Remembering 3-11

By Katie:

The Great East Japan Earthquake and Tsunami began on March 11, 2011 with almost 22,000 deaths. I believe that to preserve the event and to honor what had happened, we should have a moment of silence and learn what happened on March 11, just like on September 11 when the twin towers had fallen. We should also be more supportive and caring to the victims of the earthquake/tsunami. I was thinking that we can integrate at least learning a bit of Japanese to honor the Japanese victims and I feel that others should be aware of what happened. It is really heartbreaking to see that Japanese victims are still recovering from an event nine years ago. Even after watching 10 mins of the film that Eshita-sensei and Sally showed us, I was pretty shocked by the impact of the tsunami and was disappointed in myself for not being aware of the effect the tsunami had on residents.

By Jazmin:

The Great East Japan Earthquake was a tragedy. I can’t imagine the loss of those lives who were swept from the tsunami in Northern Japan. An earthquake with a magnitude of 9.0, gives me goosebumps even thinking about it. In order to remember this tragic event, I think by more people being aware and or learning about this tragic event is one way to honor what happened there. There are others who don’t know anything about the 3/11 Great Earthquake. Another way we can remember this event is to visit areas that were affected by the tsunami, and help those in need. There are still people who haven’t fully recovered from the Earthquake. We can visit people in those areas and we can hear their stories. It’s one way we can connect with them, and can resonate with them one way or another. When I watched a clip while the tsunami was happening online, I saw people running to higher grounds. Those who ran faster were missed by the tsunami by mere seconds. The tsunami ran about 6 miles inland, and caused an accident at the Fukushima Nuclear power plant as well. It’s sad and heartbreaking that over 18,000 people died. I hope in the future, there are ways we can avoid this tragic event from repeating itself and doing things differently to prevent it from happening again.

By Theo:

I’ve been thinking about the events of March 11, 2011 for a while now and how I, as both a student and an American can honor the loss of so many people. I confess, I still haven’t found a satisfying conclusion, but for now I am content in submitting my philosophical ramblings for a wider audience.

I believe it’s honestly rather hard to sympathize with someone an ocean away, and harder still to empathize with them. Understanding can come easy; loss is, after all, something everyone experiences multiple times throughout their life and that shared experience breeds a shared understanding. Empathy, however, requires one to take the extra step and to share the same feelings as another person. Of course, emotion being so nuanced it is impossible to truly understand and to truly feel the depths to which an individual experiences loss and as such, we only feel empathy in a broad sense. In my experience, this vague form of empathy is present even among close relations, be they family or friends, and thus it should come as no surprise that our already incomplete empathy is spread thinner and thinner as it looks further and further away. The result is that, at least on a personal level, I cannot empathize with the many Japanese people who lost both possessions and relations at a truly meaningful level. Instead I’m left thinking “I’m sorry” or “that’s so sad.” The issue I have with these thoughts are that they exist to placate my own desire to empathize for fear that a lack of empathy would make me a bad person. Personally, after a great deal of thought, I don’t believe true empathy is necessary, nor is it a reasonable request for Americans in general to hold any deeper emotions than those on the surface when discussing Japan.

What I do think is necessary is understanding, recognition, and respect. Even if you cannot feel what the many people who lost their loved ones feel, it is important to realize where that feeling stems from and to respect the depth and enormity of such feelings. For an American, I believe this attempt is one of the best things one can do for those who know loss from a world away.

By Aeris:

Natural disasters are a very real and very scary threat in our lives. Some of us may be safe from them, and others see so many it’s as if they’ve survived a war. In class, we watched a short documentary showing the horrific tragedy that was the earthquake followed by a tsunami in Tohoku, Japan on March 11th, 2011. The class fell into a petrified hush as we watched people try to rescue people from the waves only to be pulled in themselves. From people describing how they watched their friends and loved ones be swept away in front of their eyes, to others recounting their narrow escapes from death. I think I was honestly near tears… I don’t even think I had noticed the subtitles and could honestly hear the pain in their voices which greatly upset me. Unlike in many situations, there’s always a way you could learn from the past, but having to write about this felt very weird, I feel like this is not my place to speak about it, it’s not my trauma to unpack. Many people only had moments notice before they were able to get away, and even those who did get away to evacuation zones also got swept away. Over 18,000 people died in the tsunami, and the rest came back to towns that were completely washed away. Many towns still look like they did after the tsunami today. I know there are also still many relief efforts going on and it reminded me of a story I heard from a JET participant, who spent their days off volunteering to help clean up in some of the affected towns. I would like to help with those efforts when I go to Japan.

