Thursday, June 13, 2013

Our Yokohama Memoir Class

This memoir class in Yokohama will end on June 24th.  Watanabe Kichio Sensei will be teaching his new essay class starting next month.  Most of the people in the photo joined this class a year and three months ago.  So, I thought this gathering was a goodbye party.

Watanabe Kichio Sensei 渡辺起知夫先生 and me.
I like the way he teaches.  He gives us great freedom to write, but he helps us in editing to make our manuscripts look professional.

I've been learning quite a lot in this class, but it's much more.  I look forward to our meetings.
It'll be sad if we lose this class.


By now, I know each classmate quite a bit, where they were born, what school they had gone, and so on.  

Here are my two favorite classmates.  They are opinionated and hilarious.   I wish I can introduce them, but perhaps, I can do that when they publish their memoir.  

At the end of this party, one of the classmates asked the group members if anyone would join the new essay class.  They all said yes.  So, this wasn't a goodbye party after all.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Sugita Genpaku and His Workshop

This is a bus stop.  I think someone volunteered to leave those chairs.  I don't know why, but the city does not provide a bench at most of bus stops.

Lately, I've been reading Japanese classics on western thoughts, and today, I read "The Beginning Dutch" by Sugita Genpaku (杉田 玄白, 1733 – 1817).

He tells a story of how he and other Japanese scholars met regularly and put their heads together to translate Dutch medical documents. They made very slow and painful progress in the beginning. But new people with some knowledge of alphabets joined them, plus they acquired some Dutch and translated books. Occasionally, interpreters and a Dutch man came to their meetings, so their study improved. 

One old man named
良沢 was much older than others, and at least 10 years older than Sugita. As the time went on, 良沢 stopped socializing with other people or doing the things he used to do like many old people tend to be. But he still kept coming to their deciphering Dutch document meetings. The old man had energy just for that. They all looked forward for the meeting, and Sugita just couldn't wait for the sun to rise on the day of the meeting. 

I love it! I can tell how that is. Sugita describes how fun it was to meet the group and translate the Dutch document. I wish I were there. Some people were doctors, others had commercial interests such as making profit in trade and so on, and some were there without purpose. It's like a high school drama club. I didn't know the Japanese classics are this much fun! I also read "One Hundred One New Thoughts" by Nishi Amane. That was also excellent. Their sentences have no connectives, punctuations, and no change of lines. They flow like a large river from the beginning to the end.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Old Family Photos

 Yamada Kikan (also Norichika)
The Wikipedia site shows he served as a Commander at Takasaki Regimental District
from 1907 - 1910 (as of March 5, 2014).  Previously I gave a wrong date.  

My grandfather, Makizo  牧三

Ume 梅  Makizo's younger sister

 I do not know who this person is.  Perhaps, Kikan's brother.
The back of this photo is the second photo down.

 This is the back of above Kikan's photo

勝  Makizo's younger sister

Mine and Yoshi

I'm posting this for my family and relatives who cannot read Japanese, but you're welcome also.

In the third photo are my great grandfather's older sister, Mine (Meeneh), and her daughter, Yoshi.  Mine married the only son of Yamamoto Hanya.  Hanya committed harakiri to take responsibility for the failure to guard the second post which was a temple. The war was the second Choshu Seibatsu by the Shogunate government. It was the beginning of the end to the feudal system in Japan.

Kawakata Zenjiro who was a cousin of my great grandfather was adopted into Yamamoto family to save the family lineage.  I believe Yoshi in the first photo married him. Those photos were taken in front of Ichigaya Military Academy in Tokyo. Mine on this photo must be younger than I am today. I feel for her looking at the hardship on her face. 

Many people suffered then because of the revolution-like chaos, but Hamada han’s members plunged into extreme poverty.  I didn’t know the history until recently.  I’ve been researching and learning as I read related books.