今月の文化 2021年 6月 ヒートウェーブ

We often start to see lots of rain in June. If it’s sunny, the air gets humid and wet, like during tsuyu. However, during tsuyu it gets cooler after rain falls. In July and August, the temperature stays high even after a rain, so it’s hard to live without air conditioning.

Speaking of getting hotter, I read about the recent heat wave in northwestern America. That area is usually cool and comfortable in the summer, but right now it’s hotter than 40°C. I can’t imagine how terrible that must be…

It’s getting harder to predict the weather nowadays. Maybe someday, due to climate change, we won’t be able to say that it’s rainy because of tsuyu, or that it’s hot because of summer.

今月の文化 2021年 5月 丸岡城

Hello everyone. The weather has been really good this May. Tsuyu began early this year, so some days have been humid, but once it is sunny, the days become gorgeous.

Days like this make me want to go out. Recently, I went to a castle called Maruoka-jo in Fukui. Maruoka-jo is one of the oldest remaining castles dating from before the Edo Period. There are only 12 castles that old remaining in Japan. In the Hokuriku area, only Maruoka-jo has been standing for more than 400 years.

The castle itself is small, so it doesn’t have much impact, but seeing a traditional wooden castle which has been standing for more than 400 years is impressive and very cool. During cherry blossom season, more than 400 cherry blossom trees bloom around the castle, so Maruoka-jo is a famous cherry blossom viewing spot as well. If you go to the top of the castle, you can see the whole town below it. It’s a really nice place to visit on sunny, cool days in May.


今月の文化 2021年 4月 空き家

みなさん こんにちは。
Hello everyone!

The end of April means that Golden Week will soon be here.

This year we once again have been advised to refrain from going out, so we can’t travel or go and have as much fun; however having some days off is still quite nice.

Well, it doesn’t have very much to do with April, but this time I’d like to talk about akiya, or vacant houses. Japan is facing a big problem with vacant houses right now. Even large cities like Tokyo and Osaka have many vacant houses overflowing with garbage. They are fire hazards and there is a risk of collapse, so they are very dangerous. Because of this, new laws have been written to make buying and selling vacant houses easier. I frequently visit websites with vacant house listings, and I am surprised to see how many large and stylish houses being sold at very cheap prices there are.

Every municipality’s website and realtor’s website have sections to search for information on vacant houses by region. In Japan, it is much more common to build new houses than it is to purchase an old house and remodel it, so many large houses are torn down and replaced with 3 or so tiny houses within one year of becoming vacant.

I feel that this is a very wasteful situation. That these sturdy houses which have supported peoples’ lives for decades and stood firm against earthquakes and typhoons are so easily torn down is very sad.

Old houses have lots of storage space, and you can feel the love that the original owners had when they designed the house, and of the carpenters who crafted the decorations and ornamentations.

I really hope that people will develop an interest in akiya and reuse and reform them instead of tear them down.

今月の文化 2021年 3月 ホワイトデー

March has many events. White Day is a famous one. It’s a day to return gifts to the people who gave you chocolates on Valentine’s day. This event started in Japan around 1980, and now other Asian countries like Korea and China celebrate White Day as well.

When I was a child, the standard return gifts for White Day were marshmallows and candies. Nowadays, I feel not many people follow that tradition. I see a variety of return gifts such as flowers, chocolates, and cookies.

I have been wondering since high school about return gifts and replies to confessions of love on Valentin’es Day. Does a girl have to wait for a whole month to get a reply to her confession of love on Valentine’s Day? Would she get a return gift in a month only if the boy said yes? What if the boy said no? Would she receive some sort of return gift from him still?
I guess it differs from person to person, but I always felt this was a weird custom.

今月の文化 2021年 2月 寒中見舞い

As for February, Setsubun is the most famous event. Usually, Setsubun falls on February 3rd, but this year Setsubun fell on February 2nd. This is a very rare thing. The last time it happened was in 1987. In 1884, Setsubun was on February 4th. The reason for that is because Risshun, the start of spring day, falls on a different day this year. Setsubun is the day before Risshun, so if Risshun moves Setsubun moves as well.

Risshun is the deadline for sending kanchu-mimai. Kanchu-mimai is like a winter version of shochu-mimai. You can send kanchu-mimai when you want to reply to a nengajo but it’s too late to send a nengajo yourself, or when you want to send a greeting card to someone who had a family member die the previous year.

Nengajo should be sent by January 8th, within the matsunouchi period. If you want to send a greeting card after matsunouchi, you can send kanchu-mimai instead. Also, if a family member died during the previous year, the mourning period started and lasts for a year. That year is called mochu. You should not send nengajo during mochu. If you receive nengajo during mochu and you want to send some kind of greeting card in response, you can send kanchu-mimai instead.

Kanchu-mimai is not as famous as nengajo, but it is a useful tool to use. Kanchu-mimai are only sent between January 8th and Risshun, so be careful not to miss it.

今月の文化 2021年 1月 大雪

It’s already one month since the new year began. It seems like many people may have gone out during the New Year’s holiday, because since the new year began the number of infected people has grown a lot. I hope people can recover quickly and not fall into serious illness.

Anyway, the infection is not the only big topic of the new year. Amazingly, Japan has once again received a huge amount of snow. In the middle of January, the Sea of Japan region was dumped on by a big snow storm. The highways and main roads experienced many traffic accidents. On top of that, in one hour such an amount of snow fell that traffic was no longer able to move.

