Jan. 11, 2023
Snoopy and Friends
On January 11, Japan Post released its first stamps of 2023 — a miniature sheet of ten featuring beloved cartoon dog Snoopy and some of the rest of the Peanuts gang. These were designed by Yasuko Yamada and printed using six-color offset lithography. The self-adhesive stamps have die-cut perforations and are denominated at 84 yen each, bringing the total face value of the sheet to 840 Japanese yen.
Snoopy is an anthropomorphic beagle in the comic strip Peanuts by Charles M. Schulz. He can also be found in all of the Peanuts films and television specials. Since his debut on October 4, 1950, Snoopy has become one of the most recognizable and iconic characters in the comic strip and is considered more famous than Charlie Brown in some countries. The original drawings of Snoopy were inspired by Spike, one of Schulz’s childhood dogs.
Peanuts is a syndicated daily and Sunday American comic strip written and illustrated by Schulz. The strip’s original run extended from 1950 to 2000, continuing in reruns afterward. Peanuts is among the most popular and influential in the history of comic strips, with 17,897 strips published in all, making it “arguably the longest story ever told by one human being”. At the time of Schulz’s death in 2000, Peanuts ran in over 2,600 newspapers, with a readership of around 355 million in 75 countries and was translated into 21 languages. It helped to cement the four-panel gag strip as the standard in the United States, and together with its merchandise earned Schulz more than $1 billion.
Peanuts focuses entirely on a social circle of young children, where adults exist but are never seen and rarely heard. The main character, Charlie Brown, is meek, nervous, and lacks self-confidence. He is unable to fly a kite, win a baseball game, or kick a football held by his irascible friend Lucy, who always pulls it away at the last instant. Peanuts is a literate strip with philosophical, psychological, and sociological overtones, which was innovative in the 1950s. Its humor is psychologically complex and driven by the characters’ interactions and relationships. The comic strip has been adapted in animation and theater.
Snoopy appeared on October 4, 1950, two days after the first Peanuts strip. He was one of the four original characters, along with Charlie Brown, Patty, and Shermy. He was called Snoopy for the first time in the November 10 strip. On March 16, 1952, his thoughts were first shown in a thought balloon. Snoopy first appeared upright on his hind legs on January 9, 1956, when he was shown sliding across a sheet of ice after Shermy and Lucy had first done so. He is first shown sleeping on top of his doghouse rather than inside it on December 12, 1958, and first adopts his World War I Flying Ace persona on October 10, 1965. Snoopy’s final appearance in the comic was on February 13, 2000, when he was shown sitting on top of his doghouse typing Schulz’s farewell message to his readers.
Snoopy is a loyal, imaginative, and good-natured beagle who is prone to imagining fantasy lives, including being an author, a college student known as “Joe Cool”, an attorney, and a World War I flying ace. He is perhaps best known in this last persona, wearing an aviator’s helmet and goggles and a scarf while carrying a swagger stick (like a stereotypical British Army officer of World War I and II).
Snoopy can be selfish, gluttonous and lazy at times, and occasionally mocks his owner, Charlie Brown. But on the whole, he shows great love, care, and loyalty for his owner (even though he cannot even remember his name and always refers to him as “the round-headed kid”). In the 1990s comic strips, he is obsessed with cookies, particularly the chocolate-chip variety. This, and other instances in which he indulges in large chocolate-based meals and snacks, shows resistance to theobromine unheard of in other dogs.
All of his fantasies have a similar formula. Snoopy pretends to be something, usually “world famous”, and fails. His short “novels” are never published. His Sopwith Camel is consistently shot down by his imaginary rival enemy, the German flying ace the “Red Baron”. Schulz said of Snoopy’s character in a 1997 interview: “He has to retreat into his fanciful world in order to survive. Otherwise, he leads kind of a dull, miserable life. I don’t envy dogs the lives they have to live.”
Snoopy imagines himself to speak, but never actually does, other than nonverbal sounds and occasionally uttering “Woof”. His very articulate thoughts are shown in thought balloons. In the animated Peanuts films and television specials, Snoopy’s thoughts are not verbalized. His moods are instead conveyed through moans, yelps, growls, sobs, laughter, and monosyllabic utterances such as “bleah” or “hey” as well as through pantomime. His vocal effects were usually provided by Bill Melendez, who first played the role during Snoopy’s appearances on The Tennessee Ernie Ford Show. The only exceptions are in the animated adaptions of the musicals You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown and Snoopy!!! The Musical, in which Snoopy’s thoughts are verbalized by Robert Towers and Cameron Clarke, respectively. (His dialogue, however, is not “heard” by the other characters except Woodstock the bird and other non-human characters; however, he does remember Charlie Brown’s name.)
