Apr 28, 2011

Nine Fried Eggs

I had a dream.

In it, I wake up in my brother's apartment house. I don't know why I slept in his room.

It's very early in the morning, so my brother is sleeping his bedroom. I'm hungry so I go to the kitchen. I open the refrigerator and I find nine eggs.

I decide to make fried eggs. I find the biggest flying pan in the back of a cabinet. I put it on a range, and put nine eggs inside.

Yellows of nine eggs are packed in the flying pan. Finally they are fried. I manage to put them on a plate. The plate is full of the fried nine eggs.

I take the plate from a table, and begin to eat them while standing up. But it's strange that the amount doesn't seem to decrease despite of the fact I'm eating them. I find that they are swelling.

The white of the eggs overflow the palate and spread out all over the table. I'm surprised and I can't do anything but just still standing there and watch them.

They are still getting bigger and bigger. Now they hang out of the table like the watch in Dali's painting.

I wanted to run away, but they twine my feet like amebas and I can't even move my feet.

Their level of them is going up to knee, waist, chest and neck. In the fried eggs I can't move my body at all, but it's warm like in the womb. Finally the fried eggs swallow me.

I can't move a single finger, but I can breath in the fried eggs.

Now they reach the ceiling of the room. I can see nine yellows floating in the white of the eggs. I'm desperately thinking about how to swim in the fried eggs.

Apr 27, 2011

A Real Hero, "an Eggs and a Wall" and "High Noon"

Today I'd like to quote Haruki Murakami's book “A Collection of Short Texts (雑文集)” again.

I wrote this speech as a commentary for the Jerusalem Prize in February 2009. At that time the policy of the Israel government towards Gaza conflicts was strongly criticized, and I was also criticized for receiving the Jerusalem Prize from both home and abroad. To be honest it would have been easy for me to turn down the prize. I thought that I should do so many times. But thinking of my readers in Israel who are so far away from me, I decided to go there and deliver my message through my own voice. Under this situation I wrote this speech with my whole heart line by line. I felt really alone. I watched the film “High Noon” again and again, and then finally I made up my mind and left home for the airport.

His remarks at Jerusalem's "an Egg and a Wall" are here.

The most impressive part of his speech is as follows.

"Between a high, solid wall and an egg that breaks against it, I will always stand on the side of the egg."

I also like the film "High Noon". There are many films about heroes, who fight alone against great enemies, for example Rambo in "First Blood", John McClane in "Die Hard", Shane in "Shane", Sanjuro in "Yojinbo" and so on. They are always macho men and overly self-confident.

But Will Kane, who was played by Gary Cooper, is completely different. He isn't a super macho man but just an ordinary person, who feels fear toward his enemies. He wants people in his town to fight outlaws with him, but he can't get any cooperation. He's hesitant to fight them, but finally he gathers up all of his courage and fights alone.

I can understand the reason why Haruki Murakami watched "High Noon" again and again before giving his speech at the Jerusalem Prize.

We as human beings feel fear. A real hero doesn't hide his true feelings, but does what he knows he must.

Apr 25, 2011

Haruki Murakami's texts always inspire me.

I've finished reading Haruki Murakami's book "A Collection of Short Texts (雑文集)". His texts always inspire me and I wanted to write many journals about them.

In this book Haruki Murakami wrote about what a novelist was. I'd like to quote this part of his text as follows. (The original text is of course in Japanese. This is my translation.)

When I am asked what a novelist is, I usually answer "a novelist is a person who observes much and judges little".

Why does a novelist have to observe much? You can't describe exactly without much experience and correct observation. Even if, for example, you write about a bowling ball through the observation of Amami black rabbits. Why does a novelist judge so little? It's the readers who always reach their own final conclusions by themselves, not the authors. The role of a novelist is to hand over resources for making decisions to readers gently (or violently) in a fascinating way.

As you know, when a novelist begins to judge by themselves (because of his laziness or just exhibitionism) and does not leave the conclusions in his readers' hands, a novel becomes uninteresting. It loses depth and the natural brightness of words, and its story doesn't work.

One of the reasons why Haruki Murakami's texts inspire me a lot is that he doesn't put his own idea onto me and I can draw my own conclusions from his texts.

When I write a journal, I often give in to the temptation to put an impertinent conclusion to readers because of my exhibitionism.

I should just write what is proper to myself.

Apr 23, 2011

My Younger Boy Friend

Yoshiko Tanaka as Su chan, a member of the girls pop group "Candies", has passed away.

