Still fresh with excitement from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Summer Olympics, Japanese athletes are coming into focus with the anticipation of what’s to come when Japan hosts the 2020 Olympic games.
Japan proudly competed at the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil from the 5th to the 25th of August and earned a bevy of awards to show for it. The Japanese Olympic Committee was created in 1911. Japanese athletes have been competing regularly since the nation first participated in 1912.
Japan has had a number of great athletes over the years with Ichiya “Ichy” Kumagai (熊谷 一弥 Kumagai Ichiya, 1890 – 1968), born in in Ōmuta, Fukuoka Prefecture, as the first Japanese Olympic medalist who won in tennis in the 1920 Antwerp Olympics. Kumagai actually won two silver medals, one in the men’s singles event where he lost to the South African Louis Raymond and the other in the men’s doubles event with his tennis partner Seiichiro Kashio, losing to Oswald Turnbull and Maxwell Woosnam from Great Britain.
Some notable Japanese athletes in the 2016 Rio Summer Olympics include:
Kosuke Hagino (萩野公介, born 15 August 1994) – he specializes in the individual medley and 200 m freestyle in swimming. He is a four-time Olympic medalist, and most recently won the gold in the 400 m individual medley.
Shohei Ono (大野将平, born 3 February 1992) – he won a gold medal for judo for Men’s 73 kg division.
Kōhei Uchimura (内村 航平 , born January 3, 1989) – he won a gold medal for gymnastics for Men’s artistic individual all-around category.
Karaoke is the best way to either shine or embarrass yourself in front of an audience. For anyone who wants to belt out a tune with a full accompaniment (as opposed to a cappella), karaoke is the answer to your prayers!
Karaoke is a popular pastime for singing enthusiasts all around the world. The word karaoke (カラオケ) is from the Japanese kara ( 空 ) which means “empty,” and ōkesutora (オーケストラ) which means “orchestra.” Karaoke is a form of entertainment where aspiring singers can sing along with their favorite music using a microphone, a public address system, and a TV monitor that displays the songs’ lyrics as a guide.
The concept of actually creating studio recordings without any lead vocals is just as old as the recording industry itself. Many singers, amateur or professional, perform using “karaoke” recording because there are times when using a full band or orchestra is not practical.
Karaoke is hugely popular in Japan because of its appeal to a large number of people who love to sing, whether or not they can actually carry a tune. It is also a great way for many fans of pop idols and singers who want to imitate them. Karaoke, moreover, encourages groups of people to get together and socialize in a lively and entertaining atmosphere. Karaoke is a wonderful way to enjoy and relax after a stressful work day.
With Japan’s advanced technological prowess, imagine the possibilities of karaoke! The concept used to be a straightforward way to sing along to your favorite songs. Then there were private, cozy spaces called a “karaoke box.” Here people could sing songs along with videos that show the lyrics in subtitles on the screen.
Soon, high-tech remote controls in multiple languages were used to replace printed songbooks. The remote controls can sometimes be used to order food and drinks. There are also a variety of private party or function rooms for a group of people to enjoy.
Whenever in Japan, don’t forget to try one of the country’s most popular pastime, karaoke. A wonderful way to experience the unique Japanese culture!
Curry has its origins in the cuisine of the Indian Subcontinent. It consists of a complex combination of herbs and spices. Curry or karē is a favored dish in Japan. It is so popular it is even sometimes called Japan’s national dish. It is usually served over rice, udon noodles, or bread. Several varieties of vegetables and meats are used to make Japanese curry. It’s the perfect satisfying dish to enjoy all year round.
Curry was introduced to Japan by the British during the Meiji era (1868–1912) via India. India at the time was under the colonial rule of the British Raj (the rule of the British Crown in the Indian subcontinent between 1858 and 1947). The British Navy popularized the Western-style curry, influenced by stews mixed with curry powder. The imperial Japanese Navy adopted the delicious dish from the Royal Navy to prevent beriberi (a cluster of symptoms caused primarily by thiamine (vitamin B1) deficiency). Today, the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force has curry on their menu every Friday.
