月別: 3月 2021

From the balcony on the fourth floor

オンライン・ライティングコンテストの最優秀賞作品
Online Writing Contest 1st Prize

by CAPRIOLI Nicole
Graduate School of International Culture and Communication Studies

The poem I wrote express the emotions I recently felt while I was looking from the balcony of my apartment in Tokyo. The outbreak of the Corona virus and its consequences made me think even more deeply about human nature and how it has been changed and affected by the environment through the years. At that time, I remembered Mishima’s words written in the epilogue of the book “Sun and Steel,” and as I was thinking about that, the image of the Teshima Art Museum and the emotions I felt that day made their way into my mind. So, this poem was born.

* * *

From the balcony on the fourth floor
of my apartment in Tokyo
I watch a man dig a hole
deep into the earth’s soul
to plant slabs of concrete
and grew up too tall.

I look up at the sky
I see people skimming the sky
atop birds of metal wings
gliding gently with the wind.
It reminds me of those words
written by the last Japanese who
grabbed a sword

“Do I, then, belong to the heavens? […]
Or do I
Belong, after all, to the earth?”*

And like a spell my shell
opened again, my mind
had to hide, to leave space
to the emptiness that was inside.
No pearl was there
nothing my heart could glare.
Many thoughts came by back then

Where’s the place
we humans should stand?

Once I felt I was between
the sky we long for, and the
earth, where we belong
I think:

A man had married his former
climbing the latter with a ring
then he let humans in.

Drops begin to fall from above,
touch the soil and start run slow
to the architecture’s core.

And people quietly are left to stare
naive and unaware.
And I think:
Neither sky nor earth,
And if there is no “I,”
Then the truth just hurts.

* Yukio Mishima, Sun and Steel

私の中の日本

オンライン・ライティングコンテストの優秀賞作品
Online Writing Contest 2nd Prize

by YANG Hang
Graduate School of Social Sciences

「日本」という概念は非常に広範的に、捉えることが難しいと思います。そのために、今回の作文で、私は日本に対する具体的な二つの理解を表して、「私の中の日本」というテーマで作文を作成します。

* * *

4年前、初めて成田空港に着いた時、面白いところを見つけた。到着した人に挨拶文字として、英語は「Welcome to Japan」。それに対して、日本語は「おかえりなさい」と表記された。その時、言葉意味の違いを発見したが、深く考えを全くできなかった。だが、先日、母国から日本に戻り、「おかえりなさい」を見ると、由来もなく感動が湧いて、「ただいま」と心の中で返答した。4年間の留学生活は、私をこの国との絆を深くして、「私の中の日本」も日々変わって行き成長している。

「私の中の日本」を考えると、まず脳に浮かぶ光景は川岸に満開している桜だ。微風は吹くと、花びらが舞い上がって、青空を極めて綺麗に踊った後、ひらひらと川の流れに漂っていく。行方も分からないが、少なくとも今輝いている。最初、日本にとって、「桜」が何故そんなに特別な存在であることも理解できなかった。だが、2年前、日本語学校の卒業式が終わってから、1人でまちを歩いて咲いている桜を見るとき、ようやく「桜」の意味がわかるようになった。人生はまさに桜のようなものだ。枯れることが最初から知っているが、それでも精一杯に咲いて、木から離れる際でも最も美しい姿で舞い落ちる。桜吹雪だ褒められる。1ヶ月後、桜が咲いた跡でも捉えられないが、世の中に与えた綺麗な記憶が永遠に失わなく、春の中に欠席できない存在である。桜がいつ咲く、いつ枯れる、精確な時間を知る人が誰でもいない。それも2人生において、出逢った人と離れた人と同然だ。いつから人が好きになる、いつから好きな人と別れる、これも永遠に知られないことだ。ただ、どの時も、最善な誠意を尽くせ、これも「一期一会」とつながっているのだ。これは「桜」が私に教えたことであり、「私の中の日本」は教えたことである。

「私の中の日本」を続いて考えると、思い付いたことは「伝統」である。日本という国を紹介する時、「現代」、「先進」等、どのくらい「新」を表せる形容詞があっても、「伝統」、「古い」、「渋い」という「旧」を表せる言葉も日本を代表できる形容詞である。現代的な繁華街を巡り、突然神社が発見できることが、日本にとって当たり前なことである。世の中はどのくらい騒いても、鳥居に入ると気が落ち着けて、心と会話ができるようになる。7、8月に入ると、真っ黒の夜空は華々しい花火の幕になり、幕の下に様々な模様の浴衣は夏の最も美しい風物詩の一つである。たすき鈴の音は情熱の人声と融合し、御神輿は人ごみの中で徐に進んでいく。このような景色は特に現代的な国の中で、非常に珍しいものである。また、日本の「伝統」は建築物や民俗文化財だけでなく、人々の考え方にも存在する。例えば、日本における「匠の力」である。職人たちはどのような小さいなことに対しても、工夫を惜しまずに真面目な態度を取り、ものづくりに敬意を持っている。このような精神は社会に影響を与えて、現在、「日本製」は既に高品質の代表として世界で認識されている。歴史や伝統を大切にしていて、伝統を守る国は「私の中の日本」であると思われる。

