2007年9月30日 星期日

Japan Law Targets Nation's Savers

補貼上周 WSJ的時事 存檔

Japan Law Targets Nation's Savers

Japan is preparing to launch the biggest change in the country's financial regulations in 20 years, a move designed to encourage the nation's thrifty savers to put more of their $13 trillion in personal assets into stocks and bonds.

The Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, which goes into effect Sunday, governs everything from corporate reporting procedures to acceptable securities trading practices. Commonly known as FIEL, the law also lays out new registration requirements for hedge funds and private-equity funds. Most important, it details what marketing practices are allowed in selling stocks, bonds and mutual funds to individual investors -- a vaguely defined regulatory area until now.

Separately, Japan Post, the government-owned postal service that doubles as a bank and insurance company, will take a major step Monday in what is expected to be a 10-year privatization process, becoming a holding company with four operating companies under it. Japan Post's privatization is likely to accelerate the shift of its $1.6 trillion in deposits -- more than the combined $1.5 trillion at the country's two biggest banks -- from simple savings accounts into more sophisticated financial products, like mutual funds and variable annuities.

Many of the rule changes in FIEL will bring Japan's regulations -- often considered loose compared with those of other countries -- closer to international standards and enhance transparency in the world's second-largest economy, securities lawyers say. Like their counterparts in the U.S. under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, Japanese executives will now have to certify that financial statements are true. The law also mandates quarterly reporting of earnings, something U.S. and European companies have done for years. Currently, Japanese companies are obligated to report only half- and full-year earnings.

FIEL also raises the maximum penalty for illegal securities transactions to 10 years. In two recent high-profile insider-trading cases, the maximum prison sentence that could be imposed was three years.

'It is a whole modernization of the law,' said Christopher Wells, a securities lawyer at White & Case LLP, who helped supervise an English-language translation of the legislation.

Enactment of FIEL comes as Japan wrestles with how to encourage ordinary Japanese to invest in assets that can produce higher returns than bank deposits, such as stocks and corporate bonds. Many Japanese, turned off by a series of corporate scandals and hard-sell tactics used by brokerages in the past, have snubbed these types of investments. As a result, much of Japan's personal wealth is currently in bank deposits that yield less than 1%.

Getting individuals to buy more stocks could have a profound effect on Japan's market, which still trades at less than half the peak it reached in 1989. The percentage of the market held by individuals dipped to 18% at the end of last year from 21% at the 1989 peak, according to the Tokyo Stock Exchange.

Lawyers say FIEL aims to shore up investor confidence by providing greater protection than individuals historically have had. For example, the law requires brokerages and banks to classify all investors as professionals or amateurs. For amateur investors, brokerages and banks will have to explain the risks involved in investment products, like mutual funds and foreign-currency deposits, before selling them. The law also requires marketing material to carry a risk-disclosure statement.

Tighter disclosure rules are being implemented as Japan Post's 25,000 post offices begin to expand the range of products and services they handle. Over the next few years, post offices are expected to begin offering mortgages, credit cards, annuities and foreign-currency deposits. Japan Post started selling mutual funds at some post offices two years ago, and by the end of August had gathered some $8.5 billion in fund assets by persuading nearly a half-million depositors to shift some of their money into funds.

In the short term, the new law may slow some bank business in Japan because it requires financial institutions to evaluate a customer's experience and explain all the risks involved in buying certain products. For example, Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc. is ending a service that allows customers to open mutual-fund accounts online because the bank needs to vet investors first.

The bank, Japan's biggest by market capitalization, is also requiring customers who want to make deposits in foreign-currency-denominated accounts to speak with a representative. Previously, they could use an automated telephone service.

Mizuho Financial Group Inc., another of Japan's big banking groups, says the amount of time its representatives spend with each customer is nearly doubling to more than two hours. 'There are a lot of legally required items to cover,' said Masako Shiono, a bank spokeswoman. 'We have to go through them one by one.'


2007年09月28日11:28 | | |

這 部《金融工具與交易法》(The Financial Instruments and Exchange Law, FIEL)將於本週日生效﹐它涵蓋的範圍從公司披露機制到可接受的證券交易行為無所不包。這部法律還規定了對沖基金及私人資本運營基金新的註冊要求。最重 要的是﹐它還就向個人投資者賣出股票、債券及共同基金時所允許的市場操作進行了詳細的規定﹐一直以來這一領域都屬於監管的灰色地帶。

兼 有銀行和保險業務的日本國有郵政服務機構日本郵政(Japan Post)將於下週一進行重組﹐成為擁有四家運營公司的控股公司。此舉被認為是日本郵政歷時10年的私有化進程中的重要一步。日本郵政的私有化進程很可能 會加速使其1.6萬億美元儲蓄存款從單一的儲蓄帳戶流向共同基金和浮動年金等更多樣的金融產品。日本郵政的儲蓄存款比日本最大兩家銀行的存款之和(1.5 萬億美元)還要多。

證券律師表示﹐《金融工具與交易法》中的許多法規調整將使日本的法規與國際進一步接軌﹐並提高日本這一世界第二大經濟 體的透明度。與其他國家的法規相比﹐日本的法規常被認為不夠嚴格。與受薩班斯-奧克斯利法(Sarbanes-Oxley Act)約束的美國同行一樣﹐現在日本的企業管理人士也必須保證財務報表的真實性。該法律還規定企業必須公佈季度收益報告(這在美國和歐洲公司中已經實行 多年了)。目前﹐日本公司仍只需公佈半年收益和全年收益。


美國偉凱律師事務所(White & Case LLP)的證券律師克里斯託夫•威爾斯(Christopher Wells)曾指導了這部法律的英文版翻譯工作。他說﹐該法進行了一次徹頭徹尾的“現代化”。



律 師們表示﹐該法律旨在向個人投資者提供前所未有的保護﹐以便增加投資者信心。比如﹐該法律要求經紀人和銀行把投資者分為職業投資者和業餘投資者兩類﹐並在 向業餘投資者賣出共同基金和外匯儲蓄等投資產品前﹐向其解釋涉及的風險。該法律還要求營銷宣傳品上必須登有風險披露聲明。

隨著日本郵政下 屬的2.5萬家郵局開始擴大產品和服務範圍﹐日本將實施更加嚴格的信息披露規定。在接下來的幾年中﹐郵局將陸續開辦抵押、信用卡、年金和外幣儲蓄業務。兩 年前﹐日本郵政的部分郵局開始銷售共同基金﹔截至8月末﹐它們已經說服近50萬名儲戶將部分存款投入基金﹐從而獲得85億多美元的基金資產。

