• 日本人との会話

    [From December Issue 2010]

    When you have the opportunity to speak with a Japanese person, you will usually be asked where you are originally from. You can reply in English as Japanese people generally understand the pronunciation of foreign country names. However, there are some countries whose names in Japanese are different from their English ones, such as Chuugoku for China, Kankoku for Korea, and Igirisu for Britain. Other country names also expressed a bit differently, include Suisu for Switzerland, Oranda for the Netherlands and Amerika for the USA.

    You will most likely also be asked what it is that you do. And while westerners generally answer with their job title, such as “engineer” or “sales clerk,” most Japanese simply say “company staff,” unless they are professionals, such as a “doctor” or “lawyer.” Those who work at leading companies may also inform you of their company’s name.

    You may also discuss your family. In doing so, you should clearly distinguish between your brothers (kyoudai) and sisters (shimai), older or younger. When Japanese refer to them, generally they say “ani” for an elder brother and “otouto” for a younger one, or “ane” for an elder sister and “imouto” for a younger one. “Kyoudai” means also “siblings,” but it is written in hiragana when it refers to “siblings.”

    The English words “boyfriend” and “girlfriend” are also usually well understood. However, in the case of a steady boy/girlfriend, while using the term “koibito” in conversation is a little bit old fashioned, nowadays, “kareshi” or “kare” for a boyfriend and “kanojo” for a girlfriend are more common. “Kare” also means “he” while “kanojo” means “she.”

    Expressions describing a person’s appearance may also be used in conversation. A beautiful woman is “bijin” while an ugly woman is “busu,” which, in Japan, is considered an extremely rude word, so don’t use it. A handsome man is “ikemen.” But the word “hansamu,” adopted from English, is also commonly used.

    “Shumi” (hobbies) are also good conversation topics. Those who are obsessed with anime and manga are called “otaku,” and have been regarded as being hesitant to communicate with people, preferring to escape into virtual worlds, with Akihabara, Tokyo as their headquarters. But nowadays, they are no longer considered odd, while Akihabara has become a well-known tourist attraction.




    家族のことを話すこともあるでしょう。注意すべきことは、 兄弟、姉妹が、あなたの年上なのか年下なのをはっきり言うことです。日本人は一般的に、兄と弟、また姉と妹を区別して言います。「きょうだい」は「シブリング」(兄弟、姉妹を含めた意味)としても使われますが、「シブリング」を意味するときにはひらがなで書きます。




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  • けんちん汁

    [From December Issue 2010]

    Ingredients [Serves 2]

    • 1/2 block (150g) momen (cotton/firm) tofu
    • 40g chicken thigh meat
    • 2 dried shiitake mushroom
    • 50g daikon radish
    • 20g carrot
    • 1 mid-sized (80g) satoimo (taro) potato
    • 1/2 tbsp sesame oil
    • 5cm Japanese leek
    • Pinch of 7-flavor chili pepper



    • 1 tsp (powdered) Japanese soup stock
    • 1.5 cups water
    • 1/3 cup shiitake mushroom soaked water


    • 1 tbsp cooking sake
    • 2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1/6 tsp salt

    Kenchin: Originates from the Chinese dish of chopped vegetables wrapped in yuba (soy milk skin) and abura-age (deep fried tofu) cooked in oil. It is also said that “Kenchin” is a derivative of “Kencho-jiru” which originates from the “Kencho” temple in Kamakura.

    • Hyoushigi-giri: Cutting vegetables into rectangular bars. Used for boiled, dressed, vinegar-based dishes.
    • Hangetsu-giri: Cutting vegetables into semicircular (half-moon) slices when rings are too large. Used for boiled or soup dishes.

    1. Soften dried shiitake mushrooms by soaking them in 1/2-cup of water (20~30 mins). Lightly squeeze out excess water and cut off stems, then slice thinly. Save soaking water for later use. Cut daikon radish and carrots into 3~4cm hyoushigi-giri pieces. Cut satoimo (taro) potatoes into round or semi-circular 5~6mm slices (hangetsu-giri).

    2. Dice chicken thigh meat into 2cm pieces.

    3. Gently wrap momen tofu in clean kitchen towel to drain any excess water.

    4. Heat sesame oil in pan, then on high, stir-fry vegetables prepared in (1). Add diced chicken and cook. Add tofu and cook until the oil blends thoroughly with the other ingredients.

