Sunday, July 12, 2009

When You Wish upon a Star

Japanese people write their wishes on colorful sheets and hang them to banboo. The custom originally comes from a Chinese old tale.

The students in our laboratory also made the bamboo and ornaments. Now, some students study for examination to the graduated school. Therefore, most of hopes relates to its success.
Others are related to refinement of traffic jams around our university, growth of a company where a student will work from the next year, and so on.

By the way, do you know a similar decorated bamboo in space? Dr. Koichi Wakata, a Japanese astronauts, stays at the International Space Station (ISS) now. He also put a bamboo (actually paper craft of bamboo) and wrote his hope on a sheet. His hope is the completion of the Japanese space laboratory module, named "Kibo".

"Kibo" is a Japanese word meaning "hope". I feel the ISS is like a bamboo, and the "Kibo" module is like a sheet for wish. After the completion, many people will carry out their experiments in the module with their HOPE.

Other astronauts from US and Russia etc. pray the happiness and health of their families. Both of Japanese astronauts and students do not. Why? I think that our laboratory and the ISS are places of work, and Japanese students and the astronauts pray about their work. If they go to a temple or shrine, theywill pray for their families. Japanese people normally divide their style in and out of office.

Anyway, the bamboo in the ISS is so funny.
It should be called as "When You Wish in stars"!

(See also my Japanese blog:

Monday, July 6, 2009

Melon Bread

Do you know "melon bread" in Japan?
The "melon bread" does not include melon and any fruits, and
does not have the melon taste and smell.

The lower is a typical "melon bread".
Now, you can easily understand the reason.
The surface pattern is similar to the melon itself.

At first, the bread was not called as "melon bread" but "sunrise".
It simulated the shape of sun almost 100 years ago.
After several tens years had passed, the melon fruit become popular and
the name of "sunrise bread" was changed to "melon bread".

The upper bread in the photograph is also called as "melon bread".
It is the original version of the "melon bread" developed about 100 years ago
in Kobe and Kyoto. After the recent version of "melon bread", called as "sunrize"
originally, becomes popular, the original version becomes minor.

Why did Japanese people to make a melon-shaped bread?
About 100 years ago, the fruits of melon was quite rare in Japan.
Also the bread itself was rare. I think both of the melon fruit and bread
are kinds of symbol for "trendy goods" or "mode" at that time.
It is easily understood that a baker tried to combine these novel things
for his new item. This is my guess.

Finally, do you know a Japanese word of "bread".
For example, the "melon bread" is called as "melon pan" in Japanese.
It is not a saucepan made by melon :P