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Thread: Japan in blissful isolation from the rest of the world during the New Year

  1. #1
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Thumbs down Japan in blissful isolation from the rest of the world during the New Year

    I often wondered why I got asked like 20 times in a year by Japanese people if we had fireworks in Western countries. Everytime I answered: "yes, of course ! It's usual for big events like the New Year or a country's national day (e.g. 4 of July in the States, 14 of July in France, 21 of July in Belgium...) or on Guy Fawkes' night in the UK". To that, they replied "Oh really ! I thought fireworks were only in Japan !" I wondered how it was possible for them not to remember seeing fireworks from all around the world for the New Year each year. We see them on numerous channels on TV, in the newspapers, on the Internet...

    But Japan does not do like most other countries. There are no fireworks at midnight on 1 January (or no big ones at least - as I haven't seen any, even in the news). It is by seeing Sydney kicks off New Year revels in the headlines of BBC News or Asia sets off world's New Year party on CNN, and similar fireworks pictures on every European news channel I have here, that I realised that Japan had a very peculiar way of celebrating the New Year. There were fireworks in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Australia, etc. and will be in a few hours in Europe and the whole American continent. Even small towns here in Belgium have their fireworks. But nothing special in Japan, a country normally obssessed with fireworks in summer. I don't think the cold is a good excuse - Tokyo being much warmer than most of Europe and North America in this season.

    So the Japanese just go ring the temple bell, or a few thousands couragous ones are climbing Mount Fuji. Some youth go to nightclubs like everywhere else. But where are the fireworks ? And more than that, why do they hardly show fireworks around the world on TV ? I haven't seen any mention of the Asia-Pacific fireworks so far (I checked the NHK, Asahi and Yomiuri sites). No wonder that the people stays ignorant of these things, then every single time I talk about fireworks with a Japanese, they ask me if there are also fireworks in other countries.

    Does somebody have the answer ? Why do the Japanese media "hide" that fact from the public ? Why do the fireworks-crazy Japanese not have fireworks for the New Year, their longest public holiday of the year ?

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  2. #2
    Regular Member Gaijinian's Avatar
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    It is amazing that many Japanese do not know that other countries (I'm assuming that your referring to western countries, and not ALL countries) have fireworks... But then again, Japanese Wikipedia only has this much about fireworks in other countries:
    歴史
    紀元前3世紀の中国で爆竹が使用されたのが起源だという説もあるが、最初期の花火は6世紀、中国で火薬が使 われるようになるのとほぼ同時期に作られはじめたと考えられている。ただし、10世紀まで花火は存在しなか ったという主張もあるが、いずれにしても、発明の地は中国であったとされる。最初期のものは、たとえばロケ ット花火に似たものを敵陣に打ち込んで火事を起こしたり相手を威嚇したりといった、武器との区別がはっきり しないものもあった。

    ヨーロッパに伝わったのは13世紀以降で、初期のものは祝砲の音を大きくしたり、煙に色などがつくようにし たものだったと考えられる。ヨーロッパでの主な生産地はイタリア(当時の東ローマ帝国)で、火薬と花火製造 がさかんに行われた。この時代、ヨーロッパの花火は主に王侯貴族のものであり、王の権力を誇示するため、王 が催すイベントなどで揚げられた。ロケットを除く打揚花火は、イタリアで開発されたという説も ある。
    Then:
    日本の花火の歴史

    日本で花火が製造されるようになったのは16世紀の、鉄砲伝来以降である。

    『宮中秘策』(1741年)によれば、1613年に徳川家康が江戸城内で花火を見物したというのが、花火と いう語で確実に花火が使われたと分かる最も古い記録である。ただしこれより前、1589年に伊達政宗が仙台 で花火を楽しんだという記録(『伊達家治家記録』)、1582年4月14日にポルトガルのイエズス会宣教師 が現在の大分県臼杵市の聖堂で花火を使用したという記録(『イエズス会日本年報』『フロイス日本史』)、1 558年もしくは1560年に現在の愛知県豊橋市にある吉田神社の例祭で花火を始めたという記述(『三河国 古老伝』、『吉田神社略記』)、1585年に、現在の栃木県藤岡町で、皆川山城守と佐竹衆が戦のなぐさみに 花火を立てたという記述もある。ただ1585年の件については、戦の最中に当時貴重だった火薬をそのような ことに使うはずがないという主張もされている。

    江戸時代になり、戦がなくなると、花火を専門に扱う火薬屋が登場した。1648年には幕府が隅田川以外での 花火の禁止の触れを出しており、花火は当時から人気があったとされる。当時のものは、おもちゃ花火であった と考えられる。現存する日本で最も古い花火業者は、東京(当時の江戸)の宗家花火鍵屋であり、1659年に 初代弥兵衛がおもちゃ花火を売り出した。

