Jan 30, 2011

Going to High School

I had a dream last night.

In it I am a high school junior. I don’t know why, but I had stayed away from school for a long time. I'm going to school after such a long time.

I transfer many subways with my brother, and at the end I get on an old and yellow train car of Ginza line. I arrive at an old station in old town Tokyo.

It takes a few minutes walk to the high school. My brother goes to his classroom quickly and I'm left alone.

In this high school classes are elective, and there isn’t a homeroom. I've left my timetable behind, so I don’t know which classroom I should go to.

I go into a school building, and I walk around without any plan. The outside of the building looks old, but the inside of it is renovated and super modern. Inside, there is a huge space without walls and ceilings.

It is a huge modern laboratory with high-tech equipment, and many researchers are working. One of them is eager to explain me about this equipment, and says that a high school should publish study results nowadays.

While I'm hearing his explanation, I'm just standing, because I don't know where to go.

Jan 29, 2011

Mr. Google’s Ability to Translate

I had my journal translated from English into Japanese by Google.

the original text
the translation by Google
the translation by yagian

Honestly speaking I can’t use Google translate at all. I will point out some of the mistakes, which Google made.

Although a German word might have just one corresponding English word, an English can be translated into many different Japanese words depending on the context.

Recently I have tweeted in English and written journals on my weblog in English and Japanese.

最近、私は英語でつぶやいたが、私の雑誌を書いて ウェブログ 日本語と英語。


In this context I used the word "journal" to mean "diary" on my weblog by the word "journal", but Google automatically translated "journal" into "雑誌(zashi)" which means "magazine" in Japanese.

Google can't translate a complex sentence appropriately, especially one which includes a relative pronoun.

I understand the English grammar that I learned in school at least, but when I write something in English I actually don't know which is suitable "a" or "the".



The word order in the Japanese sentence, which was translated by Google, isn't really appropriate. So much so that I can't understand the meaning of it at all. It is almost impossible even to guess it.

On the other hand, Google can appropriately translate a simple English sentence into a Japanese one with the same word order.

I can't accept any of those words completely, but I guess that "understand" is most appropriate.



It isn't a perfect translation, but I can guess its meaning.

But in some other cases Google translated an English sentence into a Japanese one with the same word order, and the translation doesn't sounded natural in Japanese.

I looked up "sympathize" in a thesaurus, and I found the following words.



Sometimes translations by Google aren't correct in grammar. If Google used a spell check function like MS Word, its translation would be readable.

I like Linus in the comic "Peanuts", because I can understand what he feels and thinks of.

私の好きな ナスを の彼が何を感じていると考えて理解することができますのがあるので"漫画ピーナッツ"。


This sentence isn't so complicated, so I can’t understand the reason why Google translated it into such odd Japanese. I can't ignore the mixture of a polite form and a casual form.

When you translate English to Japanese, you should not make a literal translation. You should interpret the meaning of the original sentence deeply and make up a natural sounding Japanese sentence. It might be difficult for software to do it.

I'd like to know a web service that can translate Japanese into English, and English into Japanese adequately.

Jan 26, 2011

How to Write in English

Recently I have tweeted in English and written journals on my weblog in English and Japanese. I have posted my journals on Lang-8 (http://goo.gl/fuyN), and native speakers have made many corrections to my journals.

Most of these corrections are about the usage of "a" and "the", singular and plural, prepositions and tense. I understand the English grammar that I learned in school at least, but when I write something in English I actually don't know which is suitable "a" or "the". I uncertainly had decided to write "a", and then it always happened to be corrected to "the".

But I don't care about such mistakes seriously. Writing in English and being corrected more will reduce the number of my mistakes. I don't write official documents, but just journals on a weblog. Even if I make mistakes, I can still express what I mean to native speakers, I guess. I don't expect myself to be perfect, because I am not a native speaker.

I care more about the nuance of the words and the expressions in English. I am not sure if the word or the expression means exactly what I mean.

I wanted to write a sentence which means as follows.

I like Linus in the comic "Peanuts", because he and I think, feel and do things in the same way, and I can understand him very well.

In Japanese we use the word "共感する(kyokan-suru)" to express such a meaning. I looked up "共感する(kyokan-suru)" in a Japanese to English dictionary, and I found the word "sympathize". (http://goo.gl/BlwmT)

I made a draft as follows.

I like Linus in the comic "Peanuts", because I sympathize with him.

But I cared about the nuance of the word "sympathize", and I looked up this word in an English dictionary, and I found the meaning as follows.(http://goo.gl/qf9FZ)

to feel sorry for someone because you understand their problems:

The word "共感する(kyokan-suru)" doesn't have a nuance of feeling sorry. The meaning of the word "同情する(dojo-suru)" might be most similar to that of the word "sympathize".

I think that Linus and I are similar, but I don't sympathize with him. The word "sympathize" is not appropriate to express my feeling for Linus.

I looked up "sympathize" in a thesaurus, and I found the following words. (http://goo.gl/bSYpc)

ache, agree, appreciate, be in accord, be in sympathy, be kind to, be there for, be understanding, bleed for, comfort, commiserate, compassionate, comprehend, condole, empathize, feel heart go out to, go along with, grieve with, have compassion, identify with, love, offer consolation, pick up on, pity, relate to, share another's sorrow, show kindliness, show mercy, show tenderness, side with, tune in, understand

I can't accept any of those words completely, but I guess that "understand" is most appropriate. So I rewrite my draft as follows.

I like Linus in the comic "Peanuts", because I can understand what he feels and thinks of.

Jan 25, 2011

A Reply from ELS Podcast

I listen to English as a Second Language Podcast (http://goo.gl/Qih6) in order to improve my listening comprehension.

In the ESL Podcast they answer some questions from listeners. There are many questions about how to use similar words or expressions.

I'd like to know how to use the words work, job, occupation and task, so I sent questions to ESL as follows.

