Fushimi Inari Taisha and the Japanese Perspective on Religion

伏見稲荷大社と日本人の宗教観

「神を信じていますか?」それは一緒に伏見稲荷大社を訪れた友人の友人であるロシア人が着いて直ぐ私に尋ねた質問でした。彼は日本で宗教的な場所を訪れて純粋に日本人の宗教観を知りたかったのだと思いますが、日本ではこういった質問をされることはまず無いので、私は面食らい即答することができませんでした。私は信仰心の熱い人間ではありませんが、神社やお寺を訪れた際には健康や幸せを願って手を合わせます。海外の方の中には日本人は宗教心が薄いと言われる方もいます。確かに日常生活の中で宗教の集まりに通っているとか毎日お祈りをするといった宗教の存在を感じる機会は余りありません。

“Do you believe in God?” This was the question that my friend’s friend from Russia asked me as soon as we arrived at Fushimi Inari Taisha. I think he simply wanted to know the Japanese perspective on religion at the time when he was visiting a religious place in Japan, but I was overwhelmed by his question and couldn’t immediately answer since it is uncommon to be asked such a question in Japan. I am not a religious person, but I pray for good health and happiness whenever I visit shrines and temples. Some people in other countries say that Japanese people are not religious. It is true that in our daily lives we rarely have occasions to see other people’s religious practices like regularly attending religious gatherings or praying daily to God.

ではなぜ沢山の日本人が寺社仏閣を訪れるのでしょうか?有名な建物や美しい庭や歴史的な所蔵品を見るという観光目的の方は確かに多いと思います。しかし、観光目的なのでお参りはしませんという人はまずいません。訪れた人はたいていご利益を求めて手を合わせます。お正月には非常に多くの日本人が初詣をします。ほとんどの神社には複数の神様が祀られています。日本の古来からの宗教、そして今も国の宗教とされてるのは神道です。八百万の神々と言われる様に自然のもの全てに神が宿ると考える多神教であり、沢山の神々を敬うこの姿勢が日本人の信仰心が薄いともとられるおおらかな宗教観に繋がっているのかもしれません。そして物を大切にしたり、自分の家だけでなく公共の場もきれいにしておこうという姿勢にも表れているのかもしれません。

Then, why do many Japanese people visit temples and shrines? I am sure that one purpose for most is sightseeing to see famous architecture, beautiful gardens and historical artifacts. However, it is very rare that visitors don’t pray even if their purpose is sightseeing. People usually pray for good luck. During the first three days of the New Year, an enormous number of people visit shrines or temples to make a wish for the New Year. Most shrines have several deities. The religion which has existed from ancient times in Japan and is still considered the national religion is Shinto. As it is said that there are myriads of deities in Shinto, it has polytheistic as well as animistic beliefs. An attitude which worships many deities leads to a generous perspective of religions, which is sometimes regarded as an irreligious attitude. This animistic belief may also make people carefully use things for a long time and keep not only their own houses but also public places clean.

初めて伏見稲荷大社を訪れた日は小雨が降っていて、千本鳥居の奥は薄暗く見えました。しかし雨が止んだ後にもやの中に鮮やかな朱塗りの鳥居が立ち並ぶ光景はとても幻想的で、崇高な存在がずっと奥に潜んでいるかの様な神秘的な雰囲気でした。鳥居は人間の世界と神の世界を分ける門の役割をしているとされています。本殿は山の裾にあるのですが、そこから頂上まで非常に沢山の鳥居が並び、山を登りながら多くの神々に参ることができます。通常神社ではお賽銭をあげてお参りをしますが、伏見稲荷大社ではお賽銭だけではなくそれぞれの祠に複数のサイズの小さな鳥居が沢山供えられており、他の神社には無い独特な光景を見ることができます。

When I visited Fushimi Inari Taisha for the first time, I couldn’t see all the way to the end of Senbon Torii because of the misty rain. However, the scenery of so many bright red orange Torii in the fog after rain was very mysterious and I felt a sacred atmosphere as if powerful spirits dwelled in the deepest place of the mountain. Torii is defined as a gate which separates our world and the deities’ world. The main building is located on the foot of the mountain and from there to the top there are many Torii. You can pray to many deities as you climb the mountain. We usually offer money when we pray to deities, but at some small shrines of Fushimi Inari Taisha as well as offering when we pray, we can also pay for several sizes of wooden Torii, this is not seen at other shrines in Japan.

山を登る参道の途中には社務所やお茶屋があり、お守り・飲み物・食べ物等を買うことができます。どの建物も古い作りですので、趣があります。山を登ってきた足を休め、周りの景色を眺めることで、非日常的な雰囲気に浸り、気持ちを落ち着かせることができます。他の宗教でもそうだと思いますが、神に祈ることは自分が日常生活で叶えたいと思っている願いや夢を意識する良い機会であり、これから自分の願いがかなうかもしれないという希望を持つことによって来る前より前向きな気持ちになって帰ることができますが、山という広大な敷地にある伏見稲荷大社は頂上までで登ると往復2時間ほどの道のりで、山を登ったという達成感も味わうことができます。

There are shrine offices and small shops on the mountain path where you can buy amulets, drinks, food and so on. Every building is old and has an otherworldly atmosphere. In front of the shops you can rest your legs that have become weary by climbing the mountain, separate yourself from ordinary life by looking at the scenery and calming your mind. I think every religion has this benefit but making a prayer to deities is a good opportunity to realize your wish and dream that you have in your daily life. You can also be more positive when you go home from the hope of your wish coming true. Besides, it takes around two hours to climb up and down the mountain and you can also feel a sense of accomplishment for scaling the mountain.

海外では宗教の話はタブーだと聞いたことがあります。それは宗教の違いで言い争いになることを避けるためです。ただ日本人が余り宗教について話をしないのは、当たり前の様に神々が日常生活に溶け込んでいるからかもしれません。ご先祖を祀るための仏壇がある家は多いですし、火の神である荒神様を台所に祀っておられる方もいらっしゃると思います。町々には神社やお寺が必ずありますし、道沿いに小さな社を見かけることもよくあります。トイレの神様という歌が流行ったのを覚えている方もいらっしゃると思いますが、神道では厠の神も存在するのです。

I hear that talking about religion is sometimes taboo in foreign countries. This is to avoid arguments between people of different religious beliefs. However, in Japan talking about religion not so often might come from the regular existence of deities in our daily lives. I think many houses have a Buddhist altar for their families and some houses also have an altar for the fire deity in their kitchen. You can see at least one shrine and temple even in a small town where you visit. Small shrines can be often seen on the roadside. Some of you probably remember the song named “the lavatory deity.” Shinto even has a deity for the lavatory.

