Sunday, October 11, 2009

Five Random Things on Japan 6

Been a while since I last posted one of these lists so I figured why not do one now.

1. The most common type of bird in Japan is the sparrow. They do well in highly urban areas, which a large percentage of Japan is, and their nests can often be found under the roof tiles of houses. Since they are so common they are frequently depicted in art, often on a plant spray or flying in a flock. Since all wild birds are protected in Japan, and cannot be hunted without special permission from the government, the number of all birds in Japan has been increasing. This has led to considerable crop damage. While most wild bird populations are on the increase, some people think that the sparrow population might be decreasing since the main crop eaten by sparrows, rice, is not grown as much as it had been and there were mass deaths due to Salmonella infection. There are several lists on the internet of birds in Japan, like the one at

2. Where I live in the United States central heating and cooling is very common. This is not true of Japan. In Japan, most houses do not have central heating. People heat and cool only the necessary parts of their homes.

3. Okinotorishima is an atoll 1,740km south south east of Tokyo. Even though it's name means remote bird islands in Japanese, it is in actually three very small rocks with its highest point only about 15 centimeters above the water. Everything else is either underwater or was artificially placed there; reinforced concrete around the rocks to prevent erosion, a marine investigation facility, and a light beacon. The reason this small, mostly underwater, atoll is important is because it gives Japan an exclusive economic zone of around 400,000 square kilometers (China disputes this). For an idea as to how important that area is, it constitutes an area larger than Japan's land area and Japan has spent more than $600 million dollars fortifying the reefs.

4. Horyu-ji temple is a Buddhist temple in Ikaruga, Nara Prefecture, Japan. It is fairly important from a cultural stand point. The Japanese government even lists several of its structures, sculptures and artifacts as National Treasures. The reason I bring it up is because it contains what is thought to be the oldest wooden building in the world.

5. Kenson is a Japanese concept which translates closest to humility or modesty. It is part of Japanese social norms and I do not really know much about it. An example from the Ranma manga, when Akane asked Ranma in volume one if Ranma knew martial arts, Ranma said a little. That is the proper and polite response which someone should give according to the concept of Kenson. Basically your supposed to put yourself down or imply you are not very skilled to be polite. If someone compliments you, you should find and say something negative about yourself or otherwise appear to be humble. Just accepting the compliment by saying "Thank you" appears arrogant to people in Japan. This concept is pretty common throughout Japanese culture it is the reason people modestly refuse at least once before finally accepting a gift.

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