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.


A respectable doctor has been killed in Afghanistan

A very sad news has popped out on the display this afternoon. I could hardly believe of that at once. A Japanese doctor Tetsu Nakamura has been shot to death in Afghanistan. The news is here.

He has started working as a physician in Pakistan and Afghanistan in 1984. In an interview, he told he had realized clean water and irrigation system were necessary for the people to live by themselves. It was "an extention" of emergency medicine to help people to develop irrigation system there. In addition to hard work as a physician for the people, he began constructing canal in the desert by himself and helpers and converted it to green field and farms.

His endeavour was based on the reality of what the people needed. He has always been very careful of what was needed by them. The canal′s banks were made of willow trees but not of concrete. It was intended to let the people maintain it by themselves after its construction. It seemed to me that he had not brought nor forced his own idea to them but had done what the reality required him.

In 2014, when our government was inteding to introduce the right of collective self defense in our country which was clearly against the constitution, he announced it would jeopardize those working in NGO for the developing countires with the risk of military conflict/attack. The Pacifism in our constitution has made the people, whatever faction they belonged to, belive Japanese NGO members won't do anything harmful to them.

It is not known yet who has killed him and the other 5 people on the same vehicle today. I won't believe the decision by our government to deploy some vessels of Japan Maritime Self Defence Forces to the Middle East has triggered this tragedy. Military intervention into the Middle East by our JSDF, however, may badly influence on the situation NGO personel is in the Middle East and adjascent areas.

As I have respected him as not only a doctor but also a human being, this news could not be more sad to me. It is a real absurdity that such an excellent person should die in this way. I really hope his idealism based on the real world would be taken over by some young people. May they be successful to further convert the desert to fertile soil. Doctor Nakamura used to tell that the people in Afghanistan invariably told him if they had water, food and environment they could live peacefully with their family, the war would have gone away. I really hope it will come true. Military intervention won't solve the problems.


Mt. Tsukuba

Staying at home throughout the daytime yesterday, I wanted to take a walk on the way for shopping. It was a bit far away south of my home but I have driven to an western skirt of Mt. Tsukuba. Not for sight seeing but for a walk! 

It took me some 30 minutes to drive there. It was past 3PM and was getting cold. 

There was a cycling road along the western margin of this mountain, the only mountain in the north-eastern part of Kanto plain. I knew this road was converted from a raiway running north south around the mountain and abadoned in 1987. A row of cherry trees were planted on the both sides. Either due to being too late for a walk at that time or not, there was very few walking there. You may see everything was red tinged with sun set color. Yes, it was already less than a month before the winter solstice came.

This Mt. Tsukuba is only 877m above sea level. Even though it is not high at all, it is surrounded with plain area, which makes it is conspicuously visible from everywhere all around. This outlook has attracted ancient people's religious interests and has been worshipped itself by them. There is an old shrine halfway up there. I have already posted some photos taken in a drive on the ridge. There is a nice drive way there. I used to take family every January to a large park covered with lawn on the mountain and snapped some shots. It was the days when children were small.

The mountain is located in the most southern part of Yamizo mountains running from the border to Fukushima north of here. As depicted elsewhere, ridges of low mountains are seen north and south in northern part of Tochigi/Ibaraki. The mountain was again colored with the setting sun ray. Deep orange or red. The forests and trees were also in fall color themselves. 

Another shot from far away. Getting dark and chilly.

There were a lot of old houses, mostly of farmers, I believe. This was a house with long entrance way with a big gate. 

Walking around on a hilly place, my legs were screaming. I felt I needed more walking. Sun has almost sunk in the horizon at 4:30PM. Terribly chilly. only 5 or 6 degrees C. Hurried to a supermarket nearby there and got some nice items for dinner.  


Leaves and flowers in fall

Some fall leaves and flowers at our home.

A stwartia tree. When the bathroom was rebuilt, the constructor planted it at the northern aspect of the house. I found the leaves were in various colors in delicate gradation. 

A close up view. I won't be bored looking at them.  

A sasanqua tree with full blossoms.

One of the flowers in close up. For what are they blooming in this way? Bees are not active any longer. Beautiful and gorgeous.

