Thursday, October 30, 2014

How Countries in Asia Celebrate Halloween

Halloween is the most popular holiday in the United States, but did you know that other countries celebrate it too? Countries around the world have ways of honoring and remembering the dead during this time of year. Even different countries in Asia like to celebrate Halloween, but not in the traditional costumes-and-pumpkins way we might think. 

Each October 31st, people across China celebrate Halloween, or Teng Chieh, by offering food and water to the dead. They also light lanterns with the belief that they will help to guide deceased loved ones as they make their visit to the "land of the living" in Halloween night. 

The Japanese also utilize lanterns for their Halloween customs. The lanterns are traditionally colored red and are hung in every house. These red lanterns are also placed on boats and float through rivers to guide the spirits of the dead back to the homes of their families for the night. It is also traditional for Japanese families to clean the gravestones of their ancestors and prepare special dishes to honor and remember them. These customs and traditions are all referred to in Japan as the Obon Festival. 

Halloween is not big in Korea, but offerings of food and flowers are still made to their ancestors to show respect. 

Hong Kong remembers their lost loved ones through a traditional festival known as the Festival of the Hungry Ghosts. During this time, pictures of fruits or money are burned with the belief that these images will reach the spirits of the dead and provide comfort. 

Although many of the Halloween traditions in Asia are different from those in the United States, certain countries are beginning to pick up many Western Halloween traditions. For example, Halloween recently arrived in Japan. Now around this time of year, decorations such as jack-o'-lanterns can be seen around town of in shop windows and every year Tokyo Disneyland and Universal Studios Japan puts on extravagant Halloween shows and events. Trick-or-Treating is still not a common practice in Japan, but costume house parties aren't that uncommon. 


Besides the traditional and culture-rich Festival of the Hungry Ghosts, Hong Kong also likes to celebrate the more commercialized side of Halloween. Each year bars all across Hong Kong are decked out in Halloween decorations in an attempt to increase local interest in the holiday. Hong Kong Disneyland and Ocean Park also host a Halloween Bash each year to promote and celebrate the holiday. 

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Get Your Hands on the New Nintendo 3DS Along With New Scary Games Just in Time For Halloween

Designers have heard your requests and officially come out with a redesigned Nintendo 3DS, very cleverly named the New Nintendo 3DS. Although the name isn’t all that impressive, the new features it comes with are. The new 3DS is not just a simple redesign, but includes a larger screen and a variety of powerful hardware. Instead of having to hold your head in a certain way to get the 3-D effect, the new onboard camera tracks head movements and adjusts accordingly. 

And one of their best new features is something Nintendo players have been requesting for years- to improve the controls and include a second stick. Well, designers have answered requests and included two sticks to go with the directional pad on the New Nintendo. 


Along with the New Nintendo 3DS, you can purchase a variety of new games that have been released exclusively for this more powerful model- even a few spooky ones for Halloween!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The 10 Costumes You Can Expect to See the Most this Halloween

Halloween is right around the corner and that means countless couples, teens, families, and kids are busy planning out their perfect costume for the upcoming night of trick-or-treating and parties. There are always the classics that make an appearance year after year like witches, vampires, zombies and so on but the top ten, most popular costumes of each year are always subject to change based off of the movies that came out that year, most popular animated characters of the year, and overall current trends. For halloween 2014, Google has put together a list of the ten costumes you can expect to see the most on the 31st based off of Google search trends. 


This year’s top ten trendiest costumes:

1. Elsa from Frozen


2. Olaf from Frozen 


3. Maleficent 


4. Ninja Turtle


5. Anna from Frozen


6. Black Widow from Avengers 


7. Captain America


8. Groot from Guardians of the Galaxy 


9. Dog Spider (Don't think this one is for the kids...)


10. Assassin's Creed 


It's no surprise that three characters from this year's most beloved film, Frozen, made it into the top five most searched costumes. But what about the other seven? Were you surprised by the other costumes listed in the top ten for 2014? 


Thursday, October 16, 2014

Malala Yousafzai Becomes the Youngest-Ever Nobel Prize Recipient at Age 17

Malala Yousafzai is a Pakistani activist for children's education. She known globally for her human rights advocacy for education for children as well as for women in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of northwest Pakistan, where the local Taliban have, at times, banned girls from attending school. Malala’s work is truly inspiring and amazing but what is also amazing is to learn that this strong, determined woman is just 17-years-old. 

On October 10th, Yousafzai became the first and only Pakistani to win the Nobel Peace Prize for her fight towards all children having the right to an education. Today, Michelle and Barack Obama released a statement in TIME congratulating Malala for her work and expressing their eagerness to join alongside her in “unlocking the extraordinary talents and potential in all our children.”


Her work began at age 11 when she started blogging under a pseudonym, revealing the grim details of life under Taliban occupation as well as her views on education. This got attention from many people, but what truly sparked the revolution was when Malala was shot in the face and shoulder by a gunman from the Taliban. She miraculously survived the attack after spending a lengthy recovery period in Birmingham, England. Her actions followed by the assassination attempt inspired a UN petition in her name, which demanded that all children be in school by the end of 2015 and eventually led to Pakistan’s first Right to Education Bill. 

Since she first began her blog in 2009 Malala has been, and continues to be, an inspiration to us all. Her strength, resilience, determination, and courage is far beyond admirable and I have no doubts that she will continue her work until it is finished and encourage thousands around the world to join in with her. And as a teenager who has accomplished more than many adults have, she is a true demonstration of why children everywhere have the right to be given a voice and provided an education. 

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

China Honors their History and Culture Through the Celebration of National Day and Golden Week

In China, the arrival of October doesn't only mean autumn weather and color changing leaves, but also the widespread celebration of their country with National Day and their annual fall Golden Week, lasting from October 1st through the 7th. 

The seven day length makes this the longest Chinese public holiday after the Spring Festival, so people love taking this time to travel. It is also a very popular time for tourists to come to the country to witness the display of patriotism, so if you ever want to visit during this week make sure to plan ahead! The much anticipated week is purposed to commemorate the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949. 

Although the People's Republic of China was technically founded on September 21st of 1949, the ceremony to celebrate this revolutionary formation was held in Tiananmen Square on the first day of October, passing the "Resolution on the National Day of PRC" the following day. Curiously, even though National Day was not declared a holiday until 1949, the term appears within writings and the Chinese language as far back as the Western Jin Dynasty, which lasted from 265-316 AD.

Today, people express their national pride through spectacular parades and parties. The Military Review and Parade at Tiananmen Square is held every five years- with the 5 year anniversaries being smaller parades and the ten year anniversaries very large and more heavily celebrated.

For people across China unable to make it to Tiananmen Square, many of the towns will host their own celebrations. Across China, people participate in flag-raising ceremonies, dancing, watch firework displays, and go to art exhibitions. For lovers of bargains and discounts, the 7-day holiday is one of the best times to shop, so get your wallet ready!

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

15,000 Fans Pack Ko Olina to Hear Japanese Idol Group Arashi

People in Japan are well acquainted with the Japanese band known as Arashi, but not many people in the United States have ever even heard of them before. But that may all change after their recent performance in Oahu

Around 15,000 fans jammed Ko Olina to witness the concert, waiting patiently for hours on their folding chairs. Line up for the 5:30 pm concert began at a whopping 9am. Finally after much patience and excitement, the helicopter flew overhead and the fans knew the moment they had long waited for had arrived. But the band’s popularity that night was not just limited to Ko Olina, an estimated 160,000 fans attended showings in theaters across Japan. 

Fans from the mainland knew the concert was going to be a big deal, Arashi is not just any band in Japan, but even they were shocked at the incredible turn out. 


Arashi is a five member Japanese idol group that has been performing since they officially formed in 1999. Their first few years proved to be a slow start but after the release of their 8th single, “Love So Sweet”, they gained a significant amount of commercial success. Not long after, “Love So Sweet” became the fifth top selling single of 2007 in Japan. Since then the group has seen a lot of success, becoming the first group to place in the top two on the Oricon singles chart for two consecutive years and the third group in Oricon history to monopolize the top three best-selling singles of the year. In 2010, their list of achievements grew even longer as all six of their singles made it to the top ten chart and their album was dubbed the best selling album of the year in Japan.

After their recent performance in Ko Olina, their success and popularity is bound to stretch beyond Japan. Even those in the crowd who were not as familiar with the band were blown away by their performance. Promotor Tom Moffatt reacted very enthusiastically saying, “These guys! What performers! And the costume changes! And the audience is-wow! Just amazing.”


The concert had such a good turn out and so much positive feedback that Arashi will surely return for another incredible performance sometime in the not-too-distant future. 

Saturday, September 13, 2014

How Japanese Honor the Elderly Each Year on Respect For the Aged Day

Every September the Chinese recognize and celebrate their teachers, but in Japan this holiday comes with the arrival of November. In September, the Japanese celebrate a different group of people, highly regarded in their culture. 

Each year on the third Monday in September, Japan celebrates Keiro no hi, or Respect for the Aged Day. This year the annual holiday falls on September 15th. The holiday is purposed to respect, honor, and appreciate the elderly citizens of Japan. It is the duty of the younger generations of Japan to express gratitude for their endless contributions to society and most importantly, celebrate their long lives. 

Due to improvements in healthcare, Japanese people are living longer than ever before. Within the next month, the number of Japanese citizens over 100-years-old is expected to reach around 32,000! This revelation makes the holiday more relevant and significant than ever as well. 

The holiday began in 1947 when September 15th was dubbed “Old Folks Day”. However, the holiday began to grow in status as well as popularity until 1966 when it was renamed “Respect for the Aged Day” and added to Japan’s list of national holidays. It was also eventually moved from September 15th to the third Monday of September as part of Japan’s Happy Monday System. 

Since becoming a national holiday, families all over Japan have celebrated their parents, grandparents, and great-grandparents in a variety of ways. Many communities will get together and throw large parties for all the elderly in their community. The younger generations will bring special gifts to present to the older generations to encourage longevity to their lives and thank them for the wisdom. 

In addition to large parties, volunteers distribute free “obento” boxed lunches to the elderly in their neighborhoods. Younger generations and school children prepare and perform dances at the keirokai ceremonies that are put on in the older generation’s honor. Elderly attendees are treated to lunch, tea, and sweets as they watch the special performance.  


The media also plays a role in the annual celebration, using this day to feature the elderly and their accomplishments as well as highlighting and recognizing the oldest people living in Japan.