Tokyo Olympics

Many people are wondering if the Tokyo Olympics in July this year will be held as planned. It is completely unpredictable whether the outbreak of the new coronavirus will end by then.

As far as I know, the public believes that the Olympics will no longer be held as normal. However, the JOC (Japan Olympic Committee), the mayor of Tokyo, and the Prime Minister of Japan have never stated that they will be postponed or canceled. The organizers continue to say that the Olympics will be held as usual, no doubt. As organizers, they have never even discussed the postponement or cancellation of the Olympics.

People understand the organizer’s idea. To prepare for the Olympics, the organizers and the country of Japan have paid a great deal of money to date. According to the IOC, if the Olympics were cancelled, the money would not be compensated at all. If that happens, Japan will suffer. On the other hand, the IOC and NBC (U.S. television stations that pay the Olympic rights) are said to lose little. That’s because IOC and NBC costs are covered by insurance. Knowing these injustices, Japanese organizers stick to hosting the Olympics.

Japanese people want the organizers to have a realistic mindset. The IOC has already informally talked about the possibility of a delay. In response, Japanese organizers should manage negotiations in an advantageous manner. This is the wish of sensible Japanese people.

But the Japanese people think that old-minded organizers will not be able to negotiate such. Perhaps they will stick to the event just before the last minute and hear from the IOC to postpone or cancel.

Some say, “Japan cannot move without external pressure.” Japan is not a dynamic country. In many cases, they tend to stick to the old way, the one that has been successful so far.

What happens this time? We have no choice but to look for the next few months.

Sad things about Japan’s Coronavirus problems

Hearing the news in Japan about the Coronavirus, people in the US may think “Why Japanese government doesn’t do more tight regulations on it?” I don’t think the Japanese government is doing well. It is very frustrating.However, if you read the details and story behind the Japanese news, you will find that there are various reasons why the government cannot do well.

Japan must value its relationship with China. The current Japanese economy is heavily dependent on China. Japan invites its country’s leader this year. So Japan cannot completely exclude Chinese people.

The world may still think that Japanese science and technology are at the forefront. But in fact, Japan has lost competition in many areas. The Japanese government and businesses are trying to catch up with other countries. At the same time, they are promoting economic development in other areas – tourism related industries. Inbound tourists to Japan are increasing every year, and its main customers are people from China. How can they refuse tourists from China? Thus, during the Chinese New Year, tourists from all over China except Wuhan were able to visit Japan without any problems.

If Japan was a science and technology powerhouse like before, Japan might have been more resolute.The Diamond Princess is a British-flagged ship operated by an American company. Japan would have resolutely refused the ship to come to Yokohama.It would have been possible for the Japanese government to refuse Chinese New Year tourists from China.But all this was not done.

The arrival of the Diamond Princess in Yokohama and the acceptance of Chinese tourists for New Year holidays. Did Japan benefit from these? When you calculate the profit and loss, the loss may have been greater. Moreover, Japan’s reputation has been greatly damaged, even though Japan is not the birthplace of the Coronavirus.

This July, the Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan. There seems to be skepticism inside and outside Japan about whether or not the Olympics can be held. I just hope everything goes well, including the Olympics.

Japan has the most powerful passport in the world?

I stumbled upon an article today.
Japan has world’s most powerful passport

It says that Japan’s passport offers access to visa-free or where it’s possible to get a visa on arrival to 191 countries. I just wondered how many countries there are in the world now. A simple google search returned with the number, 195! That means, if you are a Japanese citizen, you can visit 191 countries out of 195! Isn’t it incredible? So, I think you may naturally think Japanese people travel almost everywhere year by year thanks to their powerful passport.

The reality is not like that. According to a report of Japan Association of Travel Agents, the number of departures, departure rates, immigration and acceptance rates in major countries (2014) shows that 13.3 % of Japanese people went abroad on business or on vacation. The rate is much smaller than that of Singapore (162.8), Hong Kong (127), Holland (107), UK(93.1), Germany (93)…

I think the “powerfulness” doesn’t mean that the citizen are able to go anywhere, but that means Japanese people are “safe” people. Japanese people are supposed not to commit crime in any other countries. The go to other countries on business or on some NGO, NPO activities. That way, I am proud of being born and raised in Japan. However, another fact is that Japan’s economy keeps shrinking since the bubble economy had broken several decades ago.

This year, 2020, Japan holds Olympic games in Tokyo. People are hoping that the Olympics boost the economy. Other people are worrying that the Olympic aftermath could be disastrous. I truly hope things will go well…

Very impressed with a Rakugo comic story teller – born in Canada!

As a foreign-born, I sometimes… no often feel overwhelmed in mastering good-enough English as neighbors use. Even after several decades, people around me still point out that my English is not great.

Then a week ago, I stumbled upon a newspaper Asahi Shimbun.. It’s about a Canadian-born Rakugo comic story teller. Rakugo is a traditional Japanese comic story trolling art, like a stand-up comedy in the U.S. This person came to Japan in 1999 to “Noh”, a traditional play.

While he was learning Noh, he came to know Rakugo on TV. He was immediately mesmerized the art of Rakugo. He said to a restaurant master of Yakitori, a traditional Japanese-style fast food. The master said, “No, you can’t. It’s Impossible, it’s so hard to be a Rakugo performer. Besides, you are a foreigner!”

