Le Musée paléontologique de Fukui célèbre Hina Matsuri
Hina Matsuri, c’est le 3 mars, mais ça fait bien deux semaines que les premières poupées sont apparues un peu partout, et maintenant que la Saint Valentin appartient au passé, elles se multiplient à une vitesse impressionnante.
Petit point culturel : le Hina Matsuri est un festival destiné à apporter santé et prospérité aux petites filles. Les jours précédant le festival, on expose sur une estrade plusieurs poupées (hina) en costume de l’époque Heian, représentant la cour impériale au grand complet (ou juste le couple impérial, selon le budget).
Et donc en ce moment, tout le monde expose ses poupées : les particuliers dans leur salon, mais aussi les entreprises, les boutiques, les associations, les organes administratifs… Ce qui nous amène à cet article.
Le Musée Paléontologique Préfectoral de Fukui expose depuis hier un couple impérial des plus singuliers, composé de sa majesté l’empereur Fukui-Raptor et sa compagne Fukui-Saurus. Les deux en kimonos, coiffes et perruques.
C’est… particulier, quand même. Il semble que ce soit dans le cadre d’une opération pour fêter l’année du dragon (un dinosaure en japonais n’est pas un lézard terrible mais un dragon terrifiant 恐竜). Je me demande ce que sont les autres manifestations liées à ce projet. Des plésiosaures-manches-à-air pour kodomo-no-hi ?
Les gens du zoo d’Ueno sont formidables. Déjà, ils ont des pandas, ce qui est assez fabuleux en soi, vu que comme chacun sait, les pandas et les tournesols vont sauver le monde.
Hier, dans la grande tradition des “journées d’entrainement aux catastrophes diverses et variées” nippones, les gens du zoo d’Ueno ont simulé une évasion de rhinocéros. Après tout, pourquoi pas ?
Ils ont fait évacuer les visiteurs et se sont essayés à la capture de l’animal… en carton. Une reproduction grandeur nature avec deux personnes à l’intérieur ! Un employé qui déployait des filets a reçu un coup de corne et a dû être ranimé (bien que je doute de l’efficacité du massage cardiaque en cas d’hémorragie…). La bête a fini par être maîtrisée grâce à une fléchette de tranquillisant.
La source a un film, que je vous encourage grandement à visionner.
Découverte d'un oiseau que l'on croyait disparu sur l'archipel de Ogasawara
L’Institut de Recherches Multidisciplinaires sur les Forêts a annoncé hier qu’une espèce d’oiseaux marins que l’on pensait éteinte, le Puffin de Bryan (Puffinus bryani) existe en fait toujours sur l’archipel de Ogasawara, situé à plus de 1.000 km au sud de Tōkyō.
Des tests génétiques réalisés sur six individus collectés entre 1997 et aujourd’hui confirment qu’il s’agit bien de représentants de cette espèce, qui avait été découverte en 1963 dans l’archipel des Midway, à plus de 4.000 km à l’est.
Au grand dam de centaines (de milliers) de touristes un peu étourdis, le château de Himeji est fermé pour restauration depuis… 2009. Ne prévoyez pas votre voyage pour tout de suite, d’ailleurs, les travaux ne seront pas finis avant 2015.
Mais, aujourd’hui, on a cuit les tuiles de faîte 「shachihoko-gawara」 de la tour du château.
Le shachihoko est une carpe avec une tête de tigre qui a la réputation de pouvoir faire tomber la pluie. Voilà pourquoi on met des représentations de cet animal fabuleux sur les toits des châteaux, temples […] pour les protéger des incendies.
The “read more” break is broken. Fortunately it is not a really long article.
English Translation :
It saddens hundreds (of thousands) of tourists, but Himeji castle is experiencing restoration works since… 2009. Do not plan your trip for the next week, by the way, for the works won’t be over before 2015.
But today, the shachihoko-gawara ridge-end tiles of the castle main tower have been baked.
A shachihoko is a carp with the head of a tiger, that is said to be able to summon rain. This is the reason why statues of this fabulous animal were put on castles, temples […] ’ roofs (rooves ?) to prevent fires.
Le jour de prévention des incendies pour les propriétés culturelles
Official language for this blog has just become French. It just means the English version of every article will be after the cut.
If ever you prefer the other way, just let me know.
Aujourd’hui, 26 janvier, était le “jour de prévention des incendies pour les propriétés culturelles” 「文化財防火デー」 (et également le jour des parcmètres, je pense qu’il est important de le mentionner).
Le jour de prévention des incendies pour les propriétés culturelles existe depuis 1955. Il a été instauré en mémoire de l’incendie qui a ravagé le pavillon principal du Hōryūji le 26 janvier 1946, causant des dommages importants à des fresques datant de la période Asuka (et au temple lui-même, dont la structure en bois a été datée par dendrochronologie de 670). La même année, les châteaux de Matsuyama (préfecture de Ehime) et de Matsumae (Hokkaidō) ont également connu des incendies conduisant à la destruction de plusieurs bâtiments.
Comme pour les autres “jours de prévention des catastrophes diverses et variées”, il s’agit de conduire des exercices in-situ, afin de pouvoir faire face plus facilement à un incendie qui se déclarerait dans une des nombreuses propriétés culturelles du Japon.
Admirez les Grandes Eaux d’Hōryūji, qui ne sont peut-être ni musicales, ni nocturnes, mais qui n’ont rien à envier à celles du château de Versailles.
The National Research Institute for Population Problems and Social Security (yes, there is one) found out that one third of working women (20-64 years old) who live alone are under the poverty line.
The poverty line is fixed at half of the median income = 1,140,000 yens a year for Japan (733€ a month for France) (this is after the taxes have been deducted).
32% of all women living alone are concerned. The ratio reaches 57% for single mothers under 19 years old (I’d say that’s sad but quite logical) and 52% for single women over 65 years old. Meaning that things don’t get better with time.
