December 14, 2011

How to use a toilet

Filed under: Interesting, school, seikatsu — myyearinjapan @ 11:51 am

I found this in a bathroom stall at a Japanese elementary school.

Instructions on using the toilet made simple for the kids. Translation: 1. Pee Poo 2. Toilet paper (wipe) 3. Flush



August 25, 2011

Condoms at 7-eleven in Thailand

Thailand is pretty famous for having one of the most successful government-sponsored  STD prevention program is the world. And sure enough, when I walked into any 7-eleven convenience store, there were some condoms on display right at the front, available to purchase 24/7.

A Bangkok 7-eleven.

Condoms on display

May 18, 2011

The Judas Tree at Sugaya Tatara Iron Town

In front of the Takadono, the building housing the last extant Tatara iron furnace, there is a tree. In the winter, the tree is a bare, skeletal eyesore. But during March, leaves slowly begin to appear, and for 2 days in early April, the trees leaves magically turn red, as if the tree itself is on fire. (Shall I call it a tree that burns but is not consumed?) It is called a Katsura tree, also known as a Japanese Judas tree. After the red color fades, the tree turns yellow and then slowly becomes greener and greener throughout the rest of April.

A group of people gathered on the hill that overlooks the town to get a nice view of the tree. Everyone wants to see the tree just as the sun is going down, when it is said to be most spectacular.

The tree glowing red and the takadono that houses the tatara furnace to the right.

The one street that makes up the town, where a score of people still make their homes.

May 17, 2011

Sanouji, a Japan top 100 Terraced-Rice Field

I apologize for the delay in new posts, but I am back from my travels and have many more pictures to post in the coming weeks. I went to Hong Kong and Thailand during my 2 week trip. But I have yet to sort through those photos, so for now I will keep posting some pictures taken in Japan before my trip.

Not too far from the Japan top 100 pond from my previous post, is another Japan top 100, a top 100 terraced-rice field (棚田日本100選). When I visited, it was still barely spring and the lush green that I could probably see in the summer time was still a lazy brown. But it was still very…terraced. I can see why it’s in the top 100!

Several levels of the terraced rice field

These rice field levels are all smushed together

This tree was blooming by the rice fields.

April 22, 2011

Sawaike, A Japan Top 100 Pond

Last week, I posted pictures of Ryuzugataki, which was declared one of the top 100 waterfalls in Japan. Today I have pictures of a pond that was declared one of the top 100 ponds in Japan. Yes, some group really bothered to pick out the top 100 ponds in the country. This is not a joke.The pond is called Sawaike (沢池) and it is a good ways off the beaten path. The road to get there was extremely narrow and a bit frightening. The pond was quite nice though.


My friend looks out over the pond. I can see a house in the background. I can't believe that someone lives there!

April 21, 2011

Cherry Blossoms Part 4 – 70% Bloom

Continuing with the Cherry Blossoms. The 7 stages of the blooming cherry blossoms are bud (tsubomi つぼみ), beginning to bloom (sakihajime 咲き始め), half bloomed (gobunsaki 5分咲き), 70 percent bloomed (nanabunsaki 7分咲き), full bloom (mankai 満開), beginning to fall (chirihajime 散り始め), and completely gone (hazakura 葉桜). The cherry blossom full bloom that everyone is always clamoring to see only lasts about 2 weeks! Many people plan to travel when the cherry blossoms are in bloom, but it’s hard to predict exactly when they will blossom and the spring season is busy, so good luck getting a hotel room in Kyoto or other major cherry blossom viewing areas during this time.

These pictures were taken during the main event of my town’s cherry blossom festival. They usually have a schedule packed with events, including fireworks and musical performances. This year, they had a very limited schedule because of the earthquake and tsunami in Northeastern Japan. They still lit up the trees at night and had a few food stalls and added one extra event, which they called candle night. They were asking everyone to buy a candle for disaster relief and they placed the candles on the ground in the shape of a heart.

Sakura by the river at night.

