奈良市の薬師寺で１日、国宝の東塔の解体修理が始まった。全面的に解体されるのは１世紀ぶり。来春までに塔全体を囲む鉄骨造り７階建ての素屋根（高さ ４２．５メートル）を設け、約７年かけて修理する。素屋根は塔北側で組み上げ、完成した部分から南側へずらしていくスライド工法で建設される。（編集委 員・小滝ちひろ）
BY KENICHI GOROMARU STAFF WRITER
Shiseido Co.'s "beauty volunteers" give free makeovers to victims of the Great East Japan Earthquake in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, on Aug. 10. (Kenichi Goromaru)Skylark Co. employees serve meals at an evacuation center in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, on Aug. 9. (Kenichi Goromaru)
Volunteerism has gained new impetus among companies in a ripple effect since the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Companies such as Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Olympus Corp. introduced volunteer leave systems after March 11; however many firms use a system where volunteers must get approval as to when they want to work as volunteers in quake-ravaged northeast Japan.
Corporate volunteerism took ground after the Great Hanshin Earthquake of 1995.
A younger employee at a major electric company requested leave in late June. He was given the OK by his supervisor because his leave time would not affect the company.
"My request would have been turned down if it was a busy time," he said.
Mitsubishi Corp. plans to send 1,200 employees to disaster-stricken areas this fiscal year, which ends in March 2012.
Nippon Keidanren (Japan Business Federation) sent 20 teams of volunteers, consisting of workers from about 50 companies, between April and early August.
But needs in the area have changed, said a Keidanren official.
"We will have to consider sending people who can help support reconstruction," the official said.
One day in early August, a prefab meeting room in Natori, Miyagi Prefecture, was filled with women's laughter.
"You are a totally different person now," one woman said.
"My family members will be surprised," said another.
Beauticians from cosmetics giant Shiseido Co. visited disaster-stricken areas and gave free makeovers and massage services to about 27,000 people who live in evacuation centers and temporary housing.
"I feel great after having my makeup done,"said 59-year-old Shizue Shoji. "I feel confident and up to a challenge."
Another woman, 56, said, "I didn't feel like wearing makeup immediately after the earthquake. But now I feel as if I am returning to an ordinary life a little. Makeup has a great magic."
Shiseido's activities were first started by local workers in the disaster-stricken areas.
"For women, makeup provides them a zest for living," said Kaeko Matsuda, a senior official at the company's Tohoku branch office. "It can be an opportunity for disaster survivors to exchange feelings."
At a sports park in Onagawa, Miyagi Prefecture, restaurant chain operator Skylark Co. employees prepared food for evacuees, who live in the gym.
The menu on a day in early August was sliced pork and boiled sanma with a soy sauce flavor.
Yoko Kimura, 60, whose apartment was submerged by the tsunami, said, "When I first ate rice and miso soup at the evacuation center, I couldn't help crying. I am grateful, just grateful, for being able to have a balanced diet every day."
Akio Maru, a Skylark employee who helped prepare meals, said, "I was so happy when an evacuee leaving the center shook my hand."
The company had provided about 200,000 meals at Onagawa and Kesennuma evacuation centers by mid-August, when municipal school-lunch centers reopened.
SMBC Nikko Securities Inc. sent nearly 400 new employees to clear debris in July as part of their new employee training. They were not given detailed instructions.
According to Masaki Yamada, company social responsibility director, the attempt bore an unexpected result.
"Everybody acted creatively, and their teamwork was enhanced," Yamada said.
BY IPPEI NAKATA STAFF WRITER
A former "Hula Girl," Junko Azuma (front), gives high school girls pointers on how to dance at the Akiba Square building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward. (Ippei Nakata)High school hula dancers practice (Ippei Nakata)
High school girls from around Japan will compete at the first Hula Girls Koshien contest at the Akiba Square building in front of Tokyo's JR Akihabara Station on Sept. 4.
The competition was supposed to be hosted by Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, where the 2006 Japanese movie "Hula Girls" was set, on March 23 but was postponed because of the Great East Japan Earthquake.
Girls from 13 high schools will compete. A joint practice session to help participants improve their skills and get to know each other was held on Aug. 22 at the Akihabara venue, with one of the original Hula Girls, Junko Azuma, providing instruction.
Eleven students from Tokyo's Asakusa Senior High School in Tokyo, Hanyu Daiichi Senior High School in Saitama Prefecture, and the Saitama Prefectural High School of the Arts attended the session.
Azuma, 44, was a former member of the hula dancers at the Joban Hawaiian Center resort, the forerunner of the Spa Resort Hawaiians, who were known as the "Hula Girls."
"Take a strong step," she told the students, "Stretch your leg slowly."
Erika Hirano, 16, a first-year student at the Asakusa Senior High School, said: "I want to give an energetic performance and make the audience want to dance along."
Rio Yoshida, 18, from Hanyu Daiichi Senior High School, said: "I want to enliven the mood at the event because the idea is to encourage reconstruction (following the earthquake). We practiced really hard, and we want to win the contest."
