Tag Archives: U.S.A.

2015 in review

22 Dec

In ten days, this year will be over.  Time flies!
Google have compiled the biggest news stories for each of the past twelve months by country, according to the most popular internet searches in each country.

All links below are to related posts that I’ve written. By all means, click the links and read (and comment on) my posts!

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in Japan:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack
  3. (October 2015) – Rugby World Cup / Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup
  7. (June 2015) – Japan’s Constitution change
  8. (May 2015) – Respiratory Syndrome that started in South Korea and killed 36
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress”
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
"The dress"

“The dress”

The Biggest News Stories of 2015 in America:

  1. (December 2015) – Star Wars
  2. (November 2015) – Paris attack / The Royals won the baseball World Series
  3. (October 2015) – Water on Mars
  4. (September 2015) – The Pope visited the U.S. / Volkswagen emissions scandal
  5. (August 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  6. (July 2015) – Women’s Soccer World Cup / Cecil the lion / Iran nuclear deal
  7. (June 2015) – Caitlyn Jenner
  8. (May 2015) – Mayweather vs Pacquiao boxing match
  9. (April 2015) – Nepal earthquake / Same-gender weddings legalized
  10. (March 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
  11. (February 2015) – “The dress” / The Oscars awards show
  12. (January 2015) – (nothing was listed by Google)
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74 Years Ago

7 Dec

Today, 2015 December 7th, is the seventy-fourth anniversary of the WW2 attack on the U.S. Navy base in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. (In Japan, because of the time difference, it was December 8th here).

The JapanToday.com website has a nice story about the ceremony in Pearl Harbor today that united former enemies:

Former U.S. airman Jack DeTour, 92, and Japanese fighter pilot Shiro Wakita, 88, sworn enemies during World War Two, together poured whiskey from a battered canteen into Pearl Harbor on Sunday to commemorate the 1941 attack on the U.S. naval base.

As the sun rose over the USS Arizona Memorial, the two former enemy pilots joined the “Blackened Canteen” service on the eve of the 74th anniversary of the Dec 7 attack, which took 2,403 lives and drew the United States into World War Two.

Standing side by side after meeting for the first time ever, retired Air Force Colonel DeTour and former Imperial Japanese Navy Zero Pilot Wakita together gripped the war-torn U.S. military-issue metal canteen and poured whiskey into the watery grave of the U.S. Navy ship sunk by Japanese bombers.

Now a symbol of friendship, the scorched war relic was recovered in 1945 in Shizuoka, after two B-29 U.S. bombers collided overhead. The 23 Americans killed were buried alongside Japanese citizens who died in the bombing raid. Found among the wreckage was the blackened canteen, filled with whiskey, and it was kept in Japan to remember loved ones lost.

Since the 1980s, Japanese residents have regularly brought it to Pearl Harbor for the ceremony aimed at maintaining peace.

“To know we have this friendship is great. It’s fantastic,” said DeTour, who wore a purple flower lei over his dark suit.

DeTour now lives in Honolulu and was a young man from Oregon when he joined the military in 1942.

There were no Pearl Harbor survivors among the World War Two veterans attending this year’s canteen ceremony, said Gary Meyers, spokesman for the Pacific Aviation Museum Pearl Harbor.

The last surviving officer from the USS Arizona, Joseph Langdell, died on Feb 4 in California at age 100. An internment service for Langdell, who was a 27-year-old ensign sleeping in quarters on shore when the surprise attack was launched, will take place at Pearl Harbor on Monday.

At the canteen ceremony, Dr Hiroya Sugano, director of the Zero Fighter Admirers’ Club, said he keeps the canteen in his possession and carries it to the ceremony each year because it is a powerful symbol.

“The blackened canteen is an inspiration for peace,” said Sugano.

Women’s World Cup

6 Jul

The final match of the 2015 Women’s Soccer World Cup was played today.

It was Japan vs USA.

The USA won, so they are the 2015 Women’s World Cup champions!
Japan got silver (2nd place), and England won third place!

2015 Womens World Cup medal standings

おめでとうございます!(Congratulations!)

Coincidentally, in the previous Women’s World Cup (in 2011), the final match was played between Japan and America then too. Japan won that time.