    鍵屋がはじめて隅田川で花火を揚げたのは1711年だとされている。当時は、鍵屋のような花火専門業者の花 火は町人花火と呼ばれた。このほか、大名らが配下の火薬職人らに命じ、競って隅田川で花火を揚げたという。 これらの花火は武家花火と呼ばれる。特に、火薬製造が規制されなかった尾張藩、紀州藩、水戸藩の3つの徳川 家の花火は御三家花火と呼ばれ、江戸町人らに人気があった。なお、武家花火は、戦に用いる信号弾のようなも のが進化したもので、色や形を楽しむ町人花火とは、方向性が若干異なる。

    日本煙火芸術協会創立者で煙火に関する書物を数多く著した花火師の武藤輝彦(1921年-2002年)によれば、打揚花火は、1751年に開発されたとされている。それ以前の花火は、煙や炎が噴き 出す花火であったと考えられている。

    鍵屋は第二次世界大戦期に十三代天野太道が花火製造を取りやめ、現在は打ち揚げ専業業者となっている。この ため、鍵屋は第二次世界大戦期まで現存したといわれることがある。

    花火に関しては特に江戸での記録が多く残っているが、これ以外の地方で花火が製造されなかったわけではない 。特に、外国と交易のあった九州と、長野、愛知などでは、江戸時代から花火がつくられていた。特に、三河国 岡崎地方(現在の愛知県岡崎市付近)は徳川家康の出身地ということで、火薬に関する規制がゆるやかであり、 江戸時代から町人が競って花火を製造した。現在も岡崎周辺におもちゃ花火問屋が多いのはこの名残だといわれ る。これ以外の現在の花火の主な産地は長野県、新潟県、秋田県、茨城県で、徳川家にゆかりのある地方が多い 。

    明治時代になると、海外から塩素酸カリウム、アルミニウム、マグネシウム、炭酸ストロンチウム、硝酸バリウ ムといった多くの薬品が輸入され、それまで出せなかった色を出すことができるようになったばかりか、明るさ も大きく変化した。これらの物質の輸入開始は1879年から1887年にかけて段階的に行われ、日本の花火 の形は大きく変化した。これ以前の技術で作られた花火を和火、これ以後のものを洋火と言い分けることもある 。

    それまで、花火の製造は打ち揚げには何の免許も規制も存在しなかったが、1910年に許可制となった。これ 以前の地方の花火は、農家などが趣味で製造しているものが多かったが、この後、花火師の専業化が進むことに なる。

    この後、花火に特に重大な影響を与えたのは第二次世界大戦で、主だった花火大会は1940年ごろを境にほと んど行われなくなった。花火製造は禁止はされないかわりに高い物品税がかけられたが、資材不足でほとんど製 造されなかったためあまり影響はなかった。この時代、花火製造業者は、軍用の発炎筒などを作っ ていた。

    終戦後は1945年9月に長野市の諏訪神社で花火が揚げられるが、翌10月に連合軍総司令部により火薬製造 が禁じられた。しかし、1946年7月4日には、各地のアメリカ軍基地で日本業者がアメリカ独立祭の打ち揚 げ花火を揚げ、この後1948年までにかけ、徐々に花火が解禁された。戦後初の花火大会は、1946年9月 29日と30日に土浦市で開催された第14回全国煙火競技大会(現在の土浦全国花火競技大会)である。終戦 後はおもちゃ花火を含め、日本の花火は海外に多く輸出されたが、現在は中国からの輸入量のほうが多く、輸出 は激減している。現在でも多くの花火業者は、地元に根付いた零細・中小企業であり、技術を親の手から子の手 へと伝える世襲制をとっている。
    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%8A%B1%E7%81%AB
    Wow...

    It is odd to me that the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks.
    これからも絶対頑張る〜

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    Regular Member ullvarg's Avatar
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    Maby it's something like the the hole ww2 thing, governmental sensorship, these things still work in a "democratic" sociaty. A good example of that is Putin in russia, after the kursk catastrofy he did a prety solid coverup on the american envolvment, took a couple of months befor the media outside russia got the idea, and i don't know if it's publicly known in russia jet.
    But if you whant a real anser you will probably have to ask a japanese news reporter, and after that plz share the info.

  4. #4
    Junior Member DoctorP's Avatar
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    maybe it is because fireworks are not that important that they feel it bears reporting on TV?

