Thursday, November 4, 2010

Shiga Daigaku

Otsu Campus

(Faculty of Education, and Graduate School of Education)
otu_photo 1.Main Office Building (administration, Health and Medical Service Center(Branch), Research Center for Lifelong Learning, Center for Educational Research and Practice, Library(Branch))
2.Humanities, Social Sciences & Education Building, Natural Science Building, Classroom Building, Student Center, The Center for Information Processing(Branch)
3. Art & Technology Building
5.Gymnasium, Martial Arts Hall & Swimming pool
6.Research Center for Sustainability and Environment
7.Natural Environmental Education Laboratory
8.Guest House "Seiryu So"
9.Lecture Hall
10.Student Building
11.Music Building
12.Animal Experiment Lab
13.Student Club Building
14.Lake Biwa Observatory,Setagawa

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Traditional month names

The name of month: (pronunciation, literal meaning)
January - 睦月 (mu tsuki)
February - 如月 or 衣更着 (kisaragi)
March - 弥生 (yayoi)
April - 卯月 (uzuki)
May - 皐月 or 早月 or 五月(satsuki)
June - 水無月 (mina tsuki or mina zuki, no water month)
July - 文月 (fumi zuki, book month)
August - 葉月 (ha zuki, leaf month)
September - 長月 (naga tsuki, long month)
October - 神無月 (kan'na zuki or kamina zuki, no god month), 神有月 (kamiari zuki, god month) only in Izumo province
November - 霜月 (shimo tsuki, frost month)
December - 師走 (shiwasu, teachers run; it is named so because even teachers are busy at the end of a year.)

Rokuyō (days of the week)

The rokuyō (六曜) are a series of six days that predict whether there will be good or bad fortune during that day. The rokuyō are still commonly found on Japanese calendars today, and are often used to plan weddings and funerals. The rokuyō are also known as the rokki (六輝). In order, they are:
先勝 (senshō) - Good luck before noon, bad luck after noon
友引 (tomobiki) - Bad things will happen to your friends. Funerals avoided on this day.
先負 (senbu) - Bad luck before noon, good luck after noon
仏滅 (butsumetsu) - Most unlucky day. Weddings best avoided.
大安 (taian) - Most lucky day. Good day for weddings.
赤口 (shakkō) - The hour of the horse (11 am - 1 pm) is lucky. The rest is bad luck.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Japanese Events in January

Japanese Events in January

"Akemashite omedetou gozaimasu (Happy New Year!)" In Japan the New Year begins with this greeting (Unlike English it can't be used before the New Year). The Japanese word for January is "ichi-gatsu (一月)" which literally means "the first month." In the old days it was called "mutsuki (睦月)." Click here to learn the old names of the months.

In Japan "shogatsu (New Year's holidays)" is a time when everybody takes a few days off to celebrate the arrival of the new year. It is often called "oshogatsu" with the prefix "o" to make it sound polite. Many people who are away from home, return to spend time with their family. Just like Christmas in West, the Japanese are looking forward to "oshogatsu." Here is the song titled "Oshogatsu."

Mou ikutsu neru to oshogatsu
Oshogatsu ni wa tako agete
Koma o mawashite asobimashou
Hayaku koi koi oshogatsu


Here are some events held in January.

1st Ganjitsu
元日 New Year's Day

2nd Kakizome
書初め First calligraphy of
the New Year

7th Nanakusa
七草 The seven herbs of spring

11th Kagami-biraki
鏡開き The cutting of the New Year's rice cake
Second Monday

(11th in 2010) Seijin no hi
成人の日 Coming-of-Age-Day
(National Holiday)

"Kakizome (書初め)" is the first calligraphy of the New Year. The subjects tend to be auspicious words or phrases. "Kakizome competitions (書初め大会)" are annual events at elementary and junior high schools.

"Nanakusa (七草)" literally means "seven herbs." It is customary to eat nanakusa-gayu (seven herb rice porridge) on January 7th. It is said that these herbs will prevent all kind of illnesses. Also, people tend to eat and drink too much on New Year's Day, therefore it is a ideal light and healthy meal with a lot of vitamins. Click here to learn more about "nanakusa."

