Tea ceremony at the Morikami Museum

We attended a formal tea ceremony, a sado, at the Morikami Museum's Seishi-an Tea House, in Delray Beach (Florida, USA). A Japanese tea ceremony involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha (powdered green tea) to an honored guest, and is governed by four words: harmony (wa), reverence (kei), purity (sei), and tranquility (jaku). This [...]

Music with veggie instruments

YouTube user heita3 from Japan has been making wind instruments from vegetables and eggs, and he's been posting videos of himself playing those instruments online. So far, he made 50 videos, most of which are quite popular, having garnered well over 10 million total views. In addition to playing the instruments, he shows people how to [...]

Helping the giant salamander breed

In their effort to control flooding, the Japanese have dammed up their rivers. But that move shut out giant salamanders from their natural breeding places and have made it impossible for them to get upstream. Scientists in Japan have worked out a way to allow their legendary giant salamander to get around dams, through elaborate [...]

Humor and societal norms

If I'd taken some sociology classes in college, I might have gotten this point sooner: humor is driven, by and large, by societal norms. Furthermore, it is usually in contrast (marked or absurd) to those same norms. Allow me to illustrate. Japan: most of us know that public conduct there has been driven by very [...]

Earthquake safety testing

From CNET News: "Video: Earthquake safety testing. Japan's Hyogo Earthquake Engineering Research Center tests real houses under earthquake conditions. This video shows the difference between two actual wooden houses, the one on the right retrofitted to limit damage." Very cool! Here is the link.