Tag Archives: Japan

today’s holiday: Aoi Matsuri

Aoi Matsuri

One of the three major festivals of Kyoto, Japan, the Aoi Matsuri, or Hollyhock Festival, is believed to date from the sixth century. The festival’s name derives from the hollyhock leaves adorning the headdresses of the participants; legend says hollyhocks help prevent storms and earthquakes. Today, the festival, which was revived in 1884, consists of a re-creation of the original imperial procession. Some 500 people in ancient costume parade with horses and large lacquered oxcarts carrying the “imperial messengers” from the Kyoto Imperial Palace to the shrines. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Greenery Day

Greenery Day

This day formerly observed the birthday of Emperor Hirohito of Japan (1901-1989), who was the world’s longest ruling monarch. Today this day is celebrated as Greenery Day (Midori-no-Hi) with parades featuring elaborate floats, paper lanterns, traditional Japanese costumes, and fireworks. People also mark the day by planting trees and with other activities centered around the appreciation of nature. Greenery Day is a part of Golden Week, which also includes Japan Constitution Memorial Day (May 3) and Kodomo-no-Hi (Children’s Day, May 5). More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Uesugi Matsuri

Koei's DAY1 of TGS 2009.Uesugi's Kenshin armou...

Koei’s DAY1 of TGS 2009.Uesugi’s Kenshin armour. aka Kenshin Uesugi. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Uesugi Matsuri

This Japanese festival, held in Yonezawa, commemorates the illustrious warrior Uesugi Kenshin (1530-1578). He is remembered for his role in a series of five battles, fought on a triangular island in the middle of the Matsukawa River, known as the Battles of Kawanakajima. The Uesugi Matsuri commemorates the warrior and his soldiers with mock battles and various costumed events, as well as a Musha Gyoretsu, a parade of warriors of the Sengoku (Warring States) Era. More… Discuss



Wasabi is a member of the cabbage family that grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan. Its root is used as a strong, mustard-hot spice that produces vapors that burn the sinus cavity rather than the tongue. Wasabi paste is often served with sushi and sashimi, but because true wasabi is so expensive, most American and Japanese sushi bars serve imitation wasabi made of what? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Yaya Matsuri (2015)

Yaya Matsuri (2015)

The Yaya Matsuri, held in Owase, Japan, during the first week in February, features mikoshi (portable shrines) carried through the streets by groups of young men who meet and deliberately crash into each other. The festival takes its name from their shouts—”Yaya! Yaya!”—as they run into one another. Several special events, including dances, are held during the five-day festival. On the last night, there is a ceremony at the Owase Shrine to determine who will participate in the festival the next year. More… Discuss

Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mother and child in Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945

Alfred Eisenstaedt—Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images Mother and child in Hiroshima, Japan, December 1945 Read more: Hiroshima: Portrait of a Mother and Child in an Atomic Wasteland, 1945 | ( Click to access story) LIFE.com http://life.time.com/history/wasteland-mother-and-child-hiroshima-1945/#ixzz3PwqnNLSp

Alfred Eisenstaedt

“Japanese doctors said that those who had been killed by the blast itself died instantly. But presently, according to these doctors, those who had suffered only small burns found their appetite failing, their hair falling out, their gums bleeding. They developed temperatures of 104, vomited blood, and died. . . . Last week the Japanese announced that the count of Hiroshima’s dead had risen to 125,000.” — From “What Ended the War,” LIFE magazine, Sept. 17, 1945

Four months after the American B-29 Superfortress Enola Gay dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan, on Aug. 6, 1945, killing roughly 70,000 men, women and children outright and dooming tens of thousands more to either a torturous recovery or a slow death by radiation poisoning, burns or other injuries and afflictions, Alfred Eisenstaedt made this portrait of a Japanese mother and her child amid the ruins of the city.

