What do Japanese people eat for breakfast?
Generally, Japanese eat either a traditional Japanese breakfast or a western breakfast. The traditional breakfast is boiled rice, dried fish, seaweed, miso soup, and pickles. Also, some people really like natto for breakfast.
Natto is fermented soybeans, which is regarded as a health food. The Western breakfast consists of toast, bread, cereal, eggs, ham, bacon, fruit juice, coffee and such.
When were guns or firearms brought to Japan?
It was in 1543 when a Portuguese ship landed on the island of Tanegashima just south of Kyushu. That was the first contact between Europeans and Japanese. The Japanese first learned about firearms and gunpowder from the Portuguese sailors who were on the ship.
What do Japanese people do during the New Year holidays?
On New Year’s Day family members say “Happy New Year” to each other and wish for their good health and happiness. They drink otoso, a kind of rice wine with spices thought to promote longevity; and eat rice cake soup
(ozoni) and other New Year’s food called osechi ryori. Also, most Japanese visit shinto shrines or Buddhist temples to pray for good health and success for the year.
What industries are successful these days in Japan?
Japan’s successful industries include manufacturers of technologically advanced products such as automobiles, electronic equipment, computers, and semiconductors; as well as manufacturers of iron and steel. One more major industry that is also popular is the distinctively Japanese anime and comics industry.
My hotel is in Hibiya. What is the best way to get there from Narita Airport?
I would recommend the Airport Limousine Bus that goes nonstop from Narita Airport to eight major hotels in the Hibiya area. You can check-in your heavy luggage on the bus. You can buy a ticket at the ticket counter in the arrival lobby and catch the bus just outside the terminal. It generally costs around 3,000 yen per adult for one-way.
What are the major areas for rice cultivation in Japan?
The Tohoku and Hokuriku regions of Honshu are famous for rice cultivation.
Among these areas, the most famous rice-producing area is Niigata Prefecture. The most famous rice variety is Koshihikari, which is produced in many areas in Japan, but the tastiest Koshihikari is said to be the one produced in the Uonuma region in Niigata Prefecture.
What was the Edo period like?
The Edo period lasted about 260 years, from 1603 to 1867. During the Edo period, there was a caste system known as “shi-no-ko-sho”
(warrior-farmer-artisan-merchant), which placed the warrior class at the top, followed by the farmers, artisans, and merchants. The government established a policy of national isolation and prohibited Christianity. Due to the relative peace and isolation from foreign influence during the Edo Period, many unique Japanese forms of culture developed such as kabuki, ukiyoe wood-block prints, and bunraku.
What Japanese fast food do you recommend?
I would recommend tachigui-soba, which is Japanese fast-food soba or udon noodles served at stands located mainly in and around train stations.
Tachigui-soba is the equivalent of hotdog or hamburger stands in the West.
Customers can order a variety of toppings, from raw eggs to deep-fried vegetables, to add something extra to the noodles. Often customers eat while standing.
Would you tell me why Kyoto attracts so many tourists?
Kyoto was the capital of Japan and home of the Emperor for over 1,000 years.
The city is full of tourist attractions, of which many are designated World Heritage Sites. Over the centuries, Kyoto suffered destruction due to many wars and fires. However, because of its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. As a result, countless old temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures remain preserved in the city today.
Why is tourism so important for Japan?
Tourism is important because it is a means to promote economic growth and also encourage cultural understanding and exchange. Currently, the Japanese economy is now in recession, so it is important for the Japanese government to attract more foreign tourists to Japan, as international tourism is a good source of income and a way for Japan to build better relationships with other peoples.
What do Japanese people usually do on New Year’s Eve?
New Year’s Eve is an important day for wrapping up the old and preparing for the new. Japanese make New Year’s food called osechi ryori and clean their houses. In the evening, families generally eat dinner together, watch traditional New Year’s Eve TV programs, and stay up late to listen to the temple bells, which are rung 108 times around midnight. Nowadays, many younger people go to countdown events. After midnight, some people make their first visit of the New Year to shrines or temples.
Could you tell me about World Heritage sites in Kyoto?
Kyoto was the capital of Japan for more than 1,000 years after 794.
Thirteen temples, three shrines and the Nijo Castle are all registered as World Heritage Sites. The most memorable for visiting is "Kinkaku-ji" or Golden Pavilion, originally constructed in 1224. Its stunning image embossed with gold leaf and reflected in the pond is indescribable. The famous novel "Kinkaku-ji" by Yukio Mishima is based on the incident in 1950 when a young monk, obsessed by the temple's beauty, set fire to it and burnt it down.
Please tell me about the tea ceremony in Japan.
Cha-no-yu, or the tea ceremony is the art of serving powdered green tea called matcha. The powdered tea is put into a teacup, hot water is poured on it, it is whipped with a bamboo whisk till it foams and it is drunk. The tea ceremony originated in Zen Buddhist monasteries around the 13th century.
Today it is regarded as a way to achieve mental composure and develop elegant manners.
What do you think about the current economic situation in Japan?
These days the Japanese economy is very bad. In Japan, both consumer spending and capital investment have been weak for a long time. I hope that the Japanese government will strive hard to boost domestic demand by cutting waste in the government spending and implementing drastic, practical measures.
Please tell me about the rainy season in Japan.
Tsuyu is the early summer rainy season. In Honshu it begins about the middle of June and lasts about a month. During the rainy season, the weather is hot, humid, and very uncomfortable. This rain is, however, needed by the farmers. After the rainy season begins, rice seedlings are transplanted from nurseries to rice paddies.
What is bonenkai?
Bonenkai literally means "forget-the-past-year party." Bonenkai are held at the end of the year in December, so that people can get together, eat and drink, and forget the year’s hard work and unpleasant memories. It is commonly believed that the parties are necessary to maintain good relations at work. Roughly half of men think the parties are social events related to work. However, the number of parties attended differs between men and women. Most men attend at least two Bonenkai, while most women normally do not attend as many as men do.
I saw plastic food samples in the showcase of a restaurant. What are they?
They are plastic samples of food made to look almost exactly like the food served in the restaurant. Instead of putting pictures of food in a menu, restaurants display an array of plastic food samples with a price tag and the name of the food. People can see what the meals are going to look like and also see the prices before deciding whether to enter the restaurant.
When did Japanese people start wearing Western clothes?
Western clothes were first introduced during the Meiji period that started in 1868. The Meiji government adopted Western-style uniforms for military personnel, public officials, mailmen, and railroad workers. Women first wore western nurses’ uniforms during this time. Also, women adopted western clothes during the Taisho Period that started in 1912, when they worked as typists and train and bus conductors. However, it wasn’t until after World War II when the Japanese started to wear Western clothes almost exclusively.
There are a lot of vending machines which sell cigarettes, alcohol, and magazines in Japan. What do you think about that?
Vending machines are now everywhere throughout Japan, eliminating the need for inconvenient trips to the store. They are probably more widespread in Japan than anywhere else in the world. Even when stores are closed, items can be purchased from them, so they are convenient for consumers. Nowadays, people need to insert their driver’s licenses or other proof-of-age identification in the machines in order to buy alcohol and cigarettes. Even for sellers, almost no personnel or store expenses are needed. I think the biggest reason why vending machines have proliferated is because Japan is a safe country with little vandalism.
I’d like to go skiing in Japan. Which ski resort do you recommend?
Among a lot of good ski resorts in Japan, I would recommend Niseko, which is one of the major ski resorts in Hokkaido. Its powdery snow is regarded as the best. Annually it receives an incredible amount of snow, more than 11 meters. Niseko offers a wide variety of runs for skiers and snowboarders of various levels. The ski lifts are generally open until 8:30 every night.
What is the climate on the Sea of Japan side like?
The Sea of Japan side is noted for its heavy snowfall in winter. Cold, winter wind blows from Siberia and picks up moisture over the Sea of Japan.
When the moist wind hits the mountain range that runs through the central part of Honshu Island, the moisture is dropped as snow, causing heavy snowfall on the Japan Sea coast. During the other part of the year, the climate along the Sea of Japan is basically not very different from the other regions of Honshu, having a spring, summer, and fall, although the northern area has a shorter, milder summer
Why did Japan close the country off from the outside world in the Edo period?
