Japan Australia Pages

Friday, August 26, 2016

The Stars’ Fault by John Box

The Stars’ Fault by John Box
The Stars’ Fault is the brand new book by John Box, star of American MaleWhore in Tokyo: The Great White Host.

The Stars’ Fault is a 66 page novella (story) that follows the parallel short stories of Fen, a tenacious 10-year old fighting for his life against cancer, and Vulp, the captain of a space pioneer squadron, fighting for the survival of his species.

Alternating chapters introduce us to three youngsters, Harold, Andromeda, and Fen determined to kick cancer in the butt at a cancer ward in a children’s hospital. In a galaxy far far away, three other valiant intergalactic space pioneers are hurtling through space in the sleek Probe Cruiser LXVIII on an epic space odyssey to continue the existence of their species. The two-books-in-one and alternating chapters keep the story, humour and action at a lively pace.

The book is one part parody (The Fault in Our Stars), two parts mind screw, and three parts the best words. It will make you laugh, cry, and question the nature of the universe. The book breaks your heart by manipulating your emotions and your attachment to the main characters, Fen and Vulp, as well as the sidekicks, who play a prominent role in the story.

I was lucky to receive an advanced copy of the book prior to the launch from the author. I really enjoyed reading the book which is a fun, quick read that left me wanting more! I especially enjoyed the connection that the book has to Japan. John references Japanese culture such as the love story of Orihime & Hikoboshi, which is Tanabata (The Star Festival), as well as having Fen’s favourite author Rowen Boozewell based in Japan. Fen even hatches a plot to take advantage of a wish-granting charity group to try and travel to Japan to meet his hero.

The book just released on August 26 is currently FREE on Amazon from 1 pm (Japan Time) Saturday, August 27 to Tuesday, August 30. It will be $0.99 after that date; you can also pick up a copy of the paperback version on createspace.com for only $3.99. Do yourself a favour and make sure you give it a read.

The Stars’ Fault by John Box

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Mountain Day ~ Yama no Hi

Mountain Day
Mountain Day, or Yama no Hi (山の日) in Japanese is a National Holiday that is celebrated every August 11th. The holiday was created with the intention to give the hard-working Japanese a break from work while spending time in the mountains with family members and friends. Mountain Day will celebrate all things mountain-related in Japan, which is a nation whose culture is founded on nature-inspired Shintoism.

History of Yama no Hi 

Mountain Day is a new national holiday in Japan as from 2016, so does not have a lot of history behind it at this stage.

The national holiday was announced by the Japanese Diet in May 2014 and will start being celebrated as a national holiday every August 11, beginning in 2016. The new holiday was created with the intention to provide opportunities to the hard working Japanese to get familiar with mountains and appreciate the blessings from mountains, which dominate 70% of Japan’s land mass. Support of the holiday has come from legislator Seishiro Eto, as well as the Japanese Alpine Club who argued that Shinto beliefs in nature have shaped Japan’s culture and should be celebrated via its peaks and mountains.

The Japanese government planned Mountain Day as a way of fighting the harmful effects of overworking. It is hoped the day will give families an opportunity to bond as well as expose children to nature.

How is Yama no Hi Celebrated? 

Yama no Hi was established as a holiday to allow Japanese citizens time to enjoy nature and spend some more time with their family members and friends. It is a day to express gratitude and appreciate the many great peaks and mountains of Japan, which dominate its landscape and culture.

Mountain Day will celebrate all things mountain-related and has strong ties to nature and Shintoism, which is the ancient religion of Japan. Shinto is a religion that is based on nature and the world in which people live. According to Shinto beliefs, kami or Shinto gods, reside in nature in things like rivers, oceans, trees and mountains.

To celebrate Mountain Day, Japanese people are encouraged to visit rural mountainous areas across Japan with Mount Fuji a popular destination. The inaugural National Ceremony for Mountain Day will be held in the Japan Alps at Kamikochi in Nagano.

We are going to celebrate by heading to the Southern Japan Alps in Gifu and Nagano to take in some spectacular mountain scenery and food.

Festivals and Events for August in Japan

Mountain Day ~ Yama no Hi

Mountain Day
Image Source

Monday, July 18, 2016

Marine Day ~ Umi no Hi

Marine Day, or Umi no Hi (海の日) in Japanese is a National Holiday that is celebrated on the third Monday in July. The holiday is also known as “Ocean Day” or “Sea Day” with the purpose of giving thanks to the sea and to consider the importance of the ocean to Japan as an island nation. This year, the holiday falls on Monday, July 18.

Many people use this holiday and the long weekend it creates to enjoy the summer weather with ocean-related activities very popular.

