Staged video and photo of riot in Tibet

Here is an analysis of a video of riot in Tibet. In the beginning of the video, an attacker hit a motorcyclist with stones. Curiously the stones used by the attacker had been around the motorcycle before the attack started, whereas there was no stone in other places on the street. The victim of assault walk away with the attackers...

This article in the Secret Tibet and this article in buddhism.kalachakranet.org are also interesting.


A religious organization, Sinnyoen, was the true bidder of the sculpture attributed to Unkei

As I wrote in the previous entry , a Wooden Buddha sculpture attributed to Unkei was sold for $14,377,000 at Christie's last week to Mitsukoshi Co. Ltd. However, Japanese news reports at the time reported that Mitsukoshi bought the sculpture being asked by an anonymous person to buy the sculpture.

On March 25th, a religious organization, Sinnyoen, held a press conference in the Ministry of Education to announce that the organization was the client of Mitsukoshi. According to a report [Japanese] on Jiji.com, Sinnyoen is planning to allow Japanese government to investigate the sculpture and after that they will publicly exhibit it at a museum that they are now constructing.


Wooden Buddha sculpture attributed to Unkei

This morning I was excited reading a newspaper reporting that a Dainichi Nyorai (= Maha Vairocana) sculpture attributed to Unkei (1151 – 1223) was being sold at an auction in New York. What excited me in the report was the description that the Dainichi Nyorai sculpture was formerly in a temple in Ashikaga city. The reason it excited me is that an old document concerning the origin of a shinto shrine, Kabasaki Hachimangu Shrine, in Ashikaga city describes that in the beginning of the Kamakura period (1185-1333) Ashikaga Takauji's ancestor, Ashikaga Yoshikane (1154?-1199), brought an sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai to Ashikaga. I thought it was possible that the sculpture being sold at the auction could be the one that Ashikaga Yoshikane commissioned, although it was not sure at the moment since the newspaper did not describe where in the Ashikaga city the sculpture had originally been rested.

It seems a Japanese was able to buy the sculpture. The following is from Reuters.

Wooden Buddha sculpture sold for $14.3 million
Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:02pm EDT

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - A wooden Buddha sculpture set a new world auction record for Japanese art when it was sold for $14,377,000 at Christie's on Tuesday to Mitsukoshi Co. Ltd.

The newly discovered 26-inch (660 millimeter) sculpture of Dainichi Nyorai, the supreme Buddha, attributed to the sculptor Unkei, soared to nearly 10 times its low pre-sale estimate of $1.5 million at Christie's sale of Japanese and Korean art.

"History was made today," said Katsura Yamaguchi, Christie's International Director of Japanese and Korean Art.

"We witnessed enormous interest from clients worldwide who traveled from near and far to ... participate in this landmark sale," he added.

The previous record for Asian art at auction was $12.6 million. Tuesday's price, which included Christie's commission, also established a new record for Asian art sold at auction in New York.

The seated, Cyprus wood Buddha is believed to be the work of Unkei, considered one of the great carvers of the early Kamakura period of the 1190s, Christie's said. Part of a family collection in the northern Kanto region, before which it was kept in a temple in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, its existence was unknown until it was sold to a Buddhist dealer and then bought by the consignor.
NHK's night news reported the sculpture was originally in a Buddhist temple housed by Kabasaki Hachiman Shrine, as I thought. It is most likely that the sculpture was the one that Ashikaga Yoshikane brought there from Kamakura.

This page describes the details of the statue.
The statue is believed to have come from a temple during the Meiji period (1868-1911) when the government officially adopted Shinto as the state religion. Upon leaving the temple, it was a part of a prominent family collection in the northern part of the Kanto region. The statue’s existence was unknown until it was later sold to a Buddhist dealer and bought by the current owner. Suspecting the figure was hollow inside, the owner approached the curator at the Tokyo National Museum and it was discovered by X-rays that the figure contains three dedicatory objects, sealed inside the torso for over 800 years.

The three objects, a wood five–stage pagoda, crystal ball supported by a bronze stand, and a crystal five-stage pagoda, represent Buddhist symbols and are tied together with bronze wire. The wooden plague is likely to be inscribed with the date of the dedication and the name of the temple or donor, as well as the sculptor’s identity.

Ashikaga Yoshikane's name or his Buddhist name, Banna, might be written on the wooden plaque.



