The Japanese Golden week.

By, Uwe Paschen.
As it goes here in Japan we have yet another holiday.

This time it is the Golden Week, (ゴールデンウィーク), Which is also known as Ōgata renkyū (大型連休) or even as Ōgon shūkan (黄金週間), those are terms in Japanese to describe this period of the year wish contains several events starting with the 29th of April where we celebrate(d),
Until 1988 it was Emperor's Birthday (天皇誕生日 Tennō tanjōbi),
From 1989 until 2006 it was the Greenery Day, or Nature Day (みどりの日 Midori no hi).
Since 2007 this day is now known as Shōwa Day (昭和の日 Shōwa no hi).
This is followed by Constitution Memorial Day (憲法記念日 Kenpō kinenbi) on the 3th of May.
And by the Greenery Day, or Nature Day (みどりの日 Midori no hi) since  2007 on the 4th of May wish used to be called (国民の休日 Kokumin no kyūjitsu), from 1985 until 2006.
 Then on the 5th of May comes  the Children's Day (こどもの日 Kodomo no hi), also customarily known as Boys' Day (端午の節句 Tango no sekku)). Since earlier this year we had the Girls Day or also called the Dolls Day, which is Called the Hinamatsury, here in Japan. This is the Japanese, (雛祭り Hina-matsuri), or Girls' Day, Hinamatsuri which was held on March 3, the third day of the third month.
Note that China does have a Golden Week () as well, yet theirs is some what different then ours here in Japan.
The best part of the Japanese Golden Week is of course the day set aside to respect the children individually and to celebrate their happiness. It was designated a National holiday by the Japanese government in 1948.
And all Children and especially the Boys as well as the whole Family are looking forward to that day, which is field with Family outings and activities as well as many preparations that need to be taken care of well ahead of this week.
Such as the most important Koinobori, which is sort of a kite or kites that fly on a pole by each house and through out each town. Those kites are in shape of a Carp, (The large carp at the top represents the father, the second carp represents the eldest son, and additional carps are added to represent each subsequent son with colours and position denoting their relative age.)
The name of this day comes from Sakata no Kintoki whose childhood name was Kintarō (金太郎 ), He was a great hero in the Heian period, a subordinate samurai of Minamoto no Raikou, having been famous for his strength when he was a child. It is said that Kintarō rode a bear, instead of a horse, and played with animals in the mountains when he was a young boy. So the legend.
The festival was funded during the reign of the Empress Suiko (593–628 A.D.). In Japan, Tango no Sekku was assigned to the fifth day of the fifth month after the Nara period and has been celebrated ever since.
Each families raises the carp-shaped koinobori flags (carp due of the Chinese legend stating that a carps swims upstream becoming a dragon.  The flags blowing in the wind look in deed like they are swimming and some what like Dragons as well). One for each boy (or child) is put up, on display with a Kintarō doll, which is usually riding on a large carp, and with the traditional Japanese military helmet, kabuto. Kintarō and the kabuto are both symbols of a strong and healthy boy.
The traditional food for this day is Mochi rice cakes wrapped in kashiwa (oak) leaves — kashiwa-mochi (just like regular mochi, but it is also filled with red beans jam) and chimaki (a kind of "sweet rice paste," wrapped in an iris or bamboo leaf).
 Tatebayashi (館林市 Tatebayashi-shi.) this town is  located in GunmaJapan one hour from  Tokyo, (by Express Ryomo) it is famous for the Azalea Hill Park(つつじヶ岡公園,Tsutsuji-ga-oka koen) and the Bunbuku Chagama of the Morinji Temple (茂林寺). However it is also famous for flying the most Carp Kites ever flown in Japan or any where around the globe, this broth it into the Guinness Book of records for the most Carp kites ever flown, namely 6066 Carp Kites in the park and along the river.
An amazing display, which has now become a costume every year, with some more kites being added each passing year.
What would this great day be with out a song? And it does have one in deed, written by Unnu Atsushi.
“Sei Kurabe (背くらべ Height Comparison)
柱のきずは おととしの    五月五日の 背くらべ
Hashira no kizu wa ototoshi no    gogatsu itsuka no Sei-Kurabe
粽たべたべ 兄さんが    計ってくれた 背のたけ
Chimaki tabe-tabe nii-san ga    hakatte kureta sei no take
きのうくらべりゃ 何のこと    やっと羽織の 紐のたけ
Kinou kurabe-rya nan no koto,    yatto haori no himo no take.”
Japan is rich in culture and traditions. Children are a blessing here and honoured as such.


