2005年7月28日 (木)

Author believed Edo ways best suited Japan

 僕は英辞郎を使って英語を読みまくり、インターネットラジオのNHKのラジオジャパン英語ニュース< /a>で時事英語を聞きまくってます。(^^;また、VOAでヴォイスレコーダーにDLしたMP3音声とテキストも楽しんでます。 参考「こんな感じで英辞郎を使ってます

Author believed Edo ways best suited Japan


By her own account, author Hinako Sugiura, who died last Friday at the age of 46, loved things associated with life during the Edo Period (1603-1867).

She loved kumade (bamboo rakes), yuya (bathhouses), mimikaki (ear picks), shakushi (ladles), kotatsu (foot warmers), kaya (mosquito nets), ohaguro (dyed-black teeth), ohitsu (rice tubs), zukin (hoods), and sugoroku (a Japanese variety of the Parcheesi dice game).

The list is taken from a series of essays Sugiura wrote for a local edition of The Asahi Shimbun under the title of "Inkyo no Hinatabokko" (Basking in the sun after retirement).

It gave readers some ideas about Sugiura's peculiar world-a leisurely, yet sad and potentially dangerous cosmos.

Besides being a manga cartoonist and essayist, she was known for her studies on Edo Period manners and customs.


 くまで ゆや みみかき しゃくし こたつ かや おはぐろ おひつ ずきん すごろく。


Referring to the Edo Period in "Oedo Kanko" (Doing the sights in Edo), a book published by Chikuma Shobo, Sugiura wrote:

"I have no intention of singing the unabashed praises of the modern feudal system (that marked the Edo Period). But it was clearly different from the feudal system that existed in the Japanese medieval period or the European feudal system. I think the modern feudal system in the Edo Period was more open and more orderly. The nation's social structure was better attuned to it.


"I cannot help thinking," she went on to say, "that the lifestyles created during the Edo Period were just the styles that fitted Japan's climate and the characteristics of its people."

Touching on the fact that Japan incessantly waged war after the Meiji Restoration of 1868, she wrote, "The only reason I can think of is that we were overreaching ourselves."

Her belief that overexertion was a universal vice apparently led to her surprise decision to retire as a cartoonist while she was still in her 30s.


In 1988, Sugiura was awarded the Bungei Shunju Cartoon Prize for "Furyu Edo Suzume" (Folks of refined taste in Edo), a series of comic strips dealing with poor but proud men.

She wrote a senryu humorous poem for each segment, and these poems made a sublime combination with the pictures.

I remember two poems, one of which went: "Having nobody to think about/ The person puts up a mosquito net." The other poem read: "Hailed as a hero/ The man can do nothing/ When his wounds smart under falling snow."

As for the pictures, I was captivated by her depictions of life in Edo tenement houses and river snowfall scenes.


Like a native of Edo, her favorite food was buckwheat noodles. More precisely, she liked to visit buckwheat noodle shops. In "Motto Sobaya de Ikou" (More relaxation at buckwheat noodle shops), a Shincho Bunko book, she recommended such shops as a place for people to visit for temporary relaxation.

"If you have something to do today, you can do it tomorrow," Sugiura wrote. "You will have to live until you die." Then a punch line: "Where are you going in such a hurry?"


--The Asahi Shimbun, July 27(IHT/Asahi: July 28,2005)

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2005年4月16日 (土)

Nationality should not be taken for granted


Nationality should not be taken for granted


Article 22 of the Constitution stipulates: "Freedom of all persons to move to a foreign country and to divest themselves of their nationality shall be inviolate."

This inspired novelist and playwright Hisashi Inoue to write "Kirikirijin" (People of Kirikiri), a novel set in a remote village in northeastern Japan. Disgruntled by the government's farm policy, villagers declare themselves an independent nation. But they also opt to keep to the letter of the Constitution.



In real life, giving up one's nationality is not a decision to be made lightly, nor without considerable preparation. On the other hand, there is a steady stream of people applying for Japanese citizenship today, reflecting society's moves to integrate into the world community.


The Tokyo District Court ruled Wednesday that a provision of the Nationality Law, which requires the parents of a child seeking Japanese citizenship to be legally married, violates Article 14 of the Constitution that guarantees equality to all under the law.


The plaintiff, a 7-year-old boy, was born to a Filipino mother and Japanese father. The presiding judge noted: "Even though the boy's parents are not living together all the time, they are in a common-law relationship, and they and their child should be considered a family. In this day and age of diverse values, it can no longer be said that families whose parents are legally married are normal but common-law families are not normal."


The verdict may help open the doors wider to people seeking Japanese citizenship. Before the 1984 revision, a child of an international marriage could not be granted citizenship unless his or her father was Japanese.

The revised law grants citizenship "if either father or mother" is Japanese, but even this has been in effect for only a little over 20 years.

This law is very much like a mirror that reflects Japanese society.


In an Asahi Shimbun interview some time ago, Inoue said in reference to "Kirikirijin" that: "We are free to choose not to be Japanese. ...To put it the other way round, we must reaffirm our nationality if we do remain Japanese."

For many native Japanese, their nationality is like air-something they have always taken for granted. But if they have to reaffirm their citizenship, perhaps they can begin to appreciate its "weight."


--The Asahi Shimbun, April 15(IHT/Asahi: April 16,2005)

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