短 期來看﹐該法律可能會放慢日本一些銀行業務的辦理速度﹐因為它要求金融機構對客戶的經驗進行評估﹐並向客戶解釋購買某種投資產品可能涉及的全部風險。例如 ﹐三菱UFJ金融集團(Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc.)就因為需要對投資者進行評估﹐而計劃終止其共同基金網上開戶服務。


日本另一家大銀行集團瑞穗金融集團(Mizuho Financial Group Inc.)表示﹐它的客戶代表花在每位客戶身上的時間超過了兩小時﹐幾乎是以前的兩倍。該行發言人Masako Shiono說﹐“有太多法律要求的事情要做﹐我們不得不一一完成。”

Andrew Morse / Yuka Hayashi


日本新任首相福田康夫(Yasuo Fukuda)週二重組內閣﹐他保留了前內閣的大多數成員並進行重新任命﹐表明他想儘快開展工作以解決一系列迫在眉睫的問題﹐包括延長反恐怖法期限以及制定明年的財政預算等。

為了保持政策制定的連續性﹐福田康夫保留了前任首相安倍晉三(Shinzo Abe)內閣17名成員中的13人﹐其中包括財務大臣額賀福志郎(Fukushiro Nukaga)以及經濟財政大臣大田弘子(Hiroko Ota)。

這些內閣成員中還包括在內閣任職多年的元老級人物﹐如新任外務大臣大臣高村正彥(Masahiko Komura)曾是安倍內閣的防衛大臣。


由於在參議院擁有多數議席﹐民主黨有能力阻止立法的通過。該黨總裁小澤一郎(Ichiro Ozawa)在日本政壇頗具影響。




安倍辭職令國會暫時休會了兩週﹐在此期間福田康夫與唯一的競爭對手麻生太郎(Taro Aso)為爭奪首相一職展開競選活動。福田康夫被自民黨多數人視為能在困難時期保持黨內團結的穩健派人物﹐因而在上週日舉行的自民黨總裁選舉中輕鬆獲勝。

Yuka Hayashi

2007年9月28日 星期五



Japan's new PM admits accounting errors

TOKYO (AFP) — Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda, who took office this week vowing to turn a page on the last government's scandals, voiced regret Friday for accounting errors by his office but denied wrongdoing.

Fukuda admitted media reports that his political support group in his constituency crossed off its name on receipts and instead attributed the receipts to the ruling party's local chapter.

He denied that the group was trying to divert funds to evade authorities, saying it was simply sloppy accounting.

"Officials in charge of the accounting omitted the procedure for the asking of new receipts," he told reporters.

"It has nothing to do with making a profit or financial wrongdoing," he said. "But as the head of the office I really feel ashamed."

Fukuda took over Tuesday from fellow Liberal Democratic Party member Shinzo Abe, who resigned after a tumultuous year in office wracked by scandals.

Fukuda, a 71-year-old political veteran, enjoys strong support in early polls, giving him a boost in his battle with the opposition, which seized control of one house of parliament from the LDP in July elections.

Media gave different figures on the amount of money involved in the questionable receipts. The Asahi Shimbun said that receipts for 5.7 million yen (5,000 dollars) in expenses were redirected to the LDP's local chapter.

In one incident, the newspaper said a hotel issued a receipt for 70,000 yen to Fukuda's political group for meeting costs. But in later filings, the name of the group was crossed out and replaced with the LDP chapter.

The LDP's office in Fukuda's constituency separately plans to return some money it received from a cleaning company out of fear it broke laws on political funding, chief government spokesman Nobutaka Machimura said.

Japanese law prohibits politicians from receiving contributions from any company that has contracts with the government.

The cleaning company in question had a contract with the government in 2005 ahead of a general election, public broadcaster NHK reported.

"Prime Minister Fukuda instructed the office to take procedures to return the political contribution at issue," Machimura told reporters.

"The prime minister is not taking a lenient attitude on money in politics," he said.

2007年9月26日 星期三

A Novel Approach -- Via Cellphon 日本手機小說

Satomi Nakamura使用手機時﹐必須加倍留意﹐避免經常停頓。這是因為她使用手機不僅僅是為了聊天。現年22歲的Satomi Nakamura是位家庭主婦﹐她最近剛剛寫作完成了一本200頁的小說。這部名為《重新愛上你》的小說完全用手機完成﹐Nakamura寫作時﹐用右手 拇指按鍵﹐小指固定手機。她工作得廢寢忘食﹐以致於上個月右手小指的一條血管破裂了。

Nakamura柔聲說道﹐在電腦上打字可能更容易 些﹐但是她從6年級開始就使用手機了﹐所以對她來說﹐用手機更容易。到目前為止﹐Nakamura已經使用手機完成了8本小說。她每天都會對手頭那部講述 一對青梅竹馬在高中重逢的小說進行更新﹐這本小說有2,000多名網絡讀者。

在日本﹐ 手機正在使平靜已久的小說市場風雲再起。20歲左右的年輕業餘作者們很久之前就已掌握了如何用手機收發電子郵件、撰寫博客文章﹐現在又發現手機這種便利的 媒介能讓他們發揮自己的創造力﹐把作品放到互聯網上。對讀者來說(大部分是十幾歲的女孩子﹐她們用手機做各種各樣的事情﹐從寫群日志到聽音樂)﹐這種被稱 為手機小說的新体裁﹐是一種正在興起的最新娛樂形式。

大部分手機小說都沒有經過精雕細琢﹐它們語言簡單﹐場景單一﹐而且幾乎總是圍繞著愛 情和友情這種大眾熟悉的主題。儘管如此﹐這類小說卻非常受歡迎﹐出版商也欣喜若狂。據Research Institute for Publications統計﹐1996年至2006年﹐日本的紙質圖書銷量下降了15%。

有些手機小說還被印刷出版﹐銷量達數百萬冊﹐ 高踞暢銷書排行榜之首。《愛情天空》是目前為止最成功的手機小說之一﹐它講述了一個患有癌癥的男孩為了不讓女友因自己死去而痛苦﹐主動與她分手了。目前此 書銷量已達130萬冊﹐而且還被改編成電影﹐預計將於11月在日本各大影院上映。











手 機小說的出現大約是在7年前。當時﹐基於社區的網站Maho i-Land推出了一些易於使用的功能﹐用戶可為自己寫的故事配上封面並分章節﹐使其就像真正的書一樣。大約3年前﹐電話運營商開始提供高速手機上網業務 ﹐並下調了數據傳輸費用﹐實行統一價格﹐之後手機小說就開始了飛速發展。手機用戶可以不限時的上網﹐而每月費用不到50美元。

現 有600萬名會員的Maho i-Land表示﹐在實行統一價格後﹐手機上網費用減少了一半﹐在此之前該網站上的網絡小說只有30萬本左右﹐而現在超過了100萬本。日本最大的手機運 營商NTT移動通訊(NTT DoCoMo Inc.)援引行業數據稱﹐今年手機小說和手機動漫服務的銷售額預計將增長一倍以上﹐從去年的約9,000萬美元上升到2億美元。

