Sion's songs were my favorites in the late 1980s. He was as hungry as me in those days. The following is "Sorry Baby" by Sion:
Another clip of Sion, "街は今日も雨さ" (It's still raining in this town).
Last December, I wrote about newly found screen paintings of whale and elephant by an Edo-period Japanese painter, Itō Jakuchū (伊藤若冲; 1716-1800). When I walked around Shin-monzen, the antiques district in Kyoto, last Sunday, I saw many posters of the Jakuchu's whale and elephant.
According to the posters, the screens together with many other paintings by Jakuchu are on display at Miho Museum in Shiga prefecture from Sep. 1 to Dec. 13. You can see bigger photos of the whale-elepahnt paintings from this page in Miho Museum's Website.
Barbershop is often supposed to be a place to talk about politics in irresponsible manner. Japanese call such argument Tokoya-no-seidan (床屋の政談); tokoya means "barbershop", and seidan means "argument about politics". Thus, tokoya-no-seidan means "barbershop argument about politics".
I don't know whether it has anything to do with the fact that barbershops are supposed to be such places, but I came across a barbershop that has posters of the LDP-leader Aso and the DPJ-leader Hatoyama on the sliding door of the shop.
They are apparently related to the posters of LDP and DPJ shown below. These posters are often seen on the street in Japan nawadays.
They are, however, significantly different from each other in the slogans written on them. The DPJ poster that features Hatoyama has a slogan saying "Seiken Koutai (政権交代)", which means "change the government". The similar poster on the door of the barbershop has a slogan "haegiwa koutai (生際後退)", which means "receding hairline". In Japanese, both change (交代) and recede (後退) are pronounced as "koutai", thus the slogan on the barbershop poster is a pun of the DPJ slogan.
The LDP poster that features Aso has a slogan saying "Mazu wa keiki da (まずは景気だ)", which means "The primary issue is the situation of economy". The similar poster on the door of the barbershop has a slogan "Mazu wa ke-e kiru" (まずは毛きる)", which means "The primary issue is cutting the hair".
Posted by Aki at 12:07 AM
According to today's Miyazaki Nichi-nichi Shimbun, an American soldier's dog tag together with 30 bullets of 20-mm machine gun and 4 incendiary bombs were unearthed from a construction site in the Hyuga city, Miyazaki prefecture, on July 3. They are likely to be remains of B29 crashed at the site 64 years ago. According to the report, the name carved on the surface of the stainless-steel dog tag reads "JULIAN W STEELE".
According to this page in Japanese, all of the crews including Mr. Steele stayed alive after the crash, sent to Tokyo, where they were detained in a camp. All of them could return to the US after the war.
You can see a picture of the crews here.
ROGUE was a Japanese rock group led by a vocalist/guitarist Okuno Atsushi in the late 1980s. It was one of my favorite rock groups in the late 1980s, partly because it was from my hometown, Maebashi.
After the breakup of the group in 1990, Okuno Atsushi had been working as a solo singer and an actor until last year.
Recently, I was shocked to learn that he had had cervical vertebrae damage when he had accidentally fallen off a building while he had been voluntarily helping his friend who is a scrapping worker. The accident took place last September, and, after that, his left arm and legs have been paralyzed; he can move only his right arm. I wish that he would recover from the injury, and some day he would be able to sing songs or write new songs.
According to New Zealand Herald, a Japanese-born boy was seriously injured as a result of school bullying. He had been racially abused by the students who turned around and picked up him and dropped him on his head.
A 14-year-old suffered a potentially fatal blood clot in his brain after he was attacked by school bullies in what appears to be a racially motivated attack.According to the school's web page, Ryutaro was awarded Premium Student Achievement Award last year. I hope that he will get well soon.
The teen, Japanese-born Ryotaro Wright, needed emergency brain surgery in Waikato Hospital after the attack at Forest View High School in Tokoroa this week. Doctors say he was close to death.
Four students have been suspended and police are investigating.
Ryotaro's father Llewellyn said yesterday his son had been racially abused by four students over the past few weeks, including being called "whale muncher".
Japan Probe has posts concerning heart-shaped melons and watermelons being sold in Japan. They seem to be made by putting young fruits into heart-shaped molds and growing them in the molds.
