Gaijin on Getas Blog

Culture

Shinsengumi – Peace Keepers or Assassins?

Posted on August 20th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

Modern-day romanticized version of the Shinsengumi

The late Edo Period and early Meiji Period (approximately 1855 to 1875) was a very chaotic time in Japan and Kyoto. In 1854, the Tokugawa Shogunate was accused by fuedal lords around Japan of caving in to demands from Commodore Perry to open the harbors to American whaling ships. This was seen as an act of weakness, and many people began to call for the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate and the reinstatement of the emperor of Japan as the supreme power of the land. Read the full post »

Kurosawa Movie One-Liners

Posted on March 25th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 As a movie lover, it is interesting to see how some lines from a movie are able to entrench themselves into a culture. For example, who has not heard the lines “We’re not in Kansas anymore Toto”, “Go ahead, make my day”, “I’ll be back” and “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” to name just a few. I find myself using these and many other movie-one liners in my everyday conversations. Well, the same thing happens in Japan with Japanese movies as well of course. While maybe a little more difficult for westerners to understand, many of them are worthwhile listing here. Because he is the master, I will focus on Kurosawa in ths blog. We will concentrate on other film makers in a later blog. Read the full post »

March 11, 2012

Posted on March 11th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 Today, March 11, 2012, is the one year anniversary of the earthquake which caused the destructive tsunamis in north-eastern Japan, and ultimately caused the problems at the nuclear power plants in Fukushima. We at Samurai Tours want to take this oppurtunity to pass on our prayers and thoughts to those who lost their lives one year ago. And we also wish to pass on a supportive “頑張って” (ganbatte – meaning to persevere) to those who are trying to rebuild their lives, homes and businesses.  Read the full post »

Instant Ramen Museum

Posted on February 3rd, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 

Instant Ramen Museum

Instant Ramen Museum

According to a poll taken in the year 2000, the Japanese believe their best invention of the 20th century was instant noodles (the second best was the Walkman). In 2010, it is estimated approximately 95 billion servings of instant noodles were eaten worldwide. It all started in the sleepy town of Ikeda located in northern Osaka. In 1958 Momofuku Ando of Nissin Foods, introduced the first instant noodle dish known as “Chicken Ramen”. In 1971, he introduced the even more popular “Cup of Noodles”, an instant ramen dish prepared by adding boiling water to a polystyrene cup to cook the noodles and other ingredients.  Read the full post »

Politeness in Japan Goes Beyond Words

Posted on January 24th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

 We all know the Japanese are “very polite.” In Japan being polite goes beyond just saying excuse me or thank you. In Japanese, the word is “teinei.” Teinei goes beyond the English word “polite” because it applies to far more than just people and their actions. Additional meanings of the Japanese word “teinei” include courteous, careful, care, kind and conscientious. For example, in Japanese, you can treat a fragile item “politely” meaning “gently” or “with care.” And a birthday present should be wrapped “politely.” Read the full post »

Sake Brewing in Fushimi, Kyoto

Posted on January 24th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

Gekkeikan Sake Brewery

Gekkeikan Sake Brewery

Sake making began about two thousand years ago when rice planting was introduced to Japan. Fushimi is one of the biggest sake producing areas in Japan. When Toyotomi Hideyoshi, the lord of Osaka Castle, built Fushimi Casle in the late sixteenth century, the sake industry in the surrounding city of Fushimi flourished. Many sake breweries including Gekkeikan started brewing sake here during the Edo Period. Today there are about 20 sake breweries in Fushimi. When you walk around Fushimi the fragrant smell of sake floats on the wind. Read the full post »

New Years Decorations

Posted on January 5th, 2012 by Takako "Tammy" Ota

New Years Decorations

New Years Decorations

Happy New Year! Akemashite Omedetou in Japanese!

Christmas displays at department stores, grocery stores and train and subway stations are changed to New Year displays over night. The changes are made quickly but thorough. To the righ, you can see a display where various colored chrysanthemums and plum branches are put into bamboo stems, and placed on red carpeting in front of a gold screen. Gold and red are regarded as a happy color representing a lighthearted atmosphere for a new year. Read the full post »

Tora Tora Tora (Tiger Tiger Tiger)

Posted on January 4th, 2012 by Mike Roberts

Tora Tora Tora” (Tiger Tiger Tiger) is a Japanese party/drinking game played by Maiko with their clients. The game is another version of “Jyan ken pon” (the Japanese name for Rock, Paper, Scissors). The game is played between two players who start on opposite sides of a wall, or as in this case, a rice paper screen. The players sing a song while making hand gestures, and then assume one of three characters: a Samurai (Watonai) with a spear, an old woman with a cane or a tiger. The old woman wins over the Samurai, the Samurai wins over the tiger and the tiger wins over the old woman. Read the full post »