They were really my "idoru (アイドル)" in my childhood.

My wife and I sung their song "My Younger Boy Friend (年下の男の子)" in Karaoke in her memory.

My Younger Boy Friend

He's stuffing him with a bright red apple
with navy blue T-shirts.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.
He gets lonely easily and is cocky,
but I love to hate him.
L. O. V. E. blowing a kiss to him.
Does he love me? Tell me straight.
A pocket without a button,
and a crumpled hankie.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.

He's late for a date,
and lashed out at me.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.
He's forgetful, selfish
and mean, but I love him.
L. O. V. E. blowing a kiss to him.
Does he love me? Tell me straight.
An odd glove,
and an unfastened shoelace.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.

He gets lonely easily and is cocky,
but I love to hate him.
L. O. V. E. blowing a kiss to him.
Does he love me? Tell me straight.
A pocket without a button,
and a crumpled hankie.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.
He's, he's my lovely younger boy friend.

Apr 22, 2011

How I Got to Know My Wife

I had a dream.

In it, my wife and I talked about how we got to know each other.

When I met her the first time, she was a chaser. She made accessories and sold them at a flea market by herself.

I was looking for a birthday present for my girlfriend, whom I was going steady with at that time. I found cute accessories at a flea market by chance.

I talked with a shopkeeper about how to choose a nice ring which suits for my girl friend. We had a nice talk, and then I chose a cute golden ring.

She said to me "If you buy that golden ring, I will give you this silver ring as a present for you".

I was really surprised about what she had said and refused to do so. But she offered it to me intensely. I couldn't understand why she was doing it, but at the end I accepted.

After a few days, I was thinking of her. I went to the flea market and looked for her small shop.

I found her, and I gave her the golden one.

And now I wear the silver ring, and she wears the golden ring.

This story isn't true, it's just a dream.

Apr 20, 2011

"Umaku", a naughty boy, Seigua(誠小), his songs and life

Yesterday, while I waited for my wife cooking dinner, I was watching TV humming the Okinawan folk song "Hiyamichika Bushi". She told me that you had been listening to Seigua's songs on your way back home. She's right. I was listening Seigua's CD "Howling Wolf". I might sing his song out in a subway.

In this weekend I have read Seijin Noborikawa's (登川誠仁) biography "Singing Okinawa(オキナワをうたう)", which my wife had bought. Seijin Noborikawa is one of the famous Okinawan folk singer called Seigua. I really wanted to listen to his songs.

Seigua was born in 1932 and grown up in Okinawa. People like Seigua, who experienced the ages of the War, occupation of US army (America Yu アメリカ世), and reintegration into Japan, had severe their own histories. They couldn't survive without such histories. Seigua told that he was "Umaku", a naughty boy in Okinawan dialect. He is such a person, but children couldn't live in Okinawa at that age, if they were not "Umaku", a naughty boy.

I'll quote his experience of the War from "Singing Okinawa(オキナワをうたう)" as follows.

Yomitan is the quite dangerous place where US army landed first. There were full of battle ships off shore of Yomitan, and Kamikaze fighters flew to these battle ships.

While we were in Yomitan for a few days, Kamikaze fighters flew in the evening.

Since I felt cooler, it might be April just after US army landed. I remembered that I wore only a long padded coat and shorts without shoes.

I heard the noise of Kamikaze fighters. At that time grandpas and grandmas told loudly young men to get up on the roof.

"Kamikaze pilots will die, so wave your hands to them!"

Many Okinawan boys were waving their hands on the roof. We waved a piece of cloth to see them off.

Kamikaze fighters flew very low to avoid US army's antiaircraft guns. We could see faces of Kamikaze pilots clearly.

Some pilot was smiling, and another pilot was waving his hand. There were great fleets of US navy under them.

We could only shout "Go for it!"

After Kamikaze fighters flew over us, they jumped into huge battle ships over there. They looked like flies. Very small Kamikaze fighters, which looked just like black spots in the clear blue sky, struck battle ships with a lot of bullets and shells, and huge explosion happened. And then another pillar of fire was on the battle ship next to it. And then.

After the end of the War, he got into US army's camp as a houseboy, and made friends with many Afro American solders. They sung a song at a party, he also sung together with a handmade Sanshin, a traditional Okinawan instrument. He said that he sung in a low and husky voice, because he might be influenced by the Afro African way of singing and talking. I wrote about his experience on this weblog.

