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Inspiration is the bonsai's trump card. But it's a person who makes it that way, you know. Look over there, at the black pine. Now that's inspiration. See there? An old tree gives us a lesson in life. Strange, isn't it? The tree may look withered, but it's living just the same. A tree can withstand the passage of time. Humans are the only ones who are at their most beautiful when they're young. But a tree, no matter how many years go by, you train it and train it, and though the tree itself would naturally resist, gradually it bends to your will. And when it does? Why then it's as if life has sprung forth anew, isn't it? Inspiration resides at that point when you begin to feel the miraculous.
Natsuo Kirino, Grotesque
All that I love
I fold over once
And once again
And keep in a box
Or a slit in a hollow post
Or in my shoe
Edith L Tiempo, Bonsai
The bonsai tree
in the attractive pot
could have grown eighty feet tall
on the side of a mountain
till split by lightning
But a gardener
carefully pruned it
It is nine inches high.
Marge Piercy, The Bonsai Tree
like these bloody haiku
but more expensive
David Gibbs, Bonsai
pruning my bonsai
which to keep, which to lop...
(sigh) can't decide
Dave Burke, Bonsai & Haiku
If you have a problem, Cut it off. If you still have a problem, you have a problem.
John Yoshio Naka, bonsai cultivator
I often walk past a house with a row of bonsai trees displayed outsid
A few days ago I wrote a casual post called the fugitive about a cool escaped penguin. I talked about the The Fugitive and Blade Runner.
Then real life caught up. Aum is a Japanese cult. Aum members committed terrorist attacks in Japan in the 1990s including a sarin nerve gas attack on the Tokyo subway. Three Aum members have been on the most wanted list in Japan since they fled 16 years ago. Their photos are posted outside police boxes all across Japan.
Then one of them Makoto Hirata suddenly and unexpectedly gave himself up on 31 December 2011. Perhaps in a deliberate move to force a delay in the execution of Shoko Asahara the leader of Aum. Next the police caught Naoko Kikuchi on Sunday 4 June in Kanagawa. Then the third member Katsuya Takahashi panicked when he heard the news of Kikuchi's arrest and was caught on video making several large cash withdrawals. It was the first time he had been spotted in the 16 years. The police rushed to arrest him but missed him by one hour. I hope they catch him very soon.
The story of Aum was like many cults that become twisted and deformed by personal greed and pride. Hundreds of young people drifting in Japanese society were attracted to its simplistic pseudo-Buddhist answers. The cult used mind control techniques and resorted to extortion. Gradually the cult leadership came to believe that they were above the law. It was almost impossible for members to leave. A young lawyer called Tsutsumi Sakam
The other day someone asked me how you remember the number of days in the months in English. We use this little rhyme. It sounds very old. The rhyme one with alone could come from Shakespeare.
Thirty days has September
April, June and November
All the rest have thirty-one
Except February alone
I found that there is a mnemonic using knuckles too. When you count out all the months though there are a couple of knuckles left over so - no. There has to be a more satisfactory solution.
In Japan they use a very short sentence:
nishi muku samurai
2 4 6 9 11
Ni shi mu and ku are ways of pronouncing 2 4 6 and 9. That's called goroawase. I talked about it briefly in tokyo sky tree.
Samurai is not the usual kanji for samurai 侍. It's the shi 士 from bushi 武士, another word for samurai. It's also used as a suffix meaning scholar in words for professions like bengoshi - lawyer - and keirishi - accountant. The Japanese letter 士 looks like the letters for ten 十 plus one 一. Or eleven.
So Japanese people remember that all the months have 31 days except the second, fourth, sixth, ninth and eleventh.
So wow. I look at it in admiration. Short, elegant and cool. Perfect. You probably won't forget it now either.
I originally didn't plan to post this on aikiweb but I decided to. It is a link to an interesting article by C W Nicol about the advantages of using wood in construction. Following his advice wood was used in the rebuilding of a school in Miyagi after the Tohoku Earthquake.
C W Nicol is a naturalist living in Japan. He is famous in Japan for his work with nature. He originally came to Japan to study karate. Moving Zen his book about his karate training in Japan was one of the first books I ever read about karate. It's a very interesting and personal book. Anyone interested in martial arts or in Japan would enjoy it. Below is a very complimentary review of it by a karateka.
When taken as directed (one pill per day for seven consecutive days), NZT has been shown to be 97.3% effective in improving memory, hand-eye coordination and a host of cognitive abilities.
NZT-48 home page
I don't have delusions of grandeur, I have an actual recipe for grandeur.
Bradley Cooper in Limitless
I don't know how to fight. Or do I?
Bradley Cooper in Limitless
In the movie Limitless Bradley Cooper takes a new synthetic drug called NZT-48. Humans normally only use 20% of the brain's power. The drug lets him access 100%.
He starts to see things very clearly. He sees patterns. He is able to think deeply and rapidly and he becomes successful and rich. It's a very cool movie and a great story.
In one scene he is attacked on a subway platform by a gang of men. He has never been in a situation where he needed to fight. But he instantly recalls distant memories of fight advice and fight scenes from movies. And time seems to slow down as his brain processes the information and the situation and he becomes a dangerous and effective fighter.
Great scene. And great concept. Timothy Gallwey wrote some books on the inner game. And Mihály Csíkszentmihályi wrote about the flow. He also wrote about autotelic people who do things for the sake of the thing itself. The idea seems similar to zen thinking.
