Archive | July, 2009

Japanese-English and English-Japanese online dictionary

29 Jul

eijiro

This is the online Japanese – English or English – Japanese dictionary that I use when I write a blog post. (I cannot do without it. So I can easily get stuck with right wordings when I film my Youtube video. How stressfult it is to do this in second language! But I know I can improve it little by little, and I quite like the way to improve it from daily communication with other English-speaking people.)

ALC is a Japanese company engaged in English education or study-abroad programs from Japan to the world. The goodness about this online dictionary named Eijiro that ALC offers is that we can look up the word both in English and in Japanese. Meaning, if you enter Japanese word into the box, the English word that corresponds to the Japanese word will be shown as a result. When you hit English word, vice versa. So you don’t have to switch the box whether it’s from Japanese to English or the other way round. You can use whichever ways!

Another good thing is that we can search the word just like we search by Google. Let’s say I didn’t come up with the word “other way round” but I remembered only “other ??? round” I can just type as “other round” in the search box and hit enter. Then the right word can be found among the results. This also goes with misspellings. For example when I search as “simultanious” they suggest if I mean “simultaneous” but this is not alway working as I wish. :p

If you study Japanese, you can make use of it. But in that case you have to know exact Kanji to enter because they do not recognize the Japanese word, which normally is described in Kanji, written in Hiragana or Katakana. While it looks good as long as you learn corresponding Japanese words from the result of the English word you enter.

Just in case, for those who are unfamiliar with Kanji, Hiragana and Katakana, take a look at how to write “kawaii” in Japanese and see that we have 3 ways to write it in Japanese. However, usually one of them is mostly used at most occasions.

Successful young mom model, as represented by Momoeri.

27 Jul

Mama + Kid Model
18/APR/2009 on air


Early 20s young mama with little kids have chance to be a parent-child fashion model to some special fashion magazines targeting fashionable mama. These fashion magazines are such as followins, from which you will see how popular mama models can be in Japan!


Mart (http://mart-magazine.com/index_main.html)
SAKURA (http://sakuramama.jp/)
Saita (http://www.saita.net/saita/index.htm)
BLENDA (http://www.blenda.jp/)
I LOVE mama (http://www.fujisan.co.jp/Product/1281683285)
como (http://www.prebabycomo.com/como/index.php)


Momoeri is the top mama model in Japan. She used to be a hostess, then married, and gave birth to her son. But 5 years ago she divorced from her husband to become a single mother. She is only 27-year-old successful charismatic mama model (it’s called “mamamo” with abbreviation) who is as famous as a cover girl to “mama” magazine. Besides, she established an on-line shop of her own. She is a CEO to her company who is also engaged in new product plan. The pink sandals for home usage is from her idea.

Mama models are popular because they do not look like, so to speak, a “mom” as you know from the image of your neighbors. They look really young, fit, and kawaii where you’ll find no air of daily household works and busy child management. The more mama models look gorgeous the more gyaru mama adore them.

You can easily imagine there are many young moms who wanna be like Momoeri or other successful mama models. Mr. Ikki and Beni-chan selected Mrs. Miyazaki and her boy for beautiful mama and kid model feature pages of “mama” magazine. The point for success is to repeat the same color or item between mom and kid.


Reflecting such trend, Harajuku no longer target young people only. These days kid (especially targeting 0 -3 years old) brand shops open in Harajuku one after another. As for the pricing, Mrs. Miyazaki spent 63,000 yen (USD630) in total, which was for herself, and another 20,000 (USD200) for her son.

Beautiful mama should be beautiful from inside and outside.
Inside factor is influencial because the readers (also moms) would feel for them. For example if the readers know how much effort mama model makes to keep their beauty or whatever, anything,
they will be encouraged or energized so that they should do their best to improve themselves too.

Mr.Ikki and Beni-chan visited an apartment where a beautiful mama (bimama, bi=beauty) lives in west Japan. BTW, if you read my post about Japanese houses, this illustrates life of average Japanese people. Small house and small kitchen…Don’t take me wrong I don’t say they are economically-challenged, as you see both parents have jobs. This is average when we live in/near the city area, where houses cost high.

Another mama model to “como” magazine, you’ll see how mama models make every effort to keep themselves fit. She get haircut and haircolor every other month, for 7800 yen with model discount.
3 times a month, she goes belly dance, with each 2100 yen. And every night before sleep, she does face yoga by herself. She does all these things besides household works, parenting, and modeling!

