Saturday, March 31, 2007

history of japanese houses

Japanese Houses
The History of Japanese Houses
In ancient Japan, there were essentially two different types of houses. The first was what is known as a pit-dwelling house, in which columns are inserted into a big hole dug in the ground and then surrounded by grass. The second was built with the floor raised above the ground. The style of house with an elevated floor is said to have come to Japan from Southeast Asia, and this type of building was apparently used to store grain and other foods so that they wouldn't spoil from heat and humidity.

A model of a shinden-zukuri house (National Museum of Japanese History)
In around the eleventh century, when Japan's unique culture came into full bloom, members of the aristocracy began to build a distinctive style of house for themselves called shinden-zukuri. This type of house, which stood in the midst of a large garden, was symmetrical, and its rooms were connected with long hallways. It allowed residents to enjoy seasonal events and the beauty of nature.

Shoin-zukuri (Jisho-ji)
As political power passed from the nobles to the samurai (warrior class) and a new form of Buddhism made its way to Japan, core aspects of traditional Japanese culture as we know it today began to take root, including ikebana (flower arranging), the tea ceremony, and Noh. The samurai created their own style of house called shoin-zukuri. This influence can be seen in the alcove ornament of the guest rooms of modern houses.
The houses of common people developed differently. Farmers in different regions of the country had houses that were adapted to local conditions. The houses built in the gassho style in Shirakawa-go, which is listed as a World Heritage site, are examples of residences in which common people lived. Some farmers' houses had space to keep their cattle and horses indoors, while the houses of city dwellers were often squeezed close together along the streets. As urban homeowners were taxed based on the width of the front side of the house, their houses were built to be long and narrow. This style can still be seen today in older cities like Kyoto.

A kura-zukuri style house (Kawagoe City)
Housing continued to develop in the Meiji era (1868-1912). Some towns had houses built in the kura-zukuri style, which featured Japanese-looking exteriors but were made from more fire-resistant materials. The style that is the basis for Japanese homes today, which usually have a long hallway through the middle of the house with rooms on each side, is said to combine foreign culture with the style of house preferred by the samurai

Structure of the japanese house


Traditional Japanese houses are built by erecting wooden columns on top of a flat foundation made of packed earth or stones. Wooden houses exist all over the world. What are the particular characteristics of houses in Japan, where there are four distinct seasons, including a hot and humid summer and a cold winter?

In order to avoid moisture from the ground, the floor is elevated several tens of centimeters and is laid across horizontal wooden floor beams. Areas like the kitchen and hallways have wooden flooring, but rooms in which people sit, such as the living room, are covered with mats called tatami that are made from woven rush grass. Japanese generally don't use chairs on top of tatami, so people either sit directly on the tatami or on flat cushions called zabuton. This is why people take off their shoes when entering a Japanese house.

The frame of a Japanese house is made of wood, and the weight is supported by vertical columns, horizontal beams, and diagonal braces. Diagonal braces came to be used when the technology of foreign countries was brought to Japan. One characteristic of Japanese houses is that they have a large roof and deep eaves to protect the house from the hot summer sun, and the frame of the house supports the weight of the roof.
In the old days, the walls of houses were made of woven bamboo plastered with earth on both sides. Nowadays, though, many different types of materials have been developed, and plywood is often used. Also, in the past, many houses had columns that were exposed outside the walls. But in the Meiji era (1868-1912), houses came to be made using a method that encases the columns inside the walls in order to reduce the possibility of fire. Many roofs in the past were covered with shingles or straw, but these days most are covered with tiles called kawara. The roof is the part of the house most affected by rain, wind, snow, sunlight, and other natural conditions. Although there are a number of differences among the roofs seen in different areas of Japan, they all have one thing in common: They are sloped instead of flat, allowing rainwater to flow off easily.
Japanese houses have developed over the years by combining traditional forms with modern technology to improve their resistance to fire and their convenience. Recently, though, people are beginning to look anew at the traditional methods of building houses, which are easy on the environment and last a long time. You can visit a virtual Japanese house by playing the game that accompanies this article.

