Sunday, March 31, 2019

Shizuoka Prefecture Statistics

I hadn't looked at the Statistics Japan website in quite awhile, I had forgotten how interesting it is. I could spend hours looking at this website.  I was curious about how my prefecture - Shizuoka, measured up to the other prefectures. (There is probably a similar website for the US, but I haven't found it.)

Average Female Life Expectancy - Shizuoka comes in 24th of the 47 prefectures with 87.1 years. Nagano is first with 87.68 and Aomori is last with 85.93 years.  

Average Male Life Expectancy - For men Shizuoka comes in 17th out of 47, with 80.95 years. Shiga is first with 81.78, Aomori is last with 78.67. 

American Residents in Japan - Shizuoka is 26th in this category. Okinawa is first and Yamagata is 47th. In the category of overall Foreign Residents - Tokyo is first, Akita is last, and Shizuoka comes in at 7th. 

Number of Convenience Stores - Shizuoka is 9th, with Hokkaido 1st and Nara in last place.  

Number of Doctors - Shizuoka came in at a surprising 41st place. Kyoto is in first place and Saitama in last place.  

Bowel Cancer is the third highest cancer in number of deaths in Japan

Female deaths due to Bowel Cancer - Shizuoka is 27th, Tottori is first, and Kochi is 47th (last).

Male deaths due to Bowel Cancer - Shizuoka is 24th, with Okinawa first, and Shiga last.

Minimum Wage - Shizuoka is in 9th place, with an hourly wage of 735 yen. Tokyo is in first place with 850 yen.  Last place goes to Shimane with 652 yen.  


Number of Anglers (Age 25 years or older) - Shizuoka is 34th, Nagasaki 1st, and Fukushima last. 

Number of Golfers (Age 25 years or older) - Shizuoka is 26th, Ibaraki is 1st, and Aomori is last.  

Number of Hikers (Age 25 years or older) - Shizuoka is 21st, Tokyo is 1st, and Okinawa is last. 

Ski and Snowboard Players (Age 25 years or older) - Shizuoka is 25th, Nagano is 1st, and Okinawa last (no surprises there).  

So anyway, there are about 150 different comparisons by prefecture on the website and I think it is very interesting.  Do you know of a similar website for your country?

Saturday, March 30, 2019


Ashitaba growing

Ashitaba is the green stuff between the egg and the fish.

When I visited Hachijo Jima, I was served ashitaba every day. I recently read an article saying a new study found that the traditional belief that ashitaba is healthy has good scientific grounds. 

A natural substance in the bitter plant seems to induce a process that helps remove "cellular garbage" that can build up as cells age and cause a range of diseases and disorders.The substance is known as dimethoxychalcone or DMC and it induces a process called autophagy, which removes superfluous material, like aggregated proteins. 

When cells fail to promptly and efficiently remove damaged parts, they can build up and lead to diseases including cancer. Frank Madeo, a professor at the University of Graz's Institute of Molecular Biosciences in Austria helped lead the research. He said "It is always nice to find a scientific rationale for traditional medical folk tales." 

Have you eaten ashitaba before? Is there any food that you eat that you are convinced is healthy and keeps you young?

Friday, March 29, 2019

Thursday, March 28, 2019

Elephants in Hokkaido

When I lived in Hokkaido, I liked visiting the Maruyama Zoo in Sapporo.  I recently read that four Asian elephants that were given to Sapporo by Myanmar last year made their public debut on March 12th.  This has been a very controversial acquisition because of the extreme cold in Hokkaido and elephants coming from a much warmer area.

This is the Hokkaido's first time having a herd of elephants.  The total area of the elephant house is about 5,200 square meters making it one of the largest in Japan.  The zoo opens at 9:30 am, but the elephant house takes a long time to clean every morning so they can be seen from around 11 o'clock each day. You can check out the zoo website here

(Hanako, Japan's oldest elephant died in 2016 at Ueno Zoo in Tokyo.)