    5. Add broth (A). Scrape the lightly burnt residue from the sides of the pot into the broth to add fragrance. Bring to a boil and remove the scum. Lower heat to medium, partially cover and then let cook for 12~13 minutes. Once the vegetables are soft, flavor with the broth (B).

    6. To serve, first thinly slice the Japanese leeks. Then pour soup into a bowl and sprinkle the sliced leeks, along with the 7-flavor chili peppers over top.



    • 木綿どうふ 1/2丁(半分)150g
    • とりもも肉 40g
    • 干ししいたけ 2個
    • 大根 50g
    • にんじん 20g
    • さといも 中1個 80g
    • ごま油 大さじ1/2
    • 長ねぎ 5cm
    • 七味とうがらし 少々



    • 和風だし(顆粒)小さじ1
    • 水 カップ1+1/2
    • しいたけの戻し汁 カップ1/3


    • 酒 大さじ1
    • しょうゆ 小さじ2
    • 塩 小さじ1/6


    • 拍子木切り:角柱形に切ります。煮物、和え物、酢の物に使います。
    • 半月切り:輪切りを半分にした物、輪切りでは大きすぎるときに使います。煮物、吸い物に使います。

    1. 干ししいたけは、水カップ1/2につけて(20~30分)戻します。水気を軽くしぼって軸を取り、細切りにします。戻し汁は取りおきます。大根、にんじんは、3~4cm長さの拍子木切りにします。さといもは5~6mm厚さの輪切りまたは半月切りにします。

    2. とりもも肉は、2cm角に切ります。

    3. 木綿どうふは、ふきんに包んで軽く水気をしぼります。

    4. 鍋にごま油を熱し、強火で1全部をよくいためます。とり肉を加えさらにいため、とうふを加えて、全体に油がなじむまでいためます。

    5. (A)の煮汁を加えます。鍋肌についた軽いこげも煮汁に落として、香ばしさを移します。煮立ったらあくを取り、弱めの中火にして、ふたをずらしてのせ、12~13分煮ます。野菜がやわらかくなったら、(B)の煮汁で調味します。

    6. お椀によそいます。長ねぎを小口切りにします。お椀に盛り、ねぎを散らして七味をふり、できあがりです。

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  • ゲイ専用老人ホームで描かれるさまざまな愛

    [From December Issue 2010]

    La Maison de Himiko [House of Himiko] (Directed by INUDO Isshin)

    Released in 2005, this film is something of a comedic-drama that’s set in a gay senior home. In it, director INUDO Isshin, who also oversaw the fairy tale, romantic film “Josee, the Tiger and the Fish,” depicts various forms of love, including homosexual, heterosexual, married and parent-child love. Wearing ugly makeup and sporting freckles, popular actress SHIBASAKI Kou plays the daughter who was abandoned by her gay father.

    Saori (Shibasaki Kou) is a clerk at a paint company, who contemplates turning to sex-work in order to repay her debts, when a young man named KISHIMOTO Haruhiko (ODAGIRI Joe) pays her a visit. He claims to be her gay father’s (YOSHIDA Teruo, a.k.a. “Himiko”) lover. She learns that her father, who ditched his family long ago, is suffering from terminal cancer, but she show’s no sympathy stating that “Whether that man’s got cancer and it’s terminal, doesn’t matter to me.”

    Haruhiko then asks Saori if she’s interested in a part-time job. He offers her 30,000 yen a day to help out every Sunday at La Maison de Himiko, the gay seniors home that Himiko, her father, established. Tempted by the money, she visits the seaside establishment. Upon her arrival, she is shocked to find several odd people, including an elderly man wearing a dress and heavy makeup, who talks like a woman.

    Saori is bewildered by being reunited with her father and feels her hatred for him grow even stronger. She reveals to Himiko that she is his daughter, and how she had to borrow money from relatives to pay for her mother’s operation and hospital stay, who eventually died of cancer. When he calmly says that he didn’t know, she yells at him, “Of course not. You are a total stranger!”

    Saori keeps working at the home every Sunday, gradually accepting the gay residents who first disgusted her. She teaches the movements of a female anime character to Ruby, who wants to learn them to please his granddaughter. Wearing a Chinese dress, she also dances with Yamazaki who enjoys wearing women’s clothes. Then, all of a sudden, a company president who supports the home is arrested for tax evasion, putting the home’s future in serious jeopardy.

    Before long, Saori becomes attracted to Haruhiko. He kisses her, but she knows that she cannot have a normal, romantic relationship with a gay man. While her father continues to weaken daily, she eventually confronts him about whether or not he ever missed her, or if he has any regrets about leaving her mother. “I won’t forgive you for what you did to Mom,” she says while glaring at Himiko, who murmurs in return, “I love you.”