The movie "Hula Girls" is based on the true story of the creation of the Joban Hawaiian Center resort.
"Iwaki, whose main industry was coal mining, began to die in the 10 years after 1965," Kenichi Yoshida, the 39-year-old head of the competition's organizing committee said. "We managed to overcome the crisis by establishing the Hawaiian Center offering hula dance shows."
The city now finds itself in a new crisis because of the accident at the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant, immediately to its north.
"Like the Hula Girls who built the foundation for the revival of Iwaki, we expect the students who dance hula to be 'the symbol of reconstruction,'" Yoshida said.
The organizing committee was forced to move the event in the wake of the March 11 disaster, and decided on Tokyo because members wanted to get as much publicity as possible for the difficulties of Iwaki.
The event, which takes the "Koshien" part of its name from the national high school baseball tournament, will open at 12:30 p.m. on Sept. 4. The competition itself will start at 1 p.m. Admission is free. There are 350 seats as well as standing room.
A special event will also be held on Sept. 3 at the venue, with locally grown vegetables and other items from the Iwaki area on sale.
For more information, visit (http://www.hula-girls.net/index.html).
Vox Populi, Vox Dei is a daily column that runs on Page 1 of the vernacular Asahi Shimbun.
The 2006 Japanese movie "Hula Girls" is set in a decaying coal mining town in Iwaki, Fukushima Prefecture, in the 1960s. Based on the real-life Joban Hawaiian Center resort that opened in Iwaki in 1966, the town is planning to build a mock-Hawaiian resort, and a young woman (Yu Aoi) is interested in responding to a recruitment ad for hula dancers. She tells her mother (Junko Fuji) so during supper, but the mother admonishes her sternly: "Forget it. Hawaii in these boonies here in the northeast? Ain't happening."
But the struggling town sees its only hope of survival in the Joban Hawaiian Center, which will use the region's natural hot springs. Miners' daughters get busy practicing hula dancing, but many locals remain hostile to this new project because it only suggests the imminent closure of the coal mines.
A hula dance instructor arrives from Tokyo and makes an impassioned appeal: "You've got to understand that these girls are determined to save the community. That's why they've become such accomplished dancers."
The ardor of the project's supporters gradually turns nonbelievers into believers, and this "Hawaii of the Tohoku Region" blossomed into a successful venture. It has since been renamed Spa Resort Hawaiians, and attracts about 1.5 million visitors a year.
Then the March 11 quake and tsunami struck, followed by the Fukushima No. 1 nuclear power plant disaster 50 kilometers away. Spa Resort Hawaiians has been temporary shut down, and this is said to represent a worse crisis for the locals than when the coal mines closed.
About 30 hula girls, now out of work, will shortly begin performing in the Tokyo area and some parts of the Tohoku region, and later tour the nation. The last nationwide tour was just before the opening of the Joban Hawaiian Center, and it was to promote the new facility. The current tour will enable the dancers and disaster survivors to renew their resolve to revive their communities.
What transformed Iwaki's coal-sludge heaps into a tourist resort was the miners' sense of impending doom for their families and communities because of the moribund coal industry. Today, unfounded rumors of radioactive fallout are their bane. These people were made to pay--and are still being made to pay--for the nation's energy policy. My heart goes out to them.
Getting over the quake and tsunami damage will require far greater energy than developing a coal production center. The people of Iwaki will probably derive their energy from their love of family and community, but outsiders could also provide invaluable help, as did the hula dance instructor from Tokyo in the movie. And the greatest source of energy must lie in the town's young people, who must see their own future overlapping the nation's future. They will be like those hula girls who danced to revive their dying town.
--The Asahi Shimbun, April 9
* * *
国民健康保険（国保）の保険料を滞納し、財産を差し押さえられる世帯が増えている。朝日新聞社が１９の政令指定市と東京２３区に聞いたところ、回答が あった３７市区の差し押さえ件数の合計が、２０１０年度までの４年間で５倍に増えたことがわかった。差し押さえた財産を換金するケースも急増。雇用悪化を 背景に国保料収納率の低下に歯止めがかからず、強制徴収が加速している実態が浮き彫りになった。
調査は７月、計４２市区を対象に０６～１０年度の差し押さえ状況を聞いた。仙台、京都両市と東京都渋谷区は１０年度分について「未集計」「非公表の段 階」と回答。大田、板橋両区は「古いデータが残っていない」と答えた。残る３７市区の差し押さえ件数は０６年度、計３４２９件だったが、１０年度は ４．９６倍の計１万７０２０件に増加。特に指定市の伸びが大きく、増加率は６．６倍に上った。
１０年度でみると、指定市では横浜（２９１３件）、福岡（１７４５件）、名古屋（１２５４件）の順に多く、北九州は９９件だった。２３区は杉並区の ９４３件が最多。差し押さえた財産の内訳は預貯金が５０％で最も多く、保険（２２％）、不動産（１５％）と続いた。３６市区が回答を寄せた差し押さえ金額 （滞納額）は総額９１億３千万円。４年前に比べて４．６倍となった。
Series in which food writer and presenter Stefan Gates immerses himself in some of the most extraordinary feasts and festivals on earth. By joining ordinary people in these strange and wonderful distillations of their culture and beliefs, he hopes to gain a revelatory insight into how the world thinks and feels.
