an earth conscious, japan conscious life is what i wish to live・・・・・++++++++++++++++earth conscious, japan consciousな生活がしたいのです・・・
2007年 01月 07日
2006年 12月 16日
when it comes to this month of the year, there's something i look forward to...watching "chushingura" on tv. ever since i saw it on tv when i was a kid, i was totally moved and it had always been one of my favorite stories.
the 14th was the day of the avenge and memorial service was held at "sengakuji", where the samurai's rest, but otherwise, i don't think i had heard nor seen anyone mentioning about "chushingura" this year. they used to run "chushingura" on tv every year around this time, and the cast fo characters had always been a big thing. but i guess that's not the case anymore....how sad.... sob sob
anyway, speaking of "chushingura", there is an interesting place in yanaka, tokyo; a temple called "kannonji". this temple was started in 1611 and was moved to yanaka in 1648. like sengakuji, this temple worships "ako-roshi" (samurai's of ako) since the head priest of this temple was a brother to one of the ako samurai's at that time. for that reason, the samurai's are said to have secretly assembled at this temple to exchange info and discussed countermeasures on attacking the villain, kira kozukenozuke . these secret meetings were secured by "tsukiji" wall" ; a wall with a unique structure of layered clay and roof tiles. this wall built over 200 years ago, has survived the great kanto earthquake and still remains today. interestingly, when you stand by the wall, you will notice that the wall is very low, which tells us how low our ansectors stood back then. (here's another picture)
if you ever have a chance to visit yanaka, be sure to check this place out!!
まぁそれはそれとして（←立ち直りは早いんです）「忠臣蔵」つながりで谷中（東京）に面白いところがあるんです。観音寺と言う寺で1611年に創建、谷中には1648年に移されました。当時この寺の和尚が赤穂浪士の一人の弟にあたり、泉岳寺同様、この寺では赤穂浪士を祀っています。そのため、浪人たちはこっそりとこの寺に集結し、情報を交換したり吉良のあだ討ちの対策を練ったりしていたと言われています。その彼らの秘密の集会を守ったのが土と瓦が交互に積み上げられて作られた 「築地壁」 と呼ばれるもの。ここの築地壁は200年以上も前に作られたとされ、関東大震災の大きな被害も受けず、今日までその姿を残しています。興味深いのが、壁の横に立ってみるととても壁が低いことに気づきます。そう、昔の人々がどれだけ小さかったのかがわかるんです。 (写真、もういっちょ！)
2006年 11月 23日
today is kinro (labor) kansha (thanksgiving) no hi (day). according to the national holiday
law, the objective of this day is “to honor labor, celebrate production, and for the
citizens to express gratitude for one another for work done throughout the
year”. this day was established when the national holiday law was announced and came into effect in 1948.
this day, was originally refered to as, “niinamesai” (harvest festival), and had been
revised as “labor thanksgiving day” after WWII. niinamesai is an ancient ritual where the
emperor makes the season’s first offerings of freshly harvested five staple grains to “tenjinchigi” god, and then partakes the grains himself to thank that year’s harvest.
it is an agricultural ritual to worship god with fresh autumn harvest.
the history of this niinamesai is said to date back to asuka period (late 6th ~early 8th
century) and is said to have been started by emperor kogyoku. the first written
account is found in the “nihon shoki” (the chronicle of japan dating from 720),
which notes that the ritual took place in november 678. after meiji period (1868~1912), the niinamesai came to be held on november 23 as a nationally celebrated event.
after WWII, this day was reestablished as labor thanksgiving day to mark the fact that
fundamental human rights were guaranteed and the rights of laborers were
greatly expanded in the postwar constitution.
today, while labor thanksgiving day is celebrated as national holiday, niinamesai is cele-
brated as private ritual of the imperial family where sacred offerings are made at the
ise shrine and its related shrines.
