Monday, August 31, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 17

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 17 

August 16 -22  

95, 95, 93, 93, 95, 95, 93

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, August 30, 2020

World Happiness Report

The 2020 World Happiness Report, which is the eighth annual report, is out. The report is compiled by a group of independent experts and is produced by the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.  It uses six variables to measure the quality of life in more than 150 countries in the world: GPD per capita, social support, healthy life expectancy, freedom, generosity, and absence of corruption. 

What are the Happiest Countries this year? 

1. Finland 

2. Denmark 

3. Switzerland 

4. Iceland 

5. Norway 

6. The Netherlands 

7. Sweden 

8. New Zealand 

9. Luzembourg 

10. Austria 

11. Canada 

12. Australia 

13. UK 

14. Israel 

15. Costa Rica 

16. Ireland 

17. Germany 

18. US 

19. Czech Republic 

20. Belgium  

What do you think of the results? Is your country in the top 20?  (Japan is 62). I was surprised to see the US so high; it seems pretty sad right now.  Maybe this was compiled before the pandemic.

Saturday, August 29, 2020

Marriage Age Statistics in Japan

I find statistics interesting and can't resist reading information about all different topics.  According to the Ministry of Health, Labor, and Welfare, there were 598,965 marriages in Japan in 2019, which was an increase of more that 12,000 compared to 2018.  Some people claim the increase was a result of the beginning of the Reiwa era, and couples saw it as lucky. 

The peak age for women to marry for the first time is 25.

The average age in Japan for first marriages has been going up. 

1995 Husband 28.5 years  Wife 26.3 years

2005 H 29.8 W 28.0

2015 H 31.1  W 29.4

2016 H 31.1 W 29.4

2017 H 31.1 W 29.4

2018 H 31.1 W 29.4

2019 H 31.2 W 29.6 

How does that compare with your country? (Wouldn't you know, Wikipedia has a page listing this information, although it is not up to date - here).

Friday, August 28, 2020

Friday Finish - Mini Stocking

I'm happy to have finished this little stocking. It's big enough to hold a tiny candy cane or a rolled up bill.  The backing is from a piece of a handkerchief, the hanger is twisted #8 perle.

Thursday, August 27, 2020

New Yokohama Theme Park

I read that the remains of the US Army's Kamiseya Communication Facility, which is a 20 minute train ride from downtown Yokohama, will be turned into a huge amusement park. About 125 hectares of the 242 hectare plot will be turned into the area's largest theme park.  (In case you are wondering, this is bigger than Tokyo Disneyland and Tokyo Disney Sea put together). City officials have said they will partner with a "famous foreign movie company", and that the project will cost an estimated 130 billion yen.  They are hoping to attract 6.5 to 13 million visitors a year.  

This really surprises me.  For one thing, where are all those people coming from?  Maybe they are thinking post pandemic, when foreign tourists come back to Japan.  A second reason why it surprises me is that there are already so many other amusement or theme parks in Japan!  Here are some of them: Tokyo Disney Sea, Tokyo Disneyland, Universal Studios, FujiQ Highlands, Nagashima Spa Land, Meiji Mura, Spa Resort Hawaiians, Toei Eigamura, Mikko Edomura, Tobu World Square, Huis Ten Bosch, Hakkeijima, Ninja Kingdom Ise, Spain Mura, Legoland, Moominvalley Park, Kodomo no Kuni, Sanrio Puroland, Yomiuriland, Cosmo World, Hitachi Seaside Flower and Amusement Park, Zushi Water Park, among others.

One that sounds kind of fun to me is Kidzania, which is an indoor family theme park.  It's built like a city, scaled to children with buildings, shops, streets, and vehicles.  Children age 3 to 15 perform "work" activities and are paid for their work.  There are over 90 jobs to choose from including fireman, doctor, police officer, fashion model, dancer, cook, baker, etc. Another similar theme park is Kandu.  

