A trip to an old temple and a memory of the doctor having worked there

I have visited Saimyouji, an old temple, in the town next to ours. It was the place I took Joe AJ2Y visiting here several years ago. It is my habit to visit there once several months by myself or with some visitors. I needed walking a little bit. I also wondered if I could fine anything which showed the arrival of early spring. It was a fine day without any clouds in the sky. Pretty cold but not freezing. It was 3 or 4 PM and sun was ready to sink in an hour or two. It was a plain week day. And there were almost no visitors in the grounds. Among high trees, there were the temple buildings on the top of a hill. Quiet and peaceful as if time has stopped to flow.

The entrance stairs. Going up only dozens of steps made me short breathed even if I might excuse that due to the steep slope. I felt I needed more exercise or walk for training every day.

Here is the history of this old temple.
It says it was founded by a famous
Buddhist Gyoki in the 8th century.

The buildings had been (re)built from
16th through 18th century. The temple
has suffered from fires a few times
and has lost the old buildings. The
lords in this area has given the temple
generous and courteous asylum.

The entrance gate. The strong structure with straw thatched roof.

The three storied pagoda. Each story is constructed in japanese, chinese and mixture style

A storage house with the buddha statues kept in it. The roof is again strawa thatched one. This roof used to be pretty common whe I was born and spent first several years in this area. It should be renewed every several years and has already abandoned everywhere.

The main building, pretty new with metal sheet roof, stood in the most inner part. Again, it is not so old but must be rebuilt after the old style.

The front view of the main building.

The grounds were surrounded with numerous old and high trees. They have been designated as a special naturel treasure by the government. So serene and peaceful. I could understand the ancient people have founded this temple at this place which might look suitable for worshipping.

At a foot of the hill of this temple, along the road of steep slope, there is a clinic named after the temple, Fumonin Clinic.

The son of the former chief priest of this temple has become a medical doctor. He has worked at the National Cancer Center in Tokyo after graduating the med school. He must have served a lot of cancer patients at that time. Years later, his father could not carry on the priest job and, after studying Buddhism at a university, returned and took over the priest job here. At the same time he has started that clinic.

Some twenty or more years ago, my father used to attend to the clinic. Even though I have not heard how my father evaluated him as a doctor, judging from the fact he had attended there spending half an hour for driving there on one way, he must have been happy being taken cared for by the doctor. I remember he told me of the fact such a doctor was working there at that time.

Several years ago, the doctor was diagnosed as the final stage of pancreatic cancer. They say he has told he had been caring for the terminal patients with cancer throughout his life and then was in his turn. Since then, he vigorously started or emphasized his activity to advocate the importance of religious background for the terminal care givers. He has written a few books of that theme and has visited Catholic Conference in Vatican to make an address of the subject for 4 times.

When I was working at own practice of pediatrics, I had a secret dream to be involved in the terminal care at a hospice in the future. I was inclined to visit this doctor and to hear any advice from him. I remember telling this dream to my father who was happy to hear that. But without any personal relationship with him and with my busy daily work burden, sadly, it did not come true. I knew it was not easy for any doctor to start with terminal care from quite different speciality career. I still recall of him with much respect that, despite of his own fatal illness, he has served for the patients in terminal stage cancer for some time in the very end of his life. Very few could do such a thing.

Three years ago, I have read on a news paper that he died. His wife, also a doctor, has taken over the priest job as well as the president of the clinic. Their daughter, another doctor, seems to work with her at the clinic. There were several cars parking at the parking lot. I am sure they are going on good work for the people in this area.

Looking sun sinking on the horizon in the rice paddies, I headed back to home.


How to identify a decoder user on the air

For just fun, I have posted to a CW operators' group in facebook regarding how to know someone using a decoder. It says as follows;

1)A few seconds delay to change from reception to transmission. 

2)Often omitting name etc, the ordinary format of QSO. And ending transmission with BK. 

3)In addition, using a key board. 

4)Impossible to communicate other than exchanging call sign.

I was a little bit kidding and added that I would quit there as soon as I identify the guy in QSO using a decoder. Rather, he or she would touch and go before I do that. 

There were a lot of comments, pro et contra, as usual for such a post. Beginners seemed to be irritated by such a comment. I should have behaved more courteously. But this thought is still what I think in the usual QSOs.  

My reply to the comments is here; 

Wow, lots of comments! 

