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I visited Kunouzan Toshogu last Sunday.
The VOIS’s Interpreters’ Training Course includes an on-site guiding practice and this term we chose Kunozan Toshogu.
Did you know Kunozan Toshogu has been designated as National Treasure recently?
It’s the only building National Treasure in Shizuoka Prefecture.
Not only was the master priest there kind enough to show us around as long as three hours, but he kindly gave special consideration to our admission fees. For a poor NPO, this is really unusual and we felt grateful.  We have often treated coldly by red-tape type authorities, so his kindness was really impressive.
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The most interesting point for me was his answer to my question at the tomb of Ieyasu.
As you know, most people believe the remains of Ieyasu were moved to Nikko Toshogu.
So I asked him, “I guess a lot of non-Japanese ask you what is inside the tomb.  How do you answer that?”
He said, “I say, ‘the remains of Ieyasu’”.  I was a bit surprised.
He went on saying “The remains of Ieyasu must be here.  There are some reasons why I say so.  First, the descendants of Tokugawa family visit Nikko Toshogu and Kunozan Toshogu.  At Nikko, they offer prayers at the main building but they do not go up to the tomb.  Here at Kunozan, they offer prayers both at the main building and at the tomb.
Second, the tomb stone yard at Kunozan was built over 20 years after Ieyasu died, after Nikko Toshogu had already been built.  In addition, the construction was done directly by the government.  Usually this kind of construction was ordered to provincial lords those days.  So if the remains had already been moved, the government wouldn’t have had to build this grand grave.  Third, Tenkai, a great Buddhist monk, left a waka, Japanese verse, regarding the transfer of the remains saying “Areba aru, Nakereba nashito, Suruganaru, Kunonakikamino Miyautsushikana”, which I dare translate as follows; “If you think it is there, it is there. If you don’t, it isn’t.  Removing only the spirit of the God in Suruga”.
「あればある なければなしとするがなる くのなき神の宮移しかな」
He said, “Ku ” as in “くのなき神の”, can mean “” meaning the body, so the latter half of the verse says “The God was moved but not the body”.
Well, if you are from Tochigi, you have a lot to say for this.
Let’s just believe what we want to believe.  (Running away from a controversial matter....  away .... away  )
‘あればある なければなしとするがなる くのなき神の宮移しかな’
One of my best friends started a very interesting English event in Shizuoka!

It takes place in a fancy bar and the participants are to enjoy speaking English with a native speaker over some drink!

A lot of people say that they feel they can speak English better when they are tipsy, so this should be a good idea!
Come to think of it, I have almost never had an opportunity to drink and speak English.
I can’t hold my liquor, but maybe my English will flourish with some alcohol!?

If you are interested in the saloon, go visit

"English Chatting Saloon e-Space"





English おしゃべりサロン e-Space

July 2, 3006

Yesterday we, VOIS members and teachers, had a farewell party for Christine, one of the teachers, and her boyfriend John. The hardest part of making friends with non-Japanese is very often we have to say “Good-by”. By now they must be on board the plane to London. I wish you two the best luck, Chiristine and John!

By the way, does anybody reading this come from Shizuoka?

In Shizuoka, we put “ra” at the end of sentences to make them questions, or tag questions.
For example. “gakkouhe iku” meaning “go to school” can be turned to a question by adding “ra” at the end “gakkouhe iku ra?” meaning “You are going to school, aren’t you?”
I live in a neighboring city of Shizuoka so I use this “ra” very often, but I guess people in Shizuoka city are more sophisticated so that most of them do not use this “ra”.
Yesterday at the party for Christine, I talked about this usage of “ra” in Shizuoka dialect with Suzy’s husband, Yuki-san. He said he had an opportunity to talk with a very well-known linguist and the scholar said that this “ra” comes from the old usage “ran” having speculative meaning as in the famous 1000-year-old poem “久方の光のどけき春の日に、しずこころなく花の散るらむ(ん)“. Hmmm, interesting!