    Soon after, Saori quarrels with Haruhiko and the residents over a separate matter and quits her job. Immediately following her departure, Himiko dies. Then, one winter day several months later, the paint company where she works is asked by the home to paint over some graffiti on its wall. Saori accompanies the workers to the home, where the remaining residents all greet her with smiles. The film ends with a final shot of the message “WE WANT TO SEE SAORI” shown across the wall.


    メゾン· ド· ヒミコ(犬堂一心 監督)








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  • 現代日本の「永眠の地」事情

    [From November Issue 2010]

    In Japan, the deceased are generally cremated (reduced to ashes) before being inurned. This is because cremated bodies occupy less space and are more hygienic than bodies buried in a coffin. After cremation, the deceased’s remains are brought to the plot where their engraved family gravestone is located, and where their family’s ancestors lay, and future generation’s family members will eventually rest. Usually, memorial services and gravesite maintenance become the spouse’s or first-born son’s responsibility.

    But recently, more people have started choosing a different type of grave site. This is because a family is now considered to be the “husband, wife and offspring.” Additionally, some even consider the ritualistic inheritance of the grave by the eldest son to be old fashioned, while others do not want to burden their children with tiresome grave-maintenance. There are even those who remain single throughout their entire lives.

    At Shinjuku’s Koukokuji Temple, you can find the Ruri-den building that was built in 2006 to house inurned remains. Stepping inside, visitors are immediately welcomed by a large Buddha statue. Lightning the walls are approximately 2,000 smaller Buddha statues made using an ancient glass making technique. Behind each one of these is a locker-style storage compartment where people’s inurned remains rest. All these glass Buddhas shimmer in various colors when illuminated by the full-color LED lighting system.

    Ruri-den is located in the central Tokyo area, granting easy access, while Koukokuji Temple manages the building, so future maintenance is never an issue. Since Tokyo is so very congested, a conventional grave would cost several million yen. But a spot at Ruri-den is comparatively affordable, starting at only 750 thousand yen. People purchasing a place here receive a smart card, which when used, illuminates the corresponding Buddha’s location.

    Information Manager MURAMATSU Mitsukuni says: “Ruri-den is a cemetery that commuters to the city center decided to build. Everyone began to think of their final resting place after retirement, and we cooperated in creating their ideal spot. It is highly regarded as there is no additional burden on their offspring, and it is easy to visit. The Buddhas of Ruri-den protect the living and guide the deceased into Joudo (the Buddhist Pure Land where people go after death.)”

    Japanese “family graves” are also inconvenient for women. Traditionally, women change their family name after marriage, which means that they usually rest in their husband’s family grave. So it was difficult to find a place where women who “don’t want to rest in the husband’s family grave,” or people who divorced, and single people, could be buried.

    SSS Network is a non-profit organization for women who value the uniqueness of their lives. The group members hold meetings to discuss post-retirement planning while creating support networks. They also enjoy cherry-blossom viewing and social parties. The network members own a communal gravesite, where members can rest after their death, for an affordable 250 thousand yen.

    “Deciding our final resting place will allow us to live the rest of our lives in peace. That is why we created the communal grave,” says MATSUBARA Junko, the head of SSS Network. “We value our hearts, so the members have an annual memorial service. We have received comments such as: ‘I am relieved now that I have a grave to rest in,’ and ‘I won’t feel lonely because I know the group will mourn for me.’”

    There is also an increase in the number of people who wish to have their remains returned to nature. Blue Ocean Ceremony will scatter the ashes of the deceased into Tokyo Bay. Tentokuji Temple in Chiba Prefecture offers jumoku-so (burial under a tree). In this burial ceremony, the ashes are placed in the ground and a tree is planted on top of the remains. There are 40 kinds of trees and flowers to choose from, including a cherry tree, and this service is very popular as it increases mountain greenery.

    There are also some people who make jewelry from the ashes, or with strands of hair, of the deceased. This “mourning jewelry” originated as a European custom and has recently taken root in Japan. Inblooms Co., Ltd, located in Shizuoka, carries a range of over 200 types of pendants to choose from.

    Another kind of mourning jewelry uses the power of science. From carbon extracted from the ashes and hair of the deceased, a diamond can be created. For around 200 thousand yen you can make a 0.1-karat diamond. “Rather than holding a grand memorial service which costs some million yen, I wanted to use the same money to make a diamond that I can keep with me forever. I made jewelry for our daughter and myself, from my husband’s remains, and wear it as a charm,” shares SATO Takako, one diamond recipient.

