Friday, April 30, 2010

Casey Jones

On April 30, 1900 engineer Casey Jones was killed when his engine, under a full head of steam, slammed into the caboose of a freight train. Due to Jones’ heroic efforts, no passengers on his train were hurt or killed. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the US had lots of train wrecks. So many that some people were afraid to travel by train. One wreck that will recall the big scene in the circus movie The Greatest Show on Earth was one in which about 60 circus performers and roustabouts were killed in 1918 near Chicago. Odd story about that is here .

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Golden Week In Japan

Today is the beginning of Golden Week in Japan.

April 29 Shōwa Day 昭和の日 Shōwa no hi. This is the birthday of the Emperor known in the west as Hirohito. Folks are supposed to remember the turmoil of the reign, which lasted from 1926 to 1989. I was in Japan in 1989 – I realized that the Emperor had died after a long illness because the Armed Forces Radio was playing somber music.
Many stores closed that day. Those that didn’t were hassled by rightists.

May 3 Constitution Memorial Day 憲法記念日 Kenpō kinenbi. This has been a holiday since 1947.

May 4 Greenery Day みどり(緑)の日 Midori no hi. This is kind of an Arbor Day, when people are supposed to reflect on the importance of ecology and the environment.

May 5 Children's Day 子供の日 Kodomo no hi. This holiday goes back to the 8th century.