Liaison Office of H.H.the Dalai Lama for Japan & East-Asia has a news release on the Tibet uprising. ROK Drop and One Free Korea have good information, videos and links on the uprising.

Threat Level from Wired.com also has good links. (via Coming Anarchy)

The website of Tibetan Centre for Human Rights and Democracy
has posted photographic evidence (*) on the bloody crackdown of the protest. (*) Viewer discretion is advised, since it cantains disturbing pictures.


Weeping Ume trees in Jyōnangu

I visited Jōnangu (城南宮) to see Ume plum blossoms yesterday. Jyōnangu was a detached palace called Toba Rikyu (鳥羽離宮) or Jōnan Rikyu (城南離宮) that was originally constructed by Emperor Shirakawa (1053 – 1129). He ruled Japan as a cloistered emperor at the detached palace. It was also the place where the cloistered Emperor Go-toba (1180 – 1239) staged a rebellion called Jōkyū War in an attempt to overthrow the Kamakura shogunate in 1221. This detatched palace was also a stage of the Battle of Toba-Fushimi in 1868 at the very beginning of Meiji Era. In the battle, troop of Satsuma clan took up thir position here putting cannons at the ruins of the detached palace.

Weeping ume trees were in full bloom in the garden of Jōnangu.

Many Mejiro, or Japanese white-eyes, were pecking around at the core of flowers. Were they sucking nectar in the flowers?

The following is Serikawa shrine in the lot of Jōnangu. Sugawara no Michizane (845-903) who favored ume blossoms is enshrined in the shrine.


Tali's Page

In 1996, I had an opportunity to have a foreign colleague in our workplace for the first time. The new colleague from the UK seemed to be interested in Japanese culture. However, my English vocabulary was so poor that I could make only trivial conversation with him. So I decided to try to increase my vocabulary by reading Japan-related English-language Websites.

At the time, there were not so many Japan-related websites. One of the sites that I found at the time was "Tali's Page" run by an Israeli girl Tali Cohen. According to the site, Tali was interested in Japanese culture after reading a translation of an old Japanese novel "The Tales of Genji". Her ambition was to become a geisha (!). She had been writing various essays related to Japanese culture, all of which were so pleasant to read that I frequented her site to read her essays using an English-Japanese dictionary.

However, one day in the June of 1997, I was bewildered finding that the top page of her site had been suddenly changed to an unfamiliar one. The new top page was announcing the followings.

This was the site of the homepage of Tali Cohen, a vivacious and very special girl whose grand ambition was to become a geisha. Her homepage was built around this theme, and it delighted all who visited it.

On the evening of June 6, 1997, Tali was struck by a hit-and-run driver. Medical help was called but she died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital as a result of massive internal injuries. She was four months short of her twentieth birthday. Her ambition of becoming a geisha was never realized.
After a year or so, Tali's Page was deleted from the server. But fortunately someone has been keeping a mirror site. Some of the essays there still make me get in tears. What saddens me most is that she is still asking a question in an essay on cherry trees,
I am a flower, but can I be a cherry blossom? an almond blossom? Can I ever be so delicate that I would symbolize the transcendence of life and its momentary glory? You ... my guest ... can you ever think of me as such a flower. I would bloom for only a week or so and then gently expire in a shower of snow-white petals. Is that the sort of flower I should be? Only you can tell me. Am I a blossom in your eyes?
Cherry trees will start to bloom in about two weeks. I remember her site in this season every year. You can read Tali's Page from here.

May her memory be blessed!

(The photo at the top was taken in the Kyoto Prefectural Botanical Garden on April 10, 2005.)


Who shot Capt. Watson?

After a Japanese coast guard threw a flash grenade, Paul Watson whips out a bullet buried in the Kevlar vest.

The flash grenades are commonly used in crowd control. They are designed to rupture in mid-air and produce a loud bang. You can see in the following video the Japanese coast guard throwing flash grenades.

Perhaps he was attacked by one of the invisible ninjyas.


Ume blossoms that Ogata Kōrin painted

This ume tree is on a small stream in Shimogamo Jinjya Shrine. It is said that this tree is one of the trees that Ogata Kōrin (尾形光琳, ca. 1657 - 1716) painted in "Kōbai-Hakubai-Zu Byōbu (紅梅白梅図屏風)", or "Folding Screen of Red and white Ume Blossoms". His birthplace was in the walking distance from this shrine.