    Others still choose to keep their beloved’s remains with them, rather than placing them in a grave, says NOMURA Hiroshi. “Our gravesite is in Hokkaido, but my siblings and I all live in Tokyo. It is very hard for us to visit it often, so we divided our parents’ remains among us. Each of us treasures it in our homes. My house is very small, so we don’t have space to put in a butsudan (a Buddhist commemorative altar), so we placed the remains in a small funeral urn, and put it on a shelf,” he explains.

    “I think there are physical and psychological reasons as to why people changed their preference to simpler funeral and memorial services over lavish ceremonies,” says Inblooms PR representative, TOMINAGA Asami. “Urban housing is very small so there is no space to put a big butsudan. And in western-style homes, more modern butsudan may be desired over traditional Japanese ones. The trend toward nuclear families further allows people to choose their own funeral style without the influence of parents or relatives. Of course there are many people who still choose the traditional ceremonies, but I feel there is more freedom when people choose their own way.”

    NPO SSS Network
    Blue Ocean Ceremony
    Inblooms Co., Ltd.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo















    NPO 法人SSS ネットワーク

    文:砂崎 良

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  • お店で作った新鮮野菜が食べられる飲食店

    [From November Issue 2010]

    An increasing number of restaurants in Japan are now serving their dishes with fresh vegetables grown on-site. For example, lettuce is being grown and harvested in glass cases called “plant factories.” For restaurants, this means reduced costs and reduced waste because fresh vegetables are now available regardless of the weather, and transportation and packaging materials are no longer required. It is also popular among customers, who say that they get a sense of security from seeing how the vegetables are grown, and that their green color soothes both their eyes and thoughts.

    Jackpot Planning, Ltd., which operates a number of local eateries, recently opened the Shiodome branch of the La Befana Italian restaurant chain, in the Caretta Shiodome commercial complex (Minato Ward, Tokyo). At this restaurant, leaf lettuce and red mustard grown in a plant factory on its terrace are served in its salads, on its pizza and with its meat dishes.

    “Other restaurants in our group also use chemical-free vegetables, but this attempt to make vegetables with our own hands piqued my interest,” says store manager OHSHIMA Rikiya. “At this restaurant, our chefs are responsible for every step of growing our vegetables, from planting the seeds to harvesting. We provide our customers with a sense of security in knowing who produces the vegetables as well as the pleasure of seeing how they grow.”

    In 2010, Dentsu Works Inc., which operates Caretta Shiodome, started selling the plant factory as “the Chef’s Farm.” The main product feature is that it can be installed in most restaurants. Water containing liquid fertilizer, light provided by fluorescent tubes and a computer-maintained room temperature of 19 degrees Celsius enable vegetables to be harvested within 32 days. Currently, four kinds of leafy vegetables are grown at the restaurant, with a total of 60 heads being reaped daily. Not only are these vegetables as nutritious and delicious as normal vegetables, but, they are crunchier because they are extremely fresh.

    Meanwhile, SUBWAY JAPAN, INC., which operates the Japanese franchises of the international sandwich company, opened their own “Yasai (vegetable) Lab Maru Building Store” in Marunouchi, Tokyo, in July. After a successful five-day trial run event in October 2009, the new store has now become the first of 33,000 outlets across the world to be equipped with a plant factory, within which they started growing curly lettuce.

    ITOH Akira, Subway Japan’s Chief Executive Officer, who has been promoting his vegetable-friendly brand, says: “Plant factories in Japan still have only limited success in terms of business. So as a chain with outlets nationwide, we wanted to provide a business model.” Around the same time, Subway Japan learned that Leave a Nest Co., Ltd., a venture company established in 2002 by science and engineering graduate students, was developing a plant factory, so Subway Japan launched the project.

    The lettuce’s taste and crunchiness was well-received, and the store expects to harvest 50 heads of curly lettuce each month, the amount they need to make 100 sandwiches. Located in a business district, the store is frequented by office workers, who look curiously at the plant factory and even take photographs of it.

    Jackpot Planning., Ltd.










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  • 日本人の生活に合った機械

    [From November Issue 2010]

    Many electric appliances sold in Japan are made to accommodate the country’s customs and climate. A suihanki, or rice cooker, is used to cook Japan’s most staple food, and is found in most Japanese households. Most suihanki have a programmable setting to cook rice at a predetermined time, as well as a warming function to help maintain a certain temperature.

