Monthly Archives: April 2012

Baths and Bathing in Japan

Cleanliness is one of the few original items of Japanese civilisation. -Sir Basil Hall Chamberlain* Bathing is an old Japanese custom.  I’ve never really researched just how far back it goes, but in the 1900s when Sir Basil Hall Chamberlain wrote Things Japanese, he commented on the uniqueness of bathing daily, and of using hot water.  In his autobiography, Fukuzawa Yukichi, noted on his first trip to America in 1860 that “the officials… on learning  the Japanese custom of bathing frequently, they

Japanese Bats

Okinawa is located in the subtropics zone south of mainland Japan. Since Okinawa is generally warmer, there are a lot of interesting fruit trees such as mango, papaya, and lime (shikuwasa in hogen). These fruit trees provide ample food for fruit bats. On many Okinawan islands, giant fruit bats, or komori (flying foxes), fly through the night sky in search of midnight snacks. While I’ve seen them on the mainland as well, I was able to get a lot of

School Lunch April 9-11

It’s BACK!  School started up again, so this week we have three meals for the new year. Monday April 9               Milk, barley rice, fried egg with mozuku, combu irichi, miso soup This lunch’s main dish is thinly sliced seaweed (combu) tossed with other vegetables and meat in a fry pan (or wok).  The soup had shitake mushrooms and pork. Tuesday April 10               Milk, bread rolls, cabbage

School Entrance Ceremonies

You may have noticed an unintentional theme running through a lot of my posts lately.  Although it is April, things are starting afresh, in Japan.  Since many aspects of Japanese Culture are tied so closely to the seasons, a throw back to the long agricultural tradition for much of Japan, many of the events and happenings around Japan reflect the rebirth and growth so strongly symbolized by the Sakura blossoms that are working their way north. This week, throughout Japan, new

Spring on Sports

Spring is here, and with a new school and financial year in Japan come new ways to bind new co-workers together into a community.  In some places, this happens via sports.  Throughout the year, there are local competitions supported by the local government and other organizations.  The first competition for the new year was Softball and provided many companies the opportunity to build teamwork between old and incoming members.  Both Junior and Elementary school teachers formed teams to compete against teams from

Tatami

When I think of a Japanese house, I think of tatami.  Tatami are traditional rush mats that cover the floors of most Japanese ‘living spaces.’  While modern materials are replacing the mats, they are still found in many Japanese homes and hotels. Unlike rugs, carpet, and other flooring aside from wood, tatami, was a type of flooring that could at once be made locally and also be used replaceable in the event of fire or natural disaster. Where and Why The

Okinawan Birds

There are many birds in the world, and I’m no birder, but it can be a lot of fun and a big challenge to catch local birds. Here’s a few pictures of birds I’ve found around the outer islands of Okinawa. I’ll update and expand this with more information on the birds seen and with new pictures as I find them. The birds included in this version include a mejiro, rooster, kiji, and others.

The Gaijin’s Garden – A Spring Start

Spring announced its presence with a wrathful storm across Japan the other day, but that just means the oceans are beginning to warm.   With the change in temperatures will come the heat and humidity of summer.  Last year I battled the heat with a green curtain.  My housing was on the first floor and I had great big sliding doors that faced the sun.  By planting summer vine vegetables, namely goya, I was able to reduce the temp inside

Fukushima Children’s Recreation Program

It’s been over a year since the Tohoku Earthquake, Tsunami, and Meltdown. Japan is moving towards recovery, yet it will be many years yet, before the full extent of the damage is known and things return to some semblance of normality. While many people have died and been displaced, there are still many people living in areas of high radiation.  Many young children are forced to stay indoors, wear protective clothing if they do travel outside, and essentially lose a major aspect

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