I mean : yeah, I’ve been poor too, under that damn poverty line for years, but I knew it would get better. Well, it couldn’t be worse… Being poor and knowing it won’t change is completely different.
Up to now, Japan had quite a traditional society with most women (and, logically, men) getting married sooner or later and exiting poverty, so it may have been considered a minor problem. But social studies show that by 2030, a fifth of women will be single all their life long (no, I don’t mean “not having sex”, I mean “not getting married”, administratively single) and economists begin to think social laws should be changed to adapt to this new feature of society.
For those who wonder, the same study shows that the ratio is of one quarter for working men living alone. I wonder what are the numbers for married people…
First salary amount for University graduates rised
The average salary of University graduates who started work this spring rised of 2,3% comparing to last year, reaching 202,000 yens (205,000 yens for males, 197,900 yens for females). It the first time since 2001 that it outreaches 200,000 yens.
This average salary is based on salaries paid by 13,534 companies of 10 or more employees.
The Ministry of Labour says we overcame the Lehman Shock and the industry can again offer higher wages to its employees. It seems that management consultants and people in academic arts fields like designers are on the top of the list, with an average salary of 240,900 yens : a 16,7% increase compared to last year !
You can spot the scene in countless dramas, films or mangas : the NHK employee knocks the door and suddenly the household becomes mute, hoping he will think the house is empty ans leave without claiming the television tax. Television tax fraud may be the more common one in Japan (nevertheless, 78% of household pays the tax, meaning the majority of Japanese people are still honnest).
Till now, NHK did not seem really proactive in preventing the fraud. But on the 16th, NHK filed a complaint against five households at the Court of Summary Offenses in Tokyo.
Those five households own a television set but refuse to pay the tax. NHK says they have been contacting those households since 2004 (with an average of 12,4 visit per household) but they still refuse to pay, pretexting they do not watch TV even if they own a set, they think the tax system is problematic or they do not like NHK’s programmes.
NHK sued companies twice in the past (but withdrew the complaint once the companies paid the tax, before the trial) but that’s the first time they sue private households. It seems it may become more common since they announced they wanted the tax to be equally distributed among all viewers.
If you live in Fukui, Toyama or Ishikawa, it is likely you’re happier than people living in Ōsaka.
I must confess “Are you joking ? There are at least 3,76 okonomiyaki restaurants per square meter in Ōsaka, if this isn’t heaven, then what is it ?” was my first reaction.
A study by Hosei University analyzed each prefecture regarding life expectancy at birth, birth rate, number of criminal reports and other socio-economic factors (40 in total) to determine its “degree of happiness”.
With a low rate of unmarried persons leading to a high birth rate, a high rate of employment for handicapped persons and a high ratio of full time employees, combined with a low number of crimes, Fukui ranked number one.
With a high number of people needing (and receiving) livelyhood pension and a bad public order, Ōsaka and its myriad of okonomiyaki restaurants ranked last…
Blessed with a gorgeous natural environment and people dedicating a lot of time to their hobbies, Toyama ranked second, followed by Ishikawa where the unemployment rate is low and political measures protect the weaks.
Yay for Hokuriku !
(This article is absolutely not related to the fact I’ll be living in Hokuriku next year)
Complete ranking (survey conducted before the Big Tohoku Earthquake) :
And (as I stated previously, II), I am not the only one it bothers.
The city and the prefecture of Kyōto sent a request to five national television channels to prevent the disparition of all serial jidaigekis (historical dramas in costume) : with the cancellation of the NHK’s Saturday evening jidaigeki this spring and Mito Kōmon’s one next month, the only serial jidaigeki left on Japanese television will be NHK’s taiga drama on Sunday evening (considering the ratings, it is unlikely this one will be cancelled any time soon).
A lot of jidaigekis are filmed in Kyōto : that’s where is located the Toei’s “Uzumasa Film Village” and the film studio of Matsutake Kyōto, where about 400 jidaigeki serials were filmed during the 60’s and 70’s.
Now, Mito Kōmon is the only serial filmed there.
More than an economical threat (with only one serial, it is evident the golden age of those studios is over), Kyōto fears the loss of a cultural knowledge of costumes and hair dressing that jidaigekis keep alive.
Come on TV channels ! Produce more jidaigekis ! I swear I will watch !
[It’s not directly related, but Nogaremono Orin will return for a second season next year. 11 episode and a 2-hour special. That’s a victory.]
Japan faces an ecological problem other industrial countries do not have : disposable chopsticks.
They are everywhere : not only for take-away meals, but even in restaurants. Japan is said to butcher Canada’s forests only with its disposable chopsticks. We’re talking about billions of chopsticks a year.
Don’t laugh, this is a serious problem and for a few years, Japan tried to solve it by spreading the use of “MY HASHI” (“my chopsticks”) : personal chopsticks that you carry with you everywhere, bring back home and wash before you use them again the next day.
My personal two sets of “My Hashi” with their cases.
＊This＊ was a great movement. And now an enterprise announces it will solve the problem by manufacturing disposable chopsticks in PET. Since PET can be recycled, this is supposed to be ecological.
NO. THIS. IS. NOT. Whether it is recyclable or not, something you throw away after one use is not ecological.
Go on with My Hashi, people, this is the right way to save your planet.
So, Akatsuki failed at orbiting Venus, which, for a Venus probe, is pretty bad, yes, we know… (Please, do not mention Nozomi, thanks).
The main engine being damaged, a secondary engine (retroaction control system) was ignited yesterday during 10 minutes to correct the trajectory of the probe, a first step in a project that may conduct to an orbit insertion in 2015.
A second ignition is scheduled on the 10th after the analysis of the data received after this first try. A third one will occur on the 21st. There is still hope !
