Japan Australia Pages

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Shubun no Hi

Shubun no Hi Autumn Equinox Day
Autumn Equinox Day or “Shubun no Hi” (秋分の日) in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday that usually occurs on September 22 or 23. This year Shubun no Hi will be on September 23.

Shubun no Hi marks the changing of the seasons in Japan and commemorates the autumnal equinox, which is a 24-hour period when day and night are the same length. From this day on, days begin getting shorter than nights in the Northern Hemisphere. It can be seen as the official start of autumn in Japan and a sign that cooler days are to come.

It is part of the ‘Silver Week’ holiday period in Japan and follows on from Keiro no Hi which is held on the third Monday of September.

History of Shubun no Hi 

Shubun no Hi first started as a national holiday in 1948. It is a day to mark the changing of the seasons in Japan as well as a day to pay our respects to our deceased ancestors.

In the past, the autumnal equinox was called Shuki-koureisai (the autumn festival of the Emperor’s spirits), and was a day where the emperor worshipped his deceased ancestors.

How is Shubun no Hi Celebrated? 

Many memorial services take place at temples around Japan. People also visit the graves of their ancestors to offer rice cakes called ohagi, clean the tombstone, and offer incense and flowers. It is a time to pray to our deceased ancestors to comfort their spirits.

Shubun no Hi
Image Source

Shubun no Hi Autumn Equinox Day

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keiro no Hi

Respect for the Aged Day
Respect for the Aged Day or “Keiro no Hi” (敬老の日) in Japanese is an annual Japanese National Holiday held on the third Monday of September.

This year Keiro no Hi will be on September 21st and is part of the 'Silver Week' holiday period in Japan.

Keiro no Hi was established as a day to honour elderly citizens and celebrate longevity in Japan. 

History of Keiro no Hi 

Keiro no Hi first started as a national holiday in 1966, but can trace its origins back to 1947 when Taka-cho in Hyogo Prefecture declared September 15, “Old Folks Day”, highlighting its elderly citizens and celebrating longevity. Its popularity soon spread nationwide and it became an official national holiday in 1966. It was originally held every September 15th, but changed in 2003 when the Happy Monday System kicked in, moving it to the third Monday of September.

How is Keiro no Hi Celebrated?

To honour their elders, many Japanese communities throw parties and offer special gifts to bring even more longevity to their lives. Young school children in Japan are encouraged to present their grandparents with presents or handmade gifts to celebrate the occasion and show their respect and appreciation.

Respect for the Aged Day
Image Source

Japanese media take the opportunity of ‘Respect for the Aged Day’ to feature the elderly by reporting on the population and highlighting the oldest people in the country. Japan has one of the highest life expectancies in the world with men on average living to 80 and women 87 (WHO 2015).

Japanese citizens who became 100 years old in the 12 months before Keiro no Hi receive a silver sake dish on Respect for the Aged Day.

Respect for the Aged Day

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Silver Week in Japan

Autumn in Japan
Silver Week is a new term used in Japan to describe a string of consecutive national holidays that occur in September.

Silver Week or (シルバーウィーク) in Japanese is called 'Silver Week' because it is a close second to that other famous collection of national holidays in late April and early May which is called ‘Golden Week’. Silver is also a commonly used word that is used to describe the older generation in Japan. Respect for the Aged Day is one of the national holidays that falls in the Silver Week period, so it can be said to have a double meaning.

The three national holidays that make up the five-day break of Silver Week are:
  • Respect for the Aged Day (Keiro no Hi) – third Monday of September 
  • Autumn Equinox Day (Shubun no Hi) – usually around September 23 
  • Citizens’ Holiday (Kokumin no Kyūjitsu) – the day between the two other holidays 


Japan’s Holiday Laws 

Japanese law stipulates that any workday sandwiched between two national holidays should become an additional holiday. Nice, right? This special national holiday is given the general term Kokumin no Kyūjitsu.

Japan also has the Happy Monday system, whereby any national holiday that falls on a Saturday or Sunday is shifted to the Monday.

Got to love Japan, right? The land of national holidays!

