The AINU are the aborigines of Japan, today their descendants are living in Hokkaido.
The Ainu males usually have a more powerful physique than the present japanese population,
they have abundant black hair and long strong beards. Their aboriginal rights are
still not fully taken into consideration, however, the situation has improved recently,
but still they remain outsiders.
The AINU possess no written language. All of their customs and history has been handed down
by word. Anthropologists think that they are of Caucasian race. Their main occupation is
fishing and farming. There is an interesting Ainu village at Shiraoi, in Hokkaido, which is
visited annually by thousands of japanese and foreigners, where these primitive people my be
seen in their native surroundings. Ainu right groups claim their number to be more than
50.000 out of a population of about 125 million.
BONSAI is the art to cultivate a tree, mostly combined
with a landscape, in miniature format. If treated well, such
trees can live as long as if they would grow naturally or even often longer.
Precious bonsai can fetch prices of US$ 1.000 and more.
CHI stands for knowledge.
It is one of the four virtues of the Confucian concept for harmony in life. The other three are: JIN (love of mankind),
GI (lawfulness) and the fourth REI (tactfulness). All four are an important key to understand Japan.
You can see all four symbols if you click on the symbol for chi.
..... and CUP RAMEN !
Nisshin Chicken Ramen was the first instant ramen in the world pioneered by Momofuku Ando,
the founder of NISSHIN FOODS in Japan. It was introduced to the USA first in 1972.
Cup ramen can be eaten by simply adding hot water.
There are many people now all over
the world who eat cup ramen regularly, but the high sodium content and poor nutritional
quality are problem points.
DAIBUTSU means "Great Buddha". - Buddhism was introduced to Japan via Korea in about
550 and 200 years later the first large Buddha statue was built in Japan, in Nara.
It is 16 meter tall and the head alone measures 4.85 meter. It stands in a big wooden
hall, which is regarded as the largest wooden structure in the world.
ENKA is the name for a very typical kind of japanese song, somewhere between traditional
folk song and popular music. It is something similar to what the chanson is in the
frensh and the country songs in the USA culture, however, it is not so popular
with the younger generation. Young enka stars are mostly popular with women in
their 30th or 40th. But, in any case the older generation above 40 still
enthusiastically like Enka. They sing nearly only Enka songs at Karaoke bars.
As to history, in 1874 Japan's first political party was founded, and the call for
direct election of a national parliament gained strength. Leaders, who were often
prohibited from speaking in public, had songs written to air their message and
singers walked the streets selling copies of the songs. This was the beginning
First, never say Fuji-yama as
FUJI-SAN is the appropriate word for the most famous and highest mountain in
Japan with 3.776 meters. Mt. Fuji is a dormant volcano which erupted last in
November 1907. In former times climbing Mt.Fuji was considered a religious practice
and women were not allowed to climb the mountain, but today during the summer
months thousands and thousands climb the mountain for various reasons, mainly for
leisure, and to welcome the rising sun early in the morning.
GEISHA refers to a woman and means "artful person". They are not only fine entertainers
but also witty in conversation and skilled in the japanese arts of the tea ceremony, flower
arrangement, traditional music, etc.
They are usually dressed in Kimonos and have
real old japanese hair-style, called "mage" or wear such wigs. Often very young girls
were sold by their poor parents to Geisha-schools where they were tought all those
skills. Of course such custom does not exist today anymore.
HAIKU is one of the most important form of japanese poetry consisting of three metrical
units of 5-7-5 syllables and the inclusion of a seasonal theme.
Basho Matsuo (1644-1694) is known as the first great poet in the history of haiku and here is
a famous example of one of his haiku:
An old pond!
A frog jumps in-
The sound of water.
But there are also haiku from present days:
Ozone layer hole,
twice Australia's size, growing
sends message to world
(M. B.Tobin Bass Highway, Australia)
IKEBANA is an art, well known all over the world: Flower arrangement. There are various
schools including some modern ones, however, the basic principle is always the same:
Heaven, the highest point, Earth, the lowest, and Man the center of the arrangement.
In contrast to the massing of blooms typical of flower arrangement in western
countries, Japanese flower arrangement is based on a small number of blooms.
Some people and facts you should know .....
Born in 1978, Ayumi Hamasaki joined at the age of 14 the entertainment world. In 1998 her
first single was released and within three years she already released quite a number of records
and soon become a superstar in Japan and other Asian countries. She is also well-known for greatly influencing the fashion trends
amoung Japanese and Asian teenager
"Beat" Takeshi, or better known to foreigners as
Takeshi Kitano, is regarded often only as a funny commedian entertainer in Japan, however, outside Japan
"as a prodigious talent that has no parallel in the West" (William Gibson, TIME), where he
became famous as a movie director and actor. In 1997 he won the Venice Film Festival with "Hana-Bi".
There are many other well know movies like the famous "Kikujiro".