I just wanted to let you know how I judge certain operator is a decoder user. I won't hate new comers or even decoder users. When I have time free, I would slow down and try to make an ordinary QSO in "traditional" style. I am not very happy to work anyone who just hits and runs. Whenever I read various posts/comments here, there are different kinds of topics by CW operators with different background. I hope you to mix them up. I believe, when you would be a CW operator who could communicate on CW fluently, there are 3 steps. 

1) Remebering code 

2) Getting used to QSO in traditional style 

3) Talking freely on this mode with the skill of head copy. 2) and 3) often goes at the same time in a person. 

But 3) is difficult to achieve without being conscious of head copying. If you are accoustomed with writing down message or even with using decorder, it bothers you to accomplish this step. One additional and most important point is that only when you could get through 3) step, you may have pleasure of CW communication. It is related with rewarding sense in your mind which comes from reading the message through expectation in head copy. This point is regarded needless to comment by old timer with proficiency. As the other easy going communication modes are accessible among new comers, this point should be emphasized. Only grinding away at head copying would give you the real pleasure of CW communication.


Ume flowers blooming and the 3rd piano concerto by Bartok

On the way to a supermarket for shopping as I do once 2 days, I have found a tree with numerous scarlet colored flowers in the propery of a factory near here. It was a corner sun shined a lot. Having parked on the side of the street, I walked close to that tree. It was a ume, japanese apricot, tree. More than half of blossoms were coming out.

A close up view.

Compared with the same ume trees in our garden, this tree surely ran ahead of them. One reason of blooming early must be the location of the tree where it could enjoy a lot of warm sunray. A blessed tree. Seeing those flowers typical for the arrival of spring made my mind warmed a bit. It might not be too long before the flowers on the trees in our garden come out. 

Another news for me. I thought Bela Bartok, a hungarian composer having lived in the first half of the last century, had composed atonal music with dodecaphonism technique adopting melodies and forms from ethnic music. A critical essay on this composer  by Hidekazu Yoshida, an excellent critic of music, sadly dead at the age of 98 years in 2012, has taught me his last works had gone through that modern music age but had reached a new horizon. His swan song, the 3rd piano concerto, typically shows the point he has achieved far ahead of the dodecaphony. This work sounds serene as well as energitic. The 2nd movement has surprised me with its almost religiousness. Even though he was thought to be an atheist, he has reached a religious transparency with this work. A real surprise! He has been criticized for his style achieved in the last years of his life by those dodecaphists. But he must has believed the modern music of atonality won't realize the lively world of music in this way he has shown in this concerto. His biography tells us at the very last moment of composing this concerto, he has got fatally ill with leukemia and could not compose the last 17 bars in the last movement. His disciple has finished the music according to the sketch he had left. 

There is still such a music I have not known yet and must listen to before the end of my life as well. I would explore for such a music in the vast ocean of the music in the past as well as at the present time. What an exciting and meaningful adventure!


Beef noodle with home made japanese leek

This blog is not a food blog, never, never...

But this is a dish of beef noodle for the lunch today. Noodle is a special product in Kagawa area, where my wife came from. She loves noodle dish. She says noodle has been served at any occasion. Even for snack in the afternoon.

Whenever we got back to Takamatsu in Kagawa Prefecture to see her parents, we used to enjoy the noodle at restaurants. Even at a simple reaturant in the station. Smooth touched and tasty noodle. 

This japanese leek in the dish is home made one. While the outer portion of the leek was again almost decayed like the cabbage harvested yesterday. the leek itself in the round was fresh and well nourished. 

Our ancestors have enjoyed noodle as preserved food but also for its unique subtly crunchy taste in the smooth soft outlook. It is a food culture of tradition.  


A long lived cabbage

A few cabbages were planted in the farm last fall. They were grown in this way.

When it got cold, three of four were shaped successfully spherical. I knew becoming spherical was to live in the cold atmosphere. One of them was harvested last November as below. It was cooked as rolled cabbage etc. 

The very last one was left in the yard farm alone. The surface was almost decayed with freezing etc. A miserable cabbage there. A few days ago, I had an idea to cook cabbage with beef seasoned with oyster sauce and mustard. As soon as I found the recipe of that dish, I remembered of that poor almost given up cabbage. 

I have forgotten taking a photo of the original outlook of this vegetable. The surface leaves were half decayed and dirty. But, being cut, it turned out to have thickly packed content. Fresh and almost juicy.

Before cooking the dish mentioned above, I tried it for a dish of warmed vegetables. Surprisingly sweet. Fresh vegetables could be sweet. Among those fresh ones, this was literraly like a fruit. I bet it has produced much sugar in order to survive in the freezing temperature. I thanked it a lot, of course. It was also used for the cabbage and beaf dish.

