Floating Lighted Lanterns

On September 11, a Japanese traditional ceremony was held as mourning for casualties at WTC 6 years ago. It's called "Floating Lighted Lanterns". This is the Japanese custom in which people commemorate their ancestor's soul. The lanterns, on which the messages for peace and happiness are written, are floated on the river. The light of lanterns represents the souls of the dead, and people see them off with remembrance about people in the past.

A Japanese volunteer group, NY de Volunteer, in Manhattan began this event in New York 5 yeard ago on September 11. Every year, the event has been gathering more and more visitors. I participated in this event as one of volunteers. Many American people sympathized this ceremony and wrote their messages on lanterns with wish for peace. The representative of this volunteer group asked people, "What can we do as individual? And what we can do for ourselves, instead of waiting for others doing aomething?"

I found that the most remarkable point of this even is overcoming the border of religion. For the ceremony, many priests from various kinds of religions got together at the same place and prayed one after another. Although I don't know well about any religions because I'm nonreligious person, I could see some hope that people can talk and understand each other over the differences of belief.



Yakitori is one of the most popular Japanese dishes, especially as a side dish for drinking Sake. I found so an authentic Yakitori restaurant, "Tory", in midtown."Yaki" means grilled, and "-tori" means chicken. But it's something different from grilled chicken.

The style of Yakitori is small chicken fragments with a thin stick for a bite. We eat every part of chicken such as heart, skin, tail and even borns! Borns are called "Nankotsu". Its texture is very funny and like plastic! My American friend can't understand why people eat borns with no taste. But most Jpanese people enjoy this taste feeling as their status.

Yakitori chefs show their technique of grilling chicken in front of customers. They are so dedicated to their job. I think that this attitude can create an artistic bite, which makes people happy.


Mr. Mirikitani

I visited a birthday party for a 87-year-old Japanese American artist.
His name is Mr. Jimmy Mirikitani, who used to be a homeless in Manhattan until Sep. 11, 2001.

""Cats of Mirikitani"is the film which describes his stormy life as a Japanese American and his terning point after 9/11. I knew one of the coproducer and visited this party to celebrate Mr. Mirikitani's birthday and their successful distribution in many cities.

Mr. Mirikitani is going to Japan this August because "Cats of Mirikitani" will be shown in Japan, too. He came to the U.S. before the war. So, how stiring could it be to go back to his original home country after 60 years? I hope that he will enjoy his visiting Japan.


Fly with fire...?

Last night about 9:30 p.m., beside 5th Avenue in Manhattan, it happened. I couldn't believe my eyes!How exciting!!

What I found on the street was a small insect with light on its back. I didn't know the word and found it in my dictionary:FIREFLY. "Is it a fly with fire? Scary!" said my Korean friend with me. "No! It's not a fly!"

June is the season of firefly watching in Japan. Japanese people have particular longing for this insect because its short-lived fragility and faint lighting match Japanese nostalgic culture. Firefly watching,"Hotaru-gari",is very tastful annual event in Japan. Lately, I've missed my home and desired to see it. Then, it showed up for me!!


Mt. Fuji

"Mt. Fuji was reported as a mecca of illegal dumping by CNN,"
my friend told me.

It has indeed been a serious environmental problem for several years in my home town. Some immoral garbage collection companies are piling bulky refuse around Mt. Fuji for their profit. On the air, tons of untreated waste such as broken refrigerators, washing machines, TVs or any other garbage were revealed.

The CNN reporter described, "Is here the cleanest contry in the world?"
It is true but I feel so sad that "the beauty of Mt.Fuji was given such a dishonorable title by American Media.


"Japan Day" in Central Park

Japanese community in New York held the first event "Japan Day" on June 3. So many people visited this event and they enjoyed Japanese culture.
Then, a special guest showed up. It was 2007's Ms. Universe, Ms. Riyo Mori. She won the contest just 6 days ago in Mexico City and got the first Japanese Ms. Universe in 48 years. She is from my hometown, Shizuoka, Japan!! I'm so proud of her! Her beauty fascinated all people in the event.
Riyo Mori's Blog


New York Life

Since I came to New York, I have been always wondering how and where I can write about my feeling about Japanese culture. In such a diverse culture in New York City, Japanese culture is not a small part of them. But there are a lot of misunderstanding and confusion with other Asian cultures because Japanese culture is mostly described in Japanese language.

Now, I found it! I decided to challenge my first blog here.
I hope that this blog can be the place to discover some unknown Japanese and American cultures both for Japanese and American people.