Hello Jeff

I am listening to your podcast, and it is very helpful to improve my English. Thank you very much.

I have two questions about English.

The first one is what is different between the words work, job, occupation and task.

The second one is as follow.

I heard from a native speaker that sometimes I could use "they" as first-person singular pronoun

when I didn't know someone's gender.

Is it true or common usage?

I will be happy if you answer my question.

Yagian, Japan

Tomorrow I got a reply from ESL as follows. Some parts of it are routine, but some parts are a reply for my e-mail which they have read. I'm impressed with good services of ESL.

Dear Yagian,

Thank you for your kind message. We're glad you find ESL Podcast useful.

We appreciate your questions, too. If there is time, we will try to answer them on a future Café. We record our podcasts many weeks in advance, so if we include it, it may be a little while before you hear it. (Unfortunately, we are not able to answer all of the good questions we get from our listeners.)

Many of the questions we receive by email have already been answered on either a podcast episode or a blog post. For example, we discussed the meaning of work vs. job. vs. occupation here:


Also, most questions about vocabulary can be found in online dictionaries such as this one here: http://www.ldoceonline.com/

For future questions, please search our site first before emailing us your question. You may find that we have already answered it!

We really appreciate you taking the time to send us a message. Your support is very important to us, and thanks for listening.

ESL Podcast Team

I immediately began to use Longman's on line dictionary (http://www.ldoceonline.com/), when I write in English.

Paul McCartney Has His Own “Ideal”

Recently I have been listening to songs by John Lennon. I would like to write about Paul and John's lyrics.

t is said that John's lyrics have a deep message but Paul's lyrics don't.

Basically I agree with that. John began writing deeper messages on his lyrics when he married Ono Yoko, then the Beatles broke up. The songs more known for their message would be "Imagine" and "Give Peace a Chance".

Unlike John, Paul doesn't care much about the meaning of his lyrics. For example "Maxwell's Silver Hammer" has a
rustic melody and the lyrics talk about a man killing a woman with a silver hammer. The lyrics are strange and they have no special message. The gap between the melody and lyrics might be taken as a joke by Paul.

The song "Love" by John and "Hello Goodbye" by Paul both have simple lyrics but they are very different. It seems that the lyrics of “Love” have deep message and the lyrics of “Hello Goodbye” are just wordplay.

Their Christmas songs are very contrasting. John's song "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" has a message for peace, but a message of Paul's song "Wonderful Christmastime" by Paul is just enjoying Christmas.

A key phrase of "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" might be "War is Over, if you want it, war is over now" and a key phrase of "Wonderful Christmastime" might be "Simply having wonderful Christmastime".

"Wonderful Christmastime" was written after "Happy Xmas (War Is Over)" had been written, so that Paul was conscious of John's song. When Paul would write his own Christmas song, there was John's Christmas song with a message of antiwar which was recognized as a classic song. He intentionally written“Simply having wonderful Christmastime”.

It could not to be described as ideal, but I can recognize his attitude. For that matter Paul might have an ideal that he prohibits himself to tell a high ideal. I sympathize with this Paul’s “ideal”.

A postscript

I like the lyrics of "Penny Lane", because I can put Paul’s nostalgia for his hometown and childhood on my own.

Jan 23, 2011

The Origin of Japanese Buddhism

I went to a Buddhist memorial service today for the first death anniversary of my late uncle. It's been a long time since my relatives met each other. I might disrespect my uncle, but it was a good opportunity. He brought us together.

We held the service in a Shingon Temple. A monk chanted Buddhist mantra in Sanskrit, Buddhist scriptures in Japanized Chinese, and hymns in Japanese.

Buddhism was introduced from India through China, and it was Japanized in Japan. Japanese Buddhism has remained of Indian and Chinese origin until now.

Jan 22, 2011

Moving Children

Recently I am learning English and becoming interested in people who are in between different cultures. I have read stories of drifters from Japan to foreign countries in the Edo era and of diplomats coming to Japan from Europe at the end of the Edo era.

Now I'd like to know about people who are between different cultures today, so I have read Ikuo Kawakami's book "I am also one of the "moving children" ".

This book is very interesting.

In this book Kawakami wrote down ten interviews he conducted with "moving children" who were brought up moving between different language environments.

Of the ten interviews I am most interested in Thane Camus's story about his complicated background, and I am impressed with MC NAM's story in which he uncovered his own identity through rap.

Thane Camus was born in America. His father was a French American and his mother was English. She remarried with a Japanese man. Thane Camus was moving around the Bahamas, Lebanon, Egypt, Greece and Japan.

When he lived in Lebanon, he spoke Arabic and French when he was outside and English, Arabic and French when he was at home. When he reached the first grade, his family moved to Japan, and he entered a public school in the neighborhood. He made a great effort to learn Japanese. He said "To play with friends of mine, I had to communicate in Japanese. It was the shortcut of mastering Japanese."(p18) On the other hand he also studied English to combat his declining ability to use it, but even now he isn't good at reading English.

He went to university in New York. He said "When I was living in America, my friends treated me as an American. But I didn’t involve myself in American culture as deep as them."(p28)

To learn of his complicated background changes my impression of him.

MC NAM was born in Kobe as a child of so called "boat people" from Vietnam. He had not learned Vietnamene language very much. He gave himself a Japanese name, and concealed his Vietnamese origin. After he dropped out of high school, he came across rap.

At first he wanted to conceal his Vietnamese background when he sang rap songs, but he said, "If I conceal my background, I can't sing a candid rap song whilst living and acting like myself."(p186) He heard how his mother had run away from Vietnam, and he said "I'd like to tell all of what I conceal, the fact that I am a Vietnamese. I wrote the rap song “My Song” about my mother’s story and my Vietnamese background."(p187)

This is the song "My Song".

After he wrote this song, he learned the Vietnamese language in Vietnam. Now he is working as a rapper in Japan.