seven gods

INTRODUCTION. The Shichifukujin 七福神 are an eclectic group of deities from Japan, India, and China. Only one is native to Japan (Ebisu) and Japan's indigenous Shinto tradition. Three are from the Hindu-Buddhist pantheon of India (Daikokuten, Bishamonten, and Benzaiten) and three from Chinese Taoist-Buddhist traditions (Hotei, Juroujin, and Fukurokuju). In Japan, they travel together on their treasure ship (takara bune 宝船) and dispense happiness to believers. Each deity existed independently before Japan's "artificial" creation of the group in the 17th century. Images of the seven appear with great frequency in modern Japan, and the most common ordering is: Ebisu, Daikoku, Benzai, Hotei, Fukurokuju, Juroujin, Bishamonten. Each deity is presented briefly below. Click any deity name for full textual reviews & numerous photos. Click here for photo montage. SEVEN VIRTUES. Says the Flammarion Iconographic Guide: This popular group of deities recalls "the seven wise men of the bamboo thicket" or the "seven wise men of the wine cup" whose images are popular in China. The Japanese group was artificially created in the 17th century by the monk Tenkai (who died in 1643 and was posthumously named Jigen Daishi), who wanted to symbolize the essential virtues of the man of his time for the Shogun Tokugawa Iemitsu (1623-1650 AD). The seven virtues are:
Candour (Ebisu)
Fortune (Daikokuten)
Amiability (Benzaiten)
Magnanimity (Hotei)
Popularity (Fukurokuju)
Longevity (Juroujin)
Dignity (Bishamonten)


Typical Japanese lifestyle and everyday living
Climate and weather
Kashiwa City and Nagareyama City are located in Chiba Prefecture, which has a relatively moderate climate throughout the year. However, please be aware that during the mid-summer, the temperature can still climb well in excess of 30 degrees Centigrade, which, compounded with typically high humidity, can create the uncomfortable conditions associated with the hot summer. Also, snow falls in Chiba Prefecture during the mid-winter months.Air conditioners, fans and heating stoves will help to comfortably control the temperature inside your residence.
From summer to autumn, Japan experiences several typhoons (tropical storms) every year. It's best to be prepared for these storms by storing an emergency kit (with flashlight, batteries, food, water, etc.) in an accessible place. Also, you should familiarize yourself with your nearest local emergency shelter.
Be aware of mold
The months of June and July are known as the "rainy season" in Japan.Even when the rainy season is finished, summer in Japan is typically hot and very humid. Therefore, it is easy for mold to grow.Exposure to mold is unhealthy. Therefore, be sure to open your windows on clear days, try to have good ventilation, wipe off condensation from the inside of windows and doors, and use moisture removal goods, such as a dehumidifier, to prevent the growth of mold.
Drinking water
Generally, it is not a problem to drink tap water in Japan. However, if you don't like the local water smell or taste, it's best to boil your water, use a water purification system, or buy bottled mineral water.
The traditional lifestyle without shoes inside a building
In almost all Japanese homes, you step up to enter from the front door area after you take off your shoes. Sometimes, you will wear room shoes (slippers) inside the house, but you should take off these slippers when you enter a tatami (Japanese straw mat) room. Nowadays, at most offices, you don't have to take off your shoes to enter, but there are still a few traditional businesses in which you have to take off your shoes.
Bathroom and toilet
Pay attention to the traditional Japanese etiquette when taking a bath, especially when you visit someone's house or a public bath.
Wash and rinse off your body, before you enter the bathtub. Do not wash your body inside the bathtub. To use soap, you should come out of the bathtub first, then wash and rinse your body outside of the bathtub. Traditionally, in Japan, the hot water in the bathtub is not changed after every person takes a bath. Do not unplug the bathtub to let the hot water out. When you finish your bath, leave the hot water in the bathtub.
In Japan, there are 2 styles of toilets (so-called "Japanese style" and "Western style"). If you use the "Japanese style" toilet, you will have to squat. Except for toilet paper, please do not flush any other foreign objects, such as sanitary napkins or the cardboard core of the toilet paper roll.
At most Japanese and Chinese restaurants, chopsticks are usually served. If you can't use chopsticks, please don't hesitate to request silverware. In most restaurants and bars in Japan, even where only alcohol is served, there is no system of paying for individual drinks or snacks, one at a time. You simply pay your total bill when you leave the restaurant or bar at the cash register. Typically, in Japan, there is no system of tipping for service, but nowadays, many hotels and a limited number of restaurants will include a prescribed service charge (normally a percentage of the total) on your bill.
In Japan, when you purchase goods or use the money transfer service at the bank, you have to pay the Japanese 5% consumption tax. The 5% consumption tax is included in the price shown on the price tag of any item for sale in Japan. (The listed price reflects the total cost of the item and the sales tax.) For most shopping, you should usually plan to pay in cash, but nowadays, a limited number of places, such as hotels, restaurants, and supermarkets, accept credit cards. You can cash a personal check only at the bank where the check was written or at the bank in which you have your own account (in your name). In Japan, you cannot write personal checks for purchases.
Basic information for shopping
Supermarket (English only)
Convenience Store (English only)
100 yen shop (English only)
PriceCheckTOKYO* An Unofficial Price List of Everyday Items in Tokyo (English only)
Holiday and National holiday
Almost all government offices, banks and post offices are closed on Saturdays, Sundays and National Holidays in Japan, but many department stores, shops and restaurants are open on these days.
In Japan, if a National Holiday falls on a Sunday, the next day (Monday) will be observed as a holiday. In addition to the Japanese National Holidays, many public offices, banks and schools will also close for a few days in mid-August, for a period of days known as "Obon" (the Buddhist event), as well as at the end of the calendar year and the beginning of the new year (especially January 1 to 3).
Public telephone
Use 10 yen coins, 100 yen coins. or a telephone card to place a phone call.Telephone cards are readily available for purchase at the kiosk or newspaper stand of the station, as well as in vending machines or convenience stores.If you see the sign "International Call" then you can also place international calls from that public telephone.
TV and radio
In Japan, you can enjoy watching the TV or listening to the radio, and are authorized to receive any TV or radio broadcasts that with your TV or radio antenna. There are also a variety of commercial cable and satellite TV broadcasting networks, for which subscribers need to pay charges. NHK is Japanese national public broadcasting, and, if you own a TV set, you must pay a listening fee, as prescribed by Japanese law, regardless of whether you watch NHK programming or not.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Information technology Boom in TamilNadu