May 26th, 2000
1999 Cannes Film Festival
1999 Toronto Film Festival
It's summer and nine-year old Masao (Yusuke Sekiguchi) has no one to play with. With soccer practice suspended
and his friends away at the beach, living alone with his grandmother seems even less fun.
By chance, Masao discovers the address and photo of the mother he has never met. But with little money and even
less sense of direction, he needs help. A friend of his grandmother, Kikujiro (Beat Takeshi) volunteers
to accompany the boy on his quest....
In the old Japan, if you wanted to advertise the opening of a new store or an upcoming
event, you couldn't turn to radio or television. Instead, the ambitious shop owner would
hire a group of gaudily dressed musicians called chindonya to get the word out. Today
they are a rarity but still employed to make a difference. Click on the photo for a video
clip of the opening of a new subway line.
enjoy your own spacious 3.5 foot x 3.5 foot x 7.25 foot "private room" in one of Japan's
many capsule hotels.
DARUMA is a papier-mache doll of a round shape, without limbs,
representing the Buddhist priest Dharma (founder of the Zen sect) whos legs decayed
and went off because he sat too long meditating. It is said that the Daruma doll
brings good fortune if you fill only one of its eyes. After your whish has come true,
the other eye is filled in.
DETO means DATE and is in Japan the same as all over the
A native of Hiroshima EIJI OUE began piano lessons at the age of four.
In Japan, eating FUGU (blowfish) is the ideal of gourmet dining-and the cooking
version of Russian roulette. Fugu is one of the most expensive foods in Japan.
Cut up and served in a restaurant, it can bring $200. There are over 1,500 fugu
restaurants in Tokyo, where an average of 100-200 people a year show signs of
poisoning. The death rate is 61%! - but the Japanese seem to have an obsession
with dangerous food, at least 26 people nationwide, mostly elderly, have died
after choking on traditional Japanese "mochi" rice cakes in the first three days
of the new year, according to a Kyodo News survey January 4, 2003.
The primary conductor for the Radio-Philharmonie Hannover orchestra in Germany,
has been chosen to conduct Wagner's opera "Tristan und Isolde" at the Bayreuth
Music Festival in 2005. Oue will not only be the first Japanese, but also the
first Asian to be invited to conduct at the time-honored Wagner festival.
TIME reports already in their March 9, 1998 issue about the super band GLAY,
in the meantime the four members have become the number 1 super band in Japan and even they
have become Manga stars.
Although virtually unknown outside Asia, they are one of the most successful bands
in Japanese music history.They have sold over an estimated 36 million copies of their
albums and singles as of 2007 in Japan alone.
HANAE MORI is the founding mother of 'fusion fashion' the idea of East meets
West style. The way she draws creative inspiration from Japanese culture, yet translates
it into Western clothing, cut and sewn to the highest couture standards, makes her unique,
explains Suzy Menkes, respected fashion editor at the International Herald Tribune.
She also became very famous because of her unique perfume combinations for women as well
as for men.
ICHIRO, no one bothers with his last name, the super baseball batter from Japan sliced
up the American League with a .350 batting average, got more hits (242) than anyone else
in 71 years, and became only the second man ever voted American League Rookie of the Year
and Most Valuable Player in the same season. No one found a way to neutralize him then,
and now in 2002, just a season and a half after he hit the beach, American baseball is
waving the flag of surrender. On July 4, 2002 Ichiro was hitting .360 and
2004 was his most impressive offensive season yet, as he set several MLB records,
including a new all-time, single-season Major League record with 262 hits.
Some comments about Japan of today .....
How safe is Japan?
A question often heard from those traveling to Japan for the first time -
Is it really as safe as I've heard? Japan has a long held reputation for being
a safe country, low in crime compared to most. Maybe you've been told stories of
riding the Tokyo subway late at night without worries or forgetting a camera
in the park only to find it right where it was left hours later.
Most members of teenage bike gangs have some problems, either within themselves or their families,
but the typical Japanese way of judging people is also one of the reasons why these bikers exist.
Society judges teenagers on their scholastic results. Such pressure is leading to more school dropouts,
who find a place in bike gangs.
(Tetsuya Anzawa, 23)
Gangs of hot rodders are cruising at night through
the streets of Tokyo ... their cars or motorbikes are unlawfully remodeled, very noisy and make
a fuss of the police. Ignoring traffic lights or rules is a common practise.
Bosozoku first appeared in the 1950, and reached their peak in the 1970's when there were as
many as up to 40 000 nation-wide. Although their numbers have declined recently, they are
still very active.They are also believed to have links to the Yakuza, as many of their members
go on to join the ranks of organized crime.
CHERRY BLOSSOMS = SAKURA
End of March the cherry blossoms are in full bloom and it's the time of enjoying the
I'm often asked by foreigners what "hanami" or cherry blossom viewing means to me.