The song "My Song" expresses a moment when he overcame an incredible hurdle in his life. This song makes a very deep impression on me.

Expressing Nuance

I try to write journals on my weblog in prosaic and simple text. Sometimes I write rhetorical text to express nuance.

For example I wrote about the comeback of Keisuke Kuwata on Kohaku Utagassen on my Japanese weblog (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yagian/) as below.


I had a deep feeling, which could not be expressed in words. I wrote a long and periphrastic sentence in order to express the nuance of that feeling. I guess that Japanese readers can understand that nuance.

I wrote about the same thing on my English weblog as below.

"I guess he might have had a very tough time, so I didn’t know how I should listen to his song “The Truth Is, Romance and Love Are Dreadful” (Honto Wa Kowai Love To Romance), which is very light and nonsensial. I was just moved."

What do you think of it? I tried to express the nuance as best as I could. I looked in a dictionary, checked examples on Eijiro (http://goo.gl/9gi0) and searched my expression on Google to make my text natural-sounding for native speakers. But I am not sure what nuance native speakers feel from my text.

It is very difficult to express what I want to convey in a secondary language.

Jan 21, 2011

Learning Japanese in the End of the Edo Era

I am reading Ernest Satow's book "A Diplomat in Japan". It is very interesting.

Ernest Satow was the first interpreter between English and Japanese. When he became an interpreter, there wasn't anyone who could speak both English and Japanese in England or in Japan. At that time English diplomats and the Japanese government might have communicated through a mixture of English, Dutch and Japanese.

Recently I, myself, am learning English, so I am interested in how he learned Japanese in such circumstances. He wrote in his book as follows.

"…Towards the end of October we induced the colonel S. R. Brown, and to allow us to engage a native “teacher,” … A “teacher,” it must be understood, does not mean a man who can “teach.” In those days, at Peking and in Japan also, we worked with natives who did not understand a word of English, and the process by which one made out the meaning of a sentence was closely akin to that which Poe describes in the Gold Beetle for the decyphering of a cryptograph. … So Takaoka began to give me lessons in the epistolary style. He used to write a short letter in the running-hand, and after copying it out in square character, explain to me its meaning. Then I made a translation and put it away for a few days. Meanwhile I exercised myself in reading, now one and now the other copy of the original. Afterwards I took out my translation and tried to put it back into Japanese from memory." (p56) http://goo.gl/6fNre

He might have happened to learn Japanese using direct method. In this quotation Satow wrote "Takaoka … explain to me its meaning". I am interested in how Takaoka, his Japanese teacher, explained the meaning without using English.

Satow wrote in his book about many episodes in which he talked with Japanese warriors, "Samurai", so he could speak Japanese well, I guess. But he was an interpreter for diplomacy, and he was supposed translate documents. It was very difficult for him.

"… The Mikado’s decree to his vizier the Kwambaku delegating the conduct of foreign affairs to the Tycoon, a short document of only three lines, was enclosed in it. … It was proud night for me when I displayed my knowledge of written Japanese in the presence of the French minister, whose interpreter, M. Mermet, even could not read a document without the assistance of his teacher." (p154) http://goo.gl/6fNre

Mermet, a French interpreter, couldn’t read a Japanese diplomatic document, and Satow prided himself on reading just a short document of only three lines. I can imagine how poor the ability of interpreters was at that time.

As a side note Satow's English is modern and I can read it easily, but it is difficult for me, a Japanese, to read Japanese writings from the same age. Japanese writing has changed greatly from at that time to nowadays. How interesting it is!

Jan 20, 2011

Sending Letters by Airmail from America

I had studied in New York to learn English for three months.

While I was there, I sent many letters by airmail (There wasn't e-mail and the internet! It took four or five days to send a letter from America to Japan. It is a story from the Stone Age) to my wife (who wasn't my "wife" at that time).

At first I wrote letters in Japanese. After I began getting used to writing things in English, my letters became a mixture of English and Japanese. The proportion of English was increasing, and by the end I wrote letters only in English.

When I think something in English, something written in English fits my feeling more than in Japanese.

To write natural sounding English, it might be better to think and write in English than to think and write in Japanese and translate into English.

Anyway after I wrote a journal on my weblog in English, I bother to translate it into Japanese. But Japanese readers of my weblog (who are almost all of readers) will go away, if I write a journal only in English. I am disturbed about this problem.

Jan 19, 2011

Winners’ History and Losers’ History

Some people are criticizing the history, which is taught in Japanese schools now, because they think that it is based on the view of U.S. occupation army in Japan after the Pacific War. They call this view "the historical view of Tokyo war crimes tribunal" or "the masochistic historical view". They call their own historical view "the liberal view of history".

I am sure that the dominant historical view in Japan is biased by the American view, and I think that the word "the historical view of Tokyo war crimes tribunal" is true. But "the liberal view of history" is also biased enough, and it is not worth the word the "liberal" view of history.

It might be difficult to present various historical views in schools. But it is very important to make a historical view relative, because any historical views are somehow biased, and a winners' view tend to be a main historical view and a losers' view tend to be ignored. (Of course I don't mean that a losers' view is always true.)

The people, who support "the liberal view of history", see mainly the history around the Pacific War ("the Greater East Asian War") as a problem. But it isn't the only problem in this period, and winners' views also become the dominant historical view in other periods. For example the history around the Meiji Restoration is written on the winners', the group of overthrow of the Tokugawa government, historical view. The history, which is taught in Japanese schools, is based on "the historical view of anti-foreigner royalists" or "the historical view of anti-Tokugawas". It should be criticized on the historical view of pro-Tokugawas.

I found an interesting description in Ernest Satow's, a diplomat staying Japan around the Meiji Restoration, book "A Diplomat in Japan".

