Journal

 

Tuesday
Mar142017

Chodo Kono Takasa

    Six years ago, Tōhoku was hit by a massive earthquake which triggered tsunami up to 40.5 meters in height. To give people an idea of how high the seismic sea waves were, Yahoo! Japan had the above memorial banner hung on the Sony Building in Tōkyō's Ginza district. The red line, which reads chōdo kono takasa (ちょうどこの高さ, "exactly this height"), gives a powerful reminder of how high the destructive tsunami was.

Monday
Feb202017

Blasphemy

  My wife made an interesting observation after spending the day with an old friend from her work days: "Ideas about the proper way to raise children are like a religion. It's like I belong to this sect. My friend belongs to another sect. And just like you shouldn't say 'My God is the One True God and yours is a blasphemy.' it's hard to tell someone that their way of raising a child may be wrong."

  She was referring in particular to the Boob Tube and how some families have TV on all day long like BGM in their homes. "How can you talk to your children or read to them if you've got the TV on?"

  As with religion--you won't really know if you were right or completely wrong until you die (even then you still may not have an answer)--when it comes to kids, you won't know if your policies worked until the kids grow up and go out into the world.

  The other day, Cain and Abel were at their grandparents. (Heaven on earth!) I plopped down on the sofa and looked at the black screen of my TV. I thought about turning it on to watch the news, but the effort to get up and turn it on was too much. Inertia has a way of keeping you verring out of habit. It occurred to me that for many people the effort required to turn it off and open a book, instead, is often too much for many people.

 

 

Wednesday
Feb012017

How to say February in Japanese

   It's February again which makes me wonder if there are any songs dedicated to the coldest month of the year. I can't think of any off the top of my head.

   This time last year an honest to god blizzard hit Fukuoka which was a lot of fun. I cancelled my class at the uni and took my sons out to Dazaifu which tends to get two to four times as much snow as we do in the city. Keep it in mind, the next time the area is hit with a snow storm.

   Anyways, February, like the other months is known by a number of names in Japanese. Nigatsu (二月, "Second Month") is the most common. Kisaragi, also pronounced Jōgetsu (如月, ") is the old name for the month according to the lunar calendar, or inreki (陰暦, literally "cloudy/shadow + calendar"). The second month was also called 如月 in China, but apparently there is no connection to the kisaragi of Japan. 

   There are some theories for the origin of the name. One is that in the old lunar calendar, kisaragi was still cold--hey, it's still cold today--and people were encouraged to wear extra layers during the month. Kisaragi can also be written 衣更着, which means to put on (着) even more (更に) clothing (衣).

   Another theory is that plants and trees (草木, kusagi) put forth new buds (芽が張り出す, mi-o haridasu) during the month, so the month may have been known as kusakihariduki, which when abreviated became kisaragi.

   Reigetsu (麗月, "beautiful month") is another name for the second month because everything sparkles beautifully.

   Umemizuki (梅見月, "plum blossom viewing month")

   Hatsuhanatsuki (初花月, "first flower month")

   Yukigeduki (雪消月, "snow disappears month")

   Tangetsu (短月, "short month") due to the number of days in the month

 

 

 

Friday
Jan132017

Soroban

How would you add up the following numbers?

29
58
72
+36
____


My son started soroban (abacus) lessons this week, so my wife and I have been talking a lot about arithmetic recently.

I told her that although I had been taught to tally up the ones first, I now add up the tens, or round, in order to get a ball park figure.

With rounding, you get:

29→30
58→60
72→70
+36→40
________
X < 200

With a multiple choice exam, this will help quickly eliminate answers.

A better way to round that requires a bit of note taking is:

29→30 (-1)
58→60 (-2)
72→70 (+2)
+36→40 (-4)
________
→200 (-5) = 195

I've heard this is the way the Indians are taught to do it. I think Common Core has also tried to introduce a similar method much to the dismay of parents who don't get it.

Adding the tens first you get X > 170.

I've always found this to be a much faster way to do addition and other simple math problems. Apparently, that is also what they do with the soroban. You get an instant "feel" for the answer--it should be about X--then you add in the ones with a few flicks of the beads and come up with the answer.

29→20 + 9
58→50 + 8
72→70 + 2
+36→30 + 6
________
→170 + 25 = 195

What surprised me, though, is learning how kids here are taught to do math. Apparently, they are instructed to add 29 + 58 first, then add that sum to the next number, 72, then add that to the last number, 36.

29 + 58 + 72 + 36 =
29 + 58 → X + 72 → Y + 36 = the final answer
29 + 58 → 87 + 72 → 159 + 36 = 195

This seems awfully time consuming and all those steps only insure that you're going to fuck up along the way.

Any thoughts?




 

Friday
Dec022016

Shh!! I'm recording!!

How many of you out there remember holding a microphone up to the speaker and recording the radio onto a cassette tape? I do.

 

In 1983, cassettes tapes accounted for 47.8% of music sales; vinyl 44.6%. The jump in casette sales was a result of the debut of the Sony Walkman in the early '80s. Although CDs overtook cassettes in 1991, their sales peaked barely a decade later in 2003. Downloads overtook CDs in 2012.

In 2013, CDs accounted for 30.4% of all music sales. Downloads, meanwhile, accounted for 40% (singles, 22.4%; albums, 17.6%) Sales of ringtones peaked at 11% in 2008.

iTunes was released in January 2001; the iTunes Store in April 2003. The first iPhone was released in 2007.

 

Thursday
Dec012016

Childhood Poverty in Japan

There has been much handwringing of late with regard to the childhood poverty rate in Japan. This is something I would like to address in future posts, but for now I want to share this graph I found which shows childhood poverty rates by prefecture.

Overall, Japan has a childhood poverty rate of 13.8%, considerably less than America's rate of 21%. But looking at individual prefectures, we find that the poverty rate of Okinawa, the nation's worst, is 37.5%. Ōsaka has the second highest childhood poverty rate at over 20%. Kagoshima is third and my prefecture of Fukuoka is fourth with just under 20%, meaning one in five kids is living in poverty. Sobering statistics, to say the least.