March 5, 2015 was the 105º bithday of Momofuku Ando (March 5, 1910 – January 5, 2007).
The Taiwanese-Japanese businessman was known for being the creator of the ramen instant noodles as we know it nowadays .
Google made a beautiful Doodle as a homage, and it has more info about how amazing and inspiring he was (and still is).
You can check it out in here.
"Peace will come to the world when all its people have enough to eat."
– Momofuku Ando
Also called Doll's Day or Girls' Day, Hinamatsuri is celebrated on March 3. Platforms covered with a red carpet display a set of ornamental dolls representing the Emperor, Empress, attendants and musicians in traditional court dress of the Heian period (last division of classical Japanese history, from 794 to 1159).
Hinamatsuri traces its origins to an ancient custom called hina-nagashi ("doll floating"), in which paper dolls are set afloat on a boat and sent down a river to the sea, supposedly taking troubles and bad spirits away with them.
Families generally start to display the dolls in February and take them down immediately after the festival. Superstition says that leaving the dolls past March 4 will result in a late marriage for their daughters.
Nasaneba naranu nanigoto mo
Naranu wa hito no nasanu nari keri
"If you try, you may succeed.
If you don't try, you will not succeed. This is true for of all things.
Not succeeding is the result of not trying."
This is from Uesugi Harunori, a famous and exemplary daimyo (Japanese feudal lord) from the Edo era (the historical period between 1603 and 1868; he lived from 1751 to 1822).
Although he is well known for applying a lot of financial reforms and politicies that saved the Yonezawa province from hunger and poverty, this poem is the teaching that stuck with the Japanese people as an example of self-discipline.
Otsukaresama desu is a really common expression in Japan. Even though it sounds weird in English, it literally translates as “honorable tired person".
It is often used to thank people for their efforts, actually meaning something like “thanks for working hard". It is commonly used after work for co-workers and in sports towards teammates after an event or practice.
Since the conception of the Award for Best Foreign Language Film in 1956, Japan has submitted seventeen films for the Academy.
However, before that, Japan won three honorary awards: for Rashomon, by the famous Akira Kurosawa (1951); Gate of Hell, by Teinosuke Kinugasa, in 1954; and Samurai: The Legend of Musashi, by Hiroshi Inagaki (1955).
Since then, Japan has won only a single Oscar - in 2009, with Departures (Okuribito in the original), by Yojiro Takita.
Besides that, the loved Hayao Miyazaki has received an Oscar for Best Animation in 2003 for Spirited Away and received an honorary award in 2014 for his contribution for the cinematographic industry. The only other Japanese director to ever receive the Governors Awards was Akira Kurosawa, back in 1990.
「バカは風邪ひかない」- Baka wa kaze hikanai
"Stupids can't catch colds"
It may sound weird, but if you catch a cold in Japan and someone tells you that, you should thank them. They are saying in a polite way that you're wise/smart.
Also, when someone sneezes, there is no expression such as "God bless you" in Japanese - in fact, it's considered a bit embarrassing to sneeze in public and people will often pretend they didn't see it. And the one who sneezed is supposed to say "shitsureishimashita" (a close translation would be something like "I'm sorry for my rudeness").
行灯 (andon) is the name of that traditional Japanese lamp made of stretched paper over a frame of bamboo (other types of wood and even metal are used as well, but it's not as common) in a rectangular shape.
So 「昼行灯」(hiru andon, "daytime lamp") is an expression used to describe something or someone that seems to have no purpose.
The world kimono literally means "clothing", and is the most recognizable garment from the Japanese culture - even not being the most used anymore.
During the Meiji period (September 8, 1868 - July 30, 1912; when Japan moved out from being a feudal society), the western culture and fashion started to get imported and became more popular; kimonos now are more expensive and used only in special occasions.
Due to this, many people nowadays won't know how to properly put and tie a kimono (since it's a complicated procedure), having to ask help for their mothers or take a course at a kimono school.
A kimono has a lot of different parts:
(picture and info taken from Japan Zone)
In Japan, the Valentine's Day is a holiday where women give gifts (the most common being cookies and chocolates) for men.
To be seen as something special and heartfelt, it has to be handmade. This one is usually made only for your loved one, and it's called the honmei chocolate (which translates to "true feelings chocolate"). And although it's not confirmed if it was only a hoax or not, it was trendy in Japan to talk about girls who wanted to feel more connected to their loved ones and to make them fall in love back, so they would make chocolates and mix their own hair, spit or even blood in the process.
Giri-choco (giving chocolates out of duty rather than love) is widespread, and girls will usually give chocolates not only for their loved ones, but for their fathers, friends, co-workers and so. (Some will do this for ulterior motives, but I'll talk more about it on White's Day).
With all the giri-choco pressure and the romantic ambience in the air, a guy who doesn't get any on this day is entitled to think that something's wrong with his social life as well with his workplace.
「夜 に 唇 を 吹く と 蛇 が 来る」 - Yoru ni kuchibiru wo fuku to hebi ga kuru
"If you whistle at night, a snake will come at you"
During the Edo period (also known as the Tokugawa period, the historical period between 1603 and 1868), thieves used to communicate and warn each other by whistling. As a result, whistling at night nowadays is associated with inviting burglars (the snake) into your place.
「古池や蛙飛び込む水の音」- Furuike ya kawazu tobikomu mizu no oto
"Ancient pond, a frog leaps in, the splash of water"
Basho was the most famous poet of the Edo period (historical period between 1603 and 1868; Basho lived from 1644 to 1694), and is still recognized as the greatest haiku master that ever existed.
This one haiku, called Ancient pond, is the best-known and most iconic haiku in Japan and worldwide.