Friday, June 19, 2015

"not up for yourselves treasures upon earth" - Tragic and Crazy Japanese Authors

Mt. Fuji observed from Tokyo

Tragic and Crazy Japanese Authors

Only two Japanese authors have ever won the Nobel Prize: Yasunari Kawabata in 1968 and Kenzaburo Oe in 1994.

It is very strange that this mighty nation Japan with long history has not been appreciated well by the world in terms of literature.  Even the US with only 200 year history has 10 Nobel laureates in literature.  Japan is the nation that produced the world-first full-length novel written by a female author before 1000.  Though there is a language barrier, Japanese authors must receive higher reputation.

But there was one singular author after WWII.  Yukio Mishima gradauted from the University of Tokyo to become an elite bureaucrat of the Government in 1947.  But he quit the job to concentrate on creation of literary works.  Mishima's talent was highly appreciated, though Mishima became a kind of follower of Yasunari Kawabata who had already established his reputation in the Japanese literary arena before WWII.

Mishima's works were translated in English and other European languages.  In 1960s, Mishima was regarded as one of the likeliest candidates for Nobel prize for literature, though it was Kawabata that won the prize in 1968.

In 1956 or 1957, Mishima, already a best-selling author, happened to find a very attractive student, Miss Shoda in a Christian women's college in Tokyo.  At the time, only daughters of wealthy families or upper-class families learnt in universities.  Yukio Mishima himself was from a kind of elite family.  Misihima wanted to marry her.  So, it was arranged that Mishima and Miss Shoda went to see a Kabuki play and take a meal together in Ginza.  But eventually Miss Shoda rejected Mishima.

In 1958, Mishima must be surprised that Miss Michiko Shoda contracted marriage with Crown Prince Akihito.  She became Crown Princess of Japan in 1959.

Yukio Mishoma married in 1958 and continued to write many novels and dramas all of which sold well.  Mishima became one of central figures in the Japanese literary world.  But in 1961, Mishima supported publication of an anti-Imperial House novel where the Crown Princess was beheaded.

However, Mishima gradually became nationalistic.  He played a samurai in a film.  He trained himself physically.  He made many appearances in TV as a popular person of culture.  He organized a nationalistic group oriented toward a sort of militarism.  Though Mishima wrote novels based on Japanese cultural traditions, his social activities became so outstanding with an inclination to nationalism while the society became noisy with anti-Vietnam War student movements and other leftist-triggered violent incidents.  It was the era of the Cold War.    

Then, in 1968, Kawabata won the Nobel Prize, though it was said that Mishima competed hard for the prize with strong support from some authors and critics in the world.

And, in 1970, Yukio Mishima and a few of his followers suddenly occupied a commander office of the Self-Defense Ground Force in Tokyo.  The office was in the headquarters building in the center of Tokyo.  Mishima delivered a nationalistic speech from the balcony of the building to many servicemen who gathered before the entrance of the building.  Mishima called for a kind of coup for a nationalistic cause.  But no one followed him.  Then, Mishima went back to the office to commit a suicide in a harakiri manner.  The Japanese society got extremely shocked.

Yasunari Kawabata, closely associated with Mishma in literature, had nothing to do with Mishima's political activities.  But this crazy incident must have a deep influence on Kawabata.  In 1972, Kawabata committed a suicide in a flat he had near his house in Kamakura, a seashore satellite city of Tokyo, for a mysterious reason.

Since the deaths of Ysunari Kawaba and Yukio Mishima, a Nobel laureate in literature and a strong candidate for the prize, no Japanese authors could win a Nobel Prize till 1994.

There must be complicated processes and reasons for the Nobel Committee to present a prize to an author.  And, they must be more complicated when dealing with Japanese authors.

But you may wonder what should have happened if Yukio Mishima had married Michiko Shoda.  Mishima might not have committed a crazy suicide but won a Nobel Prize.  Even Yasunari Kawabata would not have committed a suicide.  And, some Japanese authors might have received Nobel Prizes in 1970s and 1980s.  However, it must be impossible for Empress Michiko.

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Mat 6:19 Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:

Mat 6:20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal:

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"John had said unto Herod" - A Letter from Emperor of Japan to his Son in 1945


A Letter from Emperor of Japan to his Son in 1945

On September 9, 1945, namely three weeks after the Empire of Japan surrendered to the US, the Emperor wrote a personal letter to his son, the crown prince of the Imperial Family.