Sometimes sports players and artists and musicians can get into the zone. Martial artists can get
1.I never act contrary to traditional morality.
2.I have no partiality for anyone or anything.
3.I never try to snatch a moment of ease.
4.I think little of myself but much of the public.
5.I am entirely free of acquisitiveness throughout my life.
6.I never regret what I have done.
7.I never envy others for their good luck, or on account of my ill luck.
8.I never grieve at parting from anyone or anything at whatever time.
9.I never reproach either myself or others; never complain about myself or others.
10.I never dream of falling in love with a woman.
11.Likes and dislikes, I have none.
12.Whatever my dwelling house may be, I take no objection to it.
13.I never desire dainty food for myself.
14.I never have antique objects or curios in my possession.
15.I never perform purification or observe abstinence to protect myself against evils.
16.I have no taste for implements of any kind, excepting swords and other arms.
17.I would never grudge my life in the cause of righteousness.
18.I never wish to have any estate that would make my old age comfortable.
19.I worship Gods and Buddhas, but never think of depending on them.
20.I would sooner lay down my life than disgrace my good name.
21.Never for a moment does my heart and soul stray from the way of swordsmanship.
The 12th day of the 5th month, the 2nd year of Shoho (May 12, 1645) Shinmen Musashi
I went to karaoke last week. I only go about once a year. Kara is empty as in karate and oke is short for orche - stra. Empty orchestra. The guy who invented karaoke didn't patent it and didn't make any money from it.
Once after an aikido event I went to a large karaoke bar with a few of the teachers. Sadateru Arikawa sensei came too. That was not so common. He didn't like social drinking much and he didn't like noisy places. He certainly didn't like singing. He was always happy to talk about aikido but it's difficult to talk against a background of karaoke.
Arikawa sensei didn't want to sing but some of the teachers were insistent. So eventually he agreed. Reluctantly. He had damaged his throat when he was young. His speaking voice was very quiet and husky. And his singing voice was very thin. But he liked me to sing songs in English.
Sometimes I sing Japanese songs. One of them is Ue o Muite Arukou. It's a positive and happy song with a catchy melody. I walk looking up. It was the first Japanese song to hit number one in the USA and it is one of the biggest selling singles of all time. It was bizarrely called Sukiyaki in English - a kind of grilled meat hot pot. The singer of Ue o Muite Arukou was Kyu Sakamoto. He died in the crash of JAL 123 on 12 August 1985. I remember that plane crash. It was the worst single plane crash in history. That night Ue o Muite Arukou had been playing when I had a meal in a Jap
This week another video clip of a cool swordfight. And how this clip and last week's clip relate to aikido. It's from Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai directed by Takashi Miike. It's the trailer not the complete fight so try to get hold of the movie.
There is a superb fight sequence. The actor Hiroyuki Sanada enters, breaks the balance, gets behind his opponent, and completely controls his opponent's weapon. A couple of times he deliberately leaves an opening for his opponent to attack and then counters expertly. As I mentioned he has extensive experience in martial arts and in action movies and his sword work is very natural.
This other excellent recent samurai movie is Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai from 2011 directed by Takashi Miike. The Japanese title is Ichimei. Another movie directed by Takashi Miike I really liked is 13 Assasins. I'll talk about that movie another time.
In fact Hara-Kiri: Death of a Samurai is a remake of a great classic Japanese samurai movie Harakiri directed by Masaki Kobayashi. The Japanese title of that movie is Seppuku. That's another movie I'll talk about some other time.
For now there is also a wonderful fight sequence in Hara-kiri: Death of a Samurai. The kabuki actor Ichikawa Ebizo XI plays the main character. I doubt if he has any direct martial arts experie
Yoji Yamada is famous as the director of the popular Otoko wa tsurai yo - It's hard being a man - series of Tora-san movies. They are rather lightweight. So the samurai trilogy Yamada directed subsequently was a wonderful surprise.
The three movies are The Twilight Samurai, The Hidden Blade and Love and Honor. I recommend them - they are all really excellent movies.
The swordfight is interesting because the main character Seibei uses a short wooden sword against his opponent's katana. A little like Miyamoto Musashi using a sword carved from an oar in his duel with Sasaki Kojiro.
Hiroyuki Sanada who plays Seibei has a background in martial arts and he is one of the few Japanese actors who looks competent when he is using a sword. He was in The Last Samurai and he is also in 47 Ronin due for release in 2013.
All I need is
I can't imagine
A way of certifying experience, taking photographs is also a way of refusing it - by limiting experience to a search for the photogenic, by converting experience into an image, a souvenir. Travel becomes a strategy for accumulating photographs.
Susan Sontag, On Photography
Pieces, bits and pieces
Add up through the years
I've collected a small fortune
falling sick on a journey
my dream goes wandering
over a field of dried grass
We received some Japanese confectionery this week. A souvenir of a trip to Kyoto. Japanese people like to give souvenirs - omiyage - to friends and family after trips. Speciality food from the area they visited is very popular.
The confectionery was yatsuhashi. There are soft types and hard types. The soft type usually has a sweet filling like bean paste or sesame paste. The hard type is a little like Belgian cinnamon and ginger speculoos cookies.
The package said since 1689. Showing the date of a company or a shop has become fashionable. A coffee shop shows since 1977 on its sign. A microbrewery shows since 1996 on its beer labels. But hundreds of years old is very rare.
About the time that confectionery shop started business Louis XIV was the King of France. Isaac Newton was writing Philosophia Naturalis Mathematica. John Locke