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Kurigohan by ikuman used under creative commons licence
still stirred, the old
chestnut sighed with the mouths
of a forest of trees,
a red leaf of autumn fell,
resolutely, the hours marched on
across the earth
Pablo Neruda, Ode to a Chestnut on the Ground
Under the spreading chestnut tree
I sold you and you sold me:
There lie they, and here lie we
Under the spreading chestnut tree
George Orwell, 1984
Rice cooked with chestnuts
Even though I'm sick
I can't stop eating it!
haiku by Shiki Masaoka
I usually eat cereal and fruit for breakfast. But most Japanese people I know eat rice. Several Japanese people who do sports or budo seriously have told me that you get more energy from eating rice. I heard that Ichiro, the great Japanese baseball player who plays for the Seattle Mariners, eats curry with rice every morning. Ichiro is famous for his work ethic and his meticulous preparation. So it is probably based on scientific research or at least his considerable experience. But I don't think I can face curry for breakfast.
It's the season for chestnuts. Marrons in French and kuri in Japanese. They are often cooked together with the rice to make kuri gohan. Chestnut rice. It is very, very good. Most Japanese people cook rice in an electric r
old ball by Takuya Abe used under creative commons licence
Everyone suddenly burst out singing;
And I was filled with such delight
As prisoned birds must find in freedom
Winging wildly across the white
Orchards and dark-green fields; on; on; and out of sight.
Siegfried Sassoon, Everyone Sang
The language of the game is interesting. You can think of the pauses as caesuras, breaks between the lines. As a poem the game is composed of a number of short lines representing the pitches. The number of lines per batter form a stanza. Then there is a space. Sometimes the stanzas become breathless, rushing full paragraphs that build rapidly on each other until the poem-inning explodes.
In baseball, home plate is where you begin your journey and also your destination. You venture out onto the bases, to first and second and third, always striving to return to the spot from which you began. There is danger on the basepath - pick-offs, rundowns, force-outs, double plays - and safety only back at home. I am not saying, as a true fan would, that baseball is the key to life; rather, life is the key to baseball. We play or watch this game because it draws pictures of our desires.
Calamus Gladio Fortior - The pen is mightier than the sword
Motto of Keio University
I'm British. So I don't know much about baseball. I picked up the rules roughly by occasionally listening to games on the armed forces radio in Japan. The announcers wer
It seems reasonable to expect that beauty will emerge from a fusion of the individual character and culture of the potter with the nature of his materials.
I make functional pottery in an effort to preserve local culture in our modern throw-away society. My main goal is to inspire other people to make their own creative work.
Every artist knows that he is engaged in an encounter with infinity, and that work done with heart and hand is ultimately worship of life itself.
Bernard Leach (1887-1979) was a British potter and artist. He grew up in Asia and had close links to Japan. In his art he was strongly influenced by wabi-sabi, a Japanese concept of simplicity. He believed that function had overriding importance and he disapproved of art that was artistic for the sake of being artistic.
He established the Leach Pottery in St Ives in Cornwall in western England. He collaborated closely with a Japanese potter, Shoji Hamada. He was also involved with the Mingei functional folk art movement and its leading figure Soetsu Yanagi. He had a deep and lasting influence that went far beyond pottery and that has affected modern western concepts of design.
There are some interesting parallels with martial arts. At a basic level Bernard Leach studied with a master potter, Kenzan, and eventually developed his own style and even
Think of the storm roaming the sky uneasily
like a dog looking for a place to sleep in,
listen to it growling.
Elizabeth Bishop, Little Exercise
Thought and beauty, like a hurricane or waves, should not know conventional, delimited forms.
Anton Chekhov, The Letter
Let chaos storm!
Let cloud shapes swarm!
I wait for form.
Robert Frost, Pertinax
Why now, blow wind, swell billow, and swim bark!
The storm is up, and all is on the hazard.
William Shakespeare, Julius Caesar act 5 scene 1
This is where the typhoon starts
inside the fourth paragraph,
ten city blocks away
Nick Carbo, Typhoon Signal No. 1
An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, overtake a man incidentally, as it were - without passion. A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout his very spirit out of him.
Joseph Conrad, Typhoon
Late summer and September is the typhoon season in Japan. Typhoons are numbered each year starting again from number one. We have just had this season's Typhoon number 12. Its international name was Typhoon Talas but that name was never heard in Japan. The very heavy rain caused landslides and there have been many deaths in western Japan mainly in the area around Wakayama.
Japanese people sometimes ask me about the UK. No earthquakes? No. No typhoons? No. It must be nice to live in such a quiet place...