Another example is hand-only model or leg-only model. It’s called parts model in Japan. But she is also working so hard to keep beauty. She shows how to moisture her back of the hand and legs.
For hand, place a tissue (Kleenex) over the back of the hand, spray purified water : lotion = 1:1, cut the tissue along with the fingers, and wait 3 minutes. While waiting, make moisturaizer warm by holding inside palm, then put it over the back of the hand to rub it into the skin. Same lotion or moisturaizer for legs. But legs need aluminum foil to be rolled over before wait for 3 minutes.

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Kirin’s opinion

Momoeri is popular as “age-jo” which was only I knew, but I didn’t know she is successful as a mama model now. (Age-jo is how models are called who work for the crazy-selling agazine “Koakuma Ageha”.) It’s good that we can enjoy being kawaii even after becoming a mom. But on the other hand, it’s not good if a mom is too fashion conscious to pay more attention to education.
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Disclaimer: Tokyo Kawaii TV is a TV program owned and broadcasted by NHK Japan, and has nothing to do with this blog.

***There are archives of episodes listed under the page titled “Tokyo Kawaii TV” that is just located under the title banner of this blog.
***If you want to know the music that was used in the episode, please refer to this page and help yourself to find it by selecting the date when the episode was on air in Japan.

Bon odori (bon dance) is here and there!

25 Jul

End of July is bon odori (meaning bon dance, as you might know) season in Japan. There are 2 bon odori sites near my house this year. No matter how many years have passed, how our life is advanced with technology, and how Japanese people are westernized, bon odori has been always the same. Same song, same music, same Japanese drums….Peple dance the same way and that’s why things I see there just remind me of my childhood. I feel it is a very Japanese-like event and when I find myself relaxed with some nostalgic feelings and memories, I am feeling myself very Japanese.

Whatever, video is worth a thousand words here. Take a look and you can feel what it’d be like there. 😀 Enjoy the image of Japanese summer. It’s too dark and barely visible?! I know that, but indeed it was taken place in the dark. That’s how it is.

What’s surprising me was that Doraemon Ondo was on at both sites. I thought it was only for kids and inside the TV! I remember the song from childhood.

Yakitori (grilled chicken with teriyaki sauce over) and beer from street vendors. How Japanese!
yakitori-beer

Why Facebook is not popular in Japan?

22 Jul

***This post is written several years ago and the situation is not always the same now in Japan. ***

facebook It’s been over one year since Facebook was introduced to Japanese market. But it is apparent that Facebook is not popular at all in Japan, while it is very successful in most of other countries, including the U.S, not to speak of. Here’s Alexa ranking for Japanese top sites and Facebook is off top 20, and even 40 or 50.

Why Facebook is not popular in Japan? There are several reasons to be considered. But as a Japanese, I know that how most Japanese people would feel or think about the service, so it’s pretty easy for me to find the answer.
First off, there is alreay a social networking site named Mixi in Japan, which is a giant that has alreay occupied the market. (Gree is also popular among mobile phones.) It was a little too late that Facebook entered our market. Japanese people are those who like to do the same things as most of others do. We don’t want to stick out from the crowd. (I’m talking about the general nationality, not mine.) That means, when there are already so many people having accounts at Mixi, then those who don’t would choose to join it to become “majority”. Yes, this is the very word that illustrates our nationality but anyhow we like to belong to majority, rather than to try something new that no one has been doing. (In that way I know I am minority who chose to blog outside Japan in foreign language. 😆 )

mixi
gree

But the real problem about Facebook to most of Japanese people is that we have to register with real name! (This is ironically quite opposite to the natural goodness about Facebook that is emphasized.) You may think, so what? What’s wrong with that? But here exists a big cultural difference and this is something particular among Japanese people. We would blog with nickname or pen name, and normally we would not reveal real name. We would hide faces even when we upload photos on blogs. We would not speak to Youtube, which is why most Youtube videos made by Japanese people have no sound. (I’m talking about individual and personal bloggers. Company bloggers are not that shy, of course they have to promote themselves!) These would sound ridiculous, but it’s so true that you’ll see what I mean if you browse blogs in Japanese, especially when photos are uploaded, the faces are hidden with star mark or something. This being the case, how come Japanese people would be willing to register Facebook with real name, real address and personal information? I doubt. I wouldn’t say this trend is applicable to everyone in Japan, but majority of Japanese people would be like as I mentioned above.

