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Archive for February, 2011

Wedding parties in Japan

February 28, 2011 2 comments

I was in bad shape. Hmmm, I need to take a rest. 🙂

As I said at my previous article, I attended a wedding party. The party itself, as you already know, was good. It was typically tear-jerker(hmmm, sounds sarcastic? I totally didn’t mean it. I was so moved, touched, and amazed.)

How do wedding parties in your countries go? In Japan, we have a few types; Christian-style, Shinto-style, and others. It doesn’t matter what religions you have in Japan. We celebrate Christmas, look back what we did while ringing the bell at temples at the end of year, and make our wishes at shrines at the beginning of year. Even though you are a buddhist, you can choose Christian-style when you organize your own wedding party.

I saw a Shinto-style wedding party(correctly speaking, a Shinto-style wedding parade?) by chance at Meiji Jingu Shrine in Tokyo last August. It was so hot that I thought the bride might faint. Take a look at these photos. You can see a big bride’s head-dress? The brides have long dressed hair in the head-dress, which called bunkintakashimada. I felt so hot at the time even though I put on only a T-shirt. I wasn’t able to imagine how swealtering the inside of her head-dress was. I just worried she became dizzy and down by heat stroke.
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My subordinate and his wife chose Cristian-style. This is the church they got married.
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In front of a priest, they swore their eternal and unchanged love.
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Generally, wedding parties in Japan consist of two parts; wedding ceremonies and parties. The former is called kekkon shiki, and the latter is called hirouen. Couples swear their love at wedding ceremonies and show attendees some events at parties. It costs too much, especially in my region. No wonder you have to pay 3 to 5 million yen for the party around here.

During the party, one of my friend was in charge of making a speech as a guest because he was the top of our company, and other friend gave a toast because he was the broom’s immediate superior. Asking who is going to make a speech and who is going to give a toast is bothering couples. Customs and hierarchical relations sometimes become complicated and laborious. So troublesome for me. To be honest, I don’t think it is necessary for me to organize such a big party. It would be better for me to hold just a ceremony.

It’s natural that the couple’s colleages or friends do something interesting during parties, such as a play or singing songs. Sometimes the event brings down the house, sometimes it makes all the attendees silent nervously. This time, the broom’s colleagues completely made everything disrupt. The footage that one of colleagues made was definitely cool, though. That is also what wedding parties are all about. lol

Anyway, about four hours had just flown by. The party was over. Attendees of wedding parties have to go home with commemorative goods which are called hikidemono. Some attendees went home with the goods, some attendees hit another place for the second party with the goods. The couple saw all the attendees at the main entrance of the hall giving a tiny gift.

‘I’m sure you two are going to build up a great relationship. Congratulations!’ With this greeting, I went to a place for a meeting.

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Categories: Japanese Culture

There is luck in odd numbers

February 25, 2011 4 comments

One day, my cell phone rang suddenly and it showed the name of my subordinates. Correctly, he is not my subordinate. He is an employee to our affiliate company. I don’t know why, but he sometimes(not so often) visits my office and talks with me.

“Hello, Honey Potter? This is ***. I would like to invite you to our wedding party.” said he.

Oh… It’s natural for him, who is 26 years old, to get married to someone special.

“Wow! Finally! Of course I do!” said I.
“And one more thing, what will you be doing tonight? I would like to visit your office and give you the wedding invitation with my wife if you have time.” said he in a delighted voice.
“Oh, you two are coming? Okay, I’m waiting.” said I.
About an hour later, he came to my office with his wife.
“This is Honey Potter. He is not my immediate superior, but he has given me a lot of things since I joined the company.” explained He with I-become-over-the-moon words.
“I have heard a lot about you.” said his wife.
“Nothing bad, I do hope.” smiled I.
It had been a long time since I met him, but look at him, he had changed. He exuded confidence. Does becoming a husband and a father in the future make him strong and bold? I just felt my tear almost welled from my eyes. He used to be rather weak. However, such a poor man was gone somewhere.
“Hey, ***, as you said, I’m not your immediate superior. I believe you have a lot of guests you should invite to your wedding party instead of me.” said I.
I had been thinking about it since I received the phone call from him. His next word shot my heart.
“I want you to join the party. I’ve been thinking about it since I started going out with her.” said He.
I was so touched, moved, and amazed.
“Thank you so much. I’m so happy to hear that. Thank you so much. I’m honored to attend the party.” said I.
“Hey, Honey Potter, I would like you to join the small party after the wedding. My wife’s frends are going to come to the party. A bounch of chances are lying ahead of you.” chuckled He.
“Really?! Definitely yes!” said I.