手機小 說作者們喜歡即時地獲得讀者反饋﹐這可以鼓勵他們繼續寫下去﹐他們甚至會改變故事的情節發展來迎合讀者。當然﹐讀者和作者之間的密切互動有時會太過頻繁。 現年27歲的女作者Chaco(筆名)兩年前寫了一個名為《天使給了我什麼》的悲情愛情故事﹐曾經非常受歡迎﹐每天有25,000名讀者上網瀏覽。但是不 願透露自己真實姓名的Chaco表示﹐她也感到壓力很大﹐為了取悅讀者﹐她每天都要進行更新﹐並回復讀者的評論。

身材嬌小、衣著整洁的Chaco說﹐她每晚只能睡一兩個小時。她的手機會在凌晨4點因粉絲們發來的短信而響鈴。最後她把自己在Maho i-Land網站上的網頁移到了一個私人網站上﹐為的是能更好控制讀者的反饋過程。

網 絡上最受歡迎的手機小說在書店裡也往往會熱銷。東京一家小型出版社Starts Publishing Corp.就是最早從出版手機小說中獲利的商家之一﹐當時Chaco的一個粉絲打電話來﹐懇求他們出版她最喜歡的小說。這本小說銷售了44萬冊。 Starts Publishing Corp.和其他幾家出版社已經出版了20多本Maho i-Land上最流行的小說。

為了提高銷 量﹐出版社會特別注意書的裝幀設計﹐因為有些讀者買書並不是為了閱讀﹐而是為了收藏。《晴朗》講述的是一個妓女和一個男妓之間的愛情故事﹐書的封面覆有一 個透明的皮書套﹐上面畫著一條床單。為了保持作者的神秘性﹐並使那些以親身經歷為素材寫作的人能保護其隱私﹐出版商鼓勵作者不要暴露自己的真實身份。

有 些紙質小說作者﹐比如現年37歲﹐以大膽描寫性、愛和單身母親著稱的Yuzuki Muroi卻對手機小說嗤之以鼻。在去年一個手機小說獲獎作者頒獎典禮上﹐Muroi明確表示了對這種体裁的不認同。她說﹐不幸的是手機小說中充斥了對話 和心理描寫﹐而幾乎沒有背景、場景或人物發展。





Yukari Iwatani Kane

A Novel Approach -- Via Cellphone
WHEN SATOMI Nakamura uses her cellphone, she has to be extra careful to take frequent breaks. That is because she isn't just chatting. The 22-year-old homemaker has recently finished writing a 200-page novel titled 'To Love You Again' entirely on her tiny cellphone screen, using her right thumb to tap the keys and her pinkie to hold the phone steady. She got so carried away last month that she broke a blood vessel on her right little finger.

'PCs might be easier to type on, but I've had a cellphone since I was in sixth grade, so it's easier for me to use,' says the soft-spoken Ms. Nakamura, who has written eight novels on her little phone. More than 2,000 readers followed her latest story, about childhood sweethearts who reunite in high school, as she updated it every day on an Internet site.

In Japan, the cellphone is stirring the nation's long-staid fiction market. Young amateur writers in their teens and 20s who long ago mastered the art of zapping off emails and blogs on their cellphones, find it a convenient medium in which to loose their creative energies and get their stuff onto the Internet. For readers, mostly teenage girls who use their phones for an increasingly wide range of activities from writing group diaries to listening to music, the mobile novel, as the genre is called, is the latest form of entertainment on the go.

Most of these novels are unpolished, with simple language and skimpy scene-setting. They are almost always on familiar themes about love and friendship. Nonetheless, they are hugely popular, and publishers are delighted. Book sales in Japan fell 15% between 1996 and 2006, according to the Research Institute for Publications.

Several of these cellphone novels have been turned into real books, selling millions of copies and topping the best-seller lists. One of the biggest successes so far: 'Love Sky,' about a boy with cancer who breaks up with his girlfriend to spare her the pain of his death, has sold more than 1.3 million copies and is being made into a movie due out in November.

The style of many mobile novels is influenced by comic books the young writers grew up reading. That means lots of dialogue and really short paragraphs, which fit nicely on a small screen. Huge empty spaces between sentences can convey that the characters are deep in thought.

In 'To Love You Again,' Shuhei, a high-school boy, ushers his childhood sweetheart, Kaori, into an empty science room for a moment of privacy before class when someone locks the door. The following sequence goes like this:

Kin Kon Kan Kon (sound of school bell ringing)


The school bell rang


'Sigh. We're missing class'


She said with an annoyed expression.

The trick is to envision a movie screen inside your head and translate those images into words, says Ms. Nakamura, the housewife with the sore pinkie.

Mobile novels started about seven years ago when the community-based Web site, Maho i-Land, began offering easy-to-use features that let users write a story with a cover page and chapters like a real book. The trend really took off about three years ago, after phone operators began offering high-speed mobile Internet and affordable flat-rate plans for transmitting data. That allowed users to access the Internet as much as they wanted to for less than $50 a month.

Maho i-Land, which is now bustling with six million members, says the number of mobile novels on its site has jumped to more than a million today from about 300,000 before the flat-rate plans cut phone bills in half. According to industrywide data cited by NTT DoCoMo Inc., Japan's largest cellphone operator, sales from mobile book and comic services are expected to more than double this year, to more than $200 million from about $90 million last year.

Mobile-novel writers like getting instant feedback from readers. That encourages them to keep going or even to change the story to suit readers. Of course, the close interaction between reader and writer can sometimes be too much. A 27-year-old woman, who wrote a sad love story called 'What the Angel Gave Me' under the pen name Chaco, became so popular two years ago that she had 25,000 unique online visitors a day. But Chaco, who won't disclose her real name, says she also felt pressured to update her novel and respond to comments every day to keep her readers happy.

'I was getting only one to two hours of sleep a night,' says Chaco, a petite, neatly dressed woman. Her phone was ringing with email messages from fans at 4 a.m. She eventually moved her Web page off the Maho i-Land's Web site onto a private site, where she has more control over the feedback process.

The novels with the most online readers also tend to sell well in the bookstores. Starts Publishing Corp., a small Tokyo publisher, was one of the first to take advantage of this genre when a Chaco fan called up and begged the company to turn her favorite story into a book. It sold 440,000 copies. Starts and a few other firms have turned more than two dozen of the most heavily accessed stories on Maho i-Land into real books.

To boost sales, publishers have paid special attention to book design because some readers buy them as mementos rather than to read. 'Clearness,' a romantic tale of a female and male prostitute, has a transparent book jacket overlaid on the cover with the image of a bed sheet. To preserve the mystique of the authors and to protect the privacy of authors who have written stories based on their personal experience, publishers encourage them to keep their real identities a secret.

