Going to the forest at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Saturday, June 27th, 2009

We were planning to go to Mt. Houei, a part of Mt. Fuji, which erupted 302 years ago. It was raining so hard that we changed our schedule and had a short hike in Aokigahara Forest. This forest reminds me of Hayao Miyazaki’s animation, ” Mononoke hime”. Do you know why roots develope in this way ? Because the ground is rock not soil. Why rock ? Mt. Fuji erupted and its lava ran down, burning the trees and other living things. It formed a lava bed. The ground is made of rock and it made it impossible for trees to root in the ground.The moss on the roots help them take water. How clever !!

It is said that it took more than 700 years to form this forest. In this forest magnet compasses don’t work properly since the lava rock itself has strong magnetism. It’s better to go into the forest with a person who knows the area well.

We can see many caves around Mt. Fuji. I heard there are 228 caves and many caves are yet to be discovered.

If you discover a new cave, you can name it. We went down one of the most famous caves. It was cool and the air was clear. It was very unusual and mysterious place. I felt the power of nature and felt like recharging myself.

We were back on the trail and kept going. Soon we got to another forest. It was very strange. Two totally different forests are located side by side. Since hot lava didn’t run through this forest, this forest’s trees and animals must have survived.

Thanks to our nature guide we had a really good time. Without guides, we wouldn’t learn much or to be able to relax.

The nature guides’ mottos are: 1. You may forget what you have heard. 2. But you may remember what you have seen. 3. You may understand what you have experienced. 4. You may acquire what you have discovered.

The Tale of Genji and traditional Japanese music

Tuesday, June 16th, 2009

My mother has been teaching Koto and Shamisen ( traditional Japanese musical instruments ) for some decades.

She has been lucky to have many good students and some of them are good enough to teach or some are teaching now.

I went to their concert on The Tale of Genji. Some music was composed in the Edo era based on the stories.

Mr. Shibata who has studied a alo about traditional Japanese literature gave short lectures before each musical performance. The lecture was very interesting and the musical performance was facinating so nobody was sleeping. They were all ears.

    

Last year was the 1,000 anniversary of The Tale of Genji written by Murasaki Shikibu in the Heian period. And we saw many books on it at bookstores and many people visited Kyoto.

This year’s hit might be Murakami Haruki and many people are eager to buy his latest novel. What I want to say is The Tale of Genji’s boom hasn’t finished yet. In fact, they were surprised to have such a big audience. They happily hosted as many as 165 people. The hall was almost full and we had to bring some extra chairs.

   

They all played very well and I felt very sorry for  the people who couldn’t get in as I worked as a receptionist on that day. I heard that some visitors from foreign country wanted try but it was too late to ask for it so they couldn’t  be there. It was pity.

By the way The tale of Genji is said to be fiction but I’m sure it represents the aristocrats’ real lives. I wonder if they really enjoyed love affaires that freely.? We can’t do the same things since it’s sometimes too decadent but with a little Genji spirit, the Japanese low birth rate can be solved. Am I crazy ?

A paper company at the foot of Mt. Fuji

Friday, June 5th, 2009

In the city where I live, there are many paper factories. And Hayashi Paper Company has been making interesting toilet paper. They started to make such things to make toilets fun place to be in. Toilet have usually been considered to be dark and dirty places. Frankly speaking, I don’t think people pay much attention to how comfortable they are. Now I think we must pay more respect to toilet paper and these small spaces that are so important to our lives. Let me show you three different types of toilet paper for this time.

This is their latest one. Mr.Koji Suzuki, the author of “ring” or “edge” wrote a short story for this toilet paper.

Next is my favorite The Tokaido Highway paper.

We can study Japanese history or culture here. As a student, I had to cram for tests but now I can learn it at will with this.

  

The third one, in this paper, a well-known economic analyst Mr. Morinaga gives 10 useful tips to survive economic hardship. Let me try a rough translation.

  

1) Prioritise saving and then try make both ends meet with what is left.

2) Live in the suburbs. Rents and prices are lower there. Living there will bring you benefits such as easy       access to sightseeing spots. No need to be competitive.

3) Buy cheaper manual cars. They are economical both in efficiency and maintenance.

4) Check your home phone and mobile contracts. You may save more by changing some of them.

5) Don’t decide what to cook before going to the supermarket. Have a look and pick the day’s most inexpensive ingredients and think about what you can cook.

6) Don’t use carts at the supermarket. You may buy more than you need.

7) Choose the right level of school for each child. If the person isn’t good enough for the school it’s a waste of money and if someone happens to pass the school entrance but is not really good enough for it, the person will be unhappy after getting in it.

8) Use internet banks. You can get slightly higher interest rate, charges are lower than conventional ones. Also you can get cash back by doing shopping on the website.

9) Sell the things you don’t use on internet auctions.

10) If anyone gives you anything, even though you don’t need it, accept it with all smile and be very thankful. You may get more in the future.

What do you think ? Do they help you ?

Soma Koma Yaki ( pottery )

Wednesday, June 3rd, 2009

   

This is Soma Koma Yaki. This pottert has a long history and can be as old as 360 years. The pieces were made for the lord of Soma who governed the eastern part of Fukushima.

The founder of this pottery learned in Kyoto and came back to Soma. He got the name Tashiro Hokyo and his descendant has been practicing the art for such a long time and now 15th Tashiro Hokyo, his son, and his daughter who lives in the US. are keeping their heritage.

When I came back to my hometown, my father took me to his place and there I saw this climbing kiln for the first time.The horses and crack-like design are symbols of this pottery. I use cups and dishes and each time I use these the touch of pottery brings me feeling of luxury. Even just a cup of inexpensive tea tastes good !  I hope more people can enjoy this authentic pottery.

 

Mr. Tashiro also makes different type of pottery,too. It looks like silk road style pottery to me. I think this one is also beautiful.

I wondered why and asked him. His teacher, Mr.  Takuo Kato is specialized in Shosoin treasures and knows a lot about Persian art and culture. That makes sense.