International exchange program through soccer game with Thai Deaf students

Aihara Yutaka, soccer coach
for Deaf students in Bangkok
December 25, 2014 

A soccer game took place for Deaf Japanese students and students of MAHAMEKU School for the Deaf in Bangkok, Thailand at the school ground of Otsuka School for the Deaf in Tokyo in October.

Deaf students usually don't have many chances to know outside easily. Even there is no chance for these students to have contact with foreigners. A former professional soccer player, Aihara Yutaka (相原豊), brought change to such an exclusive environment only by the soccer game.

He's an active leader to persons with disabilities at present. The wrist of his left arm has lacked since birth. When he was 23 years old, he made a professional contract in Thailand, and later he also played in Bangladesh and Uganda.

Aihara has lived in Bangkok since 2009, coaching a soccer club at the MAHAMEKU School for the Deaf.

This "international match" was achieved by Aihara, who led the Deaf student from Bangkok to Japan. This soccer game was valuable experience for the students of both schools, Thailand and Japan.

Japanese source:

Emergency charm for communication with Deaf person by pointing

"Kawasaki-shi Communication Charm" which
was sold to support a person with disability.
December 24, 2014

Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture:
The non-profit corporation called the "People Design Research Center" (Shibuya-ku, Tokyo) is selling the "Kawasaki-shi Communication Charm" at two places in Kawasaki-shi in order that the able-bodied person who supports a person with disability carries it around.

The charm combined with the hook type key ring is designed so that a Deaf person can communicate by pointing. The symbols not only necessary when asking for emergency, such as "Yes" and "No", but also "restroom" and "hospital", are shown on a card made of the acrylic fiber.

 The price is 756 yen (including tax).

Japanese source:

University rugby championship almost close to Deaf player

WTB Otsuka Takayuki of
Teikyo University (right)
December 21, 2014

The regular season game appearance put on as a target for WTB Otsuka Takayuki (大塚貴之), 22, a senior of Teikyo University in Tokyo.

He got over a handicap of being profoundly hearing loss, and grasped a chance competing with his 142 teammates aiming at 6 straight victories at the National Collegiate Rugby Tournament.

Otsuka entered a member list in Asahi University Competition in the 2nd stage of the 2nd collegiate tournament to be held on Dec. 21 at Kumagai, Saitama Prefecture. His uniform number is "23", a supplement in the back. "For me, because it's championship, I neither be conscious nor change with usual, I just do my best in each game".

He stepped on Chichibunomiya's attracted turf for the first time in the junior championship final game against Meiji University competition with teammates besides the 15 regular players on December 6. Otsuka stepped in a ground by the second half after 18 minutes as a change. "I didn't hear my fellows' and others encouragement, there was something appealing to me".

Otsuka's challenge met at compilation.

Japanese source:

Related blog:
Deaf university student continues playing rugby

Deaf university student practices Japanese-styled fencing, Kendo

Ogura shakes a bamboo sword while
raising a loud voice during practice.
December 21, 2014

Beppu-shi, Oita Prefecture:

Ogura Takahiro (小椋敬大), a 19-year-old freshman and a Kendo Club member of Beppu University at Beppu-shi, Oita Prefecture in Japan's southern island, is severely hearing loss since birth.

When he was an elementary student, he read a novel of Musashi Miyamoto, a famous old swordsman who used two-swords in fencing, longed for kendo and entered a Kendo club at a junior high school.

At the university, Director Iwamoto Takamitsu  (岩本貴光), 43, was hired by the university Kendo Club in April, 2013, but he never had experienced in teaching a deaf student. He was afraid of injured danger on Ogura and thought he would decline the admission to the Kendo Club, but he decided to call Ogura and see his practice on probation.

Iwamoto was deeply impressed with Ogura shaking a bamboo sword into practice, desperately powerfully with loud voice. Iwamoto thought, "There is guts in the boy. His thought to do his best impacted me". Ogura was accepted to the Kendo Club.

Ogura is working hard on practice,  exceedingly by sensing an opponent's movement quickly through seeing it.