Some published authors like Yuzuki Muroi, a 37-year-old known for her blunt essays on sex, love and single motherhood, scoff at the new genre. At an award ceremony for prize-winning mobile novelists last year, Ms. Muroi made clear her disapproval. 'What is unfortunate is that your stories are mostly a string of conversation and emotion, and there is almost no setting, scene, or character development,' she said.

A spokeswoman for Ms. Muroi, who was one of the judges for the contest last year, says she declined to participate this year.

Still, fans of mobile novels say the best of them are absorbing to read. It isn't clear yet how much staying power the genre will have, or whether authors who have written stories based on their own experiences will run out of ideas.

But some mobile novelists are determined to not let that happen. Chaco wants to turn writing into a career and says she is trying to improve her style.

'I used to write whatever came to my mind without giving it much thought,' she says. 'But now I think a lot more about story development rather than dialogue.'

Yukari Iwatani Kane

天下餅 tenka mochi

「織田がつき羽柴がこねし天下餅 すわりしままに くらう徳川」という歌がある。戦国の乱れた世を統一する事業は、織田信長が土台を固め、豊臣秀吉がその事業を継承し、そのあとの徳川家康が江戸幕府を開き、天下統一の事業を完成させた。 .

Just as predicted, it was Fukuda who "ate" the tenka mochi mentioned in an old comic tanka poem. The tenka mochi was a proverbial rice cake "kneaded by Oda Nobunaga (1534-1582), pounded by Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1537-1598) and eaten sitting by Tokugawa Ieyasu (1542-1616)." It means Ieyasu finally unified Japan and founded the Tokugawa Shogunate.



Incredibly, this wooden mask survived virtually intact since it was carved from evergreen oak around the first half of the third century, which spans the late Yayoi Pottery Culture 彌生文化 (ca 300BC-ca 300AD) to early Kofun 古墳 periods.

The mask, which was excavated from the Makimuku ruins in Sakurai, Nara Prefecture, is the oldest found in this country, the city's board of education said Wednesday. (HIROYUKI YAMAMOTO/ THE ASAHI SHIMBUN)

2007年9月24日 星期一

2007年9月23日 星期日


まくらのそうし ―さうし 【枕草子】



"Makura no Soshi" (The Pillow Book), a collection of essays by the Heian Period (794-1185) writer and lady of the court Sei Shonagon, includes a story about receiving a gift of Chinese confectionery from Fujiwara no Yukinari, a court official who was known for his calligraphic skills.

The present was heidan, a rice cake with a filling. In her thank-you note, which she sent with a twig of red Japanese apricot, Sei Shonagon wrote: 'How cold of you not to bring it to me in person," using the Japanese word reitan for cold. It was a play on words by the talented woman.

I don't know whether cool Yukinari was attracted to the older woman, but the custom of sending presents to women seems to be common to all ages and cultures. In an affluent society, the present could be something like a bouquet or accessories. In the old days, food must also have been appreciated.

...Actually, it is said that Yukinari, who was among the best-looking and most cultured among court officials, was Sei Shonagon's favorite.

2007年9月22日 星期六


antenna shop 在西洋是賣種種衛星相關器材和服務之公司/店
在日本 它是各地方土產到東京社設的鄉土產品等之前哨站 可以推廣土產 讓遊子懷鄉

From samurai armor to meat, prefectural products find home in Tokyo



Prefectural governments have concluded that they need the capital to make capital.

More than 30 prefectural governments have opened "antenna shops" in fashionable places in Tokyo, including Ginza, Yurakucho, Shinjuku and Ikebukuro, to promote local products and sightseeing places in their prefectures.

The strategy appears to be paying off. Sales have increased and young people are growing more aware of attractions outside of Tokyo.

In addition, the shops are attracting people originally from those prefectures but who cannot return during the holiday seasons.

The Miyagi Furusato (hometown) Plaza, an antenna shop in Ikebukuro of the Miyagi prefectural government, is widely known among fans of medieval armor worn by samurai warriors.

At the shop, customers can wear armor similar to the one worn by local medieval warlord Date Masamune, free of charge.

The antenna shop is located near the Sunshine 60 skyscraper and is also close to "Otome (girls) Road," where anime fans gather.

The Miyagi prefectural government chose the location partly because it assumed young people who like to wear costumes of anime characters would also like to don armor of samurai warriors.

On a Sunday in early August, several groups of visitors wore the 18-kilogram armor shown on the second floor of the shop.

One of them, Kazue Kurihara, a 17-year-old second-year student at senior high school, said: "The armor is heavy and my neck is getting tired. Were samurai warriors really able to fight in battles while wearing such heavy armor?"

She visited the shop along with family members.

Every month, about 30 people, most of them women, wear the armor. Photos of the people clad in armor are pasted on the walls of the shop.

The second floor also offers sightseeing information that visitors can read while waiting for their turn to pretend to be a samurai warrior.

"It may be just a kind of kosupure (dressing up in anime character costumes). But if the armor leads to increased interest in Miyagi Prefecture, we are happy," said Kiyoshi Yokota, manager of the antenna shop.

The antenna shop of Miyazaki Prefecture has turned to something more contemporary to promote its products: popular comedian-turned-politician Hideo Higashikokubaru.

The shop, named Shinjuku Miyazaki-kan Konne, is located on the Southern Terrace promenade near the South Exit of JR Shinjuku Station.

Local products promoted on TV by Higashikokubaru, who became governor in January this year, have steadily grown more popular.

The products include jidori, or local chicken meat.

"Sales of the shop have doubled compared with those in (the corresponding periods of) conventional years," said Daisuke Hidaka, an official of the prefectural government's Products Promotion Center, which operates the antenna shop.

Annual sales will easily exceed the fiscal 2006 total of about 400 million yen, he added.

Yusuke Kono, 27, who grew up in Miyazaki Prefecture but is now an elementary school teacher in Yokohama, said at the venue last month, "I feel a bit nostalgic when I see 'made-in-Miyazaki' products."

He had no plans to return to the prefecture during the summer holidays.

The opening of a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts shop nearby in December last year has helped to bring customers to the Miyazaki antenna shop.

Similar benefits are also being enjoyed by a Hiroshima Prefecture antenna shop located near Shinjuku Miyazaki-kan Konne.

Sales at Hiroshima Yume (dream) Terrace have increased by 50 percent so far this year compared to the same period last year.

"The number of young customers has increased," said Kensuke Kamemoto, an official of the Tokyo office of the Hiroshima prefectural government.

One reason why prefectural governments are eager to set up shop in Tokyo is because they can quickly gauge the popularity of their products.

