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Something in me wanted to find out how far I could run without stopping. Jacki Hanson, U.S. marathon runner
My sister and I, you will recollect, were twins, and you know how subtle are the links which bind two souls which are so closely allied. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, The Adventure of the Speckled Band
An apple cleft in two is not more twin
Than these two creatures. William Shakespeare, Twelfth Night, act 5, scene 1
This beggar might be perhaps
An angel, Luther said. Robert Browning, The Twins
Or Basho was just envious
He may be a poet of his age
But his poems never bore
Him a son
Or a mirror of his own face Ric S Bastasa, Perhaps to Basho the twins are boring
Firearms may be kept on your person for use in emergencies. Do not fire them for pleasure or shoot at wild animals as the sound riles the horses. Wells Fargo stagecoach rules[/b]
One of the new year events in Japan is the Hakone Ekiden. An ekiden is a long-distance relay road race. On 2 January the runners run to Hakone near Mount Fuji. On 3 January runners run from Hakone to Tokyo. The race is broadcast live on television over the two days. It is one of the most popular sports events in Japan.
The idea of the word ekiden is like a stagecoach. The first ekiden was held in Japan in 1917 over 500 kilometres from Kyoto to Tokyo. The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper sponsored the first ekiden race. Toki Zenmaro was a poet who worked at the Yomiuri Shimbun
Movement number 4: dragon seeks path - dragon whips tail. Bruce Lee, Way of the Dragon
Hard by the lilied Nile I saw
A duskish river-dragon stretched along,
The brown habergeon of his limbs enamelled
With sanguine alamandines and rainy pear: Thomas Lovell Beddoes, A Crocodile
In this altar-piece the knight,
Who grips his long spear so to push
That dragon through the fading light,
Loved the lady; and it's plain
The half-dead dragon was her thought,
That every morning rose again
And dug its claws and shrieked and fought. W B Yeats, Michael Robartes and the Dancer
But each day brings its petty dust
Our soon-chok'd souls to fill,
And we forget because we must,
And not because we will. Matthew Arnold, Absence
I had to spend many years losing my spirit, to unlearn thinking again, to forget the oneness. Herman Hesse, Siddhartha
Well, but something sure is wrong
'Cause I'm so blue and lonely
I forgot to remember to forget Elvis Presley, I Forgot to Remember to Forget
Japan in December is the time for parties for the end of the year. In Japanese they are called bonenkai. Parties to forget the year. Companies have them. Neighbourhoods have them. And of course dojos have them. Many people have to go to several.
So the bonenkai is the chance to forget all the bad things of the last year. It's a nice idea. If you forget all the bad things that happened during the year
You better cross over
You better walk humble
Or you're gonna stumble
And Satan is waitin' to take your hand
You walk on the wild side Brook Benton, Walk on the Wild Side
Take a walk on the wild side Lou Reed, Walk on the Wild Side
tangerine, weather, to
breathe them, bite,
savor, chew, swallow, transform
into our flesh our
deaths, crossing the street Denise Levertov, O Taste and See
He wore but a thin
Yet well-shaped shoes for walking in,
Artistic beaver, cane gold-topped.
"Alas, my friend," he said with a smile,
"I am daily bound to foot ten mile -
Wet, dry, or dark - before I rest. Thomas Hardy, The Pedestrian
You meet him on the corners,
in bus stations, on the blind avenues
leading neither in
nor out of hell, you meet him
and with him you walk. Thomas Lux, Pedestrian
And we'll start the driving lessons when you've mastered the walking bit. Gregory's Girl
Japanese samurai used to walk in a special way. It's not a natural movement. You have to learn it. As you walk you swing your arm forward on the same side as your foot. It's called namba walking. I'll write about it in more detail another time.
I ride a bicycle most days. Today a young woman stepped into the road in front of me without looking. Yesterday a woman on a bicycle rode out in front of me without looking. Some Japanese people are perhaps a little vague about the rules of the road. ...More
It is the light
At the end of the tunnel as it might be seen
By him looking out somberly at the shower,
The picture of hope a dying man might turn away from,
Realizing that hope is something else, something concrete
You can't have. John Ashbery, Houseboat Days
Leaves and bark, leaves and bark,
To lean against and hear in the dark.
