On 17th of January 1995, the great Earthquake hit the Hanshin area in Japan.
After eleven months of this earthquake, a lighting-up event called "Luminarie" was held with the hope to give courage and greatly inspire the people of Kobe. Because there was a strong desire for continuation after its conclusion, it became an annual event symbolized the hope of Kobe citizens.
"Luminarie" is the plural form of Italian word “luminaria” that stands for Illumination with miniature bulbs. The Kobe Luminarie is held every year of early December at the Hanshin Railway between Motomachi and Sannomiya Station. Today, this is the most iconic festival of lights which beautifully illuminates Kobe every winter.
This year, the Kobe Luminarie 2015 was held from December 4th to 13th.
More than three milion people visited to the Luminarie site.
Enjoy the fantastic scenery of immense artistic images formed from a myriad of illumination lamps at your next trip in Japan!
My busy younger sister who lives in central in Tokyo spends short trip to country side when she needs to get away from a bustle of daily life. She sent me several beautiful photographs from her recent trip at Tsutanuma Pond, in Aomori, Japan. I would like to share a feeling of Japanese autumn with you!
Tsutanuma Pond "蔦沼", this famous spot for autumn view is in Aomori that is the northmost prefecture on main island, HONSHU of Japan. This spot is actually famous for taking pictures of the sunrise glow hitting on tress in the autumn colors, a picturesque scenery.
* Tsutanuma Pond is used of the image for JR(Japan railways)’s
promotion posters with another spot which offers beautiful scenery with autumn leaves.
The scenery in which the trees are so red as bursting like flames and reflected on the pond’s surface. Everything is in red, such scenery
you can't see anywhere else.
* Tsutanuma is one of the seven "Tsuta Seven Lake" (Tsuta-Nana-numa), and is surrounded by a deep virgin beech forest. During the fall season, many visitors come to see the impressive sight of the lake by the brightly colored mountains.
People came to this spot early morning before the sunrise and waited for the moment of the wonderful mirror view.
* crowded at the famous photo spot * my parents also enjoy working
The Japan Meteorological Agency announced the end of the rainy season in the Kanto region on 19th of July this year, it was two days earlier than usual.
We have had much rain this year. But the rainy season is finally over in Tokyo and real summer begins! Just the timing of Tsuyu-ake, will begin summer vacation of most schools.
Hundreds of firework shows will be held across the country. As known, summer in Japan is very humid and hot, but also lots of pleasures. If you plan on going to Japan during summer, please be careful of suffering from heat stroke, and enjoy the humid Japan's summer!
Do you know "COOL BIZ"?
“cool biz" is a term made up from the words “cool” and “biz” (an abbreviation for business). It’s the name of the campaign the Japanese Ministry of Environment began advocating in the summer of 2005, as a way to help reduce CO2 emissions and electricity use by turning down air conditioners to 28 degrees in offices.
cool biz campaign usually runs from June until the end of September. During that period, the most of businessmen in Japan take off their business suit and tie. They can wear casually polo shirts or summer bottoms, can work comfortably in a offices. This is a new practice that was born during this decade.
Habit that from such a long time ago has been contemporary also taken over...
Following cuisines are consumed almost exclusively during hot and humid summer in Japan.
"KAKIGORI" is a Japanese summer desert made of shaved ice, served with various syrups flavors include strawbery, melon, lemon, condensed milk and so on...., but green tea should be what
reminds people of Japan the most.
Kakigori will definitely give you intense coolness to overcome the hot and humid Japanese summer!
Japanese prefer the cuisine that is refreshing in the summer. So, we like to eat "SOMEN" (a kind of Japanese noodle made of wheat flour) and "HIYAYAKKO" (a cold tofu) during the summer.
Somen are usually served cold, in some cases served in icy cold water or with ice.
They are especially popular during the hot and humid summer season.
*When eating these noodles, it is quite common for Japanese to make slurping noises.
On your visit to Japan, please do try to make noises when having these noodles, as
eating silently may lose noodle's flavor!
It is customary in Japan to eat broiled eel ("UNAGI-KABAYAKI"), which is very nutritious, on a special day called "Doyo-ushi-no-hi" period. Since ancient times eel has been thought to provide stamina and to prevent summer fatigue.
The day called "Doyo-ushi-no-hi", which is translated literally as the day of the Ox, can be seen in the calendar that follows the twelve signs of the Chinese zodiac.
"Doyo-ushi-no-hi" of this year is on July 24, you will find eels sold in every supermarket.
Summer of Japan is hot and the humidity is also high.
From the old days when the air conditioning didn't exist yet, we have been came up with various ways for surpassing the summer heat.