A hibiscus syriacus, that is, rose of Sharon. An elegant name since the Old Testament days. This is the national flower of Korea. Around 20 years of age, I have learned that from a person from Korea at a bible class I was attending to. He also told me of the cruel history of the March the 1st movement for independence from Japanese Imperialism before WWII. We Japanese owe much to Korean people. The colonization of Korea by our ancestors has brought the Korean people the tragedy of separation into south and north at present. Too bad our politicians are not aware of that. I could not forget that. This tree yields sick and elegant flowers in spring. This fall leaves are also very attractive. My father used to love this tree and has planted a few at my clinic by himself.  

A magnolia tree with colored leaves. While they are ready to fall on the ground, the new buds of flowers are alrady growing on the branches. Leaves die, flowers come out. A miraculous fact which repeats every year. Even though that repetition is not eternal. As I told before, my mother used to love the flowers coming out in spring.


Miso pork soup

It is getting colder here. Something hot is welcomed as a menu for dinner. This is a variation of miso soup. The point is using much pork as the material. Miso is given two divided dose in the meantime and at the end of cooking. Hand made miso given from a friend of my wife's was used. Flavor and taste of fresh miso was really good. The pork might work as the soup stock which makes it taste rich. Any vegetables will be OK as the material. Radish and other root vegetables are necessary.

This rich tasted soup may suffice to warm you in a cold evening.


Fall in full swing

Fall is in full swing here. It may get frosty in the morning very soon.

I have not harvested persimmon so often this year. Just for material of salad. Recalling how sweet the dried astringent persimmons were last year, I decided to make them again. Some of them will be sent to parents in law living in a facility away from their home if these get successfully ripe.

Magnolia and Zelkova trees have turned colorful. Their leaves have started falling on the ground. It is to prepare for the new leaves/flowers next spring. But the brilliantly colorful leaves are doing to die for the ressurection. It always amazes me. We are like each leaf of those trees. How couldn't we falling on the ground for the next generation like these trees?

Enkianthus perulatus at the entrance facing to the street has also become totally reddened.
One of the trees has died this year. They are older than 30 years for now. May they live a bit longer and please us and people passing by with its beautiful fall leaves as well as tiny lovely flowers in spring. 

Flu is in epidemic everywhere. Please keep away from crowds of people which you could be easily infected with it. 

Quiet fall evening here.


Remebrance of a colleague pediatrician

In this season, I remember of a colleague pediatrician who has died at young age around this time in a year 11 years ago.

I have worked with her at the same department of pediatrics of a medical college nearby. As soon as she and her husband graduated from another university far from here, they applied for residency at that medical school.

She was a brilliant girl always with a smile on her face. When we were on charge of a case with severe Guillan Barre syndrome, the patient developed arrhythmia, a rare complication of that disease. In the cardiac catheterization for that patient, she has correctly pointed out a bit of akinetic area in the patient's heart without any knowledge of reading the contrast radiography of the heart. I was impressed at her sharp sensitivity to those things. She was always eager for the patients and has accumulated much knowledge and experience in medicine. She was a kind and generous person as well and was loved by everyone around her. If she had wanted it, she could have been a staff of the medical school.

In a few years, I quit that department and started career at a local hospital. Eventually, I had own practice where I had worked almost 20 years until retirement. In that period, we have just exchanged season's greeting cards in the new near's days. In them, she always wrote to me to play some chamber music together. Yes, she was a proficient pianist and had loved classical music.

About 13 years ago, we finally had a chance to play a portion of the Mozart's 1st piano quartet together with a violinist and a violist. The violinist was the person whom I had asked to play various pieces since her music university days while the violist was a patient for me who was studying that instrument at a school. There was the violinist's sister, another violinist, at the rehersal hall.

From left to right; the pianist, the violist, me, the sister of the violinist;another fine violine player, the violionist, after the rehearsal

After over almost 20 years of absence, she still looked lovely with the same shy smile even though a bit tired in the outlook if I could recall that meeting at present. We have talked something trivial and had a great fun time playing that piece together. In an hour or two, promising another ensemble in the near future, we have parted there. It seems she has suffered from some kind of cancer by that time. In several months, I have heard she closed her own clinic. I did not know such an ominous thing had occurred to her until I heard of her passing in December of 2008. I was really shocked to hear that. Too young to die. She was only 49 years of age at death.

