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Technobuddhism

Many years ago, out of curiosity, I got up early to attend the morning prayers at a Buddhist temple in Kyoto. It wasn’t much fun, to be honest. The monotone chanting seemed to go on forever, and sitting in seiza the whole time rapidly became excruciating. When it was finally over, I felt like I’d been stuck there for hours although the whole thing probably lasted no more than 30 minutes.

But there’s a temple in Fukui city where things are done slightly differently. Twice a year, the Sho-on-ji (照恩寺) temple puts on a prayer service with techno music and flashing lights…

According to a BBC news item, these performances are the creation of Gyosen Asakura (朝倉行宣), a DJ-turned-priest who hopes to get more young people interested in Buddhism.

I’d definitely go along if I happened to be in the area. I’d probably bring something to sit on, though.

Click through to Asakura’s YouTube channel to see the videos of these events, with sound.

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Ōyama Sutematsu

Someone recently uploaded the story of a Japanese education pioneer called Ōyama Sutematsu (大山 捨松). It’s quite an interesting read:

The first Japanese woman to go to college didn't have a choice.

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Japanese kennels

I never realised competitive carpentry was a thing in Japan. Here are two teams competing to create dog houses in the style of traditional Japanese architecture. The results are pretty amazing.

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Dekotora

Dekotora art truck from Japan (by sanberdoo via Flickr; CC-BY-2.0)

Dekotora art truck from Japan (by sanberdoo via Flickr; CC-BY-2.0)

A Youtube channel called Great Big Story has made a lot of videos about Japan. I particularly liked this one about the decorated trucks, or deco tora (デコトラ) for short. Every one is unique, and the amount of money people spend on these things is astonishing.

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Japanese scarecrows

The Tokyo Times blog has posted a set of photos showing the scarecrows that recently appeared in a field near Tokyo. The mixture of mannequin heads and discarded business attire works really well.

I don’t know what the crows make of it, but I’m sure they’d give me a fright on a dark night.

Follow the link for more photos.

scarecrow_1

scarecrow_2

scarecrow_3

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Sayonara, Adobe

I’ve been offering business card translations for many years now, but only as a sideline and never in sufficient quantity to justify perpetual updates to the latest and greatest graphic design software. Fortunately, I was always able to get perfectly legal and serviceable versions of Adobe Illustrator up and running by purchasing upgrades a few steps behind the current version.

That all stopped when Adobe came up with their Creative Cloud concept. Now if you want to use Adobe Illustrator legally, you have no choice but to use the latest version. And you have to pay hundreds of pounds every year for the privilege of doing so. This just wasn’t a sensible option for me, so instead I carried on using the version I had at the time (CS2). It did everything I needed, so things were fine for a while.

But CS2 isn’t compatible with newer Macs. These days I have to run it on a machine that is so old it could conk out at any minute. It makes no sense to continue like this.

For this reason, I’ve switched to Affinity Designer, which does almost everything I need. One major omission is support for vertical writing (tategaki; 縦書き), but I don’t need this for business card translations that match the original English layout.

Don’t worry if you don’t use Affinity Designer, I can still work from business card artwork supplied as PDF files.

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70 years ago

Here’s a propaganda leaflet that was dropped over Japanese cities following the destruction of Hiroshima on August 6th 1945. The original text and a translation are shown below.

Let’s hope this sort of thing never happens again.

Leaflet AB-12

日本國民に告ぐ!!

〝卽刻都市より退避せよ〟

このビラに書いてあることは最も大切なことでありますから良く注意して読んで下さい。

日本國民諸君は今や重大なる秋に直面してしまつたのである。

軍部首脳部の連中が三國共同宣言の十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を以て此の無益な戦争を止めるべく機會を與へられたのであるが軍部は是を無視した。

そのためにソ聯は日本に對して宣戦を布告したのである。

亦米國は今や何人もなし得なかつた恐しい原子爆弾を發明し之を使用するに至つた。之原子爆弾はたゞ一箇だけであの巨大なB-29二千機が一囬に投下する爆弾に匹敵する。この恐るべき事實は諸君が廣島に唯一箇だけ投下された際、如何なる状態を惹起したかはそれを見れば判るはずである。

此の無益な戦争を長引かせてゐる軍事上の凡てをこの恐るべき原子爆弾を以て破壊する。米國はこの原子爆弾が多く使用されないうち諸君が此の戦争を止めるよう天皇陛下に請願される事を望むものである。米國大統領は曩に諸君に對して述べた十三ヶ條よりなる寛大なる條項を速やかに承諾し、より良い平和を愛好する新日本の建設をなすよう米國は慫慂するものである。

随つて日本國民諸君は直ちに武力抵抗を中止すべきである。

然らざれば米國は断乎この原子爆弾並に、其他凡ゆる優秀なる武器を使用しこの戦争を迅速且強制的に終結せしむるであらう。

ソツコクより退タイせよ〟

Attention People Of Japan!!

— Evacuate your cities immediately —

The content of this leaflet is of the utmost importance, so please read it carefully.

The Japanese people are facing a grave situation.

Your military leaders were given the opportunity to stop this futile war by accepting the thirteen conditions of the Potsdam Declaration, but have ignored it.

As a result, the Soviet Union has declared war on Japan.

Furthermore, the United States has invented a formidable atomic bomb, which has already been used. Just one atomic bomb carries the destructive force of 2,000 B‑29 Superfortress bombers, as you can see for yourselves by witnessing the destruction caused by a single bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

All military forces involved in prolonging this futile war will be destroyed by these atomic bombs. The United States hopes that you will petition the Emperor to end the war before many more of these weapons are used. The president of the United States urges you to agree immediately with the thirteen generous conditions previously set forth, and to start building a new, more peace-loving Japan.

Accordingly, the Japanese people must surrender immediately.

Otherwise, the United States is resolved to use atomic bombs and other advanced weapons to force this war to a rapid conclusion.

— Evacuate your cities immediately —

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Studio Ghibli

I’m quite a fan of the animations made by Studio Ghibli (スタジオジブリ), but I was unaware that the studio closed down last year following the retirement of director Hayao Miyazaki (宮﨑 駿). They may start making films again some day, but nobody knows when — or even if — this will happen.

Here’s a documentary of the studio’s work over the last 30 years:

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Japanese pancakes

It’s pancake day today. If you want to try something a bit different, here’s a video that shows you how to make Japanese-style pancakes called どら焼き (dorayaki). The voice-over is in Japanese, but the essential points are written in the English captions.

Use L-size eggs, and ordinary plain flour — “weak” flour is a direct translation of 薄力粉, a term used to distinguish ordinary cake flour from the “strong” flour (強力粉) used in breadmaking. It looks like he’s using icing sugar in the video, but caster sugar should work fine.

An authentic dorayaki is made from two of these pancakes with some red bean paste sandwiched between then. Your local Asian shop might have some. Alternatively, try maple syrup and ice cream.

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Name translator issues

arigatoThank you to everyone who emailed in about the issues with the name translation tool. It looks like the problem was caused by an expired SSL certificate. Hopefully things are working properly again now. Please keep me updated if you encounter any more problems.

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Header image: Stone lantern at Kenroku-en (兼六園), a famous Japanese garden in Kanazawa. Photo: Frank Gualtieri.

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