Sunday, July 22, 2007

Going for a drink

Yesterday evening we went out for a drink together with 2 friends of us; Frederic and Mayumi. We went to a little Izakaya near Sannomiya. Everything in the Izakaya was 350 yen, even the beer. We drunk some beers, had some chicken, akashi yaki, meat, udon, and more before Mayumi her brother Masa and his girlfriend Emi-san came joined us.

Ltr: Masa, Mayu-chan, Frederic, Mayumi, Emi

Later on the evening we went to Bar Trinity a little bit north of Sannomiya where Mayuko her work partner from last year was playing the DJ. It was a small bar, packed with foreigners (5 co-workers of Mayuko were there as well), and some Japanese as well. The music was splendid and I was wondering what this guy (Dee) was doing in this small place... He got some radio interviews on Ibiza, and is working on a CD with some big companies in Germany and The Netherlands as well.

We danced a bit, drunk a bit and well, just enjoyed our evening. The only thing was that when we came home we were both pretty dead so we jumped into bed after we took a shower.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

The Tale of Genji

About a year ago I had decided to buy myself "The Tale of Genji", but due the lack off time, interest, and all the other excuses you won't read here I did not started reading it until last week.

The tale of Genji is written by Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century and is known as the first modern Japanese novel. Here is a the plot (coppied of course from Wiki):

The work recounts the life of a son of a Japanese emperor, known to readers as Hikaru Genji, or "Shining Genji". Neither appellation is his actual name: Genji (源氏, Genji?) is simply another way to read the Chinese characters for the real-life Minamoto clan (源の氏, Minamoto-no-Uji?), to which Genji was made to belong. For political reasons, Genji is relegated to commoner status (by being given the surname Minamoto) and begins a career as an imperial officer.

The tale concentrates on Genji's romantic life and describes the customs of the aristocratic society of the time. Much is made of Genji's good looks. His most important personality trait is the loyalty he shows to all the women in his life, as he never abandons any of his wives.[citation needed] When he finally becomes the most powerful man in the capital, he moves into a palace and provides for each of them.

Genji was the second son of a certain ancient emperor and a low-ranking concubine (known to the readers as Lady Kiritsubo). His mother dies when Genji is three years old, and the Emperor cannot forget her. The Emperor then hears of a woman ("Lady Fujitsubo"), formerly a princess of the preceding emperor, who resembles his deceased concubine, and later she becomes one of his wives. Genji loves her first as a stepmother, but later as a woman. They fall in love with each other, but it is forbidden. Genji is frustrated because of his forbidden love to the Lady Fujitsubo and is on bad terms with his wife (Aoi no Ue).

He also engages in a series of unfulfilling love affairs with other women. In most cases, his advances are rebuffed, his lover dies suddenly during the affair, or he finds his lover to be dull in each instance. In one case, he sees a beautiful young woman through an open window, enters her room without permission, and forces her to have sex with him (see rape). Recognizing him as a man of unchallengeable power, she makes no resistance, saying only that "Someone might hear us." He retorts, "I can go anywhere and do anything."[4]

Mary Arnold points out that, "Women in medieval Japan had little protection against male domination. The customs of the time expected women to be submissive to men, even to the point of rape. Men had no fear that they would be punished for rape, as evidenced in Genji's attitude."[5]

Genji visits Kitayama, the northern rural hilly area of Kyoto, where he finds a beautiful ten-year-old girl. He is fascinated by this little girl ("Murasaki"), and discovers that she is a niece of the Lady Fujitsubo. Finally he kidnaps her, brings her to his own palace and educates her to be his ideal lady; like the Lady Fujitsubo. During this time Genji also meets the Lady Fujitsubo secretly, and she bears his son. Everyone except the two lovers believes the father of the child is the Emperor. Later the boy becomes the Crown Prince and Lady Fujitsubo becomes the Empress, but Genji and Lady Fujitsubo swear to keep their secret.