Unfortunately, I’ve recently been busy. I didn’t manage to make out my schedule at the night of the wedding.
“What?! You have a meeting at the night? No kidding?!” one of my friend said to me.
“Yeah, I tried to handle it, but I didn’t make it.” said I.
All the weekends in this month were fulled with lessons and meetings. I had no choice.

“By the way, how much money should I prepare for shu-gi? I’m not his immediate superior.” asked I.
“30,000 yen, in your case. Me, 50.000 yen.” said He.

At wedding parties in Japan, attendees should bring a gift in which money is contained with them. It is called shu-gi. Sometimes, you find it difficult to clarify how much money you offer. 30.000 yen would be fine if you attended your friend’s wedding party. What if you have to go abroad, such as Hawaii or somewhere, in order to attend the party? It definitely depends on the situation and your position to a groom or a bride. You must be careful with the number you’re going to give. Odd numbers, 10,000, 30,000, or 50,000 yen are preferred as shu-gi. Even numbers are not good because they can be divided. The word ‘divide’ easily reminds couples of ‘divorce’.

Don’t show your money as it is in the front of the reception. You need to put your money into a luxury envelop called shu-gi bukuro. One more thing, the bills should be crisp. Every time I am invited to the party, I go to a bank to exchange my bills with crisp ones before the parties.

I don’t know how many times I have attended wedding parties before. Which means, I don’t know how much money I have paid for shu-gi. People call a person like me shu-gi binbou in Japan, which literally means ‘a person has offered much money at wedding parties but hasn’t received any money from anyone yet because he/she is still(maybe forever?) single(or doesn’t hold a wedding party even though he/she gets married)”.

This is a shugi-bukuro.
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Categories: Japanese Culture

Every little thing in my ordinary life 45

February 19, 2011 7 comments

Need more experiences
I had an english RAKUGO lesson in Tokyo, which was practically the last one before a recital in March. As I wrote it, I had to revise the entire script because my previous one was not that good and proper for RAKUGO. I showed the teacher my new script at the last lesson. I wondered how the teacher would feel watching my play. He smiled at me and said, “Well done.” Whew.

All I have to do now is keep practicing and obtain as many chances to rehearse my play in front of as many people as I can. I already asked several friends to watch my play, but I think I need more rehearsals.

Being famous and being great are different
One of my friends, who lives in Canada, tried an interview to come to Japan as a teacher. It was easy for her to think that interveiwers would ask about Japan, so she had to prepare for it.

Being online at the day of the interview, she was there. “So nervous” she talked to me and we made sure that what she learned about Japan was correct.

47 prefectures, 4 main islands, famous singers, etc. … she was typing what she learned about Japan and Japanese cultures. “Yes, that’s right” I kept saying such words for a while, but one name just stopped me.

“Wait, who is she?” said I.
“She is a famous singer in Japan, isn’t she? A member of AKB48.” asked she. (AKB48 is a famous group in Japan.)

Tomomi Itano, that was what she said. Actually, I didn’t know who exactly she was.

Tomomi Itano? Not Tomomi Banno?” Japanese readers may already notice my misunderstanding. I just thought her family name was Banno, not Itano. As you know, chinese characters, kanji, have several ways to pronounce. In this case, ita(means ‘wooden board’), it has two ways to pronounce, ita and ban.

“She’s famous, isn’t she? Her first song, Dear J, is famous, isn’t it?” I apparently made her nervous. “Yes, yes, she’s famous.”

