How much happiness can we carry? - FIFA World Cup

How much happiness can we carry? That is the question. For this question, I want to think through, and act for it.

I love soccer more than any other sports. In FIFA World Cup, when I see Diego Maradona hustling and directing on the pitch, I could feel that he always do his best, and enjoying the every single moments of his life. Showing his surging passion on soccer, Maradona must have the great happiness than any others.

As if proving the existence of the self, coach and the players desperately try to do their own best. Toward the high which you've never seen, and even try to get higher, the players show the whole faces of happiness of life. The chain of the happiness of life creates the touching aspect of soccer as a team play.

Yesterday, Japan lost against Paraguay, but Japan showed their best without doubt. The wall of the world class soccer is still thick and high, but Japan gained the experience of world class soccer. Congratulations, and thank you!


Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro and the dress of Princess Norinomiya

Recently, I joined the service of Tsutaya Discas, the Japanese version of Netflix. So, I rented the Hayao Miyazaki's 1979 film "Lupin the III: The Castle of Cagliostro" which I’ve never seen before.

In this film, I could examine then 38 years old Hayao Miyazaki's profound resources of his animation making. The movie is based on the thief Lupin the III, a Japanese manga character who supposed to be the grandson to French master thief Arsene Lupin in Maurice Leblanc’s novel. (for more details, please read here)

In the last scene, Lupin finds final treasure of Cagliostro, the ruin of Roman City under the lake next to the castle, and Lupin could not steal this treasure, since “this treasure is too big to my pocket”. This scene is a citation from Maurice Leblanc's "The Girl with the Green Eyes", and Miyazaki's exciting re-interpretation of Leblanc is that Roman ruins had been saved by Gothe tribe for last 400 years. The final battle of Lupin and Cagliostro held on the clock tower is a quote from Kuroiwa Ruiko and Edogawa Rampo's "Ghost Tower", which is also Japanese adaptation of Alice Muriel Williamson's "A Woman in Grey" in Meiji era.

There is a longstanding rumor in American anime circles that Steven Spielberg considered Castle of Cagliostro "the best action movie ever made", and I also think that Spielberg got a lot of influence from this film.

When Stephen Spielberg released the new prints of E.T. as its 20th anniversary, he modified the last scene; when the children on the bicycles with E.T. in the basket flying to the full moon sky, the policemen point the guns to them. However, in the 20th anniversary print, by using CG technology, the gun was turned into walkie-talkie. I think one of the reasons why Spielberg edited the last scene of the policemen is that comparing the last scene in Miyazaki's animation, the one of E.T. is too harsh for children.

In Lupin the III, the police leader Mr. Zenigata tries to arrest Lupin, but the heroin princess Clarisse in white wedding dress asks him not to capture Lupin, since he did not steal anything. Then, Zenigata reply to Clarisse, “Yes, he did steal - your heart”. Then, all the Japanese police members under the leader Mr. Zenigata smiles to the princess Clarisse, then they start chasing Lupin who left Clarisse. This smile shows so much personality of Miyazaki, and his characteristic continues to appear in his next film “Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind”.

After I watched the film, I read an interesting story about Princess Norinomiya, the 3rd child and the only daughter of Emperor Akihito. In the interview of NHK, one of her classmate told that Princess Norinomiya was a big fun of Miyazaki's Cagliostro film, and she made a drawing of princess Clarisse in the white wedding dress with Lupin(In the film, Lupin stole Clarisse on the wedding day). Norinomiya wore a white dress, which is almost the same one as Clarisse on the wedding day. Had worked as an ornithologist specialized in kingfisher, her sensitivity had an antenna to catch Miyazaki’s thoughtful and touchy message.


Why Japanese People Hunt Whales? Whale Mound and Shinto Religion in Shinagawa, Tokyo

I often think that Japanese people are not good at explaining their own cultures to non-Japanese people in English. The issue of whale hunting is the good example which is caused by luck of explanation and mutual understanding. So today's entry, I would like to try to make an effort to make non-Japanese people able to understand, or at least able to imagine, why Japanese people persist in their culture of whale hunting.

To renew my driver's license, today I went Shinagawa, the waterfront of Tokyo. Shinagawa had been the 1st stop of the Tōkaidō (東海道, which literally means East Sea Road, the most important routes of the Edo period, connecting Edo (=Tokyo) to Kyoto) which is famous for Hokusai's Ukiyo-e prints, so there are many lodgings and sushi restaurants.

On the way back, I visited Shinagawa Shrine.

At the entrance, Daikokuten (大黒天=god of great Darkness) welcomed me, and "The Seven Gods of Fortune" (七福神, pronounced Shichi Fukujin) including Daikokuten was installed at the site of the Shrine.

The seven gods are often depicted on their treasure ship called "Takarabune". This is the Japanese mythology, but the hilarious thing is that six out of seven gods are foreign gods, from China and India; in other words, the god of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. After importing from India, Daikokuten in Japan became a mixture of Shiva and Ohkuninushinomikoto, the god of Earth and the counterpart of Amaterasu, the god of Sun. By importing these foreign gods and the structure of religion, Japan formulated the structure of Shintoism. The only Japanese original god of these seven gods is Ebisu, famous from Yebisu Beer. Believe it or not, Ebisu is the god of Whale.

One of the biggest attraction of Shinagawa Shrine is Fujizuka (富士塚), a replica of Mt. Fuji, the holy mountain, made from volcanic stones.

As I mentioned, Shinagawa was the first stop of Tōkaidō Road, and Mt. Fuji is located approximately 100km away. Fujizuka was created for the local civilians who cannot visit Mt. Fuji to pray. Therefore, local people climbed this imitation Mt. Fuji to pray. The oldest Fujizuka is created in 1780, and the one in Shinagawa Shrine was built in 1869, one year after Meiji Restoration.

