月別: 3月 2021

From the balcony on the fourth floor

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


Online Writing Contest 2nd Prize

by YANG Hang
Graduate School of Social Sciences


* * *

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。




Discover the Japan inside you

An Ibaraki Prefecture travelogue

Online Writing Contest 2nd Prize

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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