Beyond the eternal debate about the “morality” of the bombing of Hiroshima and, two days later, Nagasaki; beyond the political and scientific factors that led to the development of nuclear weapons in the first place; beyond the lingering shadow cast by the Atomic Age and the Cold War—beyond all of those considerations, Eisenstaedt’s picture quietly commands us, at the very least, to pay attention.


One Summer’s Day from – Spirited Away. Spirited Away (千と千尋の神隠し) is a 2001 film by Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki: It become the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.

久石讓 Joe hisaishi Live – One Summer’s Day (from Spirited Away)

today’s holiday: Nanakusa Matsuri (2015)

Nanakusa Matsuri (2015)

Nanuska Matsuri is a Japanese ceremony dating back to the 9th century. It is also called Wakana-setsu (“Festival of Young Herbs”), or Jin-jitsu (“Man Day”), because it occurs on the zodiacal day for “man.” After an offering to the clan deity in the morning, participants partake of nanakusa gayu, a rice gruel seasoned with seven different herbs that is said to have been served for its medicinal value to the young prince of the Emperor Saga. The herbs are shepherd’s-purse, chickweed, parsley, cottonweed, radish, as well as herbs known as hotoke-no-za and aona in Japanese. More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: The Curse of the Bambino (1920)

The Curse of the Bambino (1920)

According to baseball lore, the Boston Red Sox became cursed after Babe Ruth, the “Bambino,” was sold to the New York Yankees in 1920. Before the sale, the Red Sox had won five World Series titles. After the sale, Ruth became a superstar, and the previously lackluster Yankees went on to win 27 World Series titles. The Red Sox, meanwhile, failed to win another series for more than eight decades, finally breaking the “curse” in 2004. How did some Red Sox fans attempt to “reverse the curse”? More… Discuss

Today’s Birthday: Chiune Sugihara (1900)

Today’s Birthday

Chiune Sugihara (1900)

A Japanese diplomat, Sugihara was sent to Kaunas, Lithuania, in the early days of World War II. There, in direct violation of his orders from Tokyo, the consul began issuing transit visas for fleeing Jews. Without such visas, the refugees would not have been permitted to leave the country. In little over a month, he wrote thousands of visas, continuing even as the train removing him from his consulate post pulled out of the station. How did the Japanese government react to his insubordination? More… Discuss

today’s birthday: Hideki Tojo (1884)

Hideki Tojo (1884)

Tojo’s accession as prime minister of Japan in 1941 marked the final triumph of the military faction that advocated war with the US and Great Britain. As the most powerful leader in the government during World War II, he approved the attack on Pearl Harbor and pushed the Japanese offensive in China, Southeast Asia, and the Pacific. Tojo resigned after a string of military failures and later attempted suicide. He was arrested by the Allies and tried, convicted, and executed for what war crimes? More… Discuss

Japan’s Underwater City

Japan’s Underwater City

A Japanese construction firm with a penchant for pie-in-the-sky projects has a new plan: an underwater city. The Shimizu Corporation, a prominent builder that once pitched a space hotel, has proposed an undersea spiral off the coast of Japan that would stretch 2.8 miles (4.5 km) down to the sea floor. A habitable zone would be situated in a massive sphere just below the surface, and energy would be generated by thermal energy conversion and by using micro-organisms to turn carbon dioxide into methane. However, the company says the required technology won’t be ready for another 15 years. More… Discuss

this pressed for your last moment shopping: Editors’ top holiday picks – CNET

Logo of CNET.

Logo of CNET. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

CNET‘s favorite tech gifts of 2014

Holiday Gift Guide

Editors‘ top holiday picks

Editors’ top holiday picks

Shopping for the holidays? We’ve got gift ideas for every gadget category — from PCs to phones to game consoles, and everything in between.

The original version of this list included our single top product from each category, but we’re now broadening it to include notable additions and second choices you should also consider. We’ll continue to expand it throughout the season. In the meantime, check out our full Holiday Gift Guide.

