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Home » Archives » March 2005

National Archive Collection Goes Online

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, March 24, 2005 Posted: 11:03 AM JST

The Yomiuri reports today that Japan's National Archive will make about 1.8 million photographs of historical government documents, important cultural properties and other properties available online. The Tokyo based National Archive plans to have its new service live in April. Most of the items that will be accessible online are usually not on display, making this quite an exciting development.


Where to do Hanami in Kansai?

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, March 23, 2005 Posted: 09:52 AM JST

'Tis that time of year. The time that Japanese people get restless and news bulletins that resemble war reports appear daily on all the nation's TV stations. Serious reporters giving live reports "on location" about the latest status of the country's "Cherry Blossom Front". Where is it now and how do the flowers look this year? Soon after large legions of "flower viewers" move towards the front to deliver a strike while the flowers are still hot. Well, it is almost that dramatic... Where can you go in Kansai to do some serious flower viewing? We have just the list for you!


NYPL Digital Gallery Launched

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, March 22, 2005 Posted: 01:31 AM JST

The NYPL Digital Gallery launched earlier this month and provides access to over 275,000 images from 19th century cigarette cards to Japanese prints and early photographs of Japan by Felice Beato. All of them are digitized from primary sources in the world-renowned New York Public Library collections. Their collection of images and manuscripts from or about Japan is exquisite.


Cool Sites : Ainu

Kjeld Duits, Monday, March 21, 2005 Posted: 11:24 PM JST

The Ainu ruled for centuries in the Northern territories of Japan. Now their culture has faded away into history. Thankfully, observers were able to write down what they saw before it dissapeared. Some observations:

Dutch Encounters with the Ainu People
Article by Tjeerd de Graaf about the Ainu. Includes word lists. (ENG)

Ainu and the people of the Amur area
Many photographs of Ainu artifacts collected by Hungarian ethnographer Barathosi Benedek during his 1908 and 1914 expeditions to Northeast Asia. (ENG HUN)

Ainu Museum in Shiraoi, Hokkaido
Broad description of the Ainu lifestyle and culture. Covers eating habits through religion. Many old photographs. Highly recommended. (CHN ENG JPN)

Ainu Texts
The Ainu are Japans' largest ethnic minority. They are known for Shamanistic beliefs. This site features Ainu folk-tales and folk-lore. (ENG)

NOVA: Island of the Spirits
This beautiful site covers the origins and legends of the Ainu. Some pages don't appear complete in all browsers (eg. if there are no photos of animals on the legend page, try using another browser). (ENG)

Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture
The Foundation for Research and Promotion of Ainu Culture -- "Realizing a Society Where the Pride of Ainu People as an Ethnic Group Is Respected and Contributing to the Promotion of Cultural Diversity (ENG JPN)

Find more sites related to Japan at Japan Links.

Keywords: cool_sites

Book Review : A Magical Mystery Tour

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 19, 2005 Posted: 11:12 AM JST

Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle : A Novel starts in a way that confuses and gives a taste of everything that follows. Yet, everything that follows is totally unexpected. The main character, Toru Okada, is an unemployed, seemingly passive and unimpressive character. If you met him in real life you may forget about him only minutes after having met.


Book Review : Selling Japanese Fruit to the World

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 19, 2005 Posted: 11:03 AM JST

I love the work by my fellow photographer Shoichi Aoki. Like me, he shoots the cool trendsetters on the streets of Tokyo. Since he started his magazine FRUITS in the mid-90s he has taken countless of photographs of the coolest street fashion that the world has seen sofar. The best of these shots are compiled in his book Fruits.


UPDATED: Clear Evidence of Public Executions in North Korea

Kjeld Duits, Friday, March 18, 2005 Posted: 12:01 PM JST

North Korea has systematically refuted claims that it performs public executions and repeatedly accused human rights organizations of making this up. On March 16 Japanese broadcaster NTV however, showed a clandestine video recording of such executions. Two people were executed for assisting others to defect from the country. The next day a man was publicly executed for "slavery". This is the first time such video footage has been shown publicly.


History Overshadows Japan-South Korea Rapprochement

Kjeld Duits, Friday, March 18, 2005 Posted: 09:28 AM JST

(by Kosuke TAKAHASHI) KAWASAKI, Japan - The shrill voice of one old woman with humped shoulders still leaves a distant but lasting memory. When I was an elementary and junior-high-school student in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, I frequently visited my ethnic-Korean friends after school. One day, on the way to a Korean friend's house, an old woman just down the way suddenly snarled at me, saying, "Ilbon ka!" I was stunned. Later I found that what she meant by those few words was something like "Hey, Japanese!" or "Are you Japanese?" (Ilbon means "Japan" in Korean, and ka is an interrogative in Japanese.) She had expressed her deep-seated distrust of all Japanese nationals, even a boy like me. I was definitely intimidated. As can be readily understood, the older the Koreans, the more distrustful they were. Today I understand why.


New iKjeld.com Shop

Kjeld Duits, Wednesday, March 16, 2005 Posted: 11:12 PM JST

Visit our brand new Amazon-affiliated shop. We have made it extremely easy for you to find Japan-related items. Find the best books on Japan, your favorite Japanese film or anime on DVD or the latest J-pop CD. We have it all.

And we also carry everything else Amazon offers. So next time you plan to do some shopping, consider doing it at our shop. You don't loose a penny and you help us stay on the net in the process.