He got into US army's camp not only to work as a houseboy but also to steal US army's commodities. At that time Okinawan people called stolen commodities "military results (戦果)". It might be quite hard to survive in Okinawa after the War. I'm impressed that his toughness to talk about such sever episodes happily.

His "Umaku (naughty)" life continued after that. He really devoted himself to song, and he was confident that he was the best Okinawan singer. He didn't sing a song as a "traditional art", but have been creating "living Okinawan songs". He talked about this with good humor as follows.

Recently somebody calls me "the Okinawan Jimi Hendrix", but I don't know the rock singer "Jimi Hendrix" at all. It's sure I came over by quick playing the Sanshin much earlier than Jimi Hendrix by quick playing the guitar.

Bravo Seigua! You are not "the Okinawan Jimi Hendrix" but "the Seigua"!

His songs are soulful and moved. I don't know if his "Umaku (naughty)" life gives his songs soul or he is just good at singing.

I sing with Seigua's songs, "Hiya hiya hiya hiya hiya hiyamikachi ukiri hiyamikati ukiri" in the Okinawan dialect.

"Hiyamikachi bushi"「ヒヤミチカ節」

We fall down seven times, and stand up quickly.
七転び転び ヒヤミカチ起きてぃ
We make our Okinawa be known all over the world
我した此ぬ沖縄 世界に知らさ 世界に知らさ

Hiya hiya hiya hiya hiya
ヒヤ ヒヤ ヒヤ ヒヤ ヒヤ
Hiyamikachi ukiri, hiyamikachi ukiri
ヒヤミカチウキリ ヒヤミカチウキリ

The beauty of blooming followers and harmonizing music.
花や咲ち美らさ 学やない美らさ
Let's play our music to all over the world
ちかさな世界に 学ぬてぃなみ 学ぬてぃなみ

We are tigers, and give us wings.
我んや虎でむぬ 羽ちきてぃたぼり
Let's go over the huge Pacific.
波路パシヒック 渡てぃなゃびら 渡てぃなゃびら

Take Kyan and Kunzyan up.
ちゃんとくんじゃんぬ まさちとぅぃあぎで
Let's tell the beauty of Okinawa to all over the world.
沖縄あん てぃあぃ 世界に知らさ 世界に知らさ

Our Okinawa is a treasure island.
我した此ぬ沖縄 宝島でむね
Unite our hearts and let's stand up.
心うち合わち う立みそり う立みそり

Apr 18, 2011

J. G. Ballard and His Obsession

I've read J. G. Ballard's works "Miracles of Life", "Empire of the Sun" and "The Kindness of Woman".

"Miracles of Life" is an Autobiography, which became his last work. "Empire of the Sun" and "The Kindness of Woman" are fictionalized autobiographies.

He was born in 1930 in the Shanghai International Settlement, which was in fact a small colony of imperial countries. His father was a manager of a textile factory, and his family lived in an estate in western bourgeois style of life hiring many Chinese servants. On the other hand there were huge numbers of poor Chinese, who lived really in miserable lives and were exploited by Westerners in Shanghai. Ballard was raised seeing such sever and contradictory situation with his own eyes.

After the outbreak of World War 2, Japanese army occupied the Shanghai International Settlement, and Ballard's family and he were sent to a concentration camp. His life completely changed. He experienced hunger and violence of Japanese army, and witnessed many Chinese and Japanese people were killed without any reason nor any dignity.

After the end of World War 2, he moved to UK. His memory in Shanghai obsessed him and England at that time was depressed for him, so he couldn't adapt to life in UK. His obsession control his life and he couldn't escape from the notion of death of his life and destruction of the world.

His friends, his wife and he, himself tried to run away from his obsession, but they haven't succeeded. His novels are deeply influenced by his awful and amazing obsession. His obsession might make himself unhappy, but we can read his masterworks by his obsession.

He's gone in 2009. I think he couldn't have left his obsession at the end of his life, but he became to be able to control his obsession. Before he became a novelist, he did self-defeating behavior. And then he expressed his obsession as novels, he controlled his own life.

I think people, who are living in the disaster area of this earthquake and this tsunami, are captured by deep obsessions of their awful memories. It's might be impossible for them to forget these memories, but I really hope they'll find the way to control their own obsessions like J. G. Ballard

Apr 16, 2011

"Two Drops of Tears" (二つの涙)

"Two Drops of Tears" (二つの涙)
by Sambomaster (サンボマスター)

When two drops of tears overlap. I'll sing the song "Two Drops of Tears".

