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History An Introduction to All Hallow’s Eve

Events | Japanese Cinema | Taiso | Abenomics nagazasshi | September/October 2013

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nagazasshi Volume 6 Issue 2 September/October 2013

Editor-in-chief Audrey Akcasu

Deputy Editor Qi Yang

Assistant Editors Douglas Bonham Matthew Jones

Copy Editor Jasmine Francois

Japanese Editor Asami Kobayashi

Treasurer

Susan Fogarty

Layout and Design Laurel Williams

Contributors Audrey Akcasu Kus Mark Allman Dan Ayres Amy Gifford Matthew Jones Rose Mason Sue Ann Simon

Founders

Andrew Morris Matthew Nelson www.nagazasshi.com

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Cover photo: flickr.com/oimax

幽霊、 牡蠣、 死霊、 怨霊、 悪霊、 お化け、 化 け物 Yuurei, bourei, shiryou, onryou, akuryou, obake, bakemono All of these words are variations of the English word “ghost.” While all the words have a different connotation, they all essentially translate to “spirit.” The words don’t end here though; there are words for the different kinds of ghosts that have appeared in folklore, sometimes dating back to ancient Japan, as well as a variety of other monsters. Ghosts and monsters play an interesting role in Japanese culture, so it’s curious that Halloween hadn’t made its way to Japan until recent years. To me, Halloween is the most enjoyable of all holidays and events in America, so I am thrilled it has been brought to Japan, albeit on a small scale. As the holiday gains momentum here, we’re excited help it along with some history of the holiday (pg. 12) and ways to bring it to your home, school, or workplace in a modified-for-Japan-fashion (pg. 20). Another aspect of Halloween, scary movies, is something Japan has done well over the years. While not focusing on horror films in particular, our new series on Japanese film will be sure to catch your interest over the next months (pg. 6). However, don’t go spending all your money on films and Halloween decorations until you’ve brushed up on Abenomics (pg. 16). After the summer election results, we could be looking at a very politically active next few years. I hope you have a great fall.

Audrey Akcasu, Editor-in-chief September/October 2013 | nagazasshi


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Events

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A History of Japanese Cinema

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Radio Taiso

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Introduction to Halloween

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Abenomics

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How to Make a Jack O’ Lantern

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Kanji of the Month

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The Forgotten Era (1897-1945)

ja m es ju sti n

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Contents

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Group calisthenics explained

Discover the holiday’s origins and its growth in Japan

photo flickr.com/g8uk

Learn about Japan’s new economic plan Show off your Halloween spirit in nine easy steps

fil (U m m sti ar ll I et W e a w sB a m orn ite , b ke ut. re .. do ,1 93 2)

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nagazasshi | September/October 2013 photo Audrey Akcasu

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photo Sue Ann Simon

Event of the Month Sasebo Yosakoi Festival October 18-20, Sasebo

For the 16th consecutive year, Sasebo will play host to the biggest yosakoi dance festival on Kyushu. Over 150 teams participate, dancing in designated stages all over the city and competing for the prize. Not an event 4 grand to be missed!

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Events 9th Annual Chinatown Fall Lunar Festival September 9-20, Nagasaki City The Lunar Festival, similar to Japan’s moon-viewing festival, honors the moon as a symbol of harmony between friends and family, with one-thousand hanging lanterns lighting up the streets of Chinatown. Nonnoko Festival September 13-14, Isahaya Isahaya’s oldest festival will be sure to impress you with over 6,000 dancers parading through the streets. Enjoy the lively festival atmosphere and “hometown” traditions. 5th Annual Hawaiian Festival September 13-14, Obama Want a taste of Hawaii but can’t afford the plane ticket? Head down to Obama for a hula competition and Hawaiian atmosphere, including food and music. Hirado South Night Wind Festival September 14-15, Hirado Watch dance troupes from all over Japan perform on a special stage set up at Hirado Koukouryuuhiroba. Enjoy exciting dances and a festive fall atmosphere. Onikitanada Festival (a.k.a. Hasami Walk) September 23, Hasami While Hasami is well-known for its beautiful pottery, the countryside scenery and bizarre scarecrows should not be overlooked. This is a great chance to experience all three, with a walk of roughly 5 km through breathtaking fields and villages. nagazasshi | September/October 2013