Stefan attempts to get under the skin of the traditional Japanese reserve by joining in some amazing feasts and festivals, a journey which culminates with Stefan and 10,000 Japanese men wearing nothing but loin cloths in a drunken rampage at a sacred Shinto temple.
He starts his trip by helping a Shinto priestess carry a six-foot wooden penis around a suburb of Tokyo, as she bemoans how kids today seem to have lost their traditional Japanese reserve, before joining the Baby Sumo festival where parents compete to get their children to cry first, to give them good luck for the rest of their lives.
Finally, he embarks on the most extraordinary event of his life - the Naked Man festival. He meets up with Mr Kosaki, a man from the classic Japanese mould who has never told his wife he loves her, who has forsaken his love of music to become a salaryman, and whose work consumes his life. He is as different from Stefan as anyone could hope to be, until his friends arrive and everything changes.
They get wildly drunk, practically naked, and stuff themselves with sushi. Then those still standing head off on a terrifying, barrier-wrecking festival that finally allows the Japanese man to reveal himself as passionate, expressive and loving as anyone. It is all rooted in centuries of Shinto food-related tradition, but is really a huge primal scream from men who spend their days unable to express themselves.
ON a chilly night last November on the tiny island of Naoshima in the Seto Inland Sea of southern Japan, I found myself alone in a dark concrete gallery, a sweater pulled over my pajamas. I was staying at the Benesse House Museum, a 10-room hotel set inside a contemporary art museum, on the island’s craggy southern coast, and still battling jet lag. So instead of tossing in bed, I visited the deserted galleries of the museum — guests of the hotel are permitted to wander beyond closing time. Before long, I was transfixed by Bruce Nauman’s art installation, “100 Live and Die,” a neon billboard of flashing phrases.
“CRY AND LIVE,” it read in large, glowing letters. “THINK AND DIE.” “SMILE AND LIVE.”
On my way to bed, I detoured past a whitewashed alphabet by Jasper Johns and the blue hues of a David Hockney swimming pool, the only sound in the galleries the scratching of my hotel slippers on the concrete floor. No guard hovered over Cy Twombly’s scribbles; no tour group blocked Jackson Pollock’s splatters. This was the essential appeal to the Benesse’s unusual hotel-within-a-museum setup: an exhilarating intimacy with art. The museum had been closed for more than an hour when I finally shuffled out of the gallery and crawled into bed.
That accessibility to art is not uncommon on Naoshima, where, thanks in large part to a corporate benefactor, a cultural convergence has been percolating over the past two decades, as museums, art installations, cutting-edge architecture and nature blend in astoundingly novel ways. The result is a sleepy island that has become an unlikely destination for globetrotting art pilgrims.
On that autumn night, I of course could not have known the terror that the following spring held for Japan or how frighteningly prescient some of Mr. Nauman’s glowing commands were. According to Yoshino Kawaura of the Naoshima Fukutake Art Museum Foundation, the area, which is about as far from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant as North Carolina is from New York, was not directly affected by the earthquake, tsunami and resulting rolling blackouts, or increased radiation levels. (Since April, the State Department’s travel alerts for Japan have advised visitors against traveling to destinations only within a 50-mile radius of the stricken nuclear plant on the northeastern coast; Naoshima is over 500 miles south of the plant.)
Still, Naoshima, like all of Japan, suffered a significant drop in foreign tourism after the disaster. At the Benesse House, Naoshima’s only hotel, most reservations in March and April held by foreign guests were canceled.
The island’s intriguing harmony of culture and nature, though, continues to attract Japanese tourists to the island even as foreign visitors are scarce. Overseas travelers, actually, are coming back as well: In May, Rei Namikawa, a representative for the Benesse hotel, wrote in an e-mail that foreign guests have slowly been returning as the crisis wanes, adding that the hotel was fully booked during the Golden Week holidays that straddle April and May.
The emergence of modern art and architecture in this relatively isolated place can be credited to corporate donations from Benesse Corporation, a Japanese company that specializes in test prep and language schools. The company’s chairman, a native of nearby Okayama, is the billionaire art-lover Soichiro Fukutake, whose longstanding support has fueled the transformation of Naoshima and a growing number of surrounding Seto Inland islands, particularly Teshima and Inujima — remote fishing islands with aging populations.
Over about 20 years, Benesse Corporation has financed one project after another. Last year, this accrual of art got a boost from the Setouchi International Art Festival, a 100-day celebration with works from 75 artists distributed among seven islands, including Naoshima. The festival ended on Oct. 31, but many of the featured works remain permanently. Teshima is now home to “Les Archives du Coeur,” an installation of recorded heartbeats by the French artist Christian Boltanski, and the Teshima Art Museum, which houses one work in a water-droplet-shaped structure created by the artist Rei Naito and the architect Ryue Nishizawa, a winner of last year’s Pritzker Architecture Prize.