Our Summer students recently had a cooking session and learned how to make Japanese curry with rice. Take a look at our photos!
Yamanashi Prefecture in Japan is surrounded by many of the country’s highest mountains including the majestic Mount Fuji in the southern border with Shizuoka. Yamanashi is one of the more popular places to witness Japan’s prehistoric history. Archaeological evidence shows early settlers having progressed through hunting, fishing, and gathering stages during the Jōmon period then moving on to the stage of planting rice during the Yayoi period and slowly progressing to village and regional formation.
Yamanashi is also the site for the Maruyama and Choshizuka Kofun (earthen burial mounds) in Sone Hill in Nakamichi Town, South of Kōfu. The burial mounds are believed to have been built from the end of the 4th century. Kōfu, the capital of Yamanshi, suffered heavy damages during World War II. Economic initiatives encouraged agricultural land reforms that promoted viticulture, fruit, and even dairy farming.
Yamanashi is easily accessible by road and rail, making it a favorite destination for many coming from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. Join KCP’s Summer Short-term 2016 students as they experience Japanese history and culture while they explore Yamanashi!
The peaceful coastal town of Kamakura is a favorite destination for many visitors of Japan. In Kanagawa Prefecture, it is conveniently located just about an hour from the bustling metropolis of Tokyo. Kamakura is rich in history, having once been the political center of the country under Minamoto Yorimoto (1147–1199), the founder and first shogun of the Kamakura Shogunate. With Japan’s seat of military government based in Kamakura, the town flourished and the rule continued for more than a century under the Minamoto shogun and then by the Hōjō regents.
Today, Kamakura is a popular destination for those who want to experience the culture and history of Japan. Sometimes known as the Kyoto of Eastern Japan, Kamakura has numerous shrines, temples, and other historically significant monuments that give us a glimpse of the bygone era when the quiet, sleepy town was at the peak of power. There are also breathtaking beaches that attract crowds during the summer months for a quick getaway.
KCP’s Spring 2016 students recently had a wonderful time exploring the wonders of Kamakura. Take a look at these photos!
With the culmination of the Rio 2016 Olympics in Brazil, Japan is set to host the next Summer Olympics, in 2020, in Tokyo! At the closing ceremonies of the Rio Olympics, Japan gave us a spectacular sneak preview of what we can expect on the next grand event, and it’s something to be excited about!
The Olympic Games ceremonies of the Ancient Olympic Games were considered an important part of the games. Today’s modern Olympic games have opening, closing, and medal ceremonies that derive some aspects from the Ancient Games. The prominence of Greece from where the games originated is given importance in both the opening and closing ceremonies, both much anticipated events. Presentations continue to grow in scale, scope, and grandeur with each successive celebration of the Olympic games.
Tokyo Olympics 2020 official logo. / Screengrab from tokyo2020.jp
The Olympic opening ceremonies showcase the proud history, culture, and achievements of the host country to the entire world. It represents the official commencement of an Olympic Games. The Olympic Charter mandates various elements that frame the Opening Ceremonies of a celebration of the Olympic Games. Most of these rituals were canonized at the 1920 Summer Olympics in Antwerp, Belgium.
The Olympic closing ceremonies, in contrast to the opening ceremonies, are gradually developed more by tradition than by official mandate. It begins with the “Parade of Flags” where flag bearers from each participating country enter the stadium in single file. This is followed by the “Parade of Athletes,” which is the blending of all the athletes, a tradition that began during the 1956 Summer Olympics. Before closing the Olympic games with the Olympic Flame being extinguished, the next host nation introduces itself. This is usually done with much artistic pomp to whet the excitement of the audience in anticipation for what’s yet to come, and Japan did not disappoint!