My diary says I have listened to the last piece of the Last Four Songs by Richard Strauss at the night of the day before receiving that sad news from two sources at the same time. She might have struggled with her illness to live longer. But, I believe, she has reconciled with her fortune and has accepted it as this song expresses. In serenity and peace, hopefully.

I have missed the chance to attend the service for her. It was too late for me to do that. I hear their children have gone for med school after their parents. I am sure she wanted to see them to become doctors. She might have other things which she would like to do or some goals which she wanted to accomplish in her life. Everything has been abandoned by her illness. I only wish her rest in peace. I will follow her in some time anyway. Much gratitude to her being a colleague and a chamber music co-player even though it was only for a short period.           


To the visitors

Thanks for visiting this blog. I don't know how worthy it is to do so.

It often takes me some time to read your comments. Sometimes I miss the chance to reply to you. But they are really appreciated whatever they may be.

Sorry but I should delete the comments which denounce or hate other people. Otherwise, any comment will encourage me to carry on this blog.

Thanks a lot.


A drive trip to a mountain/ocean area

Seaveral days ago, another crystalline fine day, I went for a drive to the northern part of Ibaraki prefecture, next to our prefecture, which lies east of us along the Pacific Ocean. I wanted to visit the book store I had been to this summer as already posted. The other object was to see the fall leaves in the mountain area.

The readers may suspect I too often go out for such a drive. Not so much. Once or twice a month in spring or fall. It helps me to get out of frustration caused by working as a full time house husband. It might be an inheritance from my mother who enjoyed outing with me for drive anywhere when she was with us. I could not forget how brilliantly her face was shining when I told her to go for driving.

On the way, there have been several gingko trees with full of burning yellow leaves. I love this kind of tree most. I won't be bored looking at them. In a town next to 

Another view of a hilly farming village next to our town. Very quiet and few people even though the truncal road was pretty busy with traffic. The forest looked colorful. A very quiet place. 

I have driven again the route 6 which ran north and south along the ocean in Ibaraki. One of the biggest city is Hitachi, the origin of Hitachi Co named after this town, I believe. As already written elsewhere, I used to drive this way purposelessly in week ends with my family when we both served residency at a med school hospital. The dorm was too small and messy to stay in the week end. Carrying milk and diapers, we drove there with our son in babyhood. It was a fun and let us get out of the frustration, maybe, the same kind I have had now. I remember this Zelkova trees along the main street of Hitachi. The scenary has not been changed so much. It may mean the economy has not developed so much since those days, I am afraid. 

In the northern part of Hitachi, the route 6 runs straight along the ocean. Fortunately for me but maybe unfortunately for people there, things have not changed at all. I have loved driving this area. At a place north of here, we used to turn and go back home since it was getting dark. Getting closer to the dusk, I remember, I felt a bit sad to have to finish that drive and get ready for the hectic week ahead.

Sun seemed to start setting in a couple of hours when I drove there. I had to give up visiting the book store in Fukushima again and headed to the west to come back home. I got through the low mountain area. That way was also familiar to me. It was the area we often drove when coming back home in my resident days.

It was still amazing there were houses in solitude or in cluster even deep in the mountain area. There were very few people seen, though. Some rice paddies were along the road running in valleys. Rice must has been harvested. No one was working there.

This seemed to be an abandoned house. Maybe, of a farmer. It was starting to decay but still maintained its admirable outlook. Standing there, I wondered what people have spent their lives there.

seemingly, a spontaneously grown Zelkovs tree beautifully colored in a forest.

A close up with a bit of revision.

Another shot of a forest with fall leaves. Quiet and serene.

I have sometimes run across with the other cars on the road. But very few. There were some villages along the road. I wondered what the people were doing for living. The farms seemed too small for them to live on. Going for work to city areas? It was too far. There must be only old people living in such villages. It may be given up in a decade or two. 

