Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




"Subarushima" written by Eiichi Ikegami



"Subaru" means gathering, and integrating together. "Shima" means an island.


The writer Eiichi Ikegami raised in Ishigaki Island, Okinawa Prefecture. He is well known for his popular novel "Tempest." The "Subarushima" consists of eight short stories written about each of the eight islands of Okinawa called Yaeyama Islands. All the stories were witty and very interesting, but in particular the story "Iriomote Island" left a deep impression.


I have been to the Iriomote Island three times. The story depicted vividly the island's atmosphere such as the nature like in ancient times, the strong smell of grass in the mountains and the high humidity. So it made me feel like I was in the island again. The storyline beyond my imagination and the depiction of the primitive instinct as male and female were shocking.


Below is from the story's beginning and ending:
-Iriomote Island called "The roof of Yaeyama Islands" is an unexplored region in the southern sea. It is the largest island among the Yaeyama Islands and inhospitable. The high and steep mountains' surfaces always wear cloud veils, so it is impossible to see the whole picture. There are higher mountains than ones in Iriomote Island all over the world. But the mountains in the island are characterized not by their height but by their depth. What you look up at the entrance now is just the tip of the iceberg. As soon as you step inside the mountains and you are in a rainforest that even a compass doesn't work.


Some young men in mountaineering equipment piled off a boat. A middle-aged man approached them and said, "I study in a lab of this island. Are you, by any chance, going to camp in the mountains?"


The mountains cover over original sin and grow thickly today.-


A mangrove forest and sands of Urauchi River. Nature that doesn't seem like in Japan spreads out.


When I trekked the jungle toward Kampiree Falls, some parts of the trail had become a stream.


About an hour later, finally I arrived at the Kampiree Falls. Kampiree means "place of a god". Although there wasn't that much of height difference, it looked indescribable godly.

A fresh encounter with a book published six years ago-Molly Birnbaum's "Season to Taste"




It is a story of a young woman who was aiming for a chef, from when she lost a sense of smell until getting it back. I always read electronic books, but since there was no electronic version of the book, I decided to borrow it from a library.


Then I borrowed the book at Fukui Prefectural Library yesterday, and I was surprised that there was no sign that the book was opened because the tassel was folded neatly between the pages of the book.


Am I its first reader? Had it been waiting for being picked up for nearly six years at the bookshelf of the library that many people use? Indeed, the book was published in September 2013.


Having said that, though, the library may not always get books right after publishing, so it didn't make much sense, but it was a bit of fun from the beginning.


I wanted to read this book because it was introduced in the book called "The strongest 'Reading' that is helpful in business" written by a well-known business person and a great reader Haruaki Deguchi. I like the words of him saying, "There is no other way but meeting people, reading books and traveling the world to become smart.”


Mr. Deguchi recommends the "Season to Taste" after mentioning as below.


- "Flowers should have scent, books should have poison." or "An unprejudiced idea is a non-scented bouquet." Among proverbs about books, I like these two irresistibly.-


I have just started reading the book and I do not know at all what the story will be like, but I am curious about what kind of poison or smell it has.

The 160th Naoki Award-winning novel "Hero's Island" written by Junjo Shindo



The novel's editor says that the manuscript is the best he has ever worked on and recommends it risking his career as an editor. Shindo himself also says that he is so proud of the novel.


The novel depicts three young people grow in Okinawa after the war with actual persons and incidents. When Kamejiro Senaga appeared in the novel, I cheered, but as for the scene of US Air Force F-100 crashed into Miyamori Elementary School, I felt twinges of horror with the cruelty and outrageousness.


Throughout the novel, it was like a hot, deep, strong adventure mystery movie. As a matter of fact, Shindo once intended to become a movie director, so that makes sense. I have read several pages every day. It was so much fun to read it and I wanted to read furthermore but even felt it was too nice to finish, and really overwhelming.


He put Okinawan readings on many words in the novel. I admire that he took the time and trouble to do it despite not being an Okinawan. And, his supplemental remarks were funny and they made me giggle. I like his sense of humor.


By the way, upcoming June 23rd is the memorial day of Okinawa Prefecture commemorating all who died in the Battle of Okinawa. The day is a public holiday in Okinawa Prefecture. On this occasion, I would like to think deeply about the current situation in Okinawa and the victims' souls. (H.S)


The author's autograph message, and it also says "Please read."

"Zen: Suggestion for a simple life" written by Shunmyo Masuno



Today, I would like to introduce the book that I always have at hand and am reading again and again. Its author, Shumyo Masuno is a chief priest of a Zen temple Kenkoji and Japan's leading landscape garden designer.


The reason that Masuno is a Zen priest and also started creating gardens is that once Zen monks were going to replace mind attained through practices something, and one of them were gardens. For example, those who liked a flat surface drew ink paintings.


Masuno says, "Gardens are made of natural materials, so they change continuously, which is called transience in Zen Buddhism. Transience means "not remain". All things in nature change gradually. Changes are our lives and lifetimes. If you don't want to change them, you will have worries and suffer. But if you accept the changes as they are, the worries and suffers won't be them. Gardens are the place that you can realize it. And Japanese people may have tried to find beauty in the changes."


Below is an excerpt from the book; get rid of unnecessary goods.
-When things aren't going well, we tend to think that there is something lacking. However, if you want to change the current situation, letting go is priority than getting something. Remove your obsession, don't assume, reduce your possessions. Living on a simple life means throwing out baggage of body and mind. Letting go or discarding is pretty difficult. As with a separation from someone, sometimes it might be painful. But if you want to get things done smoothly and live lightly, why don't you start by letting go? When you let go, a thing that newly comes is riches.-


It sounds like a contradiction that letting go enriches your life. But probably that means you could elevate to a new level, which gives you strength and mental space. So I would like to clear up my house during the next Golden Week holidays. (H.S)


View of the hotel's garden created by Masuno from the lounge
(The photo is from Cerulean Tower Tokyu Hotel's website.)


The calm atmosphere in the evening


The garden of Gotanjoji Temple in Echizen City, Fukui Prefecture, which is popular as a cat temple, was also created by Masuno.
(The photo is from Masuno's website as a landscape designer.)


There might be the "answer" on the page you opened.

Book recommended by Ms. Igarashi, the head coach of JETS, Fukui Commercial High School Cheerleader Club



This is the book "Technique to unify team mind" , which she showed me at the practice place of JETS.
Lower left hand is Ms. Igarashi's.


When I visited the practice place of JETS, Ms.Igarashi recommended the book "Technique to unify team mind" to me. JETS is a well-known cheerleader club of Fukui Commercial High School, and Ms. Igarashi is the head coach of the club.
Not only did she and JETS members read it, but they also participated in a workshop by its author, Mr. Yusuke Murata.
I think Ms. Igarashi herself could write a book about teamwork because she's already had enough achievements.
At any rate, I was impressed with a glimpse of her efforts.
So I ordered the book immediately after I got home and received it yesterday.


The figure of teamwork pyramid was put on the wall in the practice place.