27 July 2012

World Heritage ★ the Shrines and Temples of Nikko, JAPAN

Surprisingly, there are only 12 UNESCO World - Cultural - Heritage in Japan (http://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/jp/) and 'Shrines and Temples of Nikko' (1999) is the one of them which is the nearest from Tokyo.

Nearly 100 miles north and about 2.5 hours drive from Tokyo, the city of Nikko has been a sacred site in the Japanese history.

Please learn the details in the following links:
★UNESCO World Heritage: Shrines and Temples of Nikko http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/913/
★Japan Guide on Nikko: http://www.japan-guide.com/e/e3801.html
★NHK, Japan's national broadcaster's video of Nikko: http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/913/video (*Highly recommended fine pictures of the Heritage)
It was a wet cold summer in Nikko, but the beautiful shines and temples are shining in misty fog in summer greenly trees. It is outstanding!
It is always the tourist site for both foreigners and Japanese. The architectures are colourful but not too vivid. Just right for the Japanese taste.
How many Japanese know the depth of its history but it is absolutely beautiful!
A rare picture without people. The site is always popular for tourists.
Even Japanese people look at a guidebook and pamphlet and lean the meaning of all the beautiful architecture. The colours of black, gold, red may have been faded its colours but it just right for it.
The famous 'Three Wise Monkeys' (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Three_wise_monkeys): 'Don't look, don't say, and don't listen' = 'See No Evil Hear No Evil Speak No Evil' was rather small for expectation. But it means everything.
Just don't forget to eat the local cuisine, 'yuba', on soba noodles. It is simple food but so different from ordinary to extraordinary 'soba' noodle in Nikko.
Love to come back in autumn season when the Shrines and Temples of Nikko are surrounded by gold and red autumn tree leaves.

20 July 2012

Summer holiday homework at Japanese primary school

The hot summer is here in Japan.
It is bright and humid.
It was the last of the first term at most of the Japanese schools and the children brought back a lot of summer holiday homework today.
Because summer holiday takes place in the middle of the Japanese school year rather than in between each grade, it is treated as an important time to review what the children learnt since April.
It is truly a big headache for both parents and children to battle over piles of piles of homework.

Here are 11 assignments for Year 3 students.
  1. One line diary ('ichigyou nikki' 一行日記) ... Every day for 6 weeks
  2. Book report ('dokusho kansou bun' 読書感想文) ... 1200 words
  3. Research project (’jiyu kenkyu' 自由研究)
  4. Plants observation log ('kansatsu card' 観察カード)
  5. Picture diary ('e nikki' 絵日記)
  6. Workbook for literacy, math, science and social science ('natsuyasumi doriru' 夏休みドリル)
  7. Poster drawing ('zukou no poster' 図工のポスター)
  8. Recorder and melodica practice ('ongaku' 音楽)
  9. Short book reviews ('dokusho card' 読書カード)
  10. Sending summer greetings cards to the class teacher ('shochu mimai' 暑中見舞い)
  11. Picture diary for ecology (エコ絵日記)
(Above picture is for the 'plant observation diary' assignment. My daughter somehow decided to grow 'okura'. We cannot let it die until we complete the assignment.)
The amount of each assignments is not that great but it requires the everyday's efforts, wherever, however the children are.

There is always a reminder in the school newsletter to keep up the healthy daily routine during six weeks summer holiday. 
'Early to bed and early to rise, and keep up a healthy lifestyle during holidays'.

The long and busy summer holiday has started.

05 July 2012

Japanese kids favourites ★ Human-looking dwarfs ('kobito') vs Funghi Mushrooms ('nameko')

There are things which are ugly but somehow they cannot be disliked. It is what people call 'kimo-kawaii' in Japanese slang.
'kimo' is a shorten word for 'kimoi' or 'kimochi warui', literally means wired, grotesque, and disgusting. 'kawaii' is widely known as cute, charming, fluffy and adorable looking.

Ugly but cute. Pretty but wired.
The contradicted sense is overtaking the Japanese 'kawaii' (cute) culture especially among young people.

Lately, Japanese children are crazy about some 'ugly-cute' characters.

One is called 'kobito zukan' (the Dwarf Encyclopedia)
(The official website: http://kobito-dukan.com/ , Japanese language only) .
The story starts like this:
'They are neither bugs nor plants. Have you ever seen the living creature like this? The Dwarf Encyclopedia,'
One day, a boy found a mysterious creature. He borrowed the Dwarf Encyclopedia from his grandpa and he went for searching the human-looking dwarfs. It is an unique story with colourful pictures that encourages children to experience the exploration, discovery and gaining knowledge in the book.
It ends with a phrase: 'the secret fantasy in the Mather Nature.'

Another funny-looking popular character is 'nameko' (Funghi Mushroom) that is fast widespreading to the world.
(The official website: http://namepara.com/en/about/)
The fictional character, Funghi Mushroom ('nameko'), is detective's assistant to help out the young female detective in the popular game, 'Touch Detective' (http://namepara.com/en/app/touch/ ) in Nintendo DS and iPhone application.

There are varieties of gadgets for those ugly-cute characters such as toys, stationery, accessories, books, DVDs, etc.
The Dwarf Encyclopedia -
Online-shopping: http://shop.kobito-dukan.com/ (Japanese language only)
iPhone App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/introduction-to-observing/id408371819?mt=8
Nintendo DS: http://www.pocketgamer.co.uk/r/3DS/Kobito+Dukan/news.asp?c=40845

Funghi Mushroom -
Official goods: http://namepara.com/goods/ (Japanese language only)
iPhone App: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mushroom-garden-a.k.a.-funghi/id438171814?mt=8
Nintendo DS: http://www.amazon.co.uk/505-Games-Mystery-Detective-Nintendo/dp/B000MMUW86

'kobito' and 'nameko' are equally cute and they are both the winners!