Nagasaki International Cultural Festival October 27, Nagasaki City The Nagasaki International Cultural Center is putting on a cultural festival where you can experience food, performances and other cultural activities from around the world. Fukue Minato Festival October 4-6, Fukue, Goto Head out to the Goto Islands for this folklore-centered festival. You can experience local history and view extravagant lanterns and parades. Nagasaki Kunchi October 7-9, Nagasaki City In 1634, two poor women sang outside of Suwa Shrine to honor the gods, starting the tradition of one of Nagasaki’s oldest and most famous festivals. People come from around the world to view dragon dances and performances. Hirado Autumn Festival/Kunchi October 26-27 (Autumn Festival) October 24-27 (Kunchi), Hirado Hirado comes to life at the end of October with two related events. The Autumn Festival brings food and market stalls as well as dragon dances and other performances. These festivities feed right into the Kunchi events, which will be held all over the island, with Kagura dances performed at Kameoka shrine on the 25th. Hasami Festival October 28, Hasami Perhaps your last chance to view fireworks until next summer, this small festival promises dancing, a beer garden and, of course, fireworks.

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A History of Japanese Cinema

T

he cinema history of Japan is one of the world’s largest and most revered. The rich output in the 15 years after 1945 contains some of the most beautiful and spellbinding moments in the history of all cinema. The rise of television in the 1960s, however, saw the industry spiral into decline. It wasn’t until the 1990s that a new wave of talent fuelled its revival.

ADMIT O NE

In a new series, Ku sM Allman g ives you a ark n indepth loo k at Japa nese cinematic history.

it’s an era that is often overlooked. But what did survive, and its unique history, is too interesting to be forgotten.

But what about before 1945? The tragedy that 90 percent of all films made in Japan before this time were lost in the war means

It began in Osaka in 1897. The Cinématographe Lumière made its debut to an enchanted audience. Almost immediately Japanese motion pictures were in production. Japanese cinema began with street scenes and geishas dancing; next came scenes from plays, and after some resistance, kabuki. As was the case in other early cinemas, a live narrator, in Japan called a benshi, explained the unrelated domestic

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The Forgotten Era (1897-1945)

clips and unfamiliar sights in foreign imports. As cinema developed, the benshi’s role progressed to full story narration – complete with dialogue in many different voices. Benshi soon became celebrities and people would often be attracted to particular benshi, rather than the film itself. Elsewhere, live narrators had disappeared by 1910, yet the benshi continued in Japan into the 1930s. Their influence even continues today, whether it’s in TV soap operas, movies, or programs on food where the studio-based presenters are in little circles in the corner of the screen.

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

Having someone describing and reacting to events, or repeating information, may seem like overkill to Western viewers, but for the Japanese audience it’s there as a social buffer between them and proceedings. As Japanese filmmakers moved on from merely documenting theatrical performances to filming purpose-made scripts, they continued to view the film frame as a stage. This reflected the Japanese audience’s perception of film as a new form of theater, and not (as in, say, the U.S.) a new form of photography. To this day, many Japanese

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moviegoers still behave much as one would at the theater - observing absolute silence, not leaving one’s seat during the “show,” and remaining seated until the lights go up. Development of the film industry continued as Kaeriyama Norimasa introduced the term eiga in 1916 – part of his attempts to elevate the medium and spur on its expansion. He wanted Japanese film to utilize the exciting range of cinematic techniques that were being seen in imported films. He wanted the industry to move away from the stilted, benshi-reliant form and become a modern, engaging product. This view was echoed by fellow critics – enough to convince the Tenkatsu Company to allow him to try for himself. Thus, the 24 year-old began work on The Glory of Life (Sei no kagayaki, aka The Glow of Life). Reassuringly for the studio, oyama (male actresses) still played the female roles (as it had always been), and although failing to draw a large audience, the industry scented future profit and began to reform.

put into practice. In fact, even the most routine of features would contain shots or sequences the West would associate with only the most advanced art films. With new genres, such as shomingeki (portraying everyday people – the “little people”) and keikou-eiga (films with left-wing tendencies, mirroring the rising political movements and trade unions), by 1928 Japan was producing more films per year than any other country.

