Monthly Archives: May 2012

Manzamo Terrace

The Manzamo Terrace is part of the Okinawa Kaigon Quasi-National park located near Onna Village.  Click here for a map. What’s a Quasi-National park?  Originally a prefectural park, it got its new title when Okinawa reverted to Japanese control 40 years ago*.  The sight is now a designated scenic spot and composed of mostly limestone, which has enabled the interesting cliff formations to form along the coast.  Manzamo Terrace is easily accessible from most places on the Okinawa mainland, as it

The PTA in Japan

Yep, it’s called the PTA here too, though not everyone knows it stands for Parent Teacher Association.  Still, this is another instance of Japan taking a western idea and running with it.  In Japan PTAs are powerful organizations that have teachers running for their suits and bowing a whole lot.   What the PTA is in Japan The Japanese PTA is usually composed of parents from a single school, though sometimes it may include kindergarten, elementary, and junior high schools

Osaka’s Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple Part 2

If you happened to read the first part of my Shitenno-ji tour you may have felt a vague sense of disappointment, incompleteness, or even confusion.  Don’t worry, all is answered here as our little tour moves past the gates and into the ground of the oldest state sponsored Buddhist Temple in Japan (the buildings aren’t the oldest, since they’ve been rebuilt, but the ground is the same-ish).  According to the English Language pamphlet provided with my entry fee, “Shitennoji was founded in 593 by

School Lunch in Japan May 17-23

Thursday May 17                 Milk, mushroom spaghetti, green salad, satsuma potato This one is pretty far from traditional Japanese fare, but even so, still maintains a bit of Japanese flair.  The spaghetti was nice, surprisingly not dry despite the lack of a red sauce… probably thanks to the margarine.  Tossed in with several types of mushrooms and bacon was asparagus.  The ‘green’ salad was mostly cabbage and cucumber in a light vinegar dressing.  The Satsuma

Shitenno-ji Temple, Osaka

Shitenno-ji is located in Osaka, Japan. It is the first Buddhist temple to be built by the state, specifically under the direction of Prince Shotoku. The Prince had a significant hand in promoting Buddhism in Japan during the 6th Century. The architecture is similar to Nara’s Horyuji Temple with a main gate, lecture hall, five-story pagoda, golden hall, and other structures. Unlike Horyuji, which holds the world’s oldest wooden building, Shitenno-ji has been rebuilt several times. Still, the grounds are

2012 Annular Solar Eclipse

Yesterday’s Eclipse might not be mind-boggling, but it was definitely worth getting up at 5 in the morning.  My photos aren’t spectacular but it was fun to watch the sun rise through intermittent clouds that you can see in some of the pictures.  I was only able to photograph the first half since I had to run off to teach for the rest of the day.  I rigged up my Canon D7 on a tripod with a 70-300mm zoom and

Community in Japan

My very first post on More Things Japanese back in 2010 was on Social Organization in Japan.  In that post, I talk a little big about how important groups are to the social framework of Japan.  Yesterday, I got another peek into how social groups maintain cohesion and identity in rural Japan. The Aza If you look at a Japanese address, it usually starts general and then gets more specific.  Each place usually ends with a word that represents the size…

Kinjo Town Rock Road Part 2

Here’s part two and the second half of our trip through Kinjo Town’s Ishidatami, the Rock Road around Shuri Castle in Okinawa.  From the rest house, we started climbing uphill. Just up the way is an area called Uchinagusukudake.  The place has several small shrines, shisa, and trees that are over 200 years old.                   The area has Giant Akage (bischofia javanica) This tree is over 300 years old and has a

School Lunch May 10-16

Thursday May 10                 Milk, vegetable soba, tempura benimo, orange This meal is just shy of a 5 on the rice meter thanks to the orange and adopted-ness of soba.  Though it’s ‘vegetable’ it still has pork in it.  Soba is a common noodle in Japan, here its served with a broth (not shown) that will heat the noodles and veggies.  The benimo is a type of sweet potato that is purple in

Kinjo Town Rock Road Part 1

Kinjo Town surrounds the Shuri Castle area in Okinawa.  While Shuri is impressive in its own right, there is much to see outside the Castle grounds.   During this past Golden Week, I took a trip to the Okinawan Mainland, and a friend was kind enough to show me a few out-of-the-way spots.  Through Kinjo Town runs the ‘Ishidatami’ or Rock Road,  a walkway paved in history and adorned with interesting and beautiful flowers along the way.  Follow along for

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