Posts Tagged Calligraphy in the Landscape

Calligraphy in the Landscape: Soft Touch

Strange to say, altho I’ve lived in Japan more years than I lived in my native Britain, I’m not a great enthusiast of Japanese “culture”: I don’t read the literature, I don’t study tea, calligraphy or flower arrangement. But I do have a soft spot for haiku. They seem to me to embody a key element of all poetic art: the ability to conjure up images, feelings, memories, longings, in words. In this case, in words that add up to 17 syllables. No more, no less. Do click on the link and visit “Calligraphy in the Landscape”s excellent photos of wisteria.

くたびれて  宿かるころや  藤の花  正岡 子規    1867 – 1902 tired and  get inn  wisteria flowers  Masaoka Shiki  1867 – 1902

via Calligraphy in the Landscape: Soft Touch.

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The Japanese abandon “jishuku”. And about time

There’s been a lot of talk about “jishuku” in Japan, especially for the first month after the earthquake. Although the word simply means “self-restraint”, as usual in Japan the term is intimately linked to “what other people (might) think”. So jishuku, like so many things in Japan, has a tendency to turn out to be a principle that is actually a form of peer-pressure in disguise.

There may be people of principle who perform jishuku naturally, as a form of self-discipline, as part of their integrity, but I suspect they are few and far between.

As I’m a rugged Western individual who will never, ever, ever succumb to peer-pressure (what’s that dear? Yes. Yes, I’ll be finished with the computer soon. Yes, you’re right, an hour is quite long enough, yes dear), I never really liked the jishuku, such as dimming lights or wearing dull clothes. What is this? A wake? Indeed, there’s a case to be made for the recent post-earthquake jishuku as an expression of mourning.

On a recent trip, I noticed something missing in the landscape  – these:

Putting up carp streamers

Koi nobori - Japanese carp streamers in May

Where the heck where they all? At this time of year, end-April/early May, they are usually all over the place. It must be jishuku.

Then, way out in the sticks, I saw some. Not just 1 or 2 or 3 on a single pole, but what looked like hundreds strung across a river. Ha-ha! Yaa-boo-sucks to tsunami-gloom and earthquake panic and nuclear-crisis-neurosis, they seemed to say. I looked at them and cheered, not just the carp-streamers themselves but the folks who had abandoned that silly old jishuku and boldly celebrated life and colour, and tradition. Don’t they look great?

carp streamers across a river, by Ruma

Photo by Ruma at Calligraphy in the Landscape: Children's Day in Wind

Then on May 5th, I saw a news item about a high-schooler in the tsunami-hit area who had lost his family in the disaster, and who put together a long line of koi-nobori streamers and hoisted them above the town. Yay! (I can’t find the news item online, maybe someone can? I did find these though):

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