Those posts remided me of an article [Japanese] concerning an ancient molded fruit being kept in a Buddhist temple in Japan. According to the article, Hōryūji temple in Nara has an ancient gourd pot called Hasshin Hyōko (八臣瓢壷), or a gourd pot of eight retainers. It has, on its surface, relieves of a hermit and eight famous retainers who served for ancient Chinese emperors. Research on the gourd pot has shown that the relieves were not carved by edged tools but made by growing the gourd in a mold template.
A number of molded gourds were made in China during the period of Qing Dyanasty (16-19th century), since the fourth emperor Kangxi (1654-1722) was fond of using molded gourds for his daily life. Accordingly, quite a few molded gourds made after the 17th century are being preserved in museums in China and Taiwan. The Hasshin Hyōko is, however, apparently older than those gourds, because a list of the treasures of the temple, which was edited by a Buddhist monk Kenshin (顕真) in 1238, included the very gourd pot Hasshin Hyōko. Thus, it is certain that the temple already had it in 1238. According to the above mentioned article, iconography of the relieves suggests that it was made in around 9th century. Although exact age is unknown, it is most likely that it is the oldest extant molded fruit in the world.
Three Japanese musicians, Hosono Haruomi (a basist who is a former member of YMO), Imawano Kiyoshiro (a rock musician) and Sakamoto Fuyumi (an enka singer), transiently formed a music unit named HIS in 1991. The name was after their initials (Hosono, Imawano and Sakamoto). HIS played Jimi Hendrix's Purple Haze changing its tune into ondo; ondo (音頭) is a genre of Japanese dance music, which is commonly used in bon odori dance.
[HT to nairon3]
HIS's "Purple Haze Ondo" was not a sole attempt to perform western music in the goofy tune of ondo. The following is "Yellow Submarine Ondo" by an enka singer Kanazawa Akiko. It was a minor hit in Japan in 1982. It might make you giddy as it did the Japanese in 1982.
Funeral service for Imawano Kiyoshiro was held yesterday in the Aoyama Funeral Pavillion. According to Sankei [Japanese], the service gathered as many as 43,000 people. UMI BLOG has a report on the funeral.
Today, I spent a whole day watching Imawano Kiyoshiro's videos on youtube. I remembered again how much I had been addicted to his songs when he was a vocalist of RC succession and how much the messages in his songs have been affecting my real life. Although I provided many links to youtube videos yesterday, I'd add two more video clips of Kiyoshiro.
Jiyu (自由, Freedom),
[HT to taikutyuotoko]
Akirete Mono mo Ienai (あきれて物も言えない, Speechless being disgusted),
[HT to dubwiser33]
Imawano Kiyoshiro (忌野 清志郎), a Japanese rock musician who represents the J-POP scene in the early 1980s, passed away on May 2, 2009 at the age of 58. I liked his songs so much that I used one of his songs, Transistor Radio, as a BGM in my wedding party.
The followings are random clips of his songs from YouTube.
"Ue o Muite Arukou": This song was the first one that I saw him singing as a rock musician on TV. It was perhaps in 1979. The song is a cover of Sakamoto Kyu's "Ue o muite aruko" known by an alternative title "Sukiyaki" in some western countries.
"Sweet Soul Music": Kiyoshiro's homage to Otis Redding. He also sang a song entitled "Otis ga oshiete kureta (Otis taught me)".
"Slow Ballad": This song was released in 1976, but Kiyoshiro's records sold so badly at the time that they became out of press in a few years. They were re-issued after he became famous, and this ballad is now a standard number in J-POP.
"Kimi ga Boku wo Shitteru": Originally released in 1980 as a rock version. The following video clip is an acoustic guitar session with Nakaido Reiichi (also known as Chabo) aired on TV in 1994.
"Hippie ni Sasagu": The title means "Dedicated to Hippie". He made this song for his first manager, who was also a friend of his, whose nickname was Hippie and who passed away before Kiyoshiro's songs became popular to the public. In the later part of this song, he just crys out loud for about 2 minutes for his late friend.
"Music funeral" for Kiyoshiro is being held at the Aoyama Funeral Pavilion from 13:00 to 18:00 tomorrow (May 9). R.I.P., Kiyoshiro.