The Seven Herbs of SpringOn January 7 families throughout Japan prepare kayu cooked with seven different vegetables, or haru no nanakusa (the seven herbs of spring). Kayu is a porridge made by cooking rice with twice the usual amount of water.

Kayu cooked with the seven herbs.

This practice came to Japan from China, where there was a custom of eating freshly harvested herbs early in the new year, but it's also been around in Japan for a long time, since there is a mention of it in Makura no soshi (The Pillow Book), written about a thousand years ago by a lady-in-waiting of the Japanese Empress. The seven herbs vary from region to region and also from era to era, but today they commonly consist of the leaves of dropwort, shepherd's purse, cottonweed, chickweed, henbit, turnip, and radish.

Eating these greens in the New Year was thought to replenish the body with energy from nature and to promote good health and longevity. It's a time-honored custom that's also very practical, since the herbs are a good remedy for indigestion from having had too much mochi (rice cakes) and other New Year's delicacies over the holidays.

"Kagami-mochi (鏡餅)" is a set of two round, flat rice cakes (one large, one small) stacked on a stand. It is displayed in the alcove and offered to the Shinto and Buddhist deities at the New Year. "Kagami-mochi" is taken down on "Kagami-biraki(鏡開き)" Day and eaten. Since it is taboo to cut it with a knife, it is cracked by hand or with a hammer.

"Seijin no hi (成人の日)" is a national holiday which honors young people who have turned, or who will turn, the age of 20 during the current year. At the age of 20, youths are officially recognized as adults and gain the right to vote as well as to drink and smoke. Most women wear traditional kimono to the ceremonies.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Wabi-sabi (in Kanji: 侘寂)

Wabi-sabi (in Kanji: 侘寂) represents a comprehensive Japanese world view or aesthetic system, and is difficult to explain precisely in western terms. According to Leonard Koren, wabi-sabi is the most conspicuous and characteristic feature of what we think of as traditional Japanese beauty and it "occupies roughly the same position in the Japanese pantheon of aesthetic values as do the Greek ideals of beauty and perfection in the West."

Wabi-sabi is the beauty of things imperfect, impermanent, and incomplete.

It is the beauty of things modest and humble.

It is the beauty of things unconventional.

The concepts of wabi-sabi correlate with the concepts of Zen, as the first Japanese involved with wabi-sabi were tea masters, priests, and monks who practiced Zen. Zen Buddhism originated in India, traveled to China in the 6th century, and was first introduced in Japan around the 12th century. Zen emphasizes "direct, intuitive insight into transcendental truth beyond all intellectual conception." At the core of wabi-sabi is the importance of transcending ways of looking and thinking about things/existence.

* All things are impermanent
* All things are imperfect
* All things are incomplete

Material characteristics of wabi-sabi:

* suggestion of natural process
* irregular
* intimate
* unpretentious
* earthy
* simple

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Ishiyama-dera (石山寺?, lit. "Stony Mountain Temple") is a Shingon temple in Ōtsu in Japan's Shiga Prefecture. It was constructed around 762 CE, and is said to have been founded by Rōben. The temple contains a number of cultural assets.

Allegedly, Murasaki Shikibu began writing The Tale of Genji at Ishiyama-dera during a full moon night in August of 1004. In commemoration, the temple maintains a Genji room featuring a life-size figure of Lady Murasaki and displays a statue in her honorMurasaki is said to have begun writing The Tale of Genji at Ishiyamadera Temple on the night of the full moon, August 1004. To commemorate this event, the temple maintains a Genji Room with a life-size figure of the author at work.

Ishiyama Dera was established in 749 by a Kegon priest named Ryôben at the request of Emperor Shômu (701-756; reigned 724-749) to enshrine an image of Nyoirin Kannon. At the time, the Emperor was praying for the discovery of gold to assist in his undertaking of the construction of the great Buddha of Tôdai-ji Temple in Nara.

In the Heian period (794-1185), this temple became a popular pilgrimage site among the courtiers. Today, it is the 13th destination on the 33 temple Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimange which includes Hogon-ji on Chikubu Island. Ishiyama Dera is also the headquarters of the Buddhist Shingon sect.