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    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Probably since there was nothing about celebrations of the New Year elsewhere at all, last check of NHK and Asahi headlines. But I'm not really one to ask since the only Japanese I've ever spoken with about them during hanabi taikai actually understand the differences between American and Japanese fireworks....

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    Back in town JerseyBoy's Avatar
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    I think fireworks are over-rated. I been in NY over 10 years now (it is too long for me and maybe it is time for a change) and out of courtesy to my colleague who was about to go back to Japan, I went to see Macy's firework for the Fourth of July once. For me, once was enough. I think Americans like fireworks and parades more than any people in other countries. Also, just burning up fireworks is wasteful in my opinion.
    Last edited by JerseyBoy; Jan 1, 2006 at 08:50.

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    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Maybe Japan needs its own Guy Lombardo or Dick Clark to get them excited? I was wondering what they do at the stroke of midnight. Sounds about as exciting as watching cement dry.

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    Danshaku Elizabeth's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmandV
    Maybe Japan needs its own Guy Lombardo or Dick Clark to get them excited? I was wondering what they do at the stroke of midnight. Sounds about as exciting as watching cement dry.
    It may take more than that to get the Japanese excited. Besides, the hatsumoude tradition is built around getting up at dawn for the first sunlight and visit to a temple, so fireworks may seem too flashy, too early in the morning or an upstart add-on that would detract from the unique spirit of their holiday.

  9. #9
    Hullu RockLee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmandV
    Sounds about as exciting as watching cement dry.
    That's true to an extend hehe I was surprised last year that there was no fireworks !!
    ~ Parempi hullu kuin tylsä - Better crazy than boring ~
    http://www.fin-style.be/blog -> My Blog about Finland and other random thingies.

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    You SPAM/We BAN !
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    Any Chance???

    It would have something to do with danger of fires. With all the old wooden buildings and past history of fire loses, maybe there is a hidden fear of fires being started. We always had them here in town at New Years, till 2 years ago when a building roof caught fire. No more fireworks after that except on the Fourth of July , and then out over the water.

    Frank

    TAKE WHAT I SAY WITH A GRAIN OF SUGAR !!
    I USED TO BE FUNNY, BUT MY WIFE HAD ME NEUTERED!

  11. #11
    Regular Member bossel's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ArmandV
    Sounds about as exciting as watching cement dry.
    Isn't watching fireworks pretty much as exciting?

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    Koyaniskatsi yukio_michael's Avatar
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    The odd thing is, and I have no idea about the fireworks, maybe it's nothing--- I do know that my girlfriend is shocked to often find out that things that something exists in the United States, let alone the fact that it was actually invented there.

    I remember in United States, there were programs that showed New Years in each country, so effectively, each hour they showed people celebrating New Years in a different country.

    I don't see that same attention given to outsiders in Japan. I'm sure that some people would care, I think that governments and people are two distinct entities, so I think people would find things outside of Japan fascinating, so I don't say, the Japaense people do not care for outside influence--- but I think, overall it is an effect of society as a whole.
    (flickr: pgh, japan & korea, santa cruz ) (blog: eyesonthewires) (j-rock)

    Our greatest pretenses are built up not to hide the evil and the ugly in us, but our emptiness. The hardest thing to hide is something that is not there.
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  13. #13
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by yukio_neko^_o
    The odd thing is, and I have no idea about the fireworks, maybe it's nothing--- I do know that my girlfriend is shocked to often find out that things that something exists in the United States, let alone the fact that it was actually invented there.
    Don't tell me. My life in Japan was a succession of meeting people surprised at everything I said about "outside Japan", as if they had just discovered that there was an outside world, and that not everything in Japan was uniquely Japanese and made in Japan. It reminds me of the book Wild Swans, by Jung Chang, where the author explains that during the dark Maoist years of China, the starving population was told that the world outside China was decadent, immoral and living in abject poverty, and that China was the apex of civilization. It's not as extreme, but I do feel that the Japanese government, schools and media are trying to give the people that image that Japan is the apex of civilization, and anything outside is decadent or barabarian.

    I don't see that same attention given to outsiders in Japan. I'm sure that some people would care, I think that governments and people are two distinct entities, so I think people would find things outside of Japan fascinating, so I don't say, the Japaense people do not care for outside influence--- but I think, overall it is an effect of society as a whole.
    In a free and democratic country, the government and media should be two clearly distinct things. So how comes that Japanese TV and newspapers try to "hide" what happens around the world ?

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    Koyaniskatsi yukio_michael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    In a free and democratic country, the government and media should be two clearly distinct things. So how comes that Japanese TV and newspapers try to "hide" what happens around the world ?
    The dark side in me, the horrible pessimisstic side that feels lonely in Japan would say that it perserves the idea of the perfection of Japanese society, and the defect that exists as the exterior world.

