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Japan Days

My Days in Japan

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Welcome to Japan-Days.info

On this web site, I will share with you some stories and pictures from the time when I lived in Japan as a member of the United States Air Force, and from various visits that my wife, Ritsuko, and I have made there since my departure from the military in 1978. I will add content to the site periodically in the "Articles" section, so please visit often. I hope that you enjoy the site.

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Current news feed source:
The Japan Times - Life

Life – The Japan Times
News on Japan, Business News, Opinion, Sports, Entertainment and More

Ryo: The form and function of tenugui hand towels (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:57:00 +0900

As yukata (light cotton kimono) became common streetwear among Edoites, cotton tenugui hand towels likewise became a fashionable "must" accessory.
Yuji Haraguchi: Changing the gourmet rules (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:56:05 +0900

From making fish-based ramen to serving Japanese lunch as breakfast in the U.S., chef Yuji Haraguchi likes to break with convention.
The ongoing evolution of Japan’s soup curry (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:54:45 +0900

This perfectly spicy soup curry is packed with healthy vegetables in a light, flavorful broth for an easily customizable, quick and easy meal.
Mu-Hung: Chicken rice, laksa and classic hawker fare (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:52:05 +0900

For close on 20 years, this friendly, no-frills diner has been the go-to destination for Singapore street-level cooking — the kind of wholesome dishes you ...
Aoyama Kawakami-an: Sobaya that lets its hair down at night (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:50:16 +0900

Arrive at Aoyama Kawakami-an at midday and you'll find a typical upmarket noodle shop. But return after nightfall and it has a very different feel.
Ramen boom excites taste buds in cosmopolitan Geneva (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:48:55 +0900

Amid a steady rise in the popularity of authentic Japanese ramen across Europe, establishments dedicated to the famed noodle dish are popping up in the ...
Gear up for summer with three new sweets from Seven-Eleven (life)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 22:46:53 +0900

Seven-Eleven is on a hot streak with its new watermelon ice bar, double cheesecake and tapioca milk tea jelly.
Cinematically big in Japan: Where film crews lead, fans soon follow (life)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 23:09:32 +0900

A visit to a film location can add some movie magic to your Japan travels.
Various summer delicacies to choose from (life)
Thu, 18 Jul 2019 15:17:43 +0900

Grand Hyatt Tokyo is pleased to introduce its new summer menus, perfect for enjoying indoors or on the hotel’s spacious open-air terraces.The hotel’s 10 restaurants ...
H.C. Andersen Park: Once upon a time, in a land not so far away (life)
Sun, 14 Jul 2019 19:55:59 +0900

Take the kids on a fairy-tale trip to H.C. Andersen Park in Chiba Prefecture, where Denmark's most celebrated writer lives on in playgrounds, workshops and ...

Travel to Japan

With Ritsuko having been born and raised in a small town in rural Kagoshima Prefecture, I have had the opportunity to visit the area with her many times over the years.

stream

stone lined stream that directs water to the Shimazu estate

Southern Kyushu is a beautiful part of Japan that receives sufficient rainfall for the mountains and valleys to be covered in lush vegetation, and has a long history of responsible productive use of the land and resources.

Walking through the countryside, one thing that you will notice are the centuries old stone lined aquaducts that are still in use today. Their presence and use give testament to how well the people of this region have managed, and continue to manage the flow of water from the mountains and into the fields and towns.

During our stay in Kagoshima on our 2016 Japan trip, we visited Sengan-en. Sengan-en is a park established on the grounds of a beautiful estate that has belonged to the Shimazu family for the past three and a half centuries. I will write more about the estate, garden, and museum in another article, however, I just wanted to share this video of a Sakon-Taro in operation. This is a water powered device that was used to remove the husks and to polish rice.

Below, is a video of the machine going through a cycle.

