September 30, 2014
Fine arts, reading, hearty appetite, harvest, sports--these are just a few things one associates with autumn in Japan. September this year brought a series of problems, caused both by man and Mother Nature. Below are some inspirational comments made during the eventful month that did my heart good.
September 29, 2014
Kyuya Fukada (1903-1971) once described Mount Ontakesan as “a mountain that is a class by itself.” In his classic “Nihon Hyakumeizan” (100 Famous Japanese Mountains), the writer and mountaineer wrote that Ontakesan “stands majestically in lofty isolation as if saying ‘I don’t want to join the Japanese Alps, which are crowded with mountains of the Northern, Central and Southern (Alps).’”
September 27, 2014
His trademark was an amazingly luxuriant, white beard reminiscent of such ancient Chinese sages as Lao-tzu and Confucius.
September 26, 2014
Exactly 50 years ago, “Hyoten” (Freezing Point), the debut novel of Ayako Miura (1922-1999), won The Asahi Shimbun’s prize competition for best novel and began appearing serially in the newspaper.
September 25, 2014
The teacher who appeared in “Kaze no Matasaburo” (Matasaburo of the wind), a short story by novelist Kenji Miyazawa (1896-1933), greets students on the first school day after summer vacation by saying, “Everybody, the long summer vacation was exciting, wasn’t it?”
September 24, 2014
Gracing school textbooks and other materials, the United Nations Headquarters in New York overlooking the East River is a familiar sight. The U.N. General Assembly meets in regular annual sessions from September. The gathering of world leaders for the General Debate heralds the arrival of autumn in the city. This year's debate kicks off on Sept. 24.
September 23, 2014
On my way to the train station yesterday morning, I noticed some color on the persimmons growing on my neighbor’s tree. Some years, the summer heat persists up to or around the autumnal equinox. But this year, autumn appears to have arrived punctually. The sun is still strong during the day, but the clouds at sunset are no longer in their summer hues.
September 22, 2014
The oval shell, several centimeters long, had a shiny, sparkling surface and small holes at both ends.
September 20, 2014
Scotland has been all over Japanese newspapers and television for the past few days, and I've become an "instant Scotland expert." I learned for the first time that the Scottish flag has a white X-shaped cross against a blue background, and that Scotland has about the same area and population as Hokkaido.
September 19, 2014
French lawyer, politician and noted gastronome Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826) made this tongue-in-cheek observation in his “The Physiology of Taste: Or, Meditations on Transcendental Gastronomy”: “The discovery of a new dish does more for the happiness of the human race than the discovery of a star.”
September 18, 2014
I'm not sure how effective scarecrows are in discouraging birds from feasting on growing crops, but they sure add charm to rice paddies. On my recent visit to a mountain valley in Gunma Prefecture, I spotted a few scarecrows here and there, standing in a sea of undulating rice plants that were starting to ripen.
September 17, 2014
Japanese-born Yoshiko Yamaguchi made her screen debut as Chinese actress Li Xianglan in 1938, the year after the Marco Polo Bridge Incident triggered the Second Sino-Japanese War.
September 16, 2014
The Japanese expression "shidokenai," which is rarely heard nowadays, means "sloppy" in dress or posture. But it can also be used to describe the grace and charm of unaffected nonchalance.
September 15, 2014
Sept. 14 was the first day of the Autumn Grand Sumo Tournament. One big draw of this tournament is newly promoted ozeki Goeido. Sumo fans are eager to watch his bouts to see how he performs as ozeki, a title he acquired after years of strenuous efforts.
September 13, 2014
Newspaper company workers feel joy and a sense of pride when blank news pages become filled with stories for the public to read.
September 12, 2014
Okinawa Prefecture has had six governors since its reversion to Japanese rule in 1972. The first governor, Chobyo Yara (1902-1997), had served as chief executive of the government of the Ryukyu Islands during the years of U.S. military occupation.
September 11, 2014
"The Making of a Quagmire: America and Vietnam During the Kennedy Era," a book published in 1965 by esteemed U.S. journalist David Halberstam (1934-2007), is credited with establishing the image of the Vietnam War as a "quagmire." A Japanese translation was titled "Betonamu no Doronuma kara" (From the quagmire of Vietnam). Americans have since retained sharp memories of that deep quagmire.
September 10, 2014
Giant bulletin boards were set up in Kyoto and other places in the late Taisho Era (1912-1926) to enable passers-by to follow the national high school baseball tournament at Koshien Stadium.
September 09, 2014
Essays by TV screenwriter Kuniko Mukoda (1929-1981) take me down memory lane to the Showa Era (1926-1989). A passage from one goes: “The telephone in my home gives a small gasp before it rings.”
September 08, 2014
“Annie Laurie,” “Comin’ Thro’ the Rye” and “Auld Lang Syne” are all old Scottish folk songs, though they are sometimes categorized as British songs in Japan.