Wednesday, March 27, 2019

Work In Progress Wednesday - Dogwood Afghan

I began this afghan last summer, but had to put it away when I discovered I had used pink to stitch an area of the petals that should have been white. 

I got it out and removed the incorrect pink thread.  Now I am working on it again. I will try to pay closer attention to the symbols on the chart this time.

Tuesday, March 26, 2019

Nara Deer Causing Injuries

The more than 1,000 native deer (shika) in Nara Park in Nara Prefecture are considered to be messengers of the gods and a national treasure, so they are protected within the city limits due to their sacred connection to Nara's Kasuga Taisha Shrine.  Because of their protected status, they are allowed to roam freely throughout the park and the streets.  Special rice crackers are sold to feed the deer. 

Every year hundreds of people are injured by the deer, and the number of injuries are increasing each year. Last year eight people suffered fractures, including hip fractures. Foreign tourists are among those injured, with five of the eight serious fractures last year affecting tourists visiting from abroad. In December of last year, the prefecture began giving out information booklets in several languages, to visitors with warnings not to irritate the deer.  

When I visited in 2012, I witnessed some children crying because of aggressive deer, but I didn't see anyone get hurt. They look very cute, but you have to be careful!

Monday, March 25, 2019

Monday Morning Star Count - Year 1 Quilting Start

I sandwiched, then pin basted Year One. I started hand quilting and hope to continue working on it until I can finish it!

Sunday, March 24, 2019

License Plate Hiragana Characters

I love finding out things about living in Japan.  I don't drive here, but I do notice cars and license plates.  Only Japan uses hiragana on license plates (see 3. kana text above). The following are never used on license plates:

1) Any hiragana with ten-ten voicing marks on the side (such as が (ga), じ (ji), ど (do) etc.)
2) Combination hiragana sounds (such as きゃ (kya), ちょ (cho), みゅ (myu) etc.)
3) Old hiragana not used anymore (such a ゐ (wi) and ゑ (we) etc.)
4) わ (wa) and れ (re) are only used on rental cars. 

In addition to these, there are four more that are not allowed to be used on the car plates:

1) お (o). This one isn’t used because of its similarity to the hiragana あ (a). During a high-speed chase, the last thing police want to do is have to squint and try to deduce if they’re tailing an お or an あ only to get it wrong. This might also be why the similar-looking わ and れ are both only used for rental cars too.
2) し (shi). し isn’t used because it’s pronounced the same as the word 死 (“death”), making it an unlucky hiragana to have. Those who have studied Japanese know that the number four (also pronounced the same) is considered an unlucky number, similar to 13 in the West. But still, there are plenty of license plates with 13 in Western countries, and their owners haven’t all faced untimely deaths… probably.

3) ん (n). This one kind of makes sense, seeing as ん is the only hiragana that is just a consonant and not a consonant followed by a vowel. There are no words in Japanese that start with ん making it difficult to pronounce on its own. When department store clerks announce over the loudspeaker that a car has its lights on in the parking lot, they want to be able to get that info out clearly, not stumble over pronunciation errors.
4) へ (he). And here we have the strangest exclusion of them all. The reason you’ll never see a へ on a license plate? Because it sounds the same as 屁 (“fart”). We assume that policemen and store clerks would just burst into a fit of non-stop giggling if they had to read a license plate with へ on it, which led to its banning. Although perhaps the even funnier image is a room full of policy-makers deciding which hiragana are okay to use on license plates actually discussing the fact that へ makes them think of farts and striking it down because of that. 


Saturday, March 23, 2019

Edo Castle

Edo Castle is a flatland castle build in 1457.  Now it is part of the Tokyo Imperial Palace (where the Emperor and Emperess live) in Tokyo, which was formerly known as Edo.  Tokugawa Ieyasu established the Tokugawa shogunate here and it functioned as the military capital during the Edo period. It became the Tokyo Imperial Palace during the Meiji Restoration. 

I was happy to visit the area, but I didn't see the Imperial family while I was there.

(If you are interested in Japanese Castles, check out my Castle Page to see the castles I've visited.)