Petals I may have once pursued.
Leaves are all my darker mood. Robert Frost, Leaves Compared to Flowers
In the umbra, the tunnel, when the mind went wombtomb, then it was real thought and real living, living thought. Samuel Beckett, Dream of Fair to Middling Women
Parting is a trailing streamer,
Lingering like leaves in autumn. Philip Larkin, As a War in Years of Peace
Rain. Dirt. Tunnel. Problem. Michael Scofield, Prison Break
Autumn leaves are important in the Japanese year. The beauty of the changing colours of the leaves represents the coming of winter. Kevin Short writes a cool regular nature column in the Daily Yomiuri newspaper. This week he wrote an interesting explanation of the science of autumn leaves.
In my column Eyes in the Martial Arts I talked about a gaze like autumn leaves. It was used in traditional budo as advice on where to look. Another phrase from the Japanese sword is to look at the far mountains. Both of these mean roughly that you should look at everything at once. You have to absorb the whole scene without becoming fixed on any single point.
Thanks to the morning light,
Thanks to the foaming sea,
To the uplands of New Hampshire,
To the green-haired forest free. Ralph Waldo Emerson, The World-Soul
If we meet someone who owes us thanks, we right away remember that. But how often do we meet someone to whom we owe thanks without remembering that? Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe, Elective Affinities
To give thanks in solitude is enough. Thanksgiving has wings and goes where it must go. Your prayer knows much more about it than you do. Victor Hugo, L'Homme qui rit
i thank you god for this most amazing
day: for the leaping greenly spirits of trees
and a blue true dream of sky; and for everything
which is natural which is infinite which is yes e e cummings, I thank you god for this most amazing
Thank you. You are a very pleasant person.
Thank you. You are too. John Ashbery, My Erotic Double
And here is the one-eyed merchant, and this card,
Which is blank, is something he carries on his back,
Which I am forbidden to see. I do not find
The Hanged Man. Fear death by water.
I see crowds of people, walking round in a ring.
Thank you. T S Eliot, The Waste Land
I thank you. I am not of many words, but I thank you. William Shakespeare, Much Ado About Nothing, act 1, scene 1
My desk, most loyal friend
thank you. You've been with me on
every road I've taken.
My scar and my protection. Marina T
We are not come to wage a strife
With swords upon this hill,
It is not wise to waste the life
Against a stubborn will.
Yet would we die as some have done.
Beating a way for the rising sun. Arna Bontemps, The Day-Breakers
My black hills have never seen the sun rising,
Eternally they look north towards Armagh. Patrick Kavanagh, Shancoduff
The sun may set and rise:
But we contrariwise
Sleep after our short light
One everlasting night. Sir Walter Raleigh, From Catullus V
It is morning, Senlin says, and in the morning
When the light drips through the shutters like the dew,
I arise, I face the sunrise,
And do the things my fathers learned to do.
Stars in the purple dusk above the rooftops
Pale in a saffron mist and seem to die,
And I myself on a swiftly tilting planet
Stand before a glass and tie my tie. Conrad Aiken, Senlin: a Biography
It's election time in Japan. There will be a few weeks of incessant election noise. People making speeches outside railway stations. Trucks with blaring loudspeakers driving up and down the streets.
Japanese politics are mysterious. There are a few new political parties in Japan this year. One is the Sunrise Party. The leader is Shintaro Ishihara. He is an author and politician. When he was a university student he won the Akutagawa Prize for his novel Season of the Sun. The name of the new party deliberately echoes that title. Shintaro's younger brother Yujiro st
Think what was there but now's gone.
Black suit with the black Ray Ban's on.
Walk in shadow, move in silence Will Smith, Men in Black
He recollected his initiation,
And one especially of the rites.
For on his shoulders they had put tattoos:
The group's name on the left, The Knights,
And on the right the slogan Born to Lose. Thom Gunn, Black Jackets
We're doing mighty fine I do suppose
In our streak of lightning cars and fancy clothes
But just so we're reminded of the ones who are held back
Up front there ought to be a man in black Johnny Cash, Man in Black
The other day in Tokyo I saw a young man wearing a black uniform. It was unusual because it had a letter embroidered on the back in black thread. It was black on black so it was easy to miss.