One of the most important Reason for growth in Indo-Japan ties is India's significant role in IT.This Software Park Named -Tidel Park is yet an other feather to India's IT success story.

Friday, March 23, 2007

Japanese Festival

We got an Opportunity to go to ' Japan Cultural Festival' conducted by Jawahar Lal Nehru University at their Delhi campus on 19th March'07. Over there we attended the 'Ikebana'( Japanese Flower Arrangement) workshop given by Dr.Veena Das. It was very Interesting as generally it is assumed that flower arrangement should be done with loads of flowers. The more the better. But, there we learned that beauty can also be created by just two or three sticks of flowers or only with leaves and even stems. This was indeed a very refreshing idea.

We also got a chance to have Tempura ( Japanese "Pakoda") and Yakitori ( Grilled Chicken) using chopsticks. Apart from this there was an exhibition going on, displaying various Japanese arts and craft items. We tried writing with the traditional calligraphy brush also. Although we were not able to attend all but other activities going on were Japanese movies, dances, Origami, Chopstick contest which our students liked very much.

These kinds of cultural festivals are good opportunities for all the people interested in learning Japanese culture.

Contributed by: Shikha Sharma, Gunjan Jain, Tanushree Mitra

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Ume(Japanese plum flower viewing) festival & Shakuhachi by Harano sensei

わたしの町(まち)の春(はる)のお祭り(  まつ  )と 尺八(しゃくはち)

私(わたし)の町(まち)、 「立花(たちばな)」では、2月に 観梅会(かんばいかい)というお祭り(  まつ  )がある。梅(うめ)を見て(み  )、春(はる)の訪れ(おとず   )をみんなで 祝(いわ)うのだ。いろいろな 催し物(もよお  もの)がある中(なか)で私(わたし)と父(ちち)は「尺八(しゃくはち)」という日本(にほん)の伝統的(でんとうてき)な 和楽器(わがっき)の演奏(えんそう)を聴いて(き   )みたいと思い(おも   )、その会場(かいじょう)へと足(あし)を運んだ(はこ   )。「尺八(しゃくはち)」、それは日本(にほん)の心(こころ)を映し出す(うつ  だ )楽器(がっき)である。 しばらくして、私達(わたしたち)はそっと目(め)を閉(と)じて 耳(みみ)を澄(す)ました。音色(ねいろ)に惹かれ(ひ   )、目(め)を閉じる(と   )とそこには日本(にほん)の美しい(うつく    )風景(ふうけい)が広がって(ひろ    )いた。それは、日本(にほん)の 長閑(のどか)な光景(こうけい)だった。清らか(きよ    )な小川(おがわ)、美しい(うつく   )花々(はなばな)、山(やま)の緑(みどり)、奥(おく)から楽しそう(たの )に聞こえてくる 鶯(うぐいす)の声(こえ)。 
梅(うめ)の花(はな)、福岡県(ふくおかけん)、立花町(たちばなまち)                 竹(たけ)と 光(ひかり)
尺八(しゃくはち)の音(おと)は私(わたし)の頭から(あたま   )足(あし)の先(さき)まで響いて(ひび    )きた。演奏(えんそう)された曲(きょく)のほとんどを私(わたし)は知らなかった(し     )。けれど、時代(じだい)が変わって(か   )も忘れて(わす   )はならない心(こころ)を私(わたし)は感じ取った(かん と  た)。 心(こころ)に響く(ひび  )曲(きょく)とは心(こころ)に語りかける(かた       )音色(ねいろ)である。♪♫♬♪-
様々(さまざま)な国(くに)を訪れて(おとず    )いるとつい、そちらにばかり気(き)をとられて日本(にほん)の大切(たいせつ)なことを忘れがち(わす     )になってしまう。相手(あいて)の言語(げんご)や文化(ぶんか)、歴史(れきし)を学ぶ(まな  )ことは重要(じゅうよう)なことである。しかし、 国際化(こくさいか)が叫ばれる(さけ    )時代(じだい)に私達(わたしたち)は何(なに)か置き忘れて(お わす   )いるものがないだろうか。国際人(こくさいじん)とはただ単(たん)に 言葉(ことば)が堪能(たんのう)な人ではない。お互(たが)いがそれぞれの 価値観(かちかん)を心から(こころ    ) 尊重(そんちょう)し、理解(りかい)していることがまず大切(たいせつ)なのではないだろうか。
それであるからこそ、わたしは「ことば」の背景(はいけい)にある文化(ぶんか)や歴史(れきし)教育(きょういく)の大切さ(たいせつ  )をこれからも伝えて(つた    )いきたいと思う(おも )。自分(じぶん)の国(くに)を知って(し   )こそ、相手(あいて)の国(くに)を理解(りかい)できる。日本人(にほんじん)であるという 自覚(じかく)と誇り(ほこ  )を胸(むね)にこれからも日本語(にほんご)教育(きょういく)に取り組(と く)んでいきたい。
    わたしの家(うち)の庭(にわ)と梅(うめ)の花(はな)          梅(うめ)の花(はな)
ここで、尺八(しゃくはち)について紹介(しょうかい)する。 尺八(しゃくはち)は、 江戸(えど)時代(じだい)に演奏(えんそう)されるようになったといわれている。尺八(しゃくはち)の長さ(なが  )の多く(おお  )が 一尺(いっしゃく) 八寸(はっすん)であるため、尺八(しゃくはち)と呼ばれ(よ  )ている。

尺八(しゃくはち)の演奏家(えんそうか)の前畑(まえはた)満洲男(ますお)さんにお話(おはなし)を伺った(うかが    )。
「昔(むかし)から日本(にほん)にある楽器(がっき)で一本(いっぽん)の竹(たけ)で一本(いっぽん)の尺八(しゃくはち)を作(つく)ることができます。」 →  竹(たけ)→尺八(しゃくはち)

「20年(ねん)ぐらいです。時間(じかん)があるときはいつも練習(れんしゅう)しています。 努力(どりょく)と気持ち(き も  )が大切(たいせつ)です。」

「 きっかけは何(なん)ですか。」
「和楽器(わがっき)の奥(おく)の深さ(ふか  )に魅(ひ)かれました。日本(にほん)の楽器(がっき)を 後世(こうせい)に伝えたい(つた   )と思(おも)います。」

「 感情(かんじょう)を表現(ひょうげん)し、自分(じぶん)の思い(おも  )を伝(つた)えることができるところです。」

         前畑さんと尺八                 演奏されているところ
前畑(まえはた)さんは「照(しょう)洲(しゅう)」という 「竹号(ちくごう)」を持(も)っていらっしゃいます。

Our guest faculty

Dear readers,

We are pleased to introduce Harano sensei (Ms. Mami Harano) as our guest faculty. She has experience in teaching Indian students and would like to share her experience in this forum.

We are extremely thankful to her and look forward to her valuable contributions.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

India looms large on the Japanese investment radar

Japanese firms keen to expand in India as per a survey by JETRO which tracks the business sentiments in Japanese corporations. Some highlights of the survey point to growing interest in India but the deluge is yet to be! China still rules the roost for Japanese investments!


New Delhi: Japanese firms now increasingly eye expansion in emerging markets for their global ventures. In this new pattern, India and Vietnam rank higher in their sales operations and production of mid- to low-end product categories.

A survey of Japanese firms' global operations in 2006 just released by Japan's External Trade Organisation (JETRO) shows that among the 729 respondents, 524 (71.9 per cent) hold overseas bases, of which 10.1 per cent (53) are in India.

Willingness to expand sales operations in India and Vietnam was demonstrated for the second year in a row, reflecting strong economic growth and expanding markets in these countries, the survey found. It said that increasing interest in local production reflects growing domestic demand in both countries' internal markets.
Whereas Japanese firms in car/car parts, other transportation machinery, iron and steel/non-ferrous metal/metal revealed greater preference for India.

