March 29, 2009

Amuro Namie and Sakamoto Ryuichi

One of the blogs I frequently visit is by the talented editor Moonrat...since she recently blogged about one of Japan's singing talents, Utada Hikaru, I thought I'd introduce someone else that pop lovers might enjoy.

Namie Amuro is a 31 year old pop icon in Japan.  She is originally from Okinawa and debuted in 1995.  I prefer her new stuff (her earlier work was produced by a famous producer that I don't really enjoy...).  My favorite is the song released in 2007 and used in a shampoo commercial...the video is really cute and it has a very nice 60's-ish look/sound.

and here is her latest hit Wild...

Namie's record company is the mega label AVEX... they are huge in Japan...
a couple of years ago they started to represent a few foreign artists as well, 
including Sugar Cult, a band I have had the honor of translating for on several occasions...

and along the same is the same record company for the talented pianist, composer and sometimes actor...Sakamoto Ryuichi. 

 I went to his solo concert yesterday and blogged about it in my Music Flat blog...if you are up to reading my abstract review it is here: Kaleidoscope of Sounds.

I also must mention that I had the pleasure of shaking his hand last night...and I did manage to mumble a few things...

I learned something yesterday.... always be prepared... ALWAYS.  I had on an awful looking sweater and my hair looked like a bird's nest...I had NO IDEA I was going to be given the chance to meet him backstage...  

I vow never to under dress for a concert never know WHO you are going to meet.

March 28, 2009

thinking about our planet...

I would like to see this movie...if you have a chance to see it please do!

The Age of Stupid is a 90-minute film about climate change, set in the future, which will have its world premiere in London on March 15th 2009 and then be released in UK cinemas on March 20th 2009, followed by other countries.


Oscar-nominated Pete Postlethwaite (In The Name of the Father, Brassed Off) stars as a man living alone in the devasted world of 2055, looking back at “archive” footage from 2007 and asking: why didn’t we stop climate change when we had the chance?

March 27, 2009

cherry trees, spring and song

The Sakura season has officially arrived in Osaka...but I haven't seen them yet...
The cherry trees near my house are not yet blooming...they seem to be frozen  since it started to get chilly again!
The above picture was sent to me by my dear friend Blossom in northern Kyushu.
The Sakura where she lives are blooming a tad bit faster and now look like this:
When I wait for spring the way I do now there is a song that pops into my head.  
"Haru Yo Koi" (Come Spring) by Matsutoya Yumi, aka Yuming.
My husband met her a long time ago...
He talks about this nostalgically and adds..."she told me that I am handsome".
Aahh, the things you say when you are

Anyway, this is the song, she has a "unique" voice and it gets stuck in my head like taffy to hair.

The lyrics are rather complicated but let me see if I can do a quick and rough interpretation here:
"Come Spring" 

A pale shade of light and the rain suddenly pours down
The daphne an image I hold dear
From the buds come pouring tears
and the fragrance, one by one

It comes, it comes beyond the sky and before long,
before long it comes for me

Oh spring, so far away you are
If I close my eyes you are right there
I can recall your voice that brought me love

My heart I sent to you
I am still waiting for a reply
No matter how many days or months pass by
I will be waiting, waiting

It comes, it comes beyond tomorrow, someday,
someday it will arrive

Oh spring, the spring I have yet to see
When I am lost and cannot move
In my dreams your gentle gaze embraces me

Oh dreams, early dreams I am here
I think of you as I walk alone
Like the falling rain, like the falling blossoms

(The song was written by Yuming and inspired by an old Japanese song by the same title.)

There are TONS of songs that are titled "Sakura"...if you look for songs with the word "sakura" in the title or lyrics there are even MORE.

New songs titled "Sakura" come out every year (I am not kidding).  I don't really have a favorite but there is one song that was released in 2002 and still gets lots of air play...
"Sakura" by Moriyama Naotaro.  This one (thank goodness) has English lyrics on the video...though a little hard to see.

Until the cherry blossoms are fully bloomed, I have a nice set of sakura things that Blossom sent me the other day! Thank you again Blossom!
Sakura bath salts, sakura motif towel, handkerchief, bookmark and a book of sakura trees in Kyoto!

2 things you get for "free" in Japan

Free number 1:
When you walk around town in Japan, particularly places near train stations, there are people handing out "pocket tissues".  

