Friday, November 14, 2008

Five random things on Japan 2

1. Japanese people, and Asians in general, drink from smaller cups and bottles than westerners do; partly because they have smaller bladders. This might also be part of the reason that Asians have the lowest rate of bladder cancer. Example: Japanese people purchase coffee in cans often. The common sizes for canned coffee is 250 or 190 ml, though iced coffee cans tend to be short and fat and contain 280 ml. The standard size in the USA for a canned beverage is 12 U.S. fluid ounces which is 355 ml (Europe standard cans are 330 ml, Australia the standard can size is 375 ml, etc..). Though one brand named American Coffee sells it in a US sized can.

2. A voluntary program is to start, in the beginning of 2009, in which labels breaking down the carbon emitted in production, packaging, transportation, and disposal will appear on many of Japan's consumer goods. The reason this is being implemented is to persuade companies and consumers to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. More info: Japan to launch carbon footprint labeling scheme I think this is a good idea and may cause some consumers to think about the amount of carbon that is released in producing the items they purchase.

3. Since bottled water is so popular, some companies in Japan have decided to sell cans of air. Need Fresh Air? Japan Sells Oxygen-to-Go When I first heard of this I thought about the movie Spaceballs in which they also have canned air. I probably would not buy this since I think of it as being silly and I don't even purchase bottled water (for a variety of reasons).

4.Biwa Lake is the largest lake in Japan. It shows up in Japanese literature often, particularly in poetry and in historical accounts of battles, because of it's proximity to Kyoto (which used to be the capital of Japan). It's nearly 4 million years old and has a very diverse ecosystem (more than 1100 kinds of living things in the lake, including at least 58 endemic species). The musical instrument called a biwa (a Japanese short-necked fretted lute) is shaped like the lake. The biwa is also the chosen instrument of Benten, Goddess of music, eloquence, poetry, and education in Japanese Buddhism. The character Monron in the Ranma movie Big Trouble in Nekoron, China is based on Benten and plays a biwa.

5. The numbers 4 and 9 are considered to be bad luck in Japan. The reason for this is because the number 4 is a homophone for death and the number 9 is a homophone for suffering. Therefore, one should not make presents that consist of four pieces, etc. In some buildings, particularly hotels and hospitals, the room number four is skipped, similar to how in the USA and Canada many tall buildings do not have a floor labeled 13, because the number 13 is considered an unlucky number in the USA and Canada.

No comments: