Monthly Archives: October 2013

Nice to meet you♪ and Japanese drinking customs

Hi! Every one:) Nice to meet you. My name is Yuria Tajima, I’m junior in Kwansei Gakuin University. From last August to this May, for ten months, I had studied in Nebraska Wesleyan University as an exchange student. Studying and living in another country with students from several countries was a memorable experience! I’m glad to contact and share opinions with you guys, students from other countries. This time, I’m going to introduce Japanese drinking customs.When I was in America, I heard that college students don’t drink with professors. In Japan, it is quite common to drink with professors.When we, Japanese college students become junior, students who have same interests study making a group which is called “ZEMI” in Japanese( seminar in English) to research for graduate thesis.Our ZEMI members study about English education.Our ZEMI has a drinking gathering once in a month, of course with our professor.Sometimes, we drink with seniors. It is a good time to talk with them to ask questions about anything we don’t know about research, college life and job hunting (we will have a job hunting from this December) and have a good time.This picture is a first time drinking gathering after I came back from USA.

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It was a good time to know each other drinking and having fun!

And Japanese drinking style is a little bit different from one in USA.First, Japanese drinking age is 20. And in most of Japanese drinking restaurants, we are not required to show our ID, like in America. In convenience stores, we are required to do so but I have never been asked to show my ID when I went to restaurants.And We Japanese enjoy small meals with alcohol. There are lot of kinds of drinking restaurants which is called “Izakaya”. Basically, most small meals served in Izakaya are similar,however each Izakaya has its own characteristics. For example, Toriki and Torinosuke which are  located near the nearest station from our university have a lot of kinds of yakitori, char-broiled chicken.

Here are Toriki’s menu

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Along with this kind of Izakaya, there are several Izakayas which have different types of characteristcs.

And  I heard that American drinking places don’t have free refills system though, Japanese Izakaya has free refills system. It costs around 30 dollars in Japan. When you come to Japan, try it☆

Resource:

• Sekiguchi, T. ( 2007).  Japan Inc. Is Drinking Again.  Time

• Alecci, S. (2010).  Japan: Dorincommunication, when drinking alcohol is a social oblication. Global Voices.

Danjiri Festival

Hi I’m Ryo Sakai, junior year student in KGU School of International Studies. Here I talk a bit about my personal background.  I was born and raised in Osaka, and when I was in sophomore year, I went study abroad to University of Massachusetts Amherst for a semester as an exchange student.  I majored in education in the US and after got back to Japan, I started to study linguistics as my theme of graduation thesis.  my hometown osaka is now very big city, but still has a lot of cultural stuffs, so here I will talk about the traditional festivals.

Japan has a lot of festivals in fall to pray for harvest, and I’ll introduce the one of the most exciting festivals, called “Danjiri(地車)”.  Danjiri is a huge wooden shrine with 4 wheels like a car and so many carvings on it, which runs all around the certain local areas.  2 long ropes are tied to the front part of Danjiris, and people pull the ropes to move them.   While a Danjiris are moving, males are playing 4 Japanese music instruments on it, Shino-bue (flute made with bamboo), Kane (gong), Ko-daiko(small drum), and O^-daiko (large drum).

The group of people who pull the Danjiris are called “Seinendan(青年団)” and most of the members are from 18 to 26 years old.   Danjiri festivals are recently becoming a racing of Danjiris, whici means Danjiris are competing their speed with others, so Seinendan start to train themselves about a month before the festival, so that their Danjiri can run faster than others. (I attached the Youtube video of festivals on this post and that may be helpful to grasp the image of Danjiri)

Since the Danjiri is based on Shintoism, it also reflects the religious value of Shintoism.  Shintoism forbids women to get into some of its sacred places, and that rule is called “Nyonin-kinsei(女人禁制).  For example, until the end of Edo Period, women were religiously banned to climb Mt Fuji, though Mt Fuji is now visited by so many climbers including males and females.  The same thing is happening in Danjiri Festivals, females are usually not allowed to ride on Danjiris, and people believe that the females who have ridden on Danjiri can never get married.  Some of the Seinendans don’t even accept females because of its Shintoism value.  Nyonin-Kinsei has caused some serious problems in terms of sexism.  The case of Danjiri is not a serious one but there are other problems going on in some parts of Japan.