Look at those lovely blossoms. Sorry they are a bit blurry. I did not have a tripod and was doing my best to brace my camera against the tree trunk.

From a bit farther away

They had a candle night. Buying a candle gave money to the earthquake victims. It was in the shape of a heart.

The heart from farther away.

April 20, 2011

Cherry Blossoms Part 3 – Half Bloom

In my previous post, I included some pictures of the cherry blossoms as they were just starting to bloom. Once again, the seven stages of cherry blossoms, according to Yahoo Japan,  are bud (tsubomi つぼみ), beginning to bloom (sakihajime 咲き始め), half bloomed (gobunsaki 5分咲き), 70 percent bloomed (nanabunsaki 7分咲き), full bloom (mankai 満開), beginning to fall (chirihajime 散り始め), and completely gone (hazakura 葉桜).

These pictures are of roughly half-bloomed cherry blossoms (sakura).

half bloomed. More like...some of them have bloomed and some are being stubborn.

Walking the pink(ish) path

April 19, 2011

Cherry Blossoms Part 2 – Beginning to Bloom

A couple weeks ago, I posted some pictures of the local cherry blossoms, pre-bloom. These pictures were taken on April 2nd, when the cherry blossoms were just starting to bloom. That would put them in the second category of the yahoo Japan cherry blossom blooming categories or beginning to bloom (sakihajime 咲き始め). (To recap, these are the 7 categories: bud (tsubomi つぼみ), beginning to bloom (sakihajime 咲き始め), half bloomed (gobunsaki 5分咲き), 70 percent bloomed (nanabunsaki 7分咲き), full bloom (mankai 満開), beginning to fall (chirihajime 散り始め), and completely gone (hazakura 葉桜).)

April 2nd and 3rd was initially supposed to be the day of the big cherry blossom festival because it fell during the period that the Japanese Meteorological Agency had predicted that the trees would be in full bloom. The festival didn’t happen that day for 2 reasons: 1) The cherry blossoms weren’t blooming like they thought they would. 2) Out of respect for the earthquake victims. Japan fell into a state of jishuku(自粛), or voluntary restraint, after the earthquake and the general feeling that everyone needs to pull together and cut back seeped into aspects of everyday life all over the country, even in places far removed from the disaster area like my little town in the West.

Looking at the cherry blossom tree path.

You can see how the trees are turning slightly pink.

Not many people were on the path, but even without cherry blossoms, the weather was lovely and some people came to walk along the path anyway, including this family.

Looking at the trees from across the river.

April 18, 2011

No Shopkeeper Used Car Dealership

Going along with the store-without-people idea that I wrote about yesterday, today I have some pictures of a little car dealership not too far from where I live. If you didn’t stop to read the sign, you would probably just drive right by this place and wonder who parked all those cars on the side of the road. But if you take a closer look, there is a sign shouting “Used Cars” and then underneath that proclaiming, “No people. Please take a look.” There’s also a number you can call if you are interested. I pass by this place almost everyday and I think I’ve only seen people here once or twice. I’m not sure how good business is, but if any cars have been sold or new cars have come in, I haven’t noticed.

Cars galore.

This little truck costs 130,000 yen or about 1,500 USD.

The sign for the "store" is across the street. And there are more cars parked there as well.

"Come on it and take a look!"

April 17, 2011

No Shopkeeper Store

This store has no shopkeeper. Right now, there is nothing for sale, but at another similar store, I saw fresh produce, including green leafy veggies and adzuki beans. Each was pack into a little plastic bag and closed with tape and had a price sticker on it. There’s a money box that looks like a piggy bank with a lock (but nothing as fancy as the things they have at the Piggy Bank Museum, it’s just a plain wooden box.) And There’s also a notebook and pen, so people who buy things can make a note of it.  I can’t imagine this business model working anywhere but rural Japan. I’m sure that everything would be stolen if a store like this were to open in the states.

The sign literally says, "no person selling shop." Money is supposed to change hands without having to see the other person's hand.

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