Tag Archives: postaweek

Eye spy: Shisa ornaments (guardian lions of Okinawa)

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Eye Spy“.

These are small Shisa ornaments (guardian lions of Okinawa) decorated at the genkan (entry space where you take off your shoes) of our place. My husband got them a long time ago, when he visited Okinawa on the school trip and has been treasured them since then!

If you go to Okinawa, you can see lots of them on the roofs or at the gates of buildings. It is said that Shisa have the power to expel evil spirits and protect us.

Looking at their sharp eyes, I sometimes feel like that they keep an eye on us to see if we are doing the right thing. They help me clear away bad ideas from the inside and straight myself.

Transition: Beautiful flowers and strange Christmas customs in Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Transition“.

Cyclamens and poinsettias in crimson, red, pink, purple and cream in front of flower shops in this season are simply beautiful. It looks like a one piece of art transitioning its colors.

Without any doubt, they are Christmas flowers. In December, cities in Japan become so colorful and joyful with lots of illuminations, decorations, flowers and music…

Well, but it’s still a big mystery to me (and to most of the people, I believe) why there are many strange Christmas customs in Japan where most of the people are non-Christian.

For small kids, it’s a day to receive a Christmas from Santa Clause. In the morning on December 25, they will find a gift (in most cases, they know what they receive because their moms make them write a letter to Santa Clause) near their pillows. Mothers prepare chicken dishes (Not turkeys in most cases. It’s even KFC in some families…) and so-called “Christmas cake”. I enjoyed it as a kid without any thought.

Things get worse as we grow up. We gradually become obsessed with the fixed idea that we must spend a very romantic Christmas Eve with someone special… Media frequently reports what to buy as Christmas gifts, where to go, what to where, and what to eat…

Now, as a married woman, I’m free from that obsession. And I already know these customs are for B-to-C companies. But this year (again), it’s more than likely that I, who moderately believe in Buddhism and Shintoism, will prepare some Chicken dish and Christmas cake without finding out what drives me to do so…

Trio: Three Wise Monkeys in Nikko Toshogu Shrine in Tochigi, Japan

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Trio

When I saw the word “Trio,” this renowned relief of three wise monkeys – mizaru, kikazaru, iwazaru (see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil) in Nikko Toshogu Shrine, the most decorative shrine in Japan with tremendous amount of carvings, came to mind. Until recently, I believed this saying and image were unique to Japan and didn’t know that its stories and artworks existed in many places all over the world.

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Do they differ from the three monkeys in your country?

Victory: Over My Old Self Who Quit Music

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Victory.”

“What my life would have been like if I had chosen a different path at that time?”

When I was 15 years old – the time to think about the future –  I had two choices. To major in English at university or to enroll in a music collage. I’d been learning to play the electronic organ since when I was in kindergarten. I didn’t like anything besides English and music, and I didn’t have enough courage to get a job immediately after graduation from high school. So they are the only choices I could think of at that time.

Finally I chose to study English and gave up going into music. There were two reasons. One was the advice from those who graduated from music schools. They said “if you have anything else besides music, you should follow that. If you concentrate on music, it will limit your potential.” Another reason was more convincing – lack of confidence in my musical ability. I knew some kids around my age who played like a genius at competitions.

Gradually I came to avoid playing musical instruments, especially keyboard instruments after I decided not to pursue a career in music. It was strange. I loved music so much, but my passion seemed totally vanished.

Time went by…and some years ago, my aunt suddenly gave me this shamisen, Japanese traditional musical instrument she bought about 30 years ago, saying “Now it’s yours. You should play it!” To be honest, I was not interested in it, but I heard a strong voice in my head “YES!” … And like Jim Carry’s “Yes Man”, accepting this beautiful instrument has brought a lot of things to me.

Soon after, I found a shamisen teacher and started learning it. And I found myself enjoying the music from the bottom of my heart. Now I don’t have to be afraid of making mistakes. I don’t have to compete with others. I don’t really care what the others would think of my sound. I’m not bothered with the idea of ‘what comes next if I do or don’t practice it’… I simply feel happy when I play this instrument and enjoy playing with others. In addition, I came to get interested in Japanese cultures and history. I came to study the local cultures around here as well. And interestingly, I also came to play the piano.

Perhaps I always wanted music but my old self didn’t allow it for a long time. I think I had a strong sense of inferiority about my musical ability. And I didn’t like my past self who couldn’t overcome it and quit music.

Thanks to this shamisen – or my aunt who has watched over me for years? -, I gained a victory over my past self. To be more accurate, I accepted and reconciled with it. Now I’m even thankful to my past self who was seriously studying music because my experiences really help me learn Japanese music as well.

  

Ornate: Kinkaku-ji (Temple of the Golden Pavilion), Kyoto

In response to The Daily Post’s weekly photo challenge: “Ornate.”

The most ornate temple in Japan, Kinkaku-ji, where most of the Japanese visit once in a life time.

I visited this temple this May with my husband. For him, it was the first visit. Mine was a school trip, long time ago. As a kid, I didn’t realize this huge pine tree in the form of ship, planted about 600 years ago. It was planted as a bonsai tree treasured by Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, who built this temple.

… While walking in the garden of Kinkaku-ji, we heard a Japanese telling a Western guy, “There is another temple called Ginkaku-ji (literally, Silver Temple) but it’s not worth visiting.”

Some people say it’s one of the most disapponting places for sightseeing, as it’s not covered with silver. This one is famous for not being ornate, contrary to Kinkaku-ji. But I love this chic temple which represents Japanese ‘wabi-sabi.’