The tissue packets are all about the same size, just small enough to place in your "pocket"... Why are people handing out free tissues?  It has nothing to do with it being the time of year for hay fever (I have a terrible runny nose right now because of, not hay, but cedar pollen...)
The tissue bags all have advertisements on them.  
the Mickey Mouse is for an Insurance Company (I wonder what Mickey thinks about that!)
the one in the middle is for a gym
the one on the top right is for a dating service (!?)
and the two on the bottom are for a mobile phone company...

(It seems that the handing out of pocket tissues with ads on them started sometime during the late 1960s in Japan.  A man got the idea from matchboxes...)

Although the tissues aren't as rough as they used to be, they are still not the super soft kind.
However, having them stashed in your purse can be very handy!
(The dating service types can be kind of embarrassing depending on who you are with when you decide to blow your nose...)

Free number 2:

Warning:  If you have Numerophobia (a fear of numbers) then you may not want to read this...

The Japanese government decided earlier this year to hand out cash benefits to EVERY Japanese person... ¥12,000 per person (about US$122 or Australian $175).

This is supposed to help "the people" out during these difficult economic times.

So, I'm thinking...I'm not a Japanese citizen but I pay all the various taxes...
My husband (who usually takes a million unusually quick at finding out if I get a piece of this "handout" too.


I do!  
IF you are a "registered alien" like me, (registered by February 2nd of this year).  

However, we have no idea when we get to receive this cash benefit.  Smaller towns with small populations have started handing them out at the local city and ward offices.  The city I live in is rather large with 461,932 people (includes the 6,559 registered foreigners) so it is expected to take awhile.

The forecasted amount the government has to prepare for this benefit is two trillion yen (US$20,384,242,980 or Australian $29,296,234,011).  Well, not really is tax payer money after all...

The interesting thing is that along with the above forecast, the government has also released the following numbers: 82,500,000,000 yen... 
(US$840,850,022 or Australian $1,208,469,652)


The amount of money it will take to actually distribute the money.  You know, envelopes, receipts, stamps...pens...overtime...


I hope this cash benefit handout thingy works.  I do have an opinion on this but I'd rather not explicate ;-)

However, if all else fails, there's always... taken today at the mall in Sanomiya, Kobe.

March 23, 2009

Katazome (stencil dyeing), book covers and Nagai Kafu

Katazome or "stencil dyeing" is traditionally an art form used when designing kimonos.
However, over the years it has evolved into an art form of its own.  

Young artists are using non-traditional motifs to transform the art of dyeing paper with stencils thus bringing it to a wider audience.  One of these young artists is Seki Mihoko.  She is currently working in Kyoto.
I had seen her work on occasion in stationery stores but I never thought to find out who she was. ...until a friend of mine gave me these beautiful pieces of wrapping paper.
They would look very nice in frames and I'm seriously thinking about doing that so that I can hang them in our hallway.  
They would also make lovely book covers....

In Japan, if you buy a book at a bookstore, you will most likely be asked if you would like to have a book cover. (Kabaa tskue raremasuka?  or Kabaa goriyou desuka?)
Most shops have their own paper book covers with the shop's name and info on it.  They  are wrapped around your books for free.

It may not seem like a very environmentally friendly thing to do, but there are two big reasons they are still very popular.  

1.  Many Japanese people don't want other people to know what they are reading...If you are reading something "shallow" it could be embarrassing and if you are reading something that seems rather "complicated" then you would look like a "show-off".  Ah, the glorious wonders of haji-no-bunka (shamefulness as a culture)

2.  Many people read books while commuting on trains, so a book is often carried around in a bag and can get tossed around.  Book covers are nice to have on your book to keep it from getting tattered.
The three books on the left are covered with my local book shop's covers and the two on the right are ones that I made out of "washi" (Japanese paper).

Speaking of books, this might be a good time to show the inside of an old book I bought at a used book store.  

"Sumidagawa" by Nagai Kafu.  
I am not really a fan of his work but his life is rather intriguing since he lived in the US in 1903 and stayed for several years after which he spent some time in France.  It seems that he was forced to go abroad after being a bit of a "disappointment" to his father.  However, instead of studying he spent his time "looking" at the country and jotting things down. These memos turned into stories such as "Ladies of the Night" and "Midnight at a Bar".  As you can tell by the titles, Nagai seems to have been quite the swinger.  This is probably why I never really felt intrigued to read one of his books.

So, why did I buy "Sumidagawa"?  There are two reasons why I like to buy old Japanese books.

1.  They have furigana next to the kanji : they have the easily read Japanese alphabet written next to the more complicated to read Chinese characters.

