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OTHER ITA SITES:
Japanese Pop Culture
Some people say that music is a universal language. No matter where you go, music will always be one of the things you could find in common with other people. There is something about the way stories are told through music.
It so happens that even when it comes to pop music, Japan boasts of different artists who have shown that they are of international fame and accord. One of them is 23 year-old Utada Hikaru. She released her debut single as Cubic U in America. Later on she debuted in Japan as Utada Hikaru and her album was “First Love.”
Utada’s music could be said to be R&B and it is definitely not like the enka music that her mother used to sing. It is actually quite hip and would appeal to teens, no matter what nationality they are.
Utada’s latest album is Ultra Blue. It has the songs Keep Tryin’, Colors, This is Love and Passion, a song featured in Kingdom Hearts II of Square-Enix. A song from her album Sakura Drops, the one entitled Simple and Clean was a song featured in Kingdom Hearts.
Undeniably, Utada’s voice, songs and videos have improved over the years. She keeps on trying out different kinds of songs and if you look at her videos as well, there are huge differences. From the time she debuted as Cubic U and her current ones like Keep Tryin’. She also proven that she is marketable even outside Japan as she has collaborated with other artists like Foxy Brown for the song Blow My Whistle in the soundtrack of Rush Hour 2. Indeed she is one of the people to look up to in Japan.
The snow season starts sometime in November in the northern, inland (Japanese Alps) regions and areas facing the Japan Sea, and as the season deepens towards real winter, snow piles up to several meters high in the most severe places. In the mid to west regions of mainland Japan (Honshu) the temperature does not drop as low and it seldom snows but still experiences a few months of chill and dryness. Though cold the temperature may be, the weather is usually sunny with clear, un-hazed blue sky spreading out far. The Kyusyu Island(s) and Okinawa Islands are much warmer as compared to the rest of the country.
Even though the air is cold, winter in Japan is wrapped in a busy and cheery mood all the way through. December is one of the busiest months of year for it is traditionally considered to be the time to reflect back on the year and prepare to renew one’s spirit for the upcoming new year. For this reason, traditional customs such as ohsohji (year-end cleanup) and oseibo (year-end gifts to closely related family and friends [usually elders and respected such as parents and bosses]) are practiced. Other busy-ness come from preparing things mostly related to New Year’s Celebration such as cards and food. Christmas is not a holiday nor has religious significance for many people in Japan, yet is largely celebrated as a special day for families, couples and gifts. Midnight of New Year’s Eve is traditionally spent eating soba (buckwheat noodles) for long life, and the joya-no-kane bells at temples are struck at 0:00am of January 1st.
New Year’s is culturally very important for Japanese people and is celebrated through a series of various events in the early half of January. Coming of age is also celebrated in January with 20-year-olds gathering for ceremonies wearing fancy kimono (women) and hakama (men). The festivity atmosphere continues into early February with setsubun (spring equinox), National Foundation Day and not to forget Valentine’s Day, another big day for love romantists.
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Travel Part B