According to the news, because of the inability to access the highways, some people had to live in their cars on the highway for 3 days. It was truly a terrible snow. The weather recently has become so strange that some years we have almost no snow at all, and some years like this year we have terrible snows. When snow is so heavy that it affects transportation, it becomes difficult to transport food, to go to the hospital, and so on. I realized how important it is to keep up a stock of emergency rations.

When it snows, a lot of snow builds up on the roofs of buildings. Snow is quite heavy, so sometimes buildings collapse under the added weight. Because of this, we have to shovel the snow from the roofs of our houses. This is called “yane yuki oroshi.” Climbing up onto a snow-covered roof is terribly dangerous. Many people slip and fall off of their roofs.

When doing yane yuki oroshi, make sure to be safe and always work with 2 or more people.

今月の文化 2020年 12月 今年の思い出

For areas celebrating the new year on January 1st, it’s common to have a family gathering at the end of December. In Japan, the new year is a big family homecoming season. However, just like Obon, people won’t gather together or travel as much as usual this year due to COVID-19.

Looking back on this year, I feel like I have been writing about COVID-19 a lot. It shows how much COVID-19 has affected Japanese cultural events this year, as it has been with many countries.

Until this year, we have been continuing the same traditions to pass on our culture to younger generations, through demonstrations and first hand experience. However, since the pandemic began we have been forced to think of other ways of continuing traditional cultural events. This year saw a lot of bad things happen, but good things happened too. We saw a lot of people work hard to protect others. The world is going to change even more the coming year, but I am looking forward to seeing the changes.

今月の文化 2020年 11月 みんなで協力しよう

Thanksgiving falls at the end of November. Not every country has a Thanksgiving holiday, but in America most people travel to their hometowns to have Thanksgiving dinner with their families.

Unfortunately, this year it is difficult to gather together with families. Even in Japan, coronavirus is coming back again, and it is being called the third wave of the pandemic.

This year has been eventful. In Japan, March through May saw the first wave of coronavirus, along with a state of emergency and the start of telework, the closing of stores, classes moving online, and the disappearance of people walking around on the streets. After that, the energy gradually returned only to be hit by a second wave in August. People traveling during summer vacation were the apparent cause of the second wave. Now it’s the third wave, and even though there is no long holiday like summer vacation, the number of infections is increasing. Most likely, people growing tired of all the infection prevention measures and underestimating the dangers of the virus, foregoing wearing masks, and gathering in large groups again are the causes of this third wave.

Certainly there are plenty of patients experiencing mild or no symptoms, and the virus might not seem so terrible to many people, but thinking about it from the perspective of health care workers, it really is best to practice proper prevention measures. In hospitals, there are many people who are working hard without complaining, trying not to get infected. When someone with COVID enters a hospital, their hospital room becomes a special private room and other people are not allowed in, meaning that hospitals are not able to treat as many people or earn much income. Hospital workers are exhausted, both physically and mentally. Because hospital income is decreasing, their salaries are also being cut. Even though they are working so hard, to have their salaries cut must be so upsetting for them. On top of that, many people are beginning to discriminate against healthcare workers. It’s a tragic situation.

If many people start acting with only their own self interest mind, society cannot hold together. We should act while keeping the people around us and the people all living in the same society as us in mind. I hope that we can all get through this pandemic together, peacefully and calmly.

今月の文化 2020年 10月 紅葉の見頃

As I wrote in July, the government moved a holiday this year due to the Olympics. Sports-Day was moved to July from October. Therefore, there were no holidays in October this year. I felt a little sad.

This October’s weather has been dark and nice. I really liked it. In late October, we had some sunny days, so it felt like fall had really arrived. However, because of the lack of holidays, not many people were able to travel or enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery this month.


In the middle of October, the news started broadcasting information of changing leaves in every prefecture’s famous leaf viewing spots. This period is called “migoro.” Migoro means the best time to see things, like flowers or fall leaves. You may feel disappointed if you went somewhere far from your home expecting to see beautiful flowers and yet they haven’t bloomed. Migoro information is for those people who don’t want to miss the best time to catch beautiful scenery. You can get this information from most sightseeing location’s websites, news forecasts, and so on. I personally don’t like crowded places, so I haven’t gone to see fall foliage up close, but it’s still nice to just look at them from a distance.

今月の文化 2020年 9月 今立アートフィールド特別展

October is almost here! The weather has been getting cooler in Japan since last week, and it made me feel like autumn has come. Normally, there are a lot of fall events in this season, but the number of events has declined this year. Although many events have been canceled, there are still some small events scheduled.

This year, I went to a local event called “Imadate Art Field Special Exhibition.” This event was held in Imadate in Fukui prefecture. They exhibited art objects made of Japanese paper throughout many places in Imadate.

Imadate is famous for Japanese paper crafts. People worship the goddess of paper, Kawakami Gozen, and hold a big annual festival for her. It is a majestic old fashioned town. The water is clean, the people are nice, and there is lots of nature there. Imadate is a very beautiful place.

For this exhibition, the organizers picked some unique places to show installationst: a huge mansion’s storerooms, an abandoned Japanese paper factory, a refurbished old-style house, etc. I was able to see some scenery and buildings which I usually don’t get to see up close. The event was very unique and interesting. All the art and locations and the demonstrations by professional Japanese paper makers were really intriguing. The best part for me was Otaki Shrine, which I went to last. Otaki Shrine was as majestic as the last time I saw it. It was so inspiring. I noticed some of the trees had been chopped down, but I also saw some new trees had been planted, and that made me relieved. I hope beautiful places like Otaki Shrine remain as they are for a long time.

Japanese Grammar Review