Spreading the charms of Japan to the world from Fukui




Aum Shinrikyo and "The place that was promised" written by Haruki Murakami



Shoko Asahara, who was the guru of Aum Shinrikyo and 12 condemned convicts were executed in July this year.


In "Underground" by Haruki Murakami, Murakami interviewed with 62 victims of the 1995 sarin gas attack by the Aum Shinrikyo. In "The place that was promised", he interviewed with members and former ones of Aum Shinrikyo. A former member from Fukui Prefecture was also interviewed.



Although I have read both books, I reread "The place that was promised" recently because I didn't want to forget the incidents caused by Aum Shinrikyo.


A former member said in the book, "Deep believers were chosen as the perpetrators of the sarin attack on the Tokyo subway system. And the guru said, 'You are specially selected.' He appealed to a sense of responsibility of the members. Devotion is the base of Aum Shinrikyo's belief. In the name of devotion, there was a self-aligned process in Aum. I have to remember the fact that the presence of Shoko Asahara functioned in the world even if only temporarily and that caused those incidents."


I think that's quite true. After rereading the book, I was shocked that the situation didn’t seem to have changed very much from 1998, when the book was written.


To prevent another sarin gas attack, we should once again closely examine the problems that Aum Shinrikyo came out, and hand down in the future. (H.S)

Nomonhan Incident and "Henkyo, Kinkyo" written by Haruki Murakami



Recently, I watched a TV program, "NHK Special" featured 'Nomonhan Incident'.
While watching the program, I remembered that once I read a book by Haruki Murakami, which was written about his travel to Nomonhan. The title of the book is "Henkyo, Kinkyo" (Outland, Nearby land), which contains "Graveyard of irons in Nomonhan".



Murakami saw a photo of ”Nomonhan Incident” in a history book when he was an elementary school student. Since then, he couldn't get the image out of his mind for some reason.


Later, he read books about 'Nomonhan Incident' when he found ones but the number
of them wasn't so many. Then, he lived in America for several years. At that time, surprisingly, he found old Japanese books about 'Nomonhan Incident' in the library at Princeton University, where he belonged to. So he continued to read the books there, too.


Murakami says that he has an extreme interest in the incident, perhaps because the war was very Japanese in a sense.


In the "Graveyard of irons in Nomonhan", the brutal way to Nomonhan, the vast plains in Mongolia, where trenches and tanks remain, his terrifying experience due to things that he took back, are described in detail, which are like watching a documentary.


Murakami's belief about the war, of course, was worth reading, but also the depiction of a small female wolf's eyes prepared to die, which was shot by their guide, a Mongolian military man, was so realistic and sad that it made me cry.
*It is said that, without fail, Mongolians kill wolves when they find one.

"Melody Fair" written by Natsu Miyashita, which is filled with Fukui dialect




The main character, Yuino works as a beauty expert at a beauty counter in a shopping center in Fukui. Ms. Miyashita was born and lives in Fukui City, so when I wonder "Probably
Ms. Miyashita modeled on that shopping center?", I feel the novel familiar to me.


The title "Melody Fair" means "Melody Fair" of The Bee Gees.
The song makes me feel nostalgic because it was the theme song of a British film "Melody"(1971), which was very popular in Japan as well.
In the novel, the song is played on the closing time of the shopping center where Yuino works.


The story depicts, in a subdued manner, Yuino's work and life at home.
In the story, Fukui dialect gives it snap.


I thought that people from other prefectures couldn't understand Fukui dialect,
but unexpectedly they may be able to understand in a context of a story.
Anyway, Ms. Miyashita used native Fukui dialect without reserve in the story.
Also, through the characters, she expressed disagreement with strange Japanese which young people use lately.


It was a novel which I could relax with Fukui dialect, brought back memories of a childhood that everyone else has, and could realize the magic of makeup. (H.S)

“Keihatsuroku” written by Sanai Hashimoto at the age of 15



“Keihatsuroku” is a guideline for Sanai’s own life consisting of five clauses below.
It still has been read by people as a teaching which can be adapted even today.


1.Stop being childish and dependent
2.Feel motivated
3.Set a goal
4.Learn from excellent persons
5.Value good friends


I referred to the book by Yoh Ishikawa for this blog


Sanai Hashimoto, who was born in Fukui City, went to Osaka when he was 15 years old, studied Western medical science under Koan Ogata at Tekijuku. At the Tekijuku, although it is not known since when, a rumor that Sanai goes somewhere in the middle of the night had spread. Some even said that he might have seduced by somebody. But, in fact, he was examining poor sick people who lived under Tenma Bridge.


Sanai wrote with a strong determination from his soul in the “Keihatsuroku” when he was 15 years old. He read the “Keihatsuroku” again just before he was executed at the age of 25, he added “No need to correct even a single word” in it. And, 18 years after that, when Takamori Saigo died in war at Shiroyama, he had a letter from Sanai.


[Sanai’s death poem]
I greatly regret because I was unable to prove my lord’s innocence.
When I lie down in prison, I am sad and my heart aches.
When I raise my head, I get lost in thought.
Last night, we had the first frost of the season in Edo.
Who knows my heart would never fade?


Just as Sanai was about to be executed, he sobbed. It was not because he was sad or scared, but he regretted as he could not see how Fukui and Japan would be and could not help any more.


Such 25 year-old knowledgeable and brightest young person had to make a death poem should not be allowed to happen again. If Sanai had saved from execution and acted as a young leader, the history of Fukui and Japan might have been different. I should not forget that an outstanding figure Sanai Hashimoto lived in Fukui and his way of living. (H.S)


Here is our new video about Sanai Hashimoto “Visiting the places associated with Sanai Hashimoto, a brilliant person at the end of Edo Period”.

“Bunna, come down from the tree” written by Tsutomu Mizukami




Although people think “Bunna” is a children’s book, I think that adults also should read it. When Mizukami was alive, he used to say “If there are novels go down to posterity among my books, they will be only ‘Starvation Strait’ and ‘Bunna’.”


Mizukami reportedly wanted to think about war and peace in the world with mothers and children by writing this book. He also wrote “In this world, all living things and they can live equally under the sun. But this world is where the weak are the victims of the strong. I believe that the horrible, sad and beautiful things that Bunna experienced on the tree make children think and develop to establish self in life.”


In fact, the top of the tree Bunna climbed looked like a paradise first was a food storage for kites.


Bunna’s mother said. “Doing good to others is okay. But you must use good judgement for the other. Some people override good intensions.” Her such words, cruelty of human children and miserable small animals bullied by children or bigger animals tell you inner strength to live.


If you have young children and want to read them something, I recommend “Bunna”.
When you read it, I am sure that you enter into the world of Bunna. (H.S)