Cool Sites : Japanese Customs

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, March 15, 2005 Posted: 04:26 PM JST

Newcomers often feel confused by Japanese customs and ways of doing things; oldtimers just shake their head knowingly... and secretly look up the right way in one of many etiquette books. Some sites to start learning about the way things are done in Japan:

Festivals & Holidays
Collection of brief articles introducing Japanese customs, holidays and life in Hiroshima. (ENG)

Japanese Funeral Style
Gives a step by step process of how Japanese take care of their funerals, from the moment of death to after all the ceremonies. (ENG)

Japanese Names
Typical surnames, as well as names for boys and girls in Japan. (ENG)

Excellent list of English or English-sounding words that have entered Japanese and developed a new meaning. (ENG)

Key Aspects of Japan
Traditional culture, modern Japan, and nature. (ENG JPN)

New Year in Japan
Links to pages about New Year celebrations in Japan: general, hatsumode, osechi ryori, otoshidama, decorations en nengajo. (ENG)

Ofuro - Bath
Explains bath etiquette, public baths, hot springs, and related vocabulary. (ENG)

Rational Japanese
Case studies and analysis of westerner and Japanese encounters, and the different attitudes and thought processes each goes through. (ENG)

The Japanese Way of Death
Insightful example of how procedures and funerals take place. (ENG)

Things Japanese
A detailed look at weddings and marriage customs. (ENG)

Find more sites related to Japan at Japan Links.

Keywords: cool_sites

Japan Says "No" to NHK

Kjeld Duits, Tuesday, March 15, 2005 Posted: 04:10 PM JST

Japanese are fed up with the scandals at national broadcaster NHK, a top executive of the company told a Diet meeting today. Japanese households are obligated to pay the broadcaster a viewer fee of about 24,000 yen (USD 229) a year. But an increasing number of Japanese households refuse to pay. Their number could reach 700,000 by the end of this month, NHK disclosed today. NHK President Genichi Hashimoto said that the broadcaster's social standing has hit rock bottom.


1 Million Yen for a Baby

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 12, 2005 Posted: 09:29 PM JST

"How about getting paid 1 million yen for having a baby? To combat a shrinking population, a small town in northern Japan has decided to give a cash award worth about $9,600 to each female resident who has a third child," writes the Associated Press today.

Keywords: national_news

Are the Emperor and His Son Really Feuding?

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 12, 2005 Posted: 09:22 PM JST

"I don't buy the story that Naruhito's mom and dad are so upset. What has happened is that the Imperial Household Agency, the massive, largely secret bureacracy that manages the affairs of Japan's imperial family, was irritated by the Crown Prince's honesty, and lapse of protocol," writes longtime Japan expert Steve Clemons in his Washington Note.

Key words: opinion_item

Journalistic Power to the People

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 12, 2005 Posted: 08:55 PM JST

The traditional role of the reporter is undergoing great change thanks to new technology like digital photography, e-mail and internet. One area that is especially effected by these changes is war reporting. Many of the stories about misbehaving soldiers came from fellow soldiers. The disgusting photos of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison were taken by their guards.


OJR Journalism Tutorial Wikis

Kjeld Duits, Saturday, March 12, 2005 Posted: 08:30 PM JST

The Online Journalism Review has started a collection of tutorials about basic journalism skills. The tutorials are targeted at people who are new to journalism, like bloggers or writers at volunteer organizations. The tutorials are to-the-point and extremely practical. They are also in wiki format, so anybody can add and edit.

"While we're hoping to reach bloggers and others outside traditional newsrooms with this feature, we need the help of experienced journalists, including those on this list," OJR editor Robert Niles is quoted on CyberJournalist.net. "Your anecdotes and advice will help provide the guidance that many 'grassroots' reporters and bloggers could use and would welcome in their efforts to provide better content online."

Keywords: internet_news

The Night Hell Fell from the Sky

Kjeld Duits, Friday, March 11, 2005 Posted: 07:44 AM JST

Japan Focus carries a thought provoking article by David McNeill this week. Exactly sixty years ago this month US forces killed 100,000 civilians in Tokyo. It was such actions that President Roosevelt had harshly condemned when they were conducted by the fascists. Now the allies were doing the same thing, with the home front enthusiastically cheering them on. If the US had lost the war the architects of the fire-bombing that produced these deaths would without doubt have been tried as war criminals. After reading the article I wondered if it isn't hard time we start to reconsider the nature of war and our role as civilians in it, both active and passive.


Japan Shooting for Moon

Kjeld Duits, Thursday, March 10, 2005 Posted: 07:38 AM JST

Japan is thinking about a manned lunar base by 2025 confirmed Masaki Shirakawa, an official with the Cabinet Office, and JAXA officials this week. A report is expected to be submitted to the government within 30 days. If this project is approved, it means a major change of direction for Japan's space program. Aside from its astronauts on NASA's space shuttle, Japan has always used unmanned probes.


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The now legendary Sir Ernest Mason Satow (1843-1929) was a member of the British legation in Tokyo for twenty-one years. This classic book is based on the author's detailed diary, personal encounters, and keen memory. In it, Satow records the history of the critical years of social and political upheaval that accompanied Japan's first encounters with the West around the time of the Meiji Restoration. Fascinating.
Stone Bridge Press

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