In fact, I hadn’t listened to her song before. After the talk with her, I just checked her song on the Internet. It might make her fans angry, but I was totally not able to understand how come many Japanese think it is good. I believe there are a lot of better singers or groups in Japan. At least my friend living in Canada thought it was one of famous songs in Japan. Hmmm. There are a big difference between ‘being famous’ and ‘being amazing’.

Actually, I don’t listen to Japanese pop music very well. It’s not because I hate Japanese songs but because I’ve been learning English and I love English songs. I’m sure we have a lot of great and precious songs in Japan. Such songs will be listened for generations, which can be beyond time. However, I must say, this song is not going to become one of them.

Categories: My diaries

Every little thing in my ordinary life 44

February 17, 2011 7 comments

I’m not an entertainer(oh, sounds like Britney’s song!)

If I still had my own band and I ran this blog for the band, I would let you know what the band’s schedules are so that many people are able to come and enjoy our play. If I wanted you to come and see me, I would show you the designated time or dates on the Internet. Of course I let you know what I’m going to do in person, by mail or by Skype as long as you are close to me. However, I’m afraid I can’t do it on the Internet, at least by my blog or else. I’m not a talent or something.

Why? Because I am not able to control them if unexpected people come to see me or unprecedented things happen to me.

How far are you going to let your readers know your personal information? It’s up to you to specify the line. It looks okay with me to let you know what I did. It also sounds no problem to let you know what I’m planning to do tentatively. What do you think of it?

I’m not saying you are wrong even if you have different ideas on this.

Jumping up and down
The lieutenant said in a movie ‘Aliens’, “Now, listen up.”
The song by the Fabulous Thunderbirds, ‘ Powerful Stuff'(one song of the Soundtrack ‘Cocktail’), it says in its lyrics, “she walks down the street.”
Nemo said to his friends at his first class in the movie, ‘Finding Nemo’, “Wait up!”

Personally, I think it is difficult for Japanese to use ‘up’ and ‘down’ while speaking English. There’s no such usages while talking in Japanese. Let me translate the sentences above into Japanese.

“Now, listen up” = like “iika, yoku kike“? (I would say ‘listen’)
“she walks down the street” = like “josei ga toori wo aruku“?(I would say ‘she walks on the street’)
“Wait up!” = like “matte!“?(I would say ‘wait!’)

I haven’t understood the differences of the nuances on ‘up’ and ‘down’ yet. I believe I haven’t used the two words in this blog yet, like I showed you as examples above. How do I learn the nuances?

Categories: My diaries

Monkey likes eating monkeys

February 12, 2011 4 comments

How come you have to add ‘-s, -es, etc.’ in the third person singular?
One junior high school student just asked me why you needed to add ‘-s, -es, etc.’ on the verbs when the subjects were the third person singular. I didn’t have adequate answers when I was a junior high school student. With his question, I had thought about it and checked it on the Internet for a few days.

Here is the answer I found it natural.

There’s a man whose name was Vipers(Ummm, It’s likely to be used in a movie. ‘Viper’ would be much more famous. Have you ever watched the movie “TOP GUN”? lol).

1)Vipers eat rats.

Yes. Snakes like eating rats.

2)Vipers eats rats.

I would like to ask you, especially people often speaking English in your life, how you would feel from the sentences, or what kind of the thing about ‘Vipers’ you have just imagined from the sentence 2). Have you just imagined a snake? Or something else?

Another example. I don’t know if it’s true or not. Hideyoshi Toyotomi, one of the famous clan masters in sengoku era, had his nickname ‘saru(a monkey)’ when he was a subordinate to Nobunaga Oda. Hideyoshi was always next to Nobunaga and served him. Let me make a fictional conversation between Hideyoshi and Nobunaga.

‘Monkey!(saru) Monkey! Where are you?’ said Nobunaga.
‘Do you want to see me?’ said Hideyoshi.
‘I heard you are good at hunting monkeys. Is it true?’ said Nobunaga.
‘Exactly, sir. Let me give a few hours. I’ll get a monkey for you.’ said Hideyoshi.