The construction of the Benesse House Museum in 1992 marked the beginning of a fruitful partnership between Benesse Corporation and another Pritzker winner, the Japanese architect Tadao Ando. To date, he has designed seven structures on the small island, including three museums and the Benesse House Park building, which is studded with museum-worthy pieces.
On Naoshima, another recent addition financed by the corporation is the Lee Ufan Museum, a space wholly dedicated to the work of Mr. Lee, a Korean artist whose meditative works are on display as part of a retrospective at the Guggenheim in New York, running through Sept. 28. The new museum, which opened in June 2010, is the result of collaboration between Mr. Lee and Mr. Ando, whose modern concrete creations have been integral to the evolution of Naoshima’s art scene.
Naoshima, about three square miles in size, supports a population of about 3,300. Local residents have opened a few traditional guesthouses, which provide alternative lodging options to the Benesse hotel, and restaurants, but it is the art that brings visitors, my husband and me included, to the island.
Before my nighttime visit to the Benesse galleries, we had explored the other impressive buildings affiliated with the hotel. We clambered aboard a six-seat monorail that trundles up the wooded hill behind the museum, and discovered another of Mr. Ando’s sleek structures, a six-room hilltop annex called the Oval, which opened in 1995, one of four of the museum’s lodging options. The spare space is anchored by a dramatic black oval pool, and blends seamlessly into the natural surroundings, with tumbling waterfalls and a grassy rooftop lawn with panoramic views.
The next day, a rainy one, we hopped on a mini-bus to Honmura, on the eastern side of the island, where in an innovative effort called the Art House Project, artists have transformed abandoned houses into stand-alone projects that are woven into the fabric of this traditional neighborhood.
One contribution did involve the creation of a new structure. Titled “Minamidera,” the building was designed by Mr. Ando in 1999 to house a work by the American artist James Turrell. The work, “Backside of the Moon,” is an interactive, mind-bending experience for the viewer. (A full explanation would spoil the exhibit’s surprise.)
The artists’ messages are not always easy to decipher. At “Haisha,” the artist Shinro Ohtake has installed a hodgepodge of neon-light pieces and a two-story simulacrum of the Statue of Liberty. At the secluded “Go’o Shrine,” Hiroshi Sugimoto’s work is more straightforward: a glass staircase that descends from an above-ground shrine to a subterranean cave.
The island’s big-ticket draw, though, is Mr. Ando’s Chichu Art Museum. Chichu means “in the ground,” and indeed, the museum, built into a hilltop, is entirely underground, though it doesn’t feel that way to the visitor, thanks to a series of open courtyards and strategic skylights.
On the lowest level of the museum is an installation by the American sculptor Walter De Maria. On the floor above, a set of three progressive works by Mr. Turrell culminates with “Open Sky,” where viewers recline on stone benches to watch the evolving sky framed by the open ceiling; during our visit, raindrops pattered onto the floor.
But the central piece at Chichu will be familiar to most art lovers: one of Claude Monet’s famous large-scale water lily paintings, from the same series that is housed at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris (in 2009, the museum acquired four more, smaller Monet water lily pieces). To enhance the piece, a hazy sunset scene of clouds and willow trees reflected in a pond, the room that houses it features an inlaid floor of die-sized cubes of white Carrara marble and rounded walls that shimmer with natural light from above. And in a loop of life imitating art, a garden modeled on Monet’s own in Giverny has been installed outside the museum.
When the rain finally let up, we set out to find the many other works that are strewn about the island in outdoor installations, creating a sort of scavenger hunt for the visitor. On a densely wooded hill, spindly silver tines twirl above the treetops. At the end of a pier, a jumbo-size, polka-dotted yellow pumpkin squats above the sea. Beside a road, a band of 88 Buddha statues made from industrial slag blur the line between waste and art.
After completing our exploration, my husband and I spent our last evening on the island immersed — literally, as it turned out — in an art facility that is also a Japanese-style public bathhouse, or sento, called Naoshima Bath “I Love Yu.” (A bilingual word play, the name uses the character for “hot water,” which is pronounced “you.”) Opened in 2009, the sento was designed by Mr. Ohtake, the visionary behind the manic “Haisha” house in Honmura. Although many visitors simply snap photos of the bathhouse’s fantastically eclectic facade, fully experiencing this artwork demands active participation.
Once stripped of my notebook, camera and every last stitch of clothing, I soaked in the warm water, absorbed in the piece of art that surrounded me. As with so much of the work on Naoshima, the divisions between art and life simply dissolved.
IF YOU GO
WHAT TO SEE AND DO
The Benesse Foundation’s Web site (benesse-artsite.jp) has detailed information in English about each art site, including admission prices, hours and directions.
WHERE TO STAY
Benesse House (Gotanji; 81-87-892-3223; benesse-artsite.jp) has Western-style rooms in the Museum, Oval, Park and Beach buildings. Rates for two start at 31,185 yen, or about $415, at 75 yen to the dollar, for a double room in the Park building, or 34,650 yen for the Museum.
