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thomas

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Kyoto, the ancient capital of Japan, has some amazing temples. One of them is Ginkakuji Temple.

(Once again, subtitles do not appear for me in jref.com but they appear in the YouTube webpage.)

Subtitles work fine for me in embedded videos.
 

Buntaro

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Continuing on with the Hinamatsuri Festival theme, one thing that jumps out at me about the Hinamatsuri song is that it is an example of a type of music in Japan called Enka (えんか) (演歌). It is written in minor key, it always sounds sad, and it has been called the Japanese Blues. The vast majority of karaoke songs are of the Enka type. Karaoke is very popular in Japan. I recommend anyone planning to go to Japan to learn some karaoke songs and you will find that going to a karaoke 'restaurant' will be a good way to have fun with Japanese people and enjoy another aspect of Japanese culture.

A good example of an Enka song is Hisame (ひさめ) (氷雨). This son is usually recorded by women. (Take a look at all the women on YouTube who have recorded 氷雨). This example is recorded by a man (good for him) and I have posted his video here because it is in Japanese, Romaji (Japanese words written in ABC's), and English (and what looks like Portuguese to me). (氷雨 is one of the first Karaoke songs I learned in Japanese.)

Listen to the song and note the sadness of the lyrics as well as the sadness of the sound of the song in minor key.

 

Buntaro

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There are two famous temples in Kyoto with similar names, Ginakuji and Kingakuji. Ginakuji means Silver Pavilion (ぎんかくじ) (銀閣寺) and Kingakuji means Golden Pavilion (きんかくじ) (金閣寺). Here is a video on Kingakuji.

 

Buntaro

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Another must-see temple in Kyoto is Kiyomizudera. The most famous part of the temple is its magnificent wooden balcony. Take a look at it at 0:26.

 

Buntaro

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My last must-see location in Kyoto: Nijo Castle (Nijōjō) (にじょうじょう) (二条城,). It was the residence of the Tokugawa Shogun whenever he was staying in Kyoto.


 

Buntaro

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One of the impressive things about Nijo Castle is its anti-burglar system. In certain parts of the castle, the floors are made of wooden floorboards which move slightly when a person (or ninja assassin) walk on them. Metal nails attached to the bottom of a floorboard scratch the surface below when moved by the weight of a person walking on top of them, making a scratching or "chirping" sound (called a "nightingale's chirping" sound). Because of this, these floors are called Nightingale Floors. (The fact this technology was created in the 1600's makes it all that more impressive.)

 

Buntaro

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A Japanese hanging scroll (kakejiku) (かけじく) (掛軸) is an important 'decoration' in some Japanese homes.





Take a look at the making of hanging scrolls.

 
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As it was posted in another thread, here it is a video of celebrities trying to motivate people to go to the elections that were about to happen this year

The elections already happened but its still interesting to be posted here :)
 

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Learn Japanese while walking the streets of Japan! Episode 2: Kitano Kobe (CC for English)
 

Buntaro

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I would be remiss if I didn't mention the type of floor found in a traditional Japanese house — a tatami floor. (Click on the words "Watch on YouTube" to view the video.) You may recognize the deep voice of the elderly gentleman with gray hair, he narrates a lot of the Japanology videos.




A tatami mat doesn't just lie flat on a floor. It is stretched across a square frame of 'two-by-two' pieces of wood. The center of a tatami mat is therefore unsupported and 'bouncy'. Here is Part One of the making of a tatami mat. (Parts Two through Four are also viewable on YouTube.)

 
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Buntaro

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Do Japanese people sleep on the floor?? Yes and no. Take a look at a futon on a tatami floor. (A tatami floor is softer than a hard wooden floor, so a futon on a tatami floor is comfortable enough.)




In the video above, two futons are used to provide a softer place to sleep on. In the video below, a three-fold 'matt' (マット) is placed under the futon. (I slept on a futon, on top of a three-fold matt, on a tatami floor for years.}

 

mdchachi

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Do Japanese people sleep on the floor?? Yes and no. Take a look at a futon on a tatami floor. (A tatami floor is softer than a hard wooden floor, so a futon on a tatami floor is comfortable enough.)




In the video above, two futons are used to provide a softer place to sleep on. In the video below, a three-fold 'matt' (マット) is placed under the futon. (I slept on a futon, on top of a three-fold matt, on a tatami floor for years.}


I've never had any problem sleeping on them. Especially if I was still warm from the ofuro and the beer that goes with it. (Typically I'd be on holiday when sleeping like this in a ryokan or minshuku.)
 