宗教は信じる人の考えを形作るものであり、人を律したり良い行いをしようと意識させることに役立っている反面、宗教によって考え方が異なる場合があるため、それが争いを引き起こしてきたのも人類の歴史を見ると明らかです。特に一神教は他の神を認めません。絶対的なものを信じるあまりに考えに寛容さが無くなってしまったり、起源が同じとされている宗教でも宗派の違いで争いがあります。

Religion creates the thinking of people who believe in it. It also helps to restrain people from bad behavior and encourages them to do good things. On the other hand, in human history it is obvious that religion has also caused fighting due to the different beliefs between religions, especially monotheism which doesn’t accept other gods. Some people believe in one absolute God too strongly and close their minds to other beliefs. There are also conflicts between religions which are said to have the same origin.

私がオーストラリアにいた頃、クラスメイトのトルコ人の女性と観光目的で教会へ行きました。ホストマザーにその話をしたところ、イスラム教の人が教会に行くなんてととても驚いていました。(クラスメイトはイスラム教ではなかったのですが、トルコでは国民の大部分がイスラム教徒です。) ただ、観光目的であろうと他の宗教の建物なり敷地なりを訪れることは良いことだと思います。なぜなら訪れることにより、その宗教を知ることができるからです。知ることは理解することへの第一歩です。2020年のオリンピック・パラリンピックを前に、今日本には沢山の外国人が訪れています。伏見稲荷大社でも多くの外国人を見かけました。もっと多くの外国人が伏見稲荷大社を訪れ、そこに沢山の神々が一緒に祀られることを知って欲しいと思います。そうすれば、他の宗教への理解が生まれるきっかけになり、本来人を幸せにするべき宗教で争うことを止められるのではないかと感じました。    

When I was in Australia, I went to a Christian church with my Turkish classmate for sightseeing. I told this story to my host mother. She was so surprised and said, “I can’t believe a Muslim girl went to a Christian church!”(My classmate wasn’t a Muslim, but most Turkish people are.) Yet, I think visiting other religions’ facilities and places is a good thing. Because you can have an opportunity to learn about that religion. Knowing something is the first step to understanding it. Before the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics many foreigners will visit Japan. I also saw crowds of foreigners in Fushimi Inari Taisha. I hope that more foreigners visit Fushimi Inari Taisha so that they can learn about the many deities enshrined together. I believe it will be a good opportunity for them to understand other beliefs and resolve conflicts between religions, which are supposed to make people happy.

 

 

 

Across Mongolia Alone by Horse

モンゴル単独馬上横断

As a child I had always been fascinated by stories I’d read about the explorers of old. Those brave souls who had ventured into unknown wildernesses inhabited by wild animals and even wilder people. Places where, on one hand cities of gold and untold riches could be found, but on the other swirling oceans, man-eating tigers and monsters waited. With those adventure books tucked under my pillow at night, I would dream of someday making my own incredible journey.

In 1992 the vast and largely forgotten nation of Outer Mongolia finally threw off the shadows of Soviet guided communism and opened itself to the world. In London I was one of the first people to be issued a tourist visa for individual travel. My goal was to spend as long as I could in the country, to see into the lives of the Mongolian nomads, the descendants of Genghis Khan’s warrior hordes, and most importantly to travel as they did and always had-on Mongolian horses.

With the help of a local family, I bought my first horse and set off from near the capital city of Ulaan Bataar and headed west. Ahead of me lay the adventure I had dreamt of as a child, I would meet tribes who had, apart from Russians, never met outsiders. I would meet people who had never, and probably would never, see the ocean. I would ride into valleys where most likely a westerner had never been. I wouldn’t find riches, but I would see sunsets of gold in the desert and would find friendship and hospitality from strangers who lived their entire lives in round tents.

After a month of riding, I had crossed the vast grasslands of Eastern Mongolia and entered the forested mountains of the Hangay Nuruu in the center of the country. The rugged terrain, thick forests and remoteness of the mountains would test me, and one terrifying day would push me to my limits.

It was a long valley and an even longer day. I climbed higher and higher into the mountains but somehow, I lost the trail. By evening I realized I had gone the wrong way as I found myself in a dead end in the valley surrounded by sheer rock peaks; there was no way out. I lead my horse back down a short distance and found a place to camp just as darkness started to fall. It was a high camp and a freezing night.

I woke to a sunny, clear morning but as I packed my tent and saddled my shivering horse, clouds crept over the peaks around me. Rain began to fall not long after we set off down the valley and within a short time the rain turned into snow. It was a worrying sign and I could feel the tension inside me beginning to assert itself. At the altitude I was in and in such remote mountains, there was very little margin for error, and I had already made one mistake.
While wind blew up the valley driving the snow into my face, my poor horse tried to turn his head to avoid the blizzard, but I pushed him on. Three hours later I reached the point at which I should have turned off the day before. Here I had to make a choice: to head on and try to cross the range in the worsening weather, or head back the way I had come to find the nomad camps I had passed the day before. Turning back was the sensible thing to do. I could find safety and it was all downhill over land I had already ridden. However, I also knew it was a very long way back to the camps. I’d be lucky to get there by nightfall, but by riding on across the range I might find other camps closer. It was a dangerous gamble, but I decided to take it.

We struggled on. The ground was soft and boggy and very difficult going for my poor horse. I often lost the trail, but we’d stumble on until we found it again. The layer of tension inside me was now converting itself to fear and was creeping closer to the surface as I got colder, wetter and higher in the valley. My horse stumbled again.
“Come on! Go!”

I tried to stay calm knowing that panic would kill me quicker than the cold but fearful thoughts found their way in. Was I pushing my luck too far trying to cross a pass in this weather? What about hypothermia? How long did it take to set in? How cold could you get before it was too cold? Was I too cold already? Every few minutes I would start to shiver uncontrollably.

Snow was piling on my hat and saddlebags and my horse’s neck was a frosty strip of white. At the same time, I was becoming more and more anxious. I wasn’t in immediate danger as long as nothing went wrong, as long as we didn’t lose the trail completely, as long as the weather didn’t get any worse, or as long as my horse kept going. He was struggling over the rough, wet ground but every time he faltered, I would shout at him to keep going. I was trying to take the fear and stress I felt out on him. I should have had more faith in my brave little Mongol pony; he carried me all the way to the top.

Finally, there we stopped next to a pile of stones built to mark the pass. I climbed out of the saddle and tried to tie a bandana around my face to keep warm, but my fingers were so numb I couldn’t do it. I gave up and set off on foot leading my horse behind me down into the next valley. Snow was blowing in swirls around us and visibility was reduced to just a few meters.