As with any import to Japan, after a period of resistance, modern cinematic language and techniques were assimilated and made into something very “Japanese.” Throughout the 1920s, the industry flourished. Although the 1923 Kanto Earthquake destroyed many studios and cinemas in the capital, it was an opportunity for old methods and concepts to be abandoned and for new ideas to be

But as the new decade began, government censorship increased. The choice of subject matter for filmmakers began to shrink. Many turned to literary sources, where they could argue that any perceived ideology contained in the film, already existed in the book. These films were called bungei-eiga. But by 1939, the government wanted no room for discussion. Personal expression in film was de-facto outlawed with the passing of the Film Law. The profit-making film industry struggled to adapt to the type of output that was now expected of them, and by 1941 their failure to produce enough national-policy films led to the government ordering the merging of the ten major studios into just three. They then dictated exactly the kind of film they wanted to be made. One of the more interesting stipulations was to reflect “the Japanese national philosophy.” This perceived, agreed-upon “Japaneseness” is something we still encounter every day – sometimes

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A Diary of Chuji’s Travels (Chuji tabi nikki, 1927) I Was Born, but… (Umarete wa mita keredo, 1932) Sisters of the Gion (Gion no kyodai, 1936) Humanity and Paper Balloons (Ninjo kamifusen, 1937)

T ON E

Check b next i ack next is nstall sue where ment in th for the i w so-cal e will look s series led “G at the Japan olden Age” ese cin o ema. f

ADM I

photo flickr.com/wahlander

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The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Zangiku monogatari, 1939)

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Suggested films from the Forgotten Era

at rc we flo m/ photo flickr.co

obsessively. Indeed, an entire branch of literature, nihonjin-ron, exists on the study of what makes Japanese people and their life so Japanese. Though wartime was creatively unproductive for Japanese cinema, it was this exploration of Japanese identity and aesthetics and the intensifying post-war that was to spark its greatest era, known worldwide, as The Golden Age.

Film stills (pp. 6 - 7, left to right): Sukeroku (1914), I Was Born, but... (Umarete wa mite keredo, 1932), The Million Ryo Pot (Hyakuman ryou no tsubo, 1935) and Humanity and Paper Balloons (Ninjo kamifusen, 1937). nagazasshi | September/October 2013

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Movie posters (p. 8, top to bottom): Humanity and Paper Balloons (Ninjo kamifusen, 1937), Sisters of the Gion (Gion no kyodai, 1936) and The Story of the Last Chrysanthemum (Zangiku monogatari, 1939).


T a i Let Dan Ayres give you a brief tour of one of Japan’s favorite physical activities.

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eep in the heart of Kyushu’s emerald inaka, I watch agog as an entire village frantically gesticulates in perfect unison, spurred on by Ganba-kun, a hulking duck-like mascot. What is the reason for this mad bout of spontaneous physical exertion? Why, rajio taiso (radio exercise) of course!

s o

male voice, like a friendly uncle committed to keeping the family as fit as a fiddle. There are three routines: one to increase strength, another that is suitable for all ages, and a further for the elderly or disabled – or indeed for those folk who prefer to exercise while seated.