Giving you full of bouquet isn't only love, you know.
You must have cried loudly today.
Please tell only me the reason, and we'll be born again.

Two drops of overlapping tears will just change into love.
They'll keep connecting our minds forever and ever.
I know we have nothing.
But I don't want you to do anything, and I love you.
Our minds will be new and our tears will be born again.
We'll be free.

I realize now, this world isn't a lie.
Just in this place it connects past with future, and everything will be born again.

Two drops of overlapping tears will just change into love.
They'll keep connecting our minds forever and ever.
I know we are dirty.
But I don't want you to feel guilty, and I love you.
Our tears will be born again, and our minds will be new.
We'll be free.

I wanna shed tears with you,
playing new Japanese soul music!!
Lets get it, come on!
Oh, still, in this pure and dirty world.

Two drops of overlapping tears will just change into love.
They'll keep connecting our minds slightly but certainly.
I know we have nothing.
But I don't want to lose you, and you are everything.
We will be new and we will be dirty and pure.
Don't you think tears make you and me free?
Tell the truth, and be free.

Tears, tears, tears, shed tears and be born again!

I wanna sing the road and the light of new Japanese soul music with you.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.

"War and Me" (戦争と僕)

"War and Me" (戦争と僕)
by Sambomaster (サンボマスター)

Oh baby, right now, right now, right now.
Uh, I don't wanna say what is wrong.

I'll shot unknown people in an unknown town tomorrow.
I'll shot people, telling myself to save you, tomorrow.

Some awful things may be happening bit by bit in your town.
They told me to save you, but I don’t know the reason.

This year apples are ripe at my hometown. Sorry for not keeping our promise.
I've realizes it was a sad thing now. I wanted to find our answer with you.

I'll hurt unknown people in an unknown town tomorrow.
I'll shot people, telling myself to save you, tomorrow.

This year it snowed at my hometown. Sorry for not realizing our wish.
Forget me and get happy. I wanted to find our answer with you.

I'll hurt unknown people in an unknown town tomorrow.
I'll do, I'll do, oh baby, what I can't even tell tomorrow.

Apr 15, 2011

Enjoying the Diversity of the Internet World

Recently I'm addicted to lang-8.

Lang-8 is an SNS, where people, who are learning foreign languages, help each other. I, who am a native Japanese speaker and am learning English, make corrections to Japanese, which Japanese learners write. And I'm given corrections on my English by native English speakers.

I can get to know people on lang-8, whom I couldn't even imagine getting to know before. Three people regularly make corrections on my journals and leave me comments.

The first is a Senegal girl. She is quite girlish and likes Japanese anime. She calls herself "an African Sailor Moon".

The second is a British girl. She is a "tsundere" with a great wit.

They are quite contrasting, but both of them are cute and charming, kawaii, in their own way.

The third is a young Brazilian man. He is a very curious and intellectual individual. We've read many of same books, and talked up about them. I don't have many friends in real life to talk with about my favorite novels, around me. It's amazing that I can make friends on the other side of the planet, and talk through the Internet.

They are very colorful and I've realized that the world is a vast place and there is a great variety of people are living. In Soseki Natsume's novel "Sanshiro" Mr. Hirota said "Tokyo is bigger than Kumamoto, and Japan is bigger than Tokyo. And then the inside of your head is bigger than Japan". I like this phrase, but the inside of the Internet is really bigger than inside of my head.

I watched a press conference about the accident at the Fukusjima Dai-ichi nuclear power plants, and I found only middle aged Asian men side by side wearing the same work clothes. It looked strange. Although there are such a wide variety of people in the world, why are there only such similar people in Tepco?

The CEO of Areva, which is a nuclear power plant company, came to Japan to help dealing with the accident. The CEO of Areva is an energetic businesswoman, and is quite contrasting with the CEO of Tepco, who is a tired elderly man.

Reading foreign newspapers, they really admire that people in the disaster area are keeping order, but on the contrary Tepco has quite a bad reputation. They don't trust them at all, so people living in Japan don't either.

Tepco apparently lacks an international sense and has been neglecting to care for afflicted people . One of the reasons why they do so is a lack of diversity. Tepco has only similar people, who think in similar ways.

I'm really enjoying the diversity of the Internet world and the deference between people in it. It stimulates me and makes me creative.

Japanese society and companies need diversity now.

Apr 14, 2011

An Insomniac's Morning

Even since I have suffered from depression, I have not been able to sleep well. I take a sleeping pill before I go to bed, so I can fall asleep quickly. But I awake very early in the morning.