October 30, 2014 6:31 PM PDTUpdated: December 3, 2014 11:21 AM PST Photo by: Sarah Tew/CNET / Caption by: Laura K. Cucullu

via Editors’ top holiday picks – CNET.

People and Places: Tsukiji Fish Market

Tsukiji Fish Market

The Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market, or Tsukiji fish market, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world. Located in Tokyo, Japan, the market offers more than 400 types of seafood and is a major attraction for foreign visitors. It typically opens at 3 AM, with auctions beginning around 5 AM. Bidding can only be done by licensed participants, but visitors can watch. What were the “Rice Riots,” and how did they lead to the creation of the Tsukiji fish market? More… Discuss

SVIATOSLAV RICHTER La Cathedrale Engloutie CLAUDE DEBUSSY: great compositions/performances



Bushido (read more here)

Bushido, which means “way of the warrior,” is a code of conduct of the Japanese samurai class. Along with self-discipline, honor, and austerity, the code emphasized the samurai’s obligation to his lord, which superseded even familial ties. After the Meiji Restoration in 1868 effectively ended feudalism and returned power to the emperor, the samurai’s obligation of loyalty and sacrifice shifted, becoming the basis for the cult of emperor worship. What is hara-kiri? More… Discuss

this day in the yesteryear: Japan’s Meiji Constitution Goes into Effect (1890)

Japan’s Meiji Constitution Goes into Effect (1890)

In the mid-19th century, Japan was forced to end its isolation by signing a series of unequal treaties that gave Western nations special privileges in Japan. The unpopular Tokugawa shogunate collapsed soon after and, in 1868, the boy emperor Meiji was “restored” to power. The Meiji constitution defined Japan as a capable, modern nation deserving of Western respect while preserving its own power. What did Ito Hirobumi, who drafted the Meiji constitution, do to prepare himself for the task? More… Discuss

this pressed for your informantion: Earthquake hits northern Japan, no tsunami warning issued

Earthquake hits northern Japan, no tsunami warning issued.

Ryuichi Sakamoto – bibo no aozora: make music part of your life series

Ryuichi Sakamoto – bibo no aozora

today’s holiday: Hi Matsuri

Hi Matsuri

On the evening of October 22, people light bonfires along the narrow street leading to the Kuramadera Shrine in Kurama, a village in the mountains north of Kyoto, Japan. Fire is a purifying element according to Shinto teachings, and the village is believed to be protected from accidents on this night. Soon after dusk, torches are lit. Even babies are allowed to carry tiny torches made of twigs, while young men carry torches so large it sometimes takes several men to keep them upright. Everyone chants “Sai-rei! Sai-ryo!” (“Festival, good festival!”) as they walk through the streets. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Bettara-Ichi Festival



The annual Pickle Market, or Sticky-Sticky Fair, is held near the Ebisu Shrine in Tokyo, Japan, to supply people with what they will need to observe the Ebisu Festival on the following day, October 20. People buy wooden images of Ebisu, good-luck tokens, and most importantly, the white, pickled radish known as bettara that is so closely identified with the fair. The Sticky-Sticky Fair was named after the way the pickled radishes were sold. Stall keepers used to dangle them from a rope so the buyer wouldn’t get his hands sticky from the malted rice in which the radishes had been pickled. More… Discuss

Mozart, Overture The Abduction from the Seraglio (K.384), Wiener Symphoniker, Fabio Luisi conducting, make music part of your life series

Mozart – Overture The Abduction from the Seraglio (K.384) – Wiener Symphoniker – Fabio Luisi (HD)

this day in the yesteryear: Japan Resumes Diplomatic Relations with China (1972)

Japan Resumes Diplomatic Relations with China (1972)

The first Sino-Japanese War in the late 19th century damaged relations between the two countries for decades, as it marked the emergence of imperial Japan and saw harsh terms imposed on a badly defeated China. Relations did not improve until Kakuei Tanaka was elected prime minister of Japan in 1972. Shortly after his election, Tanaka visited China and signed an agreement establishing diplomatic relations between Japan and the Beijing regime. Who else made a historic visit to China in 1972? More… Discuss

today event/celebration: Autumnal Equinox

Autumnal Equinox

English: The Earth at the start of the 4 (astr...

