15
AUG
2014

Toro Nagashi

Today is the last day of our Obon holidays, and in Asuke, just north of Okazaki City, the festival ended with Toro Nagashi (とうろうながし / 灯籠流し), a traditional Buddhist ceremony involving floating small lanterns downstream. The village of Asuke, just down the hill from the recently rebuilt
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04
AUG
2014

Obon

The Obon (お盆) or Bon Festival is not a public holiday as such, but some areas of Japan observe it closely. In Aichi Prefecture, where for many generations farmers have tilled the rich alluvial floodplains, Buddhism has always been very strong. It is difficult for an employer to refuse
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23
JUL
2014

Welcome back Sean.

One of the greatest things about long term language learning, is the wonderful people you always keep meeting along the way. At the Gamagori fireworks on Sunday, it was great to meet Don again. It has only been 15 years or so. Tonight we had the privilege of hosting “みんなの日本語のマイク
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18
JUL
2014

Baseball!

It is mid-summer, and therefore time for baseball. A game derived from and slightly similar to cricket, baseball first came to Japan sometime in the 1870’s, probably in 1878, brought over from North America and rapidly became a major sport during the social, cultural and technol
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06
JUL
2014

Tanabata Festival

Tomorrow (July 7th) is the traditional date for the Tanabata Festival. Observed throughout Japan, the festival marks the meeting of two the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair), who are separated lovers allowed to meet only once a year on the sevent
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28
APR
2014

Golden Week

As April 29th (tomorrow) is the beginning of Golden Week, a series of public holidays lasting until next week, we will be closed tomorrow (we have a “Fuji Viewing picnic” planned at Okazaki Castle). The students in the Japanese Language and Culture Course will have regular
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20
APR
2014

Sake

One of the delights of Japan is the wonderful food, but also the variety and complexity of sake. Sake (brewed) and shochu (distilled) are the alcoholic beverages most associated with Japan. Displaced during the 20th century by beer as the most popular drink, recently regional sake and
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10
MAR
2014

Hayfever!

Known in Japan as “Kafunshou” (花粉症), hay fever in Japan is a problem for many people each spring. If allergic rhinitis is a problem for you, then you may be joining the crowd of about 20 million hay fever sufferers. The news broadcasts and newspapers even report the pollen
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06
JAN
2014

Coming of Age Day

On Monday January 13th, Japan will celebrate a public holiday called “Coming of Age Day” (成人の日). Since 1876, the legal age in Japan has been 20 years, and it is the age from which young adults are able to vote, purchase alcohol or tobacco products etc. (They are allowed to
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