One shall never write articles about things one does not completely understand. But hey : isn’t this what 80% of bloggers do everyday ?
I apologize for any misconception that may occur in this article. I am not even sure I would have understood everything would have the source been in French either…
An international team of researchers including members from the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan and from Tokyo University published yesterday the discovery of a starbust galaxy (Monster Ginga in Japanese) that seems at least ten times bigger than usual starbust galaxies, earning the title of “Super Starbust Galaxy” (Cho Monster Ginga).The discovery has been published in the English magazine “Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society”, so why isn’t there any report of it on English language websites, pretty please ? (In fact, it seems the discovery has been announced since last July)
The project, using the ASTE telescope to scan a deep-space area called Subaru/XMM Newton, already observed and registered about one thousand starbust galaxies. Starbust galaxies are really common at the begining of the Universe, between 9 and 12 billions years ago. They produced about 1000 stars a year (our Milky Way produces 2 or 3 stars a year). There is a possibility those starbust galaxies are the ancestors of more recents giant galaxies, the ones including a blackhole.
They also discovered Orochi (named after Yamata no Orochi, the eight headed and eight tailed serpent of Japanese mythology) a galaxy located 11,8 billions light-years from Earth, and whose luminosity suggests it’s ten times more active than a classic starbust galaxy, with 10.000 stars (or more) produced each year.
It seems that there is a giant galaxy between us and Orochi (9 billions light-years from us) and we can only see Orochi by gravitational lens effect. This effect could be the cause of the intensification of Orochi’s luminosity, and its real luminosity has stil to be calculated before we can be sure it really is a super-giant-monster-galaxy-of-doom.
Source has detailed explanations about the researches led by each team in the research project + a bunch of illustrations.
My obsession for the Imperial family may seem strange given the fact French people are known to loathe monarchy. Let’s be realistic, we loathe monarchy for France. It’s a perfectly valid political system for other nations. Look at our archennemies accross the Channel : they seem to manage quite well with one.
Monarchy can be a mean to keep a stable symbol for your nation, and given the life span of Japanese gouvernments lately, that’s great there still is an Imperial family in the background.
So Mako-sama turned 20 on Sunday. Her Imperial Highness Mako of Akishino is the older grandchild of the Emperor, daughter of Prince Akishino, second son of the Emperor. Everybody’s still OK ? She is not in line for succession since the Japanese monarchy is under agnatic primogeniture.
She has often been seen at interviews given by her parents, or at events hold by them but on Sunday, as a new adult, she gave her first standalone interview. And she was brilliant.
She answered a lot of questions about her future public and current private life and managed to tell a journalist she would not answer his question, and to cleverly play “I-can-see-what-is-hidden-behind-your-question-and-I-will-not-fall-in-your-trap” with another, both without being rude.
OK, she wore pink. But I forgive her.
I am really looking forward to hearing more from her.
Yesterday morning, people wandering the campus of Tokyo University had the surprise to see about ten parked bicycles whose saddle had been replaced by red-painted broccoli…
The same prank has been observed on the same campus in September also. Would it be an American detective drama, we would be investigating criminals who experienced detention from September to yesterday. Or maybe calling a team of profilers since it may become a serial case !
I just hope the criminal mind did not steal the saddles, that could be pretty expensive on a student’s budget to have to replace it. But nothing could surprise me from an insane person who paints food !
The real question is : is this case worth a one minute report on Nippon News Network ?
As I said previously, there are bears in Japan. Lots of.
And at the moment, Sapporo is the Place To Be if you’re a bear. Or so it seems since some have been spotted there for three days. 13 eye-witnesses reports have been filed since October the 6th for brown bears (Ursus arctos).
They have essentially been seen in the residential area at the foot of Moriiwa mountain. There are many schools in the neighbourhood and the city is concerned about the security of children going to and coming back from school. They are holding “Brown bear counter-plan meetings” and forbade entry to several streets to non-inhabitants.
One of the bears observed was 2 meters long. Another was a youngling of one meter only. Another was a 1,5 meters long one, seen climbing a tree. The difference in the sizes observed seems to indicate there are several bears wandering the city.
It’s funny-social-survey time ! I love funny social surveys !
Disclaimer : all the personal pronouns used to refer to children in the article will be masculine. “Child” is masculine in French and I feel it akward to use neutral for human beings, even not fully grown ones.
According to a study conducted by Benesse, 80% of parents think their child is a genius.
They asked 2884 parents of children from 0 to 6 on their Internet site and at the question “Have you ever thought 「My child is a genius !?」, 「He may have a talent !?」 ?”, 13,3% answered “frequently” and 67,3% “sometimes” : 80,6% of parents think (… have thought at least once…) that their child is a genius.
Asked when (in their child’s lifetime) they thought their child was a genius, they answered “at 2 years old” for 87,1%, “at 3 years old” for 84,6% and “at 4 years old” for 84,8%. The article does not specify if they lost their illusions at 5 years old…
At the question “In which occasion did you think you child was a genius ?”, 30,9% answered “He understands things quickly” and 24,3% “He remembers words quickly”, which can be pretty common for situation in which ones thinks he gave birth to a genius. But there was also “He can remember and sing at once songs that are broadcasted on the telly” (30,3%) and “He can follow the rythm of a music” (29,4%), situations which, I think, may not be relevant to his capacity to prove (or disprove) Polignac’s conjecture…
On a side note, the study also asked the parents what they wanted their child to become in the future and the number-one-dream-job for a boy is “government worker” (10,1%). Come on, you’ve given birth to a genius and you don’t even want him to be the next Stephen Hawking or Oscar Wilde ? Shame on you parents !
On the other hand the number-one-dream-job for a girl is chemist. At least they think she can become the next Marie Curie. Not that bad.
Environment is so much more than a landscape. Of course, the scenery is important to define a place. That’s why we send postcards, after all. But there is so much more about a place than its looks.