An hour later we had made it to the valley floor. The snow turned back to rain but at least the trail was easier. I got back on my horse and rode on with ice-block feet trying to see ahead and ever hopeful that I would spot the welcome sight of the round Mongolian tent, or ger, in the distance that would mark shelter, warmth and safety.

At about six o’clock in the evening I almost stopped and set up camp. I just wanted to get into my sleeping bag and fall asleep, but all my clothes were wet, and I had nothing else to change into. I needed to build a fire, but with nothing dry to put on, I might not be able to warm up and I knew that could be fatal.

I rode on scanning the way ahead through the clouds looking for any sign of people. I was still high in the valley, too high perhaps for there to be any nomads camp, and then again there might not have been anyone living in the area at all. Then in the far distance I noticed something on a hillside, something white. Were they rocks? Patches of snow? They were moving, sheep! I’d never been so pleased to see some in my life. I felt they were a sign of safety, that people wouldn’t be far away, and I was going to make it.

At about eight o’clock I found a camp of a single ger, just a woman and her two small children. “Sain-bai-nu.” I greeted her with the usual Mongolian phrase, are you good? “Sain-bai-nu.” She replied.
“Bi huting bain.” I told her, I’m cold.
“Aa.” She nodded and motioned for me to enter the ger.

I stepped inside and sat by the stove, the fire not exactly blazing but it was better than nothing. The woman made me some tea, poured me a bowl and then took her children outside. I sat there cradling the warm tea bowl in my freezing hands, breathing deeply and fighting the urge to lie down and go to sleep. Half an hour later, the woman still hadn’t returned so I opened the door and looked outside. She was nowhere to be seen and a horse which had been tethered near the ger was gone too.

Just then I looked down the valley and saw an old truck heading towards the camp. It stopped a few hundred meters and six men jumped from the back of the vehicle and stood watching me. They were all armed with rifles and I wondered if they were a hunting party heading off into the hills. We stood watching each other for several minutes until the men started waving at me to come towards them. I stayed put as I was exhausted and the effort of trying to communicate with a group of people was too much to handle. Eventually they walked towards me but stopped several meters away. One of the gun totters stepped forward.
“Henbe?” he shouted at me. Who are you?
“Bi juulchin.” I’m a tourist, I told him and I pointed towards the pass and indicated that I had just come over it. All at once the men started shouting questions at me at a speed that was impossible to understand. I held my hands up for them to stop and told them in Mongolian about the woman and the children that had been at the ger.
“Mini ger bain!” the man with the gun told me, they’re at my ger, and he pointed further down the valley to where his camp must have been.

I suddenly realized what had happened. The woman had become frightened at the sudden arrival of the stranger and had run off to get the menfolk to help. I also realized that the rifles the men had brought were meant for me. It had been a tough day; first hypothermia, and then I was in danger of being shot!

The tension of the situation broke. I apologized to the men and explained who I was and what I was doing. We all went inside the ger and had tea.
“Bi huting bain,” I repeated to the man.
“Aa, oonirda huting bain.” He agreed that it was a cold day, though it was probably nothing to him. After tea we set off on foot to the main camp a short distance down the valley, after everyone had pumped the cartridges out of their rifles, even though they weren’t taking any chances with this stranger.

The whole village turned out to see that they had brought me in alive. I was taken to one ger and served more hot tea and a large bowl of fatty mutton lumps and homemade noodles. The food poured energy into my cold, tired body and I could feel it flow through me as if I had been injected with a powerful drug. I was so glad I had carried on and not camped higher in the valley as I had wanted to earlier. However, exhaustion came upon me like a wave and I was utterly helpless to stop it.

“Bi ontno herecti.” I need to sleep, I told the man, and he showed me to a bed at the back of the ger that was to be mine for the night. I unrolled my sleeping bag and peeled off most of my wet clothes in front of the tent full of people watching me. I was beyond caring, I crawled into the warm bag, pulled the hood over my head and was lost to the world.

I spent three days resting and recovering, both for myself and my horse, before heading on west. Over the next couple of months, I would leave the Hangay Nuruu Mountains and head out onto the empty plains of Zavkhan before reaching the mighty Altai Mountains in Mongolia’s far west. Here I would encounter weather and conditions as bad, if not worse than those I went through that freezing day, but by then I’d be better equipped, more experienced and more able to deal with the challenge. By the time the fierce Mongolian winter began, I would have travelled nearly 3000 kilometers over four months. The child dreaming with a book under his pillow had found his own adventure.

 

 

 

 



Welcome to the Takarazuka Revue Company!

宝塚歌劇団へようこそ!

「宝塚歌劇団」通称「宝塚」は兵庫県宝塚市の宝塚大劇場と、東京都千代田区の東京宝塚劇場を拠点として活動している歌劇団です。宝塚は、未婚の女性だけで構成される世界でも珍しい劇団です。そのため、女性の役だけではなく男性の役までも女性が演じることになります。男性の役を「男役」、女性の役を「娘役」と呼び、男役は普段から短い髪、娘役はロングヘアと一目瞭然で区別できます。どちらの役を担当するかは本人の身長や声域、意思によって決まります。宝塚歌劇団員になるためには、20倍以上の倍率の狭き門をくぐり抜けて宝塚音楽学校に入学し、2年間の厳しいレッスンを受ける必要があります。

“Takarazuka Kageki-dan” (Takarazuka Revue Company), simply known as “Takarazuka”, is a musical theater troupe based at Takarazuka Grand Theater in Takarazuka City, Hyogo and Tokyo Takarazuka Theater in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo. If you look around the world, Takarazuka is a rare revue company which consists only of unmarried women. Therefore, women play not only female roles but also male roles. The actresses who portray male roles are referred to as Otoko-yaku and the actresses who portray female roles are referred to as Musume-yaku. It is obvious to tell the difference of the two roles since the members of Otokoyaku have short hair even in their private lives and those of Musumeyaku always have long hair. Their height, range of voice and own request determine which role they play. To become the members of the company, they must survive fierce competition to pass the entrance examination for the Takarazuka Music School whose admission rate is less than 0.04%, and then it takes 2 years of strict lessons until their graduation.