Snoopy’s doghouse defies physics and is shown to be bigger on the inside than the outside.
Snoopy appeared as a character balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade in 1968; the balloon depicted Snoopy in his World War I Flying Ace costume. The beagle has been in almost every parade ever since in different costumes, as an ice skater, a jester (to celebrate the new millennium and the parade’s 75th anniversary), and an astronaut.
Jan. 18, 2023
Record of Nature (Series No. 3)
Japan Post will release it’s third sheet of ten stamps under the name of “Record of Nature” on January 18. Each self-adhesive stamp is denominated at 84 Japanese yen and feature more of Rika Hoshiyama’s nature paintings, depicting various flowering fruit and vegetable plants. These were printed by Toppan Printing Co., Ltd. using offset lithography with die-cut perforations measuring 13½.
The strawberry (Fragaria × ananassa) is a widely grown hybrid species of the genus Fragaria, whch are cultivated worldwide for their fruit. The fruit is widely appreciated for its characteristic aroma, bright red color, juicy texture, and sweetness. It is consumed in large quantities, either fresh or in such prepared foods as jam, juice, pies, ice cream, milkshakes, and chocolates. Artificial strawberry flavorings and aromas are also widely used in products such as candy, soap, lip gloss, perfume, and many others. The garden strawberry was first bred in Brittany, France, in the 1750s via a cross of Fragaria virginiana from eastern North America and Fragaria chiloensis, which was brought from Chile by Amédée-François Frézier in 1714. Cultivars of Fragaria × ananassa have replaced, in commercial production, the woodland strawberry (Fragaria vesca), which was the first strawberry species cultivated in the early 17th century.
The loquat (Eriobotrya japonica) is a large evergreen shrub or tree, grown commercially for its orange fruit and for its leaves, which are used to make herbal tea. It is also cultivated as an ornamental plant. The loquat is in the family Rosaceae, and is native to the cooler hill regions of south-central China. In Japan the loquat is known as biwa (枇杷, びわ) and has been grown for over 1,000 years. The loquat has been introduced to regions with subtropical to mild temperate climates throughout the world.
The daidai (Japanese: 橙, 臭橙), is an Asian variety of bitter orange. The daidai originated in the Himalayas. It spread to the Yangtze valley region and later to Japan. The colour of the fruit loses yellowish hue and becomes greener in the spring. The native Japanese word for the color orange, daidai-iro, is derived from the name of this fruit. There are two main cultivars, kabusu) and kaiseitō; the latter bears smaller fruits than the former in Japan. The fruit is very bitter, and not usually eaten, but its dried peel is used in Kampo (the Japanese adaptation of Chinese medicine). The dry peels of young fruits are called kijitsu, and used as a stomachic and expectorant as well as a laxative. Peel of ripe daidai is called tohi and is used as a fragrant stomachic and expectorant.
An apricot is a fruit, or the tree that bears the fruit, of several species in the genus Prunus. Usually, an apricot is from the species P. armeniaca, but the fruits of the other species in Prunus sect. Armeniaca are also called apricots. Japanese apricot P. mume is one widely cultivated apricot species, usually for ornamental uses. Despite the common name, it originated from China, and was introduced to Japan in ancient times.
Kumquats are a group of small fruit-bearing trees in the flowering plant family Rutaceae. Their taxonomy is disputed. They were previously classified as forming the now-historical genus Fortunella or placed within Citrus, sensu lato. The edible fruit closely resembles the orange (Citrus sinensis) in color and shape but is much smaller, being approximately the size of a large olive. The kumquat is a fairly cold-hardy citrus.
Wasabi (Japanese: ワサビ, わさび, or 山葵; Eutrema japonicum or Wasabia japonica) or Japanese horseradish is a plant of the family Brassicaceae, which also includes horseradish and mustard in other genera. The plant is native to Japan and the Russian Far East including Sakhalin, also the Korean Peninsula. It grows naturally along stream beds in mountain river valleys in Japan.
