Saturday, July 31, 2010

"How Should I Explain?"

I was seven or eight.

Mother took me to a dentist.

The dentist asked her,

“Which kanji is her Kei?”

In the dictionary, forty five different kanji appear under kei.

Out of those, seven are common in names.

Mother told the dentist it was the kei of haikei.

Haikei 拝啓 means “Dear sir.”

On the way home, Mother put away her receipt and started to giggle.

She said my name turned Haiko.

Japanese would ask,

“Which kanji is your Kei?”

I would reply,

“It’s the Kei of keimoshiso or keiji.”

Keimoshiso 啓蒙思想 means democracy

Keiji 啓示 means apocalypse.

Most Japanese get it.

Americans would ask,

“What does Keiko mean?”

I look into their eyes and reply one word at a time,

“My Kei is the kei of keimoshiso or keiji.

Keimoshiso means democracy

Keiji means apocalypse.”

The shape of their mouths forms O.

I exude energy into my speech.

“We don’t use kei alone, but ko means child.”

Nobody gets it, but I can’t help it.

How should I explain?

Just one more time, I open my digital dictionary.

This time, I type only kei and search for my kanji.

Hit enter.

A window pops open, and

“Open” pops out.

Monday, July 26, 2010




Used to wonder why the family name is Amano.
Amano-hara means the heavenly field or the big sky,
Amano-kawa means the heavenly river or the Milky Way.
But still wondered why.

Now the word comes up often in ancient poetry
Past and future,
Billions of stars and galaxies.
That’s not bad at all.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

The Ocean for Ashok

In the beginning of July, I went to Corona Del Mar with friends and a little boy. It was overcast, and the beach was small which was ideal for families. This is not the glamorous Waikiki Beach, but I want to show Ashok how we enjoy the day looking at the ocean.

I didn’t take a close up photos of women in bikini, but you can try to imagine that you are lying on your large beach towel looking at the ocean. You can see the ocean waves rush down and up and white bubbles coming closer toward you and then disappear. It repeats in the most soothing rhythm with the sound of the waves. You don’t have to do anything. You just look at the waves, seagulls, and people running around.

You probably brought a book to read, but decide not to read after all. You absolutely think nothing and enjoy a sandwich and a chai with people you like. After you finish your lunch, you go to check the seawater how cold it is. You walk into the waves alone as though the waves came to pick you up. You feel the water. It’s a bit too cold. You decide to turn around and get back to your own spot again.

You lie down with your face pointing to the towel, fold your arms, rest your chin on top and look at the white sand. The sand is very warm. You keep looking at the sand and feel the sun and wish you remain the way it is forever. You do and think absolutely nothing! Even if you want to think something, the waves, seagulls, and the warm sand will not let you. All your wants in life disappear on the beach. You’ll love it. That’s all.

I found many small crabs on the rock under the water, but can you see them?

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Past and Future

I'm posting this poem to cerebrate our Indian heritage in the world.
And I want to say thank you to Ashok and Deepthi for our friendship.
In the photo of the above site, I see a Japanese woman next to Sarojini Naidu. I wonder who she is. This is a surprise to me.

Past and Future

By Saronjini Naidu

The new hath come and now the old retires:
And so the past becomes a mountain-cell,
Where lone, apart, old hermit-memories dwell
In consecrated calm, forgotten yet
Of the keen heart that hastens to forget
Old longings in fulfilling new desires.

And now the Soul stands in a vague, intense
Expectancy and anguish of suspense,
On the dim chamber-threshold . . . lo! he sees
Like a strange, fated bride as yet unknown,
His timid future shrinking there alone,
Beneath her marriage-veil of mysteries.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

More Links to Japanese Traditional Arts

I took these photos last month behind the Kanagawa Modern Literary Museum in Yokohama.

Rebb, Lu, and Vincent,

I don't remember what kind of sites you've already seen, but I will list some links I just found below. There are many Ikebana schools. My mother practiced Ohara-ryu.

You can choose a school from the following link.

There are also many schools of ocha, so I picked the one my mother practiced which is Urasenke. It probably has the largest number of members in the world.

San Francisco



Sunday, July 4, 2010

Kana Shodo Part 1

Above, my instructor is showing a better spacing among the sections of a written ancient Japanese poem. The poem was brushstroked by a male veteran classmate. He has been working on it to enter into a prestigious newspaper contest. I envy his fine brushstrokes, so I want to show it to you. This class is held twice a month at the Yokohama Asahi Culture Center. This is one art that does not require speaking Japanese. In fact, some people practice shodo through mail correspondence.

It's a poem, and a visual art. Spacing and contrasting dark and fading light brushstrokes matter a lot in this art. Sometimes, it flows like a gentle stream, and sometimes, the flow becomes quite dynamic.

This is the last section of the previous poem and the author's red stamp. Someday, I want to draw like the author and stamp my own. See the center line. The top two letters are written as 天の (amano). It is the same as my name. It can mean a milky way, or the heavenly field. The poem probably describes the ancient tale of July 7th. In the romantic story, a couple meet once a year over a milky way if it does not rain.

Above, this scroll was done by a young female classmate. She is also a veteran. She started shodo when she was young, and in this class, she has been coming for 10 years, she said. I admire her work everytime I see her. She wrote some of the hundred poems called Hyakunin-ittushu. Can you see golden pieces sprinkled on the washi(rice) paper? In any arts, we can escalate in spending more money if we choose to.

Well, last month, I became an official student at the 10th rank in shodo! I just submitted my first work. Big deal? Yes, it is! Above sample is from my textbook called Wakanroeishu, and I'll be working on it next. The sample is more than 1000 years old, and it looks easy, but it's actually very difficult. Below is my rough translation of the ancient poem. I wish to rid of my ego and become as innocent as the author of this poem. Well, at least, I'll try to be during my shodo practice.

My love knows no direction and no ending.
To see you is the only thing I can think of.