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moon in the water Blog Tools Rating: Rate This Blog
Creation Date: 04-26-2010 10:46 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: 1,522,532


In General the eleventh hour Entry Tools Rating: 5 Stars!
  #90 New 11-11-2011 09:36 AM
the eleventh hour
Poppies by aj lopes used under creative commons licence

Mountain, river grass and tree grow more barren;
For ten miles winds smell of blood in the fresh battlefield.
Conquering horses do not advance nor do men talk;
Outside Jinzhou Castle I stand in the setting sun.

General Maresuke Nogi

Dead in the gas and smoke and roar of guns,
Dead in a row with the other broken ones

Robert Graves, Last Post

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved and were loved, and now we lie,
In Flanders fields.

John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

The tragic news touched us like the bitter wind which awakens the trees and the grass sleeping in the remotest corners of the countryside.
Soseki Natsume, Kokoro (on the death of General Nogi)

In Japan a samurai was supposed to be proficient in the arts of war and in the art of literature. Bun Bu Ryo Do ぶんぶりょうどう 文武両道 the way of the pen and the way of the sword - follow them both. The first epigraph at the top of this article is a kanshi Chinese poem by a famous general, Maresuke Nogi.

It is raining outside. I am writing this on 11 November. On the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month the armistice to end the First World War was signed. 11 November is Remembrance Day in the United Kingdom. Ceremonies are usually held on the nearest Sunday. When I was a boy at school in England there was a one-minute silence at 11 a.m. on 11 November. Even traffic mostly stopped. Then a bugler played the Last Post, a haunting bugle call.

The red poppy is the symbol of remembrance. Red can be the colour of hope or it can be the colour of blood. I saw Kokoro recently. It's a 1955 black and white movie directed by Kon Ichikawa. The original novel was by Soseki Natsume. I mentioned it before once. It was the first novel published by the publishing company Iwanami Shoten. In one scene the main character is shocked by the suicide of General Nogi.

Maresuke Nogi was a respected general but under his command the Japanese forces suffered heavy casualties in the siege of Port Arthur in the Russo-Japanese war. Nogi's sons also died in that war. Nogi wanted to kill himself to take responsibility for the deaths of his men but Emperor Meiji refused permission.

So General Nogi patiently waited for the death of the Emperor. On 13 September 1912 the day of Emperor Meiji's funeral General Nogi and his wife committed suicide. Some people thought that he was following the Emperor into death as a loyal retainer. There is now a shrine, Nogi Jinja, at the site of his house in Nogizaka in Minato-ku in Tokyo.

In Japan 11 November is Pocky day. It is a thin stick biscuit dipped in chocolate. So 11.11 is Pocky day because the figure ones look like Pocky sticks. This year is a special Pocky day: triple eleven. Someone I know got married on 11 November. Her husband chose that day on purpose even though it meant they had to get married on a weekday instead of on a Saturday or Sunday. At the time it was inconvenient but he has never forgotten their wedding anniversary.


poems and free e-books
Robert Graves, Last Post

John McCrae, In Flanders Fields

online version of Kokoro by Soseki Natsume

The Muse in Arms poetry of World War I

background articles

my columns on aikiweb:
Martial Arts in Manga and Animé
Indigo Blue
Improvised Weapons No.1: The Umbrella
Unbalance - Feet of Clay
Half a Tatami
Zen in the Art of Aikido

I have an essay in a charity e-book put together by some writers and photographers to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Tohoku on 11 March 2011. It costs $9.99.

© niall matthews 2011
Views: 3134 | Comments: 4

RSS Feed 4 Responses to "the eleventh hour"
#4 11-13-2011 08:37 AM
niall Says:
Thanks Billy. You're going to smile when you remember where Nogizaka is. Do you remember the bridal shop on the left as you drive from Roppongi up to Aoyama 1-chome. Right there is Nogizaka station. Then you take a right and there is the shrine. A stone's throw from Riki mansion. Or another page. There was a flea market there on Sundays.
#3 11-13-2011 01:57 AM
Makochan Says:
I like this post Niall, I found it thoughtful, appropriate with a touch of humour at the end which put the smile back on my face. I am trying to remember Nogizaka, was that the shrine near to Japan Sword? Thank you for this one. I don't always get a chance to read your posts weekly, but tend now to read them in batches. Still reading and enjoying them lots. Best as always, Kindest to Carina as well, Billy
#2 11-12-2011 07:34 AM
niall Says:
Thanks Carina. Yeah I should do a separate post about Soseki Natsume one day. I've mentioned him a couple of times.
#1 11-11-2011 02:36 PM
guest1234567 Says:
My first thought was: what a beautiful photo, thanks a lot Niall for another great post and for Kokoro, a very sensitive and perceptible novel,I'll soon finish the online version. When I was the last time in Mannheim visiting my late aunt we went for a walk through the cemetery of Ludwigshafen a great park, we saw many war graves of german soldiers of the 2 world wars and some graves without names of the prisoners of the wars. By the way we greeted each other today in the office at 11:11 am

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