The origins of this practice can be traced to 1920s America, where the Metropolitan Life Insurance Co. sponsored 15-minute exercise transmissions. Several Japanese men employed by the Post Office insurance division were so enamored by the idea that they Played daily on brought samples NHK public radio Die-hard fans of radio back to their homeand prevalent at taiso cite health benefits, land, where frankly morning meetit took off like a increased flexibility and ings and school storm. To this day, a strong sense of unity as some 20 percent sports days, radio taiso is a series of the population pros of prescribed regularly partakes exercises for group consumption, set to the in these calisthenics, which include copious pitter-patter of piano keys. The numerous amounts of stretching and a good deal of instructions herald from an encouraging arm flailing. Elementary school students

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photo flickr.com/notionscapital

R a d i o


are encouraged to join in the fun during the summer holidays, collecting a stamp each time they complete the regime. However, the seemingly innocent radio taiso has not been without its controversies. During the war, the Imperial Aid Association utilized it to limber up its soldiers and keep them fighting fit. They also introduced the exercises in occupied countries to hammer home their authority. Critics also slam the practice for stifling individualism. One opponent who has particular umbrage with radio calisthenics is Tetsuro Tanaka, a one-time engineer who refused to join in the morning exercises at his firm and was unceremoniously laid off. Every day since he has trotted down to his former employer and has sung a song of protest on his guitar – for 30 years! That’s dedication.

photo flickr.com/chrissam42

routine by heart and partakes obligingly. I noticed one of my students mid-stretch throw me a quizzical glance, as if to say: You don’t know the routine? Before long, I’ve found myself alongside Ganba-kun, lunging and hopping and hurling my arms around – just another participant in this endearingly flummoxing practice. n

Die-hard fans of radio taiso cite health benefits, increased flexibility and a strong sense of unity as pros. And it seems radio taiso is ever evolving, having received a makeover right here in Nagasaki prefecture in the form of “Ganbaramba Taiso.” This snazzy version was developed to mark the upcoming 2014 national sports competitions and can be thanked for bringing Ganba-kun and his smooth moves into the fray. Perusing the scene in front of me, the community spirit surrounding radio taiso is unquestionable. From the most wrinkled, wizened old obaachan to the most unsteady wee nipper, the entire village knows the nagazasshi | September/October 2013

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Introduction Introduction to

to Halloween photo flickr.com/topaz33

Halloween

What country invented Halloween? Most people assume it’s an American holiday. The real answer, however, is a little more complicated. Matthew Jones takes a look at the roots and modern interpretation of the holiday.

H

alloween has its roots in a Celtic rip out the eyes of anybody that looked at Festival called Samhain. Samhain him. With spirits like that, as well as the was a harvest festival and also a Bean Sídhe (Banshee), it is little wonder that celebration of the dead. Many historians the early Irish Celts wanted as much protecconclude that Samhain marked the end of tion as possible. So, in order to try to blend the Celtic Year, as it separates the “light” in with these spirits, they would dress up in and “dark” halves of the year. It was around costumes or stain their clothing with blood this time that the to convince the spirits The Samhain was a that they were actually barrier between the worlds of the living harvest festival and also a dead, and hopefully and dead were said to celebration of the dead escape their wrath. be weak and the dead would walk the earth. Later, when Celtic people emigrated to the New World, they Now, Irish ghosts are not something to be brought their holiday with them, and it sniffed at. The Fear Dubh, for example, was quickly became a staple holiday of the an entirely malevolent spirit who would American calendar. In America, the Halstalk and kill people walking in forests and loween that we all know today began to

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to pho

fl

take shape. It mixed with a celebration of the harvest season and became more ic of a light- heartkr .co m/ww rby ed affair. It became a a night of celebration and debauchery, like a massive masquerade ball that the entire country takes part in. The biggest attraction of the modern day American Halloween is trick-or-treating. On Halloween night, kids in neighborhoods across the county don their scary, cute, or funny costumes and go door-to-door with a bag giving idle threats of “tricks,” pranks or mischief performed unless they receive “treats,” usually copious amounts of candy. Hence, the oft-heard cry “Trick or treat!” Adults take part in Halloween as well, often decorating their homes as haunted houses or attending costume parties. It’s a fun holiday for all ages.