At the time, the crown prince was 11 years old.  He was in a notable resort place in Nikko, 150 km north of Tokyo, under protection of a special platoon of the Imperial Army.  However, the Emperor, known Hirohito overseas, continued to live in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo with the Empress.

On  the other hand, General MacArthur arrived at Tokyo the day before, though he landed at Atsugi Air Base, west of Tokyo, on August 30 and he was in Yokohama since then.  So, the Emperor wrote this personal letter in a tense situation; there was a possibility that General MacArthur would order US soldiers to arrest the Emperor or requested him to resign.

"I appreciate your letter.  I am glad to see that you are healthy and fine with your spirit kept unfaltering.

Our nation is facing a difficult time, but I am fine so that you must feel at ease.  I think I should have told you why I had made such a decision (to surrender) and explained the circumstances.  But I refrained from it, since I thought my explanation would have been very different from what you had heard from your teachers.  Now I want you to forgive me for keeping silence.  Here I want you to hear my word about the causes of the defeat (of the Empire):

Our people placed too much trust in the Empire and took the US and the UK lightly.

Our military men put too much weight on spirit and forgot science.

In the era of the Emperor of Meiji (my grandfather), there were many great generals and admirals such as Yamagata, Oyama, Yamamoto, etc., but in this war, like Germany in the First World War, our military men became so rampant without taking an overall view of the war and only thought about advancement without realizing a need to retreat, which is the cause for the defeat.
If we had continued the war, we would not be able to protect the three sacred emblems of the Imperial Family and had our people killed in vain.  Therefore, keeping back my tears, I decided to (put an end to the war and) secure seeds of the nation.

Lord steward Hozumi has great commonsense; you may ask him about any part of this letter you cannot comprehend.

It will become chilly.  Take care of your health and spirit.  I hope you to study well.

September 9, from Father
To Akihito"

Fortunately, the Emperor of Showa was neither arrested nor forced to resign by General MacArthur.  He kept his imperial position till 1989 when he died of illness as Emperor of Japan in Tokyo.

The crown prince Akihito took over, and as incumbent Emperor, he lives in the Imperial Palace in Tokyo with the Empress.  It seems that he very much respects the Pacifist Constitution of Japan whose draft was reportedly drawn up under the supervision of General MacArthur.

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Mar 6:18 For John had said unto Herod, It is not lawful for thee to have thy brother's wife.
Mar 6:19 Therefore Herodias had a quarrel against him, and would have killed him; but she could not:
Mar 6:20 For Herod feared John, knowing that he was a just man and an holy, and observed him; and when he heard him, he did many things, and heard him gladly.

"to be healed of their diseases" - An Eden in an Inland Sea


An Eden in an Inland Sea

There is a very unique Japanese film made in 1960.  It is titled Hadaka-no Shima (The Naked Island).

It was produced by an independent group concerned with the film business at costs just 10% of those needed to produce an ordinary film.  Most of the scenes were taken on a small island in the Seto Inland Sea.  It was just a hat-like small round mountain with a diameter of 200 meters and a height of 50 meters.

In the small field on the top of the mountain lived a family, the husband and wife with two small boys.  The eldest son  was a second grader of a primary school in a big island nearby.  The couple also went to the the big island many times a day by small boat to fetch water in wooden caskets.  They carried up the caskets on foot to the agriculture field on the top of their island to feed plants.    It was hard work to bring up two caskets using a shouldering pole at one time, carefully walking up a steep slope from the shore.

In the island, there was no electricity, no gas, no water supply, and no telephone.  The family supported themselves, though a city on the mainland Japan 1 km over the sea was under economic development.  The husband and wife looked like actually tenant farmers, so that they brought a harvest to the land lord or the owner of the island living in the big island twice a year to get money.

The regions surrounding the Seto Inland Sea with full of small islands have comparatively small rains.  So, Japanese audiences who see this movie can understand the toil of carrying water from the adjacent island.  As the date was 1960, there must have been no other ways but carry caskets with water up to the top of the island manually on foot.

There were almost no words.  Actors didn't speak.  Only sounds of the see, wind, and the nature were heard in addition to effective music.  But the scenery was fine, though it was mono-color.  If it was a color film, it would be more impressive with the surface of the sea shining or dormant, other small and still islands, and ranging green mountains in the mainland Japan observed from the top of the island.