By Jonah:

There are too many emotions running rampant after any catastrophe. All are appropriate for you to experience. There are pains and aches that will plague anyone after a loss this large, which are appropriate feelings. Time can only heal, and it always will take time. There will be better days and there will be more time to heal, there will be more opportunity to recover from this loss. Be sure to make the most out of each moment and live to the fullest, each moment should count.

Coronavirus Cancels Anime Japan Event

By Katie Nguyen

On February 26, 2020, it has been announced that the Anime Japan event, a Japanese anime consumer show, has been cancelled due to COVID-19 or the coronavirus. The coronavirus is an illness that produces flu like symptoms. They are zoonotic which means that they can be transmitted between animals and people. The coronavirus has caused quite an epidemic and has started to spread in the United States. Many fans were upset due to the cancellation of the event, however, it does prevent them from transmitting diseases to each other as it is a big event. A fan wrote “I can’t help it. Now, to prevent the spread of infection, It’s good that we announced the cancellation one month ago.” Another fan wrote, “The most important thing is to take care of people. Hopefully things will calm down and we pray that everyone is well 🙏.” It is very important to ensure the people’s safety. I believe that this was a smart decision to cancel the event, if there is a chance that someone will catch the coronavirus; even if there is a small chance, it’s still too risky.

It is pretty devastating that the coronavirus has caused the Anime Japan Event. This could possibly mean that the Sakura Matsuri could close as well. I was pretty excited for the Sakura Matsuri as Japanese Plus is confirmed to have a booth there. I wanted to share what my class does and how it impacts and encourages me to further pursue my interest in Japan. I was also hoping to encourage DMV high school students to join Japanese Plus, as it was, in my opinion, the best language class I could hope for, and to promote our new book, Japan In DC. I hope that the Sakura Matsuri doesn’t close but it is still important to care for our health so it would be best for it to close in order to prevent the spread of coronavirus, especially now that it has spread to the DMV area.

Additionally, many people are exposed to it and most people don’t know how to properly put on a mask. To wear a surgical mask, you must wash your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap with water in order to prevent germs from getting onto your mask. Next, you should cover your mouth and nose and make sure that your face is covered, meaning that there should be no gaps from any sides of your face. If you want to touch your mask, you should wash your hands as you would when putting it on. You should replace your mask as soon as it is damp and you should not reuse it either. You should always take off your mask from the back and never touch it from the front. This is to ensure that you don’t catch any other germs that were caught from your mask. Afterwards you should wash your hands once more. This was all recommended by the World Health Organization, so please follow these instructions, even if the coronavirus hasn’t reached your country yet.

NOTE: The April 4th Sakura Matsuri was in fact cancelled, along with all other large public gatherings in DC.

Sources:

https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/news/2020-02-26/animejapan-2020-event-canceled-due-to-covid-19-coronavirus-concerns/.156866

https://www.who.int/health-topics/coronavirus

https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public/when-and-how-to-use-masks

Japanese reflections on a visit with Hokusai

On Saturday, February 8th, our Japanese Plus group had a special day outside the classroom. First we went to the Freer Gallery of Art to visit the very special exhibit, “Hokusai: Mad About Painting.” We are so grateful (again) to good friend of the program, Robin Berrington, who was our extremely knowledgeable and interactive docent. Then we walked across the Mall and into Chinatown – we were only allowed to speak Japanese the whole time! Last stop was the National Portrait Gallery, where we stopped by a painting by Japanese American artist, Roger Shimomura. Then Eshita-sensei asked students to write about their day – again, in Japanese. A fun challenge!