the holiday to its traditional roots when surrounded by Kitty-Chan dolls dressed in pumpkin costumes. Many stores also run a “Halloween Festa,” where Halloweenrelated products are put on sale. So it is safe to say that Halloween in Japan is more of a consumer holiday – much like America. However, there have been some recent problems caused by overzealous Halloween revellers. The Tokyo JR Yamanote train line, which circles the heart of the city, has in recent years succumbed to foreign residents (as well as some Japanese people) who have taken the opportunity to break Japan’s

s anviru meric om/a flickr.c photo

Over the past decade or so, Halloween has seen a large increase in popularity in Japan. Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan have helped to make the holiday seem more family friendly. Coming so close after the Obon period, Halloween is seen as more of a light-hearted affair. It is, after all, hard to connect

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

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strict train etiquette and hold lively Halpresence, but the number of revellers causloween parties. These parties started off ing a disturbance has fallen, since they have quite well and there were advertisements moved to less controversial locales to hold in newspapers, inviting people to take part. their Halloween night celebrations. But as time went on, the scale of the parties grew and the authorities were forced to So this Halloween, whether you design a clamp down on them. truly terrifying cosThe organizers used tume to keep yourself So it is safe to say social media to spread that Halloween in Japan safe from Japan’s evil the word about the spirits (yurei) or you parties, but when they is more of a consumer get yourself some arrived at the stations, holiday – much like leftover fireworks they were met with a from Obon or a few America heavy police presence metric tons of candy, as well as protesters. At have a good time and one such incident several years ago, police as we say in Ireland: Glac bog an saol agus were forced to focus on containing the proglacfaidh an saol bog tú, If you take life nice testers rather than the party-goers. and easy, life will take you the same. n

photo flickr.com/michael7070

Since then, as the Yamanote Line Halloween party has receded, there is still a police

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Jack O’ Lantern and Pumpkin Carving came to America and found om only r.c k lic pumpkins, they photo f created the modern pumpkin carving that we know today. Also, if you do ever try traditional “turnip carving,” you will swiftly understand why today in Ireland, we prefer using the much easier to carve pumpkin!

Originally in Ireland, people would have carved their lanterns out of turnips, in order to follow the legend. When the settlers

For more on pumpkin carving in Japan, check out page 20.

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

/w w ar by

The legend of ‘Stingy Jack’ gives rise to the reason we carve pumpkins today. As the legend goes, there was a very miserly man who loved little but material wealth and gambling. After he died, he was sent to hell where he was able to win his soul from the devil in a game of cards. However, as he was still barred from entering heaven, he was forced to wander the world forever. To light his way, he created a lantern from a turnip and a glowing ember from Hell. He became known as “Jack of the Lantern” and later, simply as Jack o’Lantern.

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photo flickr.com/csis_er

Don’t know what’s going on in the Japanese economy these days? Let Rose Mason fill you in.

Abenomics

I

f one word has pervaded recent Japaarrows are in reference to a folktale from nese news, it is “Abenomics.” The word Yamaguchi prefecture. The folktale says is a portmanteau of “Abe,” as in Shinzo that it’s easy to snap one arrow on its own, Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, and “ecobut it’s impossible to snap all three bundled nomics.” But what makes Abe’s economic together. policies so interesting that they’ve earned themselves their own term? The short anThe first arrow represents a major shift in swer is strength. Abe is also widely seen as a Japan’s monetary policy. Japan will focus breath of fresh air for on ending its long peJapan, which has sufriod of deflation and The first arrow fered through a series represents a major shift aim for an inflation of prime ministers target of 2 percent. in Japan’s monetary who were ineffective Many economists policy at ending Japan’s two consider too much decade long recession. deflation or inflation to be a bad thing and most economists prefer a low and steady In order to end said recession, Abe has rate of inflation. enacted a “three arrow” policy. These three