Fukushima! Do we remember?

Two years ago we had the nuclear disaster at the Fukushima dai-ichi nuclear power plant, which is still an ongoing crisis. Twenty-five years earlier on the 26th of April 1986 wile I was still in University studying chemistry and ironically if you will at the time nuclear chemistry and micro biological manipulations when we had the nuclear accident at the Tschernobyl nuclear power plant. 
We ran into trouble with energy productions several times over the past century with several nuclear accidents, mass pollution of our atmosphere, water, soils and foods affecting all parts of the life cycles of all living organisms on this planet which we call home and that planet with all its bio dyversity is the very source of our own lives.
The main mistake we made over the past century or so was to look for a magic bullet to solve all our power needs. We looked at fossil fuels from crude oil to uranium and all came with many side effects and troubles, yet not solving our problems. We dismissed solar and other sources because they by them self would not give us enough power at all times. We failed to look at power the way the universe it self is working. Or the way things work on our planetary scale. Power keeps getting converted to generate more or rather other forms of powers. We need to work with a multitude of sources and combine those indefinitely. This would solve our troubles and give us exactly what we need, without the side effects of nuclear disasters or toxic pollution such as green house gases or dioxins.
On March the 11th 2013 we will commemorate the second anniversary of that Earthquake and tsunami which lead to the Fukushima nuclear accident that will hunt us for many more decades and maybe even centuries to come. 
We keep electing governments and people into power that are incompetent and self serving short sighted narrow minded, manipulative control freaks that would be better placed in a mental hospital than in politics. 
Than again as Joseph de Maistre said once, "The people have the government they deserve."
So little may change unless another disaster was to happen with in a short interval of the last one. Meaning less than a decade away from the Fukushima disaster. Just long enough to cash your breath but not long enough for people to forget completely. 
Will we ever learn? I am no longer certain if we ever will or even could learn since our intelligence seems to be regressing since Socrates his time where it may have been at its peek.
Certainly we came up with computers and smart phones and we went to the moon and so on... since Socrates and Kant, but those where merely pieces of a puzzle that gave us a new perspective and another image. It was not a real mental or intellectual break through nor any real progress. 
No, on the evolutionary scale we may very well be at the end and will have to face our own extinction pretty soon. 
Mind you, we are doing a pretty good job at creating or building our own apocalyptic nightmare. We won't need any god or gods nor any other outside help to exterminate all life on this planet and way be on it. 
We are more than capable and willing to do it all by our selfs and the worst part is that we not only know it, but we willingly stand by and let it happen. 
The trouble is every where and we better start learning and smarten up and this rather well and fast. 
Get ready to remember all the over twenty-four thousand victims  and the ongoing nuclear troubles in spite of which new nuclear power stations are supposed to be build in earthquake predestined  Japan. 
Will we ever wake up and learn to be rational, intelligent, logical and mature creatures or will we remain savage, primitive hyper shortsighted, narrow minded monkeys? 
I once was hopeful for our human specie, but over the course of the past few decades started to have some serious doubts about our specie and its future.    


Paper in all colors, shapes, and sizes for the holidays.