I have not been to any of these places. When I was young, I visited Disney World once and Six Flags over MidAmerica. I don't know how much the entry fee was, but I think the entry fee at parks today is rather pricey.  Are you a fan of theme parks (or were you pre-pandemic)? What do you like or not like about them?

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Lost in 2019

This is another "statistics in Japan" type post.  I am always amazed by how honest people, in general, are in Japan.  The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department reports that in 2019, 4.2 million lost items were turned into police stations, up 0.3% from the year before.  This included 3.9 billion yen in cash, an increase of 1.2% from the previous year. This was the highest amount handed in on record and the fourth consecutive year the amount of cash rose.  

Of the non-cash items turned in were 770,000 ID documents such as drivers licenses; 560,000 items of financial value such as smart cards, commuter passes, and gift certificates; 491,000 items of clothing and footwear; 372,000 wallets, and 349,000 umbrellas. A total of 248,000 cell phones were lost or misplaced in Tokyo, which works out to be almost 670 a day!  Of those, 153,000 were handed in to the police and 126,000 eventually returned to their owners.

According to the National Police Agency, items not claimed after three months by the original owner, go to the finder.  If after a further two months, the finder does not claim ownership, ownership passes to the prefecture.  Of the 3.9 billion yen in cash handed in to Tokyo police stations, 2.8 billion yen was returned to the original owners, 540 million yen went to the finders, and 492 million passed to the prefecture. 

I try to be careful not to lose anything, but I feel good knowing that if I did, I would probably get it back.  Have you ever lost anything of value and had it returned?

Monday, August 24, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 16

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 16

August 9 - 15

93, 93, 100, 95, 95, 91, 97

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Welcome Giant Panda Cub!

Smithsonian National Zoo in Washington DC announced that giant panda Mei Xiang gave birth to a cub on August 21st! You can find out the latest and watch the panda cam at the zoo's website.  Some good news for a change!

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Blood Types in Japan

Do you know your blood type? If you've never been seriously ill or given blood, you might not know.  Every person in Japan knows his or her blood type.  People believe that their blood type, or ketsuekigata  血液型, determines their character and how one relates to others.  It's sort of like horoscopes.

I think type O is the most common in the US, but type A seems to be most common in Japan.  It's not unusual for people to guess at their new friends' blood types, according to how they act. One of my students told me he got together with friends having the same blood type once every few months for an evening of drinking (pre-coronavirus, of course). They were alike and could understand each other, he claims. 

Here are some blood type characteristics I've found.  If you know your blood type, do you think you match?

A型/blood-type A: You’re serious, tremendously attentive to detail, and always neat and tidy (or “anally retentive” as the good Dr Freud might have put it). You’re also considered to be very kind and, if you happen to own a car, a careful driver.
B型/blood-type B: You’re kind of self-centred, strong-willed and buck trends and expectations. You’re often viewed as the rebel, but you’re also flexible in your thinking and very playful.
O型/blood-type O: You’re care-free and very easy-going. Sure, there are probably rules about what to do with your empty hamburger wrapper, but you’re not bothered either way. Whatever, man, it’s all cool. Oh, look, a squirrel!
AB型/blood-type AB: Hey, you creative weirdo, no one understands you and you’re under-appreciated. You’re artistic, prone to feeling hurt when criticised, and enjoy having time to yourself.

Type A
Best traitsWarmest, reserved, sensible, patient, responsible, perfectionists, wise, and cautious.
Worst traitsFastidious, over-earnest, obsessive, stubborn, the least temperate, inconsiderate, jealous, cold, angry.
Type B
Best traitsPassionate, active, creative, animal-loving, flexible, cheerful, friendly and optimistic, vocalizing personality
Worst traitsIrresponsible, forgetful, selfish, lazy, impatient, unreliable and "going own way".
Type AB
Best traitsCreative, calm, rational, sociable, intelligent and adaptable.
Worst traitsCritical, indecisive, unforgiving, aloof and not trustable
Type O
Best traitsConfident, self-determined, ambitious, strong-willed, intuitive, agreeable, competitive and athletic.
Worst traitsUnpredictable, spiteful, self-centered, cold, aggressive, arrogant, envious and ruthless.

