The Best Season Ever in Japan!

Hi there!

How have you been? I still have had a really bad cold and can’t stop coughing…….. Cough, cough, cough…….

A couple of days ago, a friend of mine lives in Tokyo came up, and I took her to Kyoto!  That’s because it’s the best season ever for us to enjoy viewing leaves changing!!!

It’s my first time to see her in person in 4 years. We used to go to the same porcelain school for years, but after I moved to Osaka, I quit the school. Since then I hadn’t met her for a while.

We had a great time in Kyoto!!

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Since the day was clear and fine, it was the best day for me to take a lot of photos.

I hope you can enjoy the Japanese leaves changing season through my post!

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

The place where I took my friend is called, Arashiyama, and it’s very popular in spring and fall.  When you come to Arashiyama in spring, you can enjoy viewing cherry blossoms and it’s a completely different scenery from this one.

This time everything here is red, and at that time everything here is PINK!

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

I love spring the best, but I love fall as well.

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

I love the place and it reminded me of Hayao Miyasaki movies a lot.

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

Arashiyama, Kyoto

I am planning on going back to my previous porcelain school in Osaka again next year. I am really looking forward to it.

I asked my friend if she could come up again in spring. I hope she can make it. Then, I can take her here again to enjoy viewing cherry blossoms!!

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Yamamoto Nohgakudou

Last night I saw some classical Japanese performances for the first time with my friend from America at a Noh theater. We went to Yamamoto Nohgakudou in Tanimachi, Osaka. The Nohgakudou has been producing several Japanese classical and traditional performances called Rakugo, Bunraku, Koudan, Kyougen and Noh. I’ve watched Rakugo and Koudan on TV several times, but I had not been interested in such classical performances for a long time. I had believed in that such the performances were uncool, and I hadn’t tried to see them.

http://noh-theater.com/english/eng_welcome.html

However, last night several performances opened my mind! The programs of last night were very unique and they were made for beginners who watched Japanese performances for the first time. We enjoyed four different types of performances in two hours. More than the half of audiences were foreigners.

First, we enjoyed Rakugo. The performer of Rakugo performed it both in Japanese and English. I prefer the English version. He did a great job, and most of the audiences couldn’t stop laughing.

Next was Ozashiki-Asobi, and Geisya and custmomers plays with hand playing games like paper-rock-scissors. The roles are a bit different from the normal one. Instead of using paper-rock-scissors, they use tiger-samurai-his elderly mother. Samurai is stronger than a tiger, but weaker than his mom. Tiger is stronger than the samurai’s mom, but he is weaker than the samurai. We enjoyed playing the game with very Japanese music.

Third one was Koudan, and it was a short story. I think for foreign audiences the Koudan was a little bit difficult to understand because they didn’t translated what the story teller was performing in English.


The last one was Noh dance, and I really enjoyed it. The Noh dance was very calm and awesome because the dance was created for samurai and shogun. Since the theater was made for the Noh dance, the performance was the best to fit to it. I became a fan of Noh performance in a first sight.

I want to learn about Noh more, and now I’m thinking that I want to become a member of the theater to get more information.

Craftsmanship in Japanese Traditonal Arts and Crafts

I went to Kanazawa City to take my first Kutani painting class for this year today. To be honest with you, I’m the only student for my Kutani teacher. When I started to take the class, there were two other students. However, both two of them started to be absent from classes since three months ago. I don’t know why.

I guess that’s because it will take a long time to finish one piece. They can’t stand it. My painting teacher is an elderly craftsman. So, he makes us follow old rules on painting. It seems to be old-fashion for them.

My teacher and I discussed Japanese traditional arts and crafts. Kanazawa City is one of the representative cities for Japanese arts and crafts. We can learn many arts and crafts there through museums, libraries, craft and art shows and classes. However, the population of the number who is interested in them has been going down. Many young people don’t like Japanese traditional arts and crafts. They prefer Western arts and crafts. It’s really sad.

One of my dreams is to introduce many various Japanese china painting in English all over the world. I told my dreams to my Kutani teacher. He encouraged me a lot. I got a very cute cup for Japanese sake, called 杯(はい、さかずき, Hai, Sakazuki) from my teacher. He painted it to me. It’s painted a dragon, this year’s Japanese-Chinese zodiac. He said that in Kutain every year painters paint the Chinese zodiac for the year on many 杯 and some 色紙 (しきし, Shikishi=it’s made from paper for painting). They give them to their acquaintances to pray their good luck. I love the tradition!

Kutani Painting with a Japanese Painting Style, Dragon

Kutani Painting with a Japanese Painting Style, Dragon

Kutani Painting with a Japanese Painting Style,

Kutani Painting with a Japanese Painting Style,

That’s Why I Think Japanese Langauge Is Negative

I’d like to write about my latest blog’s sequel entry. As I mentioned that I think Japanese language is negative on my last entry, there is another reason.

A couple of days ago, I was chatting with my Jewish friend over Skype. He and I are really good friends. At that time my British friend was staying at our house. Although he didn’t join our conversations, while sitting next to me and working with his PC, he was listening to our conversations. We were speaking in English at the time.

My Jewish friend told me that he finished reviewing 2000 Kanji (Kanji is one of our characters in Japanese language). When I heard his story, I thought it was great! However, instead of saying congratulations, and it was great I said that there were more than 2000 kanji. It isn’t enough for you to read something in Japanese. Your Kanji level is the same as Japanese middle school kids. You have to study more Kanji, and your next goal was 3000. I knew that he already has memorized 2000 Kanji. He reviewed all of them. So, I would like to encouraged him.