2020 Tokyo Olympics with its slogan “Discover Tomorrow” promises to bring into focus Japan’s technological innovations with its high-tech cool theme. The presentation began with hundreds of performers garbed in traditional Japanese costumes gliding through the arena to display the flag of Japan. This was followed by a fast-paced sporting and cultural video tour of Tokyo. A multilingual translation app is available on smartphones to describe the entire scene. It seems like pure science fiction but this is what Japan wants to bring to life in the next games in four years, truly an Olympic feat in technology. No less than Japan’s Prime Minister himself, Shinzo Abe, made an appearance at the closing ceremonies in Rio dressed as the iconic Super Mario game character. A remarkable show stopper indeed!
Okayama Prefecture (岡山県 Okayama-ken) is located in the Chūgoku region of Japan along the Seto Inland Sea. It is bordered by Hyōgo Prefecture, Hiroshima Prefecture, and Tottori Prefecture. The city of Okayama is the prefecture’s capital. Okayama is a tranquil, picturesque, and majestic place to visit, home to the historic town of Kurashiki and composed of about 90 islands in the sea.
Before the Meiji Restoration in 1868, the whole area of present-day Okayama Prefecture was divided between the provinces of Bizen, Bitchū, and Mimasaka. Okayama Prefecture came into fruition in 1871 as one of the early Meiji period’s large-scale administrative reforms; the borders of the new prefecture were set in 1876. Today, most of Okayama Prefecture’s population is distributed around Kurashiki and Okayama. The small, rustic village populations in the northern mountain region are slowly dwindling. On April 2014, 11% of the total land area of Okayama Prefecture was designated as Natural Parks. These are Setonaikai and Daisen-oki National Parks, Hyōnosen-Ushiroyama-Nagisan Quasi-National Park, and seven Prefectural Natural Parks.
Aside from natural parks, the historical Bitchū Matsuyama Castle, also known as Takahashi Castle in Takahashi, is another gem in Okayama. Takahashi Castle is one of only twelve original castles remaining in Japan. Of the original castles, it has the highest elevation: 1,410 feet above sea level. The resplendent view from Bitchū Matsuyama Castle is simply breathtaking.
Inujima (犬島) or “dog island”in the Seto Inland Sea is named for a large rock that resembles a sitting dog. The island has become a popular site for modern art in recent years and serves as a venue for the Setouchi Triennale modern art festival.
Kurashiki (倉敷) is not far from Okayama City. Kurashiki, or “town of storehouses”, is known for its canal area that dates back to the Edo Period (1603-1867) when the city was a major rice distribution center. Many of Kurashiki’s store houses have been converted into museums, boutiques, and cafes. The Ohara Museum houses a large collection of works by many famous local and Western artists alike.
Okayama is just one of the many places to discover when visiting Japan.
Japan, an island nation in East Asia, is often called “Land of the Rising Sun.” Japan has a very interesting history and a rich culture. Here are just a few of the things to know about the country and its people:
Japan has the third largest economy next to the United States and China, based on the world’s GDP ranking.
Cape Suzu is one of Japan’s three greatest spots for ultra-pure mineral water that stays fresh for as long as a hundred years, possibly longer.
KCP International is recognized as a leader in Japanese language education. It is well known for its Japanese language and cultural immersion in Tokyo. The school, for the dedicated student, is a convergence of study abroad students, aspiring teachers, interns, and professors.
KCP has been working with accredited U.S. universities for over 18 years. We have affiliation agreements with several universities and sponsor agreements with three others. (Sponsor universities provide academic credit for students who are enrolled at other schools.) Each year, KCP hosts students from more than 50 American colleges and universities. We employ the Direct Method in our Japanese language immersion: classes are taught in Japanese without a vehicular language such as English. Our program has improved each year as a result of our attention to the needs of the western-world student.
Hosei University, one of the top universities of Japan, is 3rd highest in terms of number of applicants among all Japanese universities in 2008, 2009, and 2011. Hosei University was ranked 100 in Global Executives’ 2013 top 100 by The Times Higher Education.
Check out KCP’s Summer Short-term 2016 conversation practice with Hosei University students. It is an effective way to practice conversation skills in the Japanese language and make some new friends as well!