April is a month of a fresh start in Japan.
A lot of new employees in a newly-made business suit
and students in a brand new school uniform are seen passing through big stations like Shinjuku and Shibuya in Tokyo,
commuting to work or go to school..
On the northwest side of Shibuya Station,
there is the world’s busiest pedestrian crossing.
called “ The Scramble crossing” A popular spot for tourists.
An estimated number of 3,000 people cross it each time the signal changes.
The traffic lights all turn red, stopping traffic, and at the same time pedestrians from all sides flow into the massive intersection,
forming the stream of bodies, passing without colliding.
They seem to know how to remain well-behaved in the crowded place,
but many don’t realize they have a strategy for not running into others.
For some reasons, the Scramble started and works well.
It might be related to Japanese culture. People get used to tighter space.
They are daily crammed like sardines into train cars on their way to workplace or school.
Crowded or not, the pedestrians are considerate toward others and respect harmonious interactions.
In addition, the development history of Shibuya might be one of the main reasons.
The city became a big place in Tokyo with the developments of the north-west Shibuya done by the Tokyu Group in 1960s
and the Seibu Group in 1970s respectively.
The north-west Shibuya are covered with a large number of stores and restaurants,
and the Hachiko statue, a very well-known meeting place in front of the station,
which caused the disproportion between pedestrian volume and available infrastructure in those days.
Thus the Scramble started in the mid-1970s to cope with over 3 million pedistrians per day.
What makes foreign tourists overwhelmed is the organized chaos seen at the Scramble crossing.
It’s really something that they can’t experience in their country.
This moment can be watched from Tokyu Department store train level. Free and enjoyable attraction!
Spring is around the corner.
Every year the bunches of peach tree branches with lots of buds are found at a flower shop in Japan
from around mid-February.
They are arranged for Dolls Festival (Hina Matsuri) celebrated on March 3rd.to pray for girls’ healthy growth
Peach trees were believed to ward off evils.
The traditional practice was held when peach trees began to flower.
Although this is no longer true since the new calendar was introduced.
Peaches blossoms are still symbolic of the festival.
As this tradition shows, people have appreciated
the beauty of seasonal flowers and plants and celebrated festivals with them for centuries,
as the country has four distinct seasons with suitable flowers for each season.
Considering this, it’s understandable that Ikebana (Japanese art of flower arrangement) was born in Japan..
1“Flowers to be appreciated,” 2 “Yorishiro (an object that divine spirits are summoned to)”
i.e. Kadomatsu, a pair of pine used even today as decoration for the New Year 3 “Flower offerings
on the Buddhist altar” –
With these interacting elements in place,
ikebana began to be formalized in the 15th century.
Its origin came from floral offerings left at the temples,
and Ikenobo, the first school, was established by a Buddhist priest in Kyoto in the 15th century.
Later, other schools appeared, each with their own aesthetic philosophy,
eventually becoming a pastime for 19th-century ladies.
Ikebana has continued with the times, reflecting various eras,
but it is governed by strict rules.
The style which most people generally think of as ikebana is a triangular composition of three main elements:
the tallest representing heaven, the lowest, earth, with man .in the middle
One of the big differences between Ikebana and western flower arrangement is that in Ikebana,
line of branches is very important with some spaces, and asymmetry,
while flower arrangement has many flowers to make round shapes without any spaces.
If you are interested in pottery, taking Ikebana lessons is recommended.
The flower vase is a key element of Ikebana. But keep in mind that it takes time to master even basic techniques .
Japanese Language Lesson Beginners’ Course 【Level1 Step3】
Monday & Wednesday /7:30pm – 9:00pm
February 14 – April 9, 2018 (except March 21)
Tuition Fee : 45,900 yen for 15 lessons (3,065 yen per lesson)
If you are interested please contact us by e-mail.
JLPT N2 Preparation Course Term1
Saturday / 11:00am-1:00pm
February 3-April 14 (except Feb.10)
Tuition Fee : 43,200 yen for 10 lessons (4,320 yen per lesson)
If you are interested please contact us by e-mail.
Happy New Year！
We wish for great happiness in 2018, the year of the dog according to Chinese zodiac.
We do hope that 2018 has begun in a really good way for all of you.
“Hatsumode” the first visit to a shrine or a temple,
either grand or small is one of the most exciting and meaningful New Year’s traditions in Japan.
Meiji Shrine, one of the most famous shrines in Japan
boasts over three million worshippers during the first three days of New Year of 2017.
This act can be performed on any day throughout the year,
but hatsumode is considered to be a particularly important time to pray for good luck in the coming year.
People throw coin or bill into the offertory box.
No specific amount. Heart is important.
People clap their hands twice and then pray with their hands together silently.
Traditional luck charms (omamori) and fortune telling slips (omikuji) are available at a shrine or a temple.
If they want to secure a wish, people write their prayers on ema, a votive wooden plaque.
It is typically 15cm wide and 9cm high and costs from 500yen to 1000yen.
It is offered to a shrine or a temple whenever people feel they need a little help
from the deities for worldly benefits such as a swift recovery from illness,
a job promotion, and success in entrance exams.
Visiting a shrine or a temple is different from being religious.
Yet religious belief and rituals have long been an important part of Japanese people’s life.
The majority of Japanese are born Shinto, marry Christian, and die Buddhist.
Such Japan’s blend of religious practices might be hard to understand from a western point of view.
Many people of all ages in Japan seem to be seeking some sort of spiritual advice by visiting sacred places,
as exemplified in a huge number of ema with closely hand-written hopes, found in the precincts of a shrine or a temple.