English: The Earth at the start of the 4 (astronomical) seasons as seen from the north and ignoring the atmosphere (no clouds, no twilight). Português: A Terra no início das 4 estações (astronômicas) como vista do norte e ignorando a atmosfera (sem nuvens, sem crepúsculo). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The sun crosses the plane of the earth’s equator twice a year: on or about March 21 (Vernal Equinox) and again six months later, on or about September 22 or 23 (Autumnal Equinox). On these two occasions, night and day are of equal length all over the world. In the Northern Hemisphere, September 22 or 23 is the first day of autumn. Autumnal Equinox Day is a national holiday in Japan, observed on either September 23 or 24 to celebrate the arrival of autumn and to honor family ancestors. More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine Matsuri

Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine Matsuri

After the opening ceremonies on September 14, the annual celebration at the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine in Kamakura, Japan, begins on the 15th with a parade of three mikoshi, portable shrines to which the spirits of the gods are believed to descend. But the highlight occurs the following day, when the Yabusame takes place. Three skilled archers dressed in hunting clothes called karishozoku ride on horseback down a straight track near the shrine’s entrance. The archers then shoot at three targets set up along the route while traveling at high speeds. More… Discuss

Amaizing pics: Aogashima Volcano, Japan pic.twitter.com/TsCqKumy1a — Earth Pics (@earthposts)

Led Zeppelin – Whole Lotta Love [HD]: ‘Best guitar rift’: make music part of your life series

Led ZeppelinWhole Lotta Love

© Warner Brothers
Live in New York 73

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

“Whole Lotta Love”
Single by Led Zeppelin
from the album Led Zeppelin II
B-side Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)
Released 7 November 1969
Format 7″ single
Recorded May 1969
Length 5:34 (album version)
5:33 (single, 1st pressings)
3:10 (single, 2nd pressings)
Label Atlantic
Producer(s) Jimmy Page
Certification Gold
Led Zeppelin singles chronology
Good Times Bad Times” / “Communication Breakdown
“Whole Lotta Love” / “Living Loving Maid (She’s Just a Woman)”
Immigrant Song” / “Hey Hey What Can I Do
Alternative cover
Led Zeppelin II track listing
  “Whole Lotta Love”
What Is and What Should Never Be
Music sample

“Whole Lotta Love” is a song by English hard rock band Led Zeppelin. It is featured as the opening track on the band’s second album, Led Zeppelin II, and was released in the United States and Japan as a single. The US release became their first hit single, it was certified Gold on 13 April 1970, having sold one million copies.[4] As with other Led Zeppelin songs, no single was released in the United Kingdom, but singles were released in Germany (where it reached number one), the Netherlands (where it reached number four), Belgium and France.

In 2004, the song was ranked number 75 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Songs of All Time, and in March 2005, Q magazine placed “Whole Lotta Love” at number three in its list of the 100 Greatest Guitar Tracks. It was placed 11 on a similar list by Rolling Stone. In 2009 it was named the third greatest hard rock song of all time by VH1.[1] Already part of their live repertoire, “Whole Lotta Love” saw its first official release on the LP Led Zeppelin II on 22 October 1969 (Atlantic LP #8236).

