2024/02/28 18:34

LIFE

Rekindling the Spirit of Herbivore Men Through Taiko Drumming?

LIFE

Rekindling the Spirit of Herbivore Men Through Taiko Drumming?

 

Actually, starting this year, I have been participating in an internet program called "The Oldest Country in the World, Japan!!" and we've launched a small project called "Tojo Men's School." Despite the grand title, it all began with the addition of Mr. Hirotaka Tanzawa, the head of the Capital Area Aomori Nebuta Hayashi-kai, as a new member of the program. Tanzawa's special skill is playing the Japanese taiko drums. Thus, the main objective of this project is to reinvigorate the spirit of herbivore men through the art of taiko drumming.

Traditionally, the Japanese had a concept of "Kegare" and "Hare." Kegare, written as "気枯れ," is similar to the modern term "stress." On the other hand, Hare, as seen in expressions like "celebration attire," "celebratory appearance," or "celebratory stage," is associated with special occasions and events. In essence, we accumulate stress (Kegare) in our daily lives. Therefore, it's crucial to introduce moments of celebration (Hare) to serve as accents, resetting the accumulated stress. Japan has numerous annual events, and this inclination towards eventfulness is said to be influenced by this cultural sensibility.

Recently, however, many young people aren't going to karaoke, driving, or even going on dates. They are not engaging in activities that allow them to release the stress built up in their daily lives. Surveys even suggest that home has become the top spot for dates. With stress piling up, the taiko drum makes its appearance. Percussion instruments, including taiko drums, directly resonate with the primal instincts inherent in human beings, from African music to the profound spirituality in Japanese traditions. Through the release of this energy, we aim to blow away the herbivore spirit. We are currently recruiting members, so if you're interested, please get in touch. It's open to women as well. Interestingly, it seems that foreigners are more interested in joining than Japanese individuals.

 
 
 
 
 
 

Real Meaning of Foundation Day of Japan as a Nation

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Real Meaning of  Foundation Day  of Japan as a Nation

In February, there is National Foundation Day in Japan. Do you know what marks the foundation of Japan? Surprisingly, many people are not aware of this fact. When I ask this question in my lectures, emphasizing that "Japanese people surprisingly don't know much about Japan," over 80% of the audience cannot answer. Even if they attempt an answer, it often relates to the Meiji era or post-war period, showing a misunderstanding. Indeed, a majority of Japanese are unfamiliar with the fundamental establishment of their nation. However, not knowing the foundation of one's country is considered unusual on a global scale.

National Foundation Day in Japan, also known as Kigen Setsu, commemorates the enthronement of the first Emperor, Emperor Jimmu. In terms of the foundation year, this year marks the 2,671st year, making it the oldest continuous national foundation in the world. Denmark, the next oldest, has a history of about 1,100 years, followed by approximately 900 years for the United Kingdom. Some may point out the ancient history of China or Egypt, but this is not about the length of history; it specifically refers to the age of the national foundation. Japan's imperial system, with the Emperor as the national symbol and the unifying force, has been passed down through an imperial genealogy for 125 generations.

This is like a living myth, and Japan's imperial system has garnered immense respect globally. The imperial family in Japan is highly esteemed by royal families and nations worldwide, and their value is recognized more outside Japan than by the Japanese themselves. Therefore, answering "the world's oldest country" when asked about Japan becomes a logically clear statement. Celebrating this historical continuity, Japanese people observe National Foundation Day.

Learn from the keen insights of our predecessors – Hidetoshi Tojo's Column No.13

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Learn from the keen insights of our predecessors

– Hidetoshi Tojo's Column No.13

Now, this month, I was thinking about what to talk about. Ah, yes, around this time in February, the book "Basics of Shinto Shrines" (published by Ei Publishing) supervised by me should start appearing on the shelves of Seven-Eleven? Well, if everything goes according to schedule. Anyway, hoping that it has been successfully published, this time I would like to talk a bit about Shinto shrines, or rather, the wisdom of our predecessors.

As is well known, I operate the information site "Shrine People," where I collect nationwide shrine information and work on its systematization. However, it's not because I have some spiritual sensitivity. Rather, I am a realist, and seemingly, I have a thinking style that appears contradictory to such themes. So why am I actively studying shrines? It's because I believe there is a universal wisdom in the unique national temperament of the Japanese that can be scientifically understood.