When my British friend listened to that, he told me, “Yumi!!! It’s really rude to David! I know it’s a Japanese way, and not a Western way. However, you should say, “Congratulations!” first to him.” Until I heard it from Martyn (My British friend’s name is Martyn), I never ever thought my comment sounded rude to David. I was shocked. Of course, David is my good friend, and he knows Japanese culture very well. So, he didn’t say that I offended him at all. Although I just wanted to encouraged him, my encouraging comment sounded negative to both my British friend and Jewish friend.

Thinking about this, I think Japanese language is negative. I think all languages relate to their own culture tightly. So, if you have been learning other languages, I really want you to learn the culture at the same time.

One of Japanese Manners: Bows

I would like to write about a Japanese style bow today. In general, instead of hugging or shaking hands, we bow. It is our greeting way because Japanese summers are humid; it is called we wanted to avoid shaking wet hands.

When I chatted with my Texan friend over Skype a couple of weeks ago, he showed me some very funny video clips. So, I would like to share them first.

 

 

Actually, he asked some very interesting questions to me. That’s why I thought I wanted to write about this blog entry.

He asked me about a bow degree. Before I heard his question and watched the video clips, I never thought about it. We have several bow degrees. However, I have never heard, ” a shit bow ” in Japan. I think all bows are bows. I searched about bows. According to the Japanese Wikipedia, a 15 degree bow is called, 会釈 ( esyaku ): we used the bow when we walk pass someone , a 30 degree bow is used for a business scene; it is called 敬礼 ( keirei ), a 45 degree bow is the most polite bow; when we show our respect, appreciate or apologise, we do it. It is called 最敬礼 ( saikeirei ) in Japanese. Before we bow with the 45 degree bow, if we carry our bags, we put them somewhere and bow. It is our manner. We also have a 90 degree bow. It is used for some very important people. When the American president Obama came to Japan, he bowed our Emperor and Empress with the bow. When we looked at the scene, we were very admired by his attitude.

Actually, the video clips reminded me of my bitter experiences. When I was a middle school student, I have some bitter experiences that relates to bows. I had belonged to a tennis club at that time.( I had been playing tennis from middle school to university for 10 years at school.) When I was in a first grade of middle school, some senior students who also belonged to the same club were very bully. They ordered us we had to show our respect them with 90 degree bows. They were so-called freaks. Since if we didn’t accept it, we already knew what happened to us, we followed it. So, every time we walked pass them on the hallways at school, we had to do it many times until they passed through us. We sometimes felt dizzy; some of us felt down. Once one of our parents who was a president of our PTA committee complained about it to our teacher. After the teacher scolded the senior students, the situation became worst. They started to be mean more. We were called in a room that we had been using for our club one by one, they made us stand in front of them, they ordered to bow many times until they were satisfied with it. While seeing, they were laughing out. They were crazy. I thought I really wanted to become smarter than them; got good grades and wanted to go to the higher leveled high school where they never ever could go.

After they graduated from our school, I became a captain. I quite such a very silly custom that there had been in our club for a long time.

I appreciate my bitter experiences at my middle school days. I learned a lot in the club. I especially learned the guts through my experiences.

Thinking About World War 2

Recently I had been enjoying watching an American drama, ” The Pacific ” with my Texan friend. Every time we chated over Skype, we talked about World War 2. Actually, since I wanted to discuss every episode with him, I watched whole episodes with a dub in Japanese to understand more.

To be honest with you, I was very shocked because the drama had a lot of gross scenes. The drama was described from American perspectives. So, I could learn a lot of things from the drama.

Before I watched the drama, I didn’t know that many American solders were interested in Japanese weapons: guns, swords, our national flogs and so on. I also didn’t know that American solders also foraged gold teeth from Japanese solders’ corpses. Through watching the drama, I thought Wars always have changed our humanity. Before American solders went to the war, they showed their rich humanity. On the other hand, after they started to fight against Japanese solders, they transformed to murder robots, and killed many Japanese solders while swearing us ” Jap! “. After they killed us, they stole many stuff from Japanese solders without hesitating. I completely felt uncomfortable to watch the scenes.

My friend and I thought about World War 2 and discussed it a lot. He asked me why American government dropped the atomic bombs on Japan. Before I watched the drama, I have thought that we are Asians. That’s why they dropped them on us. If they dropped them on Germany or Italy, I guess many of American solders got mad because their ancestors came from the countries. However, at that time Asian people were quite few in America. Japan is far away from the U.S. So, it was the best spot for them to test and show off their power to all over the world.

However, after I finished watching the drama, I started to think it might be wrong. That’s because at that time Japanese solders were so crazy. We were mind-controlled by the Emperor of Japan. We had believed that our Emperor was God. So, we never hesitated to die for our Emperor. Going to die for Japan and the Japanese Emperor was virtue. In short, even if American solders arrived in Okinawa, we never surrendered the War.

In Japan we have some guts, something like Japanese spirits, called ” Yamato Damashii ( 大和魂 )”. We somehow respect the person who has some such guts. I think that the female succor that recently won world cup is a good example. They showed really good guts with really tough situation. I guess our guts came from Samurai spirits, called ” busidou ( 武士道 ) “. We have inherited such spirits from our ancestors. That’s why at that time it was very difficult for Japanese people to allow our defeat.
So, I guess in the situation, dropping atomic bomb on Japan was the short cut for American government to stop the horrible war.

Meanwhile, it is very complicated and it seems to be difficult for us to find out a good answer. All I can say is that all wars are terrible worse. Nobody can be happy through the war except war companies. We never ever repeat the same mistake again. I would like to write about World War 2 more, but I would like to keep them next time. At the end of this journal entry, I really appreciate my Texan friend to hang out watching the TV show with me. I also appreciate this world because I can have some good American friends!