Ogata Kōrin is known by his decorative style of painting. As described in Wikipedia, the characteristic of his style is a bold impressionism, which is expressed in few and simple highly idealized forms, with an absolute disregard for both realism and the usual conventions. Notice the stylized expression of the stream in the byōbu above. The school of painters who followed Kōrin's style is called Rinpa (琳派) school. The influence of Rinpa (also spelled as Rimpa) was strong in the Japanese art scene in the 18th and 19th century, and even today Rinpa style paintings and designs are popular.

Rinpa shool arts also influenced some European artists. It is believed that an Austrian Symbolist painter Gustav Klimt was inspired by the Rinpa school arts when he painted his highly decorative works.


Mild acid made from rotten butter?

Sea Shepherd attacked a Japanese whaling ship again on March 3, 2008. The BBC's news report relating to the attack said in the first sentence,

Japan has summoned senior diplomats to complain about an activist attack on its Antarctic whaling fleet using mild acid made from rotten butter.
The acid that Sea Shepherd threw to the Japanese ship was not made from rotten butter. Does BBC believe that Sea Shepherd has a factory where they are extracting butyric acid from rotten butter? Do they believe that butyric acid made from rotten butter is less harmful than that synthesized chemically? No. They are trying to make butyric acid look harmless by emphasizing that the substance is contained in rotten butter. But the fact is one can kill a human by administering 40 ml of the substance onto the skin.

Last year, Ampontan's article entitled "BBC: Inciting racial hatred of the Japanese?" revealed how BBC is biased in reporting Japanese whaling. BBC's news reports seem to be getteing worse. They are promoting violence that may kill people by spreading misinformation from Sea Shepherd to the world.


Kim Okgyun's Korean Map published in Japan in the late 19th century

When I was browsing old maps linked from the blog "Dokdo or Takeshima?", I happened to notice that there was a Korean map published in Japan in 1894 that had originally been brought to Japan by Kim Okgyun (金玉均, 김옥균). You can see the high-resolution photos of the map, Chosen Yochizu (朝鮮輿地図, or Map of Chosen), here on the Takeshima Issue Website (Japanese page and Korean page).

The map is accompanied by documents pasted on its folding case.

The following is my translation of the right-side document in the above photograph.

--- Chosen Yochizu (Map of Chosun) ---
This drawing is a large detailed survey map of that country that Kim Okgyun brought here when he left his country the other year. While he was alive, he always kept this map with him. However, when he sailed to Shanghai the other day, he somehow left this map to a noble of our country. Being affected by current events, we traced the map on a smaller scale through the courtesy of the person. In the drawing, positions of the eight provinces, various counties, prefectures, districts, army bases, naval bases, division headquarters, scenic spots, representative villages, mountains, rivers, capes, promontories, bays, ports, and islands are shown as plain as day. This is what he surveyed by using the national power before. In addition, regions around Seoul, Wonsan, Busan, Incheon and Hangang are shown separately in insets for convenience's sake. Also, a table of distances from Seoul to representative places is printed on the periphery of the drawing. Whereas Chosun often become the talk of the town these days, there has not been a map like this. This is indeed a drawing of matchless clearness. Since our company, hoping to contribute to our country, will distribute this map with as cheap price as possible, please buy it in the bookstores and take a look inside.
------ Price: 30 sen, Postage: 4 sen -------

(I will attach the original Japanese text and its translation to contemporary Japanese language at the end of this entry.)

Kim Okgyun who brought this map to Japan was a Korean politician in the late 19th century (1851-1894). He served under the national civil service under King Gojong, and actively participated to advance Western ideas and sciences in Korea. Between the years of 1881 to 1884, he was one of the leaders of the Kaehwadang (Enlightenment Party), a group of nobles and officials who sought assistance from foreign states, particularly Japan, for the reform and strengthening of Korea.

On December 4th 1884, he lead a coup d'etat called Kapsin coup in which he got rid of leaders of conservative force and organized a new government. However, the new government fell in 3 days by Chinese garrison, and he was exiled to Japan.

In 1894, he went to Shanghai to accomplish his uncompleted plan with China, but got assassinated in Shanghai by Hong Jongwu sent by Queen Min on March 28. Chinese authorities protected the assassin while returning Kim's body to Korea. The Korean government dismembered his body, placing his head on display at Yanghwajin. Each pair of his arm and leg was separately placed on display in the Gyeongsang and Hamgyŏng Provinces. A Japanese who respected Kim Okgyun brought his hair and a fragment of his clothes to Japan and held a funeral at the Sensoji Temple, Asakusa. There is a tomb of him in the Aoyama Cemetery, Tokyo.