Cyrus サイラス

今日クラスでフリアーサックラーにいきました。 フリアーサックラーはびじゅつかんです。ツアーをしました。北斎のえを見ました。きれいとおもった。ぼくのすきな北斎のえは「Storm Personified」です。らいじんとしんとうがすきですから、おもしろかった。

Aeris エリス

フリアーサックラーにいきました。ロビンさんは私達のガイドでした。ツアーはとてもおもしろかったです。北斎のえはかんぺきでした、たしかに北斎はよくがんばったとおもいました。びじゅつ学校に入っていますから、本当にたのしかった。ロビンさんはとてもじょうずなガイドでした。私の一ばん好きなえはおしょうがつの女シリーズでした。スタイルはじょうひんだとおもいました。もう一回見に行きたいです!:D

Theo シオ

フリアーでとあるひとのれきしをみました。ツアーのあいだにほくさいさんのえはかわって、もっとうつくしくなりました。あのさいごのえはわたしのいきをとりました。あのいろとかげがとってもすばらしかった。

ツアーもすばらしかった。そしてロビンさんはちしきがありすぎました。ロビンさんからいろいろならえました。そして、わたしはたぶんひとりでもっとべんきょうします。つまり、たのしかったです。もういちどいきたい。

Jonah ジョナ

ほくさいはほんとうにゆうめいです。私の一ばんすきなえはらいじんです。ロビンはいいガイドです。ぜんぶのほくさいのえは、かっこいいです。

Jazmin ジャズミン

ふじがすきです。

みずがいちばんすきです。

ほくさいのまんががすきです。でも今のまんがはわかりません。

Katie ケーティー

ほくさいはおもしろいです。Gazing into the Distanceがいちばんすきです。ふじと男の子があります。きれいでくろいです。

Lucca ルカ

大きいびじゅつかんにいきました。このびじゅつかんはオバマのえがあります。私は2018ねんにみました。すごいですよ。日本のえもあります。日系アメリカ人がかきました。すごいけど、かなしいです。

みんなは三十分ぐらい日本ごではなしてみました。今日はさむかったですから、たくさんの人はコートをきました。でもジョナくんはコートがありません。みんなはほんとうの木をみました。この木はすごく大きいです。びじゅつかんのえもぐこし大きいです。そして、きれいでうつくしいですよ。

みんなはほくさいのびじゅつかんにいきました。ほくさいは日本のゆうめいながかです。ほくさいのえはほんとうにすごいですよ。そしてとてもちがいます。

 

Cleanliness

By Katie Nguyen

In Steve John Powell and Angeles Marin Cabello’s article on cleanliness, called “What Japan can teach us about Cleanliness,” the authors talk about how Japan keeps their streets and buildings clean and it surprises me how this is their everyday norm. In Japanese schools, kids are required to clean their classrooms and empty out the trash to keep it pristine as they have no janitors to do the job. They even leave their shoes in lockers and change into trainers to avoid picking up dirt as they come into the school. Also, on Japanese streets, there are no trash bins, yet people don’t litter.

The awesome seven-minute Shinkansen train-cleaning ritual video, provided in the article, shows how workers are able to clean and check at least 400,000 passenger seats in 7 minutes. You have to watch!

Japanese football players’ supporters in the World Cup football tournament, in Brazil and Russia, even stayed to help pick up trash from the stadium.

In addition, these are some other things Japanese do to maintain a clean place: bringing portable ashtrays, wearing surgical masks to avoid spreading germs, ritual purification in shrines, and many more. Compared to the US, American schools have janitors to clean classrooms and students are able to walk in without having to change shoes. Furthermore, you can see trash on the streets and sidewalks, even though there are trash bins almost everywhere in the US. In my opinion, America should really step up their game and start picking up trash to keep our streets clean so that maybe someday people too can question how we keep our streets clean like in Japan.

Here’s a link to the original article so you can read it yourself: http://www.bbc.com/travel/story/20191006-what-japan-can-teach-us-about-cleanliness

Tale of the Crane

By Katie Nguyen

The Tale of The Crane is a story about how a man saves a crane that was about to be killed. Soon after, a beautiful young woman comes to the man’s house for a night’s lodging. She later marries him and reveals that she was the crane who the man had saved. So she then promises him a long and prosperous life and returns to being a crane and flies away. This story illustrates how doing good deeds will be later rewarded. This handscroll was made in the Edo period in the early 17th century and was created by ink, color, gold, and silver on paper.