This week's Nature has a news article entitled "Retracted paper rattles Korean science", which anounces a retraction of a paper published in Nature in 2000. The data presented in the original paper promised an advance in diabetes treatment using gene therapy.
The paper's authors, led by Hyun Chul Lee of Yonsei University in South Korea, claimed to have created a treatment for type 1 diabetes, a condition in which the immune system destroys the insulin-producing cells needed to regulate glucose levels. Lee's team constructed a recombinant virus that contained a gene for an insulin analogue, which was expressed in response to blood glucose levels. By introducing the gene construct into diabetic rats and mice, they succeeded in alleviating symptoms, according to the paper published in 2000. Their result, however, has not been reproduced.
According to the news article,
Now, having yet to repeat the experiment, Lee has asked Nature to retract the paper (see page 660). I don't know the reason why the experiments are not reproducible, says Lee. He suggests that the original gene construct, pLPK-SIA, a combination of the virus vector, the insulin analogue and a promoter that regulates the expression of the analogue in response to glucose levels — might have mutated after the original experiment.According to Lee, the reason they cannot repeat the experiment is that some unknown mutation might have occured to their gene construct. However, an anonymous researcher who had worked in Lee's laboratory to repeat the experiment is claiming that the laboratory did not have the gene construct in the first place.
The background to the retraction is contentious. A researcher who joined the laboratory in 2001 tried and failed to initiate preclinical trials in bigger animals such as dogs and monkeys. But the researcher, who does not want to be identified for fear that acting as a whistleblower could harm his career, says he didn't find any pLPK-SIA in the laboratory, so with another researcher in the lab he tried to remake it according to the methods section from the original paper. Lacking essential ingredients, they eventually gave up.A co-author of the paper who had created the gene construct were working in Canada, but she did not give the construct to the anonymous researcher.
The anonymous researcher says one of the paper's authors, Su-Jin Kim, who created the gene construct before moving to the University of Calgary in Canada, refused to send him samples. Kim says she deferred on this matter to her new boss, Ji-Won Yoon. The researcher, however, says that in e-mail exchanges, Yoon told him to ask Kim for samples. Yoon, also a co-author on the Nature paper, died in 2006.It seems that the anonymous reseacher and Lee are now mud-slinging at each other.
Lee fired the anonymous researcher in August 2005, citing unhappiness with his work. Lee says that in 2008 the researcher threatened to disclose faults in the paper unless given money, grants and a new job. The researcher admits that he asked for a new position as compensation for losing what he calls four-and-a-half years trying to reproduce the results. He alleges that he was fired after advising Lee to retract the paper, which Lee denies.In April 2008, Yonsei University started an investigation.
On 30 December the committee recommended a retraction based on multiple points, including the apparent duplication of figures and the fact that it could not confirm the key construct existed when the experiment was carried out. Won-Yong Lee says that the committee members examined Kim's lab notes and thesis, and alleges that the duplication was more than a simple mistake, including the reuse of data as well as cutting, pasting and otherwise adjusting figures.Kim is now trying to stop the university from releasing its full report.
The committee says that Kim and Yoon tried to reproduce the experiments; Kim, who is now at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, says she did not, and didn't know there was a problem until last year. She says she has some of the pLPK-SIA and that the problems with figures were probably a mistake made when forwarding to colleagues, or in labelling. She faults the committee for choosing to rely on the memory of witnesses who were testifying about experiments that took place 8–10 years ago. Kim refused to sign the retraction letter, calling the original experiment a success, based on lab notes. She also filed an injunction, currently under consideration in the Seoul District Court, to prevent the university releasing its full report.According to the news article, Kim says she will resolve the situation by reproducing the experiment.
Last December, Kyoto University decided not to renew the contract of about 100 temporary office workers. A worker who is against the decision holded a demonstration in front of the main building of the university on February 26th, the day of its entrance examination, ...in an oil drum bath.
Kidai Shōran (煕代勝覧) depicted several disabled people in the City of Edo (present Tokyo) in the early 19th century.