  15. #15
    Five times to Japan. ArmandV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bossel
    Isn't watching fireworks pretty much as exciting?

    Only if they are duds.

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gaijinian
    It is amazing that many Japanese do not know that other countries (I'm assuming that your referring to western countries, and not ALL countries) have fireworks... But then again, Japanese Wikipedia only has this much about fireworks in other countries:
    Then:
    日本の花火の歴史

    日本で花火が製造されるようになったのは16世紀の、鉄 砲伝来以降で る。

    http://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/%E8%8A%B1%E7%81%AB
    Wow...

    It is odd to me that the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks.
    It is your distortion to say that

    the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks. It is odd to me that the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks.

    The wiki article is just the history of it in Japan.

  17. #17
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    It is your distortion to say that

    the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks. It is odd to me that the Japanese think such obviously international things are unique to Japan, such as the four seasons and fireworks.

    The wiki article is just the history of it in Japan.
    The Wikipedia article about fireworks in English (here) has the history in China and the US, the a list of usages in Britain, the US, the New Year worldwide, India and Hong Kong. However, the Japanese version, which is even longer than the English version (which certainly reflects the interest of Japanese people in that matter), only has a brief mention of fireworks being first introduced to Europe in the 13th century. There is not a single mention of the modern usage outside Japan. There is no mention of the New Year tradition in all Western countries, including Russia and Latin America, no mention of India, Hong Kong or whatever.

    I don't ask for a detailed explanation for every country, but in such a long and detailed article, with more than a full screen for the "History in Japan" and another full screen for the list of major Japanese fireworks, they could have at last had one line mentioning that fireworks are common for the New Year in many countries around the world.

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    tiens

    I don't ask for a detailed explanation for every country
    Agreed.

  19. #19
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pipokun
    tiens


    Agreed.
    You have noticed that the French version is many times shorter than the Japanese version. Contrarily to the Japanese version, it does not have 2 pages of history, but 1 paragraph. I am sure that if that section was expanded (just a matter of time for Wikipedia), it will become more like the English version. But the Japanese version is already longer than the English one !

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    日本でも各地で花火が打ち上げられてるやん。
    世界各地の新年の様子は毎年テレビでも新聞でも報道されてるやん。
    あんたのいい加減な嘘より証拠。ほんと、いつもいい加減な嘘ばっかり。
    http://mbs.jp/news/asx/news3194700_3.asx
    http://mbs.jp/news/asx/news3194703_3.asx
    http://www.asahi.com/photonews/OSK200512310022.html
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/chiba/news004.htm

  21. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Why do the Japanese media "hide" that fact from the public ?
    なんで「hide」しているなんて陰謀論じみた極論に走る のか、 なたはほんとに「ユニーク」ですね。

  22. #22
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kkkktttt
    なんで「hide」しているなんて陰謀論じみた極論に走る のか、 なたはほんとに「ユニーク」ですね。
    Sorry, I don't like to think it is mental retardedness, so I prefer to believe in the "conspiracy theory". History has shown that at one point of their development all government of "nation-states" have practised propaganda to make their "nation" look greater and more civilised than others. This ended with WWI, and in some cases WWII in Europe.

    It has not yet stopped in the USA (with "patriotism"), and visibly in Japan too. The US uses religion, military power and its flag to raise patriotic feelings, mainly to achieve politico-economic goals (e.g. the invasion of another country so that big business can profit from it).

    Japan did the same to invade the rest of East Asia from 1895 to 1945. Nowadays, Japan prefers "socio-cultural propaganda", because it lacks a strong political voice in the world and an army. I do not doubt that the aim of the people with power in Japan is too keep the nationalist ideals that Japan is superior to its Asian neighbours. The difference with the past is that the establishment wants to show that Japan is culturally superior, but not just to Asia but the whole world. To achieve this, it must inculcate false ideas, creating an myth of Japan's uniqueness, with strong nationalist symbols that the people already like, such as cherry blossoms, fireworks, the 4 seasons, Japanese food, etc. They must also keep the mass in the ignorance of basic facts about other countries and cultures. You can't make people believe that their culture is superior if they know that its symbols are also common in other countries.

    The best way for a modern government (or powerful business people) to spread these ideas are through education and the media (there may be other ways, but these are by far the most efficient, as the whole country is affected and thus people will not doubt it may be false).

    In the US, just look at how the war in Iraq was advertised and you'll get an idea of what "propaganda" means there.

    In Japan, just look at the absence of media coverage of "nationalist symbols" outside Japan, such as fireworks for the New Year around the world, or cherry/plum/peach blossoms in Korea, China or Europe, and the completely abusive coverage of the same topics when it happens in Japan. Strange, isn't it ?