The reason why I decided to choose this artwork from our visit to the Freer was because it reminded me of a vocaloid song, originally by Rin Kagamine & Len Kagamine, called “Seasonal Feathers” sung by Youtubers Lyrratic and SirHamnet. The song is based on The Tale of The Crane, however, the ending is different. In the song, after the man saves the crane and gives her a place to stay, the crane falls in love with the man and was scared that the man would not love her and abandon her because she was a crane. During the summer, the man grows ill while working in the fields, but does not have enough money to buy medicine and cannot earn any more because of his illness. The crane decides to weave cloth to sell, however, she uses her own feathers to make the cloth. The two eventually died later, the crane from overworking and the man from his illness, and it is revealed that the man knew that she was a crane all along, but had still loved her for who she was.

Check out the song here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y0dvRMnmN2w

Things to Do in Tokyo, Japan

By Katie Nguyen

In Tokyo, Japan, there are many things to do. Kim Dao, a youtuber who does makeup, fashion, and lifestyle videos, made a video about 100 things you should do/visit in Japan. In her video, she lists many places in Tokyo like Omoide Yokocho, or “Memory Lane,” an alleyway with small restaurants and bars to go back to what Tokyo used to be; Shin-Okubo, a Koreatown; Akihabara, electric town of Tokyo with lots of electronics and anime based stores; and many more.

All of the place she lists are very cute and interesting and I would really love to go to all the places she mentioned if I ever had the chance. A lot of places are purely based on your interests, whether it would be anime based or about culture, like many shrines, festivals, and Japanese food. It amazes me how Tokyo is really spaced out and open, even though it can be crowded at most times. I can’t even imagine what it would be like in Japan. In DC, it is mostly compact, while in Japan there is a lot of space and many stores featuring a lot of anime merchandise.

This video really got me thinking about where I should go since I never really thought about what I would do in Japan. Places where I would like to go/do is capsule hotels; Shibuya109, a Japanese fashion mall; Akihabara, electric town of Tokyo; Omikuji Fortune, a fortune teller in Asakusa; Gachapon, a store of capsule toy machines; the Ghibli Museum; Don Quijote, a discount chain store for Japanese goods; Sensoji Temple, Tokyo’s oldest temple; Sukiyaki, Cup Noodle Museum, exploring, even if I get lost, and many others. I highly recommend watching Kim Dao’s video if you want to know what to do in Tokyo, Japan, or if you are ever planning to go to Japan. Tokyo is it, and it is a great place for tourists to explore.

You can watch Kim Dao’s video for yourself here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HYSMJ-lM2t0

Photos are from the video.

Katie’s Final Reflection

By Katie Nguyen

Food etiquette in Japan has greatly influenced my life as it has made me more respectful when eating at the table. Things like coughing or sneezing, sticking your chopsticks into rice, passing food, etc. is rude to do at the table. Coughing or sneezing is understandable, you wouldn’t want somebody accidentally spreading germs onto your food when coughing or sneezing, and is considered bad manners. Instead you should step out to do so or just hold it in till you are by yourself or if you were finished.

Sticking your chopsticks into rice is extremely rude as it is practiced in funerals. When I learned about this, I was reminded to never do this. However, my sibling has done it once, but it was slanted, however my dad got really mad at him for doing so. Passing food seems harmless, right? WRONG. Passing food was also practiced during funerals but instead of using food, they used bones.

Furthermore, in Japan, they also use different styles when eating like saying “itadakimasu,” meaning “I greatly received” (food), before you start eating as a way to show respect for the cooks who made your food.  After finishing, they say “gochisousama deshita,” meaning “thank you for the feast.” Finishing and clearing your food is also considered to be good style. If there is food that you don’t like, then you should tell your server to remove them in advance.

For drinking, you shouldn’t start drinking unless everybody has their drink and the glasses are raised for a cheer, “kampai!” When drinking alcohol, you should let others pour your drink or vice versa, because it is customary to serve each other. Some restaurants allow you to be drunk as long you don’t bother other customers; however, in high end restaurants, it is considered bad manners. If you don’t drink alcohol, then you can refuse to drink and ask for other non-alcoholic beverages instead. All of this made me aware of what to do when eating and gave me some future references if I ever wanted to go to Japan, like when I ever go drinking or eating with friends or co-workers.