In the process of climbing, Sarutahiko Ōkami (猿田彦大神), a powerful guardian kami (god), was dedicated.

On the back of this Fujizuka, there is a sculpture of Kaeru (frog) with Japanese joke, "Buji Kaeru (can be read as “Mt. Fuji’s frog" in Japanese), which means “safely back”.

In this shrine, there is one more interesting monument. This monument is called Houchou Zuka (包丁塚), a tombstone dedicated for kitchen knife.

In Edo period, Shinagawa was the important lodging, so there are many chefs cooking Japanese foods for the travelers. These chefs believed that the cooking knife has a spirit of the chef, so when the cooking knife became old, chefs buried their cooking knifes in the shrine. In Japanese animism, not only Hindu, Buddhist, Taoist and Shinto god, but also whale, mountain, or even kitchen knife has a spirit, and became the objects to pray.

I left Shinagawa Shrine, passing a clinic with an cute illustration of whale and walked 10 minutes, I found Whale Mound(鯨塚)in Kagata Shrine. Whale Mound is located approximately 100 places all over Japan, but Shinagawa is the only one existing in Tokyo.

In 1798, because of the typhoon, 17 meter whale lost in the cove of Shinagawa was hunted by local fishermen. The whale became news, so even Shogun from Tokugawa family visited the whale in Hama Rikyu Park. The whale was sold, and the head bone was buried here, then the Whale Mound was built for commemoration.

Japanese people appreciated the stray whales as a god, and they made a monument, for the gift of nature. Whaling skill has been sophisticated in Japan, and all parts of Whale were used for their living.

Right next to this Whale Mound, there is a public art of whale with children's toys. Maybe some westerner may get confused why people appreciate whale as a god, and eat and pray at the same time. However, this is all related to the history of Japanese animism, or in other word, the absence of monotheism. The dividend of subject and object was imported to Japan at the time of Meiji restoration, but this dividend is still somewhat unclear in Japanese society, therefore the self and the nature is still not completely divided. Therefore, the whale is sometimes the object of worship, and sometimes the object of worship could be considered a gift of nature, so people eat this, with lots of appreciation for nature.

For some of the Japanese traditional people, the denial of whale hunting could mean the denial of their own tradition and religion. These people can get frantic by the criticism of non-Japanese people, since they do not have a word or media to explain their thought.

To explain own culture is challenging. However, it cannot be an excuse of the fact that most of the Japanese people did not make an enough effort to explain. On the other hand, many of the non-Japanese people did not have a patience to hear someone different, and accept the difference. As a person born in a fisherman's family in Japan and receive education in the U.S., I wanted to speak out a little on this issue.

I do not want to judge what is right or wrong, but I would like to share the information, and would like to think the possible future. To end this essay, I would like to quote my favorite prayer, which might have a universal meaning.

The Serenity Prayer
by Reinhold Niebuhr

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change;
the courage to change the things I can;
and the wisdom to know the difference.

PS: Do you know Godzilla is a mutant Kujira (whale in Japanese)? Whale get radiated by the U.S. nuclear test in Bikini Island, and the radiated whale (kujira) became Godzilla (Pronounced as Gojira, this is kind of anagram in Japanese).


Year 1936 at Marienbad - Lacan and Modernity

When I visited my Austrian curator friend Walter Seidl’s exhibition “Psychoanalysis” at Tokyo Wonder Site, I suddenly started to wonder why a philosopher Masato Goda intentionally wrote the part that the presentation of Jacque Lacan’s “Mirror Stage” was held in year 1936 in Marienbad. Then, I started to think that in the film “Last Year at Marienbad” by Alain Resnais, the word “Last Year” may refer the year “1936”.

The original name of Marienbad, a spa town in Czech, is Mariánské Lázně. The city became German speaking area between World War I and World War II, and the city had been called “Marienbad”. Therefore, the setting of the film “Last Year at Marienbad” supposed to be in this period.

In the film “Last Year at Marienbad”, truth and fiction are difficult to distinguish, and the temporal and spatial relationship of the events is open to question. The screenplay may have been based on “The Invention of Morel”, a science fiction novel published in 1940 by an Argentine writer Adolfo Bioy Casares, since the review of the French translated version of this book was written in 1953 by Alain Robbe-Grillet, the scriptwriter of the film.

As we can read in the novel “The Invention of Morel”, the metaphors of dream and mirror are repeated often, which also appears in the film. These metaphors create the characteristics of trick novel, and show fictions in fictions such as nest box.

When Jacque Lacan did the first analytic report of the “Mirror Phase” at the Congress of the International Psychoanalytical Association in Marienbad in 1936, Ernest Jones, the chairman and the Freud’s biographer, interrupted and ended Lacan's reporting. Lacan left the congress with anger, and it became his trauma for quarter century.

In the novel, the part of dreams show the symbolic phase of the story, which is almost such as a footnote. As story continues, these dreams started to create the dramatic impact, such as.

1. I was at the mental hospital.
2. At certain moment, I was the director of the hospital.

In the novel, the storyteller Morel’s “self” and the “other” became unstable, and it became similar to the one of “Mirror Phase”. In modernity, the self and the other is divided, therefore the topic of “love”, to be united with others, became the special topic. The Invention of Morel is the answer to this dividend as a novel, and the self, which is inside, was absorbed into outside, and only the outside continues to exist permanently.

In conclusion, I think Masato Goda metaphysically tried to show the challenge of Europe for overcoming of modernity, and this challenge was well curbed in the film, in the setting of Marienbad during World War I and World War II, where Europe reached the zenith of the contradiction of modernity, and lost its otherness.