This film was not accepted widely in Japan.  But it won many awards in foreign film festivals in early 1960s.   The independent group had initially thought this film would be their last one.  But they got income enough to sustain their activities as they could sell distribution rights to foreign agencies.

Probably no Japanese audiences see existence of God in this film, but some Westerners might see how people should live under the  gaze of God in this film, though it is a very Japanese film.

Though it seems sometimes that God shows no mercy to people, some families might be living in a kind of Eden while they don't realize it.

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Luk 6:17 And he came down with them, and stood in the plain, and the company of his disciples, and a great multitude of people out of all Judaea and Jerusalem, and from the sea coast of Tyre and Sidon, which came to hear him, and to be healed of their diseases;
Luk 6:18 And they that were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

"six things doth the LORD hate" - The Richer, The Colder


The Richer, The Colder

If you have money, you think poor people are your enemies, since you believe that they will surely try to rob you of your money no matter what amount it might be.

That is why rich people are cold.  In older days, being rich means having higher status; noble men were richer than farmers and merchants.  Accordingly, noble people were cold to people who belonged to lower classes.  Especially, royal families were colder and even cold to noblemen, since they might try to rob them of the higher status.

Of course, being rich gives a sense of happiness.  Money can buy friendships, respect, and fun.  So, rich men look like not having cold minds but very humane minds when they are enjoying fruits of wealth.  But they never take pity on the poor.

The richer, the colder at the core of one's heart.

For example, before the present Emperor of Japan, children of any emperor had not been raised in the same house as their father's.  An emperor was required to raise his children as his subjects.  No parental love was allowed to be given to children of an emperor and an empress.

An emperor of Japan had been one of the richest men in the nation.  Accordingly, it was feared that everyone, including noblemen, would try to use children of an emperor to obtain the special goodwill from an emperor or get special benefits or status from the imperial court.  So, an emperor must be cold even to his children, so that he would not hesitate to take any severe or cold measures against those abusing his children to steal any wealth or status from him.  In the worst case, emperor's blind love to his children might have endangered the imperial court.

However, the present emperor, for the first time in the Japanese history, raised his children under the same roof when he was crown prince and married in 1959 to have two sons and one daughter eventually.  Though his parents, the late Emperor and Empress of Showa, lived in the Imperial Palace, the crown princes's family lived together in the Crown Prince's Palace, several kilometers far from the Imperial Palace over busy Tokyo streets.
Today, the present Emperor and Empress live in the Imperial Palace while their two married princes live in their own independent palace and house with their own families.  The imperial custom has indeed changed, since the present Emperor married, as a young crown prince, a young lady from a non-noble class family, who is now Empress, 14 years after WWII.

Of course, it is an influence of American democracy that was imported into Japan after WWII exhaustively since the Empire of Japan was defeated by the US.  Even the Constitution of Japan enacted in 1947 was drafted based on not only American democracy but also American Christianity.  And, this Constitution has survived to date without any modification.

Accordingly, the Imperial Family of Japan is not as cold as they had been before WWII, partly because they had lost many assets in the War.

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Pro 6:16 These six things doth the LORD hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
Pro 6:17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
Pro 6:18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
Pro 6:19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Monday, June 15, 2015

"Others said, That it is Elias" - Abraham Met God in Person 4,000 Years Ago


Abraham Met God in Person 4,000 Years Ago

Abraham met three Angels according to the Bible:

Gen 18:1 And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;
Gen 18:2 And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,
Gen 18:3 And said, My LORD, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant:
Gen 18:4 Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree:
Gen 18:5 And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said.
Gen 18:6 And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth.
Gen 18:7 And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it.
Gen 18:8 And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

(Mamre was located at, or very near, ancient Hebron, which is just south of Bethlehem and Jerusalem.

And, according to the Bible, one of the Three was God.

From a certain view point, this is the first recorded direct encounter of a man with God.  Compared with this drastic contact with God in person, Moses was not so much privileged, and St. Paul was very humbly treated by God.

Could you see a situation that God accompanied by two Angels bothered to visit or come to see one man in one hot daytime?  But if Abraham had not been able to see sanctity in the Three around Hebron, south of Jerusalem, 4,000 years ago, no Judaism, no Old Testament, and hence no New Testament exist today.  Even there should not have been Islam.  In other word, the total fate of mankind depended on this moment: the encounter of Abraham with the Lord and his two Angels, which was only possible by the ability of Abraham to discern special holiness of God in one of the Three strangers.

