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★ ★ Japan Binder Info★ ★

★ ★ School Schedule ★ ★

1st Semester:: April 7 - July 20
Summer Vacation:: July 21 - Aug. 31
2nd Semester:: Sept. 1 - Dec. 25
Winter Vacation:: Dec. 26 - Jan. 7
3rd Semester:: Jan. 8 - March 25
Spring Vacation:: March 26 - April 6
School Time:: 8:30a.m. - 3:00p.m.
School Days:: Monday - Friday
Each Class:: 50 Minutes

★ ★ Grades ★ ★

Elementary School:: 1st - 6th
Middle School/ Junior High:: 7th - 9th
High school:: 10th - 12th

★ ★ Honorifics ★ ★

-Chan:: Cute; baby talk. Children who grow up together may keep using the -Chan honorific into adulthood. For close friends and relatives, especially female ones.
-Kun:: Familiar title after name of colleague or student, usually male. Used for male friends and relatives. It can be used for women as well, but typically is not.
-San:: Mr., Ms., Mrs., Miss.; The suffix denoting that the person being spoken to is of equal or nearly equal social status. It is not used for people you know well.
Sempai:: One's senior (colleague, fellow student).; Upperclassman, or more generally somebody in the same social class but superior to you.
-Sensei:: Teacher.

★ ★ Terms Of Familiarity ★ ★

Grandfather:: Sofu (mine grandfather) or Ojii-San (general term for old men)
Grandmother:: Sobo (mine-) or Obaa-San (general term for old women)
Uncle:: Oji (mine-) or Oji-San (general term for middle-aged man)
Aunt :: Oba (mine-) or Oba-San (general term for middle-aged woman)
Big Brother:: Ani (mine-), Onii-San, Onii-Sama, Onii-Chan, Nii-San, Nii-Chan, Aniki, etc
Big Sister:: Ane (mine-), Onee-San, Onee-Sama, Onee-Chan, Nee-San, Nee-Chan, Aneki, etc.
Father:: Chichi (mine-), Otou-San, Tou-San, Oyaji, Tou-Chan, Papa, etc
Mother:: Haha (mine-), Okaa-San, Kaa-San, Ofukuro, Kaa-Chan, Mama, etc.

★ ★ Yukata Kimono ★ ★

The Yukata is a casual light cotton kimono for wearing in summer. Yukatas normally have very brightly coloured designs on them. Today these kimonos are mainly worn to the traditional Bon-Odori and summer festivals. The relative simply design of Yukata means Japanese women can, with some practice, put this kimono on unassisted.

★ ★ Shinto Shrines ★ ★

Shrines are places of worship and the dwellings of the kami, the Shinto "gods". Sacred objects of worship that represent the kami are stored in the innermost chamber of the shrine where they cannot be seen by anybody. People visit shrines in order to pay respect to the kami or to pray for good fortune. Shrines are also visited during special events such as New Year, setsubun, shichigosan and other festivals. New born babies are traditionally brought to a shrine a few days after birth, and many couples hold their wedding ceremonies there.

★ ★ Torii Shrine ★ ★

One or more torii gates mark the approach and entrance to a shrine. They come in various colors and are made of various materials. Most torii, however are made of wood, and many are painted orange and black.

★ ★ Kami ★ ★

"Shinto gods" are called kami. They are sacred spirits which take the form of things and concepts important to life, such as wind, rain, mountains, trees, rivers and fertility. Humans become kami after they die and are revered by their families as ancestral kami. The kami of extraordinary people are even enshrined at some shrines. The Sun Goddess Amaterasu is considered Shinto's most important kami.

★ ★ Hatsumoude ★ ★

The shrines all over Japan are packed with people from the New year’s day to January 3rd. People go to shrine to pray for safety, happiness and long lives of the family. A lot of people are dressed up with their Kimono and buy a good luck talisman called Omamori. It is kept as a protection from illness, accidents and disasters.

★ ★ Omisoka ★ ★

Omisoka is the day of New Year’s Eve. Since the New Year is the biggest event in Japan, people celebrate the Eve as well. People work so hard to prepare the New Year around one or two weeks such as cleaning (like spring cleaning in here) and shopping. The reason people do the cleaning in the middle of winter is to get rid of the dirty of the passing year and to welcome the New Year with a fresh and serene mind. And on Omisoka, with preparing the New Year’s special dishes called Osechi-ryori, people finish up all the work of the year. People eat Toshikoshi-soba at night and stay up till midnight to listen to the 108 chimes of a nearby temple bell. Toshikoshi-soba is a bowl of hot brown noodles in broth. The noodle is a homophone for a word that means “being close” and therefore signifies the approach of the New Year. The 108 chimes called Joya-no-kane, rings out the old year and rings in the New Year. It is supposed to release people from the 108 worldly sins.

★ ★ Shogatsu ★ ★

New Year (Shogatsu) is the most important holiday in Japan. Most businesses shut down from January 1 to January 3, and families typically gather to spend the days together.

★ ★ Valentine's Day & White Day ★ ★

St. Valentine's Day is celebrated on February 14, and White Day one month later on March 14. It is said that St. Valentine's Day was imported to Japan in 1958 by a Japanese confectionery company. In Japan, it is only the women giving presents - mainly chocolate - to men, but not the other way around. Men are supposed to return the favors received on Valentine's Day one month later on White Day, a Japanese creation. White Day is believed to have been introduced by a marshmallow manufacturing company in the 1960s. The white marshmallows gave the day its name but other kinds of presents such as candy, flowers, etc. have become more popular over the years.

