Hayabusa2 Success!

Hello everyone,

Last week was exciting news for the JAXA, the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. After a long wait their Hayabusa2 lander was able to land on the surface of an asteroid flying through space. It mission is to examine the asteroid, collect samples, and then fly back to earth with them.

The distance this spacecraft has traveled is unbelievable. The asteroid, named Ryugu from Urashimataro’s story, is 900 meters across. Or, 0.9 km. Right now Ryugu is 280 million km from earth, or 280,000,000 km. That is a very tiny target.

If you are interested in following the journey of Hayabusa2, JAXA has a nice website with live data coming from the spacecraft. You can find it here in both English and Japanese. There is also an interesting blog about how the spacecraft will land and take off from the asteroid, and the Hayabusa2 Twitter feed for daily updates.

This project needs a lot of teamwork and smart people. Look at how big the team picture is at JAXA! Our own school also has its own Rocket Girl Program which launches a rocket every year. If you are interested in this science and good teamwork, please talk to Ms. Sato or Mr. Yoshida.

This year’s rocket launch.

Be my Valentine?

Hello everyone,

Last Thursday we enjoyed Valentine’s Day here at school. Many students brought homemade sweets, and others brought store-bought sweets to share with friends and teachers. I was talking to a couple students, and they taught me two Japanese phrases for the day: giri-choko and honmei-choko.

In English we could call giri-choko “obligation chocolate”. This is chocolate you give to someone you have to. Honmei-choko could be called “true-feeling chocolate”, and it goes to someone you really like.

But… what happens if a girl is giving obligation chocolate, and the boy thinks that it is actually true-feeling chocolate?!? How can people know? Valentine’s Day is supposed to be a day about love, but it seems that there is also a chance for heartbreak.

I would also like to mention that the Japanese sweets industry is very clever, because it has also promoted “White Day” in Japan. In Canada, Valentines day is a chance for both girls and boys to buy each other gifts, but in Japan it is spread out over two different days. That is good for business! However… the boys who received Valentine’s Day chocolate must remember who they got it from and return the favor. Some people say that is should be worth THREE TIMES as much as the Valentine’s Day present. If they don’t, or they forget… more heartbreak!

This is all very confusing. Let’s eat some more chocolate and think about it a bit longer. Have a good week! Only two more weeks until your final tests!

Quarantine!

Hello everyone,

Influenza, or “the flu” has spread all over the country. Unfortunately, some students and teachers have also caught it. The worst problem is in class M3D, who had to stay home for a few days this week. Hopefully they will be ok tomorrow and can come back to school.

One word we use in this situation is “quarantine”. When something is “quarantined”, it is kept away from other things until there is no danger. One of the most common things to quarantine are animals. If you bring an animal to a new country, it might need to stay at the airport for some time so it doesn’t spread disease.

The origin of the word quarantine is from Italian, quarantine, which means forty. Quarantina giorni means forty days, which is the time that ships from dangerous areas had to wait in the sea before landing in Italy.

There are a lot of little stories like this in English, because English words come from many different languages. The study of this “word history” is called etymology. If you find the history of words, it can help you learn how to say them. Also, it is just interesting! When you learn the story of the word “sandwich”, you will never forget it!

Have a good week.