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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 11:46 PM
the water does not try
to reflect the moon
and the moon has no desire
to be reflected
but when the clouds clear
there is the moon in the water
Blog Info
Status: Public
Entries: 155
Comments: 1,111
Views: 1,695,716


In General great teacher, dancing and death Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #77 New 08-12-2011 11:34 AM
great teacher, dancing and death
Nishimonai Bon Odori by Stephanie Boegeman used under creative commons licence

at night
far off
her face hidden by a straw hat

Japanese phrase describing a mysterious beautiful woman 夜眼遠目笠之内 yome tome kasa no uchi

Samurai are forbidden to attend the public celebration. They may dance on their own premises but must keep the gates shut. No quarrels, arguments or other misbehaviour are allowed.
Edict of Tokushima han, 1671

The dancers are fools
The watchers are fools
Both are fools alike so
Why not dance

Awa odori song

Remember me when I am dead
and simplify me when I'm dead

As the processes of earth
strip off the colour and the skin.
take the brown hair and blue eye

and leave me simpler than at birth,
when hairless I came howling in
as the moon entered the cold sky.

Keith Douglas

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
Death shall have no dominion.

Dylan Thomas

This week is obon. Many people return to their home towns. They clean the family graves and remember their dead relatives.

As an aside I was at a funeral recently. There are many subtle things going on at a Japanese funeral. For example men wear black suits and black ties to funerals. Women also wear black. Almost no jewellery is worn. Funerals are usually in two parts: a wake in the evening and the cremation the next day. And the subtle point is that if you wear a black suit to the wake it can look somehow too prepared. So the cool people who know what's really going on wear business suits and save their black suits for the next day. I'll talk about funerals another time.

So summer is a time for spirits. And ghost stories. That's one way to keep cool. A frisson in the dark. I talked about Lafcadio Hearn's famous ghost stories before in The Daimyo - morning of battle.

Bon is also a time for dancing. Bon odori is a summer harvest dance and a way for the young men and women to meet as well as a dance for the spirits. There are different customs in different regions but women usually wear yukata cotton summer kimono often with straw hats. A famous dance is the Awa odori in Tokushima.

And also at obon in Kyoto they light giant bonfires on the mountains over the city. This Gozan no Okuribi is to send the spirits back to the spirit world. Another name for it is Daimonji. Dai is the character for large or great. One of the bonfires is in the shape of a huge Dai. It is the same character used for O Sensei - great teacher. That is the name we use for the person who founded aikido, Morihei Ueshiba. There are many other possible words for the founder or the head of a style in Japanese culture, many of them very respectful. But he was called and still is called simply great teacher. He was a great man with a great vision of peace. And he was a great teacher.



Dylan Thomas, And Death Shall Have No Dominion
Keith Douglas, Simplify Me When I'm Dead

you can download free e-books by Lafcadio Hearn from project gutenberg

my columns on aikiweb:
Improvised Weapons No.1: The Umbrella
Unbalance - Feet of Clay
Half a Tatami
Zen in the Art of Aikido

niall matthews 2011
Views: 4455 | Comments: 9

RSS Feed 9 Responses to "great teacher, dancing and death"
#9 08-13-2011 11:10 AM
niall Says:
Thanks to you too Diana. I'm glad it brought back happy memories. and I'm glad you share so many of your interesting memories with us.
#8 08-13-2011 10:19 AM
Diana Frese Says:
When I lived in NY we went to upper Riverside Drive to the Buddhist Academy for Japanese movies, and, once a year to the park for Bon Odori. A couple of years I was able to attend the rehearsals and actually participate. Everyone, however, was invited from the audience at the end for Tanko Bushi, where they could just copy the person next to them. This dance was often taught to American schoolchildren too. Thanks Niall it brings back happy memories!
#7 08-13-2011 01:01 AM
niall Says:
Thanks, Chris. I appreciate your comment, It's an interesting idea. It's a title that would be given by his students, right. We'd have to look deeper into that. And there are two different kanji for O.
#6 08-13-2011 12:17 AM
Chris Li Says:
One quick thought - the "O" in the Founder's title is the same character that Sokaku Takeda used ("Takeda Sokaku Dai-Sensei").
#5 08-12-2011 11:25 PM
niall Says:
Thanks, Carina. By the way the mysterious beautiful woman hidden under the straw hat is doing tenchi nage!
#4 08-12-2011 11:21 PM
niall Says:
Thank you Francis for the clarity, depth and poetry of your comment.
#3 08-12-2011 04:21 PM
guest1234567 Says:
(cont)Thinking of this doka about kamae of love and the echo from uke to tori I looked for Yamabiko(train) and a mythical Japanese spirit called "Yamabiko", So both are related todays doka with todays post
#2 08-12-2011 03:29 PM
guest1234567 Says:
I don't like funerals they are very sad. But I learned that we should speak respectfully of the dead. Thanks Niall for expressing your thoughts in that subtle way O'Sensei was a great human being and teacher, just read his writings, his dokas, anyone, for example todays In the self-mind standing always In the very center of it I do live The stance (kamae) of Love is The Way of the Mountain Echo (yamabiko).
#1 08-12-2011 03:04 PM
aikishihan Says:
Dear Niall, Yet another triumph of cultural sharing. Thanks! The awesome confrontation of two martial masters is often likened to a dance. Mere victory is not the goal, but rather both masterfully striving not to lose the essence of who, what and why they are as they believe themselves to be. The dance of death is indeed exquisite and beautiful.

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