★ ★ Tanabata ★ ★

Tanabata, also known as the "star festival", takes place on the 7th day of the 7th month of the year, when, according to a Chinese legend, the two stars Altair and Vega, which are usually separated from each other by the milky way, are able to meet. One popular Tanabata custom is to write one's wishes on a piece of paper, and hang that piece of paper on a specially erected bamboo tree, in the hope that the wishes become true.

★ ★ Itadakimasu and Gochisosama ★ ★

In Japan, you say "Itadakimasu" ("I gratefully receive" wink before eating, and "Gochisosama" ("Thank you for the meal" wink after finishing the meal.

★ ★ Some Table Rules ★ ★

★ Blowing your nose in public, and especially at the table, is considered bad manners.
★ It is considered good manners to empty your dishes to the last grain of rice.
★ Talking about toilet related and similarly unappetizing topics during or before a meal is not appreciated by most people.
★ Unlike in some other parts of East Asia, it is considered bad manner to burp.
★ After eating, try to move all your dishes back to the same position they were at the start of the meal. This includes replacing the lids on dishes and putting your chopsticks on the chopstick holder or back into their paper slip.

★ ★ Drinking Rules ★ ★

When drinking alcoholic beverages, it is customary to serve each other, rather than pouring your own beverage. Periodically check your friends' cups and refill their drinks if their cups are getting empty. Likewise, if someone wants to serve you more alcohol, you should quickly empty your glass and hold it towards that person. While it is considered bad manners to become obviously drunk in some formal restaurants, for example in restaurants that serve kaiseki ryori (Japanese haute cuisine), the same is not true for other types of restaurants such as izakaya, as long as you do not bother other guests. Do not start drinking until everybody at the table is served and the glasses are raised for a drinking salute, which usually is "kampai". Avoid using "chin chin" when drinking a toast, since in Japanese this expression refers to the male genitals.

★ ★ How To Eat ★ ★

Rice:: Hold the rice bowl in one hand and the chopsticks in the other. Lift the bowl towards your mouth while eating. Do not pour soya sauce over white, cooked rice.
Sushi:: Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. It is considered bad manners to waste soya sauce, so try not to pour more sauce than you will use. You do not need to add wasabi into the soya sauce, because the sushi pieces may already contain it, or may be eaten plain. However, if you choose to add wasabi, use only a small amount so as not to offend the sushi chef. If you do not like wasabi, you can request that none is added into your sushi. In general, you are supposed to eat a sushi piece in one bite. Attempts to separate a piece into two generally end in the destruction of the beautifully prepared sushi. Hands or chopsticks can be used to eat sushi. In case of nigiri-zushi, dip the piece into the soya sauce upside-down so that the fish enters the sauce. A few kinds of nigiri-zushi, for example, marinated pieces, should not be dipped into soya sauce. In case of gunkan-zushi, pour a small amount of soya sauce over the sushi piece rather than dipping it into the sauce.
Sashimi:: Pour some soya sauce into the small dish provided. Put some wasabi on the sashimi piece, but be careful not to use too much as this will overpower the taste of the fish. Dip the sashimi pieces into the soya sauce. Some types of sashimi are enjoyed with ground ginger rather than wasabi.
Miso Soup:: Drink the soup out of the bowl as if it were a cup, and fish out the solid food pieces with your chopsticks.
Noodles:: Using your chopsticks lead the noodles into your mouth. You may want to try to copy the slurping sound of people around you if you are dining in a noodle shop. Rather than being bad manners as Westerners are often taught, slurping noodles is considered evidence of enjoying the meal. In case of noodle soups, be careful of splashing the noodles back into the liquid. If a ceramic spoon is provided, use it to drink the soup, otherwise, lift the bowl to your mouth as if it were a cup.
Kare Raisu:: (And other dishes in which the rice is mixed with a sauce) Kare Raisu (Japanese style curry rice) and other rice dishes, in which the rice is mixed with a sauce (for example, some domburi dishes) may become difficult to eat with chopsticks. Large spoons are often provided for these dishes.
Big Pieces of Food:: (e.g. prawn tempura, tofu) Separate into bite sized pieces with your chopsticks (this takes some exercise), or just bite off a piece and put the rest back onto your plate.

★ ★ Chopsticks ★ ★

Chopsticks are used to eat most kinds of Japanese foods, with some exceptions. Some of the most important rules to remember when dining with chopsticks are as follows:

★ Hold your chopsticks towards their end, not in the middle or the front third.
★ When you are not using your chopsticks, or have finished eating, lay them down in front of you with the tips to left.
★ Do not stick chopsticks into your food, especially not into rice. This is only done at funerals with rice that is put onto the altar.
★ Do not pass food directly from your set of chopsticks to another. Again, this is a funeral tradition that involves the bones of a cremated body.
★ Do not spear food with your chopsticks.
★ Do not point with your chopsticks.
★ Do not wave your chopsticks around in the air or play with them.
★ Do not move plates or bowls around with your chopsticks.
★ To separate a piece of food in two, exert controlled pressure on the chopsticks while moving them apart from each other in order to tear the food. This takes some practice. With larger pieces of food such as tempura, it is also acceptable to pick up the entire piece with your chopsticks, and take a bite.
★ If you have already eaten with your chopsticks, use the opposite end to take food from a shared plate.

Knives and forks are used for Western food only. Spoons however, may be used with certain Japanese dishes such as donburi or Japanese style curry rice. A Chinese style ceramic spoon is sometimes used to eat soups.

★ ★ Japanese Architecture ★ ★

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