Cherry Blossom Japanese Vocabulary

The Japanese language is the best equipped language in the world for flower viewing. Hundreds of years of experiences and poetry are packed into the vocabulary. Impress and amaze your Japanese friends when using these expressions:

Hana-ikada (花筏): “flower petal boat” when a pond, steam or river is filled with fallen cherry blossom petals

Hana-komichi (花小道): “flower petal path” when a pathway is strewn with fallen cherry blossom petals

Hana-fubuki (花風吹き): a shower of cherry blossom petals blown by a gust of wind

Hana-bie (花冷え): chilly spring weather during cherry blossom viewing season

Hana-gumori (花曇り): cloudy skies during cherry blossom viewing season

Hana-gasumi: (花霞): hazy pollen filled but clear skies during the cherry blossom viewing season

Have fun.


Cheering The Home Team

The Speed Skate Women’s Team Pursuit final race between the Netherlands and Japan was one of the most thrilling races of PyeongChang 2018. The Takagi sisters of Team Japan are from a small village called Makubetsu that is near Obihiro Hokkaido. The villagers were cheering them on from home when they won the gold (the video 3 minute mark) and set a new Olympics record. The YouTube virtual realty video of the event is a fun watch (in the YouTube App for VR glory) as the excitement builds. Congratulations to all.

Kintetsu Railway To Roll Out New Express Train for Tokyo Olympics

Kintetsu announced a new “Meihan Express” train to debut in the spring of 2020, just in time for the Tokyo Olympics. Wait a minute, won’t this luxury train run between Nagoya and Osaka? Indeed but what a great excuse for traveling down to Nagoya just to ride it.

Who knows, by then we might be able to purchase Meihan Express tickets in an app and use them in Apple Pay. Tokyo Olympic fever is in the air. This could be fun.

Funky Japanese Station Sign Tape Fonts (U)

Keep to the left
Keep to the left sign at JR Shinjuku. The last kanji is a clue to the Tensho han (seal) style.

Shinjuku JR station is the O’Hare Airport of my youth, a never-ending construction project migrating from section to section in an endless loop. Japanese train stations like Shinjuku and Tokyo are never truly finished. Maybe that’s a good thing but I avoid both unless absolutely necessary.

Going down the platform stairs at JR Shinjuku the other day I did a double take because the signage looked like simplified Chinese characters not Japanese Kanji.

Stairs ahead
Stairs Ahead

On closer inspection they are Japanese kanji but very funky kanji made with tape instead of being drawn. The signs are in a construction area and obviously temporary. The font design appears to be in the ‘Tensho‘ style, highly stylized kanji designs based on ancient Chinese characters used for seals. And tape signs.

Even for a temporary station sign, it’s a very odd design choice. Perhaps the tape material forced the construction worker’s hand but the fonts display flair and creativity in a pinch. Check them out if you happen to be in Shinjuku JR station, they will not be around long.

Another Keep Left sign
Keep Left

Update: a reader send a link to a Japanese article profiling Shuetsu Sato, the construction site guard who creates the signs at Shinjuku station with regular gum tape you can buy anywhere. It’s a common technique in the countryside used at school fairs, festivals and anyone can do it, but Sato san’s signs caught the attention of a few Tokyo city writers. Catching people’s attention is exactly the intention as people are basically walking in a construction area.

Mt. Minobu and Mt. Shichimen Fall Colors

This year I had work related visits to Mt. Shichimen in the spring and fall. Both times I was blessed with good weather and many fine views. The work is not particularly hard but the only way up is a 3~4 hour steep hike.

Shichimensan is a holy mountain, Shichimen Daimyojin is the deity enshrined there, said to be the human incarnation of the daughter of the Dragon King described in Chapter Twelve of the Lotus Sutra. She transforms herself into a Bodhisattva leads many people to enlightenment vowing to protect all followers of the Buddha.

There is beauty and power you can experience climbing Mt. Shichimen.