Colonizing Ainu Mosir
12 most recent entries

Date:2006-11-14 23:29
Subject:The Maruyama Zoo
Security:Public




During my time in Japan, my host family rarely did things with me. However, they did take me one weekend to the Maruyama Zoo. Living in an apartment, they had no pets, so I was missing wildlife. The zoo was interesting in several ways, especially the large collection of animals they had and the kind of pride they had in the zoo. It was definitely an international pride, the zoo being billed as one of the best in all of Asia, and you could feel the global aspirations of the place everywhere. There were signs in Japanese, English, Chinese, Korean and Russian. Hokkaido has had somewhat of a reputation as a backwater, but Sapporo's Maruyama Zoo definitely had international aspirations.

But all that aside, here are some pictures!Collapse )

 

3 comments | post a comment



Date:2006-11-07 21:05
Subject:Calligraphy and Seal Carving in Hokkaido
Security:Public

By far my most wonderful experience in Hokkaido was when I was taken to visit the mother of my hostmother's friend. 菅原久子 was 88 years old, and they figured I would want to meet her since she practiced calligraphy. After a day of events I'll cover in a later entry, I finally met this woman, and it was better than I could have hoped. Not only did she practice calligraphy of all sorts (and was wonderful at it), she practised seal carving! My whole stay in Japan until then had been a struggle to find someone who shared my principle interests of calligraphy and seal carving, but finally, here she was. And besides that, she was the nicest person you could ever hope to meet.


Here are some pictures, and a little more of the story . . . Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-10-12 15:57
Subject:
Security:Public

Unfortunately, I don't have pictures of the Governor's residence near the Sapporo Beer Factory. My third (and for now, final) Meiji Period "Western" architecture example is the "Western Style Farm", located on the grounds of Hokudai. Built in it's Hokkaido Agricultural College days, the model farm layout was supposed to be exemplary of Modern American farming. Being from Maine, I've seen my fair share of historic (read:dilapidated) New England barns and outbuildings, and I have to say - if I came across any of the buildings from this site in America, I would be more than a little confused.


Let's take a look . . . Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-09-27 00:11
Subject:
Security:Public

As promised, I am back with more on unique Meiji architecture in Hokkaido, or at least Sapporo. My last entry dealt with the "Western" cottage, made for men of taste associated with the nearby Hokudai to come and enjoy Western comforts. The next building was also built in 1880, and could perhaps be considered more successful in creating a sense of Westerness. Both, however, got the Meiji seal of approval in the form of a visit, and each establishment certainly realized the significance of that. The Hoheikan, a western-style hotel, was especially  blessed in that Meiji deigned to spend the night, and we can still see his preserved bedroom!

The proof is all in the pictures . . . Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-09-21 22:32
Subject:Part I of III : Architectural Liberties in the Meiji
Security:Public

Hokkaido has a long history, but in terms of architecture and tangible cultural entities that one can see and experience, most things are only about a hundred some-odd years old. This is due to the fact that many of the well-put together buildings were part of the Meiji Colonization period, which began only 137 years ago in earnest. A weird historical intersection makes the Imperial leftovers in Hokkaido particularly interesting. While in Sapporo, we had the good fortune to visit several Meiji-period buildings, including a small home for the visiting Emperor, a fancy hotel, and a recreated farm. The interesting thread between all of these places is that  they were all intended to be "Western Style". Are they truly western, or just a strange amalgam of Japanese tastes and "exotic westernism"?

You decide . . . .Collapse )

2 comments | post a comment



Date:2006-09-18 17:19
Subject:The Kami bestow their graces over you, too, Hokkaido
Security:Public

One of our first outings with the Summer Program was to the 北海道神宮, the magnificent Shinto shrine constructed near the capital city of Sapporo. There were several fascinating aspects to the experience - the shrine itself, the history of the shrine and Shinto, and of course the lecture given to us by the Priest.

Pictures included, pardon the formatting trouble . . .Collapse )


1 comment | post a comment



Date:2006-05-09 00:20
Subject:Reading packet
Security:Public

The reading packet Prof. Forrest handed out included readings from the Kojiki, the Nihongi and a portion of a missive from a Dutch East India ship. As always, all three were fascinating, and here are my summations and thoughts on each.

mukashi mukashi,Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-05-03 00:27
Subject:More Ainu Language
Security:Public

I've continued looking over the language aspect, although I really need to move on. I guess I'm dwelling on this part of it because I find it so fascinating. For this entry, I'm going to give a rough account of Ainu

Numerals and Pronouns . . . Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-04-27 12:57
Subject:The Ainu Language
Security:Public

When I first become truly interested in Japanese, it was because of Japanese poetry. One of the things I came to understand right away was that no matter the skill of the translater, the original language was almost always necessary for understanding the subtleties of the text. A knowledge of the ways of the original language helped in understanding a translation even in the absence of the original text. So when, after the bits and peices of Ainu in Kayano Shigeru's memoirs, I decided to investigate Ainu poetry and song, I realized that at least a minor study of the language would need to be undertaken. As a linguistics minor and general language afficianado, I was basically just looking for an excuse to study it. So far, using the Rev. John Batchelor's grammary and dictionary, I have made a rough sketch of his take on the grammar. How correct he is, I cannot say. The source is outdated, and yet seems to be one of the few available. Granted, this research was mostly to provide a rough idea - a little clue into how an Ainu speaker would hear and interact with others and the world. This is just the first installment, because one entry on a topic as large as the grammar of a language would be ridiculous.

Letter changes, Nouns, and AdjectivesCollapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-04-19 23:53
Subject:An Ainu Perspective
Security:Public

On Thursday I received a copy of "Our Land Was a Forest: An Ainu Memoir" , and no more than 24 hours later, I had reached the back cover. However, it has taken me five days to work up the nerve to write this entry. Why? Well, because it just has so much in it. After some mental wrangling and deleted write-ups, I feel I've come up with a way to disseminate certain points from this wealth of information. The book was written by Kayano Shigeru, an Ainu from the Nibutani Valley in Hokkaido, born in the mid-1920s. His lifestory seems to touch so many significant points in the story of the Ainu as a people, largely because the generation he was born into straddled Ainu history in an interesting way. His grandparents could still remember the 'old ways', the coming of the Japanese, and the Ainu language, while his generation was the first to truly succumb to Japanese assimilation tactics. He is also the future of the Ainu, starting up Ainu language pre-schools and leading Ainu politics in his old age. 

But what can we glean about history/politics/society from the account of one man's life? Collapse )

post a comment



Date:2006-04-07 11:42
Subject:The North is not for the Weak
Security:Public

One of the classics of Japanese Literature is Matsuo Bashô's Oku no Hosomichi, which is translated as "road to the far north", "narrow road to the far north" or "Narrow Road to the Deep North". I've read this volum several times before, but every time my focus has been on the literary merits and it's place in the Japanese canon. However, reading it for this class has called my attention to several other aspects of this particular work. In the canon, Oku no Hosomichi is a base point for all travel literature. The short descriptions and musings on place, as well as the accompanying poetry, all strung together through the context of a journey, is very influential for centuries after. And also, this journey to the upper provinces of Honshu was undertaken in 1689. The question of Yezo has yet to be raised, and the Northern stretches of the mainland are still intensely rural, exponentially more so than when Isabella Bird travelled similar stretches in 1878.

Looking at it in more detail . . . Collapse )

1 comment | post a comment



Date:2006-04-06 22:48
Subject:First Readings
Security:Public

The first bit of reading has been from Isabella Bird's lengthy compendium of letters she wrote while on a tour of Northern Japan in 1878. It was interesting to begin with an author of this context, because in some ways our circumstances are similar. She is a woman, and not Japanese, nor has she ever been to Japan before, but seems to have studied it some. Of course, I have studied it more than her, and she is most certainly a product of her times. I am referring specifically to her use of certain language to describe the Japanese and Ainus that she encounters. Naturally, that's difficult to read from my modern perspective, but its truly an added bonus - how does the world at large view this "new-comer", Japan? Several things stood out to me during my reading, and I will detail them

here . . . Collapse )

1 comment | post a comment


browse
my journal