2.  They look really swell.

Although the Japanese used in the days that Nagai wrote is old and rather hard to read, it is still nice to have those little markings next to the kanji to help readers like me.  I probably won't understand the whole thing without reading each sentence twice but it is an easy way to travel back in time to Japan in the early 1900s.  

March 21, 2009

Indian food in Kobe....Chalte Chalte*

Yesterday I had lunch with friends at an Indian restaurant in Kobe.  It was a small place but the interior decorations were fabulous.  The chandelier above might seem like an odd piece to have there but it actually pulled together all of the bright colored tapestries that were hanging from the ceiling and walls.  

Oh, and the food!  The lunch set we had was 1,050 yen.  There was a vegetable curry soup (with a second serving)  and a masala dosa (with chutney sauce and coconut sauce on the side).
The inside of the masala dosa... was stuffed with a "potato curry mash" type filling...I don't know what it is really called...but it was very good!

There are quite a few Indian restaurants in Kobe.  When I first moved to the Kansai area of Japan I was very surprised to see the wide variety of us "foreigners".  The Chinese population in Kobe is rather large (I will try to write about China Town someday) but the Indian population is also very large and has a long history in Japan too. 

I am not very familiar with the details so here is an interesting article in The Japan Times that will give you the outline of the history:

*Chalte Chalte : a nice diner that specializes in dishes and beautiful smiles;-), from Southern India...

March 20, 2009

All sorts of things are getting ready to bloom!

The habotan is a type of cabbage plant that is often seen in New Years decorations and in planters lining streets in Japan. Although you can see them almost year round, they are at their strongest during December to March.

I found this cluster of habotan next to a building in the Motomachi (Kobe City) area.  It's hard to see since the white hues came out pretty bright, but the plant was rather huge, the flowery part at least 20cm tall!

Right now it is the beginning of cherry blossom season - the famous sakura flowers that will decorate river sides and parks across Japan will be filled with happy "picnickers".  They'll be out there with their plastic blue sheets layed out on the ground, racing to get the perfect spot to take in all the beauty (only to be blurred by all the food and alcohol.)  I can't deny the Japanese of their true love for the cherry blossoms, but it is also an excuse to get drunk outside;-)

Right now in Hyogo and Osaka Prefectures, the cherry trees have little green buds sprouting out...                                                               Can you see them?

Once these buds have bloomed the battle among the cherry trees will begin!  (Trees don't battle, the people do.)  Every year, new recruits are ordered to leave the office early (sometimes they don't even go to work, they go straight to the park) so that they can "reserve" areas for the night's party under the trees.

After the sakura, it will be the rainy season in Japan.  The rains will bring colorful hydrangeas. 

This is not "my" hydrangea plant, but it is right by the street I walk by everyday.  
It has been blooming very nicely every year for the past 3 years.
Oh, and here are the tulips.  
They have grown quite a bit these past few days since it has been pretty warm!  
Flowers here, flowers there, I see flowers everywhere!

March 18, 2009

dear Diary, finding things during house cleaning

I haven't felt this tired in such a long time.  The new office is filled with great people, but the work load is AMAZINGLY HUGE.  I am having a hard time believing that these people have been doing what they've been doing without going mad.  I am seriously thinking twice about the road I am traveling right now.  What better way to heal the soul and tired body?  
                                        ...............spring cleaning!?

As a part of our major house cleaning project that started at the beginning of this year, I've found lots of things that I can't get rid of no matter how insignificant they may seem.
Bits of ribbons and beads (that came from I don't know where) and and small charms that I buy ...on whims.
Jam jars have come in handy so far, as well as wooden clothes pins.

The fact is that I feel better knowing that I have these things to stick on letters to friends, or to add a little "flair" to a birthday present.

I am also ashamed to say that these things help me to relax...
I know that I will not have them forever, and the thought of losing one of them is not really a concern either.  It is a part of me I like to call "zen meets shopaholic."

Now, if I could figure out how to combine  the trinkets I have with some creative ideas, I would feel much better with my hoarding of these earthbound goods.

You know, do projects like these people:

with things that I own like these:
That wooden box was originally a bento box (box for lunches) about 50 years ago.  Now instead of carrying rice it carries my "glamorous" hair pins and is usually on my dresser.  I bought this at an antique store in Osaka (Maison Grain D'aile).  The interesting thing about this old box is that it is Japanese, but the shop owner found it in France.  So, this baby has probably seen quite a few things!  I realize I am surrounded with items that tell stories...(WHY didn't I see all of this before?  Currently agonizing over first novel, so you can imagine...)