Video of Sakon-taro in operation - Sengan-en, Kagoshima, Japan

sakon-taro

Sakon-taro rice husking device at Sengan-En, Kagoshima, beginning to cycle

Sakon-taro rice husking device at Sengan-En, Kagoshima, about to strike

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: March 30, 2017

Japan Culture

Post Date: July 22, 2017

A few years ago, Yuko Suzuhana, a beautiful and talented young graduate of Tokyo College of Music, trained in the classic art of Japanese poetry singing known as Shigin, shared her vision for starting a new kind of rock band with some of her friends.

Wagakki Band: (front l-r) Kiyoshi Ibukuro [koto], Yuko Suzuhana [vocals], Asa [bass]; (rear l-r) Wasabi [drums], Machiya [guitar], Daisuke Kaminaga [shakuhachi], Beni Ninagawa [tsugaru shamisen], Kurona [wadaiko]. Photo from wagakkiband.jp

Together, they formed Wagakki Band, a Japanese rock ensemble that is not quite like any group that I have ever seen or heard. As the name wagakki, a generic term for traditional Japanese musical instruments, suggests, the band incorporates a traditional musical style, specifically using the instruments Koto, Shakuhachi, Shamisen, and Wadaiko, along with electric guitar, bass, and drums into a sound highlighted by Yuko Suzuhana's beautiful vocals in the style of Shigin to forge a unique sound.

There are eight very talented artists in the band. As I noted above, Yuko Suzuhana is the vocalist. Daisuke Kaminaga plays the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). The percussion section of the band consists of two drummers, Kurona, who plays wadaiko (traditional Japanese drums), and Wasabi a percussionist who performs in a most unique style with a modern drum kit. Electric bassist Asa, and electric guitarist Machiya are the other musicians playing modern instruments. Kiyoshi Ibukuro plays the koto (a large harp like string instrument), and Beni Ninagawa plays shamisen in the style "tsugaru jamisen".

Each artist, in addition to being exquisitely talented musically, presents themselves in costumes that incorporate traditional style with modern. The vibe that they create is sublimely infectious, and their music and performances present a modern representation classical Japanese culture that is visually and audibly pleasing, representing their native culture in a most positive manner to the world.

When their first recording was uploaded onto YouTube, the band became an instant success, and after creating more music videos and live performances since 2014, their popularity has grown exponentially, not only at home, but all over the world.

A lot of their studio videos and live performances are on YouTube. I have embedded two in this article. The first is a live performance from 2017 of the band's iconic hit song "Senbonzakura" (1000 Cherry Trees), and the other is a video from a 2016 live performance in an outdoor venue in Nikko, Toshogu Shrine.

Wagakki Band Video - Senbonzakura (1000 Cherry Trees) - live 2017

The video below was filmed in June 2016, when the band performed at the 400th anniversary of Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan. Toshogu is a Shinto Shrine of great historical importance. It was built to honor Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled a unified Japan from 1600 C.E. until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Live performance at Nikko Toshogu Shrine June 2016

Please look for more of their content on YouTube, and I hope that you enjoy the performances of Wagakki Band as much as I do.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: October 14, 2018

U.S. Military in Japan

Post Date: March 1, 2011

On a rainy day in 1974, I was on my way out to the flightline to work on the air sampling equipment in a WC-130 when I decided to take a camera with me. I doubt that I had any motivation for doing so other than wanting to take some pictures of en route aircraft. However, maybe, just maybe I thought that some day, far in the future, when I am much older and as gray as that monsoon sky, I might like to look at these pictures again, and imagine the feeling of the drizzling rain, the sound of jet engines, and the smell of JP4.

Perhaps some of my comrades of the 610 Military Airlift Support Squadron will also enjoy these pictures, so here they are.

Looking toward the terminal, some of Lockheed's finest of the era - a line of T-Tails (C141's) and a FRED (C5A)

Yokota AB Flightline

Down the other way, more C141's, and more rain; you can barely see the tower

Yokota AB Flightline

Flight Crew boarding -- this one is ready to go

Yokota AB Flightline

Re-fueling an enroute C141 - this brings back memories of being on the Yokota Air Base Flightline in the 1970's - I love the smell of JP4!

Yokota AB Flightline

Here is where I was to work that day -- a Weather C130

I hope that you enjoyed the pictures.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: March 28, 2017
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