A small wind-bell which made of glass or porcelain is called "FUURIN" in Japan, hangs and rings in the wind.
Fuurin gives poetic charm to the Japanese summers. In the sultry summer season people hang Fuurin from the edge of their eaves. Then people enjoy the coolness when the Frurin swing and ring in the breeze.
"ASAGAO" (Japanese morning glory) is a representative summer flower in Japan.
In keeping with the meaning of its name in Japanese, "morning face", it blooms in the morning and the blossoms close up immediately.
In the hot, humid Japanese summer, Asagao blooming in the cool morning air soften people's hearts.
All of above things remind us of summer in Japan...
The rainy season, commonly called "TSUYU 梅雨" or ”SAMIDARE 五月雨" lasts from early June till mid July in most of countly Japan, it more or less rains everyday.
Thus period is generally avoided for tourism, but some sights are considered particularly atmospheric in the rain and fog, particularly mountain forests. TSUYU is very important for good harvests of rice, fruits or vegetable. If we have KARA TSUYU, empty rainy season, too few rain, we don’t have good harvest of agricultural products in such year.
The most popular flower in rainy season is Hydrangea, AJISAI. There are lots of temples in Japan famous for AJISAI. Even though rainy weather many visitors appreciate to watch thousands of AJISAI at temples.
If Japanese children have important event (for example ENSOKU, school’s excursion or UNDOU KAI, school’s sports day) during rainy season, they hang TERU TERU BOZU, a little traditional handmade doll made of white paper or cloth outside of window, on the day before event.
TERU TERU BOZU has magical power to bring good weather and to prevent a rainy day!
What kind of weather we have, we , Japanese enjoy it. It is our tradition to live with nature together.
After TSUYU period, we will get hot summer.
It is now SAKURA season in Japan.
Whole Japan is being covered by pink carpet. It is so beautiful not say enough in words!
We love SAKURA, cherry blossom down the ages. SAKURA is what is inextricable for Japanese. The transience of the blossoms, the extreme beauty and quick death, has often been associated with mortality.
For this reason, cherry blossoms are richly symbolic and have been utilized often in Japanese art, Manga, Anime and film. We have also many pop songs titled Sakura. The flower is also represented on all manner consumers goods in Japan, including Kimono, stationery and dishes.
Lot of HANAMI(flower viewing) take place in all over Japan, which is traditional customs of enjoying the transient beauty of flower, mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the Sakura trees during daytime or at night.
From the end of March to early May, Sakura bloom all over Japan.
SAKURA-ZENSEN, the blossom forecast is announced each year by the weather bureau and is watched carefully by those planning HANAMI as the blossoms only last a week or two.
In recent years, many visitors from oversea come to Japan in order to see SAKURA. If you have an intention to visit Japan, we recommend you to make a trip to SAKURA festival in Japan.
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At “Hinamatsuri” family event on March 3, we eat traditional dishies such as below:
I cooked "Chirashi-Sushi" for my Hinamatsuri family dinner at home, ( It's not easy to get ingredients for other dishes in Germany. )
Chirashi-Sushi is unrolled sushi with pieces of raw/cooked fish, vegetables and thin strips of egg. Colorful and beautifully arranged ‘artistic’ dish makes feeling of a special celebration day!
It's the Girl's day on March 3 in Japan!
"Hina-matsuri" (or also called "Momo-no-sekku" which means a festival in season of peach blossoms) is Doll Festival, one of the annual event to celebrate every year on March 3. The family who has young daughters decorate a set of special dolls "Hina-Ningyou" in the home to wish her happiness and healthy growing.
Dolls dressed in beautiful ancient court costumes of the Heian period, represent members of the ancient imperial court, and are displayed on tiers of shelves as seen on the picture.
The Emperor and the Empress (called “O-Dairi-sama & O-Hina-sama") are displayed on the top shelf, three court ladies each holding Sake equipment on 2nd , five musicians on 3rd ,
two ministers on 4th, and three servants on 5th Shelf are typical disposition of them. Small representative furniture and food are also displayed on the lower shelves.
“Hinamatsuri” began in medieval times but the custom of displaying dolls in today’s fashion started around 18th century.
After the festival, the dolls must be stored away immediately. Because, as it is believed that leaving the dolls after the festival with delay makes late marriage of the daughters.
A Happy New Year!
We're back for you. We wish you all a wonderful year 2015 !!
This is the year of the sheep in twelve animal signs of the Chinese zodiac.
A person of year born in a year with the same animal sign as the current year, are called as toshi-otoko(♂) or toshi-onna(♀).