By, Uwe Paschen.
 The Holidays and all its paper. May it be the European Christmas or the Japanese New Years, paper will be sold in masses. May this be in form of Greeting Cards, Gift Wrapping Paper or simply paper bags and other papers used over the Year and especially this time of the year where we seem to used a great deal of it for all the New Years and Greeting Cards as well as for the Gift Wrapping and notes, chopping list and shopping paper bags. The list is in deed long and paper is just about any where and every where.
 Amazingly though, the discrepancy of Paper use is incredible through out the World. The USA being the top Paper Consumer on the Planet uses a mind blowing 333 Kg of paper per person and that include even those that can not yet walk nor read or write, yet per person, this compared to the Global average of 48 Kg per Person is incredible.
It gets better though.
 The Average paper used per person in Africa is only 0.5 Kg and in China it is 3.8 Kg per person, India uses 37 Kg per Person, however the paper consumption world wide is growing rather then decreasing even though the use of Computers and internet would have let one believe it would be the other way around. However, this does not seem to be the case, not even in Canada the country with the highest amount of Internet user per Capita.
 Now if we keep in mind that it takes 324 Litres of water, 4 Kwh and 114 Kg of Wood to produce a single Kg of Paper. It really makes you wonder how come this paper is so cheep, However it is not really, since we do not take into account the cost of waste management nor the cost of recycling or the environmental impact cost that this paper does generate.
 The production of each sheet of paper from Wood to paper need about 17 Wh in energy to be manufactured where as each sheet of recycled paper does require only 12 Wh in energy to be manufactured. This would and should already make some once choice easy.Sadly though it does not. http://www.id2.ca/downloads/eco-design-paper-facts.pdf
 Our paper consumption keeps going up each Year. In addition, requires today over 1040 Tons of wood Annually and Globally. North America alone does use 25% of all this with only 5% of the World’s population is quiet an achievement and certainly not one to be praised for. Now mind you the US is closely followed by Belgium and Japan when it comes to paper use and waste per person.
 This Holidays Season would be a great opportunity to change those habits of ours and make them more Eco Friendly. Easy enough to do by simply reducing, Reusing and Recycling Paper. At least that would be a starting point since only as little as 3% are being effectively Recycled today.
 And should you really feel up to it and save the environment, well then stop Wrapping Gifts with fancy gift wrap and go for the good old "news paper" instead. Similar for those greeting Cards, less colour or better yet, only Black and white print no colours at all would make a positive impact. Other then that use thinner paper rather then thicker paper, all those are things that would and will make a huge difference and a greater positive impact on the Eco System. 
 May you all have an Eco Friendly Holliday Season.
Graff to fund at the above link.

Plastic bags should it be, Yes please or no thanks?

By, Uwe Paschen.
 It is that time of the Year once again, where many of us go shopping for the Holiday’s festivities, may we be Buddhist, Christian, Jewish, Atheist, Hindu or even Muslim, we all have great celebrations coming up in the next four to twelve weeks.
 From Hanukkah to the Chinese New Year it is the season of great celebrations for all around the Globe. Parties are being held, as well as family gatherings and community events.
 Now, one thing all this has in common is the shopping in supermarkets, Farmer Markets and stores to buy the Gifts, the food and the decorations for the festivities to come.
 This of course does require packaging, and transportation as well as means to get it all from the Stores back home and there comes in a handy little idem called the chopping Bag.
 Now, until 1957, we used to go shopping with our baskets and cloth bags or even little carts we dragged behind us. However, since 1957 we have discovered the plastic bag that made its début in the US and by 1960 had spread around the Globe like a wild bush fire. To the point that by the 1970th it could be fund almost any where on this planet and has been causing major problem ever since.
 Since we discard those "trow away bags" so easily, they can be fund not only on land fields but also along roads, in Rivers, in the Forest and even on mountain pics and in the Ocean. There they cause great harm and kill million of birds, animals and fish that are trapped in them and most of them suffocate. This is no easy way to die or be killed what so ever.
 We discard about 1.5 Million Tons of Plastic bags each Year and most of this around the Holidays shopping time. Keep in mind that it takes 220 Million litres of Oil to produce those bags every year and this is not counting the additional energy cost for transportation and recycling or land fields. There are 4 to 5 Trillion Plastic bags used every Year, enough to engulf the entire City of New York so you would not even be able to see the tallest buildings any longer. And this with just one Years plastic bags waste.
 North America accounts for 60% of all this plastic bags waste and Europe for 20% the rest is more or less divided around the World evenly with Africa having the lowest share of plastic bags being used of all continents.
 Now even though we have recycling facilities and program in some Nations, Fact is, unfortunately, that only 0.6% is being recycle, the remaining 99.4% end up in lad fields as well as in the Oceans ad Nature at large.
 We could do with out and go back to Shopping baskets, Cloth bags and little carts we can easily pull and taken just about any where, some of those are so compact and easy to fold that they fit in a bag. It may be time to Refuse plastic bags given out to us and to ask to use our own cloth bag in stead. Leading by example for a better future for all living creatures on Earth.
 These Holidays do think twice about using a plastic bag and with the New Year around the corner, it may be a great time for an Eco resolution, not to ever use plastic bags again. There are some great cloth bags and carts, that even look sharp and would get you some positive attention as well.
 Happy Eco Friendly Holliday’s.