    Panasonic Corporation’s “Steam IH Jar SR-SJ2” series incorporates an abundance of functions. It can cook rice in 13 different ways, including gruel and vinegar rice (for sushi), and milled or unpolished rice. Users can adjust the cooking times and temperature automatically through its liquid crystal display and via voice navigation.

    This cooker also uses various other technologies guaranteeing perfectly cooked rice every time. The inner bowl is composed of multiple layers of specially processed aluminum and stainless steel, all specially coated. This helps maintain a constant temperature, making each grain of rice plump and delicious. Further steaming and warming creates a coating that keeps each grain soft, even after it cools down, making the cooked rice ideal for boxed lunches.

    “We measure the sweetness by machine but confirm it by having people taste it, all in the pursuit of perfectly cooked rice,” explains TAKANUMA Tomoka, a member of Panasonic’s appliance product team. “Also, in order to make the special coating durable, we conducted repeated experiments, and made continual improvements to about 1,000 inner bowls, before getting it just right,” she adds.

    Japan is located in a humid region. Mitsubishi Electric Home Appliance Co.’s “AD-S80LS Futon Dryer” is an appliance that reflects this reality by helping easily dry both futons and pillows.

    To use the AD-S80LS, you place the included thin mat under the bed sheet. Then, when you want to dry the futon, you remove the sheet and attach a hose from the dryer to one corner of the mat and turn it on. The AD-S80LS then circulates warm air to the mat, gently inflating it while completely drying it out.

    “The mat is made with a specially processed fabric, which makes it possible to send out warm air in moderation,” says INAMI Junichi, part of Mitsubishi’s home electric appliance technology department. “A mat has three seams and four breaks. Among the four corners, two are left unstitched. The two open corners are sandwiched with triangle stitches. By experimenting, we discovered that this mat was most effective for drying futons. Sometimes we even worked all night stitching mats for these experiments,” he explains.

    The AD-S80LS has one sensor and a simple computer. With them, it reads the room temperature and automatically adjusts the futon drying temperature. It can make seasonal adjustments to keep the futon warm in winter or cool in summer.

    The AD-S80LS also includes convenient household attachments. With it comes a big blue cover that can be used to dry laundry. Just cover your damp clothes with it, close it around the hose and let the hot air flow in. Boots and shoes can also be dried by inserting the other, adjustable plastic attachments, which can then be inserted and used as boot holders. Finally, the included deodorant sheets can also be attached to the hose to help remove odors from the bedding.

    Panasonic Corporation
    Mitsubishi Electric Home Appliance Co.

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo












    文:砂崎 良

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  • 「大油田」東京から生み出されるリサイクル製品

    [From November Issue 2010]

    U’ S Corporation

    The “Tokyo Oil Field 2017” project is now in progress. Their business is to collect and recycle cooking oil used by restaurants and at home in Tokyo. SOMEYA Yumi, the Chief Executive Officer of U’S Corporation, is the one who had the idea of establishing a recycling center where discarded cooking oil could be collected and reused as a natural resource.

    SOMEYA’s parents have been operating a cooking oil recycling factory since 1949. When Someya traveled around Asia after she graduated from high school, she was almost killed by a mudslide in Nepal had she not reacted quick enough to save herself. Afterwards, she learned from the locals that this natural disaster was a result of “cutting down too many trees from the mountains,” and she soon became interested in protecting the environment. She also realized that her parents’ business could directly contribute to solving the problem.

    After she returned to Japan, Someya started working at her parents’ factory and collected used cooking oil by themselves. Before that it has been brought from smaller recycling agents. In 1993 they even succeeded in developing VDF (Vegetable Diesel Fuel) made from all the discarded oil for the first time in the world.

    In order to expand her parents’ business, Someya established U’S in 1997. The new business continues to collect used cooking oil, while also selling VDF, soap, candles and other products made from recycled materials.

    “Our business is well-received by people who recycle because they understand the logic of reusing cooking oil as an ingredient for soap that they can take back home. And since VDF can naturally replace gasoline, it can fuel the oil-collecting trucks and eco-tour buses,” says KASAHARA Takahiro, the company’ publicity agent.

    And now the company is pursuing the “Tokyo Oil Field 2017” project with a plan to collect and recycle all the used cooking oil in Tokyo by 2017. “The amount of used cooking oil coming out of Japan every year is roughly 400,000 tons. Half of it comes from restaurants and gets recycled, but the rest comes from homes, which is just dumped as waste and burned,” explains Kasahara.

