Tuesday, August 02, 2005

A few adventures

Hi! Japan is very hot and the insects are loud. Last night a bunch of English teachers treated me to a dinner, and one teacher told me her hobby was tachiyomi, which means standing reading, where you go to a bookstore and read the books there for free. They have a word for that! Other common Japanese hobbies were driving, emailing, drinking, tanning, shopping, and eating. But standing reading was my favorite. I can’t believe they have a word for that!
I gave them all my card and said a Buddha was hidden in the painting. One beautiful teacher said “I have in impure mind so I can’t see it.” They kept pouring me lost of beer, but I drank it slow enough to not get drunk (I had to ride my bike home!) and I was getting tired, but then, to my horror, the leader and vice principal of one of the schools yelled "lets go to second stage of party!" Which was, if you didn’t already guess,
Karaoke. For three hours. It rocked. I loved seeing my new coworkers, new team teachers, get drunk and sing their hearts out. And they were really, really good. Probably because they all practice a lot. Japanese people love karaoke.
Today I am visiting more middle schools. They are on summer break now, but I am not. (Japanese schools begin in April). (SO far my days have been spent visiting schools, meeting the English teachers, and helping star students with their English speeches for the annual Ehime English speech contest in October. One of my schools, nestled deep in the densely forested mountains, about an hour drive, has only 11 students total. And the school is grades 1 through 9. )

I visited the temple again today. The large Buddhist temple that I cannot find on any map of the city. The same old lady was there, just hanging around the main shrine room. For the first time I got to see the inside. It was breathtaking, to say the least.
When I first discovered the temple on my bike, I wondered around the grounds, and I heard a television coming from the side of one of the buildings. When I went to investigate, I found a door open and a very old, very beautiful woman sitting there, smiling happily at the television. I didn’t feel bad interrupting her, and she seemed thrilled to see me. I guess part of the temple complex was her home. She spoke no English and funny Japanese, but I gathered that the temple was closed to the public, is very old, and that talking to the monk later is best.
I also found this great cemetery today, as well as an art supplies store right by my place. I plan on drawing the cemetery. I love how many of the gravestones are actually Lanterns.

I have already seen the hanabi or fireworks festival. Highlights were that most all youth, kids, teens and young adults, dressed up in their summer kimonos, both men and women, and everyone looked beautiful. Also, the finaly was "the rope of fire." see pick.

I studied some kanji (Chinese characters) today. The kanji for “meaning” in Japanese is two characters. The first includes the symbol for sound and heart/mind. The second is the character for taste. So “meaning” is the taste of the sound in the heart/mind. In college my postmodernism teacher said that postmodern philosophy asks the impossible question “what is the meaning of meaning? “ It is almost a postmodern koan. Well, the Japanese might say that meaning is the taste of the sound in your heart/mind.
There are a bunch of other great character’s that poetically describe what they mean. Like “word” translated as a leaf of speech. “Story” is a thousand mouths. “Bad” is below the heart/mind. “Dark” is the sound of the sun. “Fun” or “happy” is a drum and a tree. And “music” is happy sound. “Feeling” is the weapon of the heart/mind.


Yusuke in N.O. said...

You enjoyed "Enkai", do you?
Since it is August, "Obon" season is just around the corner. "O-Bon" is the biggest time for Japanese buddhists. (See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bon_Festival)

lau said...

i had no idea that kanji were that cool. Karaoke is great, i'm so glad you're doing well. does the meaning of meaning even exist? without meaning, meaning wouldn't have meaning... it takes you in a circle, y'know? meaning doesn't have to have meaning, but that's what it is. does that make sense? i'm trying to wrap my head around the concept and i just don't deduce anything but a singular application of the word. it's an interesting enough question (what's the meaning behind meaning), i'd be interested in hearing what other people have to say about it

May all beings be Free and in Love.

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