自文化視点から異文化の違いを体験し理解することが非常に意味深いことである。3そのため、既に4年で日本で生活しているが、毎日もまだ「日本」に対する知見が次々と現れている。これからも新たな発見を楽しみにして、より「私の中の日本」を充実にしたいと思われる。

Discover the Japan inside you

An Ibaraki Prefecture travelogue

オンライン・ライティングコンテストの優秀賞作品
Online Writing Contest 2nd Prize

by KHITROVA Yulia
Graduate School of Letters, Arts and Sciences

Ibaraki Prefecture is considered the least popular prefecture for travel in Japan. I wanted to share my personal experience to not just talk about the beauty of Ibaraki prefecture, but to make other students consider traveling to unusual destinations in general, as this may become a very special experience.

We come to Japan, we go to study almost every day, we walk around the same city in our free time. But at some point, we inevitably realize we only see a small part of the country.

Such a regret awakened in me with the first cold winds of Autumn. Looking through the photos on the Internet, my choice fell on an unusual option – Ibaraki Prefecture.

The noisy Tokyo station brings you to the small city of Hitachinaka, and then it takes just a little to arrive at Hitachi Seaside Park. The main attraction in Autumn is red Kochia bushes. The summer cypress, gentle shade of green falling into the red, its leaves seem sharp, as if you touch it you will get pricked. A whole mountain wearing a dress of red leaves. But October is second to April in Ibaraki Prefecture when blue flowers of nemophila bloom, and the fields, endless fields, become a scene from another world you probably saw in dreams.

Image by author

As night fell, I was already sitting in a half-empty train, rushing into the darkness. I couldn’t get to Fukuroda Falls directly; the railroad that had broken down has not yet been repaired. Stations in the provinces are very different from those in big cities, there are no ticket gateways, and in the late hours, even people cease to be seen. Only lonely house lights and forests in the distance make up for the company. But even there some kind people who were driving in the same direction as my hostel gave me a ride. As I got into the car, I did not feel the slightest bit afraid, I just trusted – this is perhaps one of the great wonders of Japan.

Image by author

The hostel was more like a cottage – standing on a hill, an epitome of an idyll. Inside were old lights, souvenirs from various parts of Japan, and inscriptions from various countries. Now, of course, there are fewer. But I am sure they will come back for sure, some day we all are waiting for.

Image by author

After treating me to some breakfast (I had no idea that fresh natto could be so delicious), the inn owner took me to Fukuroda Falls. A small trail lined with local stores leads to an amazing place, a huge and majestic cascade of waterfalls. In summer its waters shine crystal bright, in fall they are framed by a veil of scarlet leaves, and in winter covered by a cap of ice, creating a whimsical, snow-white still shot.

Image by author

The path to the station was paved with numerous advertisements for orchards offering “apple hunts”. I did not have a chance to go to such an orchard, but I could buy one apple – sweet and crispy – from a nice grandmother on the side of the road.

Nevertheless, an obstacle was waiting for me at the end of the road.

“Hello, when is the train to Mito?”

“In two hours.”

“What am I supposed to do?”

“Go to the onsen. There’s nothing else around here.”

And so I went.

It was in the little onsen that I happened to strike up a conversation with Kawase-san. Kawase-san had once moved from Ibaraki to Tokyo, and I asked her a little bit about what she thought about Ibaraki Prefecture.

From what she said, Ibaraki’s geography is stretched and narrow, and the thinking of those who live closer to Tokyo and those who live closer to Fukushima is noticeably different. Ibaraki may seem like a remote province, but it is where Tsukuba Science City, Hitachi, Ltd., and Japan Atomic Energy Research Institute are located, so you can meet many foreigners there – a slice of globalization carved deep into the depths of Japan. Despite this, Ibaraki is famous as a rather conservative place. It was with Mito that the last Shogun was closely associated. Maybe that historical pride still lingers, finding a place not only in the old Edo-era wooden buildings in the city of Mito but also in the hearts of the people.

Ibaraki has a lot to offer. Landscapes, delicious food, hot springs. So why do so few people come there? My footsteps led me there, and this prefecture found a place in my heart, became a piece of “Japan inside me.”

I am not just trying to tell you to go to Ibaraki. Go beyond Tokyo and Kyoto, and you will find a Japan for yourself, one that is unique and precious. Japan inside you will become Japan around you. Discover it for yourself, so that it opens up to you. It has lots of treasures to share.

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