To a specific query about risks of doing business in major Asian countries including China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam, Japanese firms surveyed said risks from "underdeveloped infrastructure" ranked highest among firms doing business in/with India (57.2 per cent) and Vietnam (47.9 per cent).

A high percentage of firms is worried about "underdeveloped or no accumulation of supporting industries" in their business with India and Vietnam, although such concern did not figure high among firms doing business in/with China.

Pointedly, the percentage of firms worrying about "tax issues" was also dominant in India (17.9 per cent), which suggests awareness among Japanese firms of India's "complicated taxation system."

The survey questionnaire was sent to a total of 2537 JETRO member firms engaged in manufacturing, trading (export/import) and wholesale/retailing, out of which 729 firms responded. Interestingly, Japanese firms expect their sales and operating profits to expand nearly 20 per cent at home and over 30 per cent abroad, between fiscal 2005 and 2010, reflecting a growing significance firms place on overseas markets. China topped all categories for business expansion by Japanese firms, with Thailand, the United States and Western Europe also ranking high in several segments.

The Thailand-India FTA which currently applies to 82 early harvest items, ranked high among firms `utilising" or `planning to utilise' schemes, suggesting that Japanese firms are eying ASEAN as a possible base for targeting the growing Indian market.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Reading the Air - By Takeshi Matsuki

This is a series of articles being provided by Matsuki san who heads TCS's HR division in Japan. In this interesting article he talks about "Reading the air" which is one of the key components of Emotional Quotient (EQ) - a must have quality for all professionals!



“Reading the Air”

There are many special words used in Japanese business scene. This first issue will discuss about what this abstract expression “Reading the Air” expresses.


In this expression “Reading the Air,” the “air” doesn’t exactly mean the air we breathe, but signifies the atmosphere or circumstances. Here, reading means feeling or sensing. Therefore, “Reading the Air” means sensing what is going on at the moment in the situation or circumstance and doing what is expected to be done.


For example, even though the Section-Chief is in trouble and desperate for a solution, you still go to ask him about something that is not related to the issue at all.



Look at the scenario below:

Mr. Suzuki is walking up to his Section-Chief, Mr. Takahashi, who just got his project report turned down by his boss. The boss told Mr. Takahashi to redo his project report, and hand it in within an hour.


Mr. Suzuki says, “Section-Chief, should we have Chinese cuisine or the usual restaurant for Mr. Yamamoto’s welcoming party tonight?”


[Oh, Christ! He is not helpful at all (Mr. Takahashi is thinking)]
“I am okay with anything…; Can you leave me alone for a while? My hands are tied-up right now”


With this, Mr. Suzuki let down Mr. Takahashi’s expectation. He is not making the right move in the current situation. This is true not only in a business scenario. It often happens in the conversation between friends or family. It happens in social settings too. We tend to stay away from people who can’t “Read the Air”. So to speak, those are the kind of people who are selfish, and don’t understand how others feel when they are in a tough situation. Commonly, those people are hard to be around.


The Japanese value “wa”, meaning harmony. “Wa” means people getting along peacefully and harmoniously, or even that things are staying as they are without hustle or chaos. The Japanese feel that “wa” symbolizes each of us.


There is a famous saying by Shoutokutaishi who was a greatly respected governor:
“Wa o motte, toutoshi to nasu” It means “We don’t tolerate the ones who disturb the community which stands with harmony.”


“Reading the Air” might sound odd, but it is a common sense which any competent businessman should have.

※ 1 「テンパッている」
※ 2 「ダメだし」
※ 3 「聖徳太子」

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Toshiba and L&T

Toshiba in talks on power plant business in India in its first ever JV in India.This is a match made in heavens. Toshiba is looking to expand its power sector business and India desperately needs investment in the power sector. The original article was feaured in the Yahoo news.

March 6 2007: Japanese giant Toshiba Corp. said Tuesday it was in talks with India's Larsen and Toubro Ltd. to enter the coal-fired power plant business in the growing South Asian economy. The proposed venture would jointly produce and sell equipment for the plants.

"We are in negotiations with L and T to form a joint venture to launch coal-fired power plant businesses in India," said Toshiba spokeswoman Hiroko Mochida.

The Nikkei business daily said Larsen and Toubro would likely take a majority stake in the joint venture, which will spend some 20 billion yen (173 million dollars) to build plants for steam turbines and power generators.

Toshiba, best known internationally for its electronics, has been expanding its power business.
Last year it acquired US nuclear power plant maker Westinghouse for 5.4 billion dollars in one of the biggest Japanese acquisitions overseas in years.