Seemed pretty much impossible, but he DID! Amazing!

In no time, he enrolled in a graduate school of performing arts, more learning, and in 2008, he was accepted as an apprentice to the rakugo storytelling master, Katsura Bunshi VI! So…. In just 10 years, he learned and mastered excellent level of Japanese language and was able to start professional Rakugo career! After that, it was history.

One thing to be mentioned is, his parents were both foreign born. So he has been used to learn multi-language environment. Still, I feel so encouraged! Yes, I keep working on English as well as Spanish!

If you are a graphic designer, should you be able to hand-draw pictures?

I have worked as a graphic designer and web designer, but now I don’t work regularly. No, I had no choice but to stop. People younger and talented come into this industry one after another. It is difficult for me to keep up with the advancement of technology without delay…

I know I am just saying an excuse. What should I do? Yes, I know. I always thought. I wish I could paint hand-drawn illustrations. That way I will be more marketable. I have tried learning hand-drawing over and over with websites, books and Youtube. But the problem is, I always tried to “draw a perfect illustration”.

From yesterday I ordered myself “Draw anyway!” “Draw anyway, everyday. It doesn’t matter if it’s bad or too simple. Just do it for 50 days, 100 days and keep going on, post them on the web site!”

Here’s today’s product.

 

Japanese people do not eat sushi – on ordinary days

Since the Japanese economy has grown greatly in the 1970s and 1980s, Japanese restaurants are always present in major cities in every country. Sushi and tempura are already well-known menus in Japanese restaurants, and recently Japanese style ramen seems to be getting popular. Thanks to that, we can eat delicious Japanese food in LA on a special occasion. In a company where I worked before, the boss often brought us to a Japanese restaurant (and other ethnic restaurants as well) at lunchtime on Fridays.

I am pleased with sushi, tempura, rice bowl and so on at company lunch. But am I going to a Japanese restaurant when I am alone or with my friends? I will not go. The reason is?

First, meals at restaurants are formal to me and it costs lots of money. Usually I cook myself and bring a lunch box (lunch box) to my work place to save money.

Secondly, sushi, tempura etc … It costs time and money to prepare. To make tempura, a lot of vegetable oil is necessary. After deep-fried tempura, even if it can be reused, it has to be thrown away after 2 to 3 times of use. Old oil is not good for health. Training is necessary to make delicious sushi just like restaurants in the first place. To handle and cook each single piece of raw seafood … It is extravagant luxury that makes me feel dizzy and takes a lot of time and money. Absolutely not!

How was it when I was in Japan? Sushi was “special day” food. As my parents house was a countryside, especially the sushi was a special dish. When we visited relatives’ homes in New Year or Hoji Service (Buddhist memorial service), relatives ordered sushi and other traditional cuisine for delivery. Besides that, when there was something big celebrations, sushi etc were served on the whole visitors for delivery. That way, I had little opportunity to eat sushi when I was a child.

Of course, the circumstances will differ for each family. Sushi is more often served at rich families and at kinds of celebrations.

From around the 1970 ‘s, sushi was offered at places for business entertainment outside of Japan. Non-Japanese people used to say “eating raw fish is barbaric”. Why sushi and sashimi become popular? I do not know which one is the bigger factor, whether they made effort to eat for business with Japan, or they felt delicious by eating sushi.

Anyway, when people taste delicious sushi at the Japanese restaurant here in LA, I am eating “ordinary Japanese style meal”. What is ordinary Japanese food? I would like to write about that next.

Natto – Fermented soybeans of Japan ~

Japan is a small country. Since the area of Japan is 370,000 square kilometers, it is smaller than California. Despite such a small country, there are a variety of food culture and dialects. Especially “Eastern Japan” and “WesternJapan” are largely divided. There are differences in traditional food in eastern Japan and western Japan, and sometimes even similar foods have different names or different seasonings.

Regarding natto, I do not know if it is true or false, people in eastern Japan often say, “In western Japan, people don’t eat natto, right?” It might have been somewhat true, but in modern days, there is no difference.

One thing to remember with natto is about the strength of Natto bacteria (Bacillus natto). About ten years ago when I just came to California, I settled in a small apartment. I always had natto for breakfast. It was a precious and affordable source of vegetable protein.

The landlord of the apartment was a small business owner making a living by doing various things. He grew various vegetables and cooked his own food. At one time, I was washing my dishes after breakfast and was ready to go out. At that time, the landlord got angry like a fiery fire.
“Hey, you should not let go of the rest of the containers of natto, my XXX will die by Bacillus natto.”
I can not remember what kind of food he mentioned, but he was making a kind of fermented food by himself.

He said,
“Especially Natto is not good, Bacillus natto is very strong. This XXX fungus will be annihilated when invaded by Bacillus natto.”

He seemed to had made such a delicate food near the sink. I did not know why he was doing such things in a joint kitchen that everyone used. Because of such kind of his lifestyle, and I found a job far away, I left the apartment soon after.

Anyway, this is an episode concerning natto. Since he made various fermented foods well, he knew the strength of fermenting bacteria well from his own experience.

If Bacillus natto is so strong, natto itself should be strong and will have a positive effect on our body.

 

natto bacteria (Bacillus subtilis var. natto)