The Next Silver Week 

Unfortunately Silver Week is a rare occurrence that only happens when the stars perfectly align and Japan’s national holiday laws kick-in. The next Silver Week will occur again in September 2020 (September 19 -23), so make sure you make the most of this fantastic opportunity if you are in Japan.

Silver Week is a popular time to travel in Japan and to get outdoors to enjoy the beautiful Autumn weather. We have a Sports Day (運動会) to attend today in Gifu. 

How do you plan to spend Silver Week in 2015?

Gifu Park in Autumn

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Song of the Week: Secret Base (Kimi ga Kureta Mono) – Zone

Secret Base Zone
This week’s Song of the Week is Secret Base (Kimi ga Kureta Mono) by a girls group called Zone. The song Secret Base ~君がくれたもの (Kimi ga Kureta Mono) is about a sad goodbye to a good friend.

Zone was an all-female pop rock band who formed in Sapporo, Japan in 1999. They released their first single, “Good Days” on February 7, 2001. The four piece band comprises of lead vocalist/guitarist Miyu Nagase, vocalist/drummer Mizuho Saito, vocalist/bassist Maiko Sakae and vocalist/guitarist Takayo Ookishi.

Interestingly, Zone originally started out as a dance group, but due to the overabundance of dance groups at that time in Japan decided to breakout as a band that played instruments as well as sing and dance. They were part of a new genre in Japan called “bandol” which is a combination of the words band and idol. Indeed, you could call Zone an idol pop-rock band. A group that can sing, dance and play an instrument.

Secret Base (Kimi ga Kureta Mono) was the bands most famous song and was released on August 8, 2001. The single was a massive hit for the band reaching number 2 on the Japanese Oricon charts. The song has also been covered by popular girls band SCANDAL in Japan.

Zone officially disbanded on April 1, 2005, but reunited briefly (without Mizuho) in 2011 in honour of the 10th anniversary of “Secret Base’. They officially broke-up (ended) on March 2, 2013.

It is a great song and reminds me very much of the joys of summer and that it all must come to an end.

Zone Official Website 

Here is Secret Base (Kimi ga Kureta Mono) by Zone

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Tsukimi Burger 2015

Tsukimi Burger 2015
The Tsukimi Burger is back for Autumn 2015 in Japan! Currently available at McDonald’s restaurants across Japan, it is a sure tell sign that Autumn has finally arrived here in Japan.

Autumn is considered a time in Japan to enjoy delicious season food, cooler weather after the summer heat, and koyo (紅葉) which is viewing of the colourful Autumn leaves. The Tsukimi Burger It is only available for a limited time during the early Autumn and made its appearance back on the menu again in early September. It will remain on the menu until early October.

The Tsukimi Burger has been around for a few years now, making its first appearance way back in 1991. It has been a popular seasonal favourite ever since and always comes back in some form or the other every year. It traditionally contains a beef patty, smoky bacon, a poached egg and a special sauce (ketchup mixed with Japanese mayonnaise).

The Tsukimi Burger (月見バーガー) is named after the famous Japanese tradition of tsukimi (月見) or moon viewing, which is a festival honouring the bright Autumn moon. The poached egg in the burger is said to resemble the Autumn full moon with the egg yolk representing the bright Autumn full moon and the egg white the white sky.

In 2013 McDonald’s released a new addition to the Tsukimi line-up with the Chicken Cheese Tsukimi Burger. In 2014 it was the Kinoko Tsukimi Burger featuring mushrooms. What will it be in 2015?

This year in 2015 they have released two new Hokkaido cheese versions of the Tsukimi Burger to go along with the original Tsukimi Burger. The new additions are the Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger and the Chicken Tsukimi Hokkaido Cheese Burger.

Tsukimi Burger 

The original and some say best version of the burger contains a beef patty, smoky bacon, a poached egg and special sauce.

Original Tsukimi Burger
Original Tsukimi Burger

Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger 

The Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi is the same as the original Tsukimi Burger with the addition of Hokkaido cheddar cheese.

Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger
Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger

Chicken Tsukimi Hokkaido Cheese Burger 

The Chicken Tsukimi Hokkaido Cheese features a crispy chicken patty along with smoky bacon, Hokkaido cheddar cheese and special sauce.