Staying at a ryokan, a traditional Japanese inn, costs considerably less; the Naoshima Tourism Association lists lodging options at naoshima.net/en.
BY SOPHIE KNIGHT STAFF WRITER
Thomas Kohler at the beginning of his walk (Provided by Thomas Kohler)
As the sweltering August heat continues, most people in Japan are trying to stay indoors and as inactive as possible.
Not Thomas Kohler, however. The Swiss travel agent is lugging a 14-kilogram rucksack for 20 kilometers a day in an attempt to walk the 2,500 kilometers from the northern tip of the Japanese archipelago to its southernmost point.
"After the quake happened, I was trying to think of ways I could help Japan. We've had enough bad news about Fukushima. I realized it was important to let people know that they could still travel safely in the country," he explains.
Kohler was forced to quit his job when 90 percent of his travel agency's customers canceled their vacations to Japan following the March 11 earthquake.
Fascinated by Japanese culture since childhood, he spent three years in the country studying the language during the 1990s and has visited every year since.
He came from Switzerland to volunteer in the tsunami-hit town of Ishinomaki, Miyagi Prefecture, after the disaster. Seeing the devastation, he resolved to travel the length of Japan, recording his impressions on a blog to show a more positive side to the country than was shown in coverage of the tsunami and nuclear disaster.
"Japan is a fantastic country, you never stop learning when you're here," he enthuses. "The people are extremely considerate and generous, and, as I'm Swiss, I also appreciate their desire to do things just right."
His native country has also given him the perfect training ground for his arduous journey. He spent months doing practice hikes in the mountains near his home in the city of Winterthur, testing out shoes, tents and sleeping bags with the help of a friend who sells expedition equipment.
"Many people are helping me do this, so I don't like to refer to it as a solo expedition," says Kohler. "I've got people translating the blog into English and Japanese and the Japanese tourist board is also helping me with logistics."
Kohler is, however, covering all of his own costs and faces a solitary battle against oppressive humidity, downpours, typhoons and snow on his epic journey. He also has the wildlife to contend with.
"I told some local people that I was planning to sleep on the beach one night, but they told me there were bears around. That plan didn't last very long," he says with a laugh.
Kohler started his trek on Aug. 1 in Cape Soya, Hokkaido, and anticipates reaching Cape Sata, at the very bottom of Kyushu, the southernmost of Japan's main islands, in December. He will walk along the west coast, along the Sea of Japan, bypassing the larger urban centers such as Tokyo and Osaka, in an attempt to explore Japan's "less touristy" side.
Despite the fatigue that comes with walking a half marathon on concrete surfaces every day, Kohler remains irrepressibly positive.
"Get along with yourself and you'll enjoy even lonely days," he says.
You can read Kohler's blog in English, Japanese and German at (http://www.japanfenster.ch/japantrip/en/).
首先讓我想到的是日本三大隨筆之一、中世紀的《方丈記》（另兩本是《枕草子》、《徒然草》）。《方丈記》寫的是安元（1177）大火、治承（1180）龍 捲風、福原（1180）遷都、養和（1181-1182）飢荒、元曆（1185）地震等天災人禍，可以說是作者鴨長明（鎌倉時代歌人，賀茂神社神官之子， 從中原有安學琵琶、俊惠法師學和歌。）歷經幾次重大災難的體驗。難怪一開頭就寫「水流不絕，並非原來之水」，解釋者大都引「逝者如斯，不捨晝夜」說受中國 影響，借用《論語》詞句，表明「無常」觀。
鴨長明如此描述：「大地震頻頻發生，非比尋常。山陵崩裂，土石埋河，海水侵陸。大地裂開，水流湧出；大石崩裂，滾落山谷。船隻漂流海上，馬行道路無踏足之 地。京都裡所有寺、堂、塔，無一倖免，有的倒塌，有的傾斜。塵土飛揚，如煙霧迷濛。大地動搖，房屋倒塌之聲如雷。居家中之人，如非瞬間被埋，即如逃出屋 外，大地裂開，恨無翅膀可飛空中，願像龍可乘雲而去。」「海水侵陸」的結果不就是「海嘯席捲海邊房屋人車」的情景嗎？文中描述的情狀與這次日本大地震可說 大同小異。
日本有關大地震的記載，《方丈記》不是最早。平安時代的西元869年襲擊東北地方的太平洋沿岸引起大海嘯的貞觀地震，日本正史《日本三代實錄》的描述如 下：「貞觀11年（869）5月26日。發生發光現象，夜明如晝。房屋倒塌，大地裂開，多數人被活埋。馬牛哀號互相踐踏狂奔。陸奧國府多賀城的城郭、倉 庫、門、櫓、牆壁崩頹，死傷者不計其數。海發出如雷之聲。巨浪掀起漩渦、膨脹，大浪瞬間襲擊城下。大海廣數十數百里，分不清哪裡是陸哪裡是海。現在道路原 野盡在水中。既無法搭船逃走，亦登不了山，溺死者一千人。所有資產、種植之苗皆流失，手中幾已無物殘存。」
以貞觀地震為主的前後幾年的天災（地震、火山爆發）造成國家無法掌握國民的動態，稅制也從人頭稅轉為土地稅，地方政府的權力增大，最後是武士登場。當時實 施的律令制度因此崩潰，甚至被視為國家重要事業之一的正史《日本三代實錄》的編寫在這一年畫下休止符。本來人民依賴國家而生活，巨大天災之後人民轉為信奉 開示死後極樂世界的阿彌陀佛等的淨土信仰，換句話說實際的生活體驗與宗教信仰結合在一起。「無常」觀逐漸成為日本人內心共有的深層記憶。