宝塚には「花組」「月組」「雪組」「星組」」「宙組」(そらぐみ)の5組と、どの組にも出演できるベテランの団員が所属している「専科」があります。宝塚の舞台は「ベルサイユのバラ」といったような洋物の作品から時代劇、TVドラマのようなラブストーリー、ミュージカルショーなどがあります。団員は後方や2階席のお客様にまでよく見えるように濃いメイクをして、派手な衣装を着ます。カツラは専門の美容師さんに付けてもらいますが、ヘアメイクは自分でします。

The Takarazuka Revue consists of 5 standard troupes and 1 special troupe: “Hana-gumi (Flower Troupe)”, “Tsuki-gumi (Moon Troupe)”, “Yuki-gumi (Snow Troupe)”, “Hoshi-gumi (Star Troupe)”, “Sora-gumi (Cosmos Troupe)” and “Senka (Special troupe)”. “Senka” are composed of superior members who can perform with all troupes. The Takarazuka varies its works: Western dramas such as “The Rose of Versailles”, Japanese historical dramas, love stories like TV dramas, musical shows and so on. The performers wear heavy makeup and flashy costumes so that audiences can recognize the performers’ faces. Tokoyama-san (special hairdressers for wigs) take care of the wigs, but performers need to do hairstyling and makeup by themselves.

宝塚歌劇の始まりは1914年、大正3年に遡ります。阪急電鉄、阪急百貨店、映画会社の東宝などの創業者の小林一三が、鉄道の乗客誘致の一環として創りました。宝塚の「清く、正しく、美しく」は彼の教えで、歌やダンス、演劇といった芸能の基本はもちろんのこと、礼儀作法をわきまえ、一人の女性として、社会人としての品格を忘れないようにと贈った言葉です。その精神は現在でも、すべてのタカラジェンヌやスタッフのなかに受け継がれています。

The Takarazuka Revue held its first performance in 1914 (Taisho 3rd yr). It was established by Ichizo Kobayashi who was a founder of Hankyu Railway, Hankyu Department Store and Toho (a production and distribution company of a film and theater) to boost train ticket sales. The Takarazuka Revue’s motto of “Kiyoku (modesty), Tadashiku (fairness)” and “Utsukushiku (grace) comes from his words. He advocated that the members of the company should have good manners and maintain their dignity as females and members of society as well as master the basic techniques of entertainment such as singing, dancing and acting. This motto is being followed deeply even now.


私が宝塚にはまったきっかけは高校の芸術鑑賞でした。それまでの私は宝塚にあまり興味がありませんでした。しかし、たった一度見ただけで宝塚に魅了されてしまったのです。その公演は雪組の「私立探偵ケイレブ・ハント」と「Greatest HITS!」です。もう退団されてしまいましたが、その時のトップは早霧(さぎり)せいなさんでした。この公演を見た私はすっかり早霧さんのファンになってしまいました。

The fine arts appreciation event from my school attracted me to Takarazuka. I was not very interested in Takarazuka before that; however, only one performance fascinated me: “Cable Hunt, Private Eye” and “Greatest HITS!” by Snow Troupe. Seina Sagiri, who already left the theatrical company, played a leading role of Otokoyaku in them. I have been an enthusiastic fan since that time.

2018年(平成30年)12月には始発に乗って、友達と「ファントム」を見に宝塚大劇場へ行きました。まだ6時前なのにとても長い列ができていて、少なくとも50人は並んでいたと思います。チケットを手に入れるために徹夜をしてまで並んでいた人もいたようです。冷たい風が吹く中、私たちは約4時間並び、やっと立ち見席のチケットを入手することが出来ました。ずっと立っていても脚の疲れなど感じないほど「ファントム」に心揺さぶられ、気づくと涙が溢れていました。雪組のトップスターの望海風斗(のぞみふうと)さんと、トップ娘役の真彩希帆(まあやきほ)さんは、宝塚で歌が上手いと称されている数多くの団員の中でも一二を争うお二人なので、この演目を演じるにはぴったりだと思いました。
宝塚についてまだ少ししか知らないので、いろいろ勉強をしながら、これからも宝塚の公演をたくさん鑑賞したいと思っております。

In December 2018 (Heisei 30th yr), my friend and I went to see “Phantom” at the Takarazuka Grand Theater by the first train. We arrived at the theater as early as 6 o’clock and saw at least 50 people already waiting in line for tickets. Some of them seemed to have been waiting all night. After waiting for about 4 hours in chilly winds, we could finally get tickets but for only standing room. We were standing throughout the performance time, but our legs were not tired at all. Before I knew it, I was deeply moved to tears by “Phantom”. Futo Nozomi is the top Otoko-yaku star of Snow troupe, and Kiho Maaya is the top Musume-yaku star. I think both of them are among the best singers of all the members; therefore, they were the perfect persons to perform this revue. Now I know only a little about Takarazuka. I will learn about it and want to enjoy many shows.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Getting to Know the Violin and Myself

ヴァイオリンと歩んだ私

ヴァイオリンは擦弦楽器(さつげんがっき)の一種で独奏、室内楽(小規模編成の器楽合奏楽)、管弦楽などに用いられ、ビオラ、チェロ、コントラバスなどヴァイオリン属の中で最も小型で、最も高音を出します。一般的に大人用のヴァイオリンで全長は約60cm、胴部の長さは約35cm、重量は約300から600グラムです。材料は表板にはスプルース、横板と裏板にはメイプル、指板には黒檀が使われています。湿気対策と音響特性の改善のために塗装にはニスが用いられます。

The violin is a kind of a musical stringed instrument symbolic with solo, chamber music (instrumental music played by a small ensemble) and orchestral music. It is a smaller and higher pitched instrument than any other in the violin family such as a viola, cello or contrabass. The regular size of a violin for adults has a total length: about 60 cm, the width: about 35 cm and weight: from about 300 g to
600 g. A violin consists of the top plate made of spruce, the ribs and back made of maple and the fingerboard made of ebony. A violin is covered with varnish to control humidity and improve the sound effect.


日本ではドイツ音名を用いて4本の弦を右から(ミ)のE線(エー線)、(ラ)のA線(アー線)、(レ)のD線(デー線)、(ソ)のG線(ゲー線)と呼ばれ、それぞれを番号で1番線(Ⅰ)、2番線(Ⅱ)、3番線(Ⅲ)、4番線(Ⅳ)と呼ばれるのが世界共通です。弓は直線状の木製の竿を火で炙り、慎重に適度なカーブをつけ形を整えた後、馬の尾の毛の弦を張ったものです。松脂(まつやに)をつけることによって音を出します。

A violin has four strings called the E (mi), A (la), D (re) and G (sol) from the right following German style in Japan. They also have universal names: the first, second, third and fourth strings. A straight wooden stick is carefully heated by flame to get the exact curve and shape, and it is strung with four strings made of horsehair from the tail. Pine resin is needed on the strings to make sound.