The temple is located on the side of a mountain overlooking Lake Biwa and facing the Seta River. The Hondo, or Main Hall, designated a National Treasure, was built upon a great megalith, which contributes to the temple’s fame as one of the eight scenic views of Ômi, the Autumn Moon from Ishiyama-dera. The Hondo was built architecturally in a veranda construction style called "Butai Zukuri". The Tahoto Pagoda (treasure tower) was built by Minamoto Yoritomo in 1194 in the Kamakura period, and is the oldest of its type in Japan.

Inside the Hondo is the Room of Genji, where Shikibu Murasaki created the plot of the Genji Monogatari or the Tale of Genji, a famous court story of the Heian period and believed by many to be the world's first novel. Murasaki is said to have begun writing The Tale of Genji at Ishiyama on the night of the full moon in August 1004. The temple is mentioned in the Ukifune chapter of the story. A life-size figure of the author at work is displayed in this room.

The Sanmon Gate is another featured sight as are the wollostonite rocks, from which the name of this temple was derived from. They can be seen protruding everywhere, harmonizing with the temple's buildings. There are also Japanese maple trees on the 1.2 hectare site as well as flower gardens with cherry blossoms, Japanese plum blossoms, Chinese peonies, camellias and other flowers that bloom in different seasons.

1-1-1 Ishiyama-dera, Ôtsu, Shiga Prefecture
Tel: 077-537-0013
Admission: Adult 500 yen, Elem. School Students 250 yen
Hours: 08:00 - 16:30 (last entry at 16:00)

How to get there
Take a shinkansen to Kyoto Station and transfer take a local train on the Tokaido Line to JR Ishiyama Station.
From there, take a 10-minute bus ride or transfer to Keihan Ishiyama-Sakamoto Line to Ishiyama Dera Station and walk for ten minutes.

Tours - The Japan Discovery Tours visit Ishiyama Dera.
Click here for more information regarding when Discovery visits this destination.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Aoi Matsuri
Aoi Matsuri is the annual festival of Kamigamo and Shimogamo Shrines. It ranks as one of the three major festivals of Kyoto along with Gion Matsuri and Jidai Matsuri. It was held on a large scale during the Heian Period (794-1191) and many references to the festival are found in The Tale of Genji (first Japanese novel) and other ancient chronicles.

The festival takes its name from the custom of decorating the procession participants and the bulls which are used to pull the carts with hollyhock (aoi) leaves. The procession leaves from the Imperial Palace to make the rounds of Shimogamo and Kamigamo Shrines.

Fireworks at Lake Biwa on August 7

"2009 Biwako Hanabi Taikai," or Fireworks at Lake Biwa organized by its executive committee, will be held on August 7 in the vicinity of Otsu Port, Otsu City, Shiga Prefecture, and showcase summer on Lake Biwa. Now in its 26th year, around 10,000 large-scale fireworks will fill the night sky following the concept of "roaming nature around Lake Biwa." Tickets for paid bleacher seating will be on sale from July 1.

The event attracts more than 350,000 visitors from the Kyoto-Osaka-Kobe area every year. Although it is usually held on August 8, this year the date falls on Saturday, so it will take place on the weekday of August 7 in order to avoid heavy visitor congestion and to prioritize safety. The fireworks will express the landscapes and nature of each part of Shiga Prefecture. Starting at 7:30 p.m., fireworks such as "Star-mine" will be launched for about one hour.

There will be about 16,000 paid bleacher seats around the lakeside. Tickets cost 3,800 yen in advance, or 4,300 yen at the venue. Tickets will be sold at the sales branches and agencies of JTB, NTA and KNT, as well as at "Shiga Kanko Bussan Joho Center" in JR Otsu Station, the tourist information centers of both Keihan Ishiyama Station and JR Katada Station, Biwakokisen, Kyoto Shimbun Newspaper's main office in Shiga and the Culture Center of Kyoto Shimbun Project Development.

For more information, call the office of the executive committee in the Biwako Visitors Bureau at 077-511-1530.