日本的天災雖無一定周期，但是大地震與火山爆發可說是「每隔一段時間」就會發生的「自然現象」。又如寶永4年（1707）發生的東南海地震，東海道西日本 一帶的低地都被海嘯侵襲，加上富士山噴火，關東降下酸性強的火山灰，農業受到重大打擊，使得江戶前期本來極速增加的人口和經濟成長因而停滯。依當時記錄， 寶永的海嘯不僅侵襲和歌山、德島高知海邊地帶，連當時經濟重心的大阪都受到嚴重打擊。地震發生後二小時海嘯到達大阪高達二公尺，有約兩千戶人家被沖走，將 近六百人溺死。海嘯甚至波及西日本，香川高松、岡山沿岸都觀測到近二公尺的潮位。西日本的低濕地帶的開發因此緩慢下來，人口成長也停止。此外，1923年 的關東大地震死亡人數約十萬五千人，許多文學作品都留下了傷痛紀錄。較近的1995年阪神大地震相信大家記憶猶新。
The manga writer Shigeru Mizuki once claimed that Japan's traditional ghouls and hobgoblins, the "yokai," had been "erased by the brightness of electricity" in post-war Japan.
It was a nice rhetorical flourish, but the monsters' burgeoning popularity in modern Japan, which Mizuki's own "Gegege no Kitaro" horror stories have played an important part in fostering, implies the yokai might not mind the light that much after all.
Depictions of yokai reach far back into Japanese history and have evolved into an extraordinarily diverse bestiary of weird beasties including "kappa" water imps balancing water in holes in their heads, one-eyed spirits that look like umbrellas, and the old man with a huge elongated cranium who is sometimes considered the leader of these monsters, the "Nurarihyon."
Professor Kazuhiko Komatsu at the International Research Center for Japanese Studies says the roots of the yokai lie in pre-modern society's attempts to describe the world around it, but he says the beliefs also interrelate in a complex way with Japan's traditional animistic religion.
People in traditional Japanese society believed spirits could run wild and cause supernatural phenomena and worshipped them as deities to mollify them. Yokai can, Komatsu says, be seen as "undesirable paranormal phenomena caused by deities yet to be enshrined."
But, while the roots of the yokai reach far back into the mists of Japanese history, they have shown a remarkable adaptability to the modern world.
In fact, the diversity of the yokai world increased significantly during the Edo Period (1603-1867). "Oni" demons, fox spirits and ghosties originating from old and worn-out items had previously accounted for most depictions of yokai, but the Edo imagination went wild.
"People who moved away from the nature because of urbanization lost their fear of the yokai, and therefore, conversely, they increased in variety. They began to regard the yokai as entertainment," says Masanobu Kagawa, curator at the Hyogo Prefectural Museum of History.
In the 18th century, a flourishing consumerism developed around the ghouls. Picture scrolls and ukiyo-e woodblock prints featured yokai creatures in the manner of illustrated guide books. "Karuta" cards and "sugoroku" board games featuring yokai were popular.
"In a way, they were the 'Pokemon' of our time," Kagawa says, referring to the popular anime and trading card franchise. "The yokai quickly became accepted as (anime-like) characters."
Yokai continued their dance with modernity into the Meiji Era (1868-1912) but really came into their own after the war. Since its launch in 1959, Shigeru Mizuki's "Gegege no Kitaro" manga and anime series played a major role in establishing them in the modern Japanese imagination, helping to inspire the "yokai boom" of the 1960s, which coincided with a broader fascination with fantastical monsters, or "kaiju," in Japanese popular culture. One boys' magazine even ran imaginary anatomical drawings of the beasts.
Yokai have become a stock subject for comic books, novels and movies in contemporary Japan. Museums hold exhibitions about them and tourists flock to destinations with which they are associated.
Yu Ito, a researcher at Kyoto International Manga Museum, has studied the depiction of yokai in manga and says the trend since the late 1990s has been to associate them less with fear than with friendship, romance and the difficult-to-translate concept of "moe," referring to strong feelings for the subject of a fictional product such as anime or manga.
Plotlines have also shifted from mystery-solving and killing yokai to heart-to-heart exchanges between humans and the monsters, with environmental themes and ideas of harmonious coexistence emerging as a major theme.
But, whatever the changing tides of fashion, professor Komatsu says their role in Japanese culture is remarkably constant.
