A year ago, it was the Japanese island of Kyushu's turn to feel the wrath of the hot heart of the Earth, as a series of quakes devastated Kumamoto and Oita Prefectures in Southern Japan. The main shock of the "earthquake swarm" was 7.0 magnitude, there were 44 fatalities and 3,000 injuries. 180,000 people were displaced. A large foreshock and 140 aftershocks were recorded.
This is the story of two teenage kids (isn’t it always?) separated by distance and by one of them living in the Tokyo megalopolis and one of them living out in a remote, rural part of Japan. Mitsuha is a girl from a family who has tended a Shinto shrine for hundreds of years. Mitsuha doesn’t like being trapped into a life she doesn’t entirely believe in either. One day she wishes upon a star that she would be reborn -- and soon -- as a boy in Tokyo.
Kaiten-zushi, also known as conveyor belt sushi, is a popular inexpensive date night in Japan. And it's not really that unusual to see them in big cities in the US too. There have been places serving these inexpensive little bites of sushi in Los Angeles, anyway, since the 1970s. However, just as there are rules for eating sushi, there are specific rules for eating at a kaiten-sushi establishment. These rules come from a Japanese site, but are pretty much universal. Your date is watching, and judging, you on your form. Commit these to memory.
Kaiya Sasaki is accepted into Last Hope High School, a school that has a modeling program open for all students. It's Kaiya's dream to be a top model like her mother and show the world that she is not the shy girl everyone sees her as. Her motto is if you don't lose focus, you'll be fine! That is until she meets a boy named Daisuke Yamaguchi...
Today is White Day, March 14, the day that Japanese women (and women from other parts of Asia) get gifts of chocolate (originally marshmallows, then white chocolate, hence the White Day name) and other cool stuff from their significant other. This is a reciprocal gift based on gifts given a month before on Sei Baruntain, or Valentine's Day.
How do the Japanese prep for a Hanami? Firstly, they check websites that give predictions about when the cherry blossom bloom. A good one is maintained by JR, the Japan Railway. Then you contact your friends and colleagues and see who's up for a picnic. Then you go to your local 100 yen store -- think Daiso -- and get your stuff. The Japanese concept of mottenai applies here...why waste money when you're going to have to throw stuff away/recycle stuff anyway?