Uncle Frank

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Slept on the floor for 2 years while I was there. After a while , I found sleeping bags at our base store were dirt cheap and I used them instead of futons. A new one every month was only about $12 US so it saved cleaning them. My bed on base was horrible with sagging springs that squeaked when you moved. I think I slept on it about only once or twice a month.
 

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It is important to take your shoes off when visiting a Japanese house. (When I rented my apartment in Tokyo, I walked on the tatami with my shoes on. How embarrassing!) Use slippers inside the house (and wear different slippers in the bathroom).




Don't forget to turn your shoes around after taking them off at the genkan.

 

mdchachi

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It is important to take your shoes off when visiting a Japanese house. (When I rented my apartment in Tokyo, I walked on the tatami with my shoes on. How embarrassing!) Use slippers inside the house (and wear different slippers in the bathroom).
Somehow I adopted the Japanese footwear habits immediately and I never did that as far I remember even though I lived alone. The big faux pax I did, though, was to occasionally display flowers in my apartment. But not just any flowers, they were fresh cut, pretty flowers from a florist in my neighborhood. Naturally I picked the prettiest and cheapest I could find (leaning towards cheapest which were often chrysanthemums). It was only later I found out that those flowers are meant to display on graves. :LOL:
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thomas

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Naturally I picked the prettiest and cheapest I could find (leaning towards cheapest which were often chrysanthemums). It was only later I found out that those flowers are meant to display on graves. :LOL:

Many moons ago, before I got married, I brought a bunch of chrysanthemums for a date. I shall never forget her face. That was almost as bad as the evening when - as a guest in a Japanese family - I was invited to be the first to take a bath and drained the bathwater after I had finished my soaking. 😁
 

Buntaro

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The size of a Japanese room is measured by how many tatami mats it has.

Here is a video that shows a room (in a ryokan) that is a ten-tatami mat room (two tatami mats along the left side of the video, two tatami mats along the right side of the video, four tatami mats in the middle, and two tatami mats in the bottom left side of this video).




Here is another ten-mat tatami room. This video also includes some 'tatami mat etiquette'. I didn't know it was improper to stand or sit on the edges of tatami mats. But I know that if you put pressure on the side of a tatami mat, you can dislodge it from its position.

 

Buntaro

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Watch as four guys install 77 tatami-like mats in a large room where judo matches are held. (The yellow mats define the area that is inbounds for judo matches.)




The video says they are tatami mats, but these mats are not traditional tatami style. (The video calls them "judo mats".) The mats seem to be made of styrofoam. Take a look at 1:12 as a man cuts a mat to fit into a corner.

 
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Buntaro

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Why do some Japanese homes have such little furniture? Why don't they have a spot for a bed, a spot for a desk, etc.? The answer is that many Japanese homes are just too small, so space has to be used in more than one way. One room is used as a bedroom, a living room, a student's study space, etc. One room has to be 'multi-purpose'.

Take a look at this video. At 3:03 the two guests at a ryokan (Japanese-style inn) are having a meal in their room. Then, at bedtime at 4:07 in the video, in the same room, the dinner table has been pushed up against the wall and two futons are spread out on the floor to sleep on. The one room functions as both a dining room and a bedroom.

 

Buntaro

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A common size for a small tatami room is four and a half tatami mats. "Four and a half tatami mats" in Japanese is yo jou han (よじょうはん) (四畳半). Here is a video that shows a room (on a cruise ship) that is a four and a half tatami mat room. One tatami is 910mm x 1820 mm, which is about two feet by six feet. (You can also see some 'chairs' that are designed to be used on tatami, chairs that have a back but no legs.)

I lived in a 四畳半 for five years. That's a room about the size of eight feet by eight feet. (I had a tiny kitchen and an "oshi ire" closet that was in addition to the 四畳半 space.) The toilet was down a hall that served four apartments. I had to walk to the local bathhouse (100 yen a bath) every night,, even in the snow. I lived in an eight foot by eight foot room for five years! (I don't know how I did it.)

I have heard that tatami mats in Osaka are a little smaller than the ones in Tokyo, but I don't know this for sure. (Does anyone know about this?)

In this video, the four tatami are arranged in a 'circle' with the half-tatami in the middle (identical to how my apartment's floor was laid out).

 
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