Song construction

The song is in compound AABA form.[5] Page played the loose blues riff for the intro, on a Sunburst 1958 Les Paul Standard guitar[6] through a Vox Super Beatle,[citation needed] which ascends into the first chorus. Then, beginning at 1:24 (and lasting until 3:02) the song dissolves to a free jazz-like break involving a theremin solo and a drum solo and the orgasmic moans of Robert Plant. As audio engineer Eddie Kramer has explained: “The famous Whole Lotta Love mix, where everything is going bananas, is a combination of Jimmy and myself just flying around on a small console twiddling every knob known to man.” Kramer is also quoted as saying:

[A]t one point there was bleed-through of a previously recorded vocal in the recording of “Whole Lotta Love”. It was the middle part where Robert [Plant] screams “Wo-man … You need … Love” Since we couldn’t re-record at that point, I just threw some echo on it to see how it would sound and Jimmy [Page] said “Great! Just leave it.”[7]

Led Zeppelin’s bass player John Paul Jones has stated that Page’s famous riff probably emerged from a stage improvisation during the band’s playing of “Dazed and Confused“.[8]

Alternatively, Jimmy Page has vehemently denied that the song originated onstage:

Interviewer: Is it true “Whole Lotta Love” was written onstage during a gig in America, when you were all jamming on a Garnett Mimms song?

Page: No. No. Absolutely incorrect. No, it was put together when we were rehearsing some music for the second album. I had a riff, everyone was at my house, and we kicked it from there. Never was it written during a gig–where did you hear that?

Interviewer: I read it in a book.

Page (sarcastically): Oh, good. I hope it was that Rough Guide. That’s the latest one, the most inaccurate. They’re all inaccurate, you know.[9]

In a separate interview, Page explained:

I had [the riff] worked out already before entering the studio. I had rehearsed it. And then all of that other stuff, sonic wave sound and all that, I built it up in the studio, and put effects on it and things, treatments.[10]

For this track, Page employed the backwards echo production technique.[11]




Kabuki, a popular form of Japanese drama, is known for its spectacular staging, elaborate costumes, and striking makeup in place of masks. It originated in 1603, when a woman named Izumo no Okuni began performing a new style of dance that became instantly popular. Rival troupes quickly formed, and kabuki evolved into an ensemble dance performed by women—a form much different from its modern incarnation in which men play all the roles. Why were women banned from the kabuki stage in 1629? More… Discuss

today’s birhtday: Eiji Yoshikawa (1892)

Eiji Yoshikawa (1892)

Yoshikawa was a popular Japanese historical novelist. Despite the fact that many of his novels are actually revisions of past works, Yoshikawa was awarded the Order of Cultural Merit in 1960. Just before his death from cancer two years later, he received the Mainichi Art Award as well. His success is especially impressive given his lack of formal education—he had not been able to study beyond primary school due to his family’s financial troubles. What are some of Yoshikawa’s novels? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Tenjin Matsuri

Tenjin Matsuri

The Tenjin Festival in Japan honors the scholar and statesman Sugawara Michizane (845-903), who was deified as Tenjin after his death. The festival opens at the Temmangu Shrine with the beating of the Moyooshi Daiko, a drum about five feet in diameter. The drum-cart is followed by a masked figure who represents Sarutahiko, the deity who led all the other gods to Japan. Most important is the mikoshi—the decorated shrine in which the soul of Tenjin is believed to reside. In the evening, the parade moves to the river, with numerous boats carrying glowing lanterns. More… Discuss



A pagoda is a tiered tower with multiple eaves common to China, Japan, Korea, and other parts of Asia. The pagoda evolved from the Indian stupa—a dome-shaped shrine for Buddhist relics—and, like the stupa, is typically built for religious, often Buddhist, purposes. Whether octagonal, hexagonal, or square, pagodas are intended mainly as monuments and tend to have very little usable interior space. What is the “demon-arrester” that tops some pagodas? More… Discuss

today’s holiday: Hakata Gion Yamagasa

Hakata Gion Yamagasa

The Gion Matsuri at Kyoto is the model for several other Gion festivals in Japan, and the largest of these is the Gion Yamagasa Festival at Fukuoka. The elaborate floats for which the festival is famous are called yamagasa, and beautiful new dolls are made for them each year. The festival begins on July 1, when participants purify themselves by collecting sand from the seashore. The highlight of the festival occurs on the morning of July 15, when the Oiyama race is held. This is a five-kilometer race in which teams of 28 men run while carrying yamagasa, weighing about a ton. More… Discuss