基本姿勢は左手でヴァイオリンを持ち左肩に乗せて、顎は顎当てに顎を乗せて高く持ち上げるように構えます。あまり力を入れず、指でつまむようにして右手で弓を持ちます。動きによって、音の長さや強弱、音色などを個々に表現します。弦を押さえるのは親指以外の4本の指で、親指の腹と、人差し指の付け根のあたりで軽くネックの部分を支えます。

The standard posture is that you hold the violin with your left hand, place it on your left shoulder and rest your jaw on the chin rest. You don’t need to hold the bow strongly but just take it with the fingers of your right hand. The variations of a bow hold make each length, loudness and timbre of the sound. Four fingers except the thumb are placed on the strings, and the tip of the thumb and the base of the forefinger stay in contact with the neck of the violin.


ヴァイオリンの起源は諸説あります。その一つが、中東を中心にイスラム圏で広く使用されている擦弦楽器であるラバーブです。中世中期にイスラム教の普及とともにヨーロッパに伝えられ、立てて弾くタイプと抱えて弾くタイプのものに分かれ、後者がヴァイオリンへと進化していきました。また、モンゴルあたりの馬頭琴とも云われています。

There are various theories about the origin of the violin such as a rabab, a bowed string instrument which is widely played in the Islamic World of the Middle East. It was introduced to Europe with the spread of Islam and was divided into two types: an instrument resting vertically on the floor and one held with a hand. The latter evolved into the violin. Another theory says a morin khuur in Mongolia is the ancestor of the violin.


ヴァイオリンが世に登場したのは16世紀初頭と考えられており、ヨーロッパ各地において多くの絵画や文献の中にヴァイオリンが描写されています。レオナルド・ダ・ヴィンチの手による、ヴァイオリンに似た楽器の設計図も現存しています。現存する最古のヴァイオリンは、16世紀後半に北イタリアで作られたストラディバリウスです。

The modern violin is thought to have appeared at the beginning of the 16th century. Many pictures and literature have been captured in all parts of Europe. The design for a music instrument similar to the violin drawn by Leonardo De Vinci is still in existence. The oldest existing violin is the Stradivarius which was made in Northern Italy in the late 16th century.

私は2歳の頃のから約14年間、ヴァイオリンを習っていました。ヴァイオリンの大きさは身長や腕の長さによってサイズが9段階に分けられています。ヴァイオリンと共に成長してきたようなもので、最初は最も小さいヴァイオリンで練習を始めました。今でも当時使っていたまるで玩具のようなヴァイオリンを見ると、家での練習中に上手く弾けなくて母にひどく怒られた苦い記憶から、ヴァイオリンでお気に入りの曲を弾いていた楽しい思い出までもが浮かんできます。16歳の独奏会ではモーツァルトの曲を弾きました。高学年になると、大人用のヴァイオリンへ変わります。このヴァイオリンは今でも私の宝物の一つです。ヴァイオリンに幼い頃から触れていたため、今でもクラシック音楽が聞くのが好きで、常に聞いています。

I started to practice the violin at the age of 2 and took violin lessons for about 14 years. Violins come in 9 different sizes which change depend on the height and length of one’s arms. As I grew up, my violin became larger. My first violin was the smallest. Such a small violin like a toy reminds me of a bitter memory of my mother scolding me severely for my unsatisfactory practice at home, and a sweet memory that I played my favorite song. When I was 16 years old, I played one of Mozart’s tunes for a joint recital with other soloists. When I grew up, I started to use a violin for adults. This is my treasure even now. As I have been playing the violin since I was a child, I really like classical music and often enjoy listening to it.

ヴァイオリンを通して私は成長することができました。何かを達成するための努力をすること、そして同時に真心を込めなければいけないということです。とても難しい曲に挑戦して、苦労の末に弾けるようになった時の嬉しさは言葉に表すことができません。自分のヴァイオリンと息を合わせて弾かなければ、綺麗なメロディーを奏でることは不可能です。そして、習字と同じように心を込めて弾かなければ人を惹きつけることもできません。ヴァイオリンの音色は人の心の中を表現します。これからもヴァイオリンの練習に励み、特技にし、様々な曲に挑戦していきたいです。

Learning how to play the violin led to my self-improvement. I learned it is important to not only make an effort but also to do anything with all my heart. I am overcome with the joy of mastering a very difficult tune after a long-sustained effort. It is essential for me to be in sync with my violin to play a beautiful melody. In addition, I need to play the violin wholeheartedly, like calligraphy, or otherwise I cannot attract audiences. The sound of the violin expresses what’s in a player’s heart. I will try to practice the violin enthusiastically until it becomes my specialty and challenge various pieces of music.

 

 

 

 

 

The Eagle Huntress of the Altai

アルタイ山脈の女鷹匠

“So, what do you like to do in your free time?” I ask the young girl as we drink tea in her family’s ger, the round felt tent of the Kazakh nomad in Mongolia’s Altai mountains.
“Well, in winter,” she tells me through an interpreter, “I like to ride my horse into the mountains and hunt wolves with my eagle.” “Oh…right…”

Aigerum Askir is just thirteen years old. She lives with her parents, two sisters and a brother in the district of Altay. The closest real town, Bayan Ulgii, is a five-hour drive away over bone-shaking roads. She is a citizen of Mongolia though she belongs to the Kazakh ethnic minority, numbering about 40,000 people. They are followers of a moderate form of Islam, sheep herders, outstanding horsemen who eke out a living in the Altai, some of the world’s most remote mountains.

Hunting with golden eagles is a tradition stretching back into the distant past of Aigerum’s ancestry. The custom has been handed down from father to son, and now from father to daughter, for hundreds of generations. In the regions of Central Asia, it is only the Kazakhs of Mongolia who have kept the practice alive. Other tribes let the old ways slip away as they were forced, in many places, to settle and adopt new ways of life. But here a solitary rider mounted on a small but sturdy horse, clad in furs, can still be seen riding onto the high ridges, scanning the snow filled valleys below for game, with a full-grown eagle perched on his, or her, arm.

Aigerum has been learning how to handle her eagle, named Karan, since she was eight. Her father and uncle, accomplished hunters themselves, have patiently taught her how to train, care for and hunt as their own father taught them.

The eagles used for hunting are always female as they are larger than the males and more aggressive. Fully grown eagles can be caught in the wild, tempted with food and trapped in nets, though more commonly chicks are taken from nests. This is a dangerous job; would-be hunters must climb the most inaccessible peaks or be lowered down cliff faces to reach the nests, all the while risking attack by the chicks defensive and enraged parents.

Once an eagle is caught, it is made an honored member of the family, given a place to roost inside the ger and fed nearly a kilo of mutton each day. The amount of meat required to feed an adult eagle is a strain on the nomads who mainly survive at a subsistence level; this and the time that must be invested in training make becoming an eagle hunter a weighty commitment and not one taken on lightly, even by an adult man, let alone a teenage girl.

