Monthly Archives: May 2007

Inti Raymi

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     The rain which had been pelting the night before stopped and it cleared up yesterday. The sun was shining in the cool breeze. I felt happy to find the weather was really good. I made an appointment to see some of my friends at Kanayama to join in an event outside in the evening. That’s why I’d been worrying about the weather.

     The event was named Inti Raymi, which is originally a festival in the South America for honoring the sun god of Inca, and held at Asunal in Kanayama. At the event Sisay, an Ecuadorian folklore band performed and people danced to their music. Sisay means blooming in Quechua.

      I saw Sisay first at Expo Aichi two years ago. They performed in the Andes Pavilion every day. Since I visited the Expo over 40 times, I enjoyed their live many times. Last fall I bumped into them at a festival in Miyoshi, and happened to be able to see their concert at that time. And then I’ve almost become a fan of them.

     When I found Aya, a friend of mine at Kanayama yesterday, I saw a stranger talking to Toshi, another friend next to her.

     “Who is he?” I asked to Aya.
    
“A friend of mine from India, named Michael.” she replied.
    
“Oh, really?”
    
“Ah, we’ve been friends since only one hour ago, though.”
    
“What?”

       According to her, he offered to take a picture of her when she was trying to do some at the event since she arrived at Kanayama one hour before the appointed time. After small chatting, it seems that they found a kindred spirit in each other, and went to a café. And then Toshi appeared. Since he loves travel and has been to India twice, he and Michael also hit it off.

     After a while, other friends, Macha, Yasugon, and Kon also gathered and Sisay’s live started. We enjoyed listening to their music, dancing and having beer. After the live, all of the participants at the event formed a big circle, and danced going round together to the music performed by Sisay. Some people were even wearing Ecuadorian native dresses, and playing the musical instruments as well.

     The event was really fun! And during the event, Michael made friends with the all of us. I had a really good time together with my friends!

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Ikebana : Japanese Art of Flower Arrangement

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      The other day I went to see a big exhibition of ikebana, or Japanese art of flower arrangement, with a friend of mine. The exhibition is quite big in the Chubu region of Japan. 

     Although it seems that Japanese women used to be traditionally schooled ikebana and tea ceremony to prepare for marriage and the friend has learned them for a long time, but I have never done before. That’s why it was the first time to see so many ikebanas at a time.

     The origin of ikebana has much to do with Japanese Buddhism. It’s said it began as a kind of ritual flower offering in the 6th century, and Buddhist priests in Kyoto started and established it as an art in the 14th.

     I had thought it was important for ikebana to create a harmony and a balance of linear construction and a sense of space until going to the exhibition. Yes, the concept of the most of works there was as what I had thought. But the works themselves were completely different from that I had imagined.

      Ikebana that I had imagined for a long time was quite simplified, but the works in front of me in the exhibition overthrew my preconceptions. The artists enjoyed using various flowers and plants and a great variety of things freely as they like to create their own worlds by their own styles.

     Japanese art of flower arrangement transcend preconceived ideas in spite of keeping their main principles, and has developed as a new modern art.

 

 

  

 

 

BBQ

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      Yesterday it was fair without any clouds. I enjoyed a BBQ with my friends at one of them under the blue sky. The friend’s house is located in the city of Chiryu near Nagoya. My friends and I met at Nagoya Station and took the train in the morning.

     We were surprised at the scenery when we landed at the station near our friend’s house. How peaceful! There is a stream and a lot of greenery.

      We walked looking around and crossed a bridge, and then her house emerged between the greenery. We confirmed the name on the doorplate and said hello. The friend and her husband came out soon, and welcomed us to their garden.

      They already prepared for the party, and many colorful dishes were tempting me on the table. We toasted and had champagne. Then one after another, many foods were grilled and put on the plate in front of me…How much did I eat? Beef, pork, chicken, squid, prawn, crab, sausage with bone, mushroom, pumpkin, green pepper, onion, cabbage, lettuce, tomato, watermelon, strawberry, orange, sushi, yakisoba, ice cream…

      After the wonderful lunch, we entered a room where there was a grand piano and a few exercise machines as well somehow.

     We had three piano teachers at that time, and two of them played the piano. The rest of us sang a song and some of us did exercise with the machines. We had a really good time.

      The sun started setting and the cold wind was blowing when we returned to the garden, and we moved to another room with some of foods and drinks.