Over the gulfs of dream
Flew a tremendous bird
Further and further away
Into a moonless black
Theodore Roethke, Night Crow
Crow saw the herded mountains, steaming in the morning,
And he saw the sea
Dark-spined, with the whole earth in its coils.
Ted Hughes, Crow Alights
But the Raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing farther then he uttered - not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered "Other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my Hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said "Nevermore."
Edgar Allan Poe, The Raven
Edogawa Ranpo was an influential Japanese mystery writer. His name was an hommage to Edgar Allan Poe. The names sound roughly the same. Detective Conan is a very popular manga and animé about a boy detective. The main character is called Conan Edogawa after Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Edogawa Ranpo.
I mentioned crows in the blog post about the sounds of summer. I have heard them pause their cawing for a beat when children mimicked them. The crows in Japan are big and menacing. Perhaps they are ravens. They seem to know when to expect the burnable garbage so it has to be covered with nets. Crow in Japanese is karasu.
Some restaurants in Tokyo display their meals outside the entrance. These are usually wax models from Kappaba
TILT (verb): STRIKE, THRUST, OR RUN AT, WITH A WEAPON, ESPECIALLY IN JOUSTING
If you look into your own mind, which are you, Don Quixote or Sancho Panza? Almost certainly you are both. There is one part of you that wishes to be a hero or a saint, but another part of you is a fat little man who sees very clearly the advantages of staying alive with a whole skin. He is your unofficial self, the voice of the belly protesting against the soul, his tastes lie towards safety, soft beds, no work, pots of beer and women with "voluptuous" figures.
Our greatest foes, and whom we must chiefly combat, are within.
Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote
If you're going to play with Quixote you really got to play with Quixote. And those were windmills that came along. Those were giants, they killed us once but we're going to come back.
Terry Gilliam, talking about making The Man Who Killed Don Quixote
To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow
To run where the brave dare not go
From Man of La Mancha, To Dream the Impossible Dream
Don Quixote, Sancho Panza, Rosinante and oré
Uchoten Hotel/Suite Dreams (oré is Japanese for me in casual men's language)
He is mad past recovery, but yet he has lucid intervals.
Miguel De Cervantes, Don Quixote
This week in Japan a popular television personality and presenter whose name I do not wish to recall(1) suddenly reti
cicada by mondays child used under creative commons licence
In many ways, baseball was perfectly suited to the Japanese. Before the Meiji Era, the very idea of recreational sport was nonexistent in Japan. The physical arts that were practiced were military in nature: swordsmanship, archery, horse riding, etc. Some say that these Japanese arts lacked a team element, and this new game fit well in a culture where group harmony is paramount. Maybe it helped that baseball has, at its heart, a powerful one-on-one confrontation between pitcher and batter, not unlike Kendo, Judo, Sumo and other martial arts. Perhaps it helped that the baseball bat could be handled much like the wooden swords used in Kendo. Many say that the complexity and strategy of baseball, and the time to consider strategy before and after each move, is what makes baseball so appealing to the Japanese. What is clear is that baseball has reached a place of prominence in Japan that nobody could have foreseen.
Kokoyakyu High School Baseball
a cicada shell
it sang itself
a cicada sends
its sawing song
high into the empty air
the world is
a glass overflowing
Pablo Neruda, Ode to Enchanted Light
Pigeon friend of mine,
Fly on, sing on.
Carl Sandburg, Pigeon
蝉が鳴き semi ga naki 球児が泣いた kyuuji ga naita 甲子園 koushien
and baseball players crying
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.
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.
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 f
Hale dead and deathless do the women of the hill
Love for ever meridian through the courters' trees
And the daughters of darkness flame like Fawkes fires still
Dylan Thomas, In the white giant's thigh
The only verdict is vengeance; a vendetta held as a votive, not in vain, for the value and veracity of such shall one day vindicate the vigilant and the virtuous. Verily, this vichyssoise of verbiage veers most verbose, so let me simply add that it's my very good honour to meet you and you may call me V.
V for Vendetta
Bang! Bang! Bang!
boom boom boom
even brighter than the moon moon moon
Katy Perry, Firework
Fireworks is a strange word. Works is the same word as the works of a watch. The Japanese word is fire flowers. In Japan there are many large public fireworks displays in the summer. There are famous displays in Tokyo on the Sumida river and in Odaiba on the Tokyo Bay waterfront. Many displays are on water. People sit on riverbanks or shores or around lakes and watch the dramatic displays and reflections in the water. Many people wear yukata - casual summer cotton kimonos. I'm from England so I associate fireworks with crisp November nights and Guy Fawkes.
The same families have sometimes been in the world of fireworks for generations in a kind of iemoto system similar to martial arts. Traditional fireworks are made in the form of b