Surprisingly perhaps, training an eagle to hunt only takes about three months. The birds are slowly accustomed to flying to their masters or attacking decoy animals made from fox skins by the reward of fresh meat.

Winter is the time of the hunt. Before first light, Aigerum and her father will be up preparing their horses. After a breakfast of milky tea, bread and dried curds, they will wrap themselves in fur coats, hats and pants and ride into the mountains to greet the sunrise in temperatures of minus 30 degrees Celsius. The eagles are used to hunt marmots, foxes and the bravest will attack wolves. They operate by chasing prey into the open, where it can be shot by their masters, or attacking the animal directly. Wolves are grabbed by the snout and held until the hunters arrive to dispatch the animal.

Once the sole domain of men, eagle hunting has become a sport for women as well. In Mongolia Aigerum knows of about ten other girls who are hunters though there are only two others in the region she lives. Aigerum has competed in eagle hunting festivals, both locally in her area and also in Mongolia’s capital city of Ulaan Baatar. Next year she hopes to compete in a new festival held in Kazakhstan. Hunters are judged on three categories: costume and appearance of the hunters, horses and birds, the bond between the hunter and the eagle demonstrated by how quickly the bird will fly to its master from a distant perch, and hunting ability shown by how well the eagle can catch a decoy fox skin dragged, at speed, behind a galloping horse.

Outside the ger, Aigerum puts on a fox fur coat and climbs into the saddle of her horse. Her father hands her a thick leather glove to protect her from the bird’s razor like talons and coaxes the hooded eagle onto her arm. Using a forked stick to support her arm under the weight of the adult eagle, the young girl turns her horse and races off up the mountainside above her family’s camp. In the valley her father takes a tattered fox skin on a long string and begins to run dragging the decoy behind him. Aigerum removes the hood, needed to keep the eagle calm until it’s ready to fly, from Karan’s head. Karan shrieks a high scream, spreads her wings and launches herself into the wind. Instantly her vision is attracted by the movement of the decoy and she swoops down from the mountain homing in on her prey. The long dead fox has no chance of escape once again as the eagle hits a perfect bulls-eye, latches onto the skin and holds her wings over her prize as if to shield it. Aigerum gallops down to her eagle, leaps from the saddle as the bird proudly cries out, waiting for her reward of shreds of fresh meat. The young lady coos to her eagle and strokes its feathers in praise.

Later, as we drink more tea, Karan watches us from her roost. Aigerum’s father tells me that before the great bird is too old it will be released back into the wild to live in a natural state, flying silently over the peaks and valleys in search of prey of its own. The bird squeals and Aigerum says something; Karan cocks her head as if listening and then remains silent.

 

 

 

 

Raising a Bilingual Child

子供をバイリンガルに育てるには

My son, Bodhi, is a mixed-race four-year-old child. I’m from New Zealand, my first language is English, and my son’s mum is Japanese. When he first began to speak, I was worried about what language he was going to use; my Japanese is very limited and as I was pretty much the only English speaker he knew, I wondered if he was likely to develop language skills only in Japanese, “Will I be able to communicate with my son?”

Naturally, as he grew up in a Japanese environment and went to a local Japanese nursery school and then kindergarten, Bodhi’s first language became Japanese. He is exposed to Japanese language situations far more than he is to English situations. His Japanese is much better than his English; he can make more complete sentences, use prepositions and particles correctly and use more abstract concepts like “dakara” and “demo” However, he is able to communicate most of what he wants to say to me in English, sometimes in more broken English, but he is still effective.

My lack of Japanese language skills has actually turned out to be an advantage in helping Bodhi to be bilingual. I tried to get my wife to speak English to him at home so that our home environment would also be an English environment. Her English is very good but at the end of a long day at work, when the dinner needs to be prepared, Bodhi given a bath and put to bed, it is just easier for her to slip into her own language of Japanese. If I were more proficient in Japanese, it’s likely I would also use that with him since there is more of a chance, he will understand me. But as I said, my Japanese isn’t very good, so it’s English we use. And as a result, Bodhi has picked up more of this language.

It has been interesting to see how well Bodhi has adapted to growing up exposed to two languages. Very early he seemed to recognize that the way Mummy talks is different from the way Daddy talks. He will say something to his mother in Japanese “Cookie wo kudasai!” and then turn around and say the exact same thing to me in English; “Daddy, cookie please!” Once when I was picking him up from his kindergarten in the summer, one of his little friends was complaining about the heat; “Metcha atsui!”. Bodhi turned to me and said, “He’s too hot!”. He translated his friend’s comment.

Bodhi’s use of language also gave me insights into the way he views the world around him. A year ago, we visited Koya-san in Wakayama and stayed in a small guest house for international travelers. In the evening several foreign tourists sat around in the hostel lounge relaxing and Bodhi, enjoying the attention he was getting, tried to talk to them. However, he spoke to them in Japanese which they couldn’t understand, it seemed he thought I was the only one who spoke English and that everyone else in the world spoke Japanese. In fact, one day when I did speak to one of his teachers in Japanese, he was surprised: “Why did Daddy speak Japanese?”

I have made it a point of never actually “teaching” him any English. I have never made him sit down and recite the alphabet, nor have I ever done something like make him repeat the names of his animal toys in English. I’m sure that if I do this kind of thing he will soon see English as a boring task to be done and resist it. Instead I try to get him to use English as we play and talk.
“Daddy look! Wan-chan!”
“Oh, yes! What’s wan-chan in English?”
“Doggy!”
“Good boy!”
Later, I might check to see if he’s remembered: “What’s wan-chan in English Bodhi?” But if he doesn’t want to answer or gives me a silly answer instead, I just let it go. This seems to have worked as he has recently become curious about English and will ask me;
“Daddy, how to say __________ in English?”

A while ago Bodhi and I visited New Zealand for a three-week vacation. Due to her work Bodhi’s mum couldn’t join us so he was surrounded by only English the whole time. Once again, like at Koya-san, Bodhi didn’t realize that other people spoke English and couldn’t speak Japanese. For the first three or four days he kept trying to speak to my family, none of whom could understand a word of Japanese, in his first language of Japanese. After a few days of getting only replies of; “What?” or “Mmmmm.” he seemed to click onto the fact that no one understood him and that he needed to use English.

After that his English improved rapidly. Even in three weeks he was using new and more complex vocabulary and fuller sentences: “Lovely day, isn’t it?” or “Pretty hot today, isn’t it?” and “Don’t forget that Daddy!” During the time in New Zealand Bodhi’s fluency also improved, his English rhythm and intonation became more expressive and natural as he mimicked the people around him. He did still use Japanese mixed in with his English, he would use the particles “wa” and “ni” and didn’t pick up the English word “because” and still used “dakara” or demo “sa”. And at times he was still confused about who spoke English and who didn’t; in a shop I asked the assistant a question and when we left the store Bodhi asked me; “Daddy, why that lady speaking English?”