Origami is the traditional Japanese art of folding paper into decorative or representative shapes. Its early history is unknown, but it likely developed from the older art of folding cloth. Over the centuries, an extensive literature has developed around the art form, helping spread the practice far beyond Japan’s borders. The crane is a favorite subject of the origami tradition. According to legend, anyone who folds a thousand origami cranes will be granted a wish. What is kirigami? More… Discuss

Emperor Akihito

Emperor Akihito

Even before ascending the throne of Japan, Akihito bucked tradition. When he was 25, the then crown prince married Michiko Shoda, a commoner—marking the first time that an heir to the Japanese throne had wed outside the court nobility. In another unorthodox move, he and his wife chose to raise their children at home. Since Akihito became emperor in 1989, he has persisted in his efforts to humanize and modernize the royal family. What else has he done to try and change the royal family’s image? More… Discuss



A kimono is a T-shaped, straight-lined Japanese robe that falls to the ankle and has full-length sleeves that are commonly very wide at the wrist. The robe is wrapped around the body, always with the left side over the right, and secured with a wide belt, an obi, that ties in the back. In today’s Japan, more Western styles of dress are the norm, but kimonos are still widely worn on special occasions. What personal information can be deduced from the style of a woman’s kimono? More… Discuss

Saint of the Day, June 20, 2014: St. Vincent Kaun

Saint of the Day

devotional music: Dvorak Psalm 149 op 79 Boston Ozawa

Dvorak Psalm 149 op 79 Boston Ozawa

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Chopsticks, developed about 3,000 to 5,000 years ago in China, are the traditional eating utensils of East Asia. Various materials, including wood, ivory, bamboo, and metal, have been used to produce the tapered sticks, which range from the plain to the ornately decorated. The etiquette surrounding chopstick use, and in fact the style of the sticks themselves, varies from culture to culture. To avoid unintentional insult at the table, one should keep in mind what rules when dining in China? More… Discuss

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TODAY’S HOLIDAY: Toshogu Haru-No-Taisai

Toshogu Haru-No-Taisai

This festival provides the most spectacular display of ancient samurai costumes and weaponry in Japan. The Toshogu Shrine, in Nikko, Tochigi Prefecture, was built in 1617 to house the mausoleum of Tokugawa Ieyasu (1543-1616), the first of the Tokugawa shoguns. On the first day of the festival, dignitaries and members of the Tokugawa family make offerings to the deities of the shrine, and warriors on horseback shoot at targets with bows and arrows. The next morning, more than 1,000 people take part in the procession from Toshogu to Futarasan Shrine, including hundreds of samurai warriors. More… Discuss

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TODAY’S BIRTHDAY: Miyoshi Umeki (1929)

Miyoshi Umeki (1929)

Umeki was an Academy Award-winning, Japanese-born actress best known for her roles as Katsumi in the 1957 film Sayonara and as Mrs. Livingston, the housekeeper, in the TV series The Courtship of Eddie’s Father. In 1958, she became the first Asian performer to win an Academy Award when she won an Oscar for her role in Sayonara. She also played the role of Mei Li in both the Broadway and film versions of Flower Drum Song. Where did Umeki begin her performing career? More… Discuss

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Post-War Japanese Constitution Goes into Effect (1947)

The Constitution of Japan was drawn up under the Allied occupation that followed World War II. It replaced Japan‘s previous imperial system with a form of liberal democracy, which provides for a parliamentary system of government and guarantees human rights. Under its terms, Japan renounces the right to wage war, and the emperor exercises a purely ceremonial role, with the prime minister acting as the head of government. What amendments have been made to the constitution since its adoption? More… Discuss

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Minamata Disease Officially Discovered in Japan (1956)