In Niigata Prefecture's shop named Omotesanto Niigata-kan Nespace, shop clerks check the popularity of 850 products, including sake and food, every three months.

Unpopular products are removed from the counters, and prefectural officials give advice to their manufacturers on how to make their items more attractive.

Popular products are transferred to permanent counters.

"Sales (of products) are the biggest means for communication with customers," said Chizuru Hatada, a vice councilor of the Japan Center for Regional Development.

The center was set up by local governments and private companies to promote local revitalization.

"Antenna shops can obtain information (from customers) through the sales and convey it to local manufacturers. By doing so, they can help the manufacturers raise the popularity of their products," Hatada said.

She said the prefectures were helped in part by the collapse of the asset-inflated "bubble" economy and the closure of some bank branches in central Tokyo.

"The prefectural governments were able to obtain good places for their antenna shops," Hatada said.(IHT/Asahi: September 22,2007)

Novartis moves against Ritalin after surge in addictions

Novartis to push for Ritalin to be removed from drug list

Pharmaceutical giant Novartis Pharma K.K. is expected to apply to the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry to have the psychotropic drug Ritalin removed from a list of drugs used to treat intractable and protracted depression that are covered by health insurance, it has been learned.

Abuse of the drug has become widespread among young people who have become dependent on it.

The Minato Ward, Tokyo-based firm plans to make the application to the ministry in the near future after gaining approval from psychiatric and neurological academic societies.

According to the ministry, it is extremely rare for a pharmaceutical firm to apply to have a drug removed from such a list for treatment of a disease.

Ritalin is the brand name for methylphenidate hydrochloride--a central nervous system stimulant.

It was first marketed in 1958, and also was found in 1978 to be effective in the treatment of the sleep disorder narcolepsy.

Ritalin was initially prescribed to treat mild depression, but as it is highly addictive and can excite or stimulate patients, many patients would request large doses of the drug from clinics or pharmacists.

Abuse of the drug increased rapidly during the 1990s, leading to its supply being restricted in 1998 to those with intractable or protracted depression.

However, sales of the drug increased, with 33.7 million pills being sold in 2006--up 20 percent from 2002.

(Sep. 22, 2007)

Company moves against Ritalin after surge in addictions



A pharmaceutical company wants the government to end health insurance coverage for the stimulant drug Ritalin in treating depression because widespread abuse of the system by patients and doctors has led to addictions.

Novartis Pharma KK, based in Tokyo's Minato Ward, produces and distributes Ritalin, a central nervous system stimulant containing methylphenidate hydrochloride that has been approved as anti-depression medicine.

The company will soon ask the health ministry to withdraw the drug from the list of medicine considered effective against depression under the Pharmaceutical Affairs Law.

If the withdrawal of Ritalin from the list is accepted, use of the drug for depression will not be covered by health insurance.

Patients can still obtain Ritalin, but they will have to pay the full amount for the drug.

The company hopes the extra personal cost for Ritalin will prevent or end people's addiction to the drug.

After receiving the withdrawal request, the ministry will consult the Pharmaceutical Affairs and Food Sanitation Council to make a final decision.

According to the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare, it is extremely rare for a drug maker to seek the withdrawal of its medicine due to improper use.

Novartis Pharma earlier discussed the matter with academics and psychiatrists.

In 1958, when Ritalin was approved for use in Japan, patients with mild cases of depression could use the drug.

However, in 1998, Ritalin was designated for use only for sufferers of intractable prolonged depression.

In 1978, Ritalin was also put on the list of drugs effective against narcolepsy, a disorder involving the frequent and uncontrollable desire to sleep.

Ritalin is also used to treat children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The company fears that people have become addicted to the state of arousal caused by Ritalin, and that people are faking symptoms of depression to get prescriptions for the drug.

Narcolepsy, on the other hand, can be diagnosed with electroencephalographic tests and other scientific means.

Novartis Pharma will not remove Ritalin from the lists for narcolepsy or ADHD.

Ritalin is not the only drug for depression. There are new medications on the market that are just as effective as Ritalin for patients of depression, the company said.

Novartis Pharma said that since the mid-1990s, it has given papers to doctors requesting they make strict diagnoses of patients and proper prescriptions of Ritalin.

But some doctors have apparently been giving out prescriptions too easily, the company said.(IHT/Asahi: September 22,2007)

EU fines YKK, other zip-makers 328 mil. euros for cartels








The European Commission said Wednesday it has fined seven companies, including Japan's YKK group, a total of 328.6 million euros (about 53 billion yen) for price-fixing cartels in markets for fasteners and their attaching machines in Europe and worldwide.

The executive body of the European Union imposed the largest individual fine of 150.3 million euros on YKK. This is the largest fine imposed by the commission on a Japanese company for forming a cartel.

The other fines in this latest cartel case include 122.4 million euros for Britain's Coasts group and 40.5 million euros for Germany's Prym group.

The commission said it found four separate infringements in which these companies agreed on coordinated price increases, fixed minimum prices, allocated customers, shared markets and exchanged other commercially important and confidential information.

"It is unacceptable that the major fastening technology producers colluded for such a long time to maintain artificial price levels and to share customers and markets for products which are used every day by a lot of consumers," EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes said in a statement.

YKK said in a statement, "We will comment as early as possible after examining the contents of the EU action."

The fine imposed on the Prym group was smaller than those on others because it was the first to provide information about the cartels to the commission.

Smaller reductions of fines were granted to the YKK and Coats groups as they also cooperated with the commission in its investigation.

2007年9月19日 星期三

In Japan, Stagnation Wins Again

嘿 日本人寫這種英文見解

Op-Ed Contributor

In Japan, Stagnation Wins Again

Published: September 18, 2007

Inbamura, Japan

SHINZO ABE, who stepped down as prime minister last week, is what we call in Japan an “obocchan.” An obocchan is a type of well-to-do, slightly spoiled child of a powerful family. Mr. Abe may have been an obocchan but, wanting to be liked by everyone, he made efforts to address the concerns of the working class. Yet despite his efforts, most Japanese felt that he was unaware of working-class issues, and that — more than any political scandals the press has been crowing about — may have been his undoing.

More broadly, while most people liked Mr. Abe and believed him to be smart, the Japanese news media often called him “Kuuki ga Yomenai” or, for short, “K. Y.” “Kuuki” means “air” and “yomenai” means “cannot read.” Not being able to read the air means that you don’t know that your guest wants another cup of tea or that you should be serving cold tea because it is a hot day. Reading the air is an essential trait for a Japanese politician.

This shortcoming put Mr. Abe at a severe disadvantage compared with his predecessor, Junichiro Koizumi. Mr. Koizumi is famous not only for being the master of reading the air but also for his unmatched ability to ignore the advice of the political elite. I would call this the “sonnano kankeinei” style. The catchphrase of a popular Japanese comedian whose routine has spread widely on YouTube, sonnano kankeinei is a crude way of saying, “So what? I don’t care.” It would be an uncommon attitude for a politician even in America, and in Japan was simply unprecedented.