"Tycoon, as I have said before, was the title given in the treaties to the temporal sovereign. The Japanese, however, never used it. Sei-i-tai Shogun, or "Generalissimo for the subjugation of barbarians," was his official designation, which delicacy prevented his ministers from employing in their official communications with the foreign representatives, while the common people spoke of him as Kubo sama. The "opposition" daimios, however, had adopted the term Baku-fu, which most closely might be rendered by "military establishment," and it was this term that my friend I used in conversation." (p174) http://goo.gl/6fNre

The Tokugawa Shogun used the word "Tycoon" in order to claim that he represented Japan to foreign countries. It is true that the word "Shogun" means one of the official positions of Emperor's "Ten-nou" subjects, so I could understand that the Tokugawa Shogun did not use the word "Shogun".

In the book "The Sovereignty and the Ideology in the East Asia" Hiroshi Watanabe wrote about the formation of the words "Bakufu" and "Shogun" as follows.

"The late Mito school spread the word "Bakufu". ... They emphasized that the Tokugawa government was just appointed by an emperor in Kyoto. ... The Anti-Tokugawa group had not used the word "Gokogi" or "Kohen" which were used generally, but the word “Bakufu”, which had a negative connotation. ... In the political circumstance at the end of the Edo era the word "Bakufu" spread soon. ... After the Meiji era the word "Bakufu" was adopted through education at schools. Of course the word "Bakufu" was fitted the historical view (which was not observed in the beginning of the Edo era) that the emperor "Tenou" had been the only sovereign throughout Japanese history. So the word "Bakufu" symbolizes the emperor-centered historical view "Koukoku Shikan"." (pp3-4)

I myself am the "anti-anti-foreigner royalists", "anti-anti-Tokugawas" and "pro-Tokugawas". I should promote to call "Shogun" "Kubo-sama" and "Bakufu" "Gokogi".

Jan 17, 2011

I Am Searching for Someone, Although I Myself Don’t Know Whom I Am Searching for.

I had a dream.

In it, I am searching for someone, although I myself don’t know who I am searching for.

I grab a cab, and share it with a strangers.

He asks the driver to go to Komagome Station. When the cab arrives near Komagome Station, he says to get in front of an electric signboard on which winning records of Sumo wrestling are displayed.

The driver says that the stranger should say earlier and it must be over there. The driver rush around a corner. The cab arrives at a cemetery, and the driver says to get out here.

There are not any signboards but many graves. A woman wearing a Kimono is coming, and gestures to come this way.

I follow her, and I find myself in a huge and futuristic building. Inside of it is a big dome space made by dark black metal, and there is a black cube in the center.

The woman asks me if I want to see inside of the cube, I answer yes. A part of the cube opens like a window, and I can see inside of it.

There is a huge blast furnace, and iron is burning deep red.

I don’t know why I am there.

Jan 16, 2011

Idealism and Greed in America

Sarah Palin is blamed for her responsibility for the tragedy in Tucson.

There is an opposition between idealism and greed in America. (By the way, in Japan there is no idealism but only greed.)

The fact that Barack Obama was elected as the first African America president in the last election symbolized American idealism. Withdrawal from Iraq, building of a universal healthcare system, nuclear abolition and abolition of a concentration camp in Guantanamo, although the last two of them have not been realized, are idealistic policies.

On the other hand the tea party movement and Sarah Palin symbolized American greed. Just two years after the last presidential election they speak out against Barack Obama’s idealistic policies based on their greed.

On my foreigner’s standpoint of view American greed symbolized by the tea party movement is dangerous. Shooting Gabrielle Giffords was a big tragedy. I hope that America people will turn around to their idealism by this tragedy.

But sometimes America imposes its own ideal to other countries without any reference of their context. It might be a problem.

Jan 15, 2011

How to Learn English with Only Free Materials

I exaggerated the title of this journal, but I have not used English in business and I don't think that I am "learning" English. I am just playing around with English without any goal.

I am trying to increase the input and output of English in the fields which I am interested in, and communicate with native speakers in English. I have used only free materials to learn English.

I will begin by talking about listening.

I listen to downloaded podcasts in English on my iPod while going to work.

I listen to the English as a Second Language Podcast (ESL) most. Basically it consists of a short conversation and an explanation of it. Sometimes it introduces American culture. I can almost understand what Dr. Jeff McQuillan the host of this podcast says, because he speaks slower and with less vocabulary than a native speaker. He has a good sense of humor, and it is interesting to listen to it. It deals with very interesting subjects of American culture and I, a geek of American culture, am satisfied with it.

Because the ELS podcast does not update everyday and I listen to it on the way to work and back home, I listen to various news shows in the rest of time.

Voice of America is aimed at foreigners and the speech is slow with a small vocabulary, so I can almost catch what it means. But the contents of it are not interesting, and I do not hear it well.

I watch CNN Student News and NBC Nightly News most. It takes about 15 to 20 minutes to watch top news in USA on both of these programs. They are video podcasts, and the images on them help me to understand the news in English. CNN Student News aims at high school students, but the level of the contents of this program is not so different from other ordinal news shows. Recently I am getting able to understand what they say on both of these programs.

I like CNN Anderson Cooper 360° very much. It is a news show based on interviews, and they are very existing and interesting. I am disappointed that Anderson Cooper and his interviewees speak too fast for me to understand completely. It is interesting enough even though I only understand partially, but it will be more interesting when I understand completely.

Next will be about reading. I also mainly read newspapers on the Internet.

I follow the tweets of New York Times and USA Today, and read some articles which I am interested in. Of course I can understand articles on USA Today easier than those of New York Times, but I read New York Times more because its contents are more interesting.

I also follow tweets of NY Yankees and LA Lakers, and read some articles. I can't understand expressions which are used only in sports, but I can guess the meanings of them, because I have a basic knowledge about MLB and NBA.

I don't read other people's weblog in Japanese, and neither weblogs in English. In fact I don't have time to read them. But I follow some native speakers' tweets, and I am very interested in their English which is different from what I have learned in textbooks. Sometimes I can't understand what they say completely, although they don't use any difficult vocabulary. It is new for me how they cut down words, and how living English is.

