Okinawa was originally an independent kingdom called Ryukyu. A very small island state, it bloomed because of its ideal location for trading, and its patronage of, and support from, Imperial China. It was absorbed into Japan by the late 19th century, even though its populace is culturally distinct from that of the rest of the country.
New Year is known as oshogatsu and is the most important holiday in Japan. Although in recent years Xmas is celebrated, once Dec 25th has passed all Xmas decorations are taken down overnight, to be replaced by traditional ones made of bamboo and pine branches. All duties are supposed to be finished before the end of the year, bonenkai (“forgetting the year”) parties are common, and houses are cleaned even more spotlessly than usual.
The true story of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) is one of the most famous in Japan. It is a tale adapted into countless kabuki plays, bunraku puppet shows, woodblock prints, and later films and television shows. Fictionalized versions of the story are known as Chushingura, and continue to be very popular to this day. It is based on an incident that happened during Japan’s feudal era.
This car show is held in Tokyo once every two years. In the most recent one, there were 42 world debuts of either improved models of existing cars like the Prius, or else concept cars, some very futuristic. Though many of the manufacturers represented at this show were Japanese, there was a strong showing by Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, Peugeot and many other foreign manufacturers.
There’s a well-known Japanese proverb that says, “A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.” I have just returned from climbing Mount Fuji for the second time. Why did I do it again? Mainly to get photos for this website. Here’s the story; first a little background (the next two paragraphs below are taken direct from my book ‘Fukushima and the coming Tokyo earthquake: and what it will mean for a fragile world economy’). Buy it and learn lots, grasshopper.