The books underneath the box could tell more than the stories printed on them as well.  
They are first editions and special editions that I found at used book stores.  
I will talk about why I bought those in a "future episode."

March 14, 2009

tatami rooms and western furniture

Tatami rooms are becoming less and less a part of Japanese homes.  I know this because one of my uncles in Japan is a tatami weaver!

Tatami's are made with igusa (rush straws).  I wish I had a picture of some igusa but I haven't seen a crop in decades.  There are still some places that raise igusa in Japan, but the number has decreased over the years due to low priced straw from China.  However, according to my mother, the smell of Japanese igusa is much sweeter than imports.  There is also a lot of hype these days about the amount of pesticides used in China so now consumers are becoming more aware of what their tatamis are made of, and hopefully this will lead to more "home grown" and/or pesticide free tatami.

The igusa is picked when green and it is woven into mats.  The mats are then sewed onto "boards" made of rice straws.  (Some new materials have shown up to replace these boards too.)  The rims of the long side of the tatami are then covered with a specially woven cloth. 

This rim is called "heri" and these are mainly sewn on for decorative purposes.  Ryukyu datami (or tatami from Okinawa) does not have any heri and is popular these days in places other than Okinawa.

Be careful!
In some (traditional) households, and during ceremonies, it is not polite to step on the heri!
There are several reasons for this..some are sort of superstitious but one is actually "eco friendly": The more you step on the material the faster it wears out!

Most "heri" is pretty colorful, but sometimes the material clashes with furniture or curtains, so these days a lot of people choose simple materials and earthy colors to blend in with the decor.
I didn't choose ours, it was already installed into our apartment when we moved in, so I'm afraid I can't show you  "pretty ones"... ours is this....
...a simple dark brown.  As you can see, we've had these mats for 3 years now and they are not the beautiful green they were when we first moved in.  I'd like to change them but they aren't supposed to stay green forever and the fibers are not damaged at all since we hardly use this room.

Living in tatami rooms is supposed to be good for your health.  That is what the "tatami weaver's association" (tatami shokunin kyokai)  says.  According to the association, studies show that the standing up and sitting down on the floor helps to strengthen bones.  The mats also soak in CO2 and help clean the air... it's like having  a built in air filter... on your floor!

Culture is largely sculpted by the natural environment, and tatami is a perfect example of this. If you have experienced the hot and humid summers of Japan, then you will know that the texture of the tatami floors are a blessing to sticky feet.  They are dry and often cool to the touch in summer.  

The best way to clean your tatami is with a rag soaked in hot water. Be sure to wring out all the water.  Nothing is worse for  tatami than a very damp rag!  Wipe the tatami along the fibers so as not to snag them.  It is best to "hang out" the tatami twice a year to keep them dry, especially after the rainy season (June).  This is easier said than done, so not very many people do this anymore.  A good substitute for this process is to add a few drops of vinegar into the hot water you soak your rag in.  The vinegar acts as a natural disinfectant.

We hardly use our one tatami room for several reasons
1)  It is being used as my library and I don't have enough shelf space yet so there's lots of books stacked on the floor.  
2)  I can't decide on a "look".  (Couches, western style tables and chairs do not look good on tatami.  They make indentations of the mats as well.)

 However, when I was in Nagasaki last year, I stopped by Dejima - a small part of Nagasaki City (more like one block) that used to be the home of Dutch ship merchants from 1636 to 1839.  Does the East India Company wring a bell?  (For more information please visit the Dejima official website.)

This is where I found for the first time, a tatami room that didn't look odd with western style furniture.

I think I have finally found "the look" that I want.

Now I just have to save money to buy the right kind of furniture...uh oh!

March 9, 2009

The Big Issue

One of the things I do when I get to Motomachi Station in Kobe is

look for the guy who sells The Big Issue. If it is not raining he is usually out front with the latest issue in hand. The Japanese editions are 300 yen per magazine and there are two issues a month, each sold on the 1st and 15th. The Big Issue is a magazine sold by homeless vendors who get a portion of the sales they make. This job requires a lot of self discipline and management skills and will help the vendors get back on their feet. Several countries around the world have their own issues.

Right now even 300 yen (about $3.15) can be big spending for a lot of people, but if you are going to buy a magazine it might as well be something with great articles as well as a good cause.

