Monthly Archives: March 2006

We Shall Overcome

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     The class now I am taking is American cultural studies. I studied about Martin Luther King Jr. yesterday, and studied about discrimination of Alabama and about John Fitzgerald Kennedy today.

     Although I knew their names of Martin Luther King Jr. and John F. Kennedy, I hadn’t known about them exactly until I took the class. I didn’t even know that they had lived at the same time and had affected each other.

     “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin by the content of their character.”

      That was the very famous words of Martin Luther King Jr. speaking at the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C. in 1963, and became the symbol of his nonviolent action for advancing the struggle for Civil Rights. “An unjust law is no law at all.” he gave his life for obtaining equality and justice for black people.

      Yesterday here in Japan, a law was denied as violation of the Constitution. If children whose mothers are Japanese, they are Japanese. However, if children whose mothers are not Japanese but their fathers are Japanese, they cannot be regarded as Japanese. The judicature judged the law was unjust.

     But sadly since  Martin Luther King Jr. was killed about 50 years ago, still now in Alabama, the severity of the inequality gap has existed. The circumstances haven’t changed so much for this half century there.

     The voice of Martin Luther King Jr. is heard.

 

We shall overcome,
We shall overcome,
we shall overcome,
Someday,
Oh deep in my heart,
I do believe, that
We shall overcome
Someday.

Again

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     My fourth spring intensive course started today. I’ve already taken three courses at a university this spring so far. The title of the course this time is American Cultural Studies.

     When you mention American culture, there’re many things in it. In the course, students are supposed to study about mainly leaders in American history and to discuss why they are important and how they contributed to modern American society.

     There’re 8 students in the class. This time, we have a young man in the class! You know, the rest are adult women…The teacher is cheerful Canadian. I’ve taken his classes some times. I like his class because he’s very good at making students relax and positive. As a matter of fact, I’m not so interested in American leaders and things. What brought me to the class, then? Yes. I just would like to have taken his class!

     The motivation to take his class might be a little bit weak. I had a tough time today! I don’t know anything about Eisenhower, Exon-Mobil, Sikorski, or Douglas! Yes! I’m ignorant! We seem to study about Martin Luther King. Jr. tomorrow. But we don’t seem to study about that famous “I have a dream.” What will we study about then? Anyway, I’m a little bit nervous. What shall I do? Can I follow the class this week?

     After class, I had lunch together with some of my classmates and our teacher at a Japanese restaurant near the university. Our teacher didn’t eat anything. He just had some coffee in lunch time. After lunch, he headed for a gym. He’s a sportsman! I, however, headed for a department store instead of a gym. I prefer shopping to exercising!

     There had been an event called Expo Anniversary Fair at the department store, and today was the final day. I went there to say good-bye to some people. Although I wasn’t going to buy, I bought a bottle of Argan oil and a lamp shade made from sheep skin. Argan oil is made from fruits of Argan trees, which grow only in the south- west of Morocco. The oil seems to be good for your beauty!

Expo Anniversary

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     There’s been a fair entitled Expo Anniversary at a department store named Maruei in Sakae, Nagoya since last week. It has many booths that remind people of Expo. You can shop many imported things and memorial goods for Expo, eat ethnic foods, and meet people that you think with nostalgia there.

     I visited there with some of my friends yesterday. Fortunately I was able to see some of people who I had wanted to see there. One of my purposes of visit to the fair this time was to see a man who is from Morocco. Because he was a vice-manager of Moroccan Pavilion at Expo and speaks Japanese fluently (his wife is Japanese), he often appeared on TV during Expo. That’s why a lot of people in Tokai area know about him. Although I’m not his close friend, I talked with him whenever I visited Moroccan Pavilion, and I had an opportunity to eat out together with him those days.

     In Moroccan booth, I enjoyed talking to him with the friends who I visited there together over Moroccan coffee, which has many spices in it. I was really happy to see him again. In the other booths, I sampled German ice wine, Turkish sweet and tea, Ghana chocolate and one of Korean sweets.

     As I was impressed at seeing how a Korean man was making the sweets, I bought one package of them. The sweets are made with a solid honey looks like a soap. The solid honey is flattened and is folded many times until it becomes 16000 threads. And then a bundle of the 16000 threads of solid honey holds many kinds of nuts inside. You may not be able to imagine the sweets. Seeing is believing.

     When the friend and I were about to leave after strolling there for about two hours, we bumped into a famous man there. It was Mr. Noda, who is a famous photographer as Mr. Expo “Bampaku Ojisan”. He was very popular among visitors at Expo because of his sunny disposition and his odd fashion. I was lucky because I was able to see him again!

The Tokugawa Art Museum

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     There’s a museum named the Tokugawa Art Museum here in Nagoya. You may be able to imagine its collection easily because of the name Tokugawa. Yes, the museum preserves many various inherited objects from the first shogun Ieyasu and the Owari branch of the Tokugawa family.

     I had an opportunity to visit the museum yesterday. Last May, I went to Townsville in Australia with two of my friends to do homestay. The host family who accepted us was the parents of an English teacher, who teaches me and the friends on Tuesdays. The host mother and father have been here in Japan since last week! I went to the museum with them, their daughter, who is my teacher and some of her students including my friends who went to Australia with me.