Japanese parents have asked me about my son’s bilingualism and how they can replicate it with their own children. Unfortunately, I feel it needs to be a natural process. If a native Japanese speaking parent tries to speak English to their child the effect seems to be limited, it’s just not natural and the child senses this. Of course, this doesn’t mean Japanese parents can’t teach their children English, it just needs to be done as part of play and without expectations of accuracy.

So, my fears of three years ago were never realized. Bodhi is comfortable in both languages; in fact when we returned from our vacation in New Zealand, he seemed a little nervous that he would have to speak Japanese again. In the future I expect him to continue to improve in both English and Japanese though I do wonder if, when he becomes a teenager and seeks his own identity, he will want to speak one language rather than the other. I guess that might depend on where we are living at the time.

 

 

 

 

 

Mongolia’s Naadam, a Horses’ Biggest Day!

モンゴルのナーダム、競馬の最大の祭典

The biggest day on the Mongolian calendar is the midsummer festival of Naadam! Well, it’s actually the biggest three days on the calendar as the festival is usually held over a long weekend, and in fact most Mongolian’s take a long break over the summer anyway, some up to three months if they can!

Naadam has been held since the time of the great Mongolian emperor Chinggis Khan and his ceremonial banner of nine white yak tails is still flown at the festival today in his honor. Naadam consists of the ‘Three Manly Sports’ of horse racing, wrestling and archery. In the past these sports were, as the name suggests, only practiced by men, though these days women competitors have been admitted to horse racing and archery, while wrestling still remains the sole domain of men.

In the festival’s beginnings the three sports were part of the training to prepare men for war as the Great Khans expanded their empire with the help of the sword to stretch from the Pacific Ocean to Europe. These days Mongolians have put away their swords, but the festival is still seen as a great occasion and serious pride is at stake for those taking part. Wrestling champions often go on to fame and wealth as sumo wrestlers in Japan and being the owner of a winning Naadam horse brings enormous respect and honor to a nomadic family.

Naadam festivals are held across Mongolia at varying dates throughout the summer with the largest being staged in the National Stadium in the capital city of Ulaan Baatar. This version of the festivities is filled with color and ceremony, crammed with tourists and tickets sell out for high prices months in advance. Recently many locals consider the Ulaan Baatar Naadam to be commercialized and touristy and recommend visitors attend a local Naadam at a village far out on the steppe where the real spirit of Naadam can still be found.

And so, I found myself in the village of Altay in Mongolia’s far west, about as far from Ulaan Baatar as you can get in Mongolia, in the heart of the Altai Mountains.
“So, where is the Naadam?” I asked my guide.
“It’s over there.” And she pointed to a single mud brick hut on a hillside in the middle of a vast sweeping valley. There wasn’t a single person there, it seemed we were the first to arrive.
“So, what time does it start?”
“At ten o’clock.” She told me. I looked at my watch, it was already ten-thirty. “Ten o’clock ‘Mongolian time’”, she added, guessing what I was thinking, “so when the people get here it will start.” And not long after people began to arrive, in jeeps, on motorbikes or on horses.

Soon the empty hillside was bustling with people, young and old. I watched as women hugged and men shook hands, exchanged snuff bottles or cigarettes. Many of those attending the festival were obviously related or old friends, and they may not have seen each other for months as nomadic camps could be several days journey apart. The Naadam was much more than a sporting event, it was a time for the people of the steppe to reunite with each other, share news about who had passed away and who had had a baby since the last time they’d met. It was also a time for gossip and flirting, nearby a group of teenage boys giggled and cast shy glances at a group of equally giggly but less shy teenage girls. In the few years these awkward moments could result in a wedding.

Wrestling matches were soon underway. Mongolian warriors in great leather boots with upturned toes but otherwise skimpily dressed in tiny blue or red outfits tussled in battles to throw each other to the ground. The winner of each bout raised his arms as an eagle’s wings and flew over the man he’d defeated in triumph.

But the main event of the day was the horse racing, and everyone kept an eye on the horizon, watching for the cloud of dust that would mark the approach of the horses. The start of the race was an incredible twenty kilometers away with most Naadam races ranging from fifteen to thirty kilometers, and the horses are ridden without saddles. Even more incredible are the jockeys; only children are used from ages six to thirteen years old!
“This,” as I was later told, “is not only because they are smaller and weigh less so the horses can run faster, but also because children have less fear than adults so they’ll try and go faster.”

Suddenly a shout went up and people began to run down the hillside towards the finish line. The horses were coming! As the crowd pushed forward officials shouted at people to stand back and keep out of the way of the thundering but exhausted animals.

Soon the tiny figures in the distance grew and became clearer. Next to me a man shouted and threw his arm around the shoulders of another, his friend’s horse was in the lead on the home stretch to the finish.

As the sleek black horse crossed the line the spectators rushed to the sweat soaked steed; to touch the winning horse is considered good luck and as the boy jockey slid from the horses’ back it was slapped by dozens of hands. The horse was led around and around in circles to help it calm down after galloping for half an hour and was then scraped with a type of wooden spatula to remove the sweat preventing it from cooling too quickly and catching a cold.

I watched as other riders crossed the line. As each horse finished its race, a father or older brother would come forward and taking the reins from the jockey, lead the horse away to cool down and rest. The young boys who had just galloped across the steppe were exhausted; they virtually fell from their horses, and some were so tired and in such pain from the rigors of the ride they could barely stand up. And yet they were ignored by their parents; none of the fathers hugged their sons or gave them a high five, no one said anything like ‘well done’, ‘good race’ or ‘you did your best’; the boys were left to stagger away to find a water bottle. It seems that Naadam is a day only for the horses to shine and be stars!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Reflection on Two and Half Years in Fukushima

福島での2年半を振り返って

福島県郡山市に赴任してからもうすぐ2年半が過ぎようとしています。まもなく関東の病院へ異動することになりました。医局人事であったものの自ら希望して福島県に来ることができ、様々な経験をさせてもらえて充実した2年半でした。

Almost two and half years have passed since I started working in Koriyama City, Fukushima Prefecture. I will be transferred to a hospital in the Kanto Area soon. I, myself, requested to work in Koriyama as well as my transfer as a medical office member. My two and a half years in Fukushima have been very fulfilling with many precious experiences.

