Election

Saturday, August 29th, 2009

On August 30, we have a Lower House election and referendum for the Supreme court judges.We can cast ballots for the following three items.

1. We can vote for an individual candidate in our region.

2. We can vote for the party we support.

3. We can make a cross against any judge we object to ( but we don’t have to write anything if we have no objection) This time we can evaluate nine judges. But regarding Supreme court matters, many people say that they can’t get enough information to make a decision. I think so too.

But this is a very important issue. This time I had a close look and will take it seriously. And I got my own decision. Not only me but many people seem to take this election very seriously.

When the economy was on an upward trend people were just being optimistic but now I guess many people in the world are worried about their lives.

I hope our decisions lead to better societies and I feel sure in the case of Japan that we are moving into another era.

Buddhist festival in Summer

Tuesday, August 18th, 2009

In Japan we celebrate Bon in mid-July or mid-August depending on the area. In my hometown we celebrate it in August ( 13~16). It’s believed that the spirits of the dead return to their families. On the first day ( 13 ), spirits of ancestors come back. We build an open-air fire in front of the house to show where we are. So that our ancestors don’t get lost. We offer these dolls at the altar. The one on the left is a horse, people sometimes make horses with cucumbers. The one on the right is a cow. They can be made with egg plants. Ancestors return galloping on horses and ride back to the other world slowly on cows slowly bearing gifts.

Hot Spring in Yamagata

Saturday, August 15th, 2009

I stayed at a hot spring called Hijiori Onsen in Yamagata. I wish I could stay there for a week without doing anything special.

This hot spring was discovered about 1,200 years ago.

“Hijiori” means ” break your elbows” and according legend, someone broke his arm but after bathing in the hot spring it got better.

Some people stay longer at relatively little expense . ( around 3,000 yen for room for a person ) They can cook for themselves.For them, an early morning market opens. Old ladies from the nearby village come and sell the vegetables they have grown. When I stay at an inn I’m happy to have a big dinner on the first day but I don’t need one the next day. The main point of staying there is to enjoy the hot spring a few times a day.

    

The hot spring water is drinkable. It is said to do good for our stomach and can solve constipation, diabetes,gout and kidney trouble. Taking the bath for 7 to 10 days is preferable but even for a short time I could see the difference.

   

 This hot spring is located in a remote vally. I went up to the mountain there and saw this kind of paddy field on the slope of the mountain. It must have been very hard job to develope this field. I was amazed to see its beauty and the diligence of the people. No wonder ” Oshin “, the character in the drama who overcame every hardship she faced, is from this area.  

 

 

Summer Vacation

Wednesday, August 5th, 2009

Children are on summer vacation. But mothers don’t have vacations. In fact, it is one of the most hardest time for mothers I guess.

My nephew who lives in Paris and is half Japanese and half French, joins a Japanese elementary school every summer for a few weeks. In Japanese English a person of mixed ethnicity is sometime called ” half “, but for some people this word conveys a negative impression. I prefer to call him ” both”.

According to him, Japanese elementary school is a lot of fun. They have a lot of music classes and can enjoy making things in art class. To my surprise, at the school he goes to in France, they don’t have classes for music, art or home economics. Instead they study subjects such as math. history or French really hard. Teachers don’t get involved in activities except for teaching. My sister says they have a long vacation so they have to study intensively.

During his stay he experienced an emergency drill. Here is a story: a crazy violent man stormed into the school and scares the pupils and teachers and they are supposed to learn how to stay calm and escape safely. One of the teachers played a role a role as a villain with a strange mask. My nephew was so excited.

In Japan we have school lunch and children carry and serve it by themselves and teachers monitor it and eat the same lunch in the class room. But in France, they go to the school cafeteria and other adults monitor them.

I don’t know which style is better but my older son who is in the first grade of high school in Japan often complains about the gap between junior high school or elementary  and high school. His school subjects got suddenly difficult and he now has so much to do.

Education is very important and  we have to deal with these issues seriously.