Dec 30, 2011

Arsenal Aren't What They Used to Be

In this month Barça came to Japan and completely beat Santos in the Club World Cup. I watched Cesc work for Messi and Iniesta. I remembered that he played (not worked) free football as the captain of Arsenal. But it's his position now.

A few days ago I watched Nasri and Clichy wearing not red but a blue uniform on TV. Manchester City got many star players and they are contending the top of the Premier League against Manchester United in this season.

I love Arsenal. In a more precise sense, I love what they used to be. Arsenal lost Cesc, Nasri and Clichy and they depend on van Persie's ability to score goals in this season. I think that it's not the style of Arsenal.

Their style was so beautiful and fragile. When they win, they pass a ball each other and get goals gracefully. But I've watched Chelsea crashed Arsenal by their physical power at the end of season. I knew that it was hard for them to win Europe Champion keeping their style, but I supported them eagerly.

Every team has its own time. I love the New York Yankees of the 90's. (see "Goodbye My Good Old Yankees") I couldn't watch such a team forever. My "Arsenal" has gone and exists just in my memory.

Dec 25, 2011

Everyday Life in Shinjuku 2-chome: Gay People Aren't Special at All

Last night I watched a TV program about Shinjuku 2-chome, which is the biggest gay village in Tokyo (of course in Japan) like the Castro in San Francisco.

There are so many gay bars where gay people gather together in order to enjoy drinking and to find partners. They've formed to "2-chome" gay community and culture. Recently straight people, who are interested in "2-chome" culture, come to drink at gay bars, which straight people can get in to. (Of course there are many gay bars, of which only gay people are allowed to enter).

One of my colleagues used to get involved in a gay bar in 2-chome, and sometimes he invited me to the bar. He was a nice looking guy, so when he was at the bar, he got a lot of cheers. He was really popular with the people in that bar. I was (and am now) a straight person, but I envied him a little (at heart very much).

Generally speaking Japanese society is relatively tolerant of gay people, (although there is discrimination against gay people.)

We see popular gay entertainers on TV everyday, such as Ai Haruna (はるな愛 ). At first he (she) did an imitation of Aya Matsuura, who used to be a popular girl singer at that time, but now he is much more popular than she is.

There was a long tradition of sodomy, which was strongly related to Samurai  and Buddhist priests, in Japan. There have been almost no religions that prohibited homosexuality. And now Yaoi (やおい) and BL (boys' love), which deal with homosexuality between boys, are important parts of Otaku culture.

I like Fumi Yoshinaga's comic "What did you eat yesterday?" (きのう何食べた?), which is about the everyday life of a middle aged gay couple.

I also love the novel and film "Kiss of the Spider Woman". This is a tragic love of a gay and a straight man. But nothing special happens in the story of "What did you eat yesterday?" She expressed that gay people also lived just a peaceful life and they aren't special at all.

Dec 23, 2011

"I Talked with Mr. Seiji Ozawa about Music": Haruki Murakami and Seiji Ozawa

I couldn't write a new journal on weekday, because I had too many things to do. Today is the Emperor's birthday, which is a holiday, so I can began to write this journal now. But the topic has no relationship with the Emperor's birthday.

I've read Haruki Murakami's latest book "I Talked with Mr. Seiji Ozawa about Music" 「小澤征爾さんと、音楽について話をする」.

Seiji Ozawa is the most famous Japanese conductor, who had worked as a music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra for 29 years and used to be a principal conductor of the Vienna State Opera.

He suffered from esophageal cancer and took a break for treatment. But he had unexpected free time and Haruki Murakami was able to interview him for a large portion of it.

Seiji Ozawa and Haruki Murakami are the most respected living Japanese artists in the world now, so this book is quite interesting and worth reading for fans of classical music and literature.

I'd like to quote and translate some passage in this book.

In the preface Haruki Murakami wrote about things in common between them.

I began to think that Mr. Seiji Ozawa and I have something in common between us.

At first, both of us feel very pure pleasure about working. Although our specialities are different, music and literature, we are happiest while we devote to our work. The fact that we concentrate on them gives us the deepest satisfaction.

Secondary, we are as hungry as when we were young. The most important motivation of working and living is our spirits of inquiry that make us go forward. I can feel deeply his greediness in a good sense from his words.

Finally we are stubborn. We are patient, tough, and stubborn. We could do just what we want to do, even if anyone said anything. If it caused hardship or made someone hate us, we would accept responsibility without excuse.





I remembered the Stevie Jobs's words in his speech "Stay hungry, stay foolish." (See my journal "Reading the Air") They really "stay hungry and stay foolish." It might be the reason why they touch the people beyond Japanese boarder.

Seiji Ozawa talked about growing as follows.
Ozawa "I'm changing, even when I became so old. I'm changing through the experience, and it might be the feature of the occupation of conductor. We change at the field. A conductor can do nothing without the real sound of an orchestra. I read a score and make sound in my brain. And then the players of the orchestra and I make the real sound. This process creates many things, for example, the practical human relationship or the musical judge about focusing the part of the music. Sometimes we should check the music in the wide view, and other times we should deeply stick to the short phrase. I have to decide the point of focus. We change ourselves through these experiences."


Although Seiji Ozawa said that this was the feature of conductors, I think that everyone, who works with someone else, must experience the same thing of what Seiji Ozawa said.

I'm one of managers in my company. I always think about how the members of my team help each other and work together. Sometimes I think about it in the long term, and other times I concentrate on the fine detail. With this interaction inside my head, the team, myself included, comes into state of change.

We shouldn't be afraid of changing.

Dec 18, 2011

A Linguistic Laboratory: "le Langue" and "la Parole"

Ferdinand de Saussure, a Swiss linguist, said that languages have two aspects. He called them "la langue" and "la parole".

"La langue" is the static structure of languages. From the synchronic perspective, languages are a bunch of rules. Every language has its own grammar and every word has its own meaning. We talk with each other following the rules of our common language, so we can understand what we mean. If languages have no rules, the world would be "the Tower of Babel".

But who decides the rules of languages and where are these rules? Laws are established by congresses (or kings), and we can read the law in the national archives.

When we are born, "la langue" already exists. And then we learn the rules of the language. In this sense, the rules of languages are "givens", which we can't change by ourselves. Especially we, the learners of secondary languages, are learning the grammar and vocabulary through textbooks and dictionaries, as if they were the inflexible written rules.

But we can't point out who decides the rules of languages. "La langue" is established by "la parole", which is the assembly of speeches. The rules of languages are just conventional. The meaning of the certain word established by the fact that people use the word as the certain meaning. For example, in English the word "dog" means the certain species of animal, because English speakers call this animal "dog". In Japanese "犬(inu)" means this animal, because Japanese speakers call it "犬(inu)".

Linguists study the convention of languages and write textbooks and dictionaries. But textbooks and dictionaries aren't the rules of languages themselves. They are just imperfect descriptions of the rules of languages.

In the short term "le langue" defines "la parole" and in the long run "la parole" changes "le langue". The relationship between them is dialectic. We experience that "le langue" defines our "parole", but it's difficult for us to recognize that "le parole" changes "le langue", because this process is so slow and in large scale.

Now I'm really interested in the family langue of my friend, Nigist Aisha. At first please read her journal on lang8.

"My Family's Language" by Nigist Aisha

"Le Langue" of her family language is establishing by "la parole" just now. She can observe "le parole" is changing "le langue"! It's a linguistic laboratory.

Dec 15, 2011

A Baby Starts Learning Language From When They Are In Their Mother's Womb

I listen to English podcasts on my way to the office so that I can get used to the sound of English.

My favorite one is "English Cafe" of ESL (English as a Secondary Language) podcast. This podcast is specifically for people learning English learners, so they talk more slowly and use a smaller range of vocabulary is limited. I can understand almost all of it. And what's more, its content is interesting. For example they talk about atypical the U.S. culture and history.

But I think that I should also listen to natural English, so I try to listen to English news podcasts, such as CNN Student News, National Public Radio, NBC Nightly News and CNN Anderson Cooper 360.

It's good for me to listen to American students' casual English in CNN student news. NPR News is only about five minutes long, so it's convenient when I don't have enough time. I can imagine from very ordinary American lives through NBC Nightly News. I'm most interested in Anderson Cooper 360, but it's a little difficult to catch all of remarks in this program. The discussions between the guest commentators - although really interesting - particularly hard to understand, because the guest commentators' pronunciation isn't always that clear and their vocabulary can be very technical.

Recently I started listening to TED podcasts. TED offers lectures on a wide range of topics. TED's motto is "Ideas Worth Spreading", and in fact most lectures are very interesting.

Yesterday I heard the lecture about the learning of pre-born babies.

There is a word "胎教 (tai-kyo)" in Japanese. "Tai" means "in utero" and "Kyo" means "lesson". Most mothers talk to their babies while they are still in their womb. Some of them play the music of Mozart close to their abdomen so that the baby inside can hear it.

The lecturer said that pre-born babies heard their mothers' voice through vibrations of mothers' bodies. In addition, small Infants can recognize their mothers' voices and they cry in their mothers' accent. An English mother's infant cry in an English accent!

The foods which a mothers eats when she is pregnant can also have an effect on her baby's sense of taste.

I like to eat Italian food that has been cooked by a chef, who grew up on food cooked by an Italian mamma, because only such a chef has the real sense of Italian food. (I don't trust a chef of Italian food born in Japan.) According to this lecture, it's important that the chef's mamma ate good Italian food in pregnancy.

Dec 11, 2011

A Bar Just After Opening and A Hair Salon Just Before Closing

I love a bar just after opening and a hair salon just before closing.

I went to my favorite bar at 5:00 p.m. I was the first customer at the bar that day. The air in the bar was clean and the bartender was fresh and a little nervous.

I said, "Hello" to him, and sat in my favorite chair at the bar. There were many glittering glasses and bottles on the shelf behind him. The top of the bar was brightly polished.

He put a dish of nuts and said, "Welcome. What would you like today?" I replied, "Well, I'll start with beer."

He poured cool beer into the tall glass. I drank the first shot of beer that night. It was like heaven.

The other day I went to my favorite hair salon after work. I was the last customer that day.

My hairdresser said, "Hello, how are you?" He was happy and relaxed, because the salon would close soon. We cracked jokes with each other.

He had my hair shampooed, cut and blow dried quickly. Other hairdressers were cleaning.

After he finished cutting my hair, all of the hairdressers and clerks saw me off and said, "Thank you very much."

I walked down a street with short hair, and felt fresh wind. It was like heaven.

Dec 10, 2011

Perfume and Girls' Generation

K-Pop, Korean pop music, is very popular in East Asia and Southeast Asia including Japan, now.

But I'm not interested in K-Pop, because most of K-Pop musicians, who come to Japan, are so commercialized and their music doesn't touch me at all. Of course all of pop music is more or less commercialized, but I'm looking for the music with soul.

I can understand that Girls' Generation (少女時代), who is the most popular K-Pop girls' group, want to make it in the music industry and in fact they provide well-made entertainment. But I can't feel what they want to express through their music. They don’t play music but “work” music. In this sense I sympathize with them, but I don't want to listen to their music.

My views of music might be out of date and the fans of Girls' Generation might just enjoy their performance.

But it doesn't mean that I don't listen to girls' pop music at all. I like Perfume and Puffy, who are Japanese girls' pop group (Puffy isn't girls now).

All of Perfume's songs are produced and written by Yasutaka Nakata, electro DJ. In the same way, all of Puffy's songs are Tamio Okuda's work, one of the most respected rock musicians in Japan. The members of Perfume trust Yasutaka Nakata and the members of Puffy trust Tamio Okuda.

Yasutaka Nakata and Tamio Okuda make good music, so songs sung by Perfume and Puffy are worth listening to.

At the same time they aren't just puppets of their producers.

Yasutaka Nakata have his own unit, Capsule, but I think that the songs sung by Perfume are much more excellent compared to that of Capsule's. It can be said that Perfume is the best of Yasutaka Nakata's works.

Puffy has their own characters. Tamio Okuda wrote songs, which only Puffy could sing well, for them. Puffy express their music world.

I'm looking forward to female K-pop groups with their own soul and originality.

"Mr. Taxi" sung by Girls' Generation

“Love me naturally”(ナチュラルに恋して) sung by Perfume written by Yasutaka Nakata

Love me naturally and kiss me naturally, please.
Love me naturally and I wanna keep holding your hand.
Love me naturally and huddle together naturally.
Love me naturally. This natural feeling is most real.

You do nothing,
though today is our anniversary.
You're watching TV and clock hands keep going.

Your mobile phone is busy now.
Well, who sends you e-mails?

I'm anxious that you are so popular.
But I feel easy with your smile.

Love me naturally and kiss me naturally, please.
Love me naturally and I wanna keep holding your hand.
Love me naturally and huddle together naturally.
Love me naturally. This natural feeling is most real.

I keep trying watch the movie that you like on your side.
I feel sleepy and sleep on your shoulder.

I'm anxious that you are so popular,
But I feel easy with huddling together.

Love me naturally and kiss me naturally, please.
Love me naturally and I wanna keep holding your hand.
Love me naturally and huddle together naturally.
Love me naturally. This natural feeling is most real.

Love me naturally.

"This Is the Way We Live" (これが私の生きる道) sung by Puffy written by Tamio Okuda

We feel really nice, now.
We say "I'm sorry and thank you".
We see ourselves as the best part of fresh fruits.
And we can keep feeling nice.

If you feel anxious, we could help you.
Whether you do well or bad, it’s the way you live.

We feel nice about our passion.
It’s the proof of living. We can see the world more.
You should see yourself as the best part of fresh fruits.
Changing the angle, we feel nice.

We feel anxious a little, and it's the way we live.
We feel really nice, now.
We say "I'm sorry and thank you".
We've not felt best yet.
See us at the end, and don't get in our way.
We see ourselves as the best part of fresh fruits.
Let it be, and we can keep feeling nice.
And we say "good-bye".

Dec 4, 2011

Writing with a Pen or Typing with a Keyboard

Of course I’m typing this journal with a keyboard now, but I like to write with my favorite fountain pen. I love the feeling of touching and sliding the pen point on paper.

I have a simple rule about whether I write with a pen or type with a keyboard. If things that I write can be reused or searched, I’ll type it and input it as data into a PC. If I use them just one time, I’ll write with a pen.

Especially when I develop an idea, I write it on a sheet of white paper with my favorite pen. I write and draw everything more freely with a pen than with a keyboard and a mouse, so I can develop the idea deeper and wider.

When I stayed in the U.S. for three months 20 years ago, I wrote many letters by pen to my wife (at that time she was a girl friend.) I think that I can express my feelings more when I write by hand.

I always bring a small notebook and when I get an idea to write on my weblogs, I write it down as soon as possible. When I write one of the ideas as a journal, I cross it out. ("I love suffering from insomnia!")

Sometimes in order to share the idea, I scan the document written with a pen into a PDF file and send it to my colleagues through e-mails.

On a business meeting I use a white board and write down what we talked about with a pen. And I take a photo of the white board and send it as a minute. I don't have to write the minute after the meeting with a keyboard.

But there is a great problem. My handwriting in both of Japanese and English is so messy that it's difficult (sometimes impossible) to read it. Even I myself couldn’t read it.

On the other hand, when I make a report, I type it on my PC. I can emend the report easily and of course anyone can read it.

Now I think that I’ll make the expression on the Internet a mixture of digital data and handwritings.