I was surprised at first when I jumped into blogsphere in English because of so much cultural difference! You use real name, your face is on the photo or on Youtube, you speak to mp3 or mp4 and so on… I follow as you do once as I’m here.

So I forget about Japanese way and I started to show myself on Youtube or in photos and share them here in this blog. But as for my nickname “Kirin” which I’ve been using from my previous blog, I am always wondering if I should change this to my real name. There are pros and cos. But I feel weird if I change it to my real name from now on. 😦

Would it be OK going with Kirin?

But these days I receive emails from Facebook users to invite me to join it. Then I would be using my real name and I feel no coherence between this blog and Facebook. 😦

It sounds really strange problem based on cultural difference. As I blog outside Japan, I didn’t have to stick to Japanese unspoken rules but I didn’t really know this difference until I started and read many other blogs by many other bloggers in the world.

What would you think I should do with this? This may give me another reason I don’t have an account at Facebook yet.

How to cook shabushabu (cold version) for summer.

19 Jul

I’ve filmed new videos about how to cook Japanese home cuisine, cold shabushabu.

If you cannot find Ponzu sauce, you can fix it with following ingredients for 2 people.
-2.5 tbsp of soy sauce
-2 tbsp of citrus or lemon juice
-1/2 tbsp of rice wine vinegar
-1/2 tbsp of cooking wine
-1 tsp of mirin
-dried kelp 2 x 3 cm
-dried bonito flakes

1)Prepare a small pan and boil cooking wine and mirin.
2)Squeeze citrus or lemon (remove seeds) and get 2 tbsp of juice.
3)Add 1) + 2) + soy sauce in a bowl.
4)Add dried kelp and dried bonito flakes to 3).
*Use a sachet for dried bonito flakes so that you can take it away easily later.
5)Wrap it, put it in a fridge to wait for 1-2 days.
6)Take out the kelp and the bonito flakes, and the sauce is ready!

Ponzu sauce can be used on Tofu, salad, meat, dumpling and various ways just like this example. It’s useful and healthy because it’s free from oil. 🙂

I think shabushabu is healthy because we can have good volume of vegetables while pork and sauce are almost free from oil.

Here’s the dinner picture! We had cold shabushabu with somen!
How Japanese, and how summer!!
reishabu-somen-dinner

How we cope with a small living space.

15 Jul

How we live cleverly in such a small house.

In my previous post I introduced what kind of houses Japanese people are living in. I’m sure you’ve learned that we live in a small house, especially when we are located in Tokyo and somewhere close to it.
Then you’d wonder how we can fit in such a limited space.
This time I’ll tell you that.

round-hanger First of all, it’s not only that the floor area is small, but ceiling hight is only 2.4 meter or so in average. This maybe considered lower compared with other countries. Even if the area is small, the room will look larger if the ceiling is high, besides, ceiling hight doesn’t need land. That’s how I feel, but normally most of the room has around 2.4m hight. (Some apartments, especially targeting single,
is lofted but most of the cases, they try to show loft and forget about the small floor.)

In spite of limited space, we have to have so many stuff to live in Japan because we have 4 seasons every year. Shoes, clothing, comforter, home electronics, and etc. we need them for spring/summer and autumn/winter. Let’s take comforter for example. In summer, we use cotton blanket but in winter we use down quilt. We have to store down quilt during spring and summer season. Likewise, we need electric fan in summer but steam vaporizer in winter. (Air conditioner is wall-hung near the ceiling, so it’s always there.) Same goes with shoes and clothing, and the amount of these will be multiple as family member increases.

This being the case, in Japan, most of the nation suffer from how small storage space is.

*Disclaimer: The photos are quoted from Nihon Chokuhan, one of the most well-known TV shopiing companies in Japan.

futon-compresser

That’s why it’s very natural that we need a rental storage like this to store extra things we cannot take care of at our house. Furniture is another option that we can make use of. Tatamigaoka lets us have Tatami floor and storage space at a time. Popular mail order company “DINOS” always has good collection of furniture with great devices for storage. I personally like Belle Maison too. Furniture makers make small furniture that will fit in a small house. Especially when it comes to single to live in a room under 20 square meters area, sofa, table, or bed must be minimal.
Young people before marriage or college students would like to shop funiture at stores such as Francfranc, One’s, Mujirushi, and etc. Unlike abundant spaced countries such as the U.S, Canada, or Australia, we cannot have a large kitchen, which means we have to make the most out of limited space with kitchen like this. (compact kitchen but good devices to store kitechen tools)

Well, I hope I answered to Ia, who kindly suggested I refer to this topic. If you watch Japanese TV dramas, the rooms may look better because usually designer apartments are used for location. :p

How are Japanese houses?