    Presently there are now 120 oil-collection stations in and around Tokyo, and their numbers are also increasing in the surrounding prefectures. Their trucks continuously drive around collecting used oil that people from registered shops and homes want to recycle. “We get many requests saying that people want an oil-collecting station nearby, so we are now accepting applications from shops and people who want to cooperate with us,” says Kasahara. Their ultimate goal is to expand their network of “oil field” partnerships domestically and internationally, while providing both the infrastructure and the technology.

    U’ S Corporation











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  • ジャンルを超えて音楽の楽しさを伝えたい

    [From November Issue 2010]

    Traditional Japanese Musician
    HAMANE Yuka

    “Hogaku” is a particular type of traditional Japanese music. Koto, shamisen and shakuhachi are its core instruments. And, there are many hogaku schools offering to teach its various styles. The head of each school is called “iemoto” and they are usually succeeded by their children. Players are usually ranked according to the skills and the number of years they have been studying.

    Musician HAMANE Yuka is a member of the group “Seiha Hougaku-kai,” which plays the “Ikuta-ryu” school of hogaku, using the koto instrument. She is ranked as “dai-shihan,” just behind “iemoto.” She has played on the recordings of 11 CDs, including her own solo project and two of her group’s projects. In addition to being a musician, she teaches koto, shamisen and singing, and also judges contests.

    When she was eight years old, Hamane started learning koto at the behest of her father, shakuhachi player HAMANE Kanzan. “I remember one time when I was putting more of my efforts into my school subjects and my father said, ‘you should spend more time practicing the koto,’” Hamane recalls with a laugh. After graduating from high school, she entered the Seiha Ongakuin music school, where upon graduating she received the President’s Award. She also won first prize at a MAKINO Yutaka’s compositions contest and further passed auditions at NHK.

    However, times have changed since Hamane was a child. Now, fewer children are learning hogaku, and she does not have as many teaching jobs. She eventually started playing music anywhere she was offered a job, including in Japanese restaurants. “At those places, what they wanted was not my music but a woman wearing a kimono and playing a koto. Sometimes I was told to play while there was a different back ground music. After I got married and had a child, I had to keep the balance between bringing up my child and doing my work,” she explains.

    “However, I am happy about having been able to make my living with just music. Some of my friends were not able to carry on,” explains Hamane, adding, “Also, I feel I have been able to create humanistic and warm sounds because I have continued to accomplish two equally important things, my work and parenthood.”

    Nowadays, young Japanese people don’t listen to hogaku much anymore. Hamane thinks the problem lies with the performers. “They are too conservative. I have heard that, in one school, a member cannot start a new activity unless iemoto approves of it. There are also some teachers who are only interested in the traditional forms, without conveying the joy of all music,” she says.

    In 1998, Hamane and her friends formed the group, “T’s color.” The band consists of four hogaku musicians and one westerner. They add pop elements to hogaku and create their own lyrics and melodies. In 2003, she also opened a school for hogaku singing. “There is no system in Japan that teaches how to sing songs in Japanese. I thought there was a need, so I myself started the school to fill it.”

    Since the Meiji Era, only western music has been taught at schools in Japan, but nowadays hogaku is also being offered. “School music teachers now come to study hogaku, and inexpensive easy-to-use instruments are selling well. I want people to learn how to enjoy all kinds of music. So for that reason, I play music that transcends categorization.”

    HAMANE Yuka

    Photos for : HAMANO Yutaka

    Text: SAZAKI Ryo


    邦楽の演奏者 浜根由香さん







    1998年、浜根さんは仲間といっしょにT’s colorというグループをつくりました。メンバーのうち4人は邦楽、1人は西洋音楽の演奏者です。邦楽にポップスなどをとり入れ、自分たちで作詞・作曲をしています。また2003年には邦楽の歌の教室も始めました。「今の日本には日本語の歌を教えるしくみがないのです。必要だと思ったので私が始めました」。




    文:砂崎 良

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  • 大自然と歴史が息づく、鹿児島県

    [From November Issue 2010]

    When hearing of Kagoshima, many Japanese think of SAIGO Takamori and Sakurajima. Saigo accomplished many great things during the Meiji Restoration, and is a very popular Japanese historical figure. In Shiroyama-cho, a town located at the center of Kagoshima City, there stands a statue of the uniformed military commander peering across at Sakurajima. Most tourists have commemorative photographs taken next to it.