It is grown for its rhizomes which are ground into a paste as a pungent condiment for sushi and other foods. It is similar in taste to hot mustard or horseradish rather than chili peppers in that it stimulates the nose more than the tongue, but freshly grated wasabi has a subtly distinct flavor. The oldest record of wasabi as a food dates to the 8th century AD. The popularity of wasabi in English-speaking countries has coincided with that of sushi, growing steadily starting in about 1980. Due to issues that limit the Japanese wasabi plant’s mass cultivation and thus increase its price and decreased availability outside Japan, the western horseradish plant is generally used in place of the Japanese horseradish. This version is commonly referred to as “western wasabi” (西洋わさび) in Japan.
The carrot (Daucus carota subsp. sativus) is a root vegetable, typically orange in color, though purple, black, red, white, and yellow cultivars exist, all of which are domesticated forms of the wild carrot, Daucus carota, native to Europe and Southwestern Asia. The plant probably originated in Persia and was originally cultivated for its leaves and seeds. The most commonly eaten part of the plant is the taproot, although the stems and leaves are also eaten. The domestic carrot has been selectively bred for its enlarged, more palatable, less woody-textured taproot.
At first, it grows a rosette of leaves while building up the enlarged taproot. Fast-growing cultivars mature within three months (90 days) of sowing the seed, while slower-maturing cultivars need a month longer (120 days). The roots contain high quantities of alpha- and beta-carotene, and are a good source of vitamin A, vitamin K, and vitamin B6. The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reports that world production of carrots and turnips (these plants are combined by the FAO) for 2018 was 40 million tonnes, with 45% of the world total grown in China. Carrots are commonly consumed raw or cooked in various cuisines.
The pea is most commonly the small spherical seed or the seed-pod of the flowering plant species Pisum sativum. Each pod contains several peas, which can be green or yellow. Botanically, pea pods are fruit, since they contain seeds and develop from the ovary of a (pea) flower. The name is also used to describe other edible seeds from the Fabaceae such as the pigeon pea (Cajanus cajan), the cowpea (Vigna unguiculata), and the seeds from several species of Lathyrus.
Peas are annual plants, with a life cycle of one year. They are a cool-season crop grown in many parts of the world; planting can take place from winter to early summer depending on location. The average pea weighs between 0.1 and 0.36 gram. The immature peas (and in snow peas the tender pod as well) are used as a vegetable, fresh, frozen or canned; varieties of the species typically called field peas are grown to produce dry peas like the split pea shelled from a matured pod. These are the basis of pease porridge and pea soup, staples of medieval cuisine; in Europe, consuming fresh immature green peas was an innovation of early modern cuisine.
Petasites is a genus of flowering plants in the sunflower family, Asteraceae, that are commonly referred to as butterburs and coltsfoots. They are perennial plants with thick, creeping underground rhizomes and large rhubarb-like leaves during the growing season. Most species are native to Asia or southern Europe. The short spikes of flowers are produced just before the leaves in late winter or spring, emerging with only a few elongated basal bracts and are usually green, flesh colored or dull white depending on the species. It is dioecious, with male and female flowers borne on separate plants.
Butterbur can be found in parts of Asia such as Korea, China, and Japan, as well as Europe and North America. They prefer moist environments such as riverbanks, marshes and ditches. Butterbur has been used for over 2000 years to treat a variety of ailments including fever, lung disease, spasms, and pain. Currently, butterbur extract is used for migraine prevention and treatment of allergic rhinitis, which have the most evidence for its effectiveness.
The radish (Raphanus raphanistrum subsp. sativus) is an edible root vegetable of the family Brassicaceae that was domesticated in Asia prior to Roman times. Radishes are grown and consumed throughout the world, being mostly eaten raw as a crunchy salad vegetable with a pungent, slightly spicy flavor, varying in intensity depending on its growing environment. There are numerous varieties, varying in size, flavor, color, and length of time they take to mature.
Radishes owe their sharp flavor to the various chemical compounds produced by the plants, including glucosinolate, myrosinase, and isothiocyanate. They are sometimes grown as companion plants and suffer from few pests and diseases. They germinate quickly and grow rapidly, common smaller varieties being ready for consumption within a month, while larger daikon varieties take several months. Being easy to grow and quick to harvest, radishes are often planted by novice gardeners. Another use of radish is as a cover or catch crop in winter, or as a forage crop. Some radishes are grown for their seeds; others, such as daikon, may be grown for oil production. Others are used for sprouting.
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