See Sources below.
garbage for food.
Think twice about taking a plastic bag if your purchase is small and easy to carry.
Keep canvas bags in your home, office, and car so you always have them available when you go to the supermarket or other stores.
Ask your favorite stores to stop providing bags for free, or to offer a discount for not using the bags.
Encourage your local politicians to introduce legislation taxing or banning plastic bags.
Try to go at least one week without accumulating any new plastic bags. If every shopper took just one less bag each month, this could eliminate the waste of hundreds of millions of bags each year.


The Japanese Whale hunt continues!

By, Uwe Paschen.
 The Whale hunt and why it is still being practiced by Japan is more of a generation problem as well as a political one then a necessity or the will of the people at large here.

 The Mainichi Daily News Does insist that Japan has the Right to hunt Whales and that this has been part of Japans inherent culture.

Japan does hunt Whales annually for research and redistributes the meat after this "research" is concluded; at least this is the official version here in Japan and internationally. Among the Whales hunted, it does focus mainly on minke whales that are not endangered and fin whales  that are endangered.
Some Japanese do adamantly defend this right as part of their culture. These are however the early and late Baby boomer generations holding on to a practice that is long over due and for which there is no real need any longer either. Yet, Whaling is sponsored and maintained by the Government with Taxpayers money, or it could not even survive any longer as an industry.

The Younger generation does not eat Whale meat nor does it visit the few restaurants that still serve it or that are specialized in this type of food. However, the older generation does eat Whale meat, even if only seldom nowadays, they do defend their right to consume it.

Ironically if one goes back in History a little, It was Japan that was strongly opposed to Modern Whaling practices introduced by  the Norwegian in the in the Meiji era, Which were regarded as cruel and indiscriminate killing of Whales, Those Whales back then were still regarded as deities of the sea which helped the corral fish.

However, things started changing following the devastation of World War II, as food was scares and famines a constant threat to the Country. Whales being a cheep source of protein became the larger part of the post-war diet. Why the people defending this practice today do so in part because of a deep trauma lying in the past of their Youth or Infancy, called Hunger.

Now, why is it still going on even though it is not even self-sustainable any longer? The reasons are actually simple and more of sociological and demographical nature than a logical one. Japan is an aging Society just as most Industrial Societies are nowadays; the older part of the population outnumbers the Younger part by an increasing factor annually.

This rift is in part due to a falling birth rates, a lack or no net immigration as well as being blessed with the highest life expectancies in the world, at 81.25 years of age as of 2006 and a high population density. Making Japan the world's tenth most populated country in the World today.

This has an immense impact on Politics and Policies alike, since the Baby boomers outnumber the youth, the Youth does not even bother to vote any longer since their voice will just be berried by the Baby Boomers hold on Society. Why Whaling may still be practiced for some time, since it has little to do with common sense any longer and more with demographics.


Equality, Justice and Freedom through Citizens duty.

What is a citizens duty towards its world, environment, nation, community, family, friend and one self? I hear all to often demands for rights, freedoms and liberties. However, I hear only rarely some one talking about their duties and responsibilities towards our society, our planet and its biodiversity or even towards one self. We are quick to point out our politicians faults or injustices committed by a nation or a business. Yet, in the same breath we go out and buy goods that we very well know are produced in a manner that robs some one of their human rights or causes harm to the environment. Some of course claim innocence through ignorance, which would not hold up in any court of law nor does it in life over all. Especially today when it is so easy to inform one self or make a quick search about a company and its products before going out chopping. They are sites available today that do exactly that for us all and give us the run ups on every single product for sale from NIKE to any brand of Corn Flakes. We can get the same information about any politician or CEO out there, all we need to do is to take a look, inform our self and think critically all the wile acting responsibly by being informed and by taking our duties serious. Saying that we cannot change the world or that voting is a waste of time since our vote does not count is not only nonsense or a cheep excuse for getting out of being a mature and responsible citizen. Moreover, it is criminal and should be prosecuted in the same manner that any other crime is, since it is a crime affecting all. 