Friday, August 21, 2020

Friday Finish - Flapper Snowman

This is my fourth cross stitch flapper ornament.  I made a cat, two bears, and now this snowman.  I think they are cute.

Thursday, August 20, 2020

Burial Grounds for Muslims in Japan

In Japan, cremation is the norm, with 99% of bodies being cremated. (I'm not sure, but it might be about 50-50 with cremation and burial in the United States.) 

I recently read that even though there are more and more foreign residents who practice Islam in Japan, there are few cemeteries for burials in accordance with the Koran. According to the Japan Muslim Association, there is a belief in the resurrection of the dead and this requires believers to be buried so the soul can return to the physical body. 

I was surprised to find out that while Japan is home to about 200,000 Muslims, there are only seven locations in the country for Islamic interment. According to the Japan Islamic Trust, bodies must be moved to distant cemeteries, which can damage the bodies and result in high transportation fees. Being buried in the person's native country would require an even longer transportation of the body. 

One of the seven sites is a regular cemetery in Yoichi Hokkaido which has only four or five free spaces left. The Hokkaido Islamic Society planned to make a cemetery in Otaru, following strict protocols for cemeteries, including being at least 110 meters away from a residential area.  The project was abandoned due to lack of support from residents who were worried about the hygiene of burials. Another proposed cemetery in Oita Prefecture is being rejected because locals are worried about water pollution. 

Japan amended its immigration law to accept more foreign workers, but it seems not to have considered the religious traditions of these workers. Solutions to some problems have created others.

Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Work In Progress Wednesday

Here is the eyelet project I started last week. There was no pattern, just random.

This cross stitch USA map is fun and simple.

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Fall Imperial Garden Party Cancelled

Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako

In the spring and fall each year, garden parties are held at the Akasaka Imperial Gardens. The Emperor and Empress of Japan invite about 2000 guests who have been notable in the worlds of culture, sports, and culture. The Imperial Household Agency recently announced the fall party has been cancelled due to the pandemic. The spring event, which was to be the first hosted by the Emperor Naruhito and Empress Masako, was also cancelled.  The last time the event was not held was in spring 2011, after the devastating earthquake and tsunami in March of that year. 

Here are some photos from Garden Parties of the past.

I would like to attend.  How about you?

Monday, August 17, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 15

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 15

August 2 - 8 

84, 88, 90, 91, 90, 93, 88

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Quilt Fever

Because of the pandemic, many quilting events - big and small, are cancelled this year. The January 2021 Tokyo International Quilt Festival has already announced it won't be held.  

I came across this PBS short film (16 minutes, 10 seconds) about Quilt Week in Paducah KY. When I lived in southern Illinois, I attended this event every year, taking classes, visiting with friends, and of course, shopping. Hope you will enjoy this little film.  

The April 2020 Quilt Week in Paducah was cancelled, but here is a link to the 2021 event. The National Quilt Museum in Paducah is really wonderful and a great place to visit when it's not Quilt Week.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Grocery Store Craziness

How do you feel about grocery shopping these days?  I don't like shopping in general, but I used to like grocery shopping in Japan.  Now it is just creepy.

Before, I could practice my basic Japanese in the store, asking where something is located in the store, or what is this, or how much is it, or talking to the lady giving out the samples of juice or yogurt. I could tell the cashier that I don't have a point card and I don't need a bag or dry ice.  You get the idea.  Everyone was friendly and patient with me.

I could pick up and examine packages, looking for kanji I knew, like  (meat) that I wanted to avoid. Or try to figure out what something was and if I couldn't, I would ask.

Now, I just want to shop quickly and get out of the store. I don't talk with anyone because they can't understand me behind my mask and I can't understand them behind their masks and the plastic curtains.  There are no Sample Ladies any more. I only buy the things I know and don't pick up anything else. I used to shop two or three times a week.  Now, I try to shop only once a week when I think it will be less crowded.  Since I walk to the grocery and carry my purchases, I sometimes have to make decisions based on weight and forgo some things I want. 