Genji and his wife Lady Aoi reconcile and she gives birth to a son, but she dies soon after. Genji is sorrowful, but finds consolation in Murasaki, whom he marries. Genji's father, the Emperor, dies; and his political enemies, the Minister of the Right and the new Emperor's mother ("Kokiden") take power in the court. Then another of Genji's secret love affairs is exposed: Genji and a concubine of his brother, the Emperor Suzaku, are discovered when they meet in secret. The Emperor confides his personal amusement at Genji's exploits with the woman ("Oborozukiyo"), but is duty-bound to punish his half-brother. Genji is thus exiled to the town of Suma in rural Harima province (now part of Kobe in Hyōgo Prefecture). There, a prosperous man from Akashi in Settsu province (known as the Akashi Novice) entertains Genji, and Genji has a love affair with Akashi's daughter. She gives birth to a daughter. Genji's sole daughter later becomes the Empress.

In the Capital, the Emperor is troubled by dreams of his late father, and something begins to affect his eyes. Meanwhile, his mother grows ill, which weakens her powerful sway over the throne. Thus the Emperor orders Genji pardoned, and he returns to Kyoto. His son by Lady Fujitsubo becomes the emperor and Genji finishes his imperial career. The new Emperor Reizei knows Genji is his real father, and raises Genji's rank to the highest possible.

However, when Genji turns 40 years old, his life begins to decline. His political status does not change, but his love and emotional life are slowly damaged. He marries another wife, the "Third Princess" (known as Onna san no miya in the Seidensticker version, or Nyōsan in Waley's), but she is taken advantage of by Genji's nephew and bears his son ("Kaoru"). Genji's new marriage changes the relationship between him and Murasaki, who now wishes to become a nun.

Genji's beloved Murasaki dies. In the following chapter, Maboroshi ("Illusion"), Genji contemplates how fleeting life is. Immediately after Maboroshi, there is a chapter entitled Kumogakure ("Vanished into the Clouds") which is left blank, but implies the death of Genji.

The rest of the work is known as the "Uji Chapters". These chapters follow Niou and Kaoru, who are best friends. Niou is an imperial prince, the son of Genji's daughter, the current Empress now that Reizei has abdicated the throne, while Kaoru is known to the world as Genji's son but is in fact fathered by Genji's nephew. The chapters involve Kaoru and Niou's rivalry over several daughters of an imperial prince who lives in Uji, a place some distance away from the capital. The tale ends abruptly, with Kaoru wondering if the lady he loves is being hidden away by Niou. Kaoru has sometimes been called the first anti-hero in literature.

I have only read about 15 pages of the book so far, but I find it very amusing to read about their love life, and the way the story is written. It's a very difficult book for me (My English level is high, but this is higher than mine), but it's a challenge.

Here are some more links if you want to know more about "The Tale of Genji"
The Tale of Genji (wiki)
UNESCO - Tale of Genji

I will post more about the tale of genji, when I have read some more in the book... it's going to take me a while though.

Anyone else have been reading this book?

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Run a typhoon is coming!!!

Well, it wasn't that bad as in the title for me, but it sure was for the people living in the south and south-west of Japan on the island of Kyushu.

About a week ago, I heard from someone on the forum where I am always at (jref) that a typhoon was on it's way and that it was a big one. I have followed it the whole week and it hit the islands of Okinawa first on Thursday/Friday, and it hit the mainland yesterday morning until today. On Okinawa the power fell out in a lot of area's and a lot of warnings were given by the Japan Meteorological Agency. Warnings such as high waves, hard rain, storm, thunderstorms and floods.

It hit this area last night and some warnings were given, but I almost didn't noticed anything except for a lot of rain and some more wind than usual.

Here are some news report on the typhoon called; Man-yi.

Strong typhoon hits western Japan, 2 dead, 2 missing, 68 injured

Warmer seawater is secret of typhoon Man-yi's strength
Tyfoon treft Japan

I feel sorry for the people in Kyushu, because whenever there is a typhoon or hard rain they are always the ones to get hit. Take care.

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Presents and letters.

