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Saturday, May 27, 2017

Japanese Rain Words



Tsuyu (梅雨) and uki (雨季) in Japanese both mean the rainy season. Literally, the kanji for tsuyu means "plum rain" and uki is translated into "rainy period." The word tsuyu has this reading because June is when all the plums fruit. Tsuyu is poetic, whereas uki is a practical word that just describes the fact.

Japanese Rain Words.


To describe rain (ame) or a shower (niwaka-ame), Japanese language has an abundance of one word nouns - samidare for May rain and saiu for drizzling rain and on and on. This is an another example of the generally accepted idea that Japanese is more lyrical than English (which has become the international language partly because of its practicality).

Kyoto during tsuyu greets you with a different mood than the rest of the year, and the lyrical beauty of this wet season has inspired many literary hearts and works. For people new to the rainy season, be prepared for a time of exceptionally high humidity, learn to love an umbrella, and explore the city with a rain escape plan to a museum or indoor attraction always in mind. Enjoy the rain in its many forms. Kyoto in tsuyu is lush, reflective, and, when you're truly lucky, dry and sunny.

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Backdoor School Websites

学校裏サイト

A mobile phone, featurephone or smartphone is almost a must-have for school pupils in Japan - even, elementary school pupils - primarily as a way of maintaining contact between the child and his or her parents at all times.

A gakko-ura-saito ("backdoor school site," also known as a gakko-hikoshiki-saito, or "unofficial school site") is a non-public website dedicated to topics relating to a particular school, and which students of the school subscribe to.

In nearly all cases, these sites are can only  be accessed by mobile phones or smartphones (computer access is disabled by IP address identification) and are password-protected. Gakko-ura-saito are unsearchable on the internet.

The latest figures for such sites are already 9 years old, but Mombusho (the Ministry of Education, Sports, Science and Technology) estimated back then that there were over 38,000 gakko-ura-saito in Japan. However, this figure included even threads on major internet notice boards such as those operated by  Ni-Channel, MilkCafe and Yahoo Japan. Excluding these, the number dropped to over 4,700. However, this is considered a vast underestimate, considering the difficulty of ascertaining the existence of sites that don't appear on internet search engines.

Gakko-ura-saito are known to have existed at least as far back as 2002  and first came to public attention in 2006 when they were covered by the TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System Television) channel. The topic quickly got taken up by other TV channels and started being treated as a social problem.

Substance was given to this "social problem" reputation in September 2007, when a student at the privately-run Takigawa High School in Suma ward, Kobe, committed suicide as a result of harrassment via the school's gakko-ura-saito, leading to the arrest of four students a couple of months later on charges of extortion.

Besides threat-laden demands for money having been made via the gakko-ura-saito, nude photos of the student had been anonymously posted on it, as well as personal information such as his residential address and phone number.

The administrators of the site, however, were not subject to prosecution, as what the perpetrators had posted was not considered to be outright character assassination but hurtful abuse, in which case the law does not consider aiding and abetting to be a crime. However, in 2008, a court in a civil prosecution ordered the site administrators to pay damages of 550,000 yen.

Apparently much of the content of anonymous noticeboards on gakko-ura-saito are abusive, naming real names, and full of obscene images. Not only students, but parents/guardians, too, are the subject of abuse, leading in some cases to students having to change schools.

In 2008, Yokohama City carried out a survey on gakko-ura-saito, and ordered the removal of them at 68 of the 145 junior high schools in the city. Yet, it was reported that the school staff members charged with the task of taking the sites down were, themselves, made the target of abuse and slander on the sites.

Measures to contain damage caused by abusive postings on gakko-ura-saito include websites for parents and teachers that enable them to surreptiously join gakko-ura-saito for the purpose of monitoring them.

(The above information was gathered mainly from the 学校裏サイト page on Wikipedia.)

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Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Shimogamo Shrine & Rugby History in Japan

下鴨神社

The draw for the 2019 Rugby World Cup to be held in Japan was made earlier this month on May 10 in Kyoto. A look at the history of rugby in Japan might tell us why the former capital, Kyoto, was chosen for this event.


Stone memorial to the first game of rugby in western Japan, Shimogamo Shrine.


It is believed the first ever game of rugby in Japan was played by British sailors in Yokohama in 1874 and had spread via a British professor to Keio University, a college founded by Fukuzawa Yukichi and at the forefront of westernizing zeal at the time, by 1899.

In Kansai, western Japan, the game received a boost when a Keio student taught rugby to Third High School (which was to become the college of Liberal Arts at Kyoto University) students in the grounds of Shimogamo Shrine in 1910.

Sawatasha, a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo Jinja, Kyoto.


A stone monument and Sawatasha, a small sub-shrine of Shimogamo, now mark the historic spot.