At the beginning of a match, he can't see a referee's sign, so when beginning, he always concentrates on an opponent's movement, and stands up at the same time when the opponent stands up.

Currently, Ogura never misses practice to shake a bamboo sword during a lunch break, saying "I can't catch up only by the same practice as everyone else. I really need do more".

His goal is to win a match in the regular season game.

Japanese source:

English article: Japan Airlines Conducts Trial of COMUOON

December 18, 2014


Japan Airlines (JAL) decided to start a month-long trial of using table-top hearing support device, named "COMUOON," (photo right) to improve its customer service at JAL Plaza Yurakucho, Tokyo, starting January 2015 (photo left).

COMUOON is a high-performance micro speaker unit which produces sounds or voices that even a moderate hearing-impaired people can hear without using a hearing aid.

Read more:

Related blogs:
City office rents device to support communication by persons with hearing loss for free of charge in Hyogo Prefecture

Parents with hard of hearing children surprised at "the speaker that is easy to catch"

Deaf woman supports sexual minority through forming organization

December 18, 2014  
Osaka-shi, Osaka Prefecture:

Born Deaf, Yamamoto Fuyumi (山本芙由美), 33, formed the group which supports a Deaf sexual minority (LGBT), called "Deaf-LGBT-Center" in Osaka-shi in spring this year as she herself is the person concerned who lives as "double minority".

While the existence of LGBT themselves isn't known much, Yamamoto is challenging a lot of problems through arranging training and dispatch of interpreters who know about LGBT, information thorough a lecture, etc.

Yamamoto was born under a Deaf parents, and belonged to a LGBT club at a university. She met the Deaf person, Ryo (諒) who would be her husband when she was a graduate school student.

Ryo changed the family census register to a man from a woman in 2011 because of gender identity disorders. In case of the statement, the Deaf couple felt strong uneasiness that the interpreters dispatched publicly at a family court who didn't have knowledge about LGBT and used contemptuous sign language expression.

A younger Deaf friend of Ryo's from the school days, who had gender identity disorders, too, had committed suicide at the end after he broke off relations with his parents three years ago.

Yamamoto felt regret then that she was not any of assistance, "Such a tragedy shouldn't be repeated." She was driven to take action.

She published the book which gathered information on Deaf LGBT, which gained a lot of response, and she additionally issued total of 16,000 copies.

Yamamoto will go to the U.S. in summer next year and learn Deaf LGBT support.

Japanese source:

Deaf students to visit Taiwan for art seminar

December 18, 2014


Junior high school students from three metropolitan schools for the Deaf and a private school for the Deaf in Tokyo will visit Taiwan during the winter break, December 26-30, as part of the seminar including sketching and the appreciation of art.

They were selected by interview by the Tokyo Education Board, etc.

The group met with the School Board on December 15. Abe Natsumi (阿部菜摘), 14, a student of the Katsushika School for the Deaf, said in sign language that she hoped to draw Taiwanese streets.

An exhibition of the works sketched after the group returns home is planned.

"The Oriental School of Fine Arts," a college of fine arts in Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo started the program in 2002 with planning and funding.

Japanese source:

Hard of hearing children enjoy Christmas related event using sign language

The children receive a present
for a snack from Santa Claus.
December 14, 2014

Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture:

About 40 kindergartners, elementary and junior high school children with hearing loss enjoyed an early Christmas party at Taihaku-ku Cultural Center in Sendai-shi, Miyagi Prefecture on December 13.

They enjoyed activities using sign language, such as making ornaments for a tree, having a snack given by a volunteer staff dressed like Santa Claus.

An organization called "The Arts for Hope" based in Tokyo sponsored this event. It works on the activity centering on three prefectures hit by the 2011 Great Eastern Japan Earthquake:  children and people together draw a picture on playground equipments in a park and an outer wall of a building in the areas.

The Miyagi Prefecture group of parents having hard of hearing children, which requested an event to take place, explained, "because of being hard of hearing, the children develop sensitivity while using visual clues, so that they also lead to growth."