I think everybody living far from home may have experienced it : when you drive towards the place you belong to, even is the landscape is changing, becoming more and more familiar, it’s only when you open the door and hear the cicadas’ cry and smell the odour of the figs burnt by the sun that you feel “I’m home”.
The Japanese Ministry of Environment understood it and conducted a survey in 1996 to determine the 「100 sonorous landscape of importance of Japan」. From the crissing of drift ice plates pressing against each other in Hokkaidō to the cry of wild animals in the mangrove of Okinawa, one hundred sounds have been registered and declared protected.
18 of those sounds were from Tōhoku, and some of them in areas striken by the Big Tōhoku Earthquake, such as the sound of the reeds clusters in the estuary of the Kitakami River in Ishinomaki, or the sound of the waves on the “thunder rocks” of Goishi beach in Ōfunato.
The Ministry is conducting a survey to know if they’ve been damaged in any way. The 「sound of the waves on the cliff of Izura beach」 in Kitaibaraki, for example, may have been altered by the destruction of an hexagonal building that was standing on the cliff since Meiji era.
The reconstruction in striken areas will also be about reviving the sounds that used to be heard in those places.
This morning, the first* lasting snow was observed on Mount Fuji (it may have snowed before, but this time, the snow settled on the mountain).
The heavy rains due to Typhoon 15 also made the “phantom pond” appear ! Also known as the red pond, it forms in the valley next to Fujikawaguchi lake when the water level of the lake rises. It is a small pond of 40 meters width, but a rare phenomenon occuring only about once in a decade. It was last observed seven years ago.
* of the season. of course, it’s not the first time ever…
A lot changed after the Big Tohoku Earthquake, and not only in the striken prefectures. People changed.
In urban areas, the number of persons commuting to work by bicycle considerably increased. The fact that bicycle was good for health and for environment had been finding its way into people’s mind for a few years, but the Earthquake decided a lot of people to change their habits. First it was a hell to come back home after the earthquake. And then, the necessity to protect the environment has suddenly become pretty obvious to many.
The 21st century is when everything changes.
And you know what ? It even helps the economy !
Bicycles makers propose special bicycles with baskets to carry luggage called “commuting to work bicycles”. They increased their production from 20 to 40% compared to last season.
It benefits also to clothe makers, who now sell suits adaptated to ride a bicycle, with the jacket specially designed not to flutter when pedaling, with reflectors behing the collar, with more elastic trousers inpired by horse-riding clothes.
I want a suit with a reflector behing the collar ! How cool is that ?
After “beware of the wild boars” last week, here is another article about Japan’s dangerous wildlife.
Temporary dwelling have been built on numerous areas after the Big Tohoku Earthquake. Those dwellings are generally built far from the coast, in the montaneous parts of the different prefectures, but people living in them formerly lived on the coast.
Thus, they are not accustomed to dealing with the other mountain residents. And I’m not talking about human residents : more than 1,700 bears (Selenarctos thibetanus) dwell in the mountains of Iwate prefecture, and they seem to be drawn to the newly built habitations, because the newcomers do not deal with their kitchen waste with enough care.
Several reports of visual testimonies (30 in the city of Ōtsuchi, 4 in the city of Kamaishi) and of discoveries of footprints or faeces have been registered.
Fortunately, little damage has to be deplored : only one garbage gathering place has been destroyed in July, but for the cohabitation to go on proceeding smoothly, it will be necessary for the newcomers to be careful with their kitchen waste. The bears were there first, human has to adapt.
A few days ago, the Japanese rugby team’s captain declared they needed a counter plan to cope with the emotional distress they would probably feel after the New-Zelanders haka before today’s match. He said “We may wear our track suit during the haka, then taking them off would give us a few minutes to recover before the match begins”.
I thought he was joking. He wasn’t. The Japanese team experienced the haka in track suits. Only the first period is over right now, but it seems their counter plan did not work if you consider the score (38-0).
And I’m glad I’m not the only one who think it’s nonsense.
A few weeks ago, it was a real shock when TBS announced they’ll cancel the long running drama Mito Kōmon at the end of the year. It’s older than me ! It’s been on T.V. every Monday evening since 1969 ! Cancelling it would be like cancelling Sazae-san… Moreover, NHK already cancelled their Saturday-evening period drama on March and it would let us only with the taiga drama to have our fix of period dramas…
I was revolted. And so was the Association of Appreciation of Mito Kōmon, who decided to launch a national petition for the drama to continue, and to send it to TBS and the main sponsors of the show.
Their web site is here. You can print the petition here. And send it here :
As we all know thanks to Hugh Grant, in Great Brintain, hills and mountains are distincted by their height. This is not the case in France. Nor is it in Japan.
The rule may be summarized like this : “what you call a hill is a hill. What you call a mountain is a mountain”. Thus, the smallest mountain in Japan is 4,53 meters high. Visit it if you wander by Osaka.
The second smallest one is Hiyori-yama in Sendai (6,05 meters high). It’s been built by the inhabitants in 1909, but is nethertheless registered as a mountain by the National Geographical Survey Institute.
I should have written “the second smallest one WAS Hiyori-yama”, since it has been washed out by the march 11st tsunami.
Since it was home to several reeds and birds species, its disparition puts another threat on the wildlife in North-Eastern Japan.
This is what a car looks like after an encounter with nine wild boars.
This morning at about one o’clock, driving on a motorway in Gifu prefecture, a man had the surprise to suddenly see nine wild boars (apparently a parent and its children) running toward his direction on the road. Sadly he was unable to avoid them and the nine ones died in the accident.
A friend of mine (who is from Burgundy, a place famous for its wine, its beef and its wild boars) once told me this story when a wild boar ran into a friend of his’ car, looked puzzled for a moment, then got up on its feet and walked away. It seems those nine ones did not have this chance…
It’s been six months since the Big Tohoku Earthquake today.