One of my favorite articles in the magazine is written every month by a young Japanese veterinarian, Asuka Takita. She has two sites, one web page in Japanese and the other in English (which is extraordinary!) Unfortunately, she hasn't updated it recently, and with her schedule I can understand why. The official site for Wild Life Direct is a gem and you can find lots of updated information there on endangered species etc.
Asuka writes about the hardships she encounters in Africa while helping local government and veterinarians to help save the wildlife from poachers and other disasters. Sometimes it seems like a lost cause with all of the conflicts raging in Africa, but the determination of this young vet will give anybody hope! She is younger than I am but wiser a million times over.

In Japan there is a saying "tsume no aka wo senjite nomu". It is used when you want to be like someone or have even a speck of someone's wisdom. The translation sounds kind of gross being: brew and drink the grime of a fingernail...
It means that - even the grime from the fingernail of someone that worthy is worth brewing into tea for someone like me to drink, in hopes of becoming more like that person.

IN OTHER WORDS - I'd do just about anything to be more like that.

Sometimes parents say this to their kids in hopes of disciplining them but nobody takes it literally so you don't have to worry about getting a strange type of tea when you are in Japan.

Speaking of tea, green tea canisters are fairly cheap and nice things to buy when you visit Japan.
They are air tight so you can storage any type of dried food or tea and they come in all sorts of sizes, colors and designs! I have two for two different types of green tea.

March 8, 2009

Spider-Man Train

I had to work on Saturday but was rewarded with an interesting view of one of the trains that take you to Universal Studios Japan.  There are several different types, but this one has got be my favorite...


I have had archnophobia ever since I looked a spider in the eyes at the age of 9.

It happened on a nice summer day.  I was looking outside a window gazing at the small patch of yard outside when I noticed a hole the size of a pea, in the windowsill.  I was a daydreamer from birth, so I imagined a small fairy living inside the hole, and with a big grin on my face I peered inside.  I will never forget the dark glassy eyes staring back at me, probably in fear, after all I was much bigger than the spider.  But the little creature beat me at the stare down.  It took only a few seconds for me to realize what I was staring at and bang my head against the window as I ran away screaming, hands flailing abut.

But I have always liked Spider-Man and although I did consider reconsidering my "fanship", the super hero spidy has always had a place in the comic-nerd section of my heart.

When you travel to different places in the world you get to find some mighty cute trinkets like the mobile phone strap to the left of the above picture.  Spider-Man is up on a castle roof with a "shachihoko"- a mystical creature with the head of a lion and body of a carp.  This was a present from my husband from when he went on a business trip to Nagoya - a place famous for chicken wings, miso nikomi udon (udon noodles in a miso broth) and of course, golden shachihokos (check here for a picture

The Amazing Spider-Man comic with President Obama on the cover is something I found at a comic book store in Kobe.  I went to the store in search for Coraline related stuff and came home with this instead.  It was kind of expensive (about US$8) but thought it would be something neat to have.

American comics are pretty popular in Japan but maybe not as popular as manga is overseas.
I went through a manga phase as well.  More or less for necessity.  I came to Japan in my teens and when you need a conversation starter, manga is a good way to go.  It also helped me to learn how to read Japanese.  I still think that comics/manga are a good way to learn languages.
However, my passion now lies with novels and non-fiction, so my manga collection is tucked away in boxes.

March 6, 2009

Dear Diary, out an about in Kobe

It was raining, so not really the best day to take pictures...but this funny looking bus/boat drove by and I couldn't resist... almost didn't get it in time!
One of my favorite spots in Kobe is the entrance to the Motomachi arcade.  

And of course the place I always visit when I'm in Kobe is the foreign book store Random Walk Books.  They are in the Sannomiya arcade and if you look up, you will see this sign.  (The first floor is a shoe store.)  The web address is an old is the new one: RWB
You have to go up these stairs to get to the second floor.  They are narrow and if you aren't on the look out you will easily pass the stairs by!
I remember, about a year ago, when I used to work at this book store, a customer came up and told us that "Darth Vader is standing on the stairs".  We never figured out exactly what he meant...

I bought two books while I was there, when I still have a hundred books I haven't read yet. "Territory" by Emma Bull and "No Plot? No Problem! a low-stress, high velocity guide to writing a novel" by Chris Baty.  I think I will turn this "30 day step-by-step-how to write a novel" guide into another blog project.  Let's see if I can hold on to two jobs, write a novel in 30 days AND blog about it!

March 4, 2009

Tulip Season (2)

I know, very bad's my phone camera again.
This is a picture of the patch of tulips that are in a better lit are.  They are growing faster than the other batch by the wall.  
Here is an updated picture of the exact same tulips I took a picture of last week.
They haven't grown very much because of the shade and the recent cold weather...