America has a strong women’s soccer team. They currently hold the record for the most World Cup champions (three times), and they’re the only team that have been in the top three in every World Cup since the first one in 1991!

Only-in-America

10 Dec

I’ve lived in Japan for most of my life now, and I have only been back to visit America a few times. In fact, my most recent visit there was over ten years ago ( Click here to read about the reverse-culture-shock I experienced on that trip.)

I was thinking about some things that seem normal to most Americans…but are actually unique to America and kinda odd to people who don’t live there.

1. Flags everywhere / “Pledge of Allegiance”
Every country flies their national colors. And there’s nothing wrong with that. But the American flag is flown everywhere, everyday in the U.S. Even car dealerships and in school classrooms.
Speaking of school classrooms, American children stand with their hand on their heart, facing the flag in the classroom, and recite and pledge of allegiance to the U.S. flag.
A bit like North Korea.

pledge

2. “Sales tax” –
By this I mean, the price shown on the products in stores in America is the pre-sales tax price.
To be honest though, it was the same way in Japan when I first arrived here. At that time, sales tax here was 3% and the after-tax price wasn’t listed on the price-tags. (Just before I came to Japan, there was no sales tax here at all!)
But in 1997, the law was changed that all stores in Japan must show the after-tax price on their products (the sales tax went up to 5% that year too. (Currently, it’s 8%)).

3. “Toilet stalls” –
When people from other countries visit America, the public restrooms are quite a culture shock! The doors are too small! It’s disturbing when you’re using a public toilet but don’t feel like you have privacy.

public-bathroom

4. “Tipping” –
There is no tipping in Japan. When I visited America, I was never sure who to tip or how much! I had to check my guidebook. Waitresses, taxi drivers, hotel staff, bartenders, et al. It felt like, no matter how mediocre the service, I had to tip everyone! And after tips were factored in, the cost for many things in America were actually higher than in Japan.

5. “Guns” –
Besides the police and military, there are virtually no gun owners in Japan.
All of the gun-related violence in America that is reported in the news is sad and shocking.

6. “Alcohol rules” –
In America, beer can’t be enjoyed outdoors in public. And there are hours (and even certain days) that stores don’t sell alcohol.
Why?

There are beer vending machines in Japan.

I’m not putting America down.
I’m just pointing out some peculiarities about the culture of the country of my birth. Every country has them…and sometimes it takes stepping outside the country and experiencing a different culture to see them.

What are some unique cultural peculiarities about America, Japan or any other country that you’ve noticed?

Man on the moon

20 Jul

Today (2014 July 20th) is the forty-fifth anniversary of the first moon landing in 1969 by American astronauts Neil Armstrong and “Buzz” Aldrin.

30th Anniversary of Apollo 11 Moon Mission

Click here to read a Huffington Post article about this anniversary and to see a video of the Apollo 11 rocket that carried the first men to the moon.

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.

Japanese tips for visiting America

21 Feb
America and Japan are quite different.  There are many books and websites that give advice to Americans who plan to visit Japan.
And, of course, there are similar books and websites for Japanese who plan to visit America.
Actually, even though I’m an American, I’ve been living in Japan for most of my life now and I have only visited America a few times.  Before the most recent visit (in 2004), I bought one of these books for Japanese visiting America!  I wasn’t sure who to tip or how much I should give, I had never rented a car in America before then, etc.
Anyways, the website MentalFloss has translated some advice Japanese people have written on various websites for their fellow Japanese planning to visit the U.S.
Here are ten of their tips:

1. There is a thing called “Dinner Plates.” And what goes on them is a mighty disappointment.

In Japan, each person eating gets as many individual dishes as needed for the meal. Sometimes more than 10 dishes per person are used. In America, there is a method where a large bowl or dish is placed in the middle of the table, and you take as much as you like from there, and put it on a big dish said to be a “dinner plate.”

In Japan, meals at home are for eating, because your stomach is vacant. At an American’s dinner, there is food, decorations on the table and tableware, and music to produce a fun atmosphere. It is a time for maintaining rich human relationships. Therefore, the meal is as long as 40 minutes. In addition, often the decorative tableware has been handed down mother to daughter, two generations, three generations. In addition, there are even more valuable dishes used for Christmas and Thanksgiving.