Also one of the Shizuoka vernaculars is “gosseppoi ごせっぽい”. This is used like “He is always telling me to do this and that, but he is out of town today. How gosseppoi !”, or “Until I have get that chore done, I won’t feel gossepoi.” So it means the care-free state of mind. And, lo and behold, this gosseppoi comes from goshoppoi “御所っぽい” meaning “like the emperor’s palace”. Use the word processing software WORD and try typing in “ごせっぽい”and press the “change” key. See? It is changed to “御所っぽい”. So “ごせっぽい goseppoippoi" may mean “as neat/clean as in the emperor’s palace.”

I thought these dialectal usages were fairly provincial, but we have preserved them over centuries. We should be proud, maybe?

今頃は、ロンドンへの機中でしょう。 クリスティーンとジョン、幸運を祈ります。



、つまり「天皇の住居(御所)のような」という意味なんだそうです!! ワードをつかって、「ごせっぽい」とタイプし、変換キーを押してみてください。ね、「御所っぽい」ってなったでしょ。つまり、「御所のように片付いている・きれいな状態」からきた表現ですね、きっと。


lo and behold        な〜んと、 驚くべきことに

覚えた表現 ( ..)φメモメモ

hands on / hands-on 参加型の  実践の  実際に参加しての <Chikichanのブログより>


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June 5, 2006

Again, it’s the season of fireflies.
I live in a rural area and around this time of the year we see fireflies. Look at the photo! The fireflies here are naturally grown; they are not cultivated ones.
For some years there seemed to be no fireflies around here any more, but about 10 years ago they came back and ever since I have enjoyed watching them every year.  When they came back 10 years ago, it’s hard to believe now but the fireflies looked like illumination on a Christmas tree. But up to now we had to go more rural area to do so. To my surprise, this year, I saw a lot of fireflies at the river just around corner from my place. You may remember the photo of the river and the cherry blossoms I put on this blog some time ago. I live near a little upstream of the place. When I say “a lot of fireflies”, it means 15-20 fireflies, though. I wish I were a better photographer and could show you a photo of a firefly glowing.

P.S. I took this firefly back to the river after taking this photo!

Fireflies reminds me of a song of Masashi Sada. Do you have any particular song you think of associated with fireflies?



P.S. このほたるちゃんは写真を撮ってすぐ川に戻しました。

♪水彩画の かげろうのような
 きみの細いうでが ふわりと
 ぼくのかわりに 宙を抱く
 ほたる祭りの 。。。(あと思い出せない)♪

Where have river banks gone?

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April 5, 2006

This is a river near my place. Do you feel nostalgic? You can see I live in the country.
I like this river not only because now the cherry blossoms are in full bloom, but because it still has the atmosphere as "a river".
A lot of "rivers" have changed to mere water channels due to bank protection works. Some banks have been lost for good. When I was a young kid, I enjoyed fishing with nets, picking horsetails in early spring and cluster-amarylises in spring and fall, made and blew glass whistles, and so on and so forth on banks. I saw a snake swimming for the first time from a bank.
Some time ago I often saw some mini-buses with Tokyo license plates parked near the river. It seemed the visitors were here to enjoy fishing "haya" in this river. I guess they did not enjoy fishing only but remembered the pleasant memory in their childhood. The area reminds you of the song, "Furusato", whose lyrics go like "Those mountain hills where I chased rabbits, and those rivers where I enjoyed fishing..." I'm afraid kids in big cities never have that kind of experiences.

うちの近くの川です。懐かしい感じする? いなかでしょ〜。
すこしまえはよく東京ナンバーのマイクロバスがこの川の近くに止めてあるのを見ました。この川で“はや”釣りを楽しみに来てるみたいだったけど、魚釣りだけじゃなくて子供時代の楽しい思い出を思い出しに来ているんだろうな、と思いました。このへん、唱歌“ふるさと”を思い出させるようなところだからね。"うさぎ追いしあの山、こぶな釣りしかの川〜” 都会の子はそんな経験できないでしょうね。

音読  April 4  DVD "Friends" 20分


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