On the way back home, I have purchased pretty good apples and pears at a store along the road for souvenir. Getting out of stress, I would start the daily routine again.


The 41st anniversary

In a couple of days, we will have the 41st anniversary of wedding. Needless to say how fast time has passed.

Following the words of Robert Browning I have quoted here a few times in the past, let's go on living together hand in hand.

Grow Old 
Grow Old
Grow old along with me!
The best is yet to be,
The last of life, for which the first was made:
Our times are in His hand
Who saith 'A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all nor be afraid!

For the past 41 years, we have had things, happy or unhappy, wrong or good, pleasant or unpleasant. We don't know anything in the future that waits for us. In belief in supreme being as Browning depicted, we may go through everything together.

In real life, we face to questions either I or she should take out. Like house chores, cleaning, paper works and so forth. Maybe, sometimes frustrated and making quarrel each other. But it is firmly determined that we should go on together.

This is her photo I love most. As a objective viewer, there should be a moment when a gilr looks most beautiful in her life. I believe it was such a time for her. Taken in our honey moon trip. Sorry posting it repeatedly.

We started the honey moon, or exactly, the life of hectic struggle as residents, after playing Apres Un Reve. That was really "after a dream".

The present to her or ourselves for this anniversary is a big and powerful hair dryer. May this help us to preserve our hair more and more insecured!


A driving trip to a valley in the mountain area

Eight days ago, it was fine around the noon. No clouds so far as I could see here. Cool and crisp. I remembered I would like to see autumn leaves somewhere in the mountain area. It won't take me too long to decide to visit the Shiobara Valley north of here. Years ago, I have enjoyed literally burning colors of leaves over there in this season.

It took me a couple of hours to drive there. For a plain week day, it was a bit crowded on the road to the valley. I am sure they were coming there to do the same thing as I would.

Being late in the afternoon, it was not very crowded at the secluded area in the valley. The leaves are changing colors but only imperfectly.

A maple tree has turned red on a steep slope in a mountain.

There was a small creek dried at that time. I was going to turn to south at a place in the valley, which should bring me back home earlier. But a sign told the road was closed due to construction, possibly, for restoration from the damage dut to torrential rain a few weeks ago. I did not want to be involved in the traffic jam on the opposite side of the way and went ahead deeper in the valley. 

On the high land, there were a few hot spa inns on the way south to my home. I used to bring Jim VK9NS that way and took him to a public bath. He didn't hate bathing there even though I don't know if he was accoustomed with that habit. It was almost 30 years ago after a small DX convention was held at a city nearby. Most of those DXers attending to it have become inactive or even silent key for now. It has been years since Jim died and his net on 14222KHz was put an end. 

This is an artificial lake named Ikariko north of Kinugawa spa and Nikko. It was the road a friend of mine, Mamoru Nakajima, JH1HDX, who passed away just 10 years ago, used to drive to Tohoku area for business trips. As a young service engineer, what has he thought driving this way those days? A quiet place.

It was a bit lower in altitude there. The leaves have not turned colorful so much yet.

It was quickly getting dark. And I hastened myself back home. On the way back home, I went through a part of Nikko, where I used to visit to see friends and on business. In a year or two since I started residency, I was told to go to a medical center there to work for emergency in the week end, for 24 hours from Sunday morning. What could I do for emergent patients those days? I could not help feeling ashamed remembering what I did there. Early in Monday morning, after purchasing some breads at a store of the hotel there, I went back to the resident house where my wife and elder son were waiting for me. The road was frozen and it was like skating on a car without chain on the tires. How have I dared to work there at that time? I was sure young.  

Recalling those days, I headed back home. On the way, I made shopping at a store for dinner.


Another shrine visit

Visiting shrines and temples is not my hobby. I am interested only in the history especially of ancient common people who spent their lives in this area. Anything reminiscent of those people attracts me.

On the way to my former office, there is a shrine named the Gosho Shrine. There are a few apartment houses next to it and some offices close to them. Everyday when commuting to the office, I have driven aside the shrine. I have never seen anyone in the precincts even though it was neatly cleaned. I have had a faint desire to visit there someday.