    Then, how do you explain that Japanese school children in all the country are told since a very young age that Japan is "special" (maybe they don't always use the word "unique") for having 4 seasons, or that Japanese people descend from more "civilised" farmers, while Westerners descend from "barbarian" hunters ? (see article). Funny that I have never heard these strange theories in other countries, even in Asia. That's obviously because of the education system. It's already not normal that all school teachers in Japan have so little freedom to teach what they want, and must follow the "officially approved books" exactly. I know one another country where the same happens : communist China.

    In Western Europe, teachers can write their own materials, and two teachers rarely teach the same thing, because they don't stick to books, and books are not limited to "officially approved" versions. It's obvious that the Japanese government has done everything it could to control every single thing taught at school. No wonder that for most Japanese school is only about passing exams and not learning !

    Note that the USA also uses propaganda in schools, but more about inculcating partiotic feelings by singing the national anthem to the flag, something that Japan has unfortunately decided to copy under the "Koizumi-Bush let's be nationalist friendship".

    In the UK, a big part of the media is spreading lies and myths about the EU. So much that the European Commission (= EU government) has had to make a special website Euromyths to dispel the lies, rumors and misconceptions.

    Of course, there is no government keeping Japan in check. In fact, it is the Japanese government and big businesses which keep the media in check with their kisha clubs.

    Have a look at this article in this regard : EU acts to free Japanese media

  23. #23
    Twirling dragon Maciamo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Konoike no neko
    日本でも各地で花火が打ち上げられてるやん。
    世界各地の新年の様子は毎年テレビでも新聞でも報道さ れてるやん。
    んたのいい加減な嘘より証拠。ほんと、いつもいい加 減な嘘ばっかり。
    http://mbs.jp/news/asx/news3194700_3.asx
    http://mbs.jp/news/asx/news3194703_3.asx
    http://www.asahi.com/photonews/OSK200512310022.html
    http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/e-japan/chiba/news004.htm
    So you are saying that Japanese media do show fireworks in various places for the New Year. Let's see what you have found :

    The 2 first links showing fireworks in Taiwan, Hong Kong and London are from MBS, a radio and TV company broadcasting only in Kansai (from what they say on their website, and indeed I had never heard of it in Tokyo). It is obviously not one of the "big 5" channels available nationwide : NHK, Nihon TV, TBS, Fuji TV and Asahi TV.

    Then you show me a picture from Asahi Newspaper, but it's a fireworks in Osaka.

    The last link has no picture. It's a very small article from the Yomiuri Newspaper about fireworks in Tokyo Disneyland for the New Year (should I specify that there are fireworks every night at Tokyo Disneyland/DisneySea ?)

    In some way you confirm what I was saying, that the major TV and newspapers in Japan don't even mention fireworks outside Japan. Thanks for telling me about MBS, which like often in Japan shows that the Kansai can be a wonderful exception to what is standard in Japan.

  24. #24
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Feb 4, 2005
    Posts
    189
    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    ...
    In Japan, just look at the absence of media coverage of "nationalist symbols" outside Japan, such as fireworks for the New Year around the world, or cherry/plum/peach blossoms in Korea, China or Europe, and the completely abusive coverage of the same topics when it happens in Japan. Strange, isn't it ?
    I don't know why you didn't mention Konoike no neko's post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Maciamo
    Then, how do you explain that Japanese school children in all the country are told since a very young age that Japan is "special" (maybe they don't always use the word "unique") for having 4 seasons, or that Japanese people descend from more "civilised" farmers, while Westerners descend from "barbarian" hunters ? (see article). Funny that I have never heard these strange theories in other countries, even in Asia. That's obviously because of the education system. It's already not normal that all school teachers in Japan have so little freedom to teach what they want, and must follow the "officially approved books" exactly. I know one another country where the same happens : communist China.
    ...
    This is because you have tons of cute friends even forgot the name of subjects they studied.

    I know your role here, but it would be better if you're to be more realistic.

  25. #25
    Regular Member
    Join Date
    Sep 18, 2004
    Posts
    7
    MBSにTBSから配信された物ですよ。TBSを通じ全国で放 翌ウれる。
    http://news.tbs.co.jp/asx/news3194703_3.asx
    http://news.tbs.co.jp/asx/news3194700_3.asx
    他所の国の年明けの風景なんてどのチャンネルでも毎年 放送してるやん。
    一体何がしたいのか?ほんま訳の解らん言いがかり。

    http://news.google.com/news?q=%E8%8A...ab=nn&oi=newsr

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