In a couple of months, it will be the season to start planting or seeding vegetables. That work will keep me busy and vivid. I am looking forward to having that season.  


Ume flowers and ume-boshi

On a ume tree most exposed to sun in the garden, the buds of flowers are growing. Small parts of the petals are almost uncovering the buds.

Within a couple of weeks, they start to bloom at the same time. Red ume will follow these white ume. Spring will be fully blown by that time.

As often mentioned, these trees were planted by my father almost 40 years ago. My mother as well as father has loved these plants.

Late in spring, these flowers would turn to ume fruits. They have made ume-
boshi, that is, pickled plum. It is not really pickled. Ume has a variety of acids as constituents. It contains 4 or 5 times of citric acid more than lemon. When ume fruits, salted, are dried in sunray for a week or two, the variety of acids are concentrated and produce particular sour taste of ume-boshi. It has been used in various kinds of dishes in Japanese style. Being against growth of bacteria, it is used as a kind of preservative for foods. Rice ball has ume-boshi in its center, which preserves it for a day or two.

I and my wife have made ume-boshi for the past several years like my parents used to. Ume juice as well. I wonder if we should do that this year. It takes much time to dry the ume fruits avoiding rain fall.

Maybe, yes, we will repeat it recalling of what my parents did in the spring. 


Wine stew of beef with tomato and other vegetables

I thought I hadn't cooked beef for a while. Purchasing a bloc of beef, I stewed it in wine with vegetables. The secret seasoning was miso. Not bad.

Though it doesn't seem to contain much beef, total of 500g beef was cooked.

I am trying to cook main dish once 2 days. The problem is that we eat too little and there could be redundant things left while new one is added. 

I found a dish named Oden, that is, soy soup stew of vegetables, boiled eggs and meat balls etc, was left in another pot. We should consume them at the same time. Avoiding obesity, let's enjoy them. 


Another sentimental journey to Tokyo

I have been down to Tokyo in order to attend a small ensemble rehearsal. It was a place near to a university, where we used to have rehearsal of the university orchestra regularly held in the week end in my med school days. I was intending to look around the area I spent those days after 40 plus years absence. Another sentimental journey.

At the beginning of the trip. My "Rosinante" and "the sword".

It was forecasted we might have snowfall at sometime in a day. Looking warm sunray, however, I was sure the roads won't be frozen even at night on the way back home. I wanted to avoid being in the crowds of people in the downtown flu had been in an outbreak when I went there on train. I decided to drive down there.

I have ever been driving through the relevant street there for a few times since I graduated from the school but never went there on foot. Without knowledge of parking lots there, I headed to the area. As I took off the high way in Tokyo, I found a lot of small parking lots everywhere. Some houses whose habitants were gone might be demolished and were replaced to those parking lots. The tax for the property is extraordinarily high in the downtown of Tokyo and is not paid off without income from such as parking lot, I guess. 

Anyway, I have parked at one of them near the place of the ensemble. Bringing that heavy cello in the hard case, I walked along the street where I used to in med school days as a cellist of the university orchestra in order to attend the rehearsal. This is the entrance gate of the university, Ochanomizu Women's University, of the orchestra rehearsal place mentioned above. Our orchestra was allied with the students of this university and had more than 100 members those days. At first, having been a student of a college with exclusively male students before entering the med school, I have never been to a campus of such women's university in the past and was pretty nervous. However, there were a lot of boys walking in the campus. I became used to going there very soon. Anyway, the entrance gate and the entrance street toward the hall named Kiindo lined with gingko trees were how they were 40 plus years ago. I used to walk through it to the student hall on the back of this hall every weekend and even more times. A place of old good memories. After the rehearsal there, I used to walk back to the street with some good friends. Talking of many things from trivial to seriouly invilved in our lives. With heartfelt nostalgia, I wondered how those old friends are doing right now. 

A notice before the gate said anyone who would enter the campus should own a entry permit. I knew I would have been regarded as a geezer guy if I would tell the guardman I used to be a cellist of the orchestra of this university 40 plus years ago and would like to look around the campus. Giving it up, I headed to the subway station on a street of slope upward. Surprisingly, the street was lined with a lot of high buildings, mostly of apartment, which we never had 4 decades ago. I wondered if there would be habitants in 10 or 20 years there. It will be the age of population onus phase with reduced population. At that time, will those buildings be pulled down and would the town look like long time ago? 