It was a tough act to follow, and Mr. Abe tried to read the air but ended up following too much advice and yielding to the various centers of power and special interests to which his Liberal Democratic Party has owed its 50-year near monopoly. The result, unsurprisingly, was wishy-washy, ineffective policy.

For instance, he had the right idea in trying to shake up the government’s stagnant bureaucracy. But instead of taking on a single group of bureaucrats in a winnable battle — as Mr. Koizumi did when he pushed through a bill privatizing the postal system in 2005 — Mr. Abe tried to change the broader fundamental laws governing federal agencies. The bureaucrats and their supporters in the Parliament turned on him, and he was stuck in a fight he couldn’t win. Very K. Y.

The biggest example of his weakness, however, came when the government lost the pension records of 50 million workers. In most countries, this would have caused a riot, if not a revolution. Although concerns over possible missing records spread among the public late last year, Mr. Abe did not act until the spring.

Many in the public felt he delayed because the government bureaucrats and business executives closest to him probably didn’t know anyone who was affected by the mismanagement of the records. Possibly, but again I think his failure stemmed not from his insulation but from his crippling Kuuki ga Yomenai.

These sorts of misjudgments, combined with the string of scandals resulted in the resignation of several cabinet members and the suicide of another, were what most pundits feel caused the Liberal Democrats’ disastrous showing at the polls in July. To some extent that is true. But another huge factor that went to alienating voters was concerns over what the government and news media like to call Japan’s current economic “recovery.”

The problem is that most Japanese know that the so-called recovery is fueled by exports to China, particularly construction materials and energy. The steel, cement and coal companies are prospering. Chinese money is filling the coffers of the industries that have fueled the political system since World War II and were a big part of the bubble collapse that has left the economy stagnant for more than a decade.

Chinese demand is pumping up the value of the large raw materials and construction companies, trading firms with positions in commodities like coal, and businesses that sell overseas. But most domestic companies are seeing only an increase in their raw material costs without a significant increase in demand or margins locally.

Most of this money is viewed as sloshing around in the markets and the bank accounts of the elite, with very little trickling down to small companies or the average salaryman. One of my favorite indicators of the word on the street is the Tokyo taxi drivers, and when I bring up the subject, every one asks me something along the lines of, “Why do they keep saying that our economy has recovered?”

The other problem with this “recovery” is that it reinforces the old stereotype that Japan’s strength lies in construction and exports. While this was a good strategy for the postwar recovery, it now slows down reform and diverts valuable human and public resources from the stunted service and high-tech industries that Japan needs for long-term growth.

It’s no coincidence that before he entered politics, Mr. Abe was an executive at Kobe Steel. And his successor will be more of the same: the two contenders for his job both have backgrounds in raw materials. Taro Aso’s family company is one of the largest mining and cement concerns in Japan, and Yusuo Fukuda’s business experience is in oil.

This reflects a fundamental problem with Japanese politics. In a policy supported in part by the American fear of the threat of communism, the conservative Liberal Democrats stamped out all liberal resistance by either destroying the careers of members of the opposition or co-opting them. This resulted in a single-party system, with disputes negotiated and settled within the Liberal Democratic Party though a complicated process of factions and committees.

Many Japanese called this a “democracy in democracy.” Perhaps, but this democracy in democracy was only visible to those in power and is managed mostly through a system of pork-barrel politics.

In July, the people had had enough and voted against the ruling party, but the result could be even worse. In deposing Mr. Abe, who despite being part of an old political family was still something of an outsider, they will see a return of the Liberal Democrats’ old guard.

Nor is the opposition any better. The leader of the Democratic Party of Japan is Ichiro Ozawa, a student of Kakuei Tanaka, the prime minister who in the 1970s fashioned a public-funds-for-votes system and “rebuilt” Japan by paving the countryside with concrete.

Perhaps there is a silver lining: the weakness of the Liberal Democrats may give us the first sustained period of two-party politics since 1955. If so, the real question is whether it will allow any fresh blood in the political system.

Unfortunately, Japanese politics is a time-consuming and thankless task. Young entrepreneurial types shun public service. Mr. Koizumi made a serious effort to get people from outside the old party to run, but most of those young politicians have already dropped out. (I’ve rejected entreaties by both parties to run for office and have no regrets; according to my friends in junior positions in the Liberal Democratic Party, their first years have been spent in minor working groups, never being allowed to speak up at or attend any meetings of importance.)

The heart of the problem is that true multiparty politics should have started in Japan decades ago. Soon the members of our own postwar baby boom will be retiring. The looming crisis of a bankrupt Japan, a overburdened pension system and a corporate ecology of pumped-up old-economy companies will be upon us.

The man on the street knows this, but in a country that boasts of never having had a successful revolt of the people, or even a popular uprising resulting in significant reforms, it’s unlikely that such awareness will be enough to punch through the K. Y. elite and make things change.

Maybe it’s time for a revolution.

Joichi Ito is the chief executive of a venture capital firm and chairman of Creative Commons, a nonprofit group that develops flexible copyright arrangements.














2007年09月11日 | 國際新聞
2006年09月11日 | 國際新聞
2005年11月20日 | 科技健康
2003年11月29日 | 中文網主頁
2003年03月28日 | 中文網主頁
2002年12月14日 | 中文網主頁

2007年9月18日 星期二















徽宗 12世紀 絹本着色


個である生命が長く記憶や口伝で生き長らえるためには、絵や伝承といった形で抽象概念化される必要があるのでしょうね。いや、時や人を経る数が多いほど抽 象概念になっていかざるをえないのです。作家の残した作品を読み、触れて、我々が作家の人となりを自分の中で手前勝手に形成していくように。


約7小時後 看到英文有不同角度報導

Wal-Mart's Japan unit cuts jobs, sees bigger loss

Tue Sep 18, 2007 10:53 AM BST139

[-] Text [+]

TOKYO (Reuters) - Wal-Mart Stores Inc's (WMT.N: Quote, Profile , Research) Japanese unit, Seiyu Ltd (8268.T: Quote, NEWS , Research), boosted its annual loss forecast by 76 percent due to a charge to cut about 7 percent of its work force as it battles sluggish sales.

The world's largest retailer has invested more than $1 billion in the 393-store Japanese supermarket chain since 2002, but has yet to see anything more than temporary upswings in sales amid tough competition with rivals such as Aeon Co (8267.T: Quote, NEWS , Research).

Seiyu is headed for its sixth straight annual loss in 2007, giving rise to speculation that Wal-Mart may consider withdrawing from Japan, the world's second-largest retail market, as it did from South Korea and Germany last year.

