Tag Archives: Russia

2014 Olympics have ended

24 Feb

Yesterday was the closing ceremony of the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.
Did you watch it? It began after 1:00AM Japan Time…so I didn’t stay up to watch. Was it good?

On the medal count, Russia came in first place after all. America was fourth, and Japan 17th place.

Here’s a list of the top 20 countries by medal count at the 2014 Olympics:

olympics

The gold, silver, and bronze medals winners in Women’s Figure Skating: Korea (center), Japan (left), and Canada (right), respectively.

2014 Olympics … 3/4 mark

18 Feb

The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia are about 75% finished. The closing ceremony will be held in five days…on Sunday, February 23rd.

As of today, Germany is in first place with 13 medals (eight gold), America is in fourth place with 18 medals (five of which are gold), and Japan is in 14th place with six medals (one gold).

olympics

Click here to visit the official “2014 Sochi Olympics homepage“.

Silly political games again …

16 Aug

Yesterday (2012 August 15), was the 67th anniversary of the end of World War II.

And, as is done every August 15th in Tokyo, some Japanese politicans went to the 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine)… which is the shrine in Japan that honors all who died defending Japan in war… to pay tribute.

All who died in Japan’s defense are enshrined there … including those who were found guilty of war crimes by the U.S. war tribunals.

For that reason, many of Japan’s neighboring countries don’t like Yasukuni Shrine … and get upset when Japanese politicans visit it.

But really, the shrine doesn’t exclude war dead based on another country’s war court verdict … in the same way that all of America’s soldiers who die in battle can be buried at Arlington Cemetary, all of Japan’s soldiers are honored at Yasukuni Shrine.

But that isn’t the only political debate neighboring countries have with Japan.
China, Russia and South Korea have border disputes with Japan.

After their victory over the Japanese team at the Olympics,  a player on South Korea’s Olympic soccer team held up a sign declaring that the disputed Takeshima Island is Korean territory.  The Korean team almost lost their medal because of that.
Then, the South Korean president visited the island – - unannounced visits to disputed land by a political leader isn’t probably a wise move.
And then, yesterday … the anniversary of the end of World War II, some Korean men attempted to swim to the island. They didn’t make it there, so Japan didn’t need to take any action … but their attempt made the news.

And then yesterday, a Chinese boat was intercepted by the Japanese Coast Guard as it tried to head to the Senkaku Islands … which is disputed land between Japan and China.
The Chinese people onboard are currently in a Japanese jail. China is demanding that they be freed.

This seems to happen every year at this time.

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?

    Typhoon again

    26 Oct

    Earlier this month there was a 台風 (typhoon) that hit Japan. It was the first one to hit Japan directly in a number of years.
    (Click here to read my post about it).

    Well, the weather was very cool (today’s high temperature was 17° C in Tokyo), rainy and windy all day today…because there’s another 台風 (typhoon) near Japan.

    Look at this weather map showing the rain over Eastern Japan.

    jma-map-2

    This typhoon isn’t hitting Japan directly like the last one did.

    Here’s a map showing the typhoon’s forecasted path…it was off the coast of Tokyo at 8:00PM tonight and it’ll be past northern Japan and closer to Russia tomorrow.

    typhoon-2

    But the 天気予報 (weather forecast) from tomorrow til next Monday for Tokyo is for the rain to stop early tomorrow morning and then sunny and warmer!

    Tokyo's weather forecast for 2009 Oct 27 - Nov 2

    Tokyo's weather forecast for 2009 Oct 27 - Nov 2

    Sister cities

    27 Sep

    Many cities in the world have a 姉妹都市 (“sister city“) partnership with a city in another country. Some cities have more than one “sister city”.

    Tokyo, for example, has eleven sister cities.
    - 中国北京市 (Beijing, China)
    - Berlin, Germany
    - Cairo, Egypt
    - Jakarta, Indonesia
    - Moscow, Russia
    - New South Wales, Australia
    - New York City, America
    - Paris, France
    - Rome, Italy
    - Sao Paulo, Brazil, and
    - Seoul, Korea
    are Tokyo’s sister cities.

    Cities make “sister city” contracts with other cities in the world to help promote each other’s culture, industry and tourism.

    I just found out that the city I grew up in…Clearwater, Florida, USA is a sister city with 日本国長野市 (Nagano, Japan).

    And that this year (2009) is the 50th year that Clearwater, Florida and Nagano, Japan have been sister cities.
    To celebrate, both Nagano and Clearwater are doing more than usual to promote each other’s culture.

    I also found out that every year, a small group of American students and teachers spend two weeks of the summer in Nagano, Japan…and a similar small Japanese group from Nagano visit Clearwater, Florida.
    I wish I knew about that when I was a teenager in Florida! I might have applied for the program!

    I remember, though, when I was in elementary school, a group of teachers from Japan visited my school in Florida. I guess they were from Nagano. I remember that they seemed very interested in my school lunch and what I thought of it (I know now that it’s because American school lunches are so very different from Japanese ones!).

    What city do you live in? What’s your town’s “sister city”? Have you ever visited the sister city?

    I have been to Nagano once. In 1998, to see the ’98 Olympics that were hosted by Nagano, Japan.
    And I’ve only been back to visit Clearwater, Florida once since I moved to Tokyo in 1990 (in 2004, my family and I visited Florida for a couple weeks in the summer).

    As for Tokyo’s sister cities, years ago, I visited Seoul, Korea and New York City once each.

    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.

    Tanabata

    7 Jul

    Today is 七夕 (Tanabata).

    I mentioned Tanabata in a earlier blog post here.

    And I wrote a short FAQ entry about it here.

    Tanabata is usually translated into English as “Star Festival“…but the two Japanese Kanji characters that make up the word “Tanabata” literally mean “Seven evenings”.

    It’s kinda difficult to explain how this name came about, but the holiday is celebrated on 7th of July (7/7).

    In Japan, it is popular for holidays to fall on dates that are the same number for the day and month.

    March 3 (3/3), May 5 (5/5), July 7 (7/7), and October 10 (10/10) are all holidays in Japan.

    Our Tanabata wish is that our kids do well in school and have happy, healthy lives!

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

    Also, the leaders of the G-8 countries (Japan, America, Canada, U.K., France, Germany, Italy, and Russia) are in 北海道 (Hokkaido), Japan for the beginning of the G-8 Summit.

    By the way, about fifteen years ago, my wife and I took a short vacation in Hokkaido and stayed in the same town that the G-8 summit was at in Toyako, Hokkaido.

    It’s a very nice place. I recommend visiting there if you ever have a chance.

    I have been to Hokkaido one other time. I went to Sapporo in February 1991 for the annual 雪祭 (Snow Festival). That’s a great festival!

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