      We enjoyed chatting there listening to the music. How happy time flies! We had to say good-bye to each other when we realized that the night fell.

        I was able to have a wonderful time with my friends on a day off! Don’t ask me how many calories I took, please!

      I’m grateful to Japanese Jean Reno and beautiful Kuwabata. Thank you for everything!

Mother’s Day

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      May 13 was Mother’s day of this year. I visited my mother and gave her a book instead a carnation. She’s learned painting so-called botanical art in Japan for two years. Since the book has many beautiful paintings of flowers, I thought it would be good for her to learn their techniques.

      It’s written in Italian, and neither my mother nor I can read it, though at least we can enjoy seeing its pictures. Fortunately she was delighted at my gift saying “I prefer this book to a bouquet of fresh carnation!”

      That night one of my Nepali friends emailed me and said, “Today is Mother’s Day in Japan, isn’t it? This is for your mother.” He attached a photo of beautiful lotus flower in the email. Then I remembered that he had mentioned about Nepali Mother’s Day last April. It was April 17.

      I had never thought there are many dates of Mother’s Day in the world until I received the email from the Nepali friend. I had thought Mother’s Day was held on the same day all over the world somehow. After studying it, I was very surprised to know the fact that Japan had also its own Mother’s Day in Showa era. After the loss of the World War II, it was abolished and we followed American way. The date of Japanese Mother’s Day was Emperor Hirohito’s mother’s birthday.

     I regret that Japan discarded many of its own cultures without effort to leave good ones, and copied many western concepts and custom after the war, but it’s a nice custom to honor mothers. Japanese Mother’s Day is a bit poisoned by commercialism, though…

A Golden Day

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     On one of the holidays, I had a nice time with some of my friends. First, we went to Aichi Ranch. You can milk a cow, ride a horse, feed animals and touch them there. And it’s famous for its ice cream! Since it was really hot that day, we had the ice cream. That was nice. There were many families and couples, it was so crowded. One after another cars came and looked for the space to park. We got a little bit tired of the crowds eventually.

     That’s why we move to a coffee shop named Mori-no-oto since one of us belongs to a painting club and one of her works were exhibited there. After getting the coffee shop, we had some sandwiches and coffee, and then saw paintings. All of pictures were watercolors. It seems that one of their rules is not to use white color. So if you’d like to paint somewhere with white, you need rub wax there in advance and stay coloring, or don’t color and show the ground of the paper.

     My friend painted cyclamens. According to her, it’s difficult not to color and leave. Her work’s title is Fresh White. You know, she couldn’t use white color in it. She must have been in trouble when she was painting. I think paintings reflect the artists’ characters. Hers was gentle and delicate, but bold in places. I like it.

     Since one of us had to go home earlier, the rest of us said good-bye to her at the coffee shop, and moved to some place. I found its signboard on the way to Mori-no-oto from Aichi Ranch. It was a service area on the freeway. But we didn’t pull onto it. You can enter the service area from the normal road. Of course, your car cannot. We felt strange as if we were on the trip somewhere when we saw the freeway.

     After that, we went to a coffee shop nearby. Actually, it is not a coffee shop but a car accessory shop. But it has also a gallery and you can see an exhibition, have coffee and rent bikes as well there. Why rental bike? Because it’s located near Aichi Pond and you can stroll around the pond.    
     We looked inside of the shop, and then went to a sundry goods shop which deals in only cat motifs. The shop’s name is Neko-no-te, or cats’ paws and near the car accessory shop and Aichi Ranch. The all of us love cats! So many cats’ motifs goods caught our eyes that we wanted all and couldn’t decide what to buy. The shop has a cat named Mu-chan. Since she just got back from her patrol, we were able to play with her. That was fun! Anyway, I enjoyed one holiday with my friends!

 


*Aichi Ranch:
http://www16.ocn.ne.jp/~aiboku/index.html
*Mori-no-oto (coffee shop) : http://www.morinooto.tokai.walkerplus.com/
*Togo Service Area: http://www.honda.co.jp/dog/highway/tomei/togo/down/
*Car-Den (Car Accessory Shop and Gallery) : http://www.fm-beat.com/carden/index.html
*Aichi Pond: http://www.water.go.jp/chubu/aityosui/what/aichiike/aichiike1.html
*Neko-no-te (Cats motifs goods shop): http://nekomamire.pinoko.jp/negoto/nekote/nekote.htm

Constitution Memorial Day

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     May is the most comfortable month in Japan. It’s neither cold nor hot. You can relax in fresh green and breeze. New-leaved cherry trees are very beautiful after falling blossoms. Wisterias and azaleas are in full bloom. Purple, pink, white, red…many colors please you. And we have special holidays called golden week in such a wonderful time.