In the Edo period (1603-1867) when knowledge on nutrition was lacking, considerable number of Japanese suffered from beriberi, or kakke (脚気) in Japanese. Beriberi is a nervous system ailment caused by a deficiency of vitamin B1 in the diet. Since wealthy people used to eat white rice lacking vitamin B1 as a staple food, beriberi was more rampant among them rather than among poor people, who used to eat brown rice. Symptoms of beriberi include weakness and pain in the legs, and those who suffer from them are unable to walk on their own. One such person is depicted in Kidai Shōran.
A man on a wheeled board is rowing it with sticks in his hands. It seems that the wheeled board was a common device for disabled people in pre-modern Japan; I have seen an another painting scroll, which was painted in the 15-16th century, that depicted a person on a similar vehicle. The decent clothes of the man in the illustration suggest that he is a relatively wealthy person - perhaps a retired merchant.
Another illness from which considerable number of people suffered was that of teeth. There were doctors who took care of teeth, but their remedy was basically just extracting the decayed teeth. How did those who lost teeth take their meal? Kidai Shoran depicts a solution for them - dentures. The scroll does not depict a denture itself but depicts a denture shop.
The sign on the shop reads from right to left, in accordance with Japanese writing custom at the period, "御入歯" (On-ireba), which means "denture" in English. Denture in the Edo period was wooden one as reported in the Japan Times last year. The following photo and quote is from the JT article.
A ditch in Yokkaichi, Mie Prefecture, has yielded a common form of early false teeth — an 18th century set of wooden choppers, indicating Japan, like other parts of the world, turned to wood in the days before gold and ceramic crowns.Loosing teeth is not so a serious problem as other disability that may affect one's survival. Loosing eyesight was one serious problem in pre-modern period when social security system was lacking. The following illustration shows a sightless person in the Edo period. He is carrying a biwa lute (琵琶) on his back.
The highly sophisticated carved wooden dentures found in Yokkaichi indicate elderly people of that time, before modern dentistry, were able to overcome tooth loss and the subsequent difficulty in eating.
The partial plate includes eight life-size teeth. It was carved out of boxwood and measures some 6.2 cm wide, 2 cm high and 5.5 cm deep.
The quality compares favorably with similar wooden teeth discovered elsewhere, demonstrating that the Japanese dental artisans' wooden teeth were among the best in the world, experts say.
Sightless people in the Edo period used to join an organization which were run by sightless people themselves, in which they learnt techniques of massage to earn their living as masseurs. Also taught in the organization was how to play music instruments such as biwa lute and koto harp (琴, which was also called sō (箏)). If one was found to be talented in playing music, he was trained to be a musician so that he could earn his living either as a biwa player or as a koto player. Since Tokugawa Shogunate gave sightless people privilege to monopolize the businesses of masseurs and the biwa/koto players, sightless people could have relatively good income to make their living, and many famous sightless musicians appeared in succession during the Edo period. This webpage has a good article on the history of koto music in Japan; it mentions several famous sightless musicians in the Edo period. (Yatsuhashi Kengyo, Ikuta Kengyo, Yamada Kengyo and Kitajima Kengyo mentioned in the article are all sightless people, although it is not clearly stated in the text.)
The following video clip shows a koto music, "Rokudan no Shirabe" (Melody of Six Movements), composed in the mid-17th century by a sightless koto master, Yatsuhashi Kengyo (1614-1685).
Koto players usually stayed in their home, and there they earned their living by playing koto or by teaching people how to play it. In contrast, biwa players wandered through the country carrying their biwa lutes, as shown in the illustration mentioned above. They were like Celtic bards. Their major repertoire was the Tale of Heike, a historical epic of the 12th-century Genpei War. They chanted the historic epic accompanying themselves on the biwa lute. Some records say that it took 90-120 hours to chant the whole story of the Tale of Heike. Since it was a hard task for both the players and audience, biwa players usually performed several climax parts of the epic in a performance. The following video clip is a performance of the Tale of Heike by Nobuko Kawashima. Editing of the clip is rather poor but you would see how biwa performance was like.
As anyone would guess, it required a good memory to remember the whole text of the Tale of Heike. Some sightless people in the Edo period, however, went further to remember tons of classic Japanese texts. The one staying on top of them is a sightless scholar, Hanawa Hoki-ichi (塙 保己一) (1746-1821), who finished a 670-volume compilation of Japanese old documents, Gunsho Ruiju (群書類従), in 1819. You can read a concise biography of Hanawa Hokiichi in this webpage. Motoori Haruniwa (1763-1828), a pioneer of Japanese linguistics, is also a famous sightless scholar in the Edo period.