Next is about outputs, writing.

I had previously written a weblog and Twitter only in Japanese, now I write them in both of English and Japanese. I also post journals on Lang-8, and allow them to be corrected and commented on by members of the community in English. I made this website only in English for English readers.

My journals on my website are not good for English readers, because they need knowledge about Japan to understand my journals. It might be good if I wrote journals for Japanese people and for foreigners separately, but I don't have enough time to do it. My journals might be useful for students who are learning Japanese language and culture.

The last is about speaking.

I don't know anything about speaking practise in English. I just speak in broken English on foreign travels once a year.

There are some people who open their Skype ID, so I could talk to them in order to practice speaking in English. But I don't have enough time to do it, and I have not found someone who writes interesting things and I'd like to talk with.

My way of learning English is not systematic, so it might be inefficient. But increasing my input and output of English improves my skills. Anyway I enjoy it, and it is fun to have more chance to communicate with foreign people in English.

I am getting to feel that the Japanese Internet world is smaller, after I've increased my input and output of English on the Internet. It's a shame to stay only in Japanese on the Internet which connects to all over the world.

Jan 13, 2011

Bandits in China and Lower Warriors in Japan

I read Toshio Takashima's book "Big Bandits in China, the Complete Version" again. Inamoto recommended this book (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yinamoto/20100302/p1), and it is really an interesting book. You should not miss it when you want to understand China.

Most interesting part of this book must be his assertion that the founding the People's Republic of China by Mao Tse-tung was the same as the founding dynasties by bandit leaders like Han and Ming. I am prevailed on his augument.

In the introduction of this book Takashima summarizes the social conditions of appearing bandits based on Eric Hobsbawm's book "Bandits". I will cite it, although it is a little too long.

Bandits appear in an agricultural society on the stage between a clan society and a modern capitalist society. An agricultural society is based on agriculture (including pasturage). In an agricultural society some of feudal lords, cities, attorneys, bankers and so on are ruling a rural area, and farmers who have farm hire agricultural labors. In such a society, and in such an age, bandits usually appear, especially in Peru, Sicilia, Ukraine, Indonesia and China.

In such an agricultural society rural surplus-population appears in the place where agriculture don't need many works, or lusty men can't have enough jobs. This is a source of bandits.

An ideal circumstance for bandits is that dominance is established independently in each region. If they commit a crime in area A, they could escape to area B. A could not arrest them, and B would not be interested in what they did in area B.

In the modern society where economy, transportation and communication are developed and a government is functional, bandits would disappear. The society has such a good road connection that the number of bandits is decreasing. (pp26-27)

In the book "Lower Warriors in Battlefields" lower warriors in the period of Civil War in Japan who Hisashi Fujiki described are consistent with bandits who Hobsbawm described. The fact that Hideyoshi Toyotomi who had been a lower peasant unified Japan at the end of he period of Civil War might correspond to the fact that some of bandit leaders made their own dynasties in China.

After Hideyoshi Toyotomi and Ieyasu Tokugawa unified Japan, the condition that bandits infested disappeared. In China there was this condition up to the mid-twentieth century. (Of course Japanese armies in the war between Japan and China were bandits.)

In the modern China this condition has disappeared, has it? Or if the dominance of the China Communist Party breaks down, bandits would infest again, would they?

I will be keeping on watching China.

Jan 12, 2011

A Strange Destiny of an Interpreter in the End of the Edo Era

I read Mayuko Sano's book "Alcock in Edo". In this book she wrote about Sir Rutherford Alcock who was the UK's first minister in Japan, and arrived in Edo at the end of the Edo Era. I found a person in this book who appeared in Ryutaro Iwao's book "Robinson of the End of Edo Era" (http://goo.gl/ilHd6). He is Einosuke Moriyama, an interpreter working in the End of the Edo Era.

The book "Robinson of the End of Edo Era" and the previous book "Robinson in the Edo Era" cover stories of drifters from Japan. But chapter 3 in this book covers a story of Ranald MacDonald, an American who tried to visit to Japan by pretending to drift.

Ranald MacDonald, whose father was a Caucasian and mother was a Native American, had anguish about his own identity. He ran away from his home, and roamed around. Then he planned to visit to Japan where the Edo government had closed the country at that time.

Since the Edo government had diplomatic relations only with China, Korea, Ryukyu and the Netherlands, he who had US citizenship could not enter Japan in the legitimate way. So he pretended to be shipwrecked in the sea around Japan, and succeeded in landing in Hokkaido, the northern region of Japan.

Ranald MacDonald was arrested, sent to Nagasaki where there was the only open port in Japan, and interrogated by the Edo government. At that time there were only interpreters between Dutch and Japanese in Japan, and no one could speak English. While Ranald MacDonald had been interrogated for three months, he taught Dutch interpreters English. One of these students was Einosuke Moriyama.

In the book "Alcock in Edo" Mayuko Sano wrote that there were just two people who could speak English in Edo when Alcock arrived there. Two of them were this Einosuke Moriyama and John Mung, who was also covered in"Robinson of the End of Edo Era". So Einosuke Moriyama attended almost all meetings between the Edo government and Alcock, and Alcock was getting to trust him very much.

The most significant diplomatic achievement which Alcock made was arranging the mission of the Edo government to Europe. He recommended Einosuke Moriyama as a member of this mission, and traveled with Einosuke Moriyama to Europe. Alcock wrote that Einosuke Moriyama was able to talk with Dutch people fluently and also communicate with English people enough.

Ranald MacDonald who had a complicated origin of the Caucasian and the Native American tried to smuggle himself into Japan, whoes government had closed the country at that time, and taught Japanese people English. After that one of his students made a big contribution to promoting the relationship between the UK and the Edo government. In the end he gained the trust of the UK's minister, and traveled with him to Europe.