For example, ancient Japanese believed that gods descended to sharp places, and the motif for this is said to be lightning. Of course, today everyone knows this, but it was the same for ancient Japanese. However, modern people might think, "Oh, if they saw that light and heard that roar, without knowing science, they probably thought the gods were angry." But what's really important is that the land where lightning struck becomes fertile for the five grains.

This is actually scientifically proven, and it is even said that the harvest of mushrooms on land where lightning has struck doubles. So, the ancient Japanese knew everything. That's why they held both fear and gratitude towards lightning, expressed thanks as gods, said "thunder" means "the god is roaring," wrote "thunder" as "rain" and "rice field," and wrote "lightning" as "the wife (spouse) of rice." In a way, it was a very rational way of thinking. However, we modern people, perhaps out of arrogance, tend to overestimate science and technology, and have a dislike for the past. But our ancestors, not knowing science, with high sensitivity, could understand the essence.

Shrines are truly a cultural symbol woven with the wisdom of our predecessors. Perhaps there is a universal truth that even we modern people cannot reach, scattered everywhere there. Don't just think of shrines as mere religious facilities. Awareness is constantly present, right next to us.

There is a great leap forward after overcoming a crisis.

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There is a great leap forward after overcoming a crisis.

 

March 11, a massive earthquake struck the Tohoku region, including East Japan. As many have already experienced, even in such challenging circumstances, there has been international praise for the diligence of the Japanese people. Reports highlighted the considerate actions of a company employee turned evacuee who, despite exhaustion, sat on the stairs, making way for others. Ironically, the admirable qualities of the Japanese character were shared globally in this way. Nevertheless, it remains true that the Japanese possess a cooperative and resilient spirit, a fundamental strength inherent in their nature.

Historically, Japan has been an agrarian society, evident from the fact that around 80% of the population were farmers until the Edo period. This influence is still visible in our daily lives. For example, Japanese holidays such as the Vernal Equinox Day, Autumnal Equinox Day, New Year's Day, Children's Day, and Labor Thanksgiving Day all have origins in Shinto rituals celebrating abundant harvests. In Japan, holidays are referred to as "shukujitsu" or festival days, emphasizing their connection to religious observances. Even Respect for the Aged Day, by aligning with the agricultural off-season, signifies a time to seek the wisdom of the elderly. The Japanese way of life is deeply rooted in agriculture, combined with the ancient religious concepts of Shinto, giving rise to the distinct qualities of the Japanese character.

This combination of Shinto spirituality and agriculture is the foundation of Japan's unique traits, including cooperation and perseverance. It is not only about Shinto or agriculture individually; it is the synergy of both that defines the functional aspect of these traits. This is not easily replicated, as observed in many developing nations that, despite engaging in primary industries like agriculture, exhibit different national characteristics than Japan.

In the face of the recent disaster, there have been numerous victims. Yet, by invoking the robust spirit of the Japanese people, there is a certainty of recovery. Japan stands as a nation with a unique blend of cooperative spirit and enduring patience.

In the context of cognitive processes, let's explore the difference between "理解" (Understanding) and "認知&am

LIFE

In the context of cognitive processes,

let's explore the difference between

"理解" (Understanding) and "認知" (Recognition).

 

 

Lately, I've been thinking about the tendency to oversimplify the essence of things, which involves a difference between "理解" (understanding) and "認知" (recognition). Often, what many consider "understanding" actually ends up being mere "recognition." "理解" literally means "to comprehend the reason," and it's used when one truly understands the essential mechanisms. On the other hand, "認知" means "to acknowledge its existence" and is used when something is recognized on a surface level. Even in such ways of perceiving things, the meaning differs significantly.

I had a similar experience during a conversation with the secretary of the NPO Bushido Association. When people hear "Bushido," they often immediately associate it with the image of "fighting." However, when you ask about the essence of "Bushido," the answer is "武" (bu), which originally means "to stop" the weapon "戈" (hoko). In other words, it's about controlling the opponent without drawing the sword, revealing the mindset of moral thinking. It's surprising for many, as it goes beyond the expected association of combat.

Similarly, when asking about "Shinto," people often simplify it as a "religion." While Shinto does have the legal status of a religious organization, the word "religion" doesn't capture its essence accurately. "Religion" translates to "尊い教え" (precious teachings), but Shinto lacks specific scriptures or teachings. So, it doesn't quite fit the definition. Shinto, despite being legally categorized as a religious organization, doesn't conform entirely to the conventional understanding of "religion." These examples show that the essence of things can be unexpectedly profound. It's a matter of whether our consciousness reaches that depth. Have you truly understood these concepts, or have you merely recognized them?