Let's return to the subject of music. Kidai Shōran (煕代勝覧) depicts another kind of Edo musicians. The people in the following illustration are Buddhist monks playing shakuhachi flutes in front of an umbrella shop. They are wearing baskets on their head.
They look mysterious, don't they? They are komusō (虚無僧), who are monks of the Fuke school of Zen Buddhism. Literal meaning of Komusō is "monks of nothingness". The following quote is from Wikipedia.
Komusō were characterised by the straw basket (a sedge or reed hood named a tengai) worn on the head, manifesting the absence of specific ego. They are also known for playing solo pieces on the shakuhachi (a type of Japanese bamboo flute). These pieces, called honkyoku ("original pieces") were played during a meditative practice called suizen, for alms and as a method of attaining enlightenment.Since the Tokugawa shogunate granted komuso the privilege of traveling through Japan without hindrance, there were many komuso who were wandering throughout the country. It is believed that at least some of komuso were working as spies of the Tokugawa Shogunate seeking for intelligence of feudal lords who would possibly rebel against the Shogunate. In the late 1970s, NHK aired a TV drama series entitled "Naruto Hichō" (鳴門秘帖, or "Secret Note of Naruto"), main character of which was a komuso who were trying to get intelligence of a feudal lord who was trying to raise a rebellion against the Shogunate. I was totally absorbed in the drama when I was a child.
After the Meiji Restoration, Meiji Government banned the Fuke school of Buddhism suspecting possible connection of Komuso with the Tokugawa Shogunate. Later in 1888, however, a Buddhist temple for Komuso, Myōanji temple [Japanese], was allowed to be constructed in the ground of Tofukuji temple, which is a temple complex in Kyoto. So you can see Komuso in present Japan if you are lucky.
Japanese old instruments are not commonly practiced by the Japanese now, but there are some good players. The following video clip is from a performance by a biwa player Yukihiro Goto and a shakuhachi player Akihito Obama.
I will write about carts and vehicles depicted in Kidai Shoran in next update. The update will be slow as always. Please be patient!
(1) Tokyo in 1805
(2) People in Tokyo in 1805
(3) Disabled people and musicians in Tokyo in 1805 (This post)
Kidai Shoran (煕代勝覧) painted at c.a. 1805 depicted various people in the Edo period (1603-1867).
These people are commoners. The left panel shows two men and a male child. The left guy in the panel is wearing only kimono, and the right guy in the same panel is wearing a haori (羽織) jacket over his kimono. Wearing haori jacket was considered to be more formal than wearing only kimono. The style of wearing kimono without haori jacket was called kinagashi (着流し) and considered to be a casual style. On the right panel, two people are chatting with each other in a store in the kinagashi style. The man on the left is a merchant. Can you find an abacus, a necessity of merchants, in front of him? Japanese people had been using abacuses, or soroban (算盤) in Japanese, for calculation before electric calculators became popular in the late 1970s.
When people wore kimono, they considered it important to keep the lower part of kimono around the legs neat. Unintentional exposure of legs was regarded as clumsy and a bad manner even when they were working. When people do muscular labor, however, it is impossible to keep their legs unexposed. In such situations, they intentionally exposed their legs from the beginning by rolling the lower part of their kimono up above their waists. The lower part of the kimono was fixed at the waist by inserting it under the belt on the back. The man in the left panel is doing that. This style was called shirippashori (尻っぱしょり) and often regarded as manly and "cool". The man on the right is wearing a short kimono instead of doing shirippashori. Both men are wearing hachimaki (鉢巻), or Japanese-style headbands. They are for avoiding sweat to enter into their eyes.
The left panel shows a mother in a green kimono and her daughter in a yellowish one. They are wearing kimono in a formal way at the period; the mother, or a married woman, has a knot of the belt, or obi (帯), in front, whereas the daughter, or an unmarried woman, has the knot on her back. Since the knot in front interferes with the movement of the upper body, the habit of married women to make knots in front was gradually changed to make the knot on the back in the late Edo period. So women today make the knot on their back regardless of their marital status. Also seen in the illustration in the left panel is that the daughter is wearing a kimono with long sleeves, or furisode (振り袖). This habit that unmarried women wear long-sleeved kimono is still seen in Japan. The middle and right panels show women wearing scarves called okoso-zukin (御高祖頭巾). Okoso-zukin started to be in fashion among women in the 1720s-1730s, and it had been popular among women until Meiji period (1868-1912). The following photo was taken in the early Meiji period.
