Friday, June 19, 2009

Digital Transition

As most people in the United States know, last week was the day in which most analog television signals stopped being broadcast, switching to digital (a few local ones in some places still are broadcasting in analog). I'm between not caring and really dislike that this has happened. The reason I don't care is because I watch very little television (I do not have cable or satellite), preferring to watch things on dvd/the computer. I do not even know most of the shows that are on television and the ones I do know about I mostly don't want to watch (if asked what shows were on I'd have no idea). I have had the required adapter for awhile know though (ready before the February date that was pushed back).

There are quite a few reasons as to why I dislike it though:
1. Have to acquire a new device to make televisions, which have worked for decades, continue to function the way they were created to.
2. Having multiple televisions requires the purchase of several of these devices.
3. The box has to be plugged in which means more electricity is being used.
4. Old televisions which still worked but had no antenna/internal antenna and/or many of the portable televisions are now just garbage (I threw away an old black and white still working television because there is no way to get it to work).
5. No place near me recycles televisions for free, computers and computer parts they do, televisions they charge you.
6. Four to five second delay changing channels, I like to flip through channels when I do watch television, this is now more annoying.
7. Lost a channel, signal too weak. Problem was this was the best channel on the tv, PBS, and really there is no reason for this, I'm less than two miles from the antenna broadcasting the signal. It's not completely gone, just most of the time it seems.
8. Have and still use a VCR, recording programs, specifically setting it to record programs on multiple channels, is now very difficult/impossible depending on what and how you wanted to record it.
9. Many people have trouble setting up and/or using the new box's particularly old people.
10. Some times acts likes a broken/scratched DVD, i.e. digital distortion, picture freezing and pixelation.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Tsuyu - Rainy Season

Early summer is the rainy season in most parts of Japan. Tsuyu (or Baiyu) is what the Japanese call the rainy season, it means plum rain (plums ripen at around the same time). The rainy season is caused by the collision of cold northerly and warm southerly air masses, resulting in a relatively stable bad weather front over Japan. The rainy season last from the beginning of June to mid-July, depending on region. Earlier for Okinawa and Hokkaido is barely effected by it at all. In Tokyo it usually from around June 8 to July 20. It does not usually rain every day during the rainy season and the amount of rainfall varies. A movie that I recommend everyone see called Ima, ai ni yukimasu has the rainy season as a major part of the plot.

Teru teru bozu (Teru is a Japanese verb which describes sunshine, and bōzu is a Buddhist monk) are often seen during the rainy season. Teru teru bozu are small doll like charms made with a ball or wad of stuffing and a piece of white cloth or paper tied just below. They are hung as a charm to invite good weather. If the weather is good they maybe given faces. To make it rain occasionally you will see them with either black heads or hung upside down. In the movie mentioned above, the little boy hangs them upside down to bring rain. In Azumanga Doiah, a couple of the characters hang Chiyo-chan (one of the main cast members) upside down outside the window as a Teru teru bozu.

There is also a Warabe uta (song like nursery rhyme) associated with teru teru bozu:
Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
Like the sky in a dream sometime
If it's sunny I'll give you a golden bell

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
If you make my wish come true
We'll drink lots of sweet rice wine

Teru-teru-bozu, teru bozu
Do make tomorrow a sunny day
But if it's cloudy and you are crying (i.e. it's raining)
Then I shall snip your head off
Some people also flip a shoe into the sky, if it lands on its face it would be sunny tomorrow. Osaka does this in Azumanga Daioh, it happens to land on a moving vehicle so she does not find out via shoe toss method if it will be sunny the next day.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Some Japanese Superstitions

Every culture has superstitions, many of which seem to not make sense. Looking at the origins of the superstition and a great deal of them do make sense in some context. Here are a few Japanese superstitions, there are more, and there are also quite a few region specific superstitions (i.e. local ones not found throughout the country, not listed):

*It is thought that when someone sneezes (Kushami), someone is talking/gossiping about that person. Additional comment - In Japan when a person sneezes it is not common to say god bless you, bless you, or Gesundheit.
*A superstition that dates back to the 19th century, but is uncommon now, is that if three people have their picture taken together, the one in the middle will have something bad happen to them (for example, die).

*If a kamidana (miniature Shinto shrine) falls it is an omen that a bad thing is, or will, happen.

*Breaking a comb or the cloth strap of a geta breaking is an omen of misfortune.
*Stepping on the cloth border of a tatami mat brings bad luck.

*You should never write a person's name in red ink, unless your trying to curse them.

*The crow is considered an evil omen and bearer of bad luck. Loud crowing or the gathering in large numbers is a sign of disaster, particularly in the evening. The thing is not all crows are considered bad luck, some crows are viewed as the messengers of the kami, a single crow cawing at 6 am and noon is good luck, and it is thought that crows take care of aged parents.
*If a funeral car passes you should hide your thumb. The reason for this is because the Japanese word for thumb literally translates as "parent-finger" and hiding it is considered safe guarding your parent.

*It is thought that if you give someone your cold it will cure yours. It is also thought that stupid people don't get colds hence Ranma's comment about not thinking Tatewaki Kuno could get one.

*If you cut your nails at night, you will not be with your parents when they die.

*If you whistle in the night, a snake (or a thief, or a ghost) will come to you.

Many Japanese superstitions show up in the Ranma manga, as the above pictures show. Knowing the superstitions, is somewhat helpful when reading manga or watching anime, since some are clearly foreshadowing, and/or an explanation for persons actions. Knowing them can give you an idea as to where the author got the idea from.