Tag Archives: culture

2015 Gasashi Wakachara Kumiodori on Kumejima

It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here on morethingsjapanese.com.  While I expect most of my regular readers have since moved on, I’m still alive and kicking here on Kumejima. Work and married life have taken up most of the free time I used to operate this blog over the last five years. Still, when I find a chance, I’ll use it to add a post and a picture or two (or 37). The other day students on Kume Island

Japanese Houses

Japan’s unique history has led to culture that is not surprisingly unique in the world. In Japan, natural disasters and local weather has led to housing adapted for the resources and needs of the people. While new materials have been included in modern building, many of the aesthetics developed for traditional housing are still carried into the modern age. Since a lot of Japanese culture revolves around the home, this post will be a base for many others in the

Amegoui – Prayers for Rain

Since the end of the rainy season early this year, the weather on Kume Island has been full of clear sunny days.  While it makes for great sight-seeing and beach-going, it has been a hard year for farmers, with little or no rain to sustain critical crops.  For the first time in 15 years, the island locals returned to their roots, asking for the help of the Chinbei, the name of the high priestess from the old Ryukyu Kingdom to

Nakasato Elementary Exchange (Winter) Part 2

This is the second part of this post.  Checkout the first part too!  Don’t miss the video at the end. Every winter fourteen fifth grade elementary students from Kume Island’s 6 elementary schools travel to Toakamachi.  In the summer, a group of Tokamachi students from 3 elementary schools return to visit Okinawa.  In 2013, I was invited along as one of Kumejima’s representatives (read cameraman).  I live-tweeted the event and you can catch a record of the trip here (I know, strange title but

Okinawan Black Sugar Candy – Kokuto

Okinawa has its own history and culture, which is reflected in the foods you’ll find here. Since Okinawa is so far to the south, you will also find that many of the fields are filled with satokibi, or sugarcane. It might not surprise you then that one of Okinawa’s local treats is a kind of Black Sugar candy made directly from the juice of sugar cane plants.  The name of the treat comes from the kanji symbols for black and

2013 Japanese School Trip (Live Tweeting)

Monday is a day off in Japan in celebration of Coming-of-Age-Day which we just celebrated on our island yesterday.  I’ll be posting about that soon, but this week I have the opportunity to travel from Okinawa to Kyushu for the Junior High School Trip.  School trips are a huge part of school life and are memories that will stay with students forever.  This year I’ll be live tweeting throughout the four-day trip.  Check back here for new tweets or follow

A First Birthday in Kumejima

Happy Birthday!  A baby’s first year is an important milestone, and it is perhaps no wonder that in a culture full of tradition, ceremony, and concerns about omens and luck that is marked with a special occasion.  I have never had any children, so I’m no expert when it comes to children’s festivals and culture, however, a friend’s child recently turned one and he shared this bit of culture with me. Tankaue Ceremony On Kumejima, the anniversary of a baby’s

Cross Cultures – Holidays in Japan and America

All this month on my radio show Haisai English we’ve been playing Christmas music and talking about the differences and similarities between the American and Japanese holidays.  The overall theme we’ve found is that in many ways, Christmas and New Years are flipped between the two countries. Christmas in Japan In Japan, like many holidays, Christmas is promoted by stores as a way to sell products.  Just as the Japanese version of Valentines’ Day was essentially created by chocolatiers, PR firms promote the

Industrial Fairs (sangyo matsuri)

The industrial Fair, or sangyo matsuri in Japanese, is a fixture in the annual event calendar on my island.  From the English translation you might think of cars, heavy manufacturing, and other well-known industry.  In Japan, though, many products are made by very small local companies rather than in large factories.  Even when big factories are necessary, there are often many small shops acting as suppliers.  Taken to a further level, small rural communities without those major industries often have

My You’ve Gotten Fat or Isn’t Japan Supposed to be Polite?

For those of you who don’t know, I spent my first three years in Japan living on Kitadaito Island.  Kitadaito is a small island 320km east of the mainland of Okinawa.  While I was there, I experienced the close community of rural Japan, and started writing.  A bit over a year ago, I moved to Kumejima which his far larger.  Since this is my last year with the JET Programme, I decided to visit Kitadaito during their annual Daitogusai Festival.

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