The women in the following illustration is carrying something wrapped in furoshiki (風呂敷).
They seem to have bought many goods. Furoshiki is just a large square cloth, but it is convenient for wrapping and carrying goods of various sizes. You can see how various goods are wrapped in furoshiki here.
The men in the above illustrations are samurai in full dress, indicating that they are on duty. They are wearing kamishimo jackets on the upper bodies and hakama trousers on the lower part of their bodies. Kamishimo was a jacket evolved from jinbaori (陣羽織) jacket worn over yoroi armor. The shoulder line of kamishimo was kept straight by inserting baleen. Both men are wearing swords on their waists. Samurai always wore two swords; one was a long sword, which is called katana (刀), and another was a short sword called wakizashi (脇差). Can you find two swords on the waist of each samurai?
These samurai are wearing hakama trousers. They are wearing haori jackets instead of kamishimo jackets, indicating that they are off duty. The samurai in the above illustrations would look to be relaxed when compared to the samurai in the previous illustrations, wouldn't they? Even when they are off duty, however, samurai almost always wore hakama when they went outside. It was a preparation for a possible accidental fight. If they fight in kinagashi style without hakama trousers, they would have to expose their legs during the fight, which was regarded as clumsy as I mentioned earlier.
These people are servants of samurai. Have you noticed that each guy is wearing only a single sword? Although I am not sure, their swords are probably wakizashi, or short swords, which were not regarded as katana. They are doing shirippasyori by folding the lower part of their kimono since they have to work around for their masters.
This is a tea stand on the street. On the right bench are two commoners. The man on the left bench is perhaps a samurai. The waitress serving tea is wearing a small red apron. We can still find similar tea houses in the grounds of some Buddhist temples in Kyoto.
Here I stop writing today. I will write more about people in Kidai Shoran in the next update. The update will be slow as always. Please be patient!
(1) Tokyo in 1805
(2) People in Tokyo in 1805 (this post)
(3) Disabled people and musicians in Tokyo in 1805
Kidai Shōran (煕代勝覧) is a 12-metre-long picture scroll which describes a street in the City of Edo (present Tokyo). It was painted approximately 200 years ago, ca.1805. The street corresponds to a part of present Chuo-dori street, which is between JR Kanda Station and Tokyo Metro Nihonbashi Station shown in red in the above map. The painting provides the exact location of buildings along the street and daily lives of people there at the time.
The above illustration is from the right-most part of Kidai Shōran. The bridge at the right side was called Imagawa-bashi (今川橋), or Imagawa Bridge. There is no bridge at the site now, but the name of the bridge remains as a name of a crossing. The following google street view shows a southward view from the Imagawa-bashi crossing, which corresponds to the leftward view from the bridge in the above illustration.
View Larger Map
Can you differentiate samurai from commoners in the illustration? Samurai have swords on their waists.
The fashion and stuff in the Edo period may look strange for those who are unfamiliar with them. I'll get into some details of them in the posts to follow. Please don't expect, however, quick update in this blog; it takes much time for me to write anything in English.
(2) People in Tokyo in 1805
(3) Disabled people and musicians in Tokyo in 1805
On the Occasion of Barack Obama’s Inauguration, New York Times had an article entitled "Japan’s outcasts still wait for acceptance" by Norimitsu Onishi .
English-language news media often publish inaccurate or sometimes hilariously exaggerated articles on Japan. However, since majority of Japanese do not read English-language media, they do not know that such articles have been published in foreign media. As a result, misconception caused by exaggerated articles is rarely corrected. When Mr. Onishi wrote the NYT article, he was perhaps expecting that his report would become one such article. The article, however, had so much exaggeration that Mr. Okumura at GlobalTalk 21 has been posting a series of counterarguments.
So far four Six relevant articles (plus one) have been posted there. They are must reads for those who are interested in the issue of outcasts in Japan.
Coda without a finale