What a strange destiny this is!

Jan 11, 2011

"Enka" as the Invented Tradition

Eric Hobsbawm showed the fact that many of "traditions" which are widely believed to have a long history are invented in modern times in his book "The Invention of Tradition" (http://goo.gl/2W3bV).

Yusuke Wajima applied Hobsbawm's method to the Japanese "traditional" song "Enka" in his book "The Invention of a Legend of Japanese Sprit".

In this book he said that “Enka” (in the modern meaning) which is believed to be "traditional" and "indigenous" was invented in the late 1960s and have an only 40 years history. Its heyday had lasted just a dozen years from 1970s to the first half of 1980s.

Hibari Misora who though to be a typical "Enka" singer nowadays had sung various songs which were not categolized in "Enka" in the first half of her carrier before the notion of the "Enka" was invented. But people are forgetting that she sung a great variety of songs as she is getting thought to be an "Enka" singer. Hibari Misora singing the song "Yawara" is just an "Enka" singer, but she singing the song "Tokyo Kid" seems to be a western style singer.

In the late 1960s when the notion of the "Enka" was invested the second movement against the Japan-U.S. Security Treaty spread in Japan. Going against Japan Communist Party which was willing to built a "western", "modern", "healthy" and "cheerful" culture, the radical left movement made a "Japanese", "indigenous", "decadent" and "dirty" counterculture. For example there were underground theaters "アングラ演劇", BUTOH "暗黒舞踏", Ken Takakura's Japanese mobster's (Yakuza’s) movies "任侠映画" and small room folk songs "四畳半フォーク".

"Enka" which is thought to be "Japanese", "indigenous", "decadent" and "dirty" appeared at the same time when these elements of the counterculture appeared, and this fact means that "Enka" was related to the counterculture movement at that time. Keiko Huji's (who is Hikaru Utada's mother) song "Keiko's a Dream Opens in Midnight" is really a "Japanese", "indigenous", "decadent" and "dirty" "Enka", whose movie on YouTube was the radical left movement with a good reason.

The values, which "Keiko's a Dream Opens in Midnight" was based on, was the same as Carmen Maki's "Pretending a Child Whose Mother's Gone". The fact that Carmen Maki belonged to the underground theater "Tenjo Sajiki" means that the counterculture movement at that time and "Enka" had a relationship. "Japaneseness" and "traditionalism" of Ken Takakura's Yakuza movies were "new" in their historical context, and in the same way "Keiko's a Dream Opens in Midnight" was "new" at that time.

Kensuke Suzuki, a sociologist pointed affection for unhappiness in the songs of Miriya Kato, Kana Nishino and all that who are so called "R&B divas" and called such songs "Gal's Enka". (pp347-348)

It might be true that they, especially Miriya Kato with her looks, are orthodox successors of Keiko Fuji.

Jan 10, 2011

Web 2.0 for Me

We can communicate to all over the world through the Internet. But I had not utilized the Internet fully, and I had communicated just within Japan. Although sometimes I had read news by some foreign newspapers' websites, I had not sent a message to foreign people.

I have used a weblog service of Hatena (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/). It is high functional and easy to use, and I like its design very much. But it is basically a service only for Japanese, and people who use Hatena's service are almost Japanese and write journals in Japanese language.

I had been satisfied to write journals in Japanese and to know some of Japanese people in Hatena's world. But I changed my mind by encountering Twitter and Facebook.

Twitter and Facebook are international services. On Twitter and Facebook many of languages are used and the main of them is English. Although I had not doubted that I sent a message only to Japanese people in Japanese language at all when I was in Hatena’s world, I began to doubt that since I used Twitter and Facebook.

So I began to write my weblog on Hatena (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yagian/) and on Twitter (http://twitter.com/#!/yagian) in both of Japanese and English, and made a new weblog on BlogSpot (http://yagian.blogspot.com/) where I am writing only in English. I am writing journals on Lang-8 (http://lang-8.com/220806) which are corrected by native speakers and I correct what foreign people who are learning Japanese write. I am getting overseas followers and readers little by little and begin to feel connected to all over the world through the Internet.

Twitter and Facebook are just Web 2.0 for me.

Jan 9, 2011

Censoring the Book ”Huck Finn”

I read the news that a new edition of "Huckleberry Finn" which replaces the word "nigger" to "slave" has been published by the New York Times. (http://nyti.ms/eIkby)

I think that it is a very complicated problem.

The editor who made the new edition of "Huckleberry Finn" changed the words because of a claim that some teachers can't use a book including the word "nigger" in their classroom.

I myself basically think that "Huckleberry Finn" shouldn't be changed. The reasons are that a literary work should be respected and that a teacher should explain the historical context in which Mark Twain used such words.

"Huckleberry Finn" doesn't defend racism, although the word "nigger" is used in it. There is a similar case where the book "The Story of Little Black Sambo" gets out of print in Japan because it is thought to be a racist book. I think that it is better to publish an original version of a story with an introduction which explains its historical context.

It is difficult to object to the opinion that such books actually hurt the feelings of the people who are discriminated against, though. An original version of such books is worth publishing even though it hurts their feelings, isn’t it?

A while ago, I saw news that Amazon.com was selling a book which defends pedophilia on CNN Anderson Cooper 360. (http://goo.gl/VwgAr) Many people may agree that "Huckleberry Finn" is worth saving in its original version (although in fact a changed version is published), but it is a touchy problem that a book that defends pedophilia should be sold for the sake of protecting the freedom of expression. There are different opinions in America where pedophilia is strictly banned and in Japan where people are relatively tolerant of pedophilia.

I guess that people would be divided over the problem of "The Story of Little Black Sambo". If it should be out of print because black people feel unpleasant, how should we do with Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses"? It might be difficult to obtain consensus on how far freedom of expression should be allowed, because it depends on each one's morality in societies.

