Expecting daughter coming home...

This is a special dinner for our daughter coming home tonight. Chirashi Sushi. Cooked rice is mixed with vinegar and various materials. Then fresh raw fish, boiled garden pea and fried egg are put on it.
When adding vinegar to rice, we should blow it with a fan. This is a key point to have rice look shiny.  It was me who mixed them while my wife blew it.  The rice grains on the wall of the wooden bucket doesn't mean we have already eaten it but it was due to mixing.

This is boiled pumpkin seasoned with sake etc. This pumpkin was a hravest in the garden farm. The other pumpkins were not very successful this year. A bit watery and less sweet. But this one tastes great like chestnut.
All the dishes are ready. But the guest won't show up here.
When I called her on the phone, she answered to me with vivid voice from her apartment. Yes, it is next week end when she has planed to come home.
The issue is whether two of us could finish all the dishes. I should have made less sushi...


Pilgrimage around Shikoku

Centuries ago, people have started pilgrimage around Shikoku. It was, they say, after a great teacher in Bhuddism named Kukai who had lived in ascetic discipline in Shikoku district in the 8th century. Pilgrims go around Shikoku worshipping 88 of the temples scattered all over.
In the beginning of its history, they say, pilgrims were those who could not live in the homeland due to various reasons, mostly ominous or criminal, or those with serious illnesses. They prayed for their relieves through the pilgrimage. Or they could not live in the other ways than this pilgrimage. Having been supported by people along the roads of pilgrimage, they have walked all the way on their feet. Doing charity for those pilgrims with giving foods, water or even accommodations has been believed  to mean doing something good in Bhuddism. 
At present, a number of people, young or old, are still going for this journey. They say most of the modern pilgrims want to know who they themselves are or would regain the power to live after having got tired from their own lives. A part of them still walk all the way on their feet as in old ages. It takes them longer than 2 months to walk through the entire pilgrimage for nearly 700 or 800 miles.
People along the roads are told to be still very helpful to those pilgrims.
The pilgrims wear white cloth with a wooden stick on a hand and a straw made hat on head. It was until I had heard about it from a taxi driver in Takamatsu city, one of the largest cities in Shikoku a few years ago, when I knew their dress meant they could die anywhere on the way of pilgrimage. I was almost shocked to hear that there had actually been many pilgrims lost theri lives on the way. The white cloth was for the funeral for themselves. It was not for fun but for a real discipline to look for the reality in life.
Recently, I have read a book about this pilgrimage written by a retired journalist. He used to walk all the way in his forties one time. It was for writing an article as a journalist. He said he wanted to walk for pilgrimage itself apart from his profession. He made it true at the age of 70 after retirement. He has described how it moved him through walking in the nature and meeting people on the way. It's a pity, as he said, some roads have been paved and have had much traffic with cars. It has ruined some parts of the pilgrimage. But, in the other portions, the great nature was still preserved and has reminded him of the ancient pilgrims who had walked the same way. He has also described a lot of impressive chance meeting with many people, Bhuddism priests, pilgrims and people doing charity for him. 
Giving every routine in my life aside, I would like to go for this journey by myself in the future, not far from now. It might be a good chance to reflect myself and to consider how to live the time left in my life.
This photo was taken on a beach in Shikoku, near to my wife's homeland, in this winter. There was a temple for this pilgrimage close to this place.  



It's already fall. As I repeated in this blog, the chamber musics of Brahms fit this season. Especially, the last movement of his Clarinet Quintet is worthy of listening to at quiet night in fall.
It is a variation. The theme appearing on the strings is really touchy. It could not help making you think of your past. The melody will undergo a variety of changes and will be sung by different instrument in each variation. As a cellist, I should recommend listeners to listen carefully to the 3rd variation which cello sings an impressive melody. In the middle, the mood gets warmer, which reminds me of sunshine in winter before it gets stormy. In the next variation, viola sings a music as if it hastened us to the climax. In the coda, the very beginning theme of the 1st movement is recalled in imperfect manner. Following clarinet climbing to the height in a fashion of cadenza, it descends in the motif of the same 1st movement. This variation is quietly closed with a dreary chord. This ending sounds as if Brahms had reflected his life in this music. When I played this piece with friends of mine in my student days, I always felt that way.
The variation is not only a technique in composing music. It rather seems to me like a way of expressing our lives with music. Our lives are a kind of circulation. We live around own center which we, consciously or subconsciously, value on. Even if it appears in different shape, there is a center in our lives. This variation style may express it by music. Brahms has left us great variations as I already mentioned in this blog.


