Today's theme: Culture Clash. Today's warning: It was only a mater of time before I tried to Haiku. Today's Injuries: Broken thumb, lots of bruises. Couldn't be happier.
Haiku, I don't believe can be rendered properly in any non-kanji language. It's subtlety depends on the multiple, and sometimes unrelated, meanings of the characters as well as the "puns" created by different kanji that have the same pronunciation. None the less, here is a recent winner of USA Today's daily Haiku contest.
Feta, tart and mild, Graces green spinach and dill. Spanakopita!
- Shirley N. Nuhn, Oakton, Va.
No offence to Shirley, but I wonder if such things are painfully awkward to the Japanese. When cultures collide there is bound to be some bruising.
My cousin N. visited from New York, and we spent 10 days visiting some of the more famous sights - Kamacura, Kyoto,and Nikko. I'm sure this was a great relief to my father who has been long preoccupied with the idea that I might waste such a valuable opportunity.
I must say I had an excellent time. N. was a great traveling companion. We talked, walked and looked at the sights in equal proportions. He has a great appetite for what's around the next corner, and I would not have seen nearly as much if it hadn't been for his influence. I remember when he was born. It's good for family to also be friends.
We saw beautiful temples, gardens and scenery. I don`t have too much to say about what we saw, really, it all sort of blurs into one large temple with a garden. The sights were intellectually inspiring but, for me, there wasn`t much that grabbed me emotionally. Like all matters aesthetic, other people will have other reactions. I do offer the following observation, for what it`s worth. No one tortures nature like the Japanese.
For me, the most powerful sights were the Red Caeder forests and the Bamboo forests. The Caeders are many 100`s of years old and very beautiful. Nathaniel and I found our way into one and tackled the problem of whether humans have free-will.
Bamboo forests make the most incredible noise when the wind blows: hissing of leaves and hollow clunking of trunks hitting one another. It occurs to me that Japan`s fetish for molesting nature might be a subconscious attempt to recreate Bamboo. Bamboo`s simple construction, self-similar variation and gentle green color give a forest of it real grandeur and a simple sophistication that is inspiring. Bamboo quintessentially reflects the Japanese aesthetic, I think.
We went to THE famous Zen rock garden. Here there are 15 rocks sitting in combed sand. What makes it Zen is the fact that from no one angle can you see all 15 rocks. There is no single perspective where one can see the totality of the rocks. Cool, huh? It took me about 3 minutes to find an angle where you can see all the rocks. How American to put the claim to the test and how Japanese to not have. Clearly there is something wrong here. Either I am mistaken or the claim is false. I do have pictures...
I should also mention that N. and I entered a bizarre, surreal version of Japan as we tried to locate Japan's gay night-life. You haven't experienced Tokyo until you try to get a 6 foot tall, Japanese transvestite to give you directions to the gay part of town. I will leave the details of that story to N.
Friday the World Cup started. Japan and Korea are co-hosting. Roppongi is at least twice its normal size. Europeans, American (N. & S.), Africans and Asian foreigners are in Japan partying, celebrating and, in general, being big, drunk and loud. The Japanese are freaked.
A member of parliament recently commented that among other things the Japanese have to "be prepared for the unwanted pregnancies due to foreigners raping their daughters." As I said, they are freaked. Some schools have shut down, women and children have been sent to the country, and police are out in incredible numbers.
I saw 100 policemen stand in front of a crowd of about 300 fans who were loudly celebrating a victory. The police looked very nervous even though the crowd was well behaved. The police actually held up signs in English which read "Please calm down, we are the police" and "Please be quiet". Needless to say, the signs had no effect. Talk about culture clash. "Please calm down, we are the police", I love that one.
N. and I saw a placard hanging on the outside wall of what appeared to be a house which read:
Little Girl likes AKA-MANMA Little Girl likes to play at house keeping Little Girl has a happy time with red rice Little Girl loves red. Yes! Red it`s a celebration Color Little Red Flower AKA-MANMA Reflects her good old memories
It is with the above inspiration that I risk attempting a Haiku of my own:
try to stop the sea capture current with a rope the tied will slip through
Hey, I kind of like it. I think I will submit it to USA Today.