Sunday, June 3, 2012

Plausible lies and false truths

OK my choice of imagery might be a little graphic, I'll admit. But Japan is maybe a little like me, just a tad different!

So with that in mind, I should ask
"Just how did this peculiar, fascinating place, that is Japan, became my home? Or more to the point, was I at all prepared?"
Long before I'd ever visited, I'm sure 'my' Japan was made up of a lot of
'false truths, and quite plausible lies' 
Probably built up over a long time, and overall, I must have accumulated many weird and wonderful ideas about the whole of the Far East.

Like from a B&W telly (black and white TV), uttered in proper Queen's English, and with a stiff upper lip you know.
"Far East!" 
Only geographically possible if you come from the UK, of course.

But of Japan itself, the land of the rising sun, I wonder if you share any (perhaps all) from this my rather eclectic list on Nihon?

  1. WW2 movies - well I was born to a country only some 20 years out of World War II! Japan and the Axis were mortal enemies of the Allies. That was true. But often American war movies just created stereotypes, almost caricatures, of the Japanese. Source 1, the baddies.
  2. Nippon stamps - as a child in the early '70's I collected stamps. There I admit this much.  But I can, only just, recall that wonder with regards the troubling name, 'Nippon'. Source 2, amazingly detailed and ornate imagery of somewhere that annoyingly, would not use its correct name!
  3. James Clavell's Shogun. Some time in the late 70's I read my dad's copy of the book, because it had 'naughty bits' in it. But I was drawn in too, it was fascinating! The discovery of a 'new' world! Source 3, some fictional history and culture, though I never knew of William Adams.
  4. Monkey, the TV series - I no doubt watched this instead of studying for my O'Levels, back in the late 70's. Source 4, amazingly weird, but telling of the light hearted nature of Japanese humour.
  5. And Shogun the TV series, circa 1980. Source 5, hmmm, no idea what I learnt here!
  6. Turning Japanese, a song I listened to in 1980. Source 6, just a song, but still makes me giggle.
  7. I don't think I met real 'Japanese people' until the 90's! I had to emigrate to Australia for that. Source 7: polite, unassuming, friendly.

  8. And at last in the late 90's I made my first trip to Japan. I still recall being amazed at how different Japan was, and how, even though that first Englishman had come in 1600, I still felt like a real explorer in a 'new world'. Source 8: the real McCoy, truly mind blowing.
Was I prepared? Well not from that list. Maybe your list should include eating the food, learning some of the language, visiting a few times, reading some general history books on Japan, !, ?

Nope, you just have to come, you'll never be prepared :-)

So with regards the image above, what does this all have to do with farts? Nothing of course.

Except, maybe, that we really aren't that different. In fact, that image is very Viz and Johnny Fartpants. If you're not English that might throw you a little, so click the link.

My point, not that I'm likely to have one in this rambling piece, is that if you can laugh at the same thing, well you're well on your way to some mutual understanding, and being perhaps, just a little prepared!

Oh yes, to any repeat visitors, no I still can't speak Japanese.

Start of month 9.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Matsukaze for lunch

Today I had lunch at 松風 in Tomiku. まつかぜ! OK try ma-tsu-ka-zé. And I enjoyed it so much it got added to our dining page.

I started wondering about the name, which literally means 'Pine wind'. Yes, we all know kami-kaze (don't we?), but maybe not that it means 'God Wind'!

Anyway, I fell upon this wonderful image above

Ariwara no Yukihira and the two brinewomen, Murasame and Matsukaze", an 1886 woodblock print by Yoshitoshi

and a better translation of 松風 as

     'Wind in the Pines'

What I really didn't know was that it is also the name of a play. Now inside the restaurant the young owners seemed to like the arts, and so I'm guessing they may also know of this Noh play.

Of the image, well though Matsu can mean "pine tree" (松), it can also mean "to wait" or "to pine" (待つ). Matsukaze pines for the return of her courtier love!

All that from a quick drive and a curry for lunch. 

Wikipedia has four references on the word Matsukaze if you're really keen.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Looks like an adventure

I like road trips, so when wifey says how about this one, I can only say "OK!"

Yes, I spotted the water, so am planning mods to the car.

Apparently there are some very impressive bridges en route, looking something just like this

Japan, very exciting!