A few patients living in this area were attending to my office almost 20 years ago. Whenever I drive there, those children and their mothers come up in my mind. I always wonder how they have grown up by now. That was another reason why I wanted to stop by there.

Several days ago, for a change, I went for shopping to a super market in the town of my former office. The shrine was on the way there.

The guardian forrest north of the shrine buildings was seen far on the road, that is, my commuting road. Very little traffic or people. 

The gateway to the entrance to the shrine, a torii made of stone, was recorded to be constructed in 17th century. The explanation said it had the background of foundation back in the 8th century. But it is more probable that it was actually founded at the same time when the stony torii was built. 

The main building of the shrine. I could not help smiling there was a light above the offertory box. People may gather this shrine in the new year days for worshipping and probably in the summer for the festival. I have never seen those events, though.

I am reading a book regarding the possibile sustainability in the population reducing society. The researchers have investigated it with numerous variations under different conditions put into an AI in order to find the possibility in our country. In a nutshell, the result was that we should seek not centralization to Tokyo but regional dispersion. The author proposed the new community formed in the guardian forrests/shirines. Of course, it is not to advertize Shinto religion but to utilize shrines as the center of community, which is nowadays lacked in the society. He says there are roughly 80,000 shrines all over our country. They used to be a local cultural center in the region. The guardian forrests could be a source for energy generation as well. The tradition of the shrines may attract people as well. This looked an interesting idea. A new policy or rather a paradigm shift for decentralization should be searched. The present centralization could not be sustained for sure. 

After taking those photos, with a slight anticipation I might see some former patients around there, I went for shopping and got some materials for dinner. Of course, no one I used to know was there or in the super market. It has been too long for me to recognize them even if I should ran across with them somewhere.   


Pork miso soup

It is getting cold here. When I was wandering around in a super market, an idea of recipe, pork miso soup, came up in mind. It seemed good enough to warm us for meal.

I had no smart phone and could not look up for the recipe at the supermarket. I have purchased burdock and carrot only. Sweet potato was the product in our garden farm. I asked my wife to get the other veggies for this dish on her way back home from her flute lesson.

The point was two fold. One was adding powdered small dried sardines for seasoning. The pork and the veggies were the source of soup stock themselves. This powder was just a secreat seasoning.

The other was preparing miso in divided doses. One was given halfway to season the materials while the other was given at the end of cooking for fresh flavor.

It has got a good valuation by my wife. Not so complicated that it may take a position for dinner throughout the winter.


A drive to a hilly area

We are living in an inland area of the northern part of Kanto Plain. It is 30 or 40 miles west of the coast of the Pacific Ocean. To simplify explanation, between this area and the Pacific Ocean, there are two mountains, that is, low mountain ranges, and a river. From west to east, these geographical structures are the Yamizo Mountains, the Kuji River and the Abukuma Mountains. We are pretty close to the skirt of the Yamizo Mountains, which becomes ranges of low hills in this area. I have least knowledge of geological structure in these areas but still suspect our place is geologically connected with the Abukuma Mountains north of here. An evidence is that our area had pretty big earthquake motion in 2011 while the area west of here was spared with it. It reminded me of the continuity of geological structure from here to Fukushima and the epicenter of the big earthquake in 2011 in the Pacific Ocean.

I have enjoed driving these areas with family since we started living here. Sometimes with my children and mother. It was a fine and cool day inviting me for another drive in that area. I just wanted to see fall scenaries and, if possible, to get some fresh apples harvested at farms along the Kuji River and some fresh fish at the coast, both of which I could not achieve due to tight schedule this time. Maybe, in next drive.

Driving on streets among rice paddies, I have extended right arm out and have had cool breeze into the car. Rice has been harvested everywhere. Leaves have not changed their colors not so much yet. Perssimon has got ripe but has always not harvested.

In a valley between ranges of hills, I have parked along a road. It was in the Yamizo Mountains. There were farm villages scattered in the valley. As told above, the rice has already been harvested and paddies were empty everywhere.