American food is flat to the taste, indifferent in the subtle difference of taste. There is no such thing there as a little “secret ingredient.” Sugar, salt, pepper, oils, and routine spices are used for family meals. There is no such thing as purely U.S. cuisine, except the hamburger, which isn’t made at home so much. There is almost nothing special to eat based on the different seasons of the year. Basically, they like sweet, high fat, high calories things.

2. Beware Rough Areas Where the Clothes Demand Attention

In Japan, hip hop clothes are considered stylish. But in the United States, it is wise to avoid them, as you might be mistaken for a member of a street gang.

The entire United States does not have good security, unfortunately. However, the difference between a place with good regional security and a “rough area” is clear. People walk less, there is a lot of graffiti, windows and doors are strictly fitted with bars. And young people are dressed in hip hop clothes that say “I want you to pay attention to me!”

3. But You’ll be Pleasantly Surprised by American Traffic Patterns.

Manners with cars in America are really damn good. Japanese people should be embarrassed when they look at how good car manners are in America. You must wait whenever you cross an intersection for the traffic light. People don’t get pushy to go first. Except for some people, everyone keeps exactly to the speed limit. America is a car society, but their damn good manners are not limited to cars.

4. Nobody is impressed by how much you can drink. In fact, shame on you.

In the U.S., they do not have a sense of superiority if they are able to drink a large amount. Rather, if you drink a lot, there is a sense that you cannot manage yourself. There is something close to contempt toward someone who must drink a lot to be drunk. To drink alcohol habitually is to have alcoholism. Alcoholics are weak people mentally, to be one means you have spanned the label of social outcasts that can’t self-manage.

Non-smokers are more important than smokers in the US. Smokers capture the concept that they are not able to control themselves, and are the owners of weak character.

5. They Have Free Time All Week Long!

In America, whether you are a student, working person, or housewife, you carefully make room for leisure time, weekdays and weekends. Most people are ensured free time, always. During the week they use it for walking, jogging, bicycling, tennis, racquetball, bowling, watching movies, reading, and volunteering. On the weekend, they enjoy even more freedom, and take liberal arts courses and have sporting leisures.

In Japan we believe that there is no free time during the weekday. Only the weekend. We spend the weekend watching TV, hanging around home, working, studying, and shopping, or listening to music.

6. Knowing how to use sarcasm is a must to communicate with an American.

If you put your bent middle and index fingers of both hands in the air, you are making finger quotation marks. It means you do not believe what you are saying. You can also say, “or so called.”

7. They tend to horse laugh, even the women. It’s how they show they’re honest.

In Japan, when a woman laughs, she places her hand so it does not show her mouth. It is disgraceful to laugh by loudly opening the mouth. Adult males do not laugh much. There is the saying, “Man, do not laugh so much that you show your teeth.”

In America, when men or women laugh, they do not turn away. They face front, open the mouth, and laugh in a loud voice. This is because in America if you muffle your laugh or turn away while laughing, you give the impression that you are talking about a secret or name-calling. It is nasty.

8. You won’t be getting your groceries anytime soon, so checkout lines are a great place to make friends.

Cashiers are slow. Abysmally slow compared to Japan. I get frustrated when I’m in a hurry. Americans wait leisurely even if you’re in the special checkout for buying just a little something. I thought Americans were going to be quite impatient, but in reality they are extremely laid back. I thought about what I should do with my time while waiting in the grocery matrix, and began to speak at length with other guests.

9. Their vending machines are ridiculously limited and dishonest.

Vending machines in the United States just give carbonated beverages. Coke particularly. If you try to buy the juice from a vending machine when you’re thirsty, it’s just all carbonate. I pressed the button and thought it would be a nice orange juice, but carbonate came out. I love carbonated, but there are times when it will make you sick indeed.

10. But darn it all, they’re so weirdly optimistic you just can’t stay irritated at them.

In Japan, there is great fear of failure and mistakes in front of other people. It is better to do nothing and avoid being criticized than to taste the humiliation of failure. As a result, there are things we wanted to do, but did not, and often regret.

In America, you can make mistakes, fail, and it doesn’t matter. It is a fundamental feeling that to sometimes be incorrect is natural. In addition, rather than thinking about mistakes and failures, American’s have curiosity and say, “Let’s try anyway!”