Steppind down firmly the sidewalk toward the subway station, I wondered what I was thinking of when walking this way 40 plus years ago. Music, professional studies, friends in the orchestra, a girl friend or anything else. It is evident I have never looked around the scenary or the buildings. Just looking straight ahead. Now, at the last chapter of my life, I could look around and try to find anything which brings me back to those old days. 

At the small ensemble, I have enjoyed playing cello with repertoire like a minor violin concert of JS Bach or Oblivion by Piazzolla and talking with young friends. Time has flied away so fast. On the way back home, I had to drive on the high way with pretty crowded traffic. It was like a jet coaster for me. I could not help feeling my sight was being dteriorated and it would be soon when I could not drive that way any longer. At midnight, I could come home safely, though. 


Listening quiet and empty band...

Some time before our sunset, I always sit before the radio and call CQ on 40m. Sipping a glass of cold lager. I am doing that routine for several times. The band could not be more quiet than on the beach in ebb tide in the afternoon. It is the time when it could have been open world wide. RBN stations from NA and SA uploaded reports for my signal not very bad. But no one calls me at all. In some 15 minutes, I am going to switch off the radio. There could be some very rare hams like Ellen W1YL or Glen NN6T popping up this time in a day. They are really exceptional hams getting on the band at this time in a day. I know it is midnight in the US and most of them are asleep around this time. But, as I repeatedly told, there used to be old timers who could not fall asleep or got up unusually early over there. They often came up and did with me for a while until they feel sleepy again. They are all gone.

For many times, I have mentioned in this blog on the decline of CW operators who enjoyed ordinary QSOs so far as I could hear here. I won't complain of that but would describe it as it is. Some people have tried to relieve me saying there could be some more especially in the US etc or the others even proposed me sked for a QSO. I won't need a sked any more. It is a fact that CW operators are drastically being reduced in number. I would say only that fact as I do here. We may be living the era when CW is slowly but steadily fading out from the communication world and is becoming only a historical being at present. I won't complain of that at all but just would accept it as it is. I have spent a brilliant age of CW communication in '60s or '80s when there were a lot of CW operators with proficiency and capability in operation. Even if they were chasing DX or battiling in contests, they were invariably great ragchwers. I can count such operators as vivid memories. However, most of them have gone away, either silent keyed or got inactive. It is how time has passed. No use complaining of that.

I have also repeated discussing on the cause of this decline of CW activities. Someone says there are less elmers on the bands. I agree those skillful operators, mostly ex R/O, used to be elmers for beginners of CW operators. I also would like to be like some of such excellent operators. Those elmers were kind enough to do with such beginners as me in '60s. As I told above, they have deceased or have quit radio by now. 

No code license or prevalence of the internet may explain this as well. The latter has an unexpected impact on communication. No one could expect in the age CW was the main way of communication in the world that the internet could change the world as it is. No concept of real DX at present. We may talk to anyone anywhere in the world through the internet or the satellite phone. CW seems to be destined to be a tool of game such as contesting. It's not bad. But it is not what CW used to be.

What I would say is that if there is something that accelerated the decline of CW, it is that few people have been aware of what attracted us in this mode of communication. It was taken for granted that CW attracted us. But nowadays, the internet could take it over with very simple and less costly set up. We could get connected with anyone in the world freely through the internet. CW communication requires them to train it for a long period. Young people may ask us how come we should make efforts to communicate others in the world in this mode. Tiring and laborious for them. I wonder if we could explain what pleasure we could have when accomplished the training of this mode. Prior to that, have we been conscious of what pleasure we have had on this mode? I have questioned about this problem for some times in this blog or even in the FOC reflector. But there were very few interested in it. I understand that they have had no clue or no method to investigate on this issue. 

It might be too late. All I could do is to enjoy this very last moment of CW communication with much enthusiasm. I could not be more thankful to this mode than ever for I could live this age when CW is diminishing from our sight.

The glass of beer is almost finished. I would listen the band for a while and then go to kitchen to prepare evening meal.


Chestnut rice and flu

Our dinner today. Chestnut rice made of rice and chestnut fruits. The latter is the frozen ones harvested last fall. I was worrying it could be hardened after being frozen and thawed. That worry was not needless. It tasted as good as freshly harvested ones.

Our meal was perfect with this main dish ane stew of pork and vegetables. 