2006年 11月 03日
today, november 3rd is bunka no hi, or culture day and is one of our national holidays.
before wwII, this day was called “meiji-setsu” referring to emperor meiji’s (current
emperor’s grandfather) birthday. in 1946, the japanese constitution was officially announc-
ed on this day, and this day was determined as the “culture day” in 1948. the japanese
constitution comes into effect 6 months after the official announcement, on may 3, 1947, which is now another of our national holidays.
according to the national holiday law, the objective of this day is “to promote culture
and the love for liberty and peace”. every year on this particular day, bunka kunsho (the order of culture awards) is rewarded by the emperor of japan at the imperial palace. bunka kunsho is the highest rank of culture award in japan, and are given to the
chosen few who has shown outstanding contributions to the development and improve-
ment of such fields like culture, scientific technology, art and education of japan.
other smaller awards are also given to many of those who had made notely contributions
to the japanese society.
many festivals are held around the country on this day and “bunka-sai” (school festivals)
is one of them. many high schools and universities hold their “bunka-sai” around this day to present their daily accomplishments and research.
another renown festival is a “hakone daimyo gyoretsu” (the federal lord’s parade in
hakone) where a long line of people in old japanese kimono’s from the edo period (1603~1868) parade the city of hakone.
this day is also recognized to have one of the highest possibility of clear weather, so why don’t you go out and enjoy the nice weather, and visit a museum. if you’re lucky,
you maybe able to get free admissions today, as some museum do so on this particular
2006年 10月 27日
yesterday, i met up with an old friend of mine in jiyugaoka. he has shifted his career
several years ago and is now teaching japanese to foreign people. as we munched away
on our spareribs, we had a very interesting talk on our japanese language.
our mother language we speak, unless obtained intentionally, is something that is spoken without any thinking and you never really realize all the interesting things in them.
A good example of this is “keigo” (honorifics). we probably are unintentionally varying our expressions depending on the person speaking to. but to explain the different situations “keigo” comes into usage are;
+when speaking with someone you meet for the first time
+when speaking with one’s superior
+when speaking with someone you don’t know so well
Another interesting situation is “when arguing with husband or wife”
It’s true, what normally is said real casually suddenly can be addressed real formally. (not to mention that is not the case with our’s)
Hence, “keigo” are used when there’s a certain distance between the two but also when you deliberately wish to create some distant with the person speaking with.
As a matter of fact, it is true there were so many times when i felt this “keigo” got in the way when doing business. By the usage of “keigo”, it created superiority and inferiority,
giving us a vertical structure. Needless to say, there may be situations when “keigo” can
come in handy, but particularly speaking of the industry I was in, where we all worked to
create something together, there were so many times I felt “keigo” was an obstacle. Yet, when working overseas, that distant suddenly becomes so close and regardless of one’s
positions, we all were somewhat able to work under a side-by-side structure, of which I would say is purely due to the language.
so, it is true, english can give you a somewhat close relationship with any kind of persons, but it is also true that that distant is very narrow compared to that of japanese,
which is very broad. in other words, with english, the same expression can be used with a person really close or a person not so close for many cases and can give you a certain
distant with almost any kind of persons, but with japanese, its distant is so broad that you can stand from a being a total stranger or even as close as being on top of that person.
in other words, our japanese language with such broad distance, is something that can only be structured under relationships with the person speaking to, and because that relationship is intricately composed of various factors such as age, position, closeness, gender, educational background, experience, etc etc, it is of no wonder why the japan-
ese language can be so complex and diversely segmented. (we may be able to say that
the words came first and our complex relationship was created based on that, but it is
probably most natural to think that actions and phenomenon came first creating the lan-
guage) (geez!! I’m sounding so much like school paper!!)
a very good example of our complexity can be seen in the words “i” and “you”. i had read somewhere saying that while english basically has only one way to say “i” or “you”, japan-
ese has 116 or 166 or in any case, over 100 ways to say so. it is true that the number
includes some ancient expressions like “warawa” and regional expressions like “wate”, but
just as how a quick thought on different ways to say “you” can give you so much, ie
“anata” “omae” “anta” “kimi” “otaku”, the diversity of the japanese language is
immense. and we are skillfully varying its usage depending on each person speaking to.
that is why a lot of foreign people wonder why japanese like to ask about things like your blood type, age, school year, or zodiac sign, but that is all due to our language. unlike english, japanese language needs to understand certain backgrounds of the person speaking to, for a decent conversation. (since we cannot ask directly in most
cases, we are unintentionally judging and classifying inside ourselves)
so all this makes me come to think that japanese, who are unintentionally managing such
complex and diverse number of vocabularies, are of people with subtle and rich sensi-
tivity. but at the same time, it is very sad how we are slowly losing such uniqueness.
just like any other language, we can say that the japanese language is very very unique in
its very own way. (oops! did i slack off at the end??)