Deaf experts win medal at national technical competition

Nakayama (top) and Nagata
December 12, 2014

Shizuoka-shi, Shizuoka Prefecture:

"The 52nd Technical Olympic National Tournament" took place in Aichi Prefecture from November 28 to December 1. It is the "national tournament for technical experts" with which technicians younger than 23 year old compete for the highest skill level in the 41 job sections.

Nakayama Ryu (中山竜), 22, who belongs to Isuzu Motors Technical High School in Shizuoka-shi won a bronze prize in the mechanical constructive section.

He has participated in the competition since three years ago. In spite of the trouble occurred in equipment that didn't work during the engagement, he found out the cause, solved it immediately and finally got a bronze medal.

Another contest titled "The 35th National Disability Skills Tournament" (called "The National Abilympics") was opened in Aichi Prefecture on November 21-23.

It is the national tournament with which technicians with disabilities older than 15 year old compete their skills trained at a workplace. This year 336 persons, the largest number ever, joined to compete in the 24 skill sections.

Deaf dental craftsman, Nagata Eiji (永田英司), 42, who works at Corporation Yokohama Dental Institute in Shizuoka-shi for 21 years, was glad to win a silver medal.

Japanese source:

Deaf association holds event to see election broadcast with interpreting

A person (left) interprets the contents
of an election broadcast program.
December 12, 2014  

Akita-shi, Akita Prefecture:

A national election of the House of Representatives is planning to take place on December 14.

Akita Prefecture Association of the Deaf located in the prefecture, northeastern Japan held a meeting to see an election broadcast program with interpreting in Akita-shi on December 10 beforehand.

There are a lot of political parties that only captions on their broadcast. Association officials pointed out, "Even if there are subtitles, it is difficult for Deaf people to understand what a candidate says. We have wanted each political party to put sign language on the election broadcast."

There are 4,312 Deaf persons in the prefecture as of the end of March, 2014, and about 30 out of them attended the event. They gazed at the election broadcast on which candidates make a campaign speech  along with interpreting.

Japanese sources:

College student interested in learning sign language after meeting Deaf woman

December 11, 2014
Ibaraki Prefecture:

The 18th overseas travel event, sponsored by Ibaraki Newspaper and Ibaraki Newspaper Cultural Group in eastern Japan, was participated by 188 persons with disabilities, family and volunteers, who enjoyed travel together in Guam on November 28 - December 1.

Among many participants aged older than 30, Inoue Kaori (井上香織), 20, a junior student at Ibaraki Christian College, communicated with the people around her actively without being timid.

She gave some participants a lecture how to sign one of the children's songs in the bus in order to perform at a farewell party to be held on the last night of the travel.

This good idea occurred to her while Inoue was learning sign language with a Deaf woman during the travel. She didn't know sign language at all up to that, but she says she'd like to learn more sign language.

Japanese source:

Deaf tour conductor serving the Deaf community

December 6, 2014
Katagiri Koichi, a Deaf tour guide
using sign language.


Katagiri Koichi (片桐幸一), 35, is a first sign language tour conductor at the one of travel shops under the bargain travel company called "H.I.S.". He was hired in 2002 and has conducted a tour for Deaf persons or groups more than 60 times.

Born Deaf to a Deaf couple, he learned how to  pronounce Japanese from his grandmother.

When young, he intended to become a social worker. Turning point was his travel in Korea when he was a sophomore at a university. Katagiri said, "a solo travel gave me a confidence in myself".

He has begun an travel event using sign language since 2008, planning a group tour, such like pilgrims, a group exchange with the overseas school for the deaf, and an personal tour one after another for the Deaf community, which wins popularity.

Japanese source:


"The Sound of Voice" ranked one of the best comics

"This Comic is the Best! - 2015"
 December 10, 2014

The latest edition on the comic introduction book titled "This Comic is the Best! - 2015"  published by the Treasure Island Company that issues every year was sold on December 10.

Ohima Yoshitoki's "The Sound of Voice" was selected as the best comic in the section of male comic writers this year.

"This Comic is the Best!" introduces the comic for boys and one for girls respectively to be ranked as the work which attracted the readers most in the year.