"The yokai always became the focus of attention when the society was filled with a sense of stagnation and during transition times like the Muromachi Period (1338-1573) and the last years of the Tokugawa Shogunate (that ended with the Meiji Restoration in 1868)," he says. "I think that we try to re-examine what we are from through the yokai."
The Awa Odori folk dance festival opens in Tokushima on Aug. 12, featuring an elegant "onna odori" in the city's Aiba district. (Tetsuro Takehana)Dynamic "otoko odori" and graceful "onna odori" attract visitors to the traditional Awa Odori folk dance festival in Tokushima on Aug. 12. (Tetsuro Takehana)
TOKUSHIMA--A traditional Awa Odori folk dance festival opened Aug. 12 in Tokushima featuring a dance troupe from disaster-hit Sendai.
On the first day of the four-day event, a comical "otoko odori" was performed by the male dancers while the women put on an "onna odori," known for its elegant hand motions. The event is held during the Buddhist Bon season, when ancestors' spirits are believed to return home. The routines are characterized by high energy and lively movements.
The lyrics of one Awa Dori song include the lines: "Dancing fools and watching fools. Both are the same fools, so why not dance?"
The Tokushima City Tourism Association expects roughly 1.35 million visitors during the festival, about the same as last year.
Groups of choreographed dancers and musicians form teams, known as "ren," to become "dancing fools." About 250 teams are expected to perform this year.
Among the participants on Aug. 12 were Suzume Odori (sparrow dancing) dancers from Sendai.
On Aug. 14 and 15, Awa Odori teams from Sendai and Fukushima will perform.
GARETH COOK’S Aug. 7 Ideas article, on the reasons for Japan’s acceptance of the Potsdam Conference’s demands for ending the Pacific war in 1945, is devoted to the claim by professor Tsuyoshi Hasegawa of the University of California, Santa Barbara, that it was the Soviet entry into the war, not the dropping of the atomic bomb, that forced Japan’s surrender.
After reading the article, I reread the 1970 book “Imperial Tragedy’’ by Thomas M. Coffey, which presents a summary of the day-by-day and even hour-by-hour discussions in Tokyo that led Japan to surrender.
Prime Minister Kantaro Suzuki and Foreign Minister Shigenori Togo had favored surrendering even before the Soviet Union’s invasion of Manchuria. However, the army members of the Supreme Council for the Direction of the War wanted to fight on till the death of every man, woman, and child in the country.
To break the deadlock, Suzuki managed the get the council to take the almost-unheard-of step of inviting Emperor Hirohito to attend a council meeting and hear the members’ views before they reached a decision. Hirohito, like British kings, had been brought up to understand that while the monarchy reigned, it did not rule. However, he broke with precedent and spoke in favor of surrender. The generals, who revered the emperor, then gave in.
Although the Soviet attack had caused consternation, I could find nothing to indicate it was the main reason for Japan’s surrender.
Aug 13th 2011 | TOKYO | from the print edition
SINCE April, Kiki Tanaka and hundreds of other ordinary citizens have been uploading radiation measurements to Safecast.org, a non-profit group. On a fine summer day she drives to Nihonmatsu, 56km (35 miles) from the ruined nuclear plant at Fukushima, and notes her Geiger counter ticking higher: another step in the DIY defence against radioactivity.
This grass-roots monitoring reflects a loss of trust in the authorities. Until June the government in Tokyo took radiation measurements at just one site, as if that were enough to survey the city’s 2,200 square kilometres and 13m people. In fact levels are known to vary widely within even small areas, depending on weather patterns and building materials.
Safecast’s 20 fixed sensors and 15 mobile units, which identify “hot spots” by going from schoolyard to sandpit, seek to fill a gap in the official information. With half a million data points so far, they have tended to corroborate the government’s work, but have also revealed some places where radiation was worse than expected. “It was not until local people raised their voices that the municipal governments took it seriously,” explains Ryugo Hayano, a nuclear physicist at the University of Tokyo.
Hot spots have become a chief worry. Radiation in some parts of Fukushima city can be measured in the millisieverts per hour—a dangerous level, says an official dealing with nuclear policy. Children and pregnant women should leave, and possibly others. But the authorities are reluctant to announce bad news.
Any delay in the clean-up poses problems, as radioactive particles may seep into groundwater and contaminate crops. In a few places where the work has begun, such as Minami-Soma, people are given no guidance on handling hot material. Contaminated water drains into sewers and tainted soil sits piled under tarpaulins. Detection has been spotty. Cattle were tested, but their feed and meat were not. Even when human health is not at risk, mismanaging the clean-up does social and economic damage.
More than 10,000 people remain in shelters, five months after the tsunami that triggered the nuclear crisis. While the government dithers, Ms Tanaka and the amateur Geiger geeks at Safecast.org go where its radiation monitors do not.
「美術館は動物園」展。開き直りが潔くすらある名前をつけたのが、小杉放菴（ほうあん）記念日光美術館（栃木県日光市）。馬を描いた放菴の油絵から、ア ルミや段ボールを使った若手の立体作品まで。９月４日にかけて、約１００点の動物たちがひしめき合う。田中正史学芸課長は「夏休みなので、羽目を外して楽 しいものをやりたかった」と話す。
さらに、山種美術館（東京都渋谷区）の「日本画どうぶつえん」（９月１１日まで）、はけの森美術館（東京都小金井市）の「朝倉文夫の猫たち」（９月１９ 日まで）、世界の民俗人形博物館（長野県須坂市）の「世界の動物人形大集合 ワールドアニマル」（１０月４日まで）、中山道広重美術館（岐阜県恵那市）の 「浮世絵あにまるらんど」（８月２８日まで）……。そして、お堅いイメージの京都国立博物館までも。「初の動物特集」と銘打ち、「百獣の楽園」展を開いて いる（８月２８日まで）。
BY MITSUKO NAGASAWA STAFF WRITER
Recreating the image of the seasons is one of the characteristics of kaiseki. In this course, gingko leaves add a bit of autumn color. (Asahi Shimbun file photo)
With UNESCO recently honoring French cuisine as a cultural heritage treasure, the Japanese think it's time for their turn at the table.
Japan is considering asking the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization to add its "kaiseki" food culture--a traditional multi-course meal that symbolizes the essence of Japanese culture--to its Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists.
Although kaiseki is currently used to describe Japanese course meals in general, originally, meals served by the host of a tea party were referred to as kaiseki.
It is thought that the term, which literally means "bosom stone," came from the practice of Zen monks alleviating hunger by putting warm stones into the front part of their robes.
Originally, tea party guests had a kaiseki meal to relieve hunger before tea was served. It was simply composed of a bowl of rice, another bowl of soup and three side dishes. An extra plate with a snack was also offered for the guests to humbly enjoy sake.
Despite the exquisite image it projects, kaiseki is similar to home meals. To Japanese, it is an extension of their daily lives.
"Asa no chaji" (morning tea gathering), or "asacha" for short, begins at dawn to escape the scorching heat.
Kazuko Goto, a culinary specialist born to a tea master's family, gave an outline of kaiseki cuisine served during an asacha gathering.
The menu consists of seasonal ingredients to capture the essence of the summer, and bowls and plates are carefully chosen.
A plate of shiny "junsai" (brasenia) pleases the eye. The crispness of pickled cucumber charms the ear. And the rich red miso soup satisfies the body that craves salt in the summer. The combination is meant to deliver the message of refreshment.
"The ingenuity is exercised to suggest the presence of ice with the use of ingredients and bowls with crystal clearness, but ice will not be actually used," Goto said.
Sen no Rikyu (1522-1591), the celebrated tea master who perfected the "wabi-cha" style, once described the innermost secret of tea ceremony as "giving it a cool feel in the summer." The appearance is the key.
Kaiseki cuisine was refined into the style close to what we know today in late 18th century after it had been influenced by daimyo (feudal lords) who were fascinated by the tools of tea ceremonies and haiku poets who had insightful views on nature.
In the 19th century the Russian style service, under which each dish is served on a plate in succession, became widespread in French cuisine. In that sense, Japan was quick to introduce similar service.
As sugar became widely available, Japanese confections developed further in parallel with kaiseki cuisine.
"In addition to the value of sweetness, (the sweets) began to portray changes in time and emotions with their colors and shapes," Tomizo Yamaguchi, the president of Suetomi confectionery store, said. "A grain of 'azuki' bean can symbolize a firefly or a pebble from a river."
"(The introduction of) kaiseki was a revolution in the Japanese culinary history," Isao Kumakura, the president of Shizuoka University of Art and Culture, said.
There are three characteristics in kaiseki, namely 1) Each dish is served sequentially, 2) There should be no extra ornaments, and 3) It must make a strong statement.
The other extreme of kaiseki is "honzen ryori," a form of serving food at banquets by samurai families during the Muromachi Period (1338-1573). The grade was determined by the number of dishes, and less attention was given to how they tasted.
Honzen ryori food was also served by commoners for ceremonial occasions in postwar Japan. Kaiseki emerged as a counter to honzen ryori and became widespread.
During prewar years, kaiseki had a presence as a form of culture. Businesspeople who were enthusiastic about the tea ceremony competed over how much they could lose themselves in it. Reviews of tea parties were published in newspapers.
At an August asacha tea gathering, guests were impressed to see lotus leaves and flowers used as plates and bowls, records say.
Yoshihiro Takahashi, the 15th-generation owner of a long-established restaurant in Kyoto, Hyotei, talks about "Hamomatsu no Wan" (a bowl of soup with hamo pike eel and matsutake mushrooms) when he explains the spirit of Japanese cuisine overseas.
Hamo plays a major part in Japanese cuisine during the summer, and begins to be replaced by matsutake at the end of the season.
The soup captures the brief moment of seasonal transition. The hamo becomes less fatty and is not as tasty as during the mid-summer season. But it comes into harmony with matsutake without meddling with its scent.
"If you try to make it more special than it needs to be, you will leave a lingering sense of discomfort," Takahashi said. "I'd like to cherish values to make our guests feel it naturally."