Six months and we’re still looking for 4086 persons. The searches and the identification of corpses already found make this number decrease every day, but it is pretty evident we’ll never manage to reach zero.
There have been memorial services all over the striken areas and all over Japan today.
Internet essentially shows enthusiastic pictures of the incredibly quick reconstruction effort in the striken areas. But more than a land disaster, it’s been a human one. We shall all remember that each time we hear something like “Japan overcame the disaster quickly.” Japan will rebuild. But nearly 20,000 people will never see this reconstruction.
In the city of Iwaki (prefecture of Fukushima), a map of Japan has been drawn with bamboo lanterns to mourn the victims.
Analog broadcasting came to an end in July and by the end of August, the NHK had received 90,000 files for contract cancellation.
Owning a television receptor in Japan equals having a contract with the NHK, meaning you have to pay a fee of about 15,000 yens a year.
On July, every analog T.V. set in japan became useless and it seems that, instead of buying a new digital T.V. set, 90,000 households jumped on the occasion to graduate from television. (It may not be such a voluntary act : many people may just not have the money to buy a new T.V. set)
Let’s free ourselves from the media dictature ! Wait… Would it mean no more dorama ? Pass !
That’s not what ＊I＊ say, that’s what the Financial Affairs Minister says. In fact, he said she hated tobacco, but you know how journalists are…
The new government has just been created, but Health Minister Komiyama Yoko does not stay idle. She may be right, considering the life span of Japanese governments lately : better get the job done now if you want to have time to pass any reform.
A few days ago, she announced she wanted to increase the taxes on the cigarettes for the packets’ price to rise to 700 yens. Later, the Chief Cabinet Secretary (who is not Edano anymore, and ＊that＊, in my opinion, IS a scandal) had to state this was only Komiyama Yoko’s personal wish, and not a governmental objective.
Unfortunately, Komiyama is not in charge of decisions concerning taxes, and the Financial Affairs Minister (the one who is in charge of taxes, obviously), Azumi Jun, does not seem really pleased with her statement. Hence his comment about her hate of tobacco.
Komiyama recognized she was not able to raise the tax, but explained this was not a personal opinion, but an opinion that had to be stated by a person in charge of the Health Ministry, whom she happens to be.
The Ministry of Health also announced its intention to harden the measures to oblige the entreprises to respect the policy determined by the government concerning the fight against passive tabagism at work : the workplaces have either to be completely non-smoking areas, or to propose a special closed place properly ventilated where smokers have to smoke.
A new bill for the Law of Labor Health and Security will be proposed to the Diet in Autumn, for an application in 2012, also including measures to protect people working in smoking places, such as restaurants, bars or hotels.
I think Komiyama will probably become my favourite member of the government. It’s not that I am viscerally against smokers, I think anyone has the right to kill himself the way he wants (but I really like the law against smoking in public areas we’ve got in France, it really changed non-smokers life). But having someone stating his / her opinions without fear of the consequences in a government is so refreshing. I hope she’s got opinions on other subjects too, and I’m looking forward to hearing them.
This is your daily meteorological bulletin, live from Typhoon 12. Well, after devastating Kinki, Typhoon 12 became an extratropical cyclone over the Japan Sea (an extratropical cyclone is less than a typhoon). A lot of rain is still awaited in Hokkaido, Aomori and Iwate till Tuesday evening, because of the combined actions of this cyclone and Typhoon 13, currently over the Pacific Ocean.
Typhoon 12 made 37 casualties. 55 persons are still unaccounted for, and more than 10.000 persons are isolated, waiting for help. Writing this sort of counts reminds me of painful memories…
And now the explanation for the title of the article. A landslide in Nara washed away two munition bunkers and released in the Kumano river about 3,800 explosive sticks and 2,900 detonators. They were to be used for the construction of a tunnel in the prefecture. It seems the explosive sticks are harmless without the detonators put on, but that the detonators may explode (well, detonate…) if shocked or in contact with electric current.
The Police asks people not to touch the explosive and to contact the authorities immediatly if they ever find some.
Ok, I suppose everybody out there knows there is a typhoon striking Japan.
Typhoon number 12 has already made 27 casualties and 54 persons are missing. 1800 mm of rain have fallen on Nara since August the 30th, rivers are overflowing, hills are landsliding, houses are being washed away, the waves reach 6 meters on the shore. Bridges even collapsed.
The government opened an emergency disaster response office and the Self-Defense Force is deployed all over the striken areas. 74.000 households received instructions for taking refuge. For those of you there who do not speak Japanese, here is a list of the places that received notice for evacuation :
Wakayama-ken : the center of the city of Shingu (for fear of flood from Kumano river) ; the cities of Tanabe, Shirahama and Kushimoto.
Mie-ken : the cities of Kiho and Ise
Nara-ken : the village of Kurotaki and the neighbouhood of Oto in the city of Gojo
Hyogo-ken : the city of Kakogawa
Yamanashi-ken : the city of Tsuru and the village of Tabayama
Other places also received recommandations for an evacuation :
several places in Hyogo including the city of Takasago
the city of Hidakagawa in Wakayama
the cities of Kumano and Tsu in Mie
In doubt, contact your embassy in Japan. If you don’t know what to do in case of evacuation, ask your neighbours.
What is the sentence you hear the most in Japan during summer ?
Easy ! 「Atsui desu ne ～」
It means “it’s hot, isn’t it ?”, and you may hear this every five minutes, sometimes from the same person*.
It’s hot. It’s a fact. It’s summer. Everybody knows it. It’s not really meant to communicate, it’s just a sort of sociological behaviour, almost a mantra, even if stating it does not conjurate the heat at all…
According to the Japanese Meteorological Agency, this summer (June to August) has been the fourth hottest summer since temperature has been officially recorded in 1898 (114 years ago). It has been 0,88°C hotter than the average established on the data of the last 30 years. The rainy season came early, left early, causing the heat season to stretch longer.
