“I have drawn ‘spring’.”

According to this article in the Economist, the average peak-bloom date for cherry blossoms in Kyoto is getting earlier, probably because of climate change.

Here are some ukiyo-e featuring cherry blossoms with explanations in English. This is of a hanami party from the mid-19th century:

Discussion/Writing/Research questions:

  • Did you enjoy a hanami this year? Where do you think are the best places for different types of hanami (walking around type, sitting and eating/drinking type)?
  • How would you explain the word “hanami” to someone who does not speak Japanese, has never been here, and doesn’t know much about Japan?
  • Do you associate cherry blossoms more with entrance ceremonies or graduation ceremonies? If this trend continues and cherry blossoms continue to bloom earlier, what do you think will happen to this tradition?
  • In this excerpt from The Tale of Genji, it says that they celebrated the cherry blossoms in “the second month”. But they followed a different calendar in the Heian Period, didn’t they? What would that be today? Have you read Genji? What do you remember about it?

In perfect harmony

This is a “two birds with one stone” remedy to at least a couple of issues facing Japan today.

I haven’t heard the term “parasite singles” in the news recently, maybe because it’s rather insulting (here are a few more examples)?

Here are a few articles about young (and even older) adults who live with their parents:

Some related topics:

  • “I don’t” (from the Economist) — this is about how many Japanese people these days find it hard to marry and the effects on society and the economy

I kept thinking of this song when I was trying to decide a title for this post: the original Coke ad from 1971, the popularity of which led to this song which dropped the Coke reference, and the “Mad Men” version of the ad from 2012

What have you learned this year?

It’s that time of year again — time to reflect. Here’s one person’s list of the 52 things he learned this year, and he links to the sources where you can learn about them, too. Some of the ones that interested me:

#11 – Even though iPhones are banned in Iran, there are at least 6 million of them in the country.

#13 – The number of people with dementia in the U.S. has actually decreased since 2000.

#18 – There’s a “halo effect” in restaurants. If you see something unreasonably expensive on a menu ($1000 for a frittata, for example), then $26 for french toast doesn’t sound so expensive.

#28 – Tuareg guitar players from North Africa have been influenced by Jimi Hendrix, Bob Marley, and more suprisingly, Dire Straits. Here’s the very interesting (to me) article about that.

Yes, I immediately thought of the guitar in “Setting Me Up” when I heard that. And of course the great “Sultans of Swing” which definitely gets even better with age.  And the beginning beat made me think of Soul II Soul’s “Keep on Moving“, which I listened to a lot in the early 90’s:

I posted his list last year, too … and then promptly forgot about most of it. I’ll try harder to make my own list this year. And I’ll encourage students to use this time to review and reflect on your langauge learning portfolios to find at least 20 or 30 things you’ve learned this academic year.

Tapping hidden potential

“Japanese culture doesn’t allow people to come back from mistakes”

Do you agree?

That’s a quote from the OECD’s Tokyo office head, from this article about how Japan needs to “tap its hidden economic potential” (from Bloomberg) — which includes women and older people. Another area that needs work: innovation. Even though Japan leads the world in the number of patents registered, a culture afraid of risk (says the article) doesn’t allow innovation in businesses and products. Another surprising statistic: according to the article, Japan had the lowest productivity-per-hour rate of all the Group of Seven countries from 1974 to 2014.

human-capital

The article includes a short video, too:

innovation-gap