In this connection, it may be worth mentioning that Fukuzawa Yukichi (1835-1901) who appears on the Japanese 10,000 yen banknote was an ardent supporter of Kim Okgyun while he was staying in Japan. Fukuzawa was so deeply disappointed by the Kim's assassination that he wrote "Datsu-A Ron (Argument for Leaving Asia)" in the next year (1885). Sparkling Korea has an English-language translation of "Datsu-A Ron" here (Part 1) and here (Part 2). The article concerning Fukuzawa in occidentalism is also worth reading.

According to the document attached to the map, Kim Okgyun brought the map with him when he was exiled to Japan in 1884. The map was probably drawn while he was a leader of the Enlightenment Party in 1881-1884, since the document attached to the map says that it was edited by using the national power (国力) of Chosun.

The Kim Okgyun's map is truly a detailed map of Korea. However, it is worth noting that the map printed a non-existent island, Argonaut, on the eastern sea of Korea. The Japanese in the Edo period used to call Ulleungdo and the Liancourt Rocks as Takeshima and Matsushima, respectively. However, because of the mapping confusion of Ulleungdo by Western explorers, a non-existent island, Argonaut, and Ulleungdo tended to be labeled as Takeshima and Matsushima, respectively, in the maps edited in the late 19th century (see this entry for detail). Like those maps, Kim Okgyun's map labeled the non-existant island and Ulleungdo as Takeshima (竹島) and Matsushima (松島), respectively. The follwoing figure shows the comparison of the Kim Okgyun's map and the Navy maps of Britain and Japan edited in the late 19th century.

Notice that, in the Kim Okgyun's map, a river with its name is drawn on the non-existent island Argonaut (Takeshima) whereas Matsushima is drawn in the correct shape and location of Ulleungdo. Also, it seems that a name of a mountain is written on Argonaut (Takeshima) though it is not readable in the photograph. The confused knowledge of Westerners concerning Ulleungdo was apparently incorporated in the Kim Okgyun's map. These confusions suggest that Kim Okgyun's group was not able to obtain correct knowledge on the islands on the eastern sea when they surveyed their country.

Although the Kim Okgyun's Map is a precious map that tells us how the geography of Korea was perceived by the reformists in the Chosun government at the time, it seems that the map has never attracted enough attention. This is probably because the National Diet Library of Japan, the owner of the copy of the map, attributed the map to Shimizu Tsunetaro (清水常太郎) rather than to Kim Okgyun. I don't know exactly why the library attributed the map to Shimizu, but I can notice that Shimizu's name is written on the left side of the document attached to the folding case.

Notice that a name, Shimizu Mitsunori (清水光憲), is witten on the left side of the document. I guess that a librarian attributed the map to Shimizu Tsunetaro seeing this name on the document, since Shimizu Mitsunori was commonly known by the name Shimizu Tsunetaro. However, If you can read Japanese language, you will be able to notice that the left-side document is just advertisements of other publications from the publisher Nakamura-shobi-do (中村鍾美堂). The Shimizu's name is found as the author of the maps of prefectures in Japan (日本管轄分地図). You can also find another name, Matsumoto Kendo (松本謙堂) , to the left of the ad of the Shimizu's map, as the author of two other geography books for Chosun and China (朝鮮地誌要略 and 支那地誌要略). Thus, the document on the left has no information on the author of the map in the folding case. Although the map is apparently edited by Japanese editor(s), the editor's name is not given on the document. I suppose that the map should have been known as a map by Kim Okgyun rather than that by Shimizu Tsunetaro that is perhaps a wrong attribution by a librarian.

Original text.

------- 朝鮮輿地図 -------
----- 正価金三拾銭 郵税金四銭 -----

Translation to the contemporary Japanese language.

------- 朝鮮輿地図 -------
----- 正価 金三十銭 送料 金四銭 -----

Update (Mach 6, 2008)

When I was serching on the Web with the keyword "清水光憲" today, I found that the Web Takeshima Research Institute has already pointed out the same thing in this article on Feb. 29. The article has many interesting descriptions. According to the article, Kim Okgyun had actually visited Ulleungdo in 1883 as the government officer for opening up southeastern islands (東南諸島開拓使). The article also says that the name of the mountain and the river written on Takeshima are 中峰 and 猪田川, respectively, and that the latter name is perhaps a typo of 楮田川 since there were 楮田 (fields of paper mulberry) on Ulleungdo.