Atsui desu ne… But last year was hotter : the hottest summer recorded so far !
*sadly, there is not even a bit a exaggeration in this statement…
Japan decided to try phytoremediation to clean the soils of the radioactive elements spread by Fukushima 1.
Phytoremediation means cleaning the soil with vegetals. Experiments about that have been held in Europe after Tchernobyl, involving broccolinis and sunflowers, and the JAXA (yes, the aerospacial agency, don’t ask me why THEY are involved in this project) launched the “operation sunflowers”.
Plants absorb nutriments in the soil and sunflowers being huge plants, they absorb a big quantity of nutriments. Of course cesium (the major problem in Japan) is not a nutriment but it looks like potassium and thus can be assimilated by the plants (and human body, hence the problem with its existence…).
The radioactive sunflowers will be “disassembled” by bacterias and the remnant minerals drown in cement and dealt with like any other radioactive waste. The goal is to reach (at least) 5000 Bq by kilogramme of soil in agricultural lands and 1000 Bq by kilogramme in places where children live.
Yamaguchi Tatsuya announced a few days ago that DASH Mura was being cleaned that way since June and that he personnaly took part in the operation twice for the time being, collecting soil samples and sowing seeds. DASH Mura is located only 25 kilometres far from Fukushima 1, in the evacuated zone. I’ve been quite often asked why I got so sensitive over the fate of a place I never visited (only by foreigners who did not know the show, I must say…), but from a certain point of view, I’ve been going to DASH Mura almost once a week for the last few years. That is far more than my visiting my own family in the countryside. To a certain extent, DASH Mura is the inaka I have in Japan, as it certainly is the case for many city-dwellers too.
After the disaster, when TOKIO announced “we will revive DASH Mura”, I believed them. I am a scientist, I knew it would not be easy. Even now, I see more problems uprising (I mean, that’s not only agricultural land up there, what about the forest ?). But I still believe. Of course they will do it.
MAXI, the X-ray observation equipement installed in Kibou, the Japanese experiments laboratory module of the ISS managed to capture for the first time a black hole swallowing a neighbouring star !
To be honest, the American satellite SWIFT detected the same thing at the same moment, but yay for Japan anyway.
MAXI detected a really strong X-ray emission during about 10 minutes, coming from a zone where there used to be no emission at all. The phenomenon has been observed several times by MAXI and SWIFT.
The analysis led the scientists to think that this corresponds to the swallowing of a star by the black hole. When the matter is absorbed, a swirl occurs and a strong vertical jet of gas is emitted. They managed to detect it only because it is emitted in the Earth’s direction.
Where is it safe to send your children to school ?
Well, I don’t really care since I do not have children but a prefecture spending money to make its schools earthquake-resistant probably spends money to make the other buildings that I use earthquake-resistant too.
The MEXT (Minister of Education […] that we used to call Monbusho and that is now nicknamed Monkasho for a reason I don’t get) published the results of its yearly survey about the public schools’ earthquake resistance and (woohoo) 80.3% of primary and middle schools passed the exam ! That’s 7.0 point more than last year (but the survey did not include the prefectures of Iwate, Miyagi and Fukushima).
116,397 school buildings and gymnasiums have been inspected and the number of buildings that could be destroyed by an earthquake of 6+ or more (Japanese earthquake scale) is only of 4,614 (an improvement of 2,884 buildings compared to last year). This is the first time the ratio is over 80% : in 2002 the ratio was of 44.5% : it represents a growth of 35.8 points in less than 10 years !
And the winner is…
The prefectures whose earthquake-proof schools exceed 90% are :
Let’s all move to Shizuoka !
For information, the worst places to go to school are Hiroshima (59.1%) and Yamaguchi (61.7%), and of the 4,614 “dangerous” schools (let’s be honnest, “potentially destroyed by a 6+ earthquake” can’t qualify to be “dangerous”. I mean : 6+ ! There is not a 6+ earthquake every other day…), 397 are in Osaka, 354 in Hokkaido and 278 in Saitama.
And then, people you thought would last forever announce their retirement...
And again, I deal with a major piece of news even if I had decided not to…
It seems that a member of the government let slip out that Kan Naoto would resign at the begining of next week. But… who cares ?
SHIMADA SHINSUKE IS RETIRING ! (would I not be a grammar nerd, I would have put several exclamation marks at the end of this sentence)
Shimada Shinsuke, one of the pilars of Japanese television, announced yesterday at 4:00 p.m. during a press conference that he was retiring from entertainment. Not at the begining of next week. At once.
Did he suddenly feel the weight of years ? He’s only 55. No… Of course, if all Japan is talking about this, it is because :
1- this is Shimada Shinsuke. He’s got 6 T.V. programmes a week on 5 different channels.
2- he’s resigning because of a scandal that exposed the links he has with several yakuza organizations.
To be honest, it seems that the “scandal” exposes no more than the fact he is close friend with a few members of yakuza organizations. He, himself, does not seem to have done anything illegal. He just phoned, e-mailed and ate with yakuzas.
＊I＊ do think this is sad. A man can have the friends he wants, it does not bother me. But I do not pity him. I mean : he’s Japanese, he knows the rules. He’s a public figure, he knew what such friendship would cost him if ever revealed.
He played, he lost. But so suddenly, wow ! The channels won’t have a lot of fun in the next week, having to replace his programmes. I wonder if they will broadcast the ones that have already been filmed or if yesterday’s press conference really was the last time we were to see Shimada Shinsuke.
An american representative attend the commemorations in Nagazaki
So today was August the 9th, the 66th anniversary of the bombing of Nagazaki.