9 Jul

What kind of houses do Japanese people live in?

Some time ago there was a message from Ia at my shout box says;
“I love your blog so much! I was wondering if you may post about living space in Japan? I read that it is very small, how do you fit everything?”

So today I’d like to introduce you houses in Japan.
Here are images of traditional Japanese houses. There are many of these houses out of big cities. Heavy and solemn roof tiles, Fusuma, or paper sliding doors that separate more than 2 tatami rooms, (and there maybe transom windows upper sliding doors), Shoji, paper sliding doors with wooden grid in front of windows instead of curtains, Tokonoma, or alcove where art or flowers are displayed is equipped in tatami rooms, etc. These are the very characteristic interior or exterior that illustrate traditional Japanese housing. Usually two-story detached house with garden is common. The garden is not always very Japanese style as known as “Japanese garden”. Houses like this is not that small. The more away from city the bigger houses can be. :p

Then how about the city area? It’s totally different. As you may know, land price in Tokyo is not cheap. As most of job opportunities are concentrated in Tokyo, people try to live in Tokyo if they can afford that, or at least try to settle at commutable prefectures located next to Tokyo, which means Saitama, Kanagwa and Chiba prefecture, to be more precise. This means Tokyo and these areas of especially easy reach to Tokyo, there is high demand of people who want to live in, hence the rent or price of houses goes high.

I live in Kawasaki-city, Kanagawa prefecture, but just across the Tamagawa river, there’s Tokyo, so I say I blog from Tokyo. There’s no big difference (although land prices are very much different!) and most of non-Japanese can recognize when they hear Tokyo, but how about Kawasaki? (That’s my city.)They would imagine Kawasaki motorcycles! 😆

example-of-floorplan2 So how people in Tokyo and outskirts of Tokyo live like? It’s far better to give you images than explain by text. Many people live in an apartment rather than detached house because, as I mentioned, land price is so high.

Here are some examples of casual floorplan for single to live in. In Tokyo, one small room (studio type) or one bedroom of under 20 square meters requires a rent from around 50,000 yen – 80,000 yen or more (USD 500 – 800) which may sounds too expensive for the space. If you are from Hong Kong, you might feel it’s OK, (as land in HK costs high, too and the situation may not differ so much) but I’m sure most of you’d feel uncomfortable with this small space to live in. These days there are young people who share a house or an apartment, but the trend is not that popular when compared with other countries.

Families may rent a house or an apartment but most of them like to buy a house where they will keep living forever, because in Japan buying a house means only one time shopping in one’s life because of the price, whether it’s in Tokyo or countryside.

Here are random examples of major Japanese housing makers. (They are big names and it is not always that we ask them to build a house. Some people hire local architects and builders. )

MITSUI HOME
DAIWA HOUSE
SEKISUI HOUSE
MISAWA HOME

And Random examples of major Japanese apartment/condo makers. (HUDOSAN is a Japanese word meaning real estate.)

RECRUIT COSMOS
NOMURA HUDOSAN
MITSUI HUDOSAN
TOKYO TATEMONO
DAIKYO

Just browsing photos in these sites, you’ll see houses in the city area look much different from those of most other parts in Japan. They are modern and various ways of designs are possible. Of course there are people who buy second-hand house and get it renovated, but in Japan, second-hand house market is very small compared with Europe and the U.S ones, which may because of our housing structure is not durable after 20 – 30 years, due to the humid climate, wooden structure of the house, and frequent earthquakes. 😦

Anyway, my previous job was something to offer a renovation design to the second-hand apartments. Whether it is a traditional old Japanese house or a modern up-to-date Japanese house, there is a basic rule that doesn’t change for centuries. It is that we take off our shoes at the entrance of the house. It is that our way of taking a bath is very unique as this. I like to live in other countries, as I want to experience various life styles in my life, but I can say for sure that I cannot live without Japanese bath, Japanese foods, and taking shoes off to stay with bare foot in the house.

example-of-floorplan3
example-of-floorplan7

Well, I was a little off the track, Ia. (-_-;) This post looks like a basic info. regarding Japanese housing, and I was not exactly answering to your question, so I’ll continue the post about how we live in a small space cleverly some time later. Stay tuned!