Kitano Tenmangu Shrine

Ume blossoms in Kitano Tenmangu Shrine. It's unfortunate that internet cannot transmit fragrance!

Argonaut, Dagelet and Ulleungdo

(This entry is a supplement for the entry concerning the Kim Okgyun's Korean map. )

The following is an excerpt of this page on the Tanaka Kunitaka's Takeshima site written in Japanese. The linked maps are also from the Tanaka's site.


Maps in the 19th century tended to print two islands on the eastern sea near the Korean peninsula. The two islands are both Ulleungdo. This duplication of Ulleungdo was caused by two independent findings of Ulleungdo by Westerners. Ulleungdo was initially found by a French, Lepaute Dagelet, and it was named "Dagelet" in 1787. An English explorer, James Colnett, also found Ulleungdo and named it "Argonaut" in 1789. Since Dagelet and Colnett assigned different latitude and longitude to "Dagelet" and "Argonaut", maps made by Westerners tended to print two islands in the area. Affected by these Western maps, Japanese map also tended to print Argonaut in addition to Ulleungdo on the eastern sea of Korea.

The followings are examples of the maps which printed the two Ulleungdo as "Dagelet"and "Argonaut".

Map I : Arrow Smith’s map published in 1811.
(Colnett’s ship, Argonaut, lost her rudder just after he found Ulleungdo. The description in the map "Argonaut lost her Rudder" indicates this incident.)
Map II : Thomson’s map published in 1815.

German Doctor Phillip von Siebold (1796-1866) who had lived in Japan for 5 years had the knowldge that there are two islands which Japanese call "Takeshima (Ulleungdo)" and "Matsushima (Liancourt Rocks)" between Korea and Oki islands. Thus he assigned these Japanese names to the two islands, "Argonaut" and "Dagelet", on his map. His map caused much confusion to both Japanese and Westerners since he assigned the Japanese names for Ulleungdo and the Liancourt Rocks to the duplicated Ulleungdo.
Map III : Siebold’s map published in 1840.

Liancourt Rocks were found by a French ship, Liancourt, in mid-19th century. The first Western map that described the Liancourt Rocks was published in 1849. Liancourt Rocks were also called Hornet Rocks, since English ship "Hornet" found these rocks in 1855. Thus, maps published in late-19th century tended to describe three islands, "Argonaut", "Dagelet" and "Liancourt (= Hornet)", between Korea and Oki islands (Okinoshima).

Map IV : Wilhelm Heine’s map published in 1855.
Map V : A map compiled by U.S. commodore Matthew Perry (published in 1856).
Note that Argonaut is labeled "nicht Vorhanden (not exist)" in the above maps. It had been known by this time that the longitude and latitude assigned to Ulleungdo (Argonaut) by Colnet was inaccurate and that there was no island at this map position.

Map VI : James Wyld’s map published in 1868.

These Western maps were imported into Japan. So Japanese maps affected by Western maps also describe three islands between Korea and the Oki islands.

Map VII : Katsu Kaishu’s map (大日本沿海略図 by 勝海舟) published in 1867.
Map VIII : Hashimoto Gyokuran’s map (大日本四神全図 by 橋本玉蘭) published in 1870.
In the above maps, the duplicated Ulleungdo (Argonaut and Dagelet) are labeled as Takeshima (竹嶋, 竹シマ) and Matsushima (松島, 松シマ), respectively, in accordance with Siebold’s map (Map III).

Description on the island called "Argonaut" gradually disappeared from maps because there is no island at the map position of “Argonaut”.

MAP IX : Rittau’s map published in 1880.
Ulleungdo is labeled as Matsusima according to the Siebold’s map (Map III). Argonaut is not printed.

MAP X Japanese Navy Map published in 1881.
Ulleungdo is labeled as "Ulleungdo (Matsushima)" (鬱陵島 (松島)). Argonaut is not printed.

In short, Ulleungdo and the Liancourt Rocks were called "Takeshima" and "Matsushima", respectively, in Japan in premodern period, but these names were used for the name of duplicated Ulleungdo, Argonaut and Dagelet, in Western maps. Japanese government officially decided in 1905 to rename the Liancourt Rocks, which were formerly called Matsushima, "Takeshima", since the name "Matsushima" became popular as the name of Ulleungdo (= Dagelet).