    To tour Kagoshima City, it is recommended to take the Kagoshima City View sightseeing bus. It is favored by many tourists for its popular retro design. Starting from Kagoshima Chuo Station, it connects a number of popular tourist spots. There are a few different routes available, including one covering the statue of Saigo Takamori, Sengan-en, a Japanese garden where you can enjoy seasonal flowers such as plum blossoms and chrysanthemums, and the Io World Kagoshima aquarium popular for its dolphin shows, as well as another for enjoying the town’s night views.

    A 15-minute ferry ride takes visitors from the central area of Kagoshima City to Sakurajima. This large city of about 600,000 people is only 4 kilometers away from an actively erupting volcano, a rarity seldom seen elsewhere in the world. Its major eruption of 1914 is especially remembered for the three billion tons of lava that flowed out, filling in a strait 400 to 500 meters in width, that connected the Osumi Peninsula to Sakurajima. Still preserved today as a cultural artifact, is the half-buried Kurokami Shrine gate, a stunning example of the power of the eruption of that time. This area is also famous for producing the Sakurajima Daikon, the world’s largest radish, the Sakurajima Small Mandarin, the world’s smallest orange, and sweet biwa (loquats).

    Heading southward from the central Kagoshima City for about an hour by train or car, visitors will arrive at Ibusuki. This area is famous for the enjoyment of its Edo Period natural hot springs and sand baths. In this unusual type of hot spring people soak in sand heated by natural hot springs welling up from below. Wearing a yukata (summer kimono), a person’s body from the neck down is covered with sand. It’s has been medically proven that the weight and temperature of the sand, and the natural compounds contained in the hot springs, can help improve a person’s blood circulation.

    Near Ibusuki is Lake Ikeda, where a huge creature similar to Scotland’s Loch Ness monster, has previously been spotted. Similar to Nessie, this mysterious creature has been named Issie. Seen from the lake area, the Kaimondake volcano resembles Mt. Fuji, and is therefore referred to as the “Fuji of Satsuma (Kagoshima).”

    A 30-minute drive to north from Ibusuki takes you to Chiran Bukeyashiki-gun (a cluster of garden samurai residences in the Chiran area). With beautiful hedges and gardens, this neighborhood is referred to as the “small Kyoto of Satsuma.” Also located in Chiran is the Tokko Heiwa Kaikan (peace museum for kamikaze pilots), which commemorates the bravery of the Special Forces who deliberately flew their planes into enemy ships on self-sacrificing missions.

    Drive another hour away from Kagoshima City to the northeast, and visitors will reach Kirishima, where Karishima-Yaku National Park, Japan’s very first national park, is located. It is a famous spot where a myriad of Miyama-Kirishima or Rhododendron kiusianum (a type of azalea) can be found. A mythic tale also tells of a god who descended here from heaven and from which point the history of Japan is said to have begun.

    To the east of Kagoshima Bay is the Osumi Peninsula. Called “Japan’s Food Production Center,” this area thrives with agriculture, livestock and dairy industries. In the peninsula’s southern part is Japan’s largest laurel forest area where the trees remain green all year round without losing any leaves, even during the winter time. On clear days, both Tanegashima and Yakushima can be seen in the distance from Cape Sata, the peninsula’s southernmost point. The stars above Kihoku Uwaba Park in Kanoya City are also a must-see. Based on tourism agency reports, this park is the best location from which to see Japan’s most beautiful starry skies.

    Kagoshima is Japan’s largest producer of sweet potatoes. Imo-jochu, shochu (distilled spirits) made from sweet potatoes, is one of its specialty products. Kagoshima is also the Japanese prefecture where the greatest number of pigs is raised. Especially kurobuta or black pigs (Berkshire pigs), which are famous nationwide for having high quality meat, tender, meltingly soft texture and deep flavor. Called “the black diamond,” this pork commands meat market prices as high as beef. A number of Kagoshima restaurants serve this pork as tonkatsu (deep-fried, breaded pork cutlets), shabushabu (a hot pot of thinly sliced meat flash boiled in broth by dipping and swishing around) and tonkotsu (pork bone dish) dishes.

    While frappes called “shirokuma” (white bear) are usually considered summer sweets, the people of Kagoshima eats them all year round. These frappes mix condensed milk with and a lot of fruit, including watermelons, melons (honeydew), mandarin oranges and bananas. In Tenmonkan, a major Kagoshima shopping district, there are many stores selling frappes of various flavors. And now, Kagoshima frappes have become so popular nationwide that they have been turned into commercial ice cream products.