Minamata disease is a degenerative neurological disorder characterized by a loss of coordination and peripheral vision, poor articulation of speech, and numbness of the extremities. It was first encountered in 1956, when numerous cases of the then-unknown disease were observed in Minamata, Japan. Investigations showed that the consumption of seafood contaminated by a local chemical factory‘s mercury-laden wastewater caused the disorder. What brought more attention to the disease in 1965? More…

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Harry Truman Becomes 33rd President of the US (1945)

Truman was the 33rd president of the US. He is remembered for authorizing the use of atomic bombs against Japan and for his opposition to Communism. A Democrat who largely accepted the New Deal tradition, he presided over victory in World War II and the Marshall Plan to rebuild Europe. His administration also oversaw the beginning of the Cold War and the desegregation of the US armed forces. What famous headline ran in the Chicago Tribune the day after Truman won his second term? More… Discuss

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Hana Matsuri

Hana Matsuri is a celebration of the Buddha‘s birthday, observed in Buddhist temples throughout Japan, where it is known as Kambutsue. The highlight of the celebration is a ritual known as kambutsue (“ceremony of ‘baptizing’ the Buddha”), in which a tiny bronze statue of the Buddha, standing in an open lotus flower, is anointed with sweet tea. People use a small bamboo ladle to pour the tea, made of hydrangea leaves, over the head of the statue. The custom is supposed to date from the seventh century, when perfume was used, as well as tea. More… Discuss

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UN Court Orders Japan to Halt Antarctic Whaling

Despite signing a 1986 moratorium on whaling, Japan has continued to allow it, much to the consternation of conservation and animal rights groups as well as the international community. The country has justified its continued hunting of whales by claiming that it is being carried out for scientific purposes rather than for human consumption, a claim that has been met with widespread skepticism. On Monday, the UN’s International Court of Justice ordered Japan to put a stop to its Antarctic whaling program, ruling that the scientific output of the program did not justify the number of whales being killed. Japan has said it will abide by the ruling. More… Discuss

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Questions Raised About Stem Cell Study Findings

A Japanese scientist who published groundbreaking research on stem cells earlier this year is now calling for the study to be withdrawn. Scientists have as yet been unable to replicate the study’s finding that bathing mature cells in a weak acid solution could quickly and cheaply convert them into stem cells, and questions have been raised about the accuracy and legitimacy of the data and images included in the study. The RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology in Japan is now conducting an inquiry into the paper. More… Discuss


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Though it is one of the iconic dishes of Japanese cuisine, sushi originated in Southeast Asia. It later spread to China before being introduced to Japan, where the version we recognize today was developed. It is now popular all over the world. Outside Japan, “sushi” is often taken to mean “raw fish,” but it actually means “sour” and simply refers to a dish made with vinegared rice—it can include raw or cooked fish, vegetables, or egg. What popular sushi filling was introduced by NorwegiansMore… Discuss


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Kasuga Matsuri

The Kasuga Shrine in Nara is one of the most beautiful and ancient in Japan. Every year on March 13, a festival is held there with elaborate ceremonies and performances that recall the shrine’s heyday. The hiki-uma horse ceremony, in which a sacred horse is led in procession through the streets, and the elegant Yamato-mai dance performed by Shinto women are reminiscent of the culture and customs of the Nara and Heian Eras. Construction of the Kasuga Shrine was started during the Nara period (710-784) and was completed in the first years of the Heian period (794-1185).More… Discuss


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Bonsai, Japanese for “tray planting,” refers both to the art of cultivating dwarf trees and to trees grown by this method. Such trees are not naturally miniature—they are kept small with cultivation methods like pruning and tying branches with wire to “train” them. The art originated in China but has been developed primarily by the Japanese. Bonsai may live for a century or more and are passed from generation to generation as valued heirlooms. What harmed many of Japan’s bonsai trees in 1923? More…Discuss

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