In the background of both pictures you can kind of see the peonies that look like deflated balloons. :-(

The end of March is supposed to bring blooming cherry blossoms, so the news reported in Japan today.  If I don't get to take pictures, I know my friend Momo will!

I thought it would be Leon Russell's "Home Sweet Oklahoma"

Holy Flaming Lips.... the state of Oklahoma now has it's own official rock song.
"Do You Realize" by The Flaming Lips.
Check out the whole story at Rolling Stone.

I have to mention this since my name is Tulsa...

March 3, 2009

Hinamatsuri (a Girls' Festival day)

Oh, deary.  Almost forgot!  Today is Hinamatsuri (Doll Festival) also known as Momo No Sekku (Peach Day).  It is a festival for girls celebrated on March 3rd, but the dolls for this festival are displayed about a month or so in advance.  
On March 4th, the dolls go back in their boxes.  Why the hurry?  It is said that if the dolls are displayed for too long after the festival, the girls of the household will be late to marry.  

Ah, yes, the "appropriate" age to marry...this is obviously an old custom.  But the dilemma is still here.
Many young working females in Japan are realizing that if you have a career you may not necessarily want to have a family of your own.  Then there are the "arafour".  This term actually derived from English : "around forty".  The age group that has busy busy that they have not married and in many cases no time to go out on dates, let alone look for someone eligible.  Now this conversation can open up a whole different can of worms.  Believe me, I'll get to this subject sooner or later, but not today.

Back to dolls, there are many different types these days, ranging from paper to ceramic.  Prices also vary.  I do not own any hinamatsuri dolls, so I unfortunately do not have a picture I can post without someone yelling at me about copyright, so google hinamatsuri and you will find loads of great pictures!

Hinamatsuri Tip: What if you can't put the dolls away on the 4th?  (work etc...)  Answer: Turn the dolls around so that their backs are to the front.  Then put them away when you do have time.

Speaking of's the google banner for Hinamatsuri (maybe only seen in Japan?!)


Fish, Fish, Fish, Fish

Japan is well known for breeding "quality" goldfish in a wide variety! The Telescope Eye Fish is unique as well as popular and sometimes expensive!
Now, if you are thinking...what different types of goldfish are there? There is a neat site in English about that...

Fish in general in Japanese is "sakana". There is a very annoying fish song that used to be played constantly at almost all the grocery stores....

"sakana, sakana, sakana, sakana o taberuto~, atama, atama, atama, atama ga yoku naru~" MEANING "fish, fish, fish, fish, when you eat fish, your head(brain), head, head gets smart."

You don't hear it so often now (thank goodness!) but it used to drive me up the wall because it would get stuck in my head!  Ay, I've done it to myself now...

Phobias you don't want to have when you live in Japan...

Hope you aren't afraid of fish....

Xenophobia: the fear/dislike of people or things from foreign countries

I looked but couldn't find anything on specific fear or hatred of Japan... The "closest" one I found was Sinophobia: The fear or dislike of China...

Either way, it is sad to know that there is such a phobia.  I can understand the fear of the unknown and can only imagine that the two mentioned above stem from the same root.  
(I couldn't find anything that specified on phobias of the unknown in general...everything was explained as xenophobia, which I guess means my point is somewhat correct....)

Unfortunately when you live in Asia, you hear a lot about past wars and no matter how much I might hate to talk about this, what happened in the past carries a lot of weight too. 
Traumatophobia: the fear of war or physical injuries.

As I was looking for a phobia of raw foods, I came across the phobia of cooking : Mageirocophobia.  I won't go so far as to say that I have this... but there are times when I am afraid of my kitchen!

Omophagiaphobia: fear of eating raw flesh. There are places in Japan where you can eat raw beef and raw horse beware!

Ichthyophobia: fear of fish.   This too could be a BIG problem since Japan is an archipelago, and the main source of protein has been fish for a very long time.  

This is the land where, if you can afford it, you will be able to eat sushi, or sashimi (raw fish) while the fish nerve system is still moving..... The first time I saw this I nearly fainted!  
(Oh, and two years ago, I went to a dinner with my husband's side of the family and they had raw blowfish....the fish's tail was flipping about...and the 'loving' aunt kept pushing the dish towards me.... The conversation I had with myself, in my head, at that moment was NOT healthy or fit to post!)

The fear of fish would also be sad because then you wouldn't be able to enjoy the beautiful koi.

Here is a picture of some poor koi at a small shrine in Kyoto....I hope they get to go for walks...