"The Sound of Voice" was serialized in the "Weekly Boy Magazine (Kodansha Publishers) about the story of a Deaf girl and a hearing boy who bullied her, which concluded in November. It has been also decided to be animated.

Japanese source:

Related link:
Comic titled "The Sound of Voice" to be animated

English article: Return of signing show urged at DisneySea

December 9, 2014,

Urayasu-shi, Chiba Prefecture:

At Tokyo DisneySea in Urayasu-shi next to Tokyo, an aquatic show called “The Legend of Mythica,” that used a sign language for performance since 2004 came to an end in September.

Although only the aquatic show offered the sign language performance, it is because the theme park’s entertainment programs were set to be renewed.

There have been growing requests for a restart of the show from deaf people.

Read more (English) :

Princess Kiko greets in sign language at the meeting for mothers of deaf children

Princess Kiko and her daughter Kako
attended the annual meeting for mothers
who brought up Deaf/deaf children.
December 8, 2014


Princess Kiko, wife of Akishinonomiya who is the younger brother of the Crown Prince, and  her second daughter Kako attended the "37th Meeting which praises the mothers who brought up Deaf/deaf children held in Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo on December 8.

Princess Kiko gave a speech in sign language, "I pay my respects to the mothers for bring up their children well in spite of difficulties they faced".



Volunteers apply successively for 2016 sports events

The person (left )who applied is
writing in a board, communicating
with Deaf/deaf people.
December 5, 2014

Iwate Prefecture:

The number of applicants for the information support volunteer who supports Deaf/deaf persons at the National Athletic Meet and the National Disability Sports Meet to be held in the prefecture, northeastern Japan, in 2016, exceeded 600 as planned. The applicants will get training next year.

The number for volunteers had reached about half as of 10 days ago of application deadline (the end of November), so disability groups made efforts to call positively for more application to meet the goal.

The prefecture organizing committee has extended recruitment to December, because an application still continues.

Japanese source:

On International Day of Disabled Persons, Deafblind woman appeals UN

Meeting at United Nations Headquarters
December 4, 2014 
The meeting which thinks how to protect persons with disabilities at a natural disaster was held at United Nations Headquarters on December 3, International Day of Disabled Persons.

The Japanese Deafblind woman who can't move the whole body freely because of an incurable nerve disease called "frequent occurrence sclerosis" complained of difficulty in protecting the Deafblind including herself against a great earthquake and a tidal wave.

The speaker was Fukuda Akiko (福田暁子), 37, who serves as a secretary-general of the World Federation of the Deafblind, made a speech in English. "If a great earthquake and tsunami are drawing near a Deafblind person, how should it on earth be done?" Her speech was arousing sympathy in the meeting place.

The advice such as should increase more consciousness of an international community was given from the meeting.

U.N. World Disaster Reduction Conference will be held in Sendai, Japan in March, 2015, with an important theme: protection of persons with disabilities.

Japanese sources:

Deaf group invited to play drum at disability art festival in Myanmar

The Koshu Deaf Drum group members perform
a Japanese drum at the festival in Myanmar.
December 4, 2014       

Naypyidaw, Myanmar:

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Disability Art Festival has started in the evening on December 3 in Naypyidaw, the capital of Myanmar which is ASEAN presidency this year. About 160 people participated from the member countries and competed by singing, dancing, etc.

Deaf Members of the Yamanashi Prefecture's "Koshu Deaf Drum" also were invited and showed a performance of a Japanese drum.

Disabilities groups in Myanmar took the leading part in the event from December 3, the International Disability Day, through December 7. After transition to civilian rule, a chance of social participation and self-expression for persons with disabilities is increasing in the country.

Japanese source:

Teaching method at first school for the Deaf in 1878

Numeral signs

Japanese fingerspelling chart
Furukawa Tashiro was a hearing teacher and the founder of the Kyoto Institution for the Blind and Deaf (1878), the first school for the deaf in Japan, which would be the Kyoto Prefectural Institution for the Blind and Deaf later, and again the Kyoto Municipal Institution for the Blind and Deaf.