I have found a shrine on a hill. It was named as Hoshimiya shrine. Hoshimiya stands for stellar palace in Japanese. I thought it was a pretty romantic name. As I looked up this shrine or this group of shrine in the internet, I knew it was a common shrine group in this area. It worships a number of gods in Shinto. One of them is a god describen in Nihonshoki, that is, Chronicle of Japan, published the 8th century. It seems this shrine group goes back to the 18th century for foundation. The shrine building didn't seem to be so old. Maybe, it might be constructed a century or so ago. 

Anyway, it was a quiet place on top of a hill. The precincts, not large at all, was well cared for without weeds grown. It seemed the shrine parishoners still held festivals regularly.

The shrine building on the hill. Pretty neatly cleaned and cared for. On the back of this building, there was a small shrine, which must contain something ancient.

This shrine must have been the object for worship by the people in this area. It has been respected especially for ancestor worship. I admit that religious tradition should revered as a culture. But the nationalism Shinto, that was the traditional Shinto put together with the Emperor system, was formed by the political authority in Meiji Era in order to have the center among the people in the nation. The nationalism Shinto has become like a cult with eliticism which lead to the invading war into the Asian countries in WWII and to the catastroph in the end. The nationalism Shinto was supposed to be ceased at the end of the war. However, the emperor system has been alive with the ally but different thoughts between the Emperor and the GHQ. The Emperor was concerned only about persistence of the emperor system in our country while the US military would utilize it as a tool to govern our country. It should have been thoroughly abandoned at the end of the war. The ghost of nationalism Shinto seems to survive and to revive at present, I am afraid.

Anyway, such a shrine should be respected since it has been worshipped by our ancestors even if it is only a primitive regional religion. I imagine a lot of old people have attended to the shrine either they had anxiety or pleasure in their lives. They kept this place as an object for worship for their ancestors. In their mind, ancestors should be something supernatural or transcendental over themselves.  

I have driven along the Naka River which runs from the mountains of Yamizo toward the Pacific Ocean. I was surprised to see various parts along the riverbank were flooded. The water seemed to spill over the bank and left much dirt there, either housing areas or farms. People were working to clean it up.  

On the way to the Kuji River, I knew it could be dark when I ran near to my home. I decided to come back home. There is a straight truncal road running from east to west, which I used to drive with my family and my old mother. The sun was starting to sink on the horizen. I remembered, whenever my mother saw that sinking sun, she used to say "The fall sun sets as quickly as a bucket dropping into a well". This saying was quite common in our generation or older ones who know of the old well. It is only less than 30 years since we had that pleasant drive together.

On the way back home, I have donated a little money to a person who were working for those victims by the thyphoon in our area.


Hearing loss and dementia

I have read a post in the internet telling that some portion of dementia in elderly is caused by hearing loss. Instinctively as well as from own experience, I suspected it could be an association but not a causal relationship.

Actually, the relationship between hearing loss and dementia is one of the topics in the related medical field. Investigating the papers regarding this topic by Pubmed, I found there is no finding that show the causal relationship of hearing loss with dementia. A review has clearly denied it.

I believe hearing function related with dementia must be the linguistic process. Intellectual activity is based on hearing and understanding words/sentences. The hearing by the outer/inner ear, which is often quantitatively measured by audiometry etc, is only perceptive process. In further linguistic process, the information obtained through perception of sound should undergo various processes of morphology, syntax and lexicology, which are handled in the higher center of cerebral cortexes/brain stem. The higher center function is not clearly elucidated yet. Only recently, it has been discussed semiquantitatively by functional MRI findings, I believe. At least, it is still too early to conclude the hearing loss in the elderly causes some dementia. 

I believe this higher center function is more closely related with dementia if it is not a causal relationship. For an example, discriminating a certain speaker among crowd of people speaking at the same time is often becoming difficult for elderly. I suspect this dysfunction of higher center is reflecting the entire dwindling brain function associated aging. Sadly, I am an example of a person with such dysfunction.

Hearing is, however, an important source of intellectual activities. If it is not the cause of dementia, loss of this information source may be indirectly related with lowered intellectual activities.

We should be careful not to lose hearing acuity in this sense. It is not good for us to wear headphone listening to noise for a long time. Repeated fatigue in inner ears may result in permanent sensual hearing loss.


