Nosaka Akiyuki(野坂昭如) passed away.

   Nosaka Akiyuki(野坂昭如) passed away at the age of 85 on 2015 December 9. I think you know him as an original writer of Hotaru no Haka(火垂るの墓). Almost a decade ago, I translated his message for a live-action version and posted on IMDB. Here is my post about it.

   I pray sincerely for the repose of his soul. (合掌)

Tanabata(七夕) on the rainy day.

   Today, Tanabata(七夕). But we have a rainy day.

   Do you know Tanabata(七夕)? Tanabata(七夕) is one of our traditional annual events. Tanabata is たなばた(棚機) and it means a loom/looms. We usually use 七夕 as たなばた. 七夕 literally means “Evening of the seventh”, which was celebrated on July 7 of the traditional Japanese lunar-solar calendar originally though which is celebrated on July 7 of Gregorian calendar now. When we write 七夕, we also read it shichi-seki. Shichi is seven and seki is evening.

   Tanabata(七夕) is a star festival. According to legend, Amanogawa(天の川) separates the lovers(Orihime and Hikoboshi), and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the June 7. If it rains on Tanabata(七夕), the two lovers have to wait until another year to meet. Amanogawa(天の川) is Milky Way, but it literally means Sky River. Yes, a river. So if it rains, the river swells. Hence, to hold this event on July 7 of Gregorian calendar is a little bit silly or very mean because the day is the midst of the rainy season in Japan. Besides, the seventh on Gregorian calendar doesn’t always have a first quarter moon. If it has a full moon, Tanabata(七夕) is in a real mess because it is a star festival.

   When we shed old calender, such things like above happen more times. Tanabata(七夕) and Obon(お盆) were two big events in July of the traditional Japanese lunar-solar calendar. Now, this Gregorian calendar days, one is still in July and another is in August. The two event are still alive in Japan but they don’t have strong relations to Moon anymore.

Totsuki Tōka (十月十日).

   In Juuni Kokuki, Ono sensei writes the pregnancy duration is ten months. This depends on not only lunar months but also counting from 1 instead of 0. In Juuni Kokuki world, they often use East Asian age reckoning system about characters’ age. So, I think they use old Japanese counting system in other ways as well.

   When we read 十月十日 as Jūgatsu Tōka, which means October 10. But, Totsuki Tōka (十月十日) means ten months and ten days, and also means the normal pregnancy duration. Sometimes, today’s Japanese people say it is longer than the true pregnancy duration. But I don’t think so.

   I will write my opinion about this, though a lot of texts about it already exist on the Internet. The opinion is not academic but experiential. Shall we start?

   First, you think of yourself as a Japanese woman who lived in more than 150 years ago.
   She doesn’t know her ovulation days and doesn’t have thermometers nor pregnancy self test kits. She uses a traditional Japanese lunar-solar calendar, so in her mind a month basically has 29 or 30 days alternately.

   If she is in such circumstances, how does she know her pregnancy by herself? Probably, by her morning sickness or by missing her period. When she has got her pregnancy, she would recall her last period. If she is a healthy woman, the last period should be within a few months when she knew her pregnancy. And then, she counts months of her pregnancy. At this time, she must think the first day of her last period as the first day of the pregnancy. And she thinks the month is the first month of the pregnancy.

   According to counting system from 1 instead of 0, Totsuki Tōka (十月十日) is approximately 280 days. For example, imagine the first day of her last period is October 13. October is the first month by counting from 1 instead of 0. Then the tenth month is July and July 23 is her expected delivery date. As pointed out above, in the old Japanese calendar, a month basically has 29 or 30 days alternately.

   Now, we try to calculate the number of days from October 13 to July 23.
   It is 29 days x 4 + 30 days x 5 + 10 days = 276 days or 29 days x 5 + 30 days x 4 + 10 days = 275 days.
   This is very close to 280 days.

   As you know, the pregnancy duration is vary considerably from person to person. So, Totsuki Tōka (十月十日) was a very practical and useful way in the past.