Furukawa did various works about instruction to the blind and deaf students, respectively. His attitude towards to the students was sincere, full of love; he accepted them as what they were from the bottom of heart without self-interest.

The subjects taught for the deaf students were "pronunciation (speech)", "dictation", the "discourse method", the "composition method", "composition with theme", "geography", and "arithmetic".

Furukawa's instruction was combined with the following methods. To teach how to pronounce a syllabary, he made the "pronunciation chart" (発音起源図 1878) along with the word list for the "speech". Also he used the question-answer method for the semantical grasp of the word, carrying out compatibility of the Japanese syllabary, a Chinese character, and the manual spelling. The "discourse method" was used to develop the skills in written communication and reading, and the "composition method" aimed at written expression of things.

Especially the speech training used the mouth form, arranged with the fingertips of the both hands which showed the form of the mouth, compared an up-and-down row of teeth and the right thumb as the tongue (発音起源図). All the elements of positions and movements showed how to pronounce a vowel and a consonant.

Therefore, the language education of Furukawa was based on the combination of sign language, fingerspelling, gestures, speech, writing combined with pronunciation (spoken language), reading comprehension, writing a composition, etc. The method was combined by oralism and sign language.

Furukawa invented the manual communication system to be used in teaching, such as the "Japanese fingerspelling chart" (五十音手勢図 1878), "Japanese kana syllabary printing-form sign language" (五十音字形手勢 1879), the sketch of "the numeral signs" (手算法略図 1878), and the "chart of the palm method for writing" (画掌法図 1879), etc., which are much different from the present days. The old, but precious documents are preserved in the Kyoto Prefectural School for the Deaf.

Related link: 
Furukawa Tashiro: first teacher of Deaf children

Metropolitan Police Department develops the mobile application for the Deaf to report emergency

Deaf person's report in blue color, and
Police Department's reply in red color.
November 29, 2014


The Metropolitan Police Department begins to use the exclusive application to make the Deaf/deaf persons possible to report to emergency number (#110) from the smart phone on December 1 at 13:00.

With the application, the Deaf reports a case or an accident, and an occurring place, etc. A picture of the site can be sent also. Such an application for a smart phone is reportedly the first in Japan.

A Deaf/deaf person needs to download the application from Apple Store or Google Play beforehand, before using it when encountering an event or an accident in the Tokyo metropolitan area. It's possible to exchange a message with the Metropolitan Police Department Telecommunication Dispatching Head Office.

Any non-Deaf/deaf person can't use the system, because there is a possibility to interfere the Deaf/deaf person reporting.

Japanese sources:

City sends wrong information in national alarm system drill

November 29, 2014

Kyotanabe-shi, Kyoto Prefecture:

National simultaneous transmission practice via an e-mail and fax using the national instant alarm system (J Alert) was conducted on November 28 .

Kyotanabe-shi sent an e-mail and a fax to 4,281 registrants and 59 Deaf/deaf persons listed on the city's protection against disasters information list, at 11:00am on the day. One sentence should be put primarily that "This is a test". Actually, the phrase stating "Crisis Warning. Take refuge in indoor and please put a TV and radio" has been used.

The cause was reportedly that a receiver couldn't recognize the test information sent from the Fire and Disaster Management Agency under the Ministry of Public Management, Home Affairs, Posts and Telecommunications.

In response to the inquiries, the city sent an e-mail and fax with the correction again about two hours later.

Japanese source:

Deaf woman runs for "national long distance relay project"

Oikawa Toshiko has finished running at the goal.
November 28, 2014

A goal event of "Our Positive Long Distance Relay 2014", part of "The Long Distance Relay Around Japan Project", hosted by American Home Medical Treatment and Damage Insurance, took place on November 26 with a lot of participants.

The "Long Distance Relay Road Race" is a project that each runner connects a sash around Japan to encourage those people facing difficulty such as sickness, an injury, an accident, etc.

The race which was the third this year started at Tokyo on May 14, and about 1,900 runners and celebrities connected a sash for about 6 months through the whole country with 47 prefectures for about 9,200km.