Seiyu, 53.6 percent owned by Wal-Mart, said it would offer early retirement for 450 employees out of a group work force of about 6,500. The program mainly targets headquarters staff and there are currently no plans for shop closures, Seiyu said.

It will book a charge of 4.5 billion yen ($39.15 million) for the program, and accordingly widened its 2007 group net loss forecast by that amount to 10.4 billion yen. The retailer kept its forecasts for operating profit and sales unchanged.

Seiyu, which eliminated about 1,600 jobs in 2004, said this would be the last time it needed to carry out big job cuts.

"I don't think we will need this kind of restructuring (in the future)," Seiyu Chief Operating Officer Toru Noda told a news conference, adding that he also did not expect the retailer would need to close stores.

Prior to the earnings announcement, shares of Seiyu ended down 7.5 percent at 86 yen. The stock has shed about 38 percent since the start of 2007, underperforming a 22 percent fall in Japan's retail sector subindex during the same period.

It has lost four-fifths of its value since Wal-Mart first took a small stake in May 2002.

西友が早期希望退職者450人募集 赤字は100億円超


 米ウォルマート・ストアーズ傘下の大手スーパー、西友は18日、地域子会社5社を含む正社員約450人の早期希望退職を実施すると発表した。退職金とし て想定する45億円を特別損失に計上する結果、07年12月期の当期赤字は59億円(8月時点予想)から104億円に拡大する見通し。6期連続の赤字とな る中、いっそうの経費削減や事業効率化を目指す考えだ。

 希望退職の期間は10月8~31日。44~59歳で勤続3年以上の正社員が対象。該当する社員は全社員約6500人の3割に相当し、管 理職が中心になる見込みだ。ウォルマートの傘下に入った02年以降、西友が人員を削減するのは、04年に1600人規模で実施したのに続いて2度目。


2007年9月17日 星期一



Encyclopedia of KYOTO



Rokusai Nennbutsu












 全国には、道空による干菜寺系(ほしなじけい)、奈良 高野山系なども残る



 梅津六斎念仏(梅宮大社 嵯峨天皇祭)
 小山郷六斎念仏(上善寺 六地蔵めぐり
 桂六斎念仏(地蔵寺 六地蔵めぐり
 吉祥院六斎念仏(吉祥院天満宮 夏期大祭)
 久世六斎念仏(蔵王堂光福寺 八朔祭法楽会)
 嵯峨野六斎念仏(阿弥陀寺 地蔵盆)
 嵯峨野六斎念仏(松尾大社 八朔祭)
 千本六斎念仏(引接寺 千本ゑんま堂 精霊送り)
 中堂寺六斎念仏(壬生寺 精霊送り)、(伏見稲荷大社 御旅所
 壬生六斎念仏(壬生寺 精霊迎え)



 円覚寺六斎(円覚寺 盂蘭盆奉納)
 空也踊躍念仏(六波羅蜜寺 かくれ念仏)
 西方寺六斎念仏(西方寺 送り火法要


 紫雲山 極楽院 光勝寺(現在の空也堂極楽院)が本山




 干菜山 齋教院 安養殿 光福寺を本山とする

 円爾辨円の弟子 道空が、師命により念仏門に転じて、天帝釈の感得を得て開創する









表紙 ・  京都の歴史・経緯    ・  京都の地理    ・  京都の神社 ・  京都の寺院
      京都の伝統文化・芸術 ・  京都の生活文化 ・  京都の観光 ・  日本・世界の京都

[関連]空也上人  時宗  六地蔵めぐり  地蔵寺  上善寺  梅宮大社  松尾大社  六波羅蜜寺    歌舞伎  伏見稲荷大社 御旅所  五山の送り火  豊臣秀吉
[京ペディア ブログ]  六斎念仏

checking kanji on cellphones

這種多利用手機查漢字的趨勢 我們報導過

More people checking kanji on cellphones



Dictionaries are giving way to cellphones when it comes to checking kanji, according to a survey by the Agency for Cultural Affairs.

The survey found nearly 80 percent of people in their 20s turn to cellphones more frequently than to print, electronic or online dictionaries when they do not know how to write Chinese characters.

More people are using their cellphones' kanji-conversion function for e-mail messages to find the correct way to write difficult characters.

The survey, based on interviews held in February and March with 1,943 people 16 or older, focused on the use of kanji.

One question asked respondents to choose the means they use when they are not sure how to write kanji. Multiple choices were allowed.

The print dictionary topped the list, cited by 60.6 percent of the respondents. But the cellphone, with 35.3 percent, came in at second place.

Meanwhile, 21.3 percent picked the personal computer or word processor, with its similar conversion function, 19.4 percent said they preferred the electronic dictionary, while 10.1 percent chose the Internet dictionary.

"We did not expect that the cellphone would rank above the electronic dictionary," said an official at the agency's Japanese Language Division.

"The finding symbolizes a modern society where the cellphone is used as a versatile tool in everyday life. This will affect government policies on kanji."

Some 40.8 percent of women selected the cellphone while 28.9 percent of the men said it was their choice.

For respondents in their teens to 30s, the cellphone was the most popular choice.

The survey also found that the kanji conversion functions of cellphones and other devices have made it easier for people to use complicated kanji.

The survey found that 78.9 percent of the respondents use hiragana for the word "utsu"鬱 (depression) when they write it.

But 71.5 percent said they use the 29-stroke kanji character, arguably one of the hardest to write from memory, when they type the word on cellphones or other devices.

"For young people, kanji is something they type (from the cellphone pad or the personal computer keyboard) rather than write with their hands," said author Tatsuro Dekune. "The ability to write correct kanji may be considered inconsequential someday."(IHT/Asahi: September 17,2007)

2007年9月16日 星期日

Tatsuo Takayama 高山辰雄 高野山「投華の軌跡」

高山辰雄氏死去 日本画家、文化勲章受章者

2007年9月14日 18時14分

 高山 辰雄氏(たかやま・たつお=日本画家、文化勲章受章者)14日午後4時19分、肺炎のため東京都内の自宅で死去、95歳。大分市出身。葬儀・告別式の日取り、喪主は未定。

  東京美術学校(現東京芸大)卒。ゴーギャンの生き方に感動して、46年に制作した「浴室」が日展の特選に選ばれ、出世作となった。人間や自然を凝視する精 神性の高い画境を深め、65年「穹」で芸術選奨文部大臣賞。72年日本芸術院会員。重厚な画風で新しい日本画を開拓した業績などで82年、文化勲章を受章 した。




ORBITUARY: Painter Tatsuo Takayama


Tatsuo Takayama, 高山辰雄 a Japanese painter awarded the Order of Culture in 1982 for innovation of the art, died of pneumonia Friday at his home in Tokyo's Setagaya Ward.
He was 95.