There are various reasons why this national isolation policy was put into effect. One important reason was based on a report that Spain and Portugal were planning to invade Japan after Christianity had spread there. Another reason was that in Christianity all people are equal, but this was contrary to the shogunate’s caste system based on a strict, vertical society in which people were not equal. The shogunate feared that if Christians banded together, they could become a powerful force within Japan. Finally, the shogunate wanted to prevent local warlords from becoming rich by trading with foreign powers.
Where do you recommend I visit for natural beauty?
I would recommend Shiretoko National Park, located on the Shiretoko Peninsula in eastern Hokkaido. It is one of Japan's most beautiful and unspoiled national parks. The peninsula is home to a variety of wildlife, including brown bears, deer and foxes. In winter, drift ice can be seen at the peninsula's coast along the Sea of Okhotsk. In July 2005, Shiretoko was added to the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites because of the peninsula's ecosystem and biodiversity.
On what occasions do Japanese wear kimono?
Some men and women wear kimono during the New Year’s holiday, and some women wear them on the first working day of the year. Also Japanese women wear kimono on Coming-of-Age Day in mid-January, at weddings and graduations, and on other formal occasions. Many people working in the traditional arts wear kimono, and women at Japanese-style restaurants and inns usually wear kimono. Young girls when they are three and seven wear kimono during the shichi-go-san festival held in November. And both men and women wear casual, cotton kimono called yukata during festivals and fireworks displays in summer.
Why are there so many cram schools or preparatory schools in Japan?
In Japan, graduation from a prestigious university is highly desirable because it is believed to ensure a good career and high social status.
Parents believe that just attending regular schools is not enough for children to pass entrance examinations to prestigious universities, so they often send their children to private cram schools, or juku. Students who fail to pass university examinations often enter preparatory schools, or yobiko, to prepare to take the examinations again the next year.
What is the best season to travel in Japan?
Although each season has its own charm, the best season to travel would be either spring or autumn because the temperature then is pleasant and comfortable. In spring, I think April is the best time to travel in Japan because the cherry blossoms are in full bloom. In autumn, the leaves turn red, yellow and orange and are beautiful to see; and there are many wonderful, seasonal foods to try such as pears, persimmons, grapes, chestnuts, and mushrooms.
Where do you recommend for viewing cherry blossoms?
I would recommend Chidorigafuchi. Chidorigafuchi is close to the Imperial Palace. Kudanshita subway station is the nearest station to get there.
Hundreds of cherry trees decorate the moats of the former Edo Castle, now the Imperial Palace, around Kitanomaru Park, creating one of Tokyo's most outstanding cherry blossom sights. Rowing boats are available for rent.
Trees are lit up in the evenings. Many food stands can be found at nearby Yasukuni Shrine, where another one thousand cherry trees are planted.
What is the cheapest way to travel around in Japan?
Since transportation expenses will make up a considerable part of your travel budget, I would recommend you travel around Japan by bus. Now there is the new Japan Bus Pass that went on sale in summer 2010. The Japan Bus Pass is a revolutionary pass for long distance bus travel in Japan for budget travelers who do not mind sleeping on the bus. With the Pass, it costs less than 3,000 yen for a trip from Tokyo to Hiroshima; while a Shinkansen train ticket costs around 18,000 yen. If used efficiently, the pass can reduce transportation costs to unbelievably low levels for those willing to spend some nights on a bus. The pass can be used both by foreign tourists and residents of Japan, however, it has to be purchased outside of Japan. If you don’t have much time to travel by bus, you can also consider buying of the 7-, 14-, or 21-day rail pass.
Why do Japanese people love the Olympic Games?
In addition to national pride, the same as that felt by all other people, Japanese love of the Olympic Games is partly because of the national character of the Japanese. They are fond of festive events and easily get
excited watching athletes try their best, regardless of country. And since
Japan is a small country, Japanese take pride in seeing their own athletes win and get recognition among the world, especially since they don’t have much chance to feel patriotic in their daily lives.
What was Japan like during the post war-period of the Showa era?