A few days ago the commemorations for the bombing of Hiroshima were held, including the mass release of 8.000 paper lanterns with peace messages written on them on the Motoyasugawa in front of the Atomic Bomb Dome.
66 years ago the same river was filled with the bodies of people who jumped in it in need of water… and then died.
Before daybreak the Peace Garden was full of bereaved families praying for this to never happen again.
Then today were the Nagazaki commemorations. A lot of foreign officials assist to the ceremonies, but this year was the first time an American* representative attended. And I can’t make my mind if I consider it good or bad.
My reason says it was high time for this to happen, that we have to forgive and forget. As a comparison using my personnal background, I thought inviting Germany to the Second World War commemorations in France was a good thing. There is no animosity left between the two countries and German people are as horrified as French people about what happened during the war.
But I can’t help thinking about the presence of this American official as inconvenant. And I am not even Japanese. It had to happen, sooner or later. And I must confess I quite admire this man who had the courage to be the first to attend such a ceremony. But nevertheless, would it have been me, I would not have attended. Let the wounded mourn their deads by themselves.
The difference in my feelings may come from the fact Germany lost the war, while America won it. It may be easier to forgive the one who lost. Maybe the fact the State who ordered holocaust fell and was replaced, while the State who ordered the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagazaki perdured also play a role in my moral wavering.
This is not rational. I am glad peace is progressing. But I can’t sincerely think the American attendance today was a good thing.
There are just times when, whatever you try, your feelings can’t match your reasoning.
* Please note that “America” in this article refers to the United States of America.
Long time no see… and the updates will probably be sporadic for the next few weeks.
Since I do not have much time, have a text-light-image-heavy article ! It’s summer, the season of koushien rice art ! Rice art is really popular in Japan (probably because there are a lot of rice fields. But it is more popular than… let’s say wheat art in France, despite the fact France has far more wheat fields than Japan has rice fields).
Well, didn’t I say text-light ?
Here, enjoy the art :
This one is in Iwate. The kanji reads “kizuna”, meaning “link”. It is a kanji often featured during events concerning the Big Tohoku Earthquake. The underline reads “Ganbarou ! Iwate”, meaning “Hang on ! Iwate”, mirrorring “Ganbarou ! Nippon” that is the official motto of the reconstruction effort.
Rice art is obtained by planting various rice types in the same field. If you like it, you can search for 田んぼアート in Google (or whatever your searching engine may be). This one is “just” text, but tanbo art generally corresponds to stunningly precise pictures laying in rice fields. It is hours of preparation for something that will last only a few weeks, and I think it adds to its wonder.
There is a road called Midōsuji in Ōsaka along which you can admire 29 bronze statues.
On the morning of the 25th, Ōsaka woke up to discover that 19 of those statues were wearing red dresses.
The dresses exactly matched the size of each statue. They were casual wear all dyed in red.
Further investigation revealed that a security camera filmed somebody (probably a woman) on a bicycle stopping by one of the statues and dressing her in about 40 seconds at 4 o’clock in the morning. She seems to wave at somebody when she’s leaving, so there may have been several “perpetrators”. This hypothesis seems likely since it took one hour to three town employees to undress all the statues.
The mayor said the statues had not been damaged, so you could not considerate it a crime. Moreover, he said it was a good publicity for the art event the city plans to hold along Midōsuji on September.
Be careful of what you write on the net, your teachers may be reading
So what ? Would you think.
Well, a third year student at Fukuoka University has been expelled for 3 months because he wrote on the net he drove his bicycle when drunk.
Japanese laws are really strict about drunken driving and the University considered the student’s behaviour damaged its honour. After the student tweeted about coming back home drunk, the University received 18 complaints by phone or by e-mail, saying it was the University’s duty to take measures, and to firmly guide its students. The University summoned the student who admitted riding while drunk. He said his mood rose because of the alcohol, and that he did not think the matter would become so big.
The corporative feeling in Japanese entreprises is well known by foreigners. It is one of the cultural shock many foreigners living in Japan have to deal with. If it is so strong, it is because it develops also during school years. You do not just “attend” a school, you’re a member, thus a representative, of this school. If you behave badly, you threaten your school’s honour.
Soon, the summer koushien (high-school base-ball tournament) will begin (expect a few articles about it…). It is not rare that when member(s) of an high-school involved in the koushien break the law (shop lifting, fighting, smoking…), the school withdraw from the tournament, because the behaviour of its students is so shameful they can’t receive the honour of taking part to the prestigious tournament.
This may seem hash on the youngsters, but may also explain the low delinquency rate in Japan : when your behaviour may not only put yourself in trouble, but your whole fellow schoolmates, it may hold you back from breaking the law.
Why is foreign languages instruction always done the wrong way ?
Todai (Tokyo University), from which I wouldn’t mind receiving a job proposition, announced a very special entrance examination session : for the first time, the whole examination will be set in English.
It will be for a special programme of education in the English department, whose lessons, starting next year, will also exclusively be hold in English. The begining of the lessons will take place in Autumn, as will the graduation : that’s the first time such a calendar is adopted by Todai (school year in Japan begins in April).
This exam will give access to lessons about International Japanese Research and International Environment Studies. The applicants will fill a form and write an essay, and then take an interview in English. The interview may be conducted by Internet is the applicant does not live nearby, and the University also considers the possibility of sending people in different regions for interview sessions.
The applicants will need to have taken lessons in a foreign language during primary school, junior high-school and high-school and thay won’t be able to apply for another faculty in Todai at the same time…
So they only target foreigners, the few Japanese people who spent their whole childhood abroad and the rare pupils of International Schools in Japan… I think it’s quite sad. There are plenty of high-schoolers in Japan who did not have the chance to attend an International School but who would like to take / would benefit from this cursus.
Since they are selecting them with an essay and an interview, why closing doors to anybody from the beginning ? Doing this they also clearly consider their students do not have an English level high enough to follow lessons in English and this is not helping the opinion Japanese people have of their own language proficiency.