Well today was my last day at one of my Elementary schools, and what do you get on your last day? Presents and letters... All in Japanese (in exception of some). I expected to get some letter, but I really did not expect this much.

The pumpkin sure was original.

Thanks all you kids from F... ES, you have made me smile a lot the times I was at your school

Monday, July 09, 2007


Because this is my last week at the elementary schools, the schools are asking me to give a "Goodbye, thank you, I have enjoyed this school so much" speech in front of all the staff.

Of course I already knew that the school where I went today would ask me to give such a speech, but they also wanted me to give a speech in front of all the students.

So there I stood in front of about 500 students giving a "Goodbye, thank you, I have enjoyed this school so much" speech in Japanese. I guess it wasn't that bad because all the students said good morning, replied on my "how are you" with "I'm fine" and "I'm great", and some of the teachers complimented me after wards.

So, today I actually noticed that this (giving speeches like this) is one of the things that I have learned in the last year. I don't want to say that I am good at it, but I can say that I can do it.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Saturday Class at my kindergarten

Today was my fifth time to work at the Saturday class at a Kindergarten in Toyonaka. I normally teach together with Noriko, my Japanese partner, but she had a day off today so I was working together with Mayu (not Mayuko).

We started with circle time, and introduced Mayu to the kids whom of course were a little bit shy *which was cute in some way*. After that we practiced Shapes, the alphabet, phonics, and this months new Vocabulary with the topic "In the sky". It was the first time to do the whole circle time by myself so I was a bit doki doki (nervous) for that, but it went very well.

After circle time we wrote in the journal, textbook, had lunch, played outside and last but not least we were watching 15minutes of "Lilo & Stitch" (one of the kids needed to cry because he was scared of stitch... how cute is that).

I had a very good day, well actually it was my best day at "Kinder kids", so I am very happy about today. But I am also very tired (Mayuko wanted to go shopping after work...), so I won't do anything tomorrow besides some small things.

Have a nice Saturday, and don't forget to smile just for nothing so now and then (or is it now and again?)

Friday, July 06, 2007

76 students

Because I only have 2 times left at one of my elementary schools (shougakkou), they asked me to give a special lesson to the second grade what of course was fine by me because I love the small kids.

The only thing was that I was not going to teach 1 class with 30 students but 3 classes with a total of 76 students in the Taikan (the sport hall). Because they are little I didn't notice the amount that much, but hearing their loud voice it looked like there were over 100 kids (especially in a sport hall). It went pretty good though, we did some "head, shoulders, knees and toes", "Color D.D.R", "Introducing yourself game", and the "B.I.N.G.O" song. The kids seemed to had a lot of fun, and that's what I think is most important of teaching at shougakko's.

Another nice thing is that we will probably get a present from my brother in law: His car. He is going to buy a new car so he doesn't need this car anymore. It would be great to get this car, because it sure would give us a lot more freedom in the weekends.

Have a nice weekend everyone... I have to work tomorrow and my partner is off so I will be working with someone else... I'm a bit doki doki.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

It's getting hot

Well, I guess it's the time of the year again: Summer time.

It's about 26 degrees in the house, and last week was the first time to put the airco on again after it hasn't been used for about 7 months. I don't mind the heat, but it can be so humid that your body sticks to your clothes after just walking up the hill... it's annoying so now and then. But the summer also brings good things... Summer festivals.

I really hope to go to some nice festivals this year, especially some small local festivals (Matsuri). I have been to the Gion festival last year, which is one of the largest festivals in Japan, but it was too crowed for me and my girl. We will go to the Kobe firework festival for sure *which is on the 4th of August*. If anyone knows some nice matsuri's in the Kobe region than please let me know.

My summer holiday will start in 2 weeks from now, and I will be having 6 weeks off (maybe will do some summer work, but we will see). I am planning to work on my website and finally give it the long/needed re-design, study on my Japanese, make more friends, and find some sport in Kobe.

Beside that we will also probably head towards Takayama with the whole family for 1 or 2 nights. Looks like a great small village to relax and do some sightseeing.