The minute I wake up in my bed, I try to go back to sleep again for a while, then I give up. I began to think about what I'll write on my weblog, or what I should do on business today. Then I get out of the bed without waking my wife up, and turn on my PC.

It's dark, silent, cold and I am alone. I love such mornings.

The insomniac's morning is busy. I check my e-mail, twitter, facebook, lang-8, some weblogs and newspaper sites.

I e-mail a list of what I should do today to myself. And I send some e-mail to friends of mine and make some comments on SNSs. Some of my friends overseas log onto the Internet when it is very early in the morning in Japan, and they immediately reply to my e-mails and comments.

After we exchange e-mails and comments, I begin to write a journal on my weblog. I already wrote it in my head when I was in bed turning over, and I just type it. (Of course I have to make corrections.)

I read newspapers. Recently I get angry over the news about the accidents of the nuclear plants.

I see a morning glow in the sky through the window over the PC, and my wife gets out of the bed. I make two pieces of toast, and she makes two cups of cappuccino. We eat crisp toast and drink hot cappuccino together with a warm talk.

I also love such a breakfast.

I get the energy to work today and leave home for the office.

This is an insomniac's morning.

Apr 12, 2011

They've Been Lying

Kazuyoshi Saito, a popular rock musician in Japan, sung a parody of his own hit song "I've been loving you (ずっと好きだった)" on Ustream.

This song is called "They've Been Lying (ずっと嘘だった)".

Any video of this song is deleted from YouTube as soon as possible, because it is a protest song against nuclear power. Of course we can't watch it on TV.

It is more natural that a rock musician sings a protest song than anything. Rock music is essentially protesting against the main stream of societies.

Anyone has the right to say anything in Japan and all over the world. Japan is like Libya or North Korea, is it?

I don't know when Japan became such a fucking country, oh no, it's been a fucking country.

I will translate the lyric of "They've been lying" as follows.

They've Been Lying

When we walk around this country, we find 54 nuclear plants.
Textbooks and TV commercials said they were safe.

They tricked us, and their excuse is "beyond expectations".
Dear old blue sky, and ticklish black rain.

They've been lying, and it comes out after all.
They've been really lying that nuclear power was safe.

They've been lying, and I wanna eat spinach.
They've been really lying, and they must know this situation.
Nobody can stop blowing radioactivity.
How many people will be exposed, until this country's government will recognize it?

Leaving this town, do you find nice water?
Tell me, Oh no, no thank you.
Nowhere to run away at last.

They've been fucking, Tepco, Hokuden, Chuden and Kyuden.
We stop dreaming any more.

They've been fucking, but they still never stop it.
They've been really fucking, and we wanna do something.

They've been lying.

They've been really fucking.

"They've been lying (ずっと嘘だった)"

"I've been loving you (ずっと好きだった)"

Brothers in a Medieval Castle

I had a dream.

In it, two brothers are living in a medieval castle made of brown stones on the edge of a precipice. They have contrasting characters, but they are very close to each other.

The younger brother is a short handsome boy. He is a genius in mathematics, and is always reading old parchment books. But he isn't a professional mathematician, and has never presented any paper. He discovers new formulas by himself just for fun.

The elder brother is a tall, dull guy. He isn't interested in any study or book at all, and he is always looking out to the sea. He hits a bell on the top of the castle at twelve o'clock. But he can’t count how many times he hit the bell, sometimes he hits it thirteen times and other times eleven times.

The younger brother helps the elder brother to count to twelve. They shout together,

one, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, eleven, and twelve!

And then they are very satisfied. The younger brother starts to read a mathematics book, and the elder brother is just looking at the sea.

Apr 11, 2011

Soseki Natsume, on the Ridge between Eastern and Western Culture

I wrote "Modern Japanese is mixture of the traditional Japanese "やまとことば", classical Chinese, and European languages." in a previous journal.

Soseki Natsume "夏目漱石", who is thought to be one of the most important novelist in modern Japanese literature (I think of him as the greatest intellectual in modern Japan), symbolizes modern Japan.

He was born just in the period of transition from the Edo era, pre-modern times to the Meiji era, modern times. He was grown up in the environment of pre-modern Japan and got modern westernized education.

When he was a child, he learned classical Chinese "漢文" (kanbun) as usual intellectuals did in pre-modern times. And then he learned English literature in Tokyo University and became a scholar of English literature.