French people are known for their inability to speak foreign languages, but nevertheless, entering university, they have to master English, no matter what. Because anytime in the cursus, your teacher can introduce you professor (insert name) from (insert exotic country), the person in charge of today’s lesson, who will conduct it in English whether you understand it or not. This may be harsh on students struggling with languages, but it clearly makes you inderstand from your very first years at the University that in today’s research world, you have to speak English.
Todai should try and understand that English education should not be the apanage of a restricted group. Moreover conducting lessons especially for foreigners (let’s be realistic, there will be 95% of foreigners in this cursus) is also something I can’t agree with. The goal of a international exchange is to meet foreigners and to develop your proficiency in their language. What is the point to study abroad if you end in a class filled with people from your country, conducted in your language ?
So what happened in Japan while I was job hunting ? Typhoon, earthquakes, baseball all-stars matchs… Nothing that really stands out from the ordinary.
Furukawa Satoshi (Astro_Satoshi) is currently on the ISS, that’s no news either. But thanks to him, today the number of days spent by a Japanese in space has reached 494 : Japan became the third nation in the world in terms of “number of days spent in space” (the first and second ones being Russia and the USA, that are not fair-players with 20.760 days and 14.786 days respectively).
Yay for Japan !
The first Japanese in space was not a member of the army, nor a scientist, but a television reporter, Akiyama Toyohiro, who flied a Soyuz in 1990 to reach MIR. Astro_Satoshi is the 9th Japanese in space.
I slightly pondered whether I should deal with this since I started this tumblr with the idea of focusing on (interesting) news that do not figure in the headlines. But running a site about Japanese news and ignoring the event everybody is currently talking about would be quite pointless. (I mean, there is a typhoon, and nobody cares because :)
Nadeshiko Japan won the FIFA Women’s World Cup !
I can’t name even one of the French National Team members, but I know most of the Japanese representatives. Nadeshiko Japan is a big deal in Japan, and even people who have no interest in football at all know them. They may not have achieved an incredible palmares till today, but they’ve been increasingly popular since the middle of the 2000s, when the team was nicknamed Nadeshiko Japan.
Japanese people love to nickname their national teams, whatever the sport may be. Nadeshiko is the name of a flower, Dianthus superbus, that is one of the “Seven Autumnal Herbs” (that are not supposed to be eaten on a festival day as the “Seven Spring Herbs”, but just enjoyed in their full bloom). But the name of the team does not directly come from the flower : this flower is used in Japan to illustrate the concept of ideal woman, referred to as “Yamato Nadeshiko”. Ideal under the confucianists criterias, a Yamato Nadeshiko is a quiet and capable beauty who respects the rules edicted in the patriarchal society*. The concept was particularly praised during the Second World War and still resounds with the nostalgic image of past beauties. I also heard the concept was pretty popular among foreigners in search of a Japanese girlfriend. Those people may not be so pleased to learn that the ideal Japanese woman is no longer an obedient beauty but a strong athlete who fought all her way to the top of a traditionnally male-dominated domain**.
Well done, girls. See you at the Olympics (and probably in every TV show on every channel in the coming weeks)
* Confucianism can be summarized by this single line : “respect your elders (even the dead ones)”.
** let’s be clear, I have nothing against the traditional concept of Yamato Nadeshiko, but hearing that people travel all the way to Japan just to find an “obedient woman” just disgusts me.
The first tsunami since the Big Tohoku Earthquake stroke the Sanriku coast
Don’t panic, there’s nothing dramatic. At about 10:00 this morning an earthquake occured in the Sanriku zone. The epicenter was 34 kilometers deep and even if the magnitude was of 7.3, the earthquake was of level 4 at most on the Japanese earthquake scale.
The Japanese earthquake scale has nothing to do with magnitude, but considers the way the earthquake is experienced and the damages it causes. For a same earthquake, the level on the Japanese earthquake scale vary according to the location, while the magnitude given is always the one at the epicenter. You can read more about the Japanese scale in English here.
After the earthquake, the meteorological agency issued a tsunami alert and a tidal wave of 10 centimeters was observed at 11:11 in Fukushima prefecture and 11:20 in Iwate prefecture.
The meteorological agency issues several tsunami alerts a week. Most of them are cancelled after a few hours and when a tsunami really occurs, it is often a few centimeters high.
But it was the first tsunami to strike the Sanriku after the Big Tohoku Earthquake and I thought it was worth mentionning. It is also quite representative of the daily sismic situation in Japan.
Tomorrow it will be 4 months since the Big Tohoku Earthquake, and there are still 24.000 refugees in shelters (the number jumps to 100.000 if you count people in hotels and living with relatives).
I know that incredible pictures of cleaned streets have been turning on the Internet for a few weeks but only 34% of the rubble have been removed. The situation at Fukushima I is far from being settled, the political crisis is at its most with the prime minister’s resignation impending, and the “minister of reconstruction” that had to be replaced a few days ago. It is far from being over.
The Ministry of Land announced they managed to build 37.000 temporary houses and that 15.000 are currently under construction. But the total of houses needed is of 50.583. The government promised that everybody would have a roof by o-bon (August the 15th), but it seems unlikely.
The main railroad lines have been incredibly quickly mended, but the works on the secondary ones haven’t begun yet. 7 secondary lines are still closed, 60 kilometers of rails have been washed away in the earthquake, 23 stations are also completely destructed. Discussions between municipalities, the government and Japan Railways have been conducted since May to decide who will pay for the works but they can’t arrive to an agreement…
Yesterday, the new minister of reconstruction visited the devastated areas and talked with the governors of Iwate and Miyagi, insisting on the necessity to conjugate the efforts of the government, the prefectures ans the municipalities to aim at reconstruction.