It is a crime towards future generations, once community, family, the environment and maybe even a crime against one self.
Our duty goes much further than being informed or going to the polls to cast our vote.
When the system fails, or is taken over by a minority dictating their will unto this planet and its citizen, when injustices are being committed such as in the Middle East, Kashmir or Kurdistan by politicians and armies or when companies pollute the water, the air or the soil from helpless villagers with toxins such as Coca Cola, Union Carbide India Limited  or Monsanto did in India for instance. Than the citizens duty is to stand up and protest, failing to achieve justice and change through peaceful means, it than becomes the citizens duty to take up arms and fight until justice has been served and the needed changes have been implemented. Many tho hide behind the misconception of Gandhi's non violence lacking the knowledge and understanding of his philosophy. 

Gandhi said, "I do believe that, where there is only a choice between cowardice and violence, I would advise violence... I would rather have India resort to arms in order to defend her honor than that she should, in a cowardly manner, become or remain a helpless witness to her own dishonor.
But I believe that nonviolence is infinitely superior to violence, forgiveness is more manly than punishment. Forgiveness adorns a soldier...But abstinence is forgiveness only when there is the power to punish; it is meaningless when it pretends to proceed from a helpless creature....
But I do not believe India to be helpless....I do not believe myself to be a helpless creature....Strength does not come from physical capacity. It comes from an indomitable will.
We do want to drive out the best in the man, but we do not want on that account to emasculate him. And in the process of finding his own status, the beast in him is bound now and again to put up his ugly appearance.
The world is not entirely governed by logic. Life itself involves some kind of violence and we have to choose the path of least violence."

 If non violence is the excuse used due to justify once cowardliness or convenience not to get once hands dirty than such is despicable. Non violence has its place where it can be applied. However there comes a time where only violence will work. Or in this case active demonstration in large numbers in Tokyo. Yellow shirts work only to a very limited extend. The red shirts of Thailand still had to take to the streets before changes came about. 

Anther quotation from Gandhi, "I would risk violence a thousand times rather than risk the emasculation of a whole race." Some thing to think about.


When will the Citizens of this planet finally wake up? Will it be in time to save our planet and our specie or will we fail our children and our grand children to be?
A Canadian citizen cannot disassociate him or her self from a Palestinian Citizen nor can an Israeli Citizen disassociate him or her self from any other Citizen of this planet and vice versa. If a Nation, a Company or an individual commit an injustice than such have to be broth to justice by all Citizens of this planet. Each of us is directly or indirectly responsible for the other and for all, in the same manner as all are directly or indirectly responsible for each individual of this planet. 
We need to rid our self's from the misconceptions of Nationalism, Ethnicities, Religions, sectarianism and Genders since those have been dead now for over a generation for the multi Nationals and our Governments or CEO's. Nationalism and other forms of divide are merely being kept in place for the purpose to control the masses and hinder those from acquiring the ability to overthrow those that are ruling this planet like tyrants all the wile treating its citizen as slaves or mere expandable commodities. 

Today, the enemies are not some Nations or ideologies nor are any religions our enemies, those are merely tools to keep the citizens divided allowing the masters to control those. 
The real enemies today are corporations, banks, Stock markets and politicians that serve them along with the pollutions we generate and false indoctrinations propagated by those. 
The enemies are pollution and global warming along with overpopulation that in it self is a political tool, for as long as the people are starving and fail to acquire knowledge and means they cannot overthrow their masters. 
The poorest of this planet are the blind followers of doctrines and religions with out ever daring to think for them self. Those masses are used as cannon food by corporations, politics and religions alike to keep the masters in power. 
The middle class is merely a bureaucratic tool to administer the systems in place that is allowed to be a little better off than the rest in order to keep this one calm and quiet all the wile using it to keep this oppressive and destructive monster working. However, it is also that middle class that is mostly laking their duty to keep the system in check and balanced for this middle class has the know how and power to force changes through.
We will only achieve real democracy, true justice and fair equalities once every citizen will take its duties serious and act accordingly.