Ume flowers coming out

Unintentionally looking up a ume tree in the garden, I found a few floweres had come out. So early in this winter.

This tree is located at the most advantageous place for plants in the garden, where they get sunshine all day long. The other ume trees are not blooming yet.

It was the coldest day according to our traditional calendar a couple of days ago. It rarely goes over 10 degrees C in the daytime. But it won't go below -5 degrees early in the morning, that has been the usual temperature in this area at that time. It often went down to -10 degrees C at that time in the past.

I am afraid it could be a phenomenon of the global warming. When I mention of this global issue in such as Facebook, a lot of people argue against me. If we investigate the transition of the average temperature or of the CO2 concentration in the air etc, we easily reach the conclusion that the global warming is an imminent issue in the world.

Finding these flowers coming out, I could not help feeling complicated. A pleasure to have earliest sign of spring arrival while it could be a sign of the global warming.


Bjorn Andresen

Bjorn Andresen, a film star, made world debut with the famous movie, Death in Venice, in 1971. It was a story of an old artist fascinated by a beautiful boy Bjorn played in the movie. The artist was destined to die. The music featured the Adagietto from the 5th symphony by Mahler was pretty impressive.

I was not very concerned about this movie at the time it was started to run in theaters. It was when I started study at a med school and was occupied with music in the orchestra starting career as a cellist.

However, this boy played by Bjorn Andresen was unforgettable for his beauty for sure even if we were not interested in the story itself. He was the aestheticism of this story himself.

The clip quoted above shows how Bjorn Andresen has lived until now. He was originally a music student. While he was in the film business for several years, he did not like to be remembered as the role in this film. He seems to have quit that business and now is living as a piano teacher with his family. In the clip, when he was asked by the director at the interview of recruitment of players to take off the sweater, he didn't do that while smiling at him. It might mean he has already owned himself and won't do what he would not. That may be why he has quit this apparently showy business but started his own way in music.

I believe Mahler has pursued relief from death throughout his life. It is well understood by his biography by Bruno Walter or his desire to avoid composing the 10th symphony, which has been the last number of symphonies by the other precedent composers in their lives. With the beauty in his music, he seemed to try to get away from the anxiety of death. The theme of the movie, Death in Venice, seems to be a product to compensate absurdity of death with beautiful being. Has it been successful?

Bjorn Andresen, such a beauty in his youth, got old and lost his beauty. Such beauty even in the virtual world of novel or film won't last eternally. Everyone gets old and is not immortal. His way of life seems to tell us that. I was a bit relieved to know of this fact.

The clip says Bjorn owes much to Chopin. Beauty in abstract music. He says he has been making dialogue with Chopin. In the first scene of the clip, there is his saying as follows;

"The rare moment of happiness that I have known, I owe them to the piano. I still have long conversations with Chopin.

Paris, 2005. Interview."


Another tiny shrine in the farms

I have left this blog for a while. Things are going on uneventfully here. We are getting into the mid winder season for now. Sun is getting a bit brighter and shining for longer time for now, though.

I am taking a walk every several days. I know I should do that oftener. This chilly weather tends to keep me indoor. It is not very good for physical as well as mental health, as you know. I am trying to walk a bit more.

I found another walk path south of here, where they had not developed much. A lot of farms and forests there. It is a scenery in this area a few decades ago.

On the way of walking, there is a bush and trees along the road. I guess it is an abandoned property. It is impossible for me to go into there and to know what there has been. I still suspect it was a place some family had lived for a long time and the people had gone somewhere or had died. Not sure. But it is definitely a certain prospect there will be more houses and properties abandoned in the very near future. Unfortunately, demographics tells that and there is no measures taken by the government.

This is the road I walk. Surrounded by farms and forests. A few houses ahead and on the right side on this photo. It is too narrow for a car or even a person to go through. You may see a small forest on the left side on this photo. Whenever walking through beside it, I always wondered what it was. Maybe, a small shrine?

I have guessed right. There was a small shrine building among the cedar trees. A lot of weeds and bushes. It seemed this tiny shrine had not been well cared for.

A small signboard told this shrine was derived from the ruler in this area in the 12th century. The person named Nakamura, the same as the present place name, who had contributed much to the Samurai Yoritomo Minamoto in the conquer war in Tohoku area was assigned to the regional lord in Sendai in Tohoku area. In the memory of this event, Nakamura has ordered to build this shrine.

Of course, this shrine building is too new for that explanation. Even if it was a fact the regional ruler ordered to build one or a series of shrines, this must not be such shrine itself. But those having built this building in the later years would authorize it from such a historical event.

In that tiny building, cleaned up tidy, there was a small altar. A sake bottle and a cup were offered before that. It may mean this shrine was not totally forgotten.

On the way back home, I found a pretty big hill covered with cedar trees. I guess it is a kind of ancient tomb. I didn't dare to adventure to look up there since there was no path to the structure if it was really something ancient. Maybe, when I put on a shoes I could go through this muddy farm.

Previously, I have uploaded an article in this blog regarding a pretty big shrine in this area. It was also told it came from the era of Nakamura in the 12th century. There must be the other ones in this area. I could not help feeling amazed at the ancient people who worshiped and maintained those shrines. I believe they were kind of anchorage for them. Even though the present Shinto shrines should be discarded because of the recent history they have lead this country to the cruel war, I believe these unfamous shrines should be delivered to the next generation as an important cultural heritage.


What Ghosn case tells us

It was a real surprising news Carlos Ghosn had escaped to Lebanon at the very last moment of the last year in this way.


Some people say he should get trial even if he had complaints about that. He was living in our country under our justice system, as they say.

I doubt it from a few reasons.

One is that what he has been accused is a kind of matter within a corporate. It should have been questioned at the board of directors or, at least, at a meeting of shareholders. It smelled like an internal struggle in Nissan Co. Ghosn has received much more salary than the other corporate tops ever in Japan. They say the prosecutors have focused on that from our traditional common sense among people. But the economic disparity is another issue which should be discussed apart from filing case to the court.

The other point is the hostage justice in our justice system exactly described in this paper mentioned above. Prosecutors carry on detention of a criminal suspect until he/she confesses about it. This has caused a lot of false charge by prosecution in the past. From the standpoint of basic human rights, this system should be abandoned.

Lastly, most important at present, the prosecutor office acts in accordance with the administration, either as an direct order or in account of the will of the administration. Our present Abe administration has controlled them with the personnel affairs managed by the cabinet. Those suspects whom the administration takes as rebellious or hostile to them could be detained for weeks or even months while those close to the prime minister or the administration could be spared for being arrested or being accused. Nomocracy is being in peril of forfeit in Japan.

Apart from this Ghosn case, the prosecution system should be reformed as soon as possible.


In the end of 2019

A couple of days ago, among news from abroad, there was an obituary of Peter Schreier, a renowned German tenor singer.

When I was spending student days back in '70s, he has extended his activity as a tenor from East Germany to the western countries. It was the days when I got the sources of music with cassette tapes recorded FM broadcasts. His name was quite popular not only in Lied but also in religious music. He has unconstrained beautiful voice and his technique as a tenor was stable. He has sung in many pieces often together with Karl Boem, a famous conductor, those days. 

In the end of the 2nd year of the medical faculty, at the dormitory of the school, I have had a chance to record Matthews Passion of Bach from an FM program. It was late at night in winter, possibly, in December. A performance of BPO conducted by Karajan. Prepared high quality cassette tapes, I was waiting for the program together with a friend of mine. It was a precious chance for us to listen and record this great piece. I could picture that moment like a quite recent episode. The evangelist in that performance was played by Schreier. At the faintly dark room of the dormitory, I was keenly listening to the Passion. 

The role of the evangelist in Passions after Bach has become not only a story teller but also a highly artistic and important expresser. Schreier was one of the best evangelists those days. He was from a suburb of Dresden and has started his career in East Germany. As told above, he has welcomed by the audience in the western countries in '70s. In 2005, when he ceased his career as a singer, he came to conduct Orchestra Ensemble Kanazawa. He has played as the evangelist as well as the conductor from memory. Later, he had become ill and had spent a long time in bed in Dresden until he passed away 2 days ago. The other news told that there had been a populist right wing party active in Dresden and they had ostracized the immigrants over there. I wonder what he has thought of such a movement while he had spent the days of a kind of immigrant from the East in '70s to '80s.
An era has ended for me. I have been listening to that music by Muenchen Bach Orchestra conducted by Richter in 1979 where he sang as the evangelist. Having found the source of this music by Karajan in Youtube I listened to in the med school days, I would spend the rest of the New Year's Eve listening to it. 

Thanks for visiting this blog throughout this year. I am afraid this blog is becoming a mannerism unworthy of reading. That is why I appreciate you visiting here. Until I become incapable of writing anything, I would go it on for a while.

This year, I have omitted or have ended sending a greeting attached to an e mail to my friends, even though I have continued it for the past several years. The reason why I decided not to do that is quite the same as I wrote above regarding this blog. 

It seems the world is messed up by the right wing populism. Clearly, it is a rebound to the neoliberal economy which has damaged societies everywhere. It is amazing that populism won't care for announcing fraud or fake things. They seem to appeal to the emotion of the mass but not to their intelligence. Intelligence seems to be an object of hatred from the standpoint of those mass. While that populism overwhelms around the world, the ruling politicians are backed up by the globalism. Globalism insists things should be entrusted by the market. Thus economical disparity is growing more and more, which drives the mass toward the populism. It is difficult for us to foresee what will follow to this situation.

Turning to age 70 years, I still feel closer to and even look forward to death which might make me free from all the duties and relationships in the world. Until the end of my life, however, I would carry on what I have to do as failtfully as possible. Whenever I listen to the last music of Matthews Passion, my heart is moved to tremble.

A very happy and peaceful New Year to you all!


Dried persimmons and budding magnolia

In a couple of weeks since they were exposed to cold wind outdoor as posted before, the dried persimmons have turned this way.

When they look dark colored and shrunken, it is the time that they are matured as dried persimmons. I have tried one. It was surprisingly sweet and delicious. A couple of them will be sent to my parents in law soon.

Magnolia has developed the new buds on its branches in the garden. Even getting colder and daytime being shortened, it won't forget to bud. It is a kind of regular cycle of life but is still amazing me. Otherwise, the garden seems asleep.


What Dr. Nakamura has done in Afghanistan

This is a program titled "Not an arm but water for life" which recorded how Dr. Nakamura had constructed the channel for the people in Afghanistan. It has converted a desert to a farming area serving for tens of thousands of people there. He told that the idea to develop irrigation system had been born as an extention of medical service.

It is in Japanese and may not be completely understandable to English speaking people. But I am sure you would be surprised how the constructed channel has changed the desert in the dead valley to fertile ground.


As I wrote in the previous article here, he had been sent to Pakistan for medical aid from JOCS, an organization of Christians for medical services to developing countries, in 1984. It was the beginning of his great job in the area. My father used to be involved in this JOCS and has contributed them a bit. I have heard of this doctor from him those days. Unfortunately, I haven't been paying much attention to his activity but just have heard of him. If I could excuse myself a bit, I was too busy to be engaged in such activity abroad. Anyway, I could not help being moved by his persistent effort there.

He has emphasized the situation in Afghanistan had drastically worsened since the US started air bombing over there. Liberty from the radical Taliban was, as he said, a liberty to be a refugee, a liberty to be a prostitute and a liberty to grow drug plants. Military intervention won't bring real peace but exaggerate the terrible situation. Only civilian non military aid would help them to be peaceful and to live on by themselves.

Just take a look of that video clip.