 
 
 
 
 インターネット番組、「世界最古の国、日本!!」とは『あっとおどろく放送局』というインターネット放送局の番組で、東條英利さんもパーソナリティーを勤めています。古事記編さん 1300 年が話題となっている昨今、世界に誇れる日本の歴史・文化・伝統・ものづくりなどを話題に、 6 人の賢者と各分野の専門家をゲストに迎え、「実はこうだった」「実はこうなっている」「実はこう変わる」などの目からうろこな真実に踏み込んでいきます。
 
 
 

Japanese Language Quirks: Logographic and Phonetic Characters

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Japanese Language Quirks:

Logographic and Phonetic Characters

Let's delve into the essence of the uniqueness of the Japanese people through the perspective of written language. In most parts of the world, languages are represented by a single set of characters. However, Japanese people uniquely utilize three types of characters: hiragana, katakana, and kanji. Some might argue for the inclusion of romaji and numbers, making it five!

Yet, the significance lies not merely in the number of characters used. Japanese people simultaneously employ two distinct types of characters: hiragana representing phonetics and kanji representing meanings. Kanji characters encapsulate imagery and meaning within each symbol. For example, the character "我" (ware) seemingly denotes oneself, but its true meaning runs deeper. Comprising a serrated blade reminiscent of a saw and a spear, it signifies both a powerful weapon and a dangerous entity. Thus, using "我を出す" (bring out oneself) implies self-assertion, while "我を捨てる" (discard oneself) conveys the inherent danger of "我" (ware).

In contrast, phonetic characters represent sounds without intrinsic meanings. They serve as a straightforward way to convey pronunciation. The flexibility and adaptability of the Japanese language stem from the simultaneous use of these two character types. While some argue that ideographic characters may hinder computational imaginative thinking in scientific contexts, the Japanese people exhibit a flexible and adaptable mindset in utilizing both types of characters. This linguistic versatility might provide additional evidence for the adaptability of the Japanese people on a broader scale.

Let's return to the spirit of "Mottainai"!

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Let's return to the spirit of "Mottainai"!

In recent years, one of the Japanese words that has gained widespread recognition worldwide is "Mottainai." While most Japanese people have heard this word many times, it is actually considered a concept unique to Japan. The birth of the word "Mottainai" in the West can be traced back to the absence of such a concept.

In ancient times, there was a surname in Japan, "Motai," which originally meant a vessel for holding sake. Over time, those who specialized in making these vessels came to be called "Motai." Sake, then and now, is a precious offering to the gods, and the vessels used for sake are indispensable. The shortage of sake vessels was considered disrespectful and improper toward the gods, giving rise to the idea that "having no sake vessel (Motainai) is disrespectful to the gods."

While the authenticity of this origin is uncertain, Shinto, the indigenous spirituality of Japan, held the belief in reverence for divine spirits in all things (the concept of Yorishiro). In ancient times, many Japanese felt a sense of awe for all aspects of the natural world. This underlying philosophy has had a significant influence on the concept of "Mottainai."

Though it is sometimes written as "勿体ない," using the Japanese kanji characters, the exact meaning of "勿体" conveys a sense of weightiness or dignity, indicating something inappropriate for oneself. While this use slightly deviates from the original meaning of "Mottainai," it reflects the Japanese inclination to respect others and be aware of one's own position. Japanese people, through expressions like "Mottainai," convey a unique perspective that respects others and their surroundings on a global scale.


 


 

(Shrine Person Operator, Representative of Culture J, Ltd., Hidetoshi Tojo)

Hidetoshi Tojo was born in 1972 in Saitama Prefecture and is the representative director of Culture J, Ltd. He is the direct descendant of Hideki Tojo and the 18th head of the family. Exploring a unique social welfare model in Japan, he turned his attention to the presence of shrines and Shinto. Advocating for cultural tourism through shrines, he aims to revitalize new local communities and cultural entertainment.

1: "What is True Culture? Understanding Japan"

2: Real Meaning of Foundation Day of Japan as a Nation

3: There is a great leap forward after overcoming a crisis.

4: Let's return to the spