The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Update, at long last

Wow, I wasn't intending to leave things this long, but I guess I lost track of time!

It wasn't a particularly eventful autumn. I injured my knee doing iaido, and so I was forced to stop practicing both iai and jodo for a while (I have since resumed jodo). I couldn't walk without being in a lot of pain for a long time, but I'm pretty much okay now.

Fall was very pretty on campus. The gingko trees turn a really wonderful, bright yellow colour that would look even more impressive if this picture had been taken on a clear day instead of a cloudy one.

Rikkyo is one of the few university campuses in Japan that is old enough to look like what I consider a university to look like: ivy-covered, church-like brick and stone buildings. Most universities in Japan are fairly new and most buildings are concrete.

So autumn went by pretty quickly. Christmas came and went without too much fanfare. For New Years, my friends Ed and Miki were in town visiting her parents, so we went to the National Museum in Ueno to see a performance. Here is Ebisu, god of fishing... he's got his little fishing rod ...

And here is Daikokuten, god of wealth and commerce. Why he has a mallet, I'm not exactly sure. To crack open sake kegs to start the celebration? Does he symbolize carpentry as a representative trade? No idea. A quick check of Wikipedia says something about a "magic money mallet" ...

There were also lion-dogs dancing. After the performance, people tried to get the lion-dogs to bite them, as this is evidently good luck.

After the performance, we wanted to go to a shrine, because I hadn't been yet. I suggested Yushima shrine, because I had worked in that neighbourhood before, and was familiar with the shrine. I didn't realize, though, just how crowded it would be! Look at all the people lined up to get in! The wait must have been 3 - 4 hours, at least. There was an almost-equally long line behind me, inside the shrine gates.

So anyway, we said forget it. I ended up going to a much smaller shrine, a couple days later.

In mid-January, a friend and I went to see an exhibit of some Albrecht Durer etchings and woodcuts. They are insanely detailed and surprisingly small. I'm sure he had a lot of assistants, but even so, producing even one of these pictures must have taken hundreds of man-hours. And he produced quite a volume of them in his life. We wouldn't think of making something like that without a computer, nowadays. How strange... technology has made us helpless!

Outside the museum is a cast of Rodin's "The Thinker". Wikipedia says that there are actually dozens of "Thinkers" around the world. I had no idea.

I'm on vacation now, and doing very little. Well, that's not entirely true. I'm taking Japanese classes once in a while, meeting friends, going swimming, going to jodo practice, reading lots of books, going to galleries, going shopping ... and I may get a short little trip in. I don't want to spend too much money, though, so we'll see what happens!