It is a little deferent problem that a literary work which was written in the old style of Japanese is published in the contemporary style of Japanese. Books of Uchida Hyakken who sticks to the old style of Japanese are published in the contemporary style now. It might be easy for Japanese people today to read in the contemporary style, but such a change of original version degrades the author’s will and the values of the literary work. In fact one can get used to reading in the old style of Japanese quite quickly, and gets a different impression than in the contemporary style. For example "江戸川亂步" looks more mysterious than "江戸川乱歩".

I have an opinion that an original version basically should not be changed. If changed versions are allowed to be printed, an original version should be in print.

Jan 8, 2011

Keeping a Journal

I agreed with Chikirin-san's entry “I Do Read Your Journal” (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/Chikirin/20101230).

I myself have kept a journal on the internet for 14 years, including the time before the spread of weblog services. Reading books is my second nature to me from my childhood. I also continue swimming a little. I have worked at my firm for 20 years. Besides three of these I have never had any habit which has continued longer than keeping a journal on the internet.

The volume of my writings until now is huge amount, and it took me a lot of time and energy to write them. It is completely voluntary free of charge and just a hobby. I don't know the reason why I have been keeping a journal for such a long period of time, but it might be mortally important for my living to keep a journal and make it public.

In the beginning I made a website on my firm's PC on the intranet just for fun. My junior fellow Irie-kun's (http://hirie.sakura.ne.jp/) response to my website made me begin to keep journals. He suggested that I made it public on an ISP server. At that time he made a collection of links to similar websites on his own website, and the authors of them and I made loose relations and, we wrote on each others' message boards.

Some of my friends since then are Rena-san (http://blog.livedoor.jp/h_reina/), Yuki-san (http://www.hyuki.com/), the Fake Chemist(http://inchiki-chemist.blog.so-net.ne.jp/) and his wife (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/intsuma), Mr. JK (http://jkism.com/index.html), and Inamoto (http://d.hatena.ne.jp/yinamoto he is a friend since undergraduate days). There are many friends who stopped making their websites and disappeared. I kept my website which made at that time (http://www.lares.dti.ne.jp/~ttakagi/diary/). I feel nostalgia when I see the design of the handmade top page again.

Before then I didn't have a habit of writing something. Of course I wrote by necessity in a school and business, and I liked to do it. But I had never kept journals by myself, and didn't write many letters. Before the spread of the internet some people made a fanzine and the Comiket already had been held. But I have never intended to make a fanzine public and get in the Comiket.

It was important that broadcasting a message on the internet is very cheap and easy. What I want to write is motley a journal, so that I can't get in a circle of a specific hobby. It doesn't suit me to make a fanzine about a special hobby or to get in the Comiket. It is very attractive for me to be able to write what I really want to write by myself on a website. I was lucky to have some readers when I started to make my website. It motivated me to keep a journal, and I think that something which I myself have not realized was drawn from me to keep a journal. So I might have to respond to other people's website and give them motivation to write, but actually I can't do it well.

I use the internet as a useful tool for collecting information on my job and life, but it is more important for me as a tool for sending information on my hobby. I have only a few weblogs which I used to read. I have some followers on Twitter and I usually follow the person who follows me, but I don't read tweets well. It is more interesting and important for me to write my weblog and to tweet by myself.

I am so selfish, but I am happy to have your responses. I want to get them after all. My weblog is just a motley journal, but I hope you will enjoy my weblog for many years to come.

Jan 7, 2011

Shoin Yoshida as Robinson Crusoe in the end of Edo Era

I read Ryutaro Iwase's “Robinson of the End of Edo Era; Drafts in Pacific Oceans Before and After Opening Japan”. This book is a sequal of the same author's "Robinson in Edo Era; Stories of Seven Drafts" by the same author.

In this book he wrote about drifters at the end of the Edo era when western countries forced Japan to have diplomacy with them in this book. In the previous book he wrote about the stories of drifters from Japan, and some of them could return to Japan and some of them couldn't. In this book he wrote about the stories not of accidental drifters from Japan, but drifters from foreign countries to Japan and "intentional" drifters to foreign countries.

Every story in this book is as interested as ones in the previous book, and I am especially interested in the story of Shoin Yoshida's smuggling.

Recently I have read books about the time when Japan was becoming a nation state between the Edo era and Meiji era. Shoin Yoshida is a person who represents contradictions of that time, and I am going to read books about him carefully.

Shoin Yoshida grew up with conservative Confucianism and traditional Japanese military science "Yamaga-ryu". But once he knew the strong armed forces of Western countries, he became an apprentice for Shozan Sakuma, who was a Confucian but very interested in Western military science. Shoin tried to smuggle by Perry's fleet and to learn Western knowledge on Shozan's suggestion. But on the other hand he had thoughts of an antiforeigner royalist "Sonno joi", and he brought most of the main members in the Choshu Domain who overthrew of the Tokugawa government. Although they had been antiforeigner royalists, they changed their attitude and tried to learn Western knowledge like Shoin after the overthrowing of the Tokugawa government.

I am very interested in his admiration and repulsive Western countries, beginning of nationalism, his energy and eccentric behavior.

"Robinson of the End of Edo Era" focuses on his smuggling by Perry's fleet. I thought of his smuggling an eccentric and impossible trial, and I wondered why he thought of such a thing and did it.

But I can understand that although his trial was reckless and unplanned, it was not eccentric throughout this book. At that time many drifters were rescued by American whale catcher boats, and some of them, for example John Mung, returned to Japan. There were people who tried to smuggle into foreign countries, and some of them succeeded it. When international interactions between Japan and Western countries began, his trial was not isolated; even so his choice to use Perry's fleet was a big mistake.

In an afterword of this book there is a suppressing story of the author Ryutaro Iwase himself, and I will not write about it. It makes this book more impressive.