The last runner arrived at the goal event, welcomed by a lot of clapping. Oikawa Toshiko (笈川敏子), a born-Deaf woman, was diagnosed breast cancer in 2013, but she says that an anticancer drug intravenous drip has been finished finally in August this year.

Japanese source:

Hagi-shi proposes to establish sign language regulation

November 27, 2014

Hagi-shi, Yamaguchi Prefecture:

The Hagi-shi city office in western Japan announced on November 26 that it will propose an establishment plan of "Sign Language Regulation" to an assembly in December, which would be the first time in the prefecture.

The city places sign language as a language, and aims at realization of the coexistence society in which the Deaf persons live at ease in a hearing world. The policy will be carried out on December 20 when the proposed establishment plan is approved.

The city which has developed a draft of the ordinance put a preface in it about the spread of sign language: "It is obligation of the city which is the place related to Yamao Yozo who built a foundation of Deaf education in our country".

Yamao was one of the "Choushuu Five" Men, including Itoh Hirofumi, the first Japanese Prime Minister, who went to the United Kingdom from Choshu-han (currently Yamaguchi Prefecture) in late the 1860's before the shogunate system ended. Yamao was surprised to see the Deaf engineers communicating in sign language at a Scottish shipyard in Glasgow, and after returning home, he established an educational institution for the Deaf in Tokyo.

To expand an opportunity for the Deaf persons to get socially involved, a city health welfare department senior spoke that they would arrange a policy in detail while asking an opinion of disability groups and the parties concerned regarding dispatch of more interpreters.

Japanese source:

First national high school sign language performance event held

November 23, 2014 
The Tsuruhama High School students from
Ishikawa Prefecture who won the victory sung
a song in sign language with great feeling.  

Tottori-shi, Tottori Prefecture:

The first "National High School Sign Language Performance" took place in Tottori-shi in the prefecture, western Japan, which high school students compete for the expressiveness by the sign language while showing a dance and a drama.

Princess Kiko, wife of Prince Akishinonomiya, and her second daughter Kako attended.

Tottori Prefecture which established the "Sign Language Ordinance" for the first time nationwide last year held this event for the first time.

Princess Kiko gave a speech using sign language, introducing the episode at the opening ceremony: "I learned sign language after I saw a drama by sign language in my college days. I deepened my understanding of life and culture of persons who are Deaf/deaf."

Twenty teams, including the Tottori School for the Deaf, of 13 prefectures from across Japan, competing for accuracy and abundance of the expressiveness of of the sign language while performing.

Tatsuruhama High School (田鶴浜高校) of Ishikawa Prefecture won the victory as a result of the judgement.

Japanese sources:

English article: Japanese electronics maker participates in foreign hearing aid maker

November 26, 2014


iHear Medical, which makes affordable hearing aids that users can customize at home, has raised $5 million in a Series C round led by Lighthouse Capital, a Shanghai-based venture capital firm that focuses on medical devices.

Japanese electronics maker Brother Industries and Ameritas Holding Company also participated.

This brings the total iHear Medical, which was founded in 2009, has raised so far to $7.8 million.

English article:

Japanese smiley developed by Deaf man

November 26, 2014

A smiley, often used in an e-mail nowadays, has a Western-style, Japanese style, and others. How was it born?

In a New York Times interview in April 1969, a well-known writer Vladimir Nabokov said: "I often think there should exist a special typographical sign for a smile – some sort of concave mark, a supine round bracket ..."

Scott Elliott Fahlman, a computer scientist at Carnegie Mellon University,  was the first documented person to use the emoticons :-) and :-(, with a specific suggestion that they be used to express emotion, in September, 1982.
Japanese users popularized a style of emoticons (顔文字, kaomoji) that can be understood without tilting one's head to the left such like (*_*), (")(-_-)("), (T_T)).

It is said that Wakabayashi Yasushi (若林泰志), a Deaf manager of disability related bulletin board of "ASCII NET", contrived kaomoji (^_^) in 1986.

At the beginning it was used at an online bulletin board system. He seemed to have been using it as a signature first, but the other users were increasing a variation gradually, and a smiley was the tool which indicates feeling.

Japanese sources:

English source: