May 26, 2013

What a Dissolute and Delightful Saturday in Kamakura!

Yesterday, my wife and I visited Kamakura.

Kamakura is an old seaside city, about an hour away by train from Tokyo.  The relationship between Tokyo and Kamakura is similar to the one between New York and Long Island, or Los Angeles and Santa Monica. Sometimes we go to Kamakura and spend for half a day walking around, looking at the sea, and having coffee in a cozy café.

After we got off the train at Kamakura station, we went to directly the soba restaurant named Matsubara-an (松原庵).  

We sat down and immediately ordered sparkling wine and antipastos. It is most dissolute and delightful to drink during the day at a nice soba restaurant. Most people around our table were also drinking. It was our first visit to Matsubara-an, and I would really like to go there again.

And then, we went to Komyo-ji (光明寺).

We are now making a pilgrimage of Kamakura thirty three kannons (鎌倉三十三観音参り). We bring our goshuin-cho (御朱印帳), a kind of autograph album with us, and when we visit a temple that have one of the thirty three kannnons, we get stamps on our goshuin-cho. Of course we can’t visit all of thirty tree temples in one day, so we go to Kamakura on a seasonal basis, and visit three or four temples at a time. We have already visited nineteen temples.



This time, we visited Komyo-ji, Renjo-in (蓮乗院), and Senju-in (千手院). Although it is quite imprudent to visit a temple with alcohol, we couldn’t stand it…
a cat in Senju-in(千手院)

Komyo-ji was just beside Zaimoku-za beach (材木座海岸), so after we visited Komyo-ji, we watched some people windsurfing at the beach. The cool wind on my burning cheeks felt great.

What a dissolute and delightful Saturday in Kamakura!

May 5, 2013

Hideki Matsui Is the Yankee

The Japanese government decided to give Hideki Matsui the National Honorary Award. Now he has been to Tokyo to attend the ceremony of this award. Yesterday I watched the TV program about his achievement in MLB.

As I wrote in the entry “Goodbye My Good Old Yankees,” I really love the Yankees in the 1990s. They were the best baseball team that I ever have seen.

All members of the team were tough physically and mentally and devoted to the win of the team. They knew and really did what each of them should do. Shortly, they were just professional. At that time, Paul O’Neill was the symbol of the Yankees. He couldn’t hit thirty home runs in a year, but he was a real clutch hitter.

In the 2000s, the Yankees had changed. In 2001, Paul O’Neill was retired, and after then the Yankees hadn’t won the world champion. In 2004, A Rod was traded to the Yankees, and he hit over fifty home runs in 2007, but the Yankees even didn’t win the divisional title.

Matsui joined the Yankees in 2003. The fans of the Yankees supported him, because he played like Paul O’Neill. He was tough physically and mentally and devoted to the win of the team, too. He also was a real clutch hitter.

In 2009, the Yankees won the world champion, and Matsui got MVP of the World Series. Although he did a great job in the World Series, he was traded to Angels after the season.

I was really impressed that all of audience and the Yankees welcomed him at Angels’ first game in the Yankee stadium in the next season. I remember that Tino Martinez also welcomed in the Yankee stadium after he was traded to Cardinals in 2002. Fans loved Matsui and Martinez from the heart. On the contrary A Rod was always booed in the franchises where he used to belong to.

In the TV program about Matsui, Joe Torre said, “He is trustworthy,” and Derek Jeter said, “He is the Yankee.”

May 3, 2013

The Age of Discovery in Europe and the Age of Tokugawa in Japan

As I wrote in the previous entry “Chocolate, Coffee, and Tea: The History of Globalization,” I have become interested in the history of globalization.

When was the beginning of globalization?

A historian pointed out that the empire of Mongolia made the Eastern and Western world unified and established world history. Marco Polo could travel from Venice to China in the thirteenth century through the territory of the empire of Mongolia. In this sense, the origin of globalization was the empire of Mongolia.

Aside from Marco Polo, there was few people actually traveling between the Eastern and Western worlds at that time, and Europeans had not reached America or “Zipangu”, which Marco Polo called Japan. Of course no Japanese people had arrived in Europe.

And then, the Europeans, who had been trying to find a more direct route to Asia, accidentally discovered America in the late fifteenth century. In the middle of sixteenth century, Portuguese with guns drifted down to Tanegashima, the southern part of the Japanese archipelago, as I wrote the entry “Spread of Guns in the World History.” 

Japan, “Zipangu”, which is located in the farthest area from Europe, was the ultimate goal for European in the Age of Discovery. Their arrival on Tanegashima meant that the whole world finally had been united. This was the beginning of globalization, I think.

In fact, the arrival of Europeans had great impact on Japanese history.

In the sixteenth century, feudal lords called “daimyo” (大名) were scattered and fought each other throughout Japan. After the Portuguese brought guns to Japan, Japanese artisans began to produce guns. These then quickly spread among the feudal lords engaged in battle. Guns transformed the way of battle, and only forty years after the arrival of guns, Japan was reunified by force.

The feudal lords competed with each other to trade with the Europeans in order to get gunpowder. Some of them converted to Christianity and Catholicism spread rapidly into Japanese people. Some Christian feudal lords called “Kirishitan Daimyo” (キリシタン大名) dispatched embassies to Rome.

In the early of seventeenth century, the Tokugawa Shogunate (徳川幕府) was established and a big rebellion of Catholic people occurred. Iemitsu Tokugawa, the third Tokugawa Shogun, decided to expel Portuguese and only allowed trade with Chinese and Dutch traders, because Dutch were not Catholic but Protestant.

In the age of discovery, European culture and technology to the world both eastbound and westbound. Portuguese arrival at Japan was, of course, eastbound. In the early of the nineteenth century, American whalers passed through Cape Horn to off shore of Japan in the Pacific Ocean, which they called “Japan ground.” This meant that the Europeans finally arrived in Japan in the farthest “west.” 

In the middle of the nineteenth century, the Californian gold rush occurred and Europeans literally “rushed” to the west coast of North America. The United States dispatched a fleet to Edo to request the Tokugawa Shogunate to open country. This caused the breakup of the Tokugawa Shogunate and Japanese modernization.

In this sense, the age of Tokugawa was the period between eastbound and westbound of European arrival at Japan, and after the sixteenth century Japanese history was deeply influenced by globalization.