まず福島県に来て最初に驚いたことは、看護師や医療事務などの職場の方々のみならず、患者さんの御家族や町中の人々に至るまで皆穏やかで優しいことでした。首都圏ではどうしても仕事柄、厳しい言葉をかけられることが多かったのですが、この病院に来てからはそのようなことはほとんどありませんでした。そこでの生活では過度に親密な人間関係を求められることもなく、非常に過ごしやすい福島生活でした。

First, I was surprised to find all the people, not only nurses and medical clerks but also patients’ families and people in the city, were gentle and kind. When I was working in the center of Tokyo, people sometimes spoke to me using severe language though this might be hard to avoid in the medical practice. However, it has hardly ever happened in this hospital. I never expected to make very close relationships in my time there; therefore, my Fukushima life has been very comfortable.

次に驚いたことは食が非常に豊かであることです。郡山は内陸であるにもかかわらず新鮮な魚介類を楽しむことができ、桃やぶどうに代表されるような様々な果物を堪能できました。福島牛やうつくしまエゴマ豚に代表されるような肉類や、アスパラガスやさやえんどうなどの野菜も絶妙でした。そして何より米と水が良いので素晴らしい日本酒が数多く存在します。いかにんじん(細切りのスルメと人参を醤油、酒、味醂で味付けした煮物)、こづゆ(干し貝柱の出汁に野菜と豆腐を入れて、醤油と日本酒で味付けた汁物)、喜多方ラーメンなどの郷土料理も全て乙な味でした。

Next, I was surprised that Koriyama is very rich in food. In spite of it being an inland area, I could enjoy fresh seafood as well as fruits such as peaches and grapes. Meat including Fukushima beef and Egoma pork and vegetables including asparagus and snow peas were also delicious. Above all, the rice and water were wonderful; therefore, there were many kinds of excellent sake. Its local dishes have unique and fancy tastes: ika-ninjin (slices of surume. dried squid, and carrot boiled and seasoned with soy sauce, sake and sweet sake), kozuyu (a soup of dried scallops, various vegetables and tofu seasoned with soy sauce and sake), Kitakata ramen (Chinese-style wheat noodles served in a soup made from pork bone and dried fish flavored with soy sauce in Kitakata City, Fukushima Prefecture).

勿論良いことばかりではありませんでした。郡山市に赴任した時点で東日本大震災から4年半経過していましたが、それでも震災の傷跡はまだ残っていました。住んでいる市内は引っ越した頃から放射線量は基準値を大きく下回っていましたが、それでも公園の表層などの除染は行われていました。またTVやラジオでは環境放射線測定値が毎日報じられていました。

Of course, not everything was wonderful. Four and half years had already passed after the Great East Japan Earthquake occurred when I transferred to Koriyama City. However, the city still bore the scars of the earthquake. The radiation level in the city where I lived was below the standard level; nevertheless, the surface of the ground in the park nearby was decontaminated. Moreover, the environmental radiation measured levels are reported on TV or the radio every day.

しかし震災から7年経った今では、当然ながら放射線自体での健康被害もあったかもしれませんが、住んでいた郡山市周辺はむしろ風評や過度な不安や心配による被害の方が圧倒的に大きいという印象でした。原発に近くて助成金が支払われた地域もありましたが、郡山市はその対象外でした。助成金すら払われずこれらの被害に苦しむ地域の方々を見るのは忍びなかったです。

However, 7 years after the earthquake, I got the impression that bad rumors and excessive fear caused much more damage rather than any possible harmful side effects of radiation in and around Koriyama City. Subsidies were provided to the inhabitants near the nuclear power plants, but the whole of Koriyama City was outside of these areas. I felt very sorry to see people suffer from this damage without even getting some kind of subsidy.

震災からの一連の流れを見ていると、被災地支援を訴える活動は度を越すとある種の「呪い」に近いものになりかねないと感じます。「原発事故の被害が甚大だから支援をして下さい」と声高に言えば言うほど、それは福島県に「被災地」のレッテルを貼り続けることになります。除染が必要ない地域でも作物の放射線量測定を行って風評被害を払拭するために日々努力している多くの人々にとっては、このレッテルこそが風評被害に繋がっているのではないでしょうか。もちろん支援を続ける必要性は理解していますが、自分の力で立ち上がろうと懸命に取り組んでいる方々の足を引っ張ることは避けて欲しいと思います。「今の福島はかなり元気になってきているんだよ」と胸を張ってアピールできる日が来て欲しいと願います。

When I watched the recovery process from the disaster, I think that the excessive support for the disaster area could be a sort of “curse”. As supporters say even more, “They need support for the immense damage caused by the accident at the nuclear power plant”, Fukushima Prefecture continues to be labeled as a “disaster area”. Many people try hard to continuously measure the level of radiation from farm products even from the areas which don’t need decontamination so that they can dispel false rumors. It is this labeling that damages those people with harmful rumors. Of course, I understand the necessity of continuing support; however, I also think it is important for supporters to try not to obstruct people who are working hard to rebuild their lives. I hope that they can proudly announce someday, “Fukushima has almost finished our reconstruction now”.

福島県での生活は非常に楽しかったです。皆様に大変お世話になり、感謝してもしきれないほどです。これからまた首都圏での生活に戻りますが、今後も是非恩返しに伺いたいと思います。

I heartily enjoyed myself in Fukushima Prefecture. People around me were very nice and helped me a lot. I cannot thank them enough. I will soon go back to the Kanto Area, but I would like to visit Fukushima again to return their favors.

 

 

 

 

 

Blog

 英語 
 English
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十二支
Junishi: The Twelve Animal Signs of
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七福神
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まねきねこ
Maneki-neko: Beckoning Cats
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 Hobbies and Life
ヴァイオリンと歩んだ私
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By Rei Mizuki
宝塚歌劇団へようこそ!
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 ビジネス
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シンガポールにおけるビジネス余話
Business Episodes in Singapore
By Michael H.
中国の会食におけるビジネスエピソード
The Chinese Business Episode about a Banquet or Dinner
By Michael H.
 食べ物・飲み物
 Food and Drink
フィーカ
Fika
By Takamasa Hiraki
蒲鉾
Kamaboko
By Katsumi Hiraki
 旅行・観光
 Trips and Sightseeing
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By Ian D. Robinson
モンゴル単独馬上横断
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アルタイ山脈の女鷹ハンター
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高野山:雲の中の寺
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By Ian D. Robinson
大山:神々と登山
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台湾旅行の思い出
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By Michael H.
北欧3国の思い出
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伏見稲荷大社と日本人の宗教観
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佐渡訪問記
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山形旅行記
The Excursion to Yamagata
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シンガポールへようこそ
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台南における古跡リノベーション
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マレーシアのペナン旅行記
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By Xiao Wang
 医療問題
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ラオスとタイの公衆衛生問題
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福島での2年半を振り返って
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by Takamasa Hiraki