    Kagoshima’s signature craftwork is Satsuma-yaki (Satsuma ware – a type of Japanese earthenware pottery). Originating in the 1500s, it was introduced from the Korean Peninsula to Japan. Another famous local area craft is Satsuma-kiriko (cut glass). This glassware was secretly manufactured by the Satsuma domain and its manufacturing process had been guarded for a long time. This cut glass once ranked highly alongside other Bohemian and Venetian glassware. But, it has only been in the last 25 years that it has again started to be made, using newly developed techniques and technology.

    So, as you can see, Kagoshima has fascinating history, culture, hot springs and food, while attracting around 8 million yearly visitors. In March 2011, the Kagoshima Route (257 kilometers between Kagoshima-Chuo and Hakata Stations) on the Kyushu Shinkansen (bullet train) will open in its entirety. This will connect Kagoshima to Hakata in a travel time of about 1 hour and 20 minutes, while new, non-stop bullet trains will hasten arrivals between Kagoshima and Shin-Osaka to 3 hours and 55 minutes. Also, Kagoshima Airport offers regular international flights to and from Shanghai, China and Seoul, South Korea. So reaching Kogashima is easy, from both Asian countries as well as other parts of Japan.

    Kagoshima Prefectural Visitors Bureau

    Text:Southern Publishing Co., Ltd.
    Photos:TOMIOKA Miwa
















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  • 日本の地図と地名の意味

    [From November Issue 2010]

    Do you know that the kanji “日本” and “日” (ni / nichi / hi) means “day” and/or “sunshine”? Do you also know that “本” (hon / moto) means “book,” but also “origin,” and/or “home”? In brief, together “日本” means “the origin of sunshine.” This is why Japan is often referred to, in English, as “the land of the rising Sun.”

    On a map you can see that Japan is mainly made up of four big islands, the largest one being “本州”/Honshu(u). “州”/shu(u) usually means “state,” but on some occasions it may also mean country. “本州”/Honshu(u) means “home state,” and can generally be translated as “mainland.”

    The smallest of the four islands is “四国”/Shikoku. Previously it was made up of four independent States (countries), which have now become four distinct prefectures. Originally in the southern islands of “九州”/Kyushu(u) there were nine States. Now, they have become a group of seven prefectures. The northernmost island is “北海道”/Hokkaido(u) which literally means “North Sea Road.” The kanji “道”/do(u) road is said to have been used because there were already main arteries such as “Tokaido(u)” and “Tohokudo(u)” in the area.

    Japan is divided into eight regions; Hokkaido(u), Shikoku and Kyushu(u) form one region, while Honshu(u) is subdivided into 5 regions that include Tohoku, Kanto(u), Chu(u)bu, Kinki and Chu(u)goku. The kanji “東北”/To(u)hoku exactly fits the English word “northeast.” Kanto(u) is considered to be the center of Japan’s economy and culture and also where To(u)kyo(u), Japan’s present capital, is located. Chu(u)bu is physically located in the middle of the country, while the Kinki region is commonly referred to as “Kansai.” Chu(u)goku is often confused with the neighboring country of China as it is also written and pronunced “中国”/Chu(u)goku, and is therefore often referred as the Chu(u)goku region.

    In Japan’s 8 regions there are 47 ken/prefectures, but in To(u)kyo, O(o)saka, Kyo(u)to and Hokkaido(u), the word “ken” is replaced with other names. Instead, they are called To(u)kyo(u)-to, O(o)saka-fu, Kyo(u)to-fu and Hokkaido(u). Since “do(u)” is already part of its name, no additional ending is required. This is somewhat similar to the capital of the U.S.A., Washington, which is commonly referred to as Washington D.C.

    The region’s largest cities are (from north to south): Sapporo, Sendai, To(u)kyo(u), Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyo(u)to, O(o)saka, Ko(u)be, Hiroshima and Fukuoka. Central To(u)kyo(u), where many non-Japanese live and work, is divided into 23 wards.

    Kyo(u)to had been the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years. “都” (to / miyako) means “capital,” so Kyoto means the “Capital of Kyo(u).” “東京”/To(u)kyo(u), is located to the east “東” (tou / higashi) of “京” /Kyo(u), and therefore means, “To(u)kyo(u),” the capital east of Kyo(u). Located within To(u)kyo(u), a big town “新宿” /Shinjuku means “new inn.” “新” (shin / atarashii) means “new” and “宿” (juku / yado) means “inn.” This name was derived from the new inns that were being built in that area. Thus, each place has its own name-history.









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