Monthly Archives: February 2012

My 2012 Valentine’s Day in Japan

So I’ve already explained a bit about Valentine’s Day in Japan, but thought I’d take a minute to highlight what I experienced this year.  As with most mornings, I started out watching the morning NHK news coverage.  During the weather coverage they showed a cartoon guy holding an umbrella and a bunch of presents, and warned men to be careful of getting their presents wet.  Behind him was a worried looking woman holding a heart-shaped box. I also caught the following

Japan’s Emperor

This post is based on a WSJ article and NHK news reports. The Emperor of Japan has had several health issues, including a recent hospital stay for pneumonia.  This past weekend, he was hospitalized again for an in-depth check of his heart.  He will soon return for bypass surgery. Over the past year, Emperor Akihito has been far more visible on the news and in the media.  After the March 11th earthquake, he made a rare address, then later appeared with his

Hi. My Name is Poo.

はじめまして、 僕の名前はベンです。 Whispers from the students, a few smiles… Hajimemashite, Bokuno namaewa bendesu. Hi, My name is Ben.  That’s what the above says, and it’s how I introduced my self at my first school a bit over three years ago.   This last year, I had to do it all over at 8 schools (with 3-4 classes per school, plus teachers, city hall, the bank, etc.)  Why the giggles? It’s not hajimemashite, that just means ‘nice to meet you.’ The reason

Kumejima’s Kimono Fashion Show

This past weekend was the Kumejima Sakura (Cherry Blossom) Festival.  There were many events, but by far the best attended was the Tsumugi Kimono fashion show at the Kumejima Cultural Center (aka museum).  One of Kumejima’s many exports are hand-made kimono.  These kimono are made from silk that is harvested, spun, dyed, and woven by hand on the island.  This year many of the kimono were shown at this special event.  Here are a few highlights.

School Lunch Feb 2-8

Thursday February 2nd               Milk, Chahan (like fried rice, Okinawan style), Chingensai Salad, Harusamu Soup (clear noodles and shitake in broth), and Raichi Jelly This one sits pretty high on the Japanese scale.  The Jello desert and SPOON mostly held it back.  Very tasty.  Chahan is similar to fried rice, except the underlying seasoning is more similar to chanpuru, a mixture of soy, dashi, and garlic provide the awesome taste. Friday February 3rd  

Kumejima Sakura Festival Photos

I’ve been posting a lot about sakura , but changing with the seasons really is a big part of Japanese culture.  There were so many events last week that its unfortunate the weather didn’t play a better partner.  With clouds and rain it was hard to get too many spectacular shots, but the party still went on.  I performed with a local band Saturday (technical problems led no video of that, sorry!) there was food and a tea garden, plus

The 16th Day- Kyureki New Year for the Dead

I work at several schools, but on a fairly regular schedule, so while I don’t get calendars for each week, I usually know where to show up and for how long.  I’ve been in Japan over 3.5 years so I’m usually ready for the events and holidays. I should mention that while I have lived in Okinawa-ken the whole 4+ years, I used to be on an island settled by people from near Tokyo, and am now on an Island


For your entertainment, here’s a bit of me singing 島の人よ by 池田卓 (thats Shima no Hito yo by Suguru Ikeda), for the Kumejima Sakura Festival Karaoke competition.  I ended up getting fourth.  The prizes included a shampoo set (made from the deep-sea water from Kume), Mozuku, and a bottle of awamori. Karaoke is a popular cultural activity in Japan.  Often groups will rent rooms, etc.  with friends and sing, eat and drink together.  It’s a convenient way to let loose, and interact

Valentines’ Day

Its February, and while I’m not the lovey-dovey type, there is a Valentines’ Day in Japan.  In fact, it’s probably one of the most ‘Japanized’ holidays out there.  So, whether you live in Japan, or are just interested in learning more, here’s an intro to the Japanese version of that one special day of love, loneliness, and angst. The Big Deal In Japan, Valentines’ day is February 14th.  There aren’t any religious connotations connected with St. Valentines, instead it’s mostly

Today is Setsubun

Hi, today is Setsubun, a Japanese holiday where many Japanese people throw beans (or other items) around their house to ward off demons.  Here’s an article at Just Hungry that has another take on Setsubun. When I lived on Kitadaito Island, two teachers would dress up in demon costumes and visit the kindergarten.  The kids would get handfuls of the beans and throw them at the teachers until they ran away. Along with events at the home, beans are usually

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