"crying angels singing..."
People's Hero and the Sword
Japanese language learners all over the world, especially at a professional level, should read "Nihongo: Omote to Ura" by Mr. Tetsuro Morimoto.
Note: "Nihongo" means the Japanese language; "Omote to Ura" means the surface and the back side.
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In the book, there is a reference to a certain story of the samurai age, which was originally written in another book on notable swordsmen who really existed in the past.
The story is about a famous and strong samurai named Tsukahara Bokuden (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tsukahara_Bokuden).
One day he was on a journey and crossing a big lake on a humble ferry, of course, some 450 years ago in Japan in a state of civil war between samurai lords.
On board a ferry, there was a hooligan samurai, wild and noisy among other gentle passengers of merchants, farmers, craftsmen, monks, etc.
He was behaving violently, challenging peace of other timid travelers. None tried to speak up to him. But, as the wild samurai found another samurai, that is, Tsukahara Bokuden, he decided to challenge Bokuden without knowing who he was.
So, the wild samurai told Bokuden if he had guts to fight with real swords as they were both samurai warriors. Bokuden replied, saying that as his martial-art style was called "Mutekatsu-ryu" (meaning winning without hands or a sword), he had no intention to defeat others but would be content with avoiding his own defeat; and thus he would not fight to win there.
The wild samurai, still challenging, asked Bokuden why he then belted the swords (usually a samurai has a long sward and a short sword waist-mounted).
Bokuden answered, "My swords are not for cutting an enemy but for cutting my arrogance."
Then, the wild samurai realized that Bokuden was making a mock of him.
The wild samurai got violently angry, shouting at Bokuden, "Then fight against me! Surely, you without a sward!"
Bokuden said that as the violent samurai so strongly requested the fight, he would have to accept the challenge; but as the humble ferry happened to come close to large rocks in the middle of the lake, Bokuden also said that they should get out of the ferry and fight on the rocks.
The wild samurai violently jumped out of the ferry and waited for Bokuden following him down to the reef.
But, Bokuden took a pole from a boatman and forcibly pushed a rock with the pole to have the ferry leave the reef quickly. The wild samurai was left alone on a rock in the middle of the large lake.
The wild samurai with a sword in the hand shouted, "You Chicken!" But Bokuden replied: "You see this is my 'Mutekatsu-ryu.' Now, folks, let's continue our voyage!"
Mr. Morimoto analyzed on how and why Japanese loved this story; but he argued that Westerners would not think Bokuden was great in this story as actually Bokuden cheated his enemy and would not fight bravely.
Indeed, Westerners might think that Japanese are all sly like Tsukahara Bokuden (en passant, "Tsukahara" is the family name in this convention).
The key to the story is that every reader knows beforehand Tsukahaea Bokuden was one of the greatest swordsmen, having been so proven by his career and testimonies from other strong and high-class samurais.
If he had fought, it would have been a routinely easy victory. But, Bokuden avoided the fight, as if he had been a sly and weak man. Yet, Bokuden achieved what other weak passengers wished, namely, peaceful solution and disposal of a violent and indecent samurai.
Yes, a Japanese reader knows that he must have been one of coward passengers in the ferry, if he had been there. And, what he could do at best is just behaving like Bokuden on the occasion, namely, cheating the wild and bad samurai to have him get out of the ferry.
But, it does not look heroic at all. It is weak man's wisdom and tactics. He, of course, wants to fight with a sword and defeat the wild and bad samurai, which is however just a fantasy for him, since every reader knows that he or she is not so strong.
But, lo! Despite his overwhelming strength, the samurai master Bokuden acted like a weak man to defeat the wild and bad samurai without using his expertise in manipulating a sword.
Now, weak readers of the story do not have to feel ashamed of their weakness and cowardliness in addition to their possible tactics of slyly cheating a strong guy, since the strongest samurai Bokuden also behaved like one of them taking the very sly, apparently, tactics.
This is Mr. Tetsuro Morimoto's argument. And, you have to understand this kind of Japanese minds to master Japanese language with notion to its surface and the back face.
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A Japanese sword has truly enchanting power and an appealing shape based on its history of development over 2000 years since the Bronze Age of Japan when Japanese used a kind of glaives like ancient Romans or Chinese. In other words, Japanese developed the technical art of swords while Romans and Chinese could not.
(The Japanese sword is unique in that its edge angle and its blade warp require a special skill to manipulate it, since it must be pulled or drawn backward while acutely cutting into the target, which also requires special movement not only of arms and the upper body but also of foot work, more graceful than in Western fencing, in taking the best position for swinging it precisely at a specific angle while converging kinetic impact of the mass of iron to the target along a semi-circular orbit on a plane tilted flexibly according to the posture and movement of the target, unlike, say, Viking's blunt swordplay solely relying on poorly controlled muscle in the vertical direction only.
[If you become a master of swordplay in a certain school, you are conferred full mastership certificate, according to traditions.]
Also refer to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katana.)
In fact, the Japanese sword, which even many wealthy Chinese centuries ago coveted for as a treasure, has been a symbol of Japanese society governed by the samurai class and their descendants for more than 1000 years until the end of WWII. Hence, I once wrote about it in this "EEE Reporter" blog before.
(Truly, there are many objects that the sword cannot apply to. Wild flowers may be one. And you, good girls, are more valuable than wild flowers and sparrows as Jesus Christ declared.
Indeed, the Japanese language (Nihon-go) is a true national treasure of Japan (Nihon), since my mind (kokoro) is with it.)
"AND YOUR PRESENCE WILL FILL ME WITH JOY"