It may not be an easy concept to understand, since the appreciation of cherry blossoms
comes from certain Japanese traditional aesthetics that value short lives that come and
go in a minute as the most beautiful and precious. The code of bushido represents this.
Even drinking alcohol has an aesthetic meaning of showing our praise for the beauty of
"sakura". (Takashi Saeki, 70)
The most important thing for me is that he looks good and it has to be
always fun to be with him. If he has a boyish personality in him, it would also be nice.
I don't like rugged-looking guys and those guys who go wild. Also, he needs to be tall, at
least taller than me.
I need a girl who will stop me from doing crazy things with my friends.
Baseball will be an issue, too. I like girls with patience, who don't mind waiting in line
to get a new computer game or similar. She must be someone who does not think that it is a
waste of time.
which translates as subsidized socializing or simply prostitution
(S, 18) I started doing Enjo Kosai during my first year at high school. On most of my dates,
I had sex. That's the weirdest thing I've ever done meeting someone for the first
time and screwing him the same day. I was going to school like usual but I was
bored and had no money. So I just left a message about myself on a cyber message
board and chose a sex partner from the guys who wrote back. It wasn't hard.
Mount Fuji is such a nice place to go so I am sorry that people go there just for
killing themselfes. I just read in the newspapers that
police found the bodies of two people in a forest at the foot of Mount Fuji, after
being tipped off by a woman. The police said that they suspect the two died in a
suicide pact in Aokigahara forest, which is a well-known site for people
contemplating suicide, but I surely would never do this. It is a sad story at a great
The current jobless situation in Japan and many young people not knowing how to
treat small children may be putting these people in a heavy stress situation.
Unfortunately, many Japanese are not good at dealing with such stress and consequently
they are driven into a corner, and the only way to ease their pain is to attack
something which is weaker than themselves, which in many cases are their kids.
This is a big problem today in Japan.
(Daimu Kato, 21)
I actually think the homeless are cool as they seem very free and wild. Well, to be homeless
should not be regarded as a negative thing if they have chosen such a lifestyle. But if
they haven't, the government should give them real opportunities for employment and help them
to find somewhere a house or an appartment, rather than living on the street or in a park. There
have been incidents of homeless being beaten up and even killed by young kids recently
and I think they should be punished severely for taking someone's life away, just because
they are homeless.
(Tadashi Anzai, 21)
What else .....
Now people in Japan can understand their dogs better than ever before with a gadget that translates doggy talk
into human words. Bowlingual, the new device made by toy maker Takara Co. has dogs saying things like
"I'm feeling great!" "It's so annoying!" and "Come on, play with me!"
we are in New York?
NO, this is TOKYO!
Woman leaves husband to die tied to lamppost
A 52 yeal old woman wrapped a dog chain around the neck of her sick husband who was recuperating at home
after a stroke, tied him to a street lamppost and left him to choke to death.
Revellers dance at Asakusa Samba Carnival in downtown Tokyo.
More than 4,000 people from 35 teams participated in the annual summer festival.
Japanese animation goes global
The Japanese animation industry's impressive growth is raising hopes for big business.
For decades, Japanese publishers of comic books and
producers of TV cartoons have been entertaining the nation, but in recent
years the industry has gained additional momentum and the market for animation has
expanded significantly worldwide.
The second Monday in January is the
"Seijin-no-hi", and is a national holiday honoring all those who have reached their 20th
birthday. In Japan, at the age of 20 the status of adulthood is attained, now you are
allowed to smoke, drink, and vote. Coming of Age Day is actual nowerdays the only chance
to see young japanese girls and sometimes boys too, wearing a traditional Kimono in the streets.
About 70% of questioned girls between the ages of 15 to 17 linked to acts of
prostitution with men whom they met via the mobile phone do not have a sense
of guilt in being paid for sex, according to survey results released by the Kyoto
prefectural police in July 20, 2002
Not only in the scenic area of Mount Fuji but also in Tokyo the railway operators
in the metropolitan area are alarmed over the rising number of
suicides on all routes. Railway suicides usually create chaos for the railway
system, especially if commited during rush-hour congestion and can effect more
than 100.000 commuters.
Compared to 1999 figures, the amount of physical abuse increased in 2000 about 1.5
times while that of neglect doubled, according to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare.
Unfortunately this trend is still has not slowed down and is still a big problem in 2007.
There are many homeless people today in Japan and parks and river beds have
become the dwelling place of the homeless in the big cities.
IREZUMI - Tatoo
My parents were really against it when I started to have it done
because they think tattooing is
only done by the gangsters, the Yakuza. But this is not true and many young folks in Japan
hava a tattoo, same as many young people all over the world. Anyhow, my gril friend has one
too and we both like it and we really think it looks way cool.
is the japanese word for tattooing.
In Japan the art of tattooing reached a very high level and since the country opened to
the outside world in 1853, it has been widely admired outside Japan. The foreign interest
may well have saved tattooing from being suppressed as a barbaric practice. Today it
is again popular with the very young.
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