Fried tomatoes

Yesterday, it lit in my mind when I found unripe green tomatoes on tomatoe plants in the garden farm. I should try fried tomatoes as a few friends in the US have suggested. At first, honestly speaking, I was rather skeptical about that idea. But there are only few chances I could try that menue. I gotta try!
As a result, it tasted freshly rich, sweet and slightly sauer. This is it with a few fried sweet potatoes. My wife could not guess what it was. She was surprised to know of that and liked it very much. We knew why some friends of mine had recommended this menue now.
I have prepared fried saury as well. This was also very good.
Am I talented in cooking? Should I have lived as a chef leaving a paddle and a stethoscope? No, it's not my talent but is thanks to my friends' advice!
Actually, I should go for the parttime job not as a chef today.


The latest figures of trees and plants in the garden

It is getting much cooler especially at night here. It is breezy all the day. One of the best seasons in a year. I am getting things tidy in the garden. Weeds and lawn grow slower now. I should pull the former before they shed seeds. Planting fall vegetables is another project:I have already planted radish shown below, lettuce also sprouting, cabbage and spinach. I learned fresh radish harvested in the garden is so good this summer. The growning ones may be good material for saucepan cook late in fall and in winter.
I was stimulated by my wife starting taking flute lesson yesterday. I looked for a class for cello lesson and would attend there if it allows me. Completing cello sonata e minor by Btahms is another project. I wonder if time left for me will permit it or not.
Fall deepens here in this way.  
A plum tree with fresh leaves. In the summer, they were once eaten by bugs, which were got rid of with a chemical.  No other ways to do with that nasty bugs.
A Higan Bana, which stands for the flower in autumnal equinox. It is a bulb flower, which comes out punctually right at this time of equinox every year. Someone dislikes the artificial outlook of this flower. It surely tells, however, the season is coming around and it is the time of pleasant harvest now.
The radish sprouting in the farm. Lovely, isn't it?
A zelkova tree in grand outlook in front of my parents' home. It always flourish with so many leaves. My father used to complain it got too dark and damp in the house. But, without it, it was too hot in the daytime in the summer. The leaves will start falling in several weeks.


From perception to pleasure

In a recent issue of the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, there was an interesting review as titled above:PNAS Jun 18 2013 vol110 10430-10437.

It discusses of the neuroscientific findings about the mechanism how we get pleasure from music. It says that a cortical loop between temporal auditory areas and frontal cortices is important for memorizing musical information as working memory as well as for recognizing the structural regularities in musical patterns. The latter leads to expectancies of the following note/rhythm.

This review also tells that the mesolimbic striatal system is involved in reward, motivation and pleasure in music as well as the emotional activities. It is mediated by the doperminergic system. the author proposes pleasure in music arises from interactions between cortical loops mentioned above and this subcortical system responsible for reward and valuation.

I sighed deeply how far the neuroscience has gone in research for our mental activities. This reminded of our son studying these voluminous new insights in medicine. There must be much more knowledges medical students are required to be doctors. At the same time, I won't miss some hypothetical logics in these research works. One example is that some research takes sympathetic nerve system phenomena would represent the amount of pleasure, which looked to me too simplistic. Maybe, further studies would confirm or renew these findings. But this review is still stimulating to me at present. The direction the studies are heading to looks promising to me.

I am inpressed at the hypothesis that expectation for the following musical pattern is related with the resulting emotion of reward. They say that it could be a ground of the pleasure in music. The author also mention the parallelism between music and speech in evolution. If I could paraphrase speech to communication by CW, it is what I have thought of pleasure in CW conversation. Refer to this article We expect what will follow after certain conversational content on CW. If it synchronizes with the tempo of thinking, it always intellectually stimulating us. If our expectation goes right, we could be satisfied at that. In this situation, expectation may activate our doperminergic system which leads to the emotion of reward and pleasure as in the case of music perception. I am not sure if we could paraphrase the findings in music to CW conversation. But if it is applicable, there is a reason we compare CW to music as stated here.

The author introduces Darwin's words in his autobiography as follows. "If I had to live my life again, I would have made a rule to read some poetry and listen to some music at least once every week; for perhaps the parts of my brain now atrophied would thus have been kept active through use. The loss of these tastes is a loss of happiness, and may possibl;y injurious to the intellect, and more probably to the moral character, by enfeeding the emotional part of our nature." I wonder, as a friend of mine told, if we could replace music to CW conversation in these impressive sentences. If our ancestors in CW conversation have been right in their naming CW as music, it might be not only an accidental idea but must be based on a inherent intuiton.


A real party on the air

A typhoon is coming by here. Lots of rain. Noise due to this rain has been waxing and waning this morning. I have been on 15m this morning, where I was bothered with that noise. I could not grab some weak signals there. Sorry for that. Without that noise, I could have caught them for sure.
In BW QSO Party since yesterday, however, I have had very nice chats with old friends. Like Dick K4XU, Vic WA6MCL Jim KF7E or Don WB6BEE. It was a real party on the radio. It is always good for me to renew our friendships. I have met Dick twice in person, Vic once and Don in the near future. I enjoy hearing how they have been doing through QSOs. It is a very simple thing to greet and talk how each of us is getting along but is still so valuable in our lives.
It is still raining hard. I quit getting on the radio and will go out for special meal with my wife for her birthday. She is as young as Jim KF7E now. The photo shows our garden through the window of my shack.


A Happiness Report

A Happiness Report from Columbia University has been published. It is intersting that those countries with higher tax burden occupy the higher positions. Japan is the 46th in this report.

In Japan, the tax rate is generally low. The sales tax was balanced with the tax reduction enforced at the same time. There has been no tax increase since 1980s. The middle class has not, however, enjoyed much service by the governments, national or local. With the scheme of civil engineering driven economy collapsed, the people has had the feeling of paucity for public services.

It has lead to distrust of the people to the government, bureaucracy and, eventually, to the people in the society themselves. In this situation, the politicians won't be able to increase the tax but only would find out any expense, which they insist to be redundant, to be cut in the budget. The results are the astronomical amount of debt in the government and one of the lowest positions in happiness among the developed countries in the world.

The high tax countries are ranked at the high positions in this report. It is reported that the peoples in those countries enjoy much more for the public services, so that they could be content with the politics and won't resist paying the huge tax.

Once certain amount of income is secured, the relationship with the others in the society determines the happiness as this report says. Could we reach or realize the anthropocene, a new term quoted in this report, by any means?



The Fukushima nuclear plants are still far from control

A most recent news told that they had detected 3200 Bq/l radioactivity in the underground water from a well close to the 1st reactor at Fukushima nuclear plant. It has been reported the cooling water was contaminated by radioactive substances. I suspect it is not the case with the present situation. The major radioactive substance is Cs, which could be absorbed easily by soil. If the underground water is generally contaminated, the source of contamination must be close to the underground water path.

The nuclear fuel has been melted. Nothing is known yet to what extent it got through. Since the casings are known to have been broken, we could speculate that the fuel got through the concrete beneath the casing. If the underground water are contaminated by sources close to the water path as told above, the melt down fuel must be the most likely cause for that.

The power line planned to take the fuel out of the reactor after it is fully watered. Since the casings are all damaged, however, it won't be possible for them to do that. Another project to do that in dry environment is under consideration. It could be quite difficult due to extremely high radioactivity from the fuel. They should manage to take the used fuel out and place them under control. But no exit for that solution yet at all.

At the IOC meeting a few days ago, our prime minister has made an obvious lie in his address saying that the Fukushima nuclear plants were under control. The accident is still least dealt with now. Even if he wanted to invite the Olympic games to Tokyo by some means or other, he should not have told about it in that way. It hurts the people in Fukushima.   

The Fukushima nuclear plants are still far from control.


Arleen Auger in St Matthews Passion

Music is a mysterious experience. It is connected with the memories on the deepest phase. We could recall the atmosphere in the concert hall and, of course, the performers when we listen to the same music later however long it may have passed since the experience with it.
I have been to a concert of S. Matthews Passion in '80s. It was held at a chapel of a college in Tokyo. The ensemble and chorus were some japanese groups. The solo soprano was Arleen Auger, who sung the part with most impressive way. Serene and beautiful. I could remember very vividly how her voice sounded at the chapel at that time. Even though I have listened live performances of this music for many times since this concert, it was one of the best experience with this music.
I happened to have found this clip in Youtube. Sadly, she seemed to pass away at pretty young age in early '90s. I still feel thankful to her for such a valuable experience with this music.  

Answers to Karsten DL8YBK as for the ham radio activity in Japan

Karsten DL8YBK asked me how the amateur radio was doing as for the activity/number of operators. In his image, Japan has many more hams per certain general population. Since the number of hams in Germany is dropping now, it would be of interests to them how japanese ham radio is maintaining its activity.

I answered him that the numbers of ham radio operators is still rapidly decreasing in Japan as well. The reason could be multiple.

One is that there are less young people interested in this hobby. They are mainly doing with the internet. This should be the same as in Germany.

The 2nd point is that the licensing system is too complicated and too costly in Japan. As explained below, there are two kinds of licences necessary to operate radio here, the operator licence and the station licence. Oddly enough, we should apply for the guarantee of each equipment to a private company. The private company named TSS is believed to guarantee the legal validity of each equipment. This guarantee process is done only on a paper basis. They require certain cost for each guarantee. I believe such a rigid and bureaucratic licence process won't promote ham radio but suppress its activity. There must be a few more points to discuss about but should not be the major reasons. 

He has answered to me that there were still 3,000,000 hams in Japan. He wonders what they are doing in ham radio. In his opinion, such an activity holding that great number of hams in Japan could be a role model for Germany.

The following is my answer to him. I quoted the accurate number of each category. The conclusion is not very optimistic.

quote my answer to him;


You should be careful about the difference of the numbers between the operator licensee and the station licensee.

The operator licensees in 2011:
1st class  26683
2nd        75229
3rd       195122
4th      3002920
total    3299954

There should be those who hold multiple licenses. Actually, I have all the class licenses by myself. The operators licence is valid throughout our lives. So this number is only an accumulation of each class from the past.

The station licensee in 2011:

This license is only valid for 5 years. So this figure might mean how many hams have their set ups irrespective of their activities. This number is told to have been decreasing as well. It's almost half of the max numbers in 1990s at present.

The JARL members in 2013;

No classification according to the operator classes. Maybe, roughly proportional to the numbers of the operator licensees. There are the 3rd or the 4th class operators active on HF. But most of DXers must hold the higher classes. But again no definite data.

From next year, owing to the bad finance of JARL, it will impose the life members membership fee. It is against the contract. So there must be a portion of the current members dropping off from the roll.

I hope Germany won't follow us as for the activity/number of hams.



Lost my life, I start singing

To Jim、

This is it. It was on a web site titled "Celiist Gosh and the company". It is a site in Japanese.

A latin poem engraved on an old cello translated by myself:

"I kept silent while living in a forest. Now, lost my life, I start singing with serene voice."

I love this poem. It expresses the fact a string instrument gets a life once it is made from wood to its shape. That is why we should deliver the instrument to the next generation.
This poem is so attractive to me that I would publish it here.

Even though anyone could question if mine has a value to be treated in that way...haha