The world's oldest molded fruit being kept in Japan

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.


Purple Haze Ondo by HIS

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 gathered 43,000 people

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 passed away

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.