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Tamarah Cohen of Kansai Gaidai University has created a very interesting, and to many Japanese probably surprising, video series that explores the notion of Japanese identity. Highly recommended.
Ryukoku University of Kyoto has announced a plan to open a comprehensive Buddhism museum in the spring of 2011 to showcase a wide range of Buddhist cultural assets from Japan and overseas.
It is the end of the year and time to look back at what kind of year it was. This has turned into the most depressing year that I can remember. There is doom and gloom everywhere and it now takes extraordinary amounts of energy and effort to remain positive and optimistic. Crises are times to learn, to reconsider your priorities and options and to start on a new path. They offer infinite pain, but also infinite opportunities. Let’s embrace all what this crisis has to offer so we can re-invent ourselves and our society. To learn our lessons for 2009, let’s look at what 2008 has wrought:
Four Ainu fishermen stand in log boats, two of them holding spears as if ready to catch fish. Fish was, together with venison and other game, a very important part of the Ainu diet. It was actually so important that in the many Ainu tales recalling famines, the cause is usually the absence of fish. The very Ainu word for fish, chep, is a contraction of chi-ep, which means food. “Coming from Japan,” one 19th century European observer wrote, “the first thing that strikes a traveller in the Ainu country is the odour of dried fish, which one can smell everywhere.” The primary catch was trout in summer, and salmon in autumn. Salmon was often called kamui chep, or divine fish. Other fish, like itou (イトウ, Japanese huchen) and ugui (ウグイ, Japanese dace), were also caught.
From Dec. 2, The Japan Times is serializing one of Japan’s early detective novels, The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi: Detective Stories of Old Edo, in which author Kido Okamoto (1872-1939), offers entertaining and thrilling stories set in Edo Period Japan.
Consecutive installations from the book appear in The Japan Times every week, from Tuesday to Saturday. For context and background of the book’s setting, as well as the time in which Kido wrote his work, it offers the introduction of The Curious Casebook of Inspector Hanshichi, written by the book’s translator Ian McDonald.
Continue to Read... [ jumps to other site ]
A commercial for the Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) gets the message through with just a few sentences: “Economic issues, pension issues, medical issues. People are now embraced by fear in many different ways. We feel a heavy political responsibility about these issues. Making it possible for every single citizen to live life without worry. That is the kind of politics that we, the Democratic Party of Japan, will make a reality.” The DPJ hammers on the same issue, “we will improve your life.” The message is simple, clear and straight, and it is repeated daily.
With Japan’s frightening economic decline and news of massive lay-offs by the country’s most respected companies in the news headlines daily, this description of poverty in Japan more than a century ago is sobering:
A road, at this time a quagmire, intersected by a rapid stream, crossed in many places by planks, runs through the village. This stream is at once “lavatory” and “drinking fountain.” People come back from their work, sit on the planks, take off their muddy clothes and wring them out, and bathe their feet in the current. On either side are the dwellings, in front of which are much-decayed manure heaps, and the women were engaged in breaking them up and treading them into a pulp with their bare feet. All wear the vest and trousers at their work, but only the short petticoats in their houses, and I saw several respectable mothers of families cross the road and pay visits in this garment only, without any sense of impropriety.