     For my host mother and father, it is the first time to visit here Japan. That’s why they have been many places every day since arriving. They went to Kyoto the day before yesterday and happened to see some (apprentice) geisha girls there. Oh, I envy them! I’ve never seen one before! They had to see many temples, shrines and Japanese gardens there. However it was the first time to see samurai things for them yesterday. So they looked excited to see armors, swords and so on at the museum.

     Now the museum has a special exhibition. It’s Hina matsuri: Doll’s Festival in the Owari Tokugawa family. You can see many Hina dolls and ornaments of the festival until April 9th there. In the western culture, they have doll houses. Because Doll’s festival’s ornaments are miniatures of furniture mainly as like doll houses, my host mother stared the miniatures with great interest.

     Although I took English course entitled Explaining Japan and Japanese Culture to Foreigners the other day, for me it was really difficult to explain many of Japanese things in English to my host family yesterday. I thought I needed to study our own culture more a lot.

     Anyway, I hope they can go back home with satisfaction and many good memories.

Nature Walk in Idaka Ryokuchi

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     The town I live in has some green parks. I had an opportunity to enter a park of them named Idaka Ryokuchi today. The park is 66 ha. A nature walk was held there. Of course, you can enter there anytime, but I hadn’t stepped into the park until today because it’s a too thick forest to enter alone. I’d been curious about inside of the park for a long time. As I found the words of “nature walk” in the community paper the other day, I decided to join it.

     In the nature walk, you can enjoy walking in the forest following the guides. I pedaled my bike for about 20 minutes and went to one of the entrances of the park in the morning to register myself. There were about 60 people and about 10 guides in the walk. We were separated into 4 groups. Each group had two or three guides. We strolled for about 2 hours, studying many things, for example, about names of plants and about preservation of the environment.

     I usually feel pressed for time. But I was able to feel that time went slower while being in the forest than usual. And I was able to feel nature with the five senses.

     I had thought that it was good not to touch nature for preserving the environmental until I joined the nature walk today. But it seems that sometimes intervention by human is necessary. The park is not a primeval forest.

     Because people abandoned the area, most of the trees have grown up and have become old without thinning out. As the result, they block off the light and the forest become dark, new trees cannot grow up. In the near future, most of the trees will fell down almost the same time unless we make a move soon, and the forest will disappear.

     Besides, because of Expo, many of living things were gone in the forest. A big development on Expo reached right behind of the park. The forest looks like it has many wildernesses still now, but faces a big danger of vanishing. The leader of our group told us that Expo was a big success and brightness but we had to turn our eyes to darkness of it.

     I enjoyed walking in the park and learned many things today.

Weeping ume blossoms

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     Where has the spring gone? It’s been cold these days! In fact, we had even snow this Monday and Tuesday. It’s unusual that it snows in March here in Nagoya, Japan. Although it was snowing, I went to see weeping “ume” Japanese apricot blossoms to Nagoya Agricultural Center with two of my friends on Monday.

     There are about 700 weeping Japanese apricot trees in the center. They were almost in full bloom. Pink and white blossoms were really beautiful and sent forth elegant fragrance. Because it was Monday (the center is usually closed on Mondays. They open on Monday only during the event of the weeping Japanese apricot blossoms.) and the weather was terrible, it was not crowded when we visited there.

     A group was playing the ocarina on the out-door stage there. The friends and I were able to enjoyed seeing and smelling the blossoms hearing the ocarina in the snow. The snow and the wind were getting harder and harder while seeing the blossoms. We couldn’t keep walking outside and took refuge into the main building. As many visitors become refugees at the same time, the building was packed at once.

     In the building, many things were sold as ”souvenirs” for example, “umemanju (Japanese sweet), "ume" senbei (Japanese rice crisps), "ume" jam and so on. Many people were buying something frantically because they didn’t have anything else  to do inside and most of them seemed to believe that they had to buy something when they went out somewhere. It looked like a kind of battlefield.

     When it stopped snowing, the friends and I went out to see animals. They have some cows, pigs, goats, sheep and many chickens in the center. You can also buy ice cream made with milk of the cows there. We didn’t get ice cream that day. It was too cold to eat ice cream!

500 yen DVD

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     How wonderful! You can get a DVD by one coin! Some of publishers have started selling DVDs of classical movies for 500 yen each at bookstores recently.

     I’ve taken a TV and Movie English course since this Monday. I had seen a movie entitled Foreign Correspondent directed by Hitchcock in 1940 for three days since Monday to yesterday. Because we discussed about the movie, we didn’t have enough time to see the whole story in the classroom. We had to skip most of the romantic scenes. According to the teacher, those scenes are not so important for the movie.

     I went to a rental movie shop after class because I wanted to know what the people in the film were saying exactly and how the romantic scenes were. However they didn’t have the movie. Although I had thought they would have many movies directed by Hitchcock because he was very famous, but they didn’t have so many of his, they had lots of Korean movies and recent Hollywood movies instead. I was really disappointed.

     After I got home, I searched about the movie on the Internet. Then I found out that you could buy Foreign Correspondent for 500 yen at bookstore. I had known that many 500 yen DVDs had been sold at bookstores but I didn’t know the movie was included. That’s why, I headed for a bookstore to get one on my way home after class today. Yeah! I got one at last! And I watched it right away with Japanese subtitles. Oh! When can I watch movies without subtitles?