My thought of gods.#4

   I found an interesting article on the Internet. It is Who/what created the world?. On it, Japan has 1,766 votes, 33% of which has polled “God created the world” and 67% of which has polled “Big Bang created the world”.

   As soon as I see it, I wonder who is “God”. For people of monotheistic religions, God is the god maybe 100%. But for us? When Japanese poll a vote, how many percents of us imagines “God” monotheists expect? Even if we read the word “God”, in our brain the word is automatically translated into “神”. When it happens, we recognize “God” as “神”. And “神” is never the One God.

   Actually, for me, “神 created the world” is consistent with “Big Bang created the world”. Pay attention to the word “神”. It’s never the God. The control room of Hayabusa had an Ofuda of Chūka shrine(中和神社) and others. This is a very famous episode. The Ofuda of Chūka shrine which Dr. Kawaguchi(川口淳一郎) got from the shrine and he made a play on words linking 中和器(chūwa-ki = neutralizer) and 中和神社(Chūka-jinja). They have same kanji characters though their pronunciations are different.

   He was not kidding by his act. We have the saying “Do your best and leave the rest to Providence (人事を尽くして天命を待つ)”. He did his best and there was not anything else he could. So, he did make such a play and did pray, I think. Since early times, Japanese have accepted a lot kinds of religions, but we still keep a primitive faith to Nature(自然) in our mind. When we use the word 自然, it also includes us, human-beings.

   From the Meiji Restoration(1868) to the end of World War II(1945), Japanese government used Shrines (神社) as one of the tools of state administration, so shrines carry political implications now. But originally, shrines have no relationship with the government. They have long history. In some periods of the long history, they might have some relationship with the powers of the day, but they originated in our primitive faith to Nature.

   We have a god everywhere, kitchen oven, bath, lavatory, etc. By the way, bath and lavatory are usually separated in Japan still now.

   When Japanese are asked his/her religion, he/she often answers he/she has no religion or he/she is an atheist. You should not blindly accept it. It’s NOT true. It means he/she is not a Christian, not a Muslim, and so on. We, most of Japanese, even today, have our old gods in our mind. It is our religion.

Reading 雨月物語 aloud.

   Recently, I make an audio book for my private net radio station (It doesn’t exist anymore – 2016.Jun.1) which is my reading of “Ugetsu monogatari (雨月物語)”.

   There is a big difference between to read aloud and to read silently in Japanese. The difference between the two might exist in other languages. But a unique problem for us, we have the different readings of a word written by Chinese characters (漢字). When we, i.e. grown-up Japanese, read a sentence silently, we don’t mind if we don’t know its pronunciation of a word written by Chinese characters. Chinese character is an ideogram, each of them has meanings itself. Besides, a book for grown-ups has no Furigana (ふりがな). So, we can get what the writer say, but we cannot know how to pronounce of the writer calling to mind.

   “Ugetsu monogatari” is one of Ueda Akinari’s works. Ueda Akinari (上田秋成) was in 18th century. “Ugetsu monogatari” is, so to speak, a collection of Japanese ghost stories.It is not a simple horror book but a dreadful elegant one. If you were Japanese, you could enjoy not only its contents but its style. The original text has good rhythm. If a good reader did aloud, it would become a good audio book. And we have such CDs in Japan.

   Of cource, I’m NOT a good reader, so it is a reckless challenge. But I dare to do it. (++;)

Forgiving the person.

   Recently, I fall into a TV drama, ‘カーネーション‘. It is based on the life of the fashion designer Koshino Ayako (小篠綾子). She was the mother of the famous designers, Koshino sisters.

   There are two characters, Yasuoka Tamae (安岡玉枝) and Yasuoka Yaeko (安岡八重子). Tamae is a mother-in-law of Yaeko. Tamae had two sons she took care of after her husband dying from a disease in a war, and both of them were killed in another war. Because of that, she carried grudges. One of her sons was Yaeko’s husband, so Yaeko lost her husband in the war, too. But Tamae said that all of them was Yaeko’s fault and blamed her. In such cases, to blame the nearest person to oneself is not at all unusual.

   After the episodes of the war, the drama had some other ones, then today, the reconciliation between two persons aired. Tamae apologized to Yaeko about the past and Yaeko kept silence. But we can see Yaeko’s forgiveness on her face.

   When I finished watching it, I remembered my own episode about ‘The letter.‘ As I look back on myself, I probably can’t forgive him even now. I wonder why Yaeko can do it. She is a big-hearted person, and, her situation is very similar to her mother-in-law’s, so she might get mother’s feelings very much and might sympathize with her. Still, it is very difficult for me to relive the tolerance of Yaeko.

Press Day 2011

   One of TBS programs, 「報道の日2011」, was very interesting. It was broadcast from 8:00 to 22:54(JST) and had four parts.

   I only watched from 14:40 to 17:00. But it made me exhausted. It was a part of third part which was 14:25 to 19:25.

   Third part content was the videos of March 11th. And they re-edited all their files in chronological order and broadcasted in real time. So, I, for the first time, watched the videos which had been shot between the earthquake caming and the tsunami reaching.

   Knowing that it may sound imprudent, I felt very proud of the buildings of Japan being really strong. In spite of such a violent earthquake, on the videos I could scarcely see broken buildings before the tsunami attacking.

   If the tsunami had not attacked, the number of its victims would have decreased very much.

How different my neighbor languages are!!

   As I was interested in Gkatar’s comment on “Happy New Year!”, I checked out mine and my neighbor languages about it by online-dictionaries.

  • 彼はジョンだ。彼は東京にいる。(Japanese)
  • 是约翰。他在东京。(Chinese)
  • 그는 지역이다. 그는 도쿄있다.(Korean)
  • เขาคือจอห์น   เขาอยู่ในโตเกียว(Thai)
  • Он Джон. Он находится в Токио.(Russian)

   How different my neighbor languages are!!

   On the other hand,

  • He is John. He is in Tokyo. (English)
  • Él es John. Él está en Tokio. (Spanish)
  • Lui è John. Lui è in Tokyo. (Italian)
  • Il est John. Il est à Tokyo. (French)
  • Er ist John. Er ist in Tokio. (German)
  • Hann er John. Hann er í Tokyo. (Icelandic)
  • Han er John. Han er i Tokyo. (Norwegian)
  • Han är John. Han är i Tokyo. (Swedish)
  • Hän on John. Hän on Tokiossa. (Finnish)


   How similar they are!! They look more the dialects of A language than various sorts of languages.
   When I began to learn English, it was very difficult for me. Still now.

   By the way, I’ve registered for the Facebook. :-)

My English.

   My mother tongue is Japanese and English is my second language. I think the difference between these two languages are huge. Learning German at my university days, I found out similarity of them, their words order, pronunciation, spelling and so on. When I was young, I was impressed by an European or an American speaking two or three languages. But looking back, it shouldn’t have been so admirable. That they do so is the same level as that I speak standard Japanese and my dialect.

   By the way, English is my second language. It is difficult for me still now. when I translate some, I am always confused. For example, there are two words which don’t have much different meaning, but one is positive and the other is negative, and I have no measure which is which. What can I do?

   On the other hand, “the” makes me sick. Do I need “the” here or there? Why does he/she use “the” with this word? I feel difficulty. If someone whose mother tongue is English reads my translation, he/she will notice some parts whose meanings are not clear. At that time, please let me know it without hesitation.

Akafuku.

Do you know the sweets, Akafuku?
It is the famous sweets of Ise. It is the decent Japanese-style confection of simple structure which covered rice cake with red bean paste.

Although there were various food camouflage scandals last year, Akafuku is one of them.
But is it only me who consider the some difference between Akafuku problem and others?

Though it is bad that they were telling the lie, I think it wrong to measure problem solving towards stopping frozen storage.
If they will not carry out neither market expansion nor technical innovation, I can understand this solving. Are they going to back for 100 years?