Chicken Tsukimi Hokkaido Cheese Burger
Chicken Tsukimi Hokkaido Cheese Burger

The Tsukimi Burger has long been a favourite of ours at Japan Australia, so we had to head over the our nearest McDonald’s to test out the new Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger. 

The Taste Test 

The new Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger certainly didn’t disappoint and we really liked the addition of the Hokkaido cheddar cheese which was really creamy. Eating the burger was like being reacquainted with a long lost friend. Ah, Autumn is finally back in Japan and this cooler weather is just another sign that the long hot summer in Japan is finally over for another year.

Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger Set
Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger Set

Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger 2015
The simple wrapping of the Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger

Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger Unwrapped
The Hokkaido Cheese Tsukimi Burger Unwrapped

Prices for the burgers vary depending on the region of Japan. The Tsukimi Burgers are only available for a limited time, so hurry on in if you want to give them a try.

McDonald’s Japan Website

Tsukimi Burger 2015

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Song of the Week: Natsu no Owari – Moriyama Naotarō

Natsu no Owari by Moriyama Naotarō
This week’s Song of the Week is Natsu no Owari by Moriyama Naotarō. The title “Natsu no Owari” (夏の終わり) means The End of Summer, which is perfect for this week’s song as last week signaled the end of summer in Japan and the start of Autumn. 

Moriyama Naotarō ((森山直太朗) is a Japanese pop singer-songwriter from Tokyo, Japan. He made his major debut in 2002 with the single “Hoshikuzu no Serenade” and made his big break with the hit song “Sakura” in March, 2003. Naotarō comes from a music family, his mother is the famous 1970’s Japanese folk singer, Ryōko Moriyama.

It was during University at Seijo University that Naotarō started seriously planning guitar and writing songs. He started doing street performances from there as well as playing in music clubs in the Tokyo area. He was picked up by the music label ‘NNR’, releasing a mini-album in 2001.

Natsu no Owari was released on August 20, 2003 and followed up on the success of “Sakura” released earlier that year. Natsu no Owari was Naotarō’s third single and is still very popular today as a summer song.

Moriyama Naotarō is a really interesting singer with a unique distinctive style. You can check out his official website here naotaro.com.

 I hope you like the song and if you’re in Japan like me enjoy the Autumn ahead.

Natsu no Owari by Moriyama Naotarō

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Stay Healthy in Japan with HealthyTokyo.com

HealthyTokyo.com is a great resource for foreigners to stay healthy in Japan with its guide to Japan’s best health and wellness providers.

What’s the biggest health risk for foreigners in Japan? Experiencing an earthquake or major typhoon? Being jammed into a packed train during peak rush-hour? Actually, none of these. Whether you are an expat living in Japan or visiting the country for travel, the biggest risk is not getting the health and wellness support you need. With language a potential obstacle, a health care system different from what you are used to, or simply because you do not know who to ask and where to go, getting the treatment you need will most likely be complicated and time-consuming.

The good news is that there is now a very useful health and wellness web-service available. HealthyTokyo.com was created to minimize the risks and make it simple as ever for foreign residents and visitors to connect with English-speaking doctors, dentists, personal coaches and other health and wellness specialists in Japan.

You can become a member by signing up for free and access the HealthyTokyo network as you wish. Looking for an English-speaking doctor or dentist? Just search the Medical Partners category. Looking for an English-speaking personal trainer? Want to start a healthy diet? Or maybe you would you like to become a certified Yogi? You may find the perfect coach in the Wellness Coaches category. Finally, you get access to an extensive group of wellness and lifestyle experts in the Healthy Partners section; gyms, spas, Japanese Shiatsu Massage and healthy restaurants are some of the many services and places you can find on HealthyTokyo.com with details about their offerings.

HealthyTokyo also offers a premium membership plan. Premium members have access through a live chat service to a Healthy Concierge who will find specific places like a doctor, dentist or wellness services and make appointments, both in and beyond HealthyTokyo’s partner network. Last but not least, the premium plan provides members with special offers such as free trials and discounts offered by the multitude of partners.

Both short term visitors and expats living in Japan will benefit from HealthyTokyo.com. A great and long-awaited resource. The only condition for membership is that you care about your health.

If you want to stay healthy in Japan visit HealthyTokyo.com now and sign up for their free member registration.


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