It is getting quite cold tonight. I was wondering if I had caught flu. They say flu is outbreaking right now. Warmed myself, I am now feeling better. Flu is not likely. The strain now in prevalence is AH1pmd09 which used to be pandemic in 2009. It has kept me quite busy at the office. Ten years have passed since then. We, clinical doctors, have been kept busy with vaccination program for people. That program was controlled by the MHLW, the central administration ministry, which was really BUREAUCRATIC and made a great mess at the outpatient level. Anyway, I am free from such a mess to my happiness! 

A new antiviral med is available this season. It is unique with its mechanism of action. Unlike the other antiviral agent like Oseltamivir, this new one blocks replication of the virus within the infected cell. Seemingly pretty potent one. But it could give rise to the resistent strain with a mutation of one amino acid residue. If we are healthy immunopotent adult, we should avoid using that med to preserve it for high risk patients.

Anyway, taking good sleep is very important to prevent flu infection. Not having a glass of whiskey on the rock as usual, I would go to bed earlier tonight.  


A public cemetery

On the way to my old office, there is a small public cemetery along the road among paddies. I was attracted its quietness and took a photo over 10 years ago. Here it is;

The fallen leaves were neatly raked away. It seemed weeds had been pulled during the summer. Some tomb stones were leaned a little bit but still were well cared for possibly the folks related with those ancestors in the tombs.

A couple of days ago, I parked beside the cemetery and looked it around. 

A shot for the cemetry from far away;

It looked as if time had stopped around it. 

However, there were a lot of weeds, although already dead, overcrowded on the ground. All tomb stones, thickly covered with moss, have had their epitaph almost unreadable. In a couple of epitaphs, I could read that they were built in Taisho era, almost 100 years ago. Some tomb stones were destroyed or decayed. Some of the others were fallen down on the ground. 

The tomb stones were generally simple and are supposed to be built by the ordinary people around here. They must have been cared for by their descendants  until recently. For the past 10 years, to my surprise, they seemed to have been abandoned and have been left deteriorated and destroyed without care. 

There must be a background of this phenomenon in the society undergoing the change of reduction of population and of the aging process. Unlike the old tomb repeatedly posted in this blog which have been preserved for centuries, these tombs were not the objective of religious worship, even though folks must have had respect to those buried in these tombs one or two generations prior to themselves. That may be a reason why they have been abandoned. But why in such a short time span? I could not help suspecting the change in the society and in our consciousness are more drastic than we believe. 

This change in funeral might be reviewed as told above. But it also means funeral or tomb construction is only for the folks left on the earth. If there is soul in ourselves eternally alive, it won't be confined in such a tiny space of tomb. At least, I would say no thanks for that. More importantly, we should keep their memories in our mind and recall them from time to time. 

Walking around this cemetery, I was thinking of such a thing. The road I commuted to the office was still so straight as before.


Not to have ghosts of the prewar regime revive

This photo showing the leaders of Constitutional Democratic Party worhipping at the Ise Shrine was a real shock to me. It is not a private worship but united religious behavior of a public political party. It could not help giving some political meaning itself.

The CDP is thought to take a leading role in combining the opposition parties against Abe LDPJ. The latter dominating the administration at present is aiming at revival of the nationalism in the prewar era. The prewar nationalism was based on the State Shinto, having worshipped the Emperor and his family as well as the Ise Shrine, lead to the devastating defeat in our country and the terrible damages to the countries in Asia and the US. Worshipping Ise Shrine means to approve that State Shinto. 

The Association of Shinto Shrines has published its Charter in 1980. It advocates worshipping Ise Shrine, a shirine worshipping the ancestors of the Emperor according to the old mythology in addition to the Emperor as the State Shinto did before war. It also has an object to establish Shinto as the state religion as in the prewar period. GHQ was thought to have dismantled the State Shinto after the WWII. But it was not perfectly done and has preserved the system of Imperial Rituals. It could be only imagined but GHQ might have thought they would utilize the religious system in our country in order to govern the people.

The problem between politics and religion is much more subtle and deeply involved in our culture/society. However, the rule of separation between religion and state politics has been established after harsh experiences in the history in the modern nations. Our politicians, especially those against the ultra right regime aiming power, should learn it again. 

Not to have ghosts of the prewar regime revive. 


Happy New Year

Even though worries and anxieties for the future won't leave me, I still would say HNY to every one.

Buds of magnolia and of ume are coming on the branches  of each tree in the garden. They are not out owing to our worries or plans. It is just what nature brings out.

The future might be ready for us over our worries. I won't worry too much but just struggle for the better future.

Again, I wish you all very healthy and happy new year.