Typhoon Hagibis

A few friends of mine have asked me how I was doing with typhoon Hagibis. As a conclusion, like I reported in facebook before, we have had no damage from that storm at this place. We were only just lucky. It has hit the central area of our country very badly with record hard wind and record amount of rain. So far as they researched, 47 rivers have flooded and 66 people were killed with this storm. A friend of mine, the violinist whom I have asked to play chamber music for the past couple of decades, has had flooding in the vicinity and spent a sleepless night with her family including 2 infants.

Now more dameges and victims are being revealed especially in the mountainous areas in central Japan. Some people have lost their grounds for living. A number of people are being found dead mainly due to landslides. Infrastructures including roads, railways and trains have been lost. It may take a long time and budget to recover from these damages. 

It is reported they haven't done preventive drainage from 6 dams despite of being advised to do that by authorities. It sure caused some flooding in the downstream areas. Even though this storm was a historically record in size and intensity, it should be questioned whether there was anything they could do daministratively to prevent or lessen the damages.

One of my concerns with this storm was if it has caused anything ominous to the destructed nuclear reactors in Fukushima. Actually, a member of a scientist group, whom I rely on, has announced the radio activity in the air has transiently risen in some suburbs in Tokyo. It was quite probable radioactive substances have flown from the accident area to the surrounding areas. The so called decontamination of the soil, that is, removal of contaminated soil in limited depth, has done only in the living area. The forests and fields have never been done anything to remove radioactivity. A research report said the fallen leaves of broad-leaf woods would absorb and maintain the radioactive substances fallen on the ground while the soi in the naked area would easily flow into river etc and cause further contamination. The river base should be highly contaminated with radioactive substances. In Fukushima, they have had flooding this time, which might expand the contamination to the other areas.

The contaminated soil from decontamination procedure is stored in vinyl bags. The number of the bags is increased up to 16.5 million. They are exposed outdoor to the weather. Soon or later those bags are decayed with ultraviolet light of sunray. In this storm, some of them have been flown into a river, that has caused further contamination there.

There are high ventilation ducts of 400 ft of height in the destructed nuclear power plants. They are highly contaminated that they could not be dismantled easily. Together with the other structures like the reactor cases, they have been most likelily destructed with high winds. It was not realized this time. But we should observe it closely when such a gust hits the area. The accident of the nuclear power plant is not finished at all. 

While the storm passed by here, I operated radio to know if the antenna was intact. It resulted in no damage. In pretty good conditions, I could manage QSOs with some old friends. It was the only good thing this storm had brought to me.

So I thank you for your concern toward us and for your wishes. I will be seeing you either in the internet or on the air soon.

Webern and his early work

Anton Webern, an Austrian composer, is one of the New Vienna Schools, who has played the main role to create as well as activate the modern music early in the 20th century.

Like his teacher, Arnold Schoenberg, in his young days, he has composed a few pieces in the late romantic style before starting the atonal style and later by the twelve tone technique. This romantic piece is told to have been composed while he was hiking with a girl who would be his wife later. He was only 21 years of age and a few years before he got into the atonality style. It is a music of love with infinite beauty. The romantic melody line and the complicated structure tell us it was under the influence of Brahms. It is also noted it would express not only the pleasure of love but also faintly perceivable anxiety and sorrow.

The commentary of this Youtube clip quotes the following words by Webern himself.  He might have expected some "cold rain at night" even at the height of happiness. He still decided to walk along with her then.

"To walk forever like this among the flowers, with my dearest one beside me, to feel oneself so entirely at one with the Universe, without care, free as the lark in the sky above -- Oh what splendor...when night fell (after the rain) the sky shed bitter tears but I wandered with her along a road,"

It has been a question why the late romantic style has been taken over by the modern music method in Webern and in the other modern composers. One reason might be that they had faced a wall which they could not express themselves with the late romantic style, which was going to endlessly extend their sense and emotion. Voluminous score and larger number of performers would play almost endless works. Actually, they wer not endless. There was a hard wall to overcome before them. They must have thrown away that thick clothes hiding their real inner selves. And they have reached simpler and crystlline harder style of atonality and further methods in the modern music.

The other aspect we should never forget is that they have lived the age when the idealism of democracy has been replaced to totaltareanism in the politics. It has ended in the massacre and total destruction of the society. Before and during that period of tragedy, the composers must have been influenced by that thought of the times. They must not be concerned with doubtful humanity but should be concentrated in the logic of music itself. I am afraid they have given up something music could reach and react with our mind directly.

Maybe, later music historians will reveal what has happened to them. Hopefully, contemporary and future composers would find the way to sublimate this contradiction of music styles.

This piece is still really attractive to me.


A fellow travellor of life

As written somewhere in this blog, this place, my birth place, used to belong to my mother's family. My aunt, an faituful Christian, founded and managed a small sanatorium for tuberculosis patients before and during the WWII. Tuberculosis was a fatal illness those days. It was prevailing among not wealthy people. They were often separated from their family members. My aunt has accepted those people desined to death. Yes, it was a kind of hospice, even though it was not equipped for any advaned medical treatments or medical staff. Based on belief in Christianity, they were keeping a small community for themselves.

After WWII was over, there came on the antibiotics effective for tuberculosis. Judging that sanatorium was not necessary in the society any longer, the aunt has closed it. It was the time for our family to exodus to Tokyo. Nearly 3 decades later, I have come back to this area for the residency as reiterated in this blog. In the beginning, we intended to come back to Tokyo for further study and training after the residency. A few factors, such as having our son to our family, decision of my parents coming back from Tokyo to this place to spend their retirement or fascination of rural way of life etc, have made us decide to be settled down here. First of all, we wanted to go out of the narrow and nasty resident house in the medical school hospital.

It is difficult for me to conclude if it was a right decision or not. There could have been, I believe, the other ways of life if I had not been settled down here. No one knows. It is of little use to imagine the other possibilities of life at present. The past is past and unchangeable for now. I should acknowledge it as it is and should gratify what I have been given here.

There is a big chestnut tree in the eastern end of this property. It must be over 40 years or more old. It seems to have been grown spontaneously there while there was no one caring for this land. Every September, when it blows a bit cool breeze telling us the arrival of fall, it would invariably bear so many chestnut fruits. Sometimes, we are inclined to cut it down in order not to be troubled with chestnut cases fallen on the ground. When I find the chestnuts fallen on the ground in the season, pulling myself together, I would collect them on the ground and confirm the fact this tree has lived the same history as we have.

As I have always done in the past years, I peeled the case of chestnuts and froze them in the refrigerator. To make chestnut rice shown as below. It is a bit of work for me. But I have stored them divided in 8 packs. They are good enough to enjoy it throughout a year. Isn't it a good gift from this tree?

I might feel this old chestnut tree as a fellow travellor of life.  


The last lot of harvest of tomatoes

I have harvested, possibly, the last lot of tomatoes in the garden farm yesterday.

In the end of last month, we have had a long lasting episode of rain. Without appropriate pruning, it has accelerated the growth of tomatoes, which has made them a kind of bush.

In the end of the season, as always, I am defeated by mother Nature in this way. They won't bear good fruits or, if bore some, together with this cooler weather, they won't get matured. Soon, I should mow them. It is a moment of a bit of sadness making me convinced it has become fall.

Yesterday, my wife came home from Shikoku, where she had visited her parents at a nursing home. Both of them have reached mid 90s of their age. Each has some health issues but, with the good care at the facility and help by her elder sister living in the same city, they are getting along well. I asked her to bring a simple sound collecting device to father in law, who had had hearing loss due to aging for the past years. He told her it worked OK and, actually, they could converse without writing down what my wife would say to him. He reiterated thanks to me when she was leaving there for home. His words has given blunt pain to my heart. I wondered what I had done for him. Have I owed too much to parents in law for the past years while they have helped us so much? 

Knowing she came home deadly tired after a long trip, I have prepared a nice dinner. Pork cooked with vegetables with seasoning of soy sauce, vinegar and sugar. Pretty good.

It is a dayoff for my wife. She has been cleaning the house and will be attending to a gym this afternoon. It is my routine to practise cello for Brandenburg Nr4 I play with company this week end.