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The Bank of Japan is planning on reachJapan currently has an incredibly high level ing this level of inflation by pumping a lot of public debt. It stands at about 300% of its of money into the economy. How much GDP. For reference, America’s debt, which is money is a lot of money? Well, double the at a historic high, is about 100% of its GDP. current supply! This The only real difference policy is the major The second arrow between the two counreason why the yen comes in the form of a tries is that almost all has weakened so of Japan’s debt is owed 10.3 trillion yen fiscal much since winter. domestically, while half stimulus package A weaker yen makes of America’s debt is buying international products more expenowed internationally. Because Japan’s debt sive, but makes Japanese goods cheaper, is owed domestically, it can use tax revenue therefore more enticing. Japan, often seen to pay interest on it. However, therein lies as an expensive country, wants to change the problem. Japan has an ageing populaits image and tion, which encourage means that each people to invest year there are in it and buy its fewer and fewer products. adults who pay into the tax sysThe second tem. This means arrow comes in there’s less tax the form of a money to pay 10.3 trillion yen off Japan’s masfiscal stimusive debt. Also, lus package. the Japanese According government is photo flickr.com/matthewmcvickar to Bloomberg weary of allowNews, about 3.8 trillion yen will be used for ing the proposed consumption tax hike of disaster prevention and reconstruction, 3.1 5 percent to 8 percent in 2014 and up to 10 trillion yen will be used to stimulate private percent in 2015. Japan’s debt is a problem investment and the rest will be used to that the government has yet to face. increase GDP and create jobs. These measures The third arrow The third arrow of sound all well and good, Abenomics is growth. of Abenomics is growth but if the only thing that This is probably the most Japan needed was to lackluster piece of his inject money into the economy, what took three-pronged plan. Most of the bold strateso long? It’s simply because Japan doesn’t gies that marked his first two arrows are have 10.3 trillion yen saved away for a rainy absent from the third. Abe plans to increase day. They’ve had to borrow the money. growth in Japan by promising to increase

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

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individual income by 40 percent over ten years, lifting the ban on the sale of drugs online and having some lightly taxed zones around the country for special industries. Many people were expecting more reforms in the labor market. One interesting problem in Japanese firms is the oidashi-beya (追い出し部屋) or banishment rooms. Officially, these are retraining rooms for staff employees. Unofficially, these are rooms where employees are sent to

do little or nothing in an attempt to make them quit. The reason for this is that firms can’t fire staff employees unless they’re going out of business. This system only adds to the problem of stagnant wages and deflation. While the legend says that Abe only needs three arrows, a fourth arrow would do him some good. The issue of Japan’s ever increasing public debt has yet to be addressed. Even if the three arrows of Abenomics are successful, public debt could still crush the country. So far, the effects of Abenomics have been mostly seen in big businesses. It will take time before the average Japanese resident feels the effects, if they ever do at all. Internationally, some countries are worried that the devalued yen will cause a currency war. But as long as Abenomics focuses on the domestic market, then there’s not much that other countries can do. If Abe can avoid the pitfalls of past prime ministers, then perhaps he can lead Japan out of its lost decades. n

photo flickr.com/csis_er

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September/October 2013 | nagazasshi


KUMON HAIKI CENTER

Let’s study

Japanese

the most effective way!

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

Instructor Kiyoko Hayashi

2-19-22 Haiki Sasebo City Nagasaki

090-7162-7577

kuumons@ mtf.biglobe.ne.jp

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Jack O’ Lantern

How to make a:

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Step 1. Spread the newspaper out on the floor or table and prepare your kabocha.

Interested in showing off your Halloween spirit? Let Audrey Akcasu show you how. Step 4. Use the spoon to scoop out the gunk from the inside. Tip: Make it as clean as possible.

Materials: > Kabocha - The bigger the better - Make sure it has a flat bottom > Kitchen knife > Spoon > Newspaper > Candle > Lighter or matches > Marker (optional)

Step 7. Cut a notch in the lid. This will let smoke out and make it easy to open.

September/October 2013 | nagazasshi


Step 2. Cut a circle around the top of the kabocha. This will be the lid.

Step 5. (Optional) Use a marker to outline your design for the face.

Step 8. Put the candle inside and light it.

nagazasshi | September/October 2013

Step 3. Cut off the gunk from the lid.

Step 6. With the kitchen knife, cut out your desired design. Tip: Make the inside wider than the outside in order to let more light out.

Step 9. Enjoy!

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Nagazasshi 6.2  

A primer on Halloween, Japanese cinema, a history of Radio Taiso, and an explanation of Abenomics. Straight from Nagasaki to all of you.

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