He wrote in the preface of the book "A Theory of Literature 文学論(Bungaku ron)" as follows.


I know that I don't have deep knowledge of classical Chinese, but I am confident that I can enjoy it deeply. My knowledge of English must not be deep, but I think that it is inferior to one of classical Chinese. My preferences of classical Chinese and English are so far, because their characters are definitely different. We cannot include Literature in classical Chinese and one in English language in the same category.

When he stayed in London to study English literature, he realized that he couldn't accept Western culture symbolized by English literature. But he knew that Japanese people must accept Western modern culture and technology at that time.

After he came back from London, he quit a proffer of English literature at Tokyo University and began to write the Western styles of novels in Japanese language.

When he was writing his last novel "Light and Darkness 明暗(Mei An)" (this novel is a typical psychological novel), he wrote this novel in the morning and classical Chinese poetries in the afternoon just for fun. He analyzed the mind of modern Japanese people by writing a Western style novel for his readers, and enjoyed Eastern traditional culture for himself.

His intelligence is quite complicated and contradictory between Eastern pre-modern and Western modern culture. He felt affinity with Eastern pre-modern culture, but tried to struggle with Western modern culture.

This contradiction made his novel and thought deeper and richer. Intellectuals born in non-Western world sympathize with Soseki Natsume’s life and novels, because they share the destiny to struggle with Western modern culture.

Apr 9, 2011

Smells Like English Sprit

Recently I write journals on my weblog in both of English and Japanese. Although Japanese version of my journals isn't a literal translation from English version, I try to make a close translation. It might be useful for learners of Japanese language.

Writings in classical Chinese, "漢文(kanbun)", which are written by Japanese, are often described as smelling Japanese , "和臭がする(washu ga suru)". When I read Japanese version of my journals, I find it smelling English.

I wrote a sentence in my yesterday's journal as follows.

I am not a big fan of his, but this cd made me realize that he was one of the most important rock musicians in the Japanese rock music history.


I wrote this sentence in the first draft in this way.


This sentence is grammatically correct and Japanese speakers can understand what I mean precisely, but it smells English very much.

This expression, "もっとも…の一人", "one of the most…", is quite English way of thinking. Inanimate subject, "このCDには…させられた", "this cd made me…", also smells very English.

I can rewrite this sentence to smell Japanese more, as follows.


Japanese language has been influenced by foreign languages, and expanding its variety of expressions through Japanese history.

Chinese characters, "漢字(kanji)" are used in Japanese, because Japanese writings are based on classical Chinese. If Japanese language doesn't have rich expressions from classical Chinese, we can just express very limited ideas. (So I think it is lucky for us to have many kanji in Japanese, let's learn kanji more!)

The very first modern Japanese prose was a Japanese translation of Turgenev by Shimei Futabatei (二葉亭四迷) in the Meiji era. Modern Japanese is mixture of the traditional Japanese "やまとことば", classical Chinese, and European languages.

Haruki Murakami has read much American literature. About twenty years ago I used to feel his Japanese smelled very English, but now his Japanese sounds natural for me. Japanese language and my sense of Japanese have been changing.

I have read many journals smelling English, Chinese and Korean on Lang-8 (http://goo.gl/fuyN). I often think of them as very interesting. Non-native Japanese speakers might make Japanese language richer, and their expression will smell Japanese in the future.

My English might smell Japanese, but I hope I will add new expressions to English language.

Apr 8, 2011

Keisuke Kuwata, a Perfect Response to the Japanese Rock Music Dispute

I was listening to the latest Keisuke Kuwata's cd "Musicman" on my way to my office.

I am not a big fan of his, but this cd made me realize that he was one of the most important rock musicians in the Japanese rock music history.

In early 1970s Japanese rock musicians discussed if they could play rock music in Japanese language. Some of them insisted that Japanese language never fit the beat of rock music.

At that time "はっぴいえんど(Happiiendo)", which was a cult rock band, tried to play rock music in Japanese. Their master work, "風をあつめて(Getting Winds Together)", which was sung just in Japanese, show they could play rock music in Japanese.

After "はっぴいえんど", it was common to play rock music in Japanese. Takashi Matsumoto(松本隆), who had written all of lyrics of "はっぴいえんど"'s songs, became one of the most popular lyric writers in Japanese pop music scene. Hosono Haruomi(細野晴臣), who had been a member of "はっぴいえんど", made YMO.

Now most of Japanese rock songs are sung in Japanese, but I doubt that the problem of Japanese rock music has been really solved.

In many Japanese rock songs, simple English phrases are suddenly inserted without any reason. Maybe they think English are cool and fit rock music, but I feel they are strange. If Japanese language really fits rock music, they should sing rock songs just in Japanese. If English fits rock music more, they should sing rock songs just in English. "はっぴいえんど" sang their songs just in Japanese.

This is an example of such songs, "誘惑(Yuwaku, Temptation)" sung by Glay.

Teru (I don't know why his name is written in the alphabet), the vocal of Glay, starts to sing this song in Japanese, and suddenly he shouts "because I love you". Why dose he sing "because I love you" in English?
And this is Keisuke Kuwata's "現代人諸君! (Gendaijin Shokun!, To Modern People!)".

His lyric also is a mixture of Japanese and English, but his Japanese is harmony with his English.
When I heard this song first, I couldn't distinguish between Japanese or English. He sings this song in Japanese and English with the same accent.

For example, he naturally makes rhymes in Japanese and English. In the beginning of this song, "work", "omowaku(思惑)" and "rouku(労苦)", and "toshu(党首)", "sakushu(搾取)" and "crash" are rhymes, because he pronounced "omowaku(思惑)" as "om work", "rouku(労苦)" as "rork", "Toushu(党首)" as "Tosh" and "Sakushu(搾取)" as "Sukush".

It completely fits his rock beat.

This is a perfect response to the Japanese rock music dispute.

Apr 7, 2011

Under the Cherry Tree

Today I'll write about a waka(和歌) written by Saigyo Hoshi(西行法師).

Waka is the most popular and traditional Japanese short verse. Saigyo Hoshi is a famous Kajin(歌人), waka poet. He was born as a member of the aristocrats in 1118, but then he deserted his status and became a Buddhist monk.

He composed a waka about cherry blossoms.

Negawakuba hana no shita nite haru shinan sono Kisaragi no Mochizuki no koro

I can't translate Japanese poetry into English at all, but at least I'll try to explain its meaning.

I hope I will die under a cherry tree in full bloom in Kisaragi(如月), the second month in the lunar calendar, under a full moon, when Buddha was born.

I imaged such a story as follows, when I read this waka.

An old and nameless monk was wandering as a mendicant. His clothes became all frayed because of his long pilgrimage.

He found a big cherry tree in full bloom at the end of some village. He sat under the cherry tree and took a rest for his weary feet.

It became evening, and he had to find a place to sleep this night. But he didn't even have enough energy to stand up. When he sat under the cherry tree, he was quite comfortable for some reason. He decided to keep sitting under the cherry tree all night long.

He closed his eyes, and fell into a sleep. When he woke up, it already was dark.

There were full cherry blossoms lit by the light of a full moon around him. He saw cherry blossoms scattering like snow.

Next morning someone, who lived in this village, found an old monk sleeping under the cherry tree. When he tried to wake him up, he found he was not breathing.

He buried this monk under the cherry tree. His grave was covered with cherry blossoms.

His body decayed in the earth. The cherry tree absorbed the nutrition from his decayed body, and then in next spring the cherry blossoms were more beautiful.

Motojiro Kajii, an author of modern Japanese literature, wrote the short story "Under the Cherry Tree" inspired by this Saigyo's waka. If you are interested in this journal, I recommend trying to read this story.

Apr 5, 2011

Cherry Blossoms, Death and Rebirth

I wrote a journal about cherry blossoms and spring.

This is a short and simple journal, but I tried to give it a deep meaning.

In Japanese literature, cherry blossoms traditionally have symbolized beauty and death. Cherry blossoms are very beautiful, but they are scattered in a short period. We feel they are more beautiful, since we can see them just in a shorter period. Maybe human lives are the same as cherry blossoms are.

We have called this feeling "aware (あわれ)" in Japanese language for a thousand years. This word is the one of most important words in Japanese literature.

I'm not a Christian, and I don't believe in God. But I feel I'm living in the great nature, which is beyond the human intellect and will.

Sometimes it give us disasters, which we can't even imagine, like this earthquake and tsunami, but also give us beauty like cherry blossoms. Cherry blossoms are scattered, but they will reborn next spring.

Anyway this is my own explanation of this journal. Everyone can interpret texts in their own way.

Apr 4, 2011

The Japanese Government Should Share the Lesson of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Over the World

Kazuyo Katsuma wrote the article "A Proposal about the Nuclear Accident – We Should Stop a Risk Causing New Risks" on the website "REAL-JAPAN.ORG".