2006年 10月 23日
so the past three days was my class on theories of tohoku culture. as i've said, the first day was't all that exciting, but the lectures on the last two days were really fun and interesting.
here's a rough summary of the lectures
+beginning of ethnological studies in tohoku and the relationship between yanagida kunio, sasaki kizen and miyazawa kenji
+introduction of metal ethnology
+mysterious god of tohoku - oshirasama and its worship
+mountain priests and shamanism
+ogre god of mt. ganki - regional spirits and legends
+kamado (japanese traditional cooking stove) god - worship of fire, water and metal
+somin festival in kokusekiji temple - a festival worshipping ogre as god
+ancient nation and its religion, emishi people and vengeful spirits
+dewa sanzan (three religious mountains of dewa) - cosmology of mountain, sea and god
+god and ogre, ideology of sun, moon and life
+mummified priests - famine and slash-and-burn farming
+samurai warrior killing and its legends
2006年 10月 06日
2006年 10月 06日
today is “chushu no meigestu” ("chu">mid, "shu">autumn, "no">of, "meigetsu" > harvest moon), and people have traditionally enjoyed “tsukimi” ("tsuki">moon, "mi"> viewing) on
this particular day since the ancient times.
strictly speaking, the word “chushu” has two slightly different meanings depending on the character used. when we write 仲秋, it refers to the middle month, august, of three
autumn months(7th, 8th and 9th months) on the old Japanese lunar calendar. when
written as 中秋, it specifically refers to august 15th (middle day of autumn). hence, when we speak of “tsukimi” on the day of “chushu no meigetsu”, latter would be the correct
character to use.
but wait, today is not august 15th. the old japanese lunar calendar and the calendar
currently used today worldwide, are off by about a month (give and take a few). the
old japanese lunar calendar was determined by the waxing and waning of the moon,
and therefore it is in no connection with the currently used calendar. while many holi-
days and events today are based on our current gregorian calendar, “chushu no
meigetsu” still is based on the old calendar, and so its date differs each year. this year,
august 15th on the old calendar translates to october 6th; today.
full moon around this season was considered to be most beautiful of the entire year,
as the autumn air becomes dry and crisp, giving a clearer view of the moon. and
people have been celebrating the full moon through “tsukimi”(moon-viewing) since the
on the night of “tsukimi”, people place offerings and ornaments by a window or
balcony at home, where the moon can be viewed. the offerings and ornaments
slightly differ depending on different regions but they usually consist of a vase filled
with pampas grass (representing rice) sitting next to a small pyramid of round white
“dango” (dumpling) . the number of dumplings offered basically refers to the number
of months the year had had by the old calendar; 12 for regular, 13 for leap year. by
eating these dumplings, people felt they were sharing a meal with lunar god.
what started as a celebration event for aristocrats in heian period (794 to 1185), spread
among farmers by the edo period (1603 to 1868). not only feeling grateful for the
brightness of the moon when gathering crops at night, they also prayed to the moon
for good harvest, and had started offering vegetables like “satoimo” (taro) and
other seasonal foods, incorporating agricultural celebration to the ritual.
japan has always worshipped nature, and moon was a subject of worship as
well. imagine how precious and sacred moonlight can be, when people didn’t have
any lights that can be easily switched on like we do today. imagine how beautiful a
night with full moon would have been in such a dark sky.
today, “tsukimi” is less celebrated; especially in the cities. it is true that the brightness of
a full moon is totally fogged up with so much light in the city and i guess people are too
busy even to recognize and appreciate a beautiful bright moon.
incidentally, there has been a event called “candle night summer solstice” where they
promote for people to turn off their lights and spend their time under a candle light for
two hours on the day of the event. according to them, it is said that 60% of all the lights
in japan (ie neon lights, electric bulletin boards and others) is excessive. in other words,
40% of all the lights we are currently using should be enough for us to live on. like this
“candle night summer solstice” night, it would nice if we could turn off the lights and
appreciate the beauty of moonlight on a day like today . but unfortunately, what could
have been a beautiful night is spoiled by another typhoon currently hitting us, and the
sky is pitch dark. even if no moon can be viewed today, i wish i’ll have a chance to see a beautiful moon soon, and appreciate all the gifts of nature.