After Japan was defeated, the country was placed under the allied forces for six years, and underwent various democratic reforms. Japan’s postwar economy became stronger due to America’s support, a stable exchange rate of 360 yen to the dollar, and the prosperity resulting from the war boom during the Korean War in the 1950s. Having gone through rapid economic growth between 1955 and 1973, Japan became an economic power. Culturally, this was a period when all sorts of fads from America and Europe were introduced, and Japan became westernized quite rapidly.
Where do you recommend for viewing autumn leaves?
I would recommend Mount Takao, which is certainly one of the best spots to see fall foliage near Tokyo, but it is bound to be quite busy around mid to late November during the season. Mount Takao, or Takaosan, is a wooded mountain with a temple and is a pleasant place just outside central Tokyo.
There, you can enjoy hiking in an autumnal, natural surrounding. The base of the mountain can be reached in just a 50 minute-train ride from Shinjuku.
Please tell me about Kyoto.
Kyoto was the capital of Japan and home of the Emperor for over 1,000 years, starting in 794. The city is full of tourist attractions, which include old temples and shrines beautifully preserved. Over the centuries, Kyoto suffered destruction by many wars and fires, but due to its historic value, the city was dropped from the list of target cities for the atomic bomb and spared from air raids during World War II. Countless temples, shrines and other historically priceless structures survive in the city today. Also, Kyoto has three major festivals that are huge tourist attractions. They are the Gion Festival in July, the Aoi Festival in May, and the Jidai Festival in October
Why are big cities in Japan located on the Pacific side?
One reason is that the Pacific side, compared to the Sea of Japan side, does not have heavy snow in winter. As a result, the Tokugawa shogunate, for example, was based on the Pacific side that included the big cities of Edo (now Tokyo) and Osaka. During Japan’s modern, rapid economic growth between 1955 and 1973, Japan exported a tremendous amount of goods, which were shipped from the Pacific side facing the U.S.A. and other countries.
This resulted in huge investments being made in production facilities for heavy industry located along the Pacific coast from Tokyo to Osaka and Kobe.
From then on, those cities drew more and more people as well as capital.
What do you want foreign visitors to know about Japanese culture?
I would like foreign visitors to know about Japanese rice culture. Japanese people have lived more than 2,000 years with rice as their staple food.
They are a rice-cultivating people and rice is Japan’s most important agricultural product. Many things essential to Japanese culture are related to rice. Various food and drink, such as sake, rice cakes, rice crackers and dumplings are made from rice. On auspicious occasions, Japanese eat sekihan, or red rice, which is sticky rice steamed together with red beans.
And they serve it as an offering to their gods. Japanese sushi, famous around the world, is also made of rice, being mixed with vinegar, sugar and salt for taste.
Japan is said to be a safe and clean country. Why?
I think this is due to the koban, or police box system. There are a lot of koban at street corners. With koban, patrolmen are in the middle of their assigned areas. Koban officers patrol their areas regularly, have a register of local residents, and keep an eye out for anything that looks suspicious. When a crime occurs, they are close enough to move to the spot quickly. The koban system dates back to the Edo period. In addition, children are taught in school and by their parents to take anything they find to the koban. As a result, Japanese are taught to respect other people and their belongings.
Please explain the Japanese writing system.
The Japanese language has three writing systems. One is called kanji, which are Chinese characters. Kanji represent nouns, concepts and actions. The two other writing systems are like alphabets and represent sounds. One is called hiragana and the other is katakana and both were simplified from Chinese characters. Hiragana are used in combination with kanji to make verbs, adjectives, and adverbs; and are used as sentence elements to specify the subjects, objects, indirect objects, etc. in sentences. Katakana are used for writing foreign words and describing sounds like “bang”, “boom”, “ding-dong” and such in Japanese.
What was the Heian Period like?
The Heian Period was from 794 until 1192. During that time, emperors, aristocrats (like the Fujiwara family), and retired emperors ruled for a large part of this period. It was during the Heian Period when uniquely Japanese arts and literature, and not arts and literature based on Chinese culture, developed. One of the best examples is the novel “The tale of Genji.” In addition, the Japanese phonetic writing systems, hiragana and katakana, were developed, enabling the Japanese language to grow and develop its own characteristics.