Jan 6, 2011

My Goal of Playing Golf in This Year

I went playing golf to Omiya Kokusai Golf Club January 4th. My goal of playing golf in this year was scoring under 110, and I scored 109 strokes accomplishing this goal. Next goal is scoring under 100.

To score under 110 I should have double bogies average. In the middle hole if I put a ball near the green in two strokes and put it on the green in an approach shot, I may make three putts to have a double bogie. If I put in the banker or miss an approach shot, I can get a double bogie in two putts. I can get a bogie in three on and two putts. I can score under 110, if I avoid make too many strokes in some holes.

But to score under 100 I should have bogies average, and sometimes get pars. I have many challenges to make it.

At first carry of my driver shot is too short. Usually I use a fairway wood in my second shot on the middle hole, and it is enough to put a ball near a green. But to make two on I should make drive carry within a middle iron shot. Especially when I hit a slice, carry will be shorter. I pay attention not to be late for turning hands. Sometimes I hit on a heel of a driver, but I am not sure why it happens.

Direction of my middle iron shot is instable. Carry of each iron gets stable, so I can adjust carry of iron shots if I don’t make mistake of choice of irons. But I often miss the green, and sometimes put a ball in the banker.

I think the cause of short carry of my driver shot and instability of my middle iron shot is inaccurate of my address. I have to stand in right direction and keep same distance between my feet and a ball.

I tried to use a 52°wedge and a 56°wedge which bought recently. It is easy for me to hit a ball by them, and a shot is stopped on the green. I can certainly make an approach shot on the green. Now I try to make an approach within one putt. I use to make a pitch shot by 56°wedge, but I should use irons and many kinds of shots as the situation.

There are many things to do. This year I try to play more rounds and to have experiences.

I don't know the expressions about golf well, so it is hard for me to write this journal.

Jan 5, 2011

On the Way Back Home from a Welcome Party

I had a dream last night.

In it, I changed my job and started to work in some government office. On the way back home from a welcome party for me I am very drunken.

We take a train of the Chiyoda line to Yoyogiuehara. Two seats are empty. It is said that freshmen should be seated after a welcome party, and I am seated.

I have adult DVDs in my bag, I am anxious that a drunken colleague will tell me to show inside of my bag as a joke.

At that moment I become unconscious.

I find myself sitting alone in a train. I wonder why I am wearing pajamas and holding adult DVDs in my hands. My business suits are scattered around me.

I take my suits and look around. The train is stopping onto a platform. I get off the train to the platform, and I find I am in Kitasenju although I took the train of Chiyoda line to Yoyogiuehara.

I think it is strange that I am wearing pajamas; I am going to change suits there although some people are standing around. But the suits are too dirty to wear, and I am standing on the platform with nothing on.

Jan 4, 2011

A Dream of a Rive Dolphin

I had a dream last night.

I am in a tropical big river. It might be Amazon River.

I board a small boat with a local guide. Water of the river is cloudy white, and I can’t see under the water.

The guide says that you can swim with a river dolphin diving to the river. I dive into the river without any clothes.

I can’t see well in the water of the river. I dive for a while, I dully see a big thing coming toward me.

I find it is a river dolphin. It is white and twice as big as me, and swims slowly.

I press myself against a belly of the dolphin. It continues to swim, it doesn’t look like caring me. I am not choking despite diving in the water long time. I swim with it for a while.

I think what should be done, when a baby of me and the dolphin born. I think if we bring up the baby in the water or on the ground.

Jan 3, 2011

Getting Courage, Getting Energy

In my entry of New Year’s Day I linked a video in which Satchmo was singing “What a Wonderful World”. How wonderful his voice is! I can’t look away from his deep smile.

He lived in the American South where racial discrimination was very severe and might live a very tough life, but his song “What a Wonderful World” is really “wonderful”. I am deeply moved to find his history of struggling against many ordeals behind his smile.

I saw Keisuke Kuwata singing on the NHK's annual year-end grand song festival “Kohaku Uta Gassen”. He completely looked as usual, although it was a big comeback from cancer. I guess he might have a very tough time, so I didn’t know how I should listen to his song “The Truth Is, Romance and Love Are Dreadful” (Honto Wa Kowai Love To Romance), which is very light and nonsense. I was just moved.

I saw the scene of Shiki Masaoka’s death on the drama “Clouds Over the Slope” (Saka no Ue no Kumo) last year’s end. His essays “In the sickbed 180cm long” (Byosyo Roku Syaku) and “Essays writing on his back” (Gyoga Manroku), I have mixed feeling about him. He felt very sever pain and he wrote complaints about nursing by his family. But he also wrote many essays and Japanese style poems (Haiku and Waka), made drawings, watched closely flowers in his small garden and talked with many of his friends and pupils. I wonder why he could do things such positively, and I am moved deeply.

I often hear the phrases of “getting courage” and “getting energy” are easy and cheap. But three of them really give me courage and energy.

Jan 2, 2011

The calligraphy in New Year’s Day “Kakizome”

I made a calligraphy work in New Year's Day, so called “Kakizome”.

It is not worth showing on the Internet, but it makes me have more incentive to show my works.

I cited the phrase of the Chinese poet “A Thousand Characters (Senjimon)”, which is used for practices of calligraphy. “A Thousand Characters” is constituted a thousand different characters, which is similar to “Iroha Uta” in Japanese.

I made it in the old Chinese style called “Tensho Tai”, which was used to curving a seal. You might see its style of character in a signboard of a Japanese restaurant

The phrases which I wrote is “性静情逸、守真志満”. It means, “If one's true nature is quiet, one could escape from upset of one's mind. If one keeps moral, one could satisfy oneself.”

I am willing to live in such ways in this year.

Jan 1, 2011

A Happy New Year!

A happy new year!

I wish this year will be good one for you, me and all the people in this wonderful world.
(I wonder if it is a little exaggerated. :-)

What a Wonderful World

My wife and I drink a couple Plussy glasses of Saki for the New Year!