Rugby became popular in the Kansai with a club at Doshisha University established the following year and it was the enthusiasm of Kansai students for the game that helped to set up similar clubs at Waseda and Tokyo University in the capital, both now hot beds of the game in Japan.

The ceremony for the draw was preceded by a visit to the shrine by Rugby World Cup dignitaries and a game of kemari (ancient Japanese football) was also held.

Grounds of Shimogamo Shrine, Kyoto.


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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Kyoto to Introduce Accommodation Tax

京都市、宿泊税導入へ

The city of Kyoto announced on May 10 that it will introduce an accommodation tax beginning in 2018. All hotels and Japanese inns in Kyoto will charge guests a per night fee that will go into the city's coffers.

Kyoto to Introduce Accommodation Tax.


The only exemption is for hotels and inns that cater to junior high school and high school tour groups. One rite of passage in Japan is the school trip - a military-style operation in which a handful of teachers escort and supervise hundreds of students on a several day trip to some far-flung location, often Kyoto - and the hotels these groups use are bare bones and used only by the above groups. 

The Mayor, Daisuke Kadokawa, and City Council will begin discussions in August to decide on the amount visitors will pay.

Like most tourist and business destinations worldwide, Tokyo introduced an accommodation tax in 2002. Osaka followed suit this January.

In those cities, for rooms that are 10,000 yen (roughly $100) a night or more, the tax ranges from 100-300 yen ($1-3) per night.

For those of us who live - and pay city taxes - in Kyoto, this is long overdue and highly welcome.  The city swarms with visitors who use the city's subways, buses, water, medical services, etc. Those of us who live in the city are paying to maintain those services for short-term visitors.

With the exception of a small number of people and groups - temples and shrines (which are exempt from property taxes), restaurateurs, the tourist industry, and hoteliers - most Kyotoites are not merely inconvenienced by the traffic and crowds and difficulty of getting into restaurants but are also paying to maintain the city services tourists are using.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Japan News This Week 21 May 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Japanese Princess’s Engagement Revives Debate on Women in Royal Family
New York Times

Do not run: Fleeing from scene when suspected of groping on train not a good idea
The Mainichi

Japan's economy grows faster than expected
BBC

Forced into pornography: Japan moves to stop women being coerced into sex films
Guardian

The Threat to Japanese Democracy: The LDP Plan for Constitutional Revision to Introduce Emergency Powers
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

Pay of elected representatives by country, in UK Pounds.

Britain: £66,396 in 2013
Italy: £120,546
Australia: £117,805
USA: £114,660
Spain: £28,969
Japan: 21,000,000 yen (£145,656) in 2011

Sources: Daily Telegraph, for Japan

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Friday, May 19, 2017

Kyoto City Bus 50

京都市バス#50

The Kyoto city bus #50 runs from Kyoto Station to the Kinugasa campus of Ritsumeikan University in the north west of the city near Kinkakuji and Ryoanji temples.

The #50 bus chugs up the western side of Kyoto.

Kyoto City Bus 50, Kyoto Station.


From Kyoto Station the #50 bus stops at Nanajo Nishinotoin, Nishinotoin Shomen, Nishinotoin Rokujo, Gojo Nishinotoin, Nishinotoin Matsubara, Nishinotoin Bukkoji, Shijo Nishinotoin, Shijo Horikawa, Horikawa Takoyakushi, Horikawa Sanjo, Horikawa Oike, Nijojo-mae for Nijo Station and Nijo Castle, Horikawa Marutamachi, Horikawa Shimodachiuri, Horikawa Shimochojamachi, Horikawa Nakadachiuri, Omiya Nakadachiuri, Chiekoin Nakadachiuri, Senbon Nakadachiuri, Senbon Imadegawa, Kamishichiken, Kitano Tenmangu, Kitano Hakubaicho (for the Keifuku Randen Line), Kinugasako-mae, Waratenjin-mae, Sakuragicho and Ritsumeikan Daigaku-mae.

Kyoto City Bus 50, Kyoto Station.


The first #50 bus service for Kyoto Station leaves Ritsumeikan at 6.16am Monday-Sunday and the last bus is 10.20pm daily.

From Kyoto Station the first Kyoto #50 bus is at 6.10am daily and the last bus to Rits is at 10.45pm daily.

The number #50 bus is usually full of university students in the morning but is not so crowded the rest of the day.

Find out more about buses in Kyoto.



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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own

法然院

In the cool hours of early summer take the narrow road south from the gate of Ginkaku-ji Temple to the elevated world of Honen-in Temple. Here you will find the sun shining on a large bamboo grove. Here you will find birds singing sweetly high above. Hear you will experience long, silent moments.

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own.


If one walks this same path every day, one will discover the fresh new breath of the changing seasons. New flowers will open your heart and mind. In early spring, plum and peach flowers bloom here, followed by cherry blossoms in mid spring. In the first days of May: the wonder of the fresh green of a new generation of young leaves.