A few hours later, Hideyoshi brought a monkey with him.

‘Sir, here’s your monkey.’ said Hideyoshi.
‘Great. Hmm, I’ll allow you to eat the monkey.’ said Nobunaga.
‘Thank you so much, sir. Actually, I do like eating monkeys.’ said Hideyoshi.
‘It’s a bit funny. Monkey(indicates Hideyoshi) likes eating monkeys. Hahaha.’ said Nobunaga.

Categories: My ideas

Every little thing in my ordinary life 43

February 11, 2011 36 comments

Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s day is just around the corner.

I guess people living in the Western countries give cards or flowers to someone special. On the contrary, in Japan, women give their boyfriends or male friends chocolates, etc.. Japanese women express their affections or gratitude by gifting chocolates.

The first chocolate I was given this year was from my student. Not GODIVA, not MOROZOFF, but a bag of CHOCO BALL. It is one of products for kids which MORINAGA, a Japanese snack company, has been producing for over 40 years.

Actually, I do love this sweet. I don’t need luxurious chocolates.

About 15 years ago, my ex-girlfriend came to see me shouldering something like Santa Claus on Valentine’s Day. A bunch of CHOCO BALL were packed there. She knew what I loved. lol

Here’s an image of CHOCO BALL. They come in several flavors.
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The main character to CHOCO BALL, kyoro-chan
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By the way, we have another event related to Valentine’s Day in March, which men have to re-gift something to the women who presented chocolates on Valentine’s Day. It is called ‘White Day’. Men have to give the women something valuable which is worth twice or thrice as much as the chocolates. We call such behaviors ‘nibaigaeshi‘ or ‘sanbaigaeshi‘.

A guide simulation at Atsuta Shrine
One of my friend has finally passed one of the most difficult English tests in Japan. We’re going to hold a party to celebrate him next month. I’m planning to guide him and other friends at a one famous shrine in Aichi prefecture, Atsuta shrine.

I think I need time to prepare for it. I hope vicious words “simulation terminated!” would NOT alert me during the guide. lol

Categories: My diaries

The number 4 and 9 are ugly ducklings?

February 5, 2011 10 comments

In Japan, you associate the number 7 and 8 with the auspicious ones. How about a jinxed number?

Most of Japanese people probably think about 4 and 9 as evil numbers because their pronunciations remind you of two bad words. We call the number 4 ‘shi(yon)’, which has the same sound to the word ‘death’ in Japanese. The number 9 is called ‘ku(kyuu)’, which has the same sound to the word ‘suffering, agony, anguish, etc.’ in Japanese.

Sometimes Japanese people omit both letters when numbering somewhere, such as parking lots.

These are photos of parking lots that our company has been renting. You can see the numbers 4 and 9 are skipped.
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Incidentally, we have a way to express something by consisting of four kanji, which is called ‘yoji jyukugo‘(four-character compounds). As I wrote at the previous article, the number 8 leads to eight directions; north, northeast, east, southeast, south, southwest, west, and northeast. The number four, as you’re already aware of it, leads to four directions; north, east, south, and west. When the number 4 and 8 are combined, they are used as both good expressions and bad ones.

One of the worst compounds is probably ‘shikuhakku‘. Here, it is.
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This is an idea in Buddhism. In addition to shiku(four types of suffering; births, aging, diseases, and deaths), people have another four types of agonies(the one you feel when you separate from the person you love, the one you feel when you see the person you hate, the one you feel when you are not able to obtain something you want, and all the other suffering).

Let me show you a trivial topic. Just turn shikuhakku into numbers, shi into four, ku into nine, hachi(ha of hakku) into eight, and ku into nine. And then, multiply four by nine, and eight by nine. They should become 36 and 72. After that, add them. It should be 108. They are the number of times when people strike bells at the end of year. It is said that one of ideas why people ring the bells in temples or shrines at the end of year(which is called jyoya no kane).
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Categories: Japanese Culture
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