A member of the Japan Art Academy, Takayama had gained respect for his works displayed at the prestigious Nitten exhibitions.

He led the postwar Japanese-style painting movement together with Kaii Higashiyama and Yasushi Sugiyama.

His works adorn partitions at the Kongobuji Temple on Mount Koyasan, a holy Buddhist area in Wakayama Prefecture.

The Asahi Shimbun(IHT/Asahi: September 15,2007)




 痛いほど肌を刺す寒風が吹きすさぶ日であ った。海抜1000メートルの高野山・金剛三昧院多宝塔の板敷きの床は冷えきっていた。  日本画家・高山辰雄画伯はやおら靴下を脱ぎすて素足のまま歩き回った。
 うす暗い堂内に安置された五智如来像をじっと凝視する。素足から霊気を感じとり、その感触を心に刻み込んでいるように思える。 私の切るシャッター音だ けがやけに響く。 <何か>と対話しているように真剣な画伯表情を見ているとカメラを持つ手が萎えそうになる。 勇を鼓して構え直す。まったくこの画伯の 気迫には圧倒されるものがある。

 高山画伯が高野山・金剛峰寺に納める屏風絵を描くことになったと映画監督の村野鐵太郎さんから聞いた。その製作過程をハイビジョンVTRで記録する際、スチール写 真でなければ表現できないシーンがあって、それを撮ってみないかと誘われたのだ。
 撮影は厳寒の高野山から始まった。監督が私に要求したのは画伯のさまざまな表情と霊宝館にある仏像群の手や指先の形、僧衣や裳裾の襞、祈りの最中、印を結ぶ修業僧たち…の動きを一枚の写 真に定着させることであった。
 千年を経た老杉の大木に覆われた石畳の参道をはさんで無数の苔むした墓碑群。大きな画帳を小わきに抱えて画伯が歩いて来る。 時々立ち止まり、しゃがみ込み、凝視する。 

 「空気も土も眺めて飽きることはない。 自然は<何か>を持っている。何かがつかめたらと画面 の上に鉛筆で確かめる。極大の宇宙から極微の原子、生命の遺伝と神秘な領域の事柄まで、教えられるけど、迫ればまた遠くに行くようで、自然の持つ力、美しさの答えにはなってくれない。

 撮影がひと段落してようやく喫茶店で暖をとりコーヒーを啜って落ち着いた時、私は自分の写 真集を差し出した。画家を撮ったものや、美術関係の本ではない。湾岸戦争やドイツ統一、38度線やエトロフ島など世界の激動地を取材したものだ。 

 「君の写真はがさつだけれども、自然でいいね。<何か>を感じるよ」 私は画伯の写 真を見る眼をつくづく怖いと思った。  歴史が動く際の巨大な渦に巻き込まれ、両手をあげて、あっぷあっぷしながらも、できるだけ自然体で撮りたいと願う私の気分を正確に見抜かれていたからだ。
 春がきて桜の花が満開になった。大分は画伯が生まれ育ったふるさとである。幼い頃から臼杵の石仏や磨崖仏、国東半島などに愛着 が深い。両切りピースの煙を燻らせながらおだやかに語る。
 「時の流れという旅をしながらふと立ち止まり、思うことはこのふるさとであったかもしれない…、。そして、海も山も私の描くすべての源はもしかしたらここにあるのかもしれない。」ファインダーを通 して見た高野山での高山画伯は画家というよりも、むしろ哲学者の風貌を感じさせた。いや、求道者と表現したほうがいいのかもしれない。 だが、ふるさとの海や山に接した画伯は八十歳を超えたひととは思えないほど陽気でやんちゃであった。 幼い頃遊んだという大木の周りをはしゃいで歩き回った。姫島に渡るフェリーボートでは周囲の心配をよそにして、強風にも関わらず、舳先に身をのり出し飛び去る波を飽きずに眺めた。 無遠慮に、しつっこく追っかける私のカメラにも少し照れたり、はにかみもした。
 “なんという人なんだろう。”と正直驚いた。ますます、この桁外れの人物に興味が湧いてきた。 ハイビジョンVTRの撮影はこうして終了したが、その後も機会あるごとに私個人の取材として、現在も続いている。

 今世紀最大の障屏画と称される「投華-密教に入る」は製作決定から十六年の歳月を経て、昨年の九月、三部作の第一部として六曲一双が完成した。高野山・ 金剛峰寺での入魂式の当日、並び、立てられた屏風画を前にして淡々と挨拶をされる画伯を眺めながら、初めてシャッターを切った時以来あしかけ六年間を思い 起こしていた。




 痛いほど肌を刺す寒風が吹きすさぶ日であ った。海抜1000メートルの高野山・金剛三昧院多宝塔の板敷きの床は冷えきっていた。  日本画家・高山辰雄画伯はやおら靴下を脱ぎすて素足のまま歩き回った。
 うす暗い堂内に安置された五智如来像をじっと凝視する。素足から霊気を感じとり、その感触を心に刻み込んでいるように思える。 私の切るシャッター音だ けがやけに響く。 <何か>と対話しているように真剣な画伯表情を見ているとカメラを持つ手が萎えそうになる。 勇を鼓して構え直す。まったくこの画伯の 気迫には圧倒されるものがある。

 高山画伯が高野山・金剛峰寺に納める屏風絵を描くことになったと映画監督の村野鐵太郎さんから聞いた。その製作過程をハイビジョンVTRで記録する際、スチール写 真でなければ表現できないシーンがあって、それを撮ってみないかと誘われたのだ。
 撮影は厳寒の高野山から始まった。監督が私に要求したのは画伯のさまざまな表情と霊宝館にある仏像群の手や指先の形、僧衣や裳裾の襞、祈りの最中、印を結ぶ修業僧たち…の動きを一枚の写 真に定着させることであった。
 千年を経た老杉の大木に覆われた石畳の参道をはさんで無数の苔むした墓碑群。大きな画帳を小わきに抱えて画伯が歩いて来る。 時々立ち止まり、しゃがみ込み、凝視する。 

 「空気も土も眺めて飽きることはない。 自然は<何か>を持っている。何かがつかめたらと画面 の上に鉛筆で確かめる。極大の宇宙から極微の原子、生命の遺伝と神秘な領域の事柄まで、教えられるけど、迫ればまた遠くに行くようで、自然の持つ力、美しさの答えにはなってくれない。

 撮影がひと段落してようやく喫茶店で暖をとりコーヒーを啜って落ち着いた時、私は自分の写 真集を差し出した。画家を撮ったものや、美術関係の本ではない。湾岸戦争やドイツ統一、38度線やエトロフ島など世界の激動地を取材したものだ