     In the end of April, the 29 is a holiday named Showa Day. It used to be a celebration day of the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, who died in 1989. After his death, the holiday remained by changed the name. By the way, the holiday had been called Green Day until last year.

     May 3 and 5 are also holidays, the former is Constitution Memorial Day and the latter is Children’s Day. And May 4 has become a holiday as well since last year because it’s between those two holidays. Since the day also has become a holiday, people can take three days off. That’s why the day was named People’s Day.

     I’m going to write about amendment of the Constitution of Japan since today is Constitution Memorial Day. As you know, recently it is a controversial issue, especially the amendment of the article 9.

     The Constitution says in the chapter II entitled renunciation war as follows:
  
Article 9:
1) Aspiring sincerely to an international peace based on justice and order, the Japanese people forever renounce war as a sovereign right of the nation and the threat or use of force as means of settling international disputes.

2) In order to accomplish the aim of the preceding paragraph, land, sea, and air forces, as well as other war potential, will never be maintained. The right of belligerency of the state will not be recognized.

     The text is respected because of singing the praise of renunciation war peacefully, but it’s not fit to a reality. Japan has big armed forces actually using the name “Self-Defense” as a cover for it.

     Although Japan has the forces, it’s difficult to send troops and to let them do military action by the fetters of the Constitution. That’s why the government mainly the Liberal Democratic Party is trying to change the article.

     In fact, Japan sent troops to Iraq although they can’t do any military action. Sent members of the Self-Defense Forces are wearing uniforms with guns. But they cannot basically use weapons since they are not protecting Japan from enemies.

     Once it’s changed, Japan might be not able to avoid intervening militarily in another country. Many people are afraid of that. But what if the U.S. forces in Japan start to take part in a battle? With the present article, many things are obscure.

     I would say that it’s good to consider the amendments of the Constitution to make vague points clear. But I’m against the movement of changing articles to just make the Self-Defense Forces real armed forces which can go to war anytime.

L’Arlésienne : The Lady From Arles

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     Last Sunday of April 29 I went to a concert which was organized by a friend of mine, who is a piano teacher. She and her friend flutist had the concert. She is a big fan of Makoto Ozone, a jazz pianist, and met the flutist at his concert and they became friends.

     A student of my friend’s got married recently, and had asked her to play the music at her wedding party. My friend asked the flutist to play together, and a musical unit was born there.

     Since they practiced hard for the party, they seemed to think that it was a pity to finish the unit only once. That’s why they decided to have an opportunity to perform and the concert was put into practice this time.

     The concert was at a studio named Music Bird. It was a compact and cozy place. And about 20 people gathered and we had a wonderful time in the relaxing ambience.

     My friend and her friend flutist played mainly classical music. I got interested in an episode of one of the tunes played by them. It was about L’Arlésienne Suites composed by Georges Bizet, and introduced by my friend at the concert.

     L’Arlésienne was originally a novel and later was transformed into three-act play by Alphonse Daudet, French novelist in 1872. The music, especially Suite No.2, is famous by a lilting tune, but the story was strangely sad.

     The title L’Arlésienne means “the lady of Arles” in English. A young peasant loves the lady at the first site at a bullfight although he has a fiancée. Since he is completely stuck on the lady, he goes almost mad. So his fiancée gives up him and decides to leave him and his family also accepts it. But he notices the real love of his fiancée and decides to get married her. At the wedding night, however, he finds out that the lady and a herdsman are planning to run away together. He is jealous so much and cannot stand it, commits suicide by jumping off a balcony.

     Strange. I wouldn’t say that the melody is fit to the story…Anyway, I got an interesting story and had a really nice time together with my friends at the concert.

     By the way, April 29 is not only a Sunday but also a holiday named Showa Day. It used to be a celebration day of the birthday of Emperor Hirohito, who died in 1989. After his death, the holiday remained by changed the name. By the way, the holiday had been called Green Day until last year.

      It seems that since Mr. Abe became the Prime Minister the government has tried to revert to the old ways, inciting people to have patriotic spirit, emphasizing national consciousness and traditional things with vague and good-sounding words. I’m a little bit terrified by the tendency.