This journal is a comment on her article.

We should think of two aspects of the Fukushima nuclear accident. First is the technical and scientific aspect of nuclear power plants, for example, how radioactive materials leak from the nuclear power stations, how radioactive contamination affects human health and so on. Second is the institutional and human aspect of management of the whole nuclear power system in Japan, which is led by The Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco), Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI), Nuclear Safety Commission (NSC) and Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency (NISA).

I'm not an expert of the technical aspect of nuclear power plants, and I'll not make a comment about the first aspect.

On the second aspect, it is clear that the Japanese government reformed the laws and institution of the safe management of the nuclear power, but they have not been adequately functioning, and responses of Tepco and NISA to this accident have numerous problems.

The fact that IAEA requested Tepco and NISA to be more transparent, indicates that not only ordinary people living in Japan but also experts of nuclear power over the world don't rely on the information reported by the organization of nuclear power in Japan, Tepco, METI and NISA. If we will promote nuclear power system in Japan, even if we will just keep on working the nuclear power plants which are working now, we must make a radical reform of this organization in order to remove deep distrust.

The emergency response to lead Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power plant into staple conditions is now the first priority, and the discussion about future nuclear power policy in Japan is a low priority. Tepco and NISA don't seem to be able to forecast what will happen next in the nuclear power plant, and they are just making palliative responses, not systematic responses. Now that no one can access the final effects and risk of this accident. We can’t decide the future nuclear power policy without rational and scientific data.

Katsuma wrote "We should make a concrete and foreseeing discussion about the future power policy in Japan." but I doubt deeply if we can make a "concrete discussion" based on uncertain data now. Katsuma also wrote "If we can't rely on all of the risk management, we can't know who and what we should rely on.", but I also doubt if we, including she, can rely on the risk management by Tepco and NISA. At the least they don’t seem to be relied on in the international society. The countries, which have nuclear power system or will have it, will never decide their own nuclear power policies based on the risk assessment conducted by the current Japanese organization of nuclear power system.

After Fukushima Dai-ichi nuclear power station will be staple conditions to some extent, IAEA, not Japanese government, should lead the assessment of the effect and risk of this accident, and discuss about nuclear policy based on this assessment. Now we don’t have enough scientific information and any organization to review this accident.

This accident will heavily affect not only nuclear policies in Japan but also all over the world. We must not forget that we are required to give reliable information and risk assessment of this accident the international society. People, who are involved in nuclear power system of Japan, have duty to share information of effects, risks and lessons of this accident. But I’m anxious about the current organization, which is managing the nuclear power system in Japan, hide the truth about this accident.

I myself don't deny nuclear power system. But there is a general consensus that we can't trust the current organization with nuclear power system, considering the problem of transparency on these problems and the conflict with the communities where nuclear power plants are built.

Apr 3, 2011

Spring Has Come, Again.

I saw cherry blossoms blooming along the Kanda river,
and I heard a warbler singing behind my house.

This is spring in uptown Tokyo.

Whatever happened,
spring has come, again.

Apr 1, 2011

Pesto Paakin Mama

Yesterday I was listening to Seijin Noborikawa's (登川誠仁) CD "Howling Wolf" on my way to my office.

Seijin Noborikawa, known as Seigua(誠小), is one of the most famous Shimauta(島唄), Okinawan folk songs, singers. His voice is truly soulful, grooving and bitter. He himself is a master of Shimauta, but not at all a snob.

In this CD "Howling Wolf" Seigua sung the song called "Pesto Paakin Mama(ペストパーキンママ)".

After World War 2, the US army had occupied Okinawa for 27 years. When he was a child, he was a houseboy of a US soldier, who was stationed in Okinawa.

At that time he was used to listening to American music. He couldn't speak English, but he remembered many songs just through his own ears. He didn't know the meaning of the lyrics at all, but he had sung these songs with a Sanshin(三線), which is a traditional Okinawan instrument like Ukurere.

"Pesto Paakin Mama" is one of such songs. He sang this song happily in fake English.

Of course this is a kind of comic song, and I can"t stop laughing out when I listen to this song. But at the same time I'm deeply moved by this song thinking of the struggle of Okinawan people against World War 2 and the occupation by US army. They had a hard time, but they are so tough that they have never forgotten their humor.

"Pesuto Paakin Mama" sung by Seigua and Terurin

"Pistol Packin' Mamma", which is the original song of "Pesuto Paakin Mama", sung by Bing Crosby and The Andrew Sisters