad or article about it in the newspapers here.
KISS’s upcoming tour is mentioned in today’s paper:

It says “Seven years since their last Japan tour, the American hard rock band KISS”

Ichiro played for America in game against Japan in Tokyo

26 Mar

The American Major League Baseball (MLB) teams Seattle Mariners and Oakland Athletics (A’s) are here in Tokyo, Japan now to play a total of six pre-season games at the Tokyo Dome.

They’re scheduled to play two games against each other on 2012 March 28th and 29th.

But before those games, the two American teams will play games against the Japanese baseball teams the Tokyo Giants and the (Osaka) Hanshin Tigers.

Today the Seattle Mariners played the Hanshin Tigers and lost.

Ichiro (Suzuki) and the Seattle Mariners lost to the Hanshin Tigers in the Tokyo Dome today.

And then, after that game, the Oakland A’s played the Tokyo Giants and won.

This was third-generation Japanese, Ken Suzuki's (of the Oakland A's) first trip to Japan.
The A's beat the Tokyo Giants in today's game.

Tomorrow, the two Japanese teams and the two American teams will change opponents (it will be Oakland A’s vs Hanshin Tigers and then the Seattle Mariners vs Tokyo Giants).

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(Images in this post are from SeattlePi.com, VancouverSun.com, and 読売新聞.co.jp).

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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!

100th birthday of Taro Okamoto

26 Feb

Do you know who 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was?

Taro Okamoto,
26 Feb 1911 - 7 Jan 1996

He was a Japanese abstract artist and sculptor.
He is quite famous in Japan.
His most well-know piece is probably the huge sculpture that he made for the “World Expo ’70” in Osaka titled 「太陽の塔」 (“Tower Of The Sun“). It still stands at the site of the expo in Osaka.

「太陽の塔」 ("Tower Of The Sun") by Taro Okamoto

I haven’t been to the “Taro Okamoto Museum” but I have seen three of his pieces many times…because these three pieces are displayed in public here in Tokyo.

These are the 「若い時計台」 (“Young Clock Tower“) in Ginza, Tokyo:

「若い時計台」 ("Young Clock Tower") by Taro Okamoto

The 「子供の木」 (“Children’s Tree“) which stands in front of the 「子供の城」 (“Children’s Castle“), which is a fun, educational activity-center for young children in Tokyo. I took my children to this place a few times when they were young and I saw this sculpture in front of the building.
I knew immediately that it was by Taro Okamoto because it matched his distinctive style.

 

「子供の木」 ("Children's Tree") by Taro Okamoto

And I’ve also seen his painting titled 「明日の神話」 (“Tomorrow’s Myth“). This painting is Mr. Okamoto’s depiction of the atomic bombing of Japan in World War II.
This painting had been in Mexico for about thirty years and was only returned to Japan a little over two years ago.
It’s now on display inside 渋谷駅 (Shibuya Train Station) in Tokyo.

 

「明日の神話」 ("Tomorrow's Myth") by Taro Okamoto

Well, if 岡本太郎 (Taro Okamoto) was still alive he would be 100 years old today.

I learned that today is the 100th anniversary of his birth when I accessed the Google search engine earlier today and noticed that the logo looked like Mr. Okamoto’s artwork.

Google's logo to commemorate Taro Okamoto's 100th birthday.

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.

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.)

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?

インスタントラーメンの父

7 Mar

Do you know 「安藤百福」 (Momofuku Ando)?

He was the inventor of instant ramen.

He was born in Taiwan on 1910 March 5. In the 1940’s, he moved to Osaka, Japan and became a naturalized Japanese citizen.
Soon after, he started his own company called 「日清食品株式会社」 (Nisshin Food Corp.) and he made 「チキンラーメン」 (“Chicken Ramen”).
He sold these packages of instant noodles for ¥35 each.
They’re still popular in Japan today…the price nowadays is only about ¥60 (about US$0.75) for a package.

Chicken Ramen

In the early 1970’s, Momofuku Ando invented 「カップヌードル」 (“Cup Noodle“) which became a worldwide success.
I think “Cup Noodle” is called “Cup Noodles” (plural) outside Japan. Is that what they’re called in your country?

A package of "Cup Noodle" made for outside Japan is called "Cup Noodles".

Mr. Momofuku Ando died on 2007 January 5. Only three years ago, and only two months shy of his 97th birthday.

Well, the day before yesterday (2010 March 5), would have been Momofuku Ando’s 100th birthday…which is all the more special if you know that his interesting first name is written as 「百福」. The characters that spell his first name “Momofuku” translate literally to “One hundred good fortunes”.

So to commemorate the 100th anniversary of their founder’s birth, Nisshin Foods is having a few different campaigns.

First of all, the original instant noodle, 「チキンラーメン」 (“Chicken Ramen“), is being sold in a retro package that looks like the original package…and it’s being sold at the original price for a limited time: only ¥35 each.

Also, a package of original flavor 「カップヌードル」 (Cup Noodle) is now available for only ¥100 each.

And Nisshin is also selling a new product in honor of Momofuku Ando’s 100th birthday…packages of 「百福」 (Momofuku) noodles (either “Chicken salt broth Ramen” or “Duck broth Soba”) for ¥170.
These are in large packages because each noodle is 100 cm long!

And lastly, if you go to the 「ららぽーと豊洲」 (“Toyosu Lalaport” shopping mall) in Tokyo from 2010 March 27 – April 4 between 10:00AM – 6:00PM, you can see a special event for the 100th anniversary of Momofuku Ando’s birth.

They’ll have an exhibit that explains the history of Nissin Foods, instant ramen, and Mr. Ando.
They will also 「わたしのカップヌードル」 (Custom Cup Noodle) in which you can add whatever flavors you choose to your instant ramen for ¥300,
As well as other displays, shows and foods to try…including “Space Ramen”, which is the special package of instant ramen that Nisshin Foods made for astronauts to bring into space with them.

Have you ever tried 「カップヌードル」 (Cup Noodle)? Do you like it?
I like instant ramen. It’s good. But “real” ramen from a ramen restaurant in much better!
Have you ever tried Japanese ramen at a restaurant? I recommend 「坦々麺」 (“Tan-tan-men”)…it’s a spicy flavor of ramen. I like it alot. Have you ever tried it? Do you like spicy food?