The black uniform is called a gakuran. It's a military-style uniform. Black uniforms all look the same so some students or groups add subtle individual details in the shape or the stitching. In the video below the band is wearing long jackets and baggy trousers like hakama. They look like a gang from the 1970s or 80s.
I wear a black hakama to do aikido. When I get a new one I get the name embroidered on the hip in Japanese kanji. Usually in grey or silver or dark yellow thread. But once I did get it in black. Black on black.
Fat was this lord, he stood in goodly case.
His bulging eyes he rolled about, and hot
They gleamed and red, like fire beneath a pot;
His boots were soft; his horse of great estate.
Now certainly he was a fine prelate:
He was not pale as some poor wasted ghost.
A fat swan loved he best of any roast.
His palfrey was as brown as is a berry. Geoffrey Chaucer describes the monk in the Canterbury Tales, General Prologue
You are to abstain from meat, except as a remedy for sickness or feebleness. But as, when you are on a journey, you more often than not have to beg your way, outside your own houses you may eat foodstuffs that have been cooked with meat, so as to avoid giving trouble to your hosts. At sea, however, meat may be eaten. The Carmelite Rule of St Albert Avogadro
And all I ask for housekeeping
I get and pay no fees,
Leeks from the garden, poultry, game,
Salmon and trout and bees. St. Manchan of Offaly, Ancient Irish Monk's Poem
This treasure was discovered in a bamboo thicket
I washed the bowl in a spring and then mended it.
After morning meditation, I take my gruel in it;
At night, it serves me soup or rice.
Cracked, worn, weather-beaten, and misshapen
But still of noble stock! Ikkyu, My Cracked Wooden Bowl
Lots of arms, just like Kannon the Goddess;
Sacrificed for me, garnished with citron, I revere it so!
The taste of the sea, just divine!
Sorry, Buddha, this is another precept I just canno
When the first dawn came
Like a cigarette in the rain
Heard the thunder miles away
Didn't think that it would work out this way
The storm came and it rained all night Randy Crawford, Cigarette in the Rain
I need a phone call
I need a raincoat
I really need a raincoat
I really, really need a raincoat
I really, really, really need a raincoat Counting Crows, Raining in Baltimore
I remember what he said about that town
He said I went to London once, came back
Wiped the tears from my eyes, looked out the window
And it was still pouring down
More of that rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain
Rain, rain, rain
I'm gonna get a train
Never coming back again Ian Hunter, Rain
I took shelter from a shower
And I stepped into your arms
On a rainy night in Soho The Pogues, Rainy Night in Soho
All at sea again
And now my hurricanes
Have brought down this ocean rain
To bathe me again Echo and the Bunnymen, Ocean Rain
It's raining again.
Usually September is the typhoon season in Japan. But September 2012 was the hottest September for more than 100 years. And typhoons are still coming late in October.
Strong in the rain
Strong in the wind
Strong against the summer heat and snow
He is healthy and robust
Free from desire
He never loses his temper
Nor the quiet smile on his lips
He eats four go of unpolished rice
Miso and a few vegetables a day
He does not consider himself
In whatever occurs
Comes from observation and experience
And he never loses sight of things
He lives in a little thatched-roof hut
In a field in the shadows of a pine tree grove
If there is a sick child in the east
He goes there to nurse the child
If there's a tired mother in the west
He goes to her and carries her sheaves
If someone is near death in the south
He goes and says, 'Don't be afraid'
If there are strife and lawsuits in the north
He demands that the people put an end to their pettiness
He weeps at the time of drought
He plods about at a loss during the cold summer
Everybody calls him Blockhead
No one sings his praises
Or takes him to heart
That is the sort of person
I want to be
This is a well-known poem in Japan. Kenji Miyazawa was a Buddhist and a vegetarian. The poem describes a simple diet. I wrote about being a vegetarian recently. The poem was written in katakana which was unusual. Katakana is the syllabary normally used in Japanese for foreign loan words.
Translating a poem is very difficult. The translation of so