The monks at Honen-in Temple teach about nature and living in harmony with the natural world. The temple also opens its doors to art exhibitions and music concerts by artists from around the world. Nearby, you will find Anraku-ji Temple and Ryokan-ji Temple. Like Honen Temple, both of these temples are quiet and peaceful too.

Honen-in Temple, Kyoto, Japan.


On the north side of Ryokan-ji, stands the private residence of Mr. Shio-mi, who has been displaying his special family of bonsai, on tiered shelves, to the public for many years. It is the custom for people to show some of their favorite flowering plants to the passing public. Kyoto people love flowers.

Also in this area you will often see colorful, shiny new rickshaws passing by, pulled by strong, tanned young men. And people walking their dog in the evening light. Walking along the paths of Kyoto quietens the heart and brings simple joys to the soul. And every day at four in the afternoon the bell at Honen-in rings out over the neighborhood. And this sound too, should you hear it, has a soothing effect on the soul.

Honen-in Temple Where Japanese Buddhism comes into its own.


Your Japan Private Tours: Save time, go anywhere & have more fun for less $$$: Private guided tours and digital guidance anywhere in Japan: Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka and beyond. Customized itineraries for day & night tours designed by an expert. High-value self or digitally guided tours, picnics, and special walks in PDF format. Off the beaten track and creative. Contact us in San Francisco or Kyoto today! +1-415-230-0579.

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Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima

ビジネスホテル ケアンズ

Cairns Inn is a small, modern hotel in the seaside town of Hiwasa on the coast of Shikoku in Tokushima.

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


They have ten rooms, nine of which are "western style". The most noticeable thing about the rooms is their size - they are much bigger than regular budget business hotel rooms, and the feeling of space is enhanced by the minimal decorations and furnishing made out of plain wood.

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


All rooms are en-suite with the usual facilities of TV, fridge, Wifi, etc.

Extra beds can be added to some rooms for families. There are no meals offered, but the hotel is located right next to JR Hiwasa Station and so restaurants and shops are close by. Popular with pilgrims visiting nearby Yakuoji Temple, a single room costs 4,800 yen.

Cairns Inn
75-16 Benzaiten
Okugawauchi, Minami-cho, Kaifu-gun
Yokushima 779-2305
Tel: 0884 77 1211
www.hotel-cairns.net

Cairns Inn Hiwasa Tokushima.


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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Japan News This Week 14 May 2017

今週の日本

Japan News.
Heng on Revising Japan’s Pacifist Constitution
New York Times

Is Abe using 2020 Tokyo Olympics to promote constitutional revisions?
The Mainichi

X Japan's Yoshiki needs urgent surgery after decades of intense drumming
BBC

Japan’s 2019 World Cup organisers have chance to lift rugby from sport shadows
Guardian

The Global Rightist Turn, Nationalism and Japan
Japan Focus

Last Week's Japan News on the JapanVisitor blog

Statistics

List of countries by homeless population

Australia 105,237 (0.43% = homeless ratio)
Denmark 6,138 (0.11%)
Japan 25,000 (0.02%)
United States 564,708 (0.18%)

Source: Wikipedia

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Spring Words in Japanese

春の表現

Blossom on the apple tree on our verandah.
Blossom - on our balcony 
Halfway through May, with the plum and cherry blossoms having finished, we are well and truly into spring.

Japanese culture and, by association, the Japanese language, is very season-focused, and there are numerous phrases and vocubulary items special to spring.

rishhun 立春 is the beginning of spring. In the West, this is determined according to the spring equinox, but in Japan, it is calculated according to the pre-modern calendar, so always falls on about February 3 (February 4, this year, not March 20, which was the spring equinox.)

shungyo 春暁 means a spring dawn. And dawn in springtime is characterized by harugasumi 春霞, which is the mistiness that comes with the season.

The Tokyo Skytree enveloped in morning spring haze.
The Tokyo Skytree with harugasumi on a shungyo

Such mistiness at nighttime makes for an oborozuki 朧月, or "hazy moon," with all the wistfulness and romance the image invokes.

This "haziness" extends to one's state of mind, and shunmin-akatsuki-o-oboezu 春眠暁を覚えず refers to something that happened to me this week: sleeping so well thanks to the nice not-too-cool but not-too-hot weather that you don't wake up in time. Literally translated: "spring sleep dawn unremembered." I didn't make it to the office until midday!

However, those pleasant temperatures can readily give way to a brief reversion to winter, with the sudden cold spring day being called shunkan or harusamu 春寒.

But we seem to be past that stage now, and things are haruranman 春爛漫, i.e., spring is well and truly here and filling everything with the pulse and glow of new life.

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