Friday, August 28, 2015

2015 Japanese Population Census

The Japanese national population census is taken once every five years in October. The previous one was done in 2010, so this year, 2015, is another census year.

There is a very helpful webpage made by the Statistics Bureau, Ministry of Internal Affairs and Communications that provides information in Japanese, English, Portuguese, Simplified Chinese, and Korean: http://kokusei2015.stat.go.jp

I recommend looking through the website on your own, but here are some quick, basic facts about the census:

**All residents of Japan (as of October 1st, 2015, including non-Japanese residents) are required by law to fill out and submit a census form.**

This year is the first time the population census can (and is in fact recommended to) be submitted online.

Census Timeline:
  • September 10th-12th: Census takers provide households with "A Guide to the Online Census" document and online user ID and password
  • September 10th-20th: Period to fill out the census online (using a PC, smartphone, or tablet) using the provided user ID and password
  • September 26th-30th: Distribution of paper census documents to households that did not complete the census online
  • October 1st-7th: Deadline to submit census forms (either to census takers or by mail, depending on the municipality) 
  • February 2016: Preliminary census results scheduled to be released
  • October 2016: Detailed census results scheduled to be released

Beware of Fraudulent Census Takers!
  • Census takers never ask you for money. They also never ask you for information such as your bank account or credit card numbers.
  • Watch out for suspicious persons visiting your home and claiming to be census takers. Also beware of suspicious phone calls, e-mails or other communications. If you encounter this sort of suspicious person or communication, do not provide any information and promptly contact your municipal government to report the incident.
  • Census takers wear official "Population Census Taker identification card" with them.
    *In some areas, census taking duties is assigned to building managers, and they carry "Census Taking Authorization Certification" with them.
If you would like an idea as to the type of information required for the census, see my 2010 post about "Filling out the national census form (国勢調査調査票) "

And again, the 2015 Population Census official website address: http://kokusei2015.stat.go.jp

Monday, June 1, 2015

Kusa Mochi Azuki Monaka Ice Cream Sandwich

Monaka is a popular Japanese sweet (和菓子 wagashi) traditionally "made of azuki bean filling sandwiched between two thin crisp wafers made from sticky-rice." 
(Source: TORAYA, "Types of Wagashi")

The azuki paste can also be replaced with ice cream for a delicious Japanese-style ice cream sandwich. Monaka are one of my favourite types of ice cream treats because they are relatively clean to eat and easy to split for sharing (important since my husband and I usually share food).

The standard ice cream monaka has a plain wafer and vanilla ice cream. There are many different brands, but my personal favourite is Lotte's "Monaou." The name combines the words monaka (モナカ) and ou (=king) and means "Monaka King."
Monaou Monaka Ice Cream モナ王
 Monaou Monaka Ice Cream モナ王
 Monaou Monaka Ice Cream モナ王

Recently, however, I discovered a Kusa Mochi Azuki Monaka--intriguing as it combined two traditional Japanese sweets (kusa mochi and monaka) with an ice cream twist.
Kusa Mochi Azuki Monaka Ice Cream 草もち風あずきモナカ
(Mochi is a type of "rice cake" made by pounding sticky rice until it reaches a chewy, dough-like texture. Kusa mochi (草もち literally: "grass/weed mochi") is mochi made with yomogi (Japanese mugwort) which gives the mochi a distinctive green colour and slightly grassy flavour.)
Opening the package I was surprised to see the smooth texture of the wafers; it made it look much more like a traditional (non-ice-cream) monaka.
Kusa Mochi Azuki Monaka Ice Cream 草もち風あずきモナカ
Kusa Mochi Azuki Monaka Ice Cream
regular (non-ice-cream) monaka
Biting into the monaka, rather than the slightly grass-like taste of kusa mochi, I was surprised by a faint taste of cinnamon. The exact taste is hard to describe, but I really liked it and would definitely recommend it--in fact I went out and bought another two bars shortly after first trying it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Nameko's Adventures in Shichinohe

After enjoying cherry blossom viewing in Hirosaki and Towada, Nameko decided to check out the Tennou Azalea Festival (天王つつじまつり) at the Tennou Jinja (Shrine) in Shichinohe on May 3rd.

Of course no trip to Shichinohe would be complete without a visit to Namiki Gelato, so Nameko started off his adventures in Shichinohe with a black sesame and houji-cha double cone!
Namiki Gelato Shichinohe ナミキ・ジェラート 七戸町
Namiki Gelato Black Sesame & Houji-cha Double Cone Shichinohe ナミキ・ジェラート 黒ごま ほうじ茶 ダブルコーン 七戸町
Since it was a nice day, Nameko went outside to enjoy his gelato. After finishing his cone, he admired some of the many cow statues and tractors on display outside, as well as the lovely field of canola flowers. Some people were even taking (free) tractor rides through the fields.
 Namiki Gelato Cow Statue Shichinohe ナミキジェラート 牛の像 七戸町
Namiki Gelato Tractor Shichinohe ナミキジェラート トラクター 七戸町
Namiki Gelato Tractor Ride Shichinohe ナミキジェラート トラクター乗車体験 七戸町Namiki Gelato Canola Flower Field ナミキジェラート 菜の花畑
 Namiki Gelato Canola Flower Field ナミキジェラート 菜の花畑
 After Namiki, it was onto the main event, the Tennou Azalea Festival!
Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
 Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり

Shichinohe Tennou Jinja (Shrine) Azalea Festival 七戸町天王神社つつじまつり
Nameko thoroughly enjoyed his day out in Shichinohe!

Links:
Namiki Gelato (Japanese): http://www.namiki-gelato.com

Friday, May 15, 2015

NOT Cool Japan

This is an article that caught my eye when I happened to look over my husband's shoulder as he was reading the local newspaper, TooNippo (東奥日報) on May 5th, 2015.

It's about American Republican Party Presidential candidates, Dr. Ben Carson and Carly Fiorina.
What caught my eye, though, was not the content of the article, but the title, which basically starts with (reading from right to left): "WOMAN Ms. Fiorino, BLACK PERSON Mr. Carson"
Seriously?!

I am by no means a zealot for political correctness, but I feel like the presentation of the article essentially reduced Ms. Fiorino and Mr. Carson to just the most basic of their physical characteristics.

NOT cool, Japan, not cool.