Posts Tagged ‘Japan’

WOODBLOCK PRINTING

November 2, 2013

Enjoy the ride 🙂
http://www.hiroshige.org.uk

SHUMEI OKAWA

November 21, 2009

Shumei Okawa, the author of “Japan and the Way of the Japanese”, published 1926 and reprinted 46 times by the end of the war, was considered class-A war criminal by the Americans but wasn’t sentenced as the judge, seeing his behavior during the trial (patting ex-PM on his bald head, shouting in German etc.) thought him to be insane. Declared mentally unstable from syphillis, Okawa spent the next two years in a mental hospital, where he finished first Japanese translation of the entire Quran.

GYOKUON-HOSO

November 21, 2009

The “Jewel Voice Broadcast”, which took place on August 15th 1945 and announced the surrender, was the first time the Japanese could hear the voice of their emperor on the radio. Unfortunately, Hirohito used highly formal court language and practically no one understood him. So maybe the participants of the attempted military coup d’etat of 14/15 August needn’t have bothered to try to intercept the recording after all. It was successfully smuggled out of the palace hidden in laundry and the rebels comitted harakiri within palace grounds forty minutes before the announcement was aired.

The recording was soon translated into English by Tadaichi Hirakawa, later known as “Joe” T. Hirakawa or “Uncle Come Come” (1902-1993). He studied drama at the University of Washington and became cult figure after the war as the author of daily radio English conversation classes, “Kamu Kamu Eigo”, broadcast for ten years on NHK.

LOVE DAY

November 21, 2009

The surrender of Japan and its subsequent occupation is a fascinating chapter in the world’s history. A relatively large country with millions of inhabitants not only surrendered with the enemy miles away from its borders but also let the invaders seize power without a single outbreak of violence. How strange it must have been for the Americans to arrive there – in large quantities and armed to the teeth to be sure, but still not knowing what kind of welcome is awaiting them.

On August the 28th 1945 the American armada guarded by fighters and dive bombers entered Sagami Wan and two days later first marines landed in Yokosuka. On the same day C-54 airtrains appearing at four-minute intervals at the Atsugi Airfield, which had been left undamaged specially for this purpose, brought around 4200 troops from Okinawa and Iwo Jima. 

“Ceremonial completion of the surrender was rounded out on September 3 by the raising of the actual American flag which had happened to be flying over the Capitol in Washington on December 7, 1941, and which had subsequently been raised over Casablanca, over Rome and over Berlin. (…). The surrender was complete”.  [in: Linebarger, Djang, Burks. Far Eastern Governments and Politics. New York 1954. p 448].

By the end of October 7,9 million Japanese soldiers gave up their weapons.

There is still no army in Japan. And the American army is still there.

For detailed description of Love Day and the whole of the period see  http://www.nps.gov/archive/wapa/indepth/extContent/usmc/pcn-190-003143-00/sec1a.htm where NPS stands for… National Park Service.

Ningyo

October 22, 2009

It all started with Super Dollfies. I read about them in some blog about Japan, I suppose, and I was genuinely  surprised at how popular they are. Some of them look really pretty – as far as ball-jointed dolls (or BJDs as they are called) go – but frankly, I prefer the old-fashioned ichimatsu. And I hate collecting things, so I find the idea of collecting stuff not only for yourself but for your doll(s) too slightly disturbing. I don’t like Japanese dolls as such anyway. Teruteru bozu remind me of that cartoon ghost Casper. Daruma seem to come straight from one of those sadistic horror movies. Anesama and hagoita usually… hm… lack style? The only kind I really love are kokeshi dolls – so kawai! Sometimes, when I just want to see something beautiful, I look them up with Google Graphics (or I watch “Solitude standing” video on Youtube).  

Before writing this post I searched my memory for any past experiences with Japanese dolls and it turned out that I actually OWN a couple of Japanese dolls.  One is a shiori, which I keep upright stuck in an metal ikebana pinholder covered with little hanami-like artificial flowers. Then there is a hina ningyo-shaped postcard, which says: “Droga Joanna BÄ™dÄ™ zÄ… TobÄ… tÄ™sknić. Mam nadziejÄ™, że siÄ™ kiedyÅ› zobaczymy. Z pozdrowieiniami Aya”. I’ve also come across a large display case with hina ningyo in a… Danish psychiatric ward – and I have a photo to prove it!  Well, at least it wasn’t a Twilight dolfie!

NATTO

June 30, 2009

I’ve heard it’s disgusting. I’ve read that foreigners should avoid it. I’ve seen that strange smile on an elderly waitress’s  lips when my husband chose it over some other ingredient while ordering breakfast in an Osaka hotel.  I saw my husband eat it (inside something else) but for some reason I didn’t try it myself.

Rotting soya beans didn’t sound like fun.   

But there it is, in a bowl in front of me, and it looks like soya beans in a gluey brown sauce and it tastes like ordinary cooked soya beans.

What’s all that fuss about?!

And I thought I was in for a culinary challenge!

2008-08-natto-2

CIVILIZATION OF THE DIVINE FOREST

June 29, 2009

You are a child of the gods.
They guide you to live in accordance with the truthful way.
You feel it when you are doing your best.
The source of the truly sincere attitude is your awarness of the divine.
The sincere attitude is more valuable than all virtues.
It brings them forth anyway.
You are a part of a community – in space and in time.
Everyone is worthy of respect.
It is the present moment that counts.
Live fully.
Everything is sacred.
That’s why there is a mirror at the altar of a Shinto shrine.

And Clannad's "Herne" in the background...

And Clannad's "Herne" in the background...

“SNOW COUNTRY” by Yasunari Kawabata

May 30, 2009

“A girl of twelve or thirteen stood knitting apart from the rest, her back against a stone wall. Under the baggy ‘mountain trousers’,  her feet were bare but for sandals, and Shimamura could see that the soles were red and cracked from the cold. A girl of perhaps two stood on a bundle of firewood beside her patiently holding a ball of yarn.”

“Following a stream, the train came out on the plain. A mountain, cut at the top in curious notches and spires, fell off in a graceful sweep to the far skirts. Over it the moon was rising. The solid, integral shape of the mountain, taking up the whole of the evening landscape there  at the end of the plain, was set off in a deep purple against the pale light of the sky. The moon was no longer an afternoon white, but, faintly coloured, it had not yet taken on the clear coldness of the winter night. There was not a bird in the sky. Nothing broke the lines of the wide skirts to the right and the left. Where the mountain swept down to meet the river, a stark white building, a hydroelectric plant perhaps, stood out sharply from the withered scene the train window framed, one last spot saved from the night.
The window began to steam over. Tha landscape outside was dusky, and the figures of the passangers floated up half-transparent.”

“If Komako was the man’s fiancee, and Yoko was his new lover, and the man was going to die – the expression ‘wasted effort’ again came into Shimamura’s mind. For Komako thus to guard her promise to the end, for her even to sell herself to pay doctors’ bills – what was it if not wasted effort?”

” ‘I can’t complain. After all, only women are able really to love.’ She flushed a little and looked at the floor.
‘In the world as it is,’ he murmured, chilled at the sterility of the words even as he spoke.
But Komako only replied: ‘As it always has been’. She raised her head and added absent-mindedly: ‘You didn’t know that?’ ”

Yasunari Kawabata, the 1968 Nobel Prize winner, committed suicide in 1972 at the age of 73.

yukiguni

CULINARY SURPRISES

May 12, 2009

I’m not going to write here about tofu ice-cream or coffee pasta or bean jam or bee larvae or baguettes with soba and mayo because these belong to a different kind of surprises – the most straightforward kind – it had simply never crossed my mind that people eat such things and I was delighted to learn that they do (never shocked – oh, no – I’m not easily shocked). This post shall be about, let’s say, certain culinary misconceptions – things that surprised me because I’d already had a concept in my head.

First, two things from Chinese cuisine: 6-month eggs and bird nests. 6-month eggs look different but, surprisingly, taste the same – the idea behind them was not to achieve some stunning gastronomic effect but simply to have fresh eggs half a year later. As to nests, I thought they are just ordinary nests – disorderly looking little bowls made of twigs and stuff – served whole on a plate, boiled or maybe even raw – that was the image in my head. I forgot that, first of all, they are swallow nests (some Chinese counterpart of a swallow to be exact) and so they consist mainly of sticky saliva, which might sound pretty disgusting but is at least easier to chew and digest than a bunch of twigs. And anyway they are served in very thin slices and those slices are further basically dissolved to make a half-liquid jelly. You drink it when you feel under the weather.

Japanese cuisine is also less exotic than it seems to be, at least for people who come from countries where you eat pickles, steamed yeast dumplings, breaded pork loin cutlets and cabbage leaves with rice-based fillings. I have a feeling too that most of what we consider to be traditionally Japanese food is in fact a modern invention.  All Japanese meat dishes, for example, from yakitori to sukiyaki, cannot be traditional because it was not allowed to eat meat in Japan until the second half of the 19th century. Okonomiyaki is a result of second world war food shortages. The niku jaga recipe started to appear in cookery books as late as the 1970s and uramakizushi was created to hid nori when sushi was deliberately imported to the US in 1972.

Another funny thing is that in Europe a kaitenzushi place is where you take your boyfriend / business partner for a posh lunch (and where prices are ridiculously high), while in Japan it’s cheap fast food.

 Last but not least – sake. Sake is technically… beer, as it’s neither distilled nor fermented but brewed. But what is sake exactly? I mean, for a Japanese. Because my dictionary says it’s ‘an alcoholic drink’. So is any alcohol sake in Japanese? But alcohol is arukoru (in katakana, so it’s a borrowing). And rice wine is nihonshu. Where nihon is ‘Japan’ and shu is… ‘alcoholik drink’. And… ‘a person’. And I’m surprised again.

Moje nazwisko panu nic nie powie...

Moje nazwisko panu nic nie powie...

My dream car

April 28, 2009
Subaru van

Subaru van

subaru01

I’m not going to get a driving licence, I hate fumes, I love trains, but this car is just soooo cute 🙂