I've heard from friends in the US about ordering online and driving to the store to pick up the order. Do you have that service where you live? Are you shopping differently now than six months ago? Is it going to be this way forever?

Friday, August 14, 2020

Friday Finish - the Toothbrush Bag

I had been carrying my toothbrush around in a plastic bag and decided I needed something nicer. The hexagon flower and the bag are made from kimono fabric. The bag matches my other two travel bags.

Thursday, August 13, 2020

Stitching with Friends

We met on Monday (Mountain Day and a national holiday in Japan) and continued with our Ainu coasters. 

One stitcher bought an inexpensive summer top and is adding chicken scratch. She will continue on the other side.  Isn't this great?

On to the Ainu coaster stitching - - -

This is what their projects looked like at the end of the session. (Mine was shown on yesterday's post.)

After stitching, we enjoyed some cool summer treats.

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Work In Progress Wednesday

The stitching is finished, now I need to put this together.  I'm going to use the yellow felt for the backing.

I continue with the USA map.

I did a little more with my Ainu coasters.  

And, I have a little something new.

What are you working on this week?

Tuesday, August 11, 2020

Visit Japan in Two Minutes

Here's a great two minute ten second video that covers all 47 prefectures of Japan. 

I've been to 27 of the prefectures, so there are still many places I want to go.  Where in Japan would you like to visit?

Monday, August 10, 2020

Monday Morning Star Count - Week 14

Year Four of the temperature quilt  

Week 14

July 26 - August 1 

77, 81, 81, 75, 77, 82, 84

I am reporting the high temperature each day.  My Year Four temperature/color (Fahrenheit) scheme remains the same: 

100 + Brown 

90-99 Red  

80-89 Orange 

70-79 Yellow  

60-69 Green  

50-59 Blue 

40-49 Purple 

30-39 Pink 

20-29 White 

10-19 Black  

You can see my finished Year One Quilt here.

Sunday, August 9, 2020

Facial Recognition Vending Machine

Japan has long been a cash society, but recently is trying to move to paying cashless. Vending machines are everywhere you look with some taking cards, in addition to bills and coins.  Beverage maker Dydo is now testing a facial recognition vending machine.

The project is a joint venture with tech giant NEC, using NEC's Bio-IDiom facial recognition systems. Users create an account on their smartphones and register their photos and credit cards. The machine lets you use your face and your four digit code (registered at the time the account is created). There is no need to insert coins or prepaid card. 

 Machines are in use at DyDo and NEC offices and factories as part of a three month trial.  If the trial goes well, the next step would be to introduce the machines to the open market.  

What do you think? Would you register and use a facial recognition drink machine? Personally, I would not.  I don't mind using coins.

Saturday, August 8, 2020

The Summer Vacation

The company where I work gives its employees a week and a half (11 consecutive days)  for summer vacation.  This happens every year in mid-August and coincides with the Obon period in Japan. 

Normally, I would plan some kind of summer adventure by plane or train or both. This year, due to the pandemic, my summer adventure will have to be safely at home. I can walk to nearby places.  I have some books downloaded to my iPad to read or listen to. I can listen to music or watch programs on YouTube. Since I'm not carrying my things, I don't have to choose only three projects to work on, like I usually do for an away trip. I can choose from any in my apartment or even start new ones.  

I don't know when it will be safe to travel again, but I can spend some vacation time this year planning for that next trip. I can work on my destination files - files where I save links or articles about locations I want to visit.  

One of the places I want to visit is Sado Island. It's in the Sea of Japan and part of Niigata Prefecture. 

Hiroshima is another place in Japan I'd like to visit.  

There are many castles I want to visit.

Matsue Castle

Kochi Castle
Uwajima Castle

Are you making any "some day" travel plans? Where do you want to visit?