Conversely, other people must have failed to find God in a man they met so many times, unlike Abraham.  It is because they lacked the ability to discern special holiness of God in a certain man they encountered like Abraham did.  There must have been a countless number of cases where people encountered God and his Angels but they failed to identify God due to the lack of ability to recognize extreme holiness.

If there had been another man who could find God in such a situation, a new global religion should have been created with the man as the originator or the progenitor of the religion like Abraham.

But why were there Three, God and the two of His Angels?  It seems to have implied that three religions would be created from Abraham: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam.  But one of three religions must be directly linked to God.  Judaism's highlight was Moses' encounter with God in the form of fire but not of a man.  The founder of Islam was only spoken to by an Angel.  However, Christianity claims that Jesus is the Son of God and secretly God Himself.

One hot day somewhere around Hebron, a man named Abraham was resting in a tent.  Then he saw three strangers came by his tent.  However, Abraham instantly understood they were extremely holy.  In case that one of the three was God, he called one of them "My Lord."  And then the history of mankind started to evolve to one certain direction, which is today proved by the fact that Judaism, Christianity, and Islam were established with the common primogenitor Abraham.

The point at issue is that we have to think whether we can encounter God in a form of a man and whether we can discern extreme sanctity in him.

For example, even the Pope might not be able to find God in a plain man walking in or around the Vatican if he did not cultivate this ability to find God in a man sufficiently.  

It is time that somebody must shout "My Lord" to God walking in the shape of a man somewhere on the earth, for example, in Gaza.

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Mar 6:15 Others said, That it is Elias. And others said, That it is a prophet, or as one of the prophets.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

"This man ceaseth not to speak" - Influence of Confucius


Influence of Confucius

In ancient China, people had two names each.  Their true names were used only by themselves to call themselves.  And, their adopted names were used by others to call them.

So, Confucius' true name was Kong Qiu and his adopted name was Zhongni. It is unknown exactly what were their parents.  However, it is widely accepted that his father was a kind of plain soldier and his mother was a kind of priestess.  And their marriage was not authentic or lawful.  His father died while Confucius (552 BC - 479 BC) was infant.  His mother died when he was a young man.  But as his mother didn't tell Confucius where his father had been buried, Confucius was troubled to find where to bury his mother.

Confucius married at the age of 19 in 534 BC.  The couple had a son and a daughter.  But almost nothing else was mentioned about the wife of Confucius.

Though it is said that Confucius taught 3,000 men at one time, he could not be successful in his career while he tried and shortly became a minister of a certain country in China 2500 years ago.  Confucius was disappointed since his teaching and philosophy about governance of a country and maintenance of order of the general public were not accepted well by kings and noblemen at the time.

So, he concentrated his efforts to write and edit books concerning teaching of politics, ethics, rituals, and way of living.  He expected that future generations would learn from these books, though people of his generation corrupted to neglect a need to improve their way of living.

However, what has been most read in the history is the Analects of Confucius, a book that depicted words and deeds of Confucius, which is not one of those books Confucius wrote and edited for the future generations.

According to the most important ancient Japanese history books the Chronicles of Japan and A Record of Ancient Matters, both established in the early 8th century, the Analects of Confucius was one of the two books a notable Korean scholar brought to the imperial court of Japan around the fifth century or before.  Since then, Japanese became familiar with Confucius and Confucianism.

As with Japan, other East Asian countries have been influenced by Confucianism.  Even Vietnam was once under a strong influence of Confucianism.

The culture in East Asia, including China, was first sophisticated spiritually with the teaching of Confucius.  Its influence can be still observed.  But, it is so interesting that those Asian people, including Chinese, Koreans, Japanese, and Vietnamese, don't know the family of Confucius who was poor in his childhood and young ages.

Out of nowhere in history, sometimes such a great man appears as has a strong influence on minds of people of strong nations, such as Japan and China.  Anyway, without Confucius Japan and China might be more violent countries today.

A key point of Confucius teaching is related to how to manage and maintain the relationships between a father and a son, a master and a subject, a husband and a wife, a senior and a junior, and friends.  He stressed that benevolence should work to have a good influence on these relationships.

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Act 6:13 And set up false witnesses, which said, This man ceaseth not to speak blasphemous words against this holy place, and the law:
Act 6:14 For we have heard him say, that this Jesus of Nazareth shall destroy this place, and shall change the customs which Moses delivered us.