Japanese traditional festivals are really fun, but I think that we should also be aware of its religious backgrounds and influence on festivals and that helps us to understand how religions are affecting japanese customs and culture.

Resource:
 The website of Kishiwada city where the biggest Danjiri festival is held.
Youtube video of Danjiri Festival

• Shinto Festivals- Maturi.  BBC-Religeons.

Rice Farming in Japan

Hello, my name is Naoya Hase and I teach at Kwansei Gakuin University.  I know this is a place for my students, but Bachmann-sensei allowed me to share my article this time, so here I am.

Today I would like to write about rice farming in Japan.  Please don’t get me wrong!  I’m not trying to start a political debate related to Transpacific Partnership (TPP) or Free Trade Agreement (FTA).

As you may know, rice is part of the traditional Japanese diet and some people including my younger daughter eat rice for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.  Not only is it a main source of nutrition in the Japanese family but rice has always meant more throughout the history of Japan, especially in the Japanese traditional religion of Shintoism.  There are many rituals surrounding rice and rice farming.  For example, Niinamesai (新嘗祭) is a religious ceremony where the Japanese Emperor offers sake made from newly harvested rice to the Ise Shrine.  Also, everywhere in Japan people hold Akimatsuri or autumn festivals at local Shinto shrines and thank god for the good harvest of the season, especially rice.

I know Japanese farming doesn’t compare with that in the US in terms of its scale.  When my family and I lived in the state of Washington a number of years ago, we had a chance to visit a small beautiful coastal town named Port Angeles, Washington. There we happened to find a Kubota dealer, a Japanese company which sells farming machines like tractors.  I was surprised to find exactly the same model of tractor that my father owned then.  I said to myself, “Hmmm, maybe we are not so bad.  Maybe we can compete with American farmers!”  When I approached the machine to take a close look at it, I quickly found out that it was not a farming tractor but a lawn mower!  “Does this mean our rice fields are about the size of American front yards?” I said to myself!

My family owns about one hectare (about 2½ acres) of farmland, which is about the average in our farming community on Awaji Island located in the Japan Inland Sea off the coast of Kobe.  My grandfather was a full-time farmer and it was about my father’s generation that people started to become part-time farmers by getting another job during the week and then spending busy weekends working on the farm.  My father is an example of this change.  He is a retired school teacher and now at the age of 86 he still works on the farm (see attached photo).  Unfortunately he is getting a little weak and now I will soon have to decide what I will do with the farming tradition that my family has maintained for generations.  Maybe I will teach one day per week at college and spend the rest of the week on the farm.  That will be a wonderful life!s-CIMG0060

If you have a chance to visit Japan, you are always welcome to stay at my parents’ place and help us on the farm.  Maybe it’s like mowing the lawn at your house!  Of course, I’m very much looking forward to seeing the large-scale American farms when I visit Iowa next spring.

Resources:

• RICE: It’s more than food in Japan. 

• Japan as a rice culture? Not so quick, says anthropologist. 

 

High School Baseball

Hi, I am Sora Maeya. Nice to meet you.
I will talk about Koko Yakyu in Japan. Koko Yakyu means high school baseball championship.

Every summer people in Japan get excited at watching Koko Yakyu. The reason why we get excited is that all players playing seriously to be a champion in Japan move us deeply.

There are about 4000 high schools around Japan to participate in this championship. Only 49 prefecture champion teams can play in main tournament. To play in main tournament they need to become a prefecture champion, so playing in main tournament itself is very difficult. So becoming a Koko Yakyu Champion is like players’ dream.

Watching future pro players is one of the reason many people watch Koko Yakyu. Many Major league players like Ichiro Suzuki , Yu Darvish and Hideki Matsui played in Koko Yakyu championship.

If you come to Japan, visit in summer and watch Koko Yakyu. I’m sure that you get excited. And you may be able to watch a future major league baseball super star!!

Resources:

• Youtube video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jtF6dgTjmVQ

Krieger, D. (August 19, 2011)  Koshien: The most emotional sports tournament in the world: