It’s already 2010 over here so for starters Happy New Year and あけましておめでとうございます！
During the first three days of the new year, many Japanese spend their time between friends and family touring round the many temples scattered around wishing for good luck during the new year and ‘purify’ their sins by banging a gong with a thick rope for 108 times (apparently each person commits 108 sins every year).
Other than that, it’s like most religious holidays, where families gather and eat and drink like there’s no tomorrow!
The Japanese also have a tradition of writing a single Kanji to express their feelings for the new year.
But before I go into that, most Japanese would agree if they were to sum up 2009 in one word it would be:
read (kibishii) which means strict, hard, tough and severe.
With the economic crisis battering the Japanese economy and leaving many Japanese and foreign workers jobless and eventually homeless, not forgetting an extremely strong yen (great for traveling abroad but not for anything else). The word ‘tough’ wouldn’t be enough.
As for 2010, Japan has opted an optimistic view for the coming year making the year’s Kanji
read (shin) which means ‘new’ , symbolizing the change that already happened in 2009 mainly the election of Yukio Hatoyama leader of the Democratic Party of Japan ousting the long reigning Liberal Democrats out of office, and the optimism of building a new economy and a new Japan of the future.
Another Kanji growing popular these days is:
read (yume) which means ‘dream’ as it is playing a part in the lead up into the upcoming World Cup in South Africa. Apparently they are aiming for a place in the semi final this time around.
Finally, my Kanji for 2010 is:
read (aka) which means ‘red’. Other than a sign of undying patriotism towards Bahrain, it is also a hope that I stay out of the red. Red is also the color of dawn and dusk, hopefully a beautiful peaceful end of a chapter and a beginning of a great new day.
But most importantly, we’re hopefully expecting our first born child somewhere around March and in Japanese, babies are called 赤ちゃん (aka-chan) which literally means ‘red kid’.
Recently, a very good friend of mine had her second art exhibition in Japan exploring her new found love of the colour red in Japan and I’m gonna finish off this post with one of the “私の赤” (watashi no aka) or ‘My Red’ series…
A few days ago, I came across an article in one of the local mags here, describing a national project in Japan recycling old mobile phones.
According to the article, every mobile phone has an average of 40mg of gold and 120mg of silver and other metals, and with Japan having an estimated 200 million old and unused mobile phones lying around in cupboard drawers and closets, in the case that half those mobiles were recycled, you would end up with around 3.2 tonnes of gold and over 9 tonnes of silver.
or in other words, Japan, a country with hardly any mineral resources, has created a new industry – “Urban Mining”.
Urban mining isn’t just restricted within mobile phones. Microwaves, washing machines, televisions, digital cameras and every other electrical appliance you can think of can now be recycled to extract the rare metals within them such as cobalt, indium, zinc and platinum.
Recycling has been around since the 1970s , yet in Bahrain, there’s no awareness whatsoever about conserving the environment nor recycling except in some very small circles, who are predominately expats living in Bahrain.
The closest thing we’ve had to recycling probably would be a ‘Zari Ateej’ (زاري عتيج)
It’s been a very long time..
My online presence as of late, has turned away from blogging thanks to Facebook, Twitter and Google Wave but at the end of the day, I guess one would yearn back to blogging and you don’t have to look very far
Anyways, I’ve been thinking recently that I’ve been in Japan for over a year and I haven’t really written alot about my experience in this weird strange country, and am afraid that I will forget some of the more quirky things and the tiny observations that I’ve saved in my head:
Books and reading:
- Like every other developed country, the Japanese love to read.
- Japanese love to read on the subway (because there isn’t much scenery)
- Most people cover the book cover with a paper cover (quite similar to gift wrap, but not the Christmasy/Birthday shiny ones) which is opaque so other people on the train don’t know what they are reading. I always imagine that they are reading something really steamy, similar to the idea of drinking beer or liquor from a brown paper bag, rather than hiding, it makes it more obvious!
- Japanese novels/textbooks are generally tiny, only 150-200 pages max and are smaller than English or Arabic novels.
- Japanese schoolkids like to use a big red transparent plastic bookmark to help them revise and follow the lines in their textbooks.
- Meetings/seminars have a pre-determined start time but never have a closing time.
- On the other hand, parties will always have a start and finish time, usually after two hours (in other words when the party really starts and everybody is happily chatting etc)
- Depending on the type of party, the Japanese like to close the party with clapping (no not like end of speech clapping) where the host would shout “Yooooo” and the rest claps once, three or seven times (I’ve mostly experience the one clap) Apparently it is a way to wish good health and prosperity.
- Most Japanese carry a diary and write in their schedules. No one uses their mobile phone to save special dates and appointments.
More to come. hopefully another time inshalla!
To say that my ‘recent’ posts on this blog have been few and far between is a misunderestimation. It’s not only that I’ve been busy learning my Japanese -mas’s, -desu’s and Kanjis but that I’ve found a new form of expression and time wasting, plus quenching my ‘comment’ driven thirst.
That my friends is through Facebook.
We all know what we can do in Facebook blah blah blah etc etc..
Just a couple of things have really caught my eye about Facebook, ever since I arrived in Japan, via a HDD camcorder, I’ve recorded a number of videos documenting my experience and sharing the weird and funny things and places I visited.
As the days passed by, these videos grew quite popular between my friends and were even tagged as ‘genius’ and ‘hilarious’.
I was encouraged by a few friends to share these videos with everyone on Facebook, as they were originally only viewable to my Facebook friends.
I am the kind of person who actually knows all his Facebook and have met them before except probably one or two (good onlines buddies from back in the day!). I wasn’t prepared to accept friend requests because they wanted to see my videos.
So the idea of creating a ‘fan club’ was born. Using Facebook’s Groups Application, I created a ‘fan club’ where I reposted my older videos and updated it with newer videos, news and even a promo photo gallery.
Yes it was a truly fully fledged fan club. I thought myself as a big superstar as another way to laugh at myself really.
But, not everyone got the joke though..
My family didn’t like the way I conducted myself on camera and showing it to the world, my mother even began to worry that I was here all alone, that I had lost my mind somewhere between Bahrain National Airport and Nagoya Central Airport…
This was a major downer to be quite honest and also seeing my friends, who I did the videos for in the first place not commenting nor watching the videos and were replaced by other whom I’ve never met or probably will never brought me even more down…
With every new video I tried to rectify previous mistakes but end up doing something worse! Thus, less satisfaction for what I was doing…
The videos also gradually became more ummm techie! the first videos would take me 20 minutes from shoot to edit to upload, now it takes me a couple of hours! and I’m the sort of person although I like to make things cool by adding a bit of effort into them, I also relish the mind numbingly simple!
I tire very quickly
and as fun as these vids are in doing them and uploading them, I don’t want them to become a chore.. I’m planning to round up the ‘season’ with 20 episodes (and a 30 minute special *yes I am this obsessed) and comtemplate continuing onto a new season…
If you’d like to see what this post has been rattling about visit the group and enjoy (It’s all in Arabic..sorry!)
Kakikome is done at the beginning of the new year, where Japanese people traditionally draw Kanji (Chinese characters) of their dreams and wishes for the new year on thin paper with brushes and ink, later hanging them around the house.
Now being in Japan for three months, I’ve become quite skillful writing Kanji (but not in reading nor understanding them!) so I really had a blast writing these characters!
Other than mucking around and writing in Arabic (Arabic Calligraphy just mesmerizes the Japanese!), I learnt a new Kanji….平和 ‘Heiwa’ which means peace..
We all know about the atrocities being commited by the Israelis in Occupied Palestine and my wish for this year is that this conflict comes to an end with the Palestinians getting back what is rightfully theirs..
Wishing you all a peaceful new year..