History of Umi no Hi 

The national holiday was known as Marine Memorial Day (海の記念日), or Umi no Kinenbi until 1996. Marine Memorial Day was established in 1941 to commemorate and mark the anniversary of the 1876 voyage of Emperor Meiji in the Meiji Maru, an iron steamship constructed in Scotland in 1874. The voyage included a trip around the Tohoku region, embarking on a lighthouse boat in Aomori, a brief stop in Hakodate in Hokkaido, before returning to Yokohama on July 20 of that year. It was however not designated a national holiday until 1995, when it became the first national holiday in the summer months.

How is Umi no Hi Celebrated? 

Umi no Hi was established as a holiday to express gratitude for the gifts of the sea and to honour its importance to Japan as a maritime nation.

As a modern holiday in Japan, there are no special customs or traditions associated with the day. July is one of the hottest times of the year in Japan, so many people take advantage of the summer weather to take a trip to the beach. Other popular activities include visiting aquariums, enjoying water shows and water sports, swimming and enjoying a BBQ by the river.

Festivals and Events for July in Japan

Image Source

Sunday, May 22, 2016

The Soft Side of Robots: Elderly Care in Japan

The Soft Side of Robots: Elderly Care in Japan
Japan has long been renowned for its high technology and innovation in the field of robotics. In recent times, it has taken this technology along with its high level of customer service to an even greater level to help make our lives that little bit easier and more comfortable in Japan.

Some examples of this can be found in the world’s first hotel fully staffed by robots in Nagasaki, as well as Japanese companies using drones to deliver goods and basic necessities to the elderly living in remote areas of the country. For more information on robots, check out the Financial Times website.

Japan is one of the world’s fastest ageing societies with a quarter of its population over the age of 65. A low birth rate and very little immigration has led to a shortage of young people to look after its ageing population, forcing it to look into robotic solutions. Automotive giant, Toyota has been actively engaged in robotic research since 2000 in order to help provide practical and affordable tools for elderly care.

Many other companies in Japan are also involved in designing and building robots to provide cost effective care for the elderly. This robot revolution in Japan is aimed at helping to provide the elderly with therapeutic care as well as emotional and physical support.

The financial Times have made an interesting documentary called "In Caring for the Elderly", that takes a look at how Japan is using robotic technology to  provide emotional and physical care to the elderly.

Friday, April 29, 2016

Golden Week in Japan 2016

Golden Week starts today, April 29 in Japan with Showa Day (昭和の日). What is Golden Week? It is basically a collection of four national holidays closely grouped together in the space of seven days from late April to early May. This year in 2016 Golden Week is based on two separate holiday periods from April 29 to May 1 and from May 3 to May 5.

Golden Week and this time in Japan is a celebration of spring with a lot of festivals and historical events taking place all over the country.

The Four National Holidays of Golden Week 

1. Showa Day (April 29) 

The first national holiday of Golden Week is Showa no Hi (昭和の日) or Showa Day, which is the birthday of the former Showa Emperor. It is a day to honour the birthday of the late emperor, as well as to remember the hard work and effort of the Japanese people in rebuilding their country during the turbulent Showa Era (1926 – 1989).

2. Constitution Memorial Day (May 3) 

The second national holiday of Golden Week is Kenpou Kinenbi (憲法記念日) or Constitution Memorial Day. It is a day to commemorate the new Japanese constitution, which was put into effect on May 3, 1947.

3. Greenery Day (May 4) 

The third national holiday of Golden Week is Midori no Hi (みどりの日) or Greenery Day. It is a day to show appreciation for the environment and nature. It is the perfect time to head outdoors and enjoy the beautiful spring weather and fresh green leaves of the season.

4. Children’s Day (May 5) 

The last national holiday of Golden Week is Kodomo no Hi (こどもの日) or Children’s Day on May 5. It is a day for children in general, but is primarily for boys, as girls have their own day called Hina Matsuri on March 3. Children’s Day is a day to celebrate boys and to pray for their healthy growth. It’s a Japanese tradition for families with boys to celebrate this day by raising carp streamers (koinobori) outside their houses around this holiday. Carp are believed to symbolize successes in children’s lives. The black carp of koinobori represent the father, the red carp for the mother, and blue, green, purple or orange for the subsequent children.

Golden Week is one of the busiest travel periods in Japan with most tourist destinations extremely crowded and fully booked out. Airports and train stations are usually overflowing with people during this time and it can be very hard to get reservations for accommodation and transportation during Golding Week without booking months in advance. Many Japanese offices close for about a week to 10 days, depending on the calendar with many workers taking a vacation, traveling abroad or to a popular tourist destination in Japan.

The travel peak is anticipated for around April 29 this year with the return rush around May 8.

If you are not traveling, there are numerous local festivals and events for the whole family to enjoy around Japan.

What are your plans for Golden Week in Japan? Please leave your reply in the comments below.

Colonel Sanders all dressed up for Kodomo no Hi (Children's Day)
Colonel Sanders dressed for Kodomo no Hi

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes in Japan

2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes in Japan
Over the past week Kumamoto in the Kyushu region of Japan has suffered a series of devastating earthquakes. The first earthquake occurred at around 9:26 pm on April 14, 2016 around Mount Kinpu to the north north-west of Kumamoto City. The first earthquake was a foreshock measuring M6.5, with the worst damage occurring in the town of Mashiki, 15km east of Kumamoto. 

More than 140 aftershocks were registered within two days of the foreshock with 11 aftershocks of at least M4.5 and one of M6.0.

The mainshock occurred at 1:25 am on April 16, 2016 beneath Kumamoto City in Higashi Ward. The M7.3 quake has caused significant additional damage to the areas already affected by the initial foreshock several days earlier.

This is the worst humanitarian challenge Japan has faced since the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and Tsunami. As of today (Thursday, April 21), there have been 48 confirmed deaths with thousands affected by the disaster. New reports have being saying that around 10,000 people are staying in their cars in Mashiki Town, while there are 180,000 evacuees seeking shelter.

There has also been 11 indirect deaths in Kumamoto related to the disaster. Quite a few people have been dying from the so-called "economy class syndrome" (Deep Vein Thrombosis) caused by sitting too long in cramped conditions in recuse shelters and from sleeping in cars.

2016 Kumamoto Earthquakes in Japan
Image Source

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has mobilized personnel of the Japan Self Defense Forces to assist local authorities with search and rescue recovery efforts. Japan is struggling to cope with the disaster with relief efforts stretched to the limit.

Nearly a week after the first quake struck, aftershocks continue with nearly 700 aftershocks hitting Kyushu since April 14. To further add to the disaster, heavy rain and wind is predicted the next few days with the possibility of landslides causing even more problems.

You can find news and updates about the Kumamoto Earthquakes on the Japan national Tourism Organisation website.

If you are interested in helping out and supporting the people and areas affected by the earthquakes, Yahoo Japan has set up emergency fund raising for the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake. They will donate an equal amount to your donation (up to 20 million yen per donation). You can find more information on their website in both English and Japanese http://donation.yahoo.co.jp/detail/1630023/

Emergency fund raising for the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival 2016

JAFA Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival
JAFA’s Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival is the biggest Japan festival in Adelaide, South Australia. The festival organised by the JAFA (Japan Australia Friendship Association) has been running for over 20 years now. It's great to see Japanese culture so prevalent overseas and festivals like this promoting Japanese culture. If you are a fan of Japanese culture and live in the Adelaide area make sure to mark it down on your events calendar.

The festival is a lot of fun and is filled with Japan-related performances, exhibitions, activities, stalls and plenty of delicious Japanese food.

Some of the many attractions you can see at the festival include: 
  • Martial Arts Demonstrations (Judo, Kendo, Aikido, Iaijutsu) 
  • Taiko Drumming 
  • Japanese Folk Dance 
  • Traditional Japanese Folk Songs 
  • Origami 
  • Calligraphy 
  • Ikebana (Flower Arranging) 
  • Tea Ceremony 
  • Bonsai Tree Displays 
  • Japanese Pottery 
The event has won a number of prestigious community awards including:

• 2013 WINNER - The City of West Torrens Community Event of the Year Award
• 2013 WINNER - The Australia Day Council of South Australia Community Event of the Year Award

Come along for a fun day for the whole family at this unique community event.

Event Information 

What: Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival
When: Sunday, 1st May 2016 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Cowandilla Primary School
Address: 21 Jenkins St, Cowandilla, SA, Australia
Cost: $2 per person, $5 per family
Access: Free parking is available
Other: Come in a Japanese costume to add to the fun of the festival

Volunteers, stallholders, performers and display holders are needed. Please visit the website below to apply or to find out more about the festival.


Here are some pictures from last year's event.

JAFA Kodomo no Hi Japan Festival
Japanese festival yukata

Japanese festival atmopshere and fun
Japanese festival atmosphere and fun

Popular Japanese festival food Takoyaki
Popular Japanese festival food Takoyaki

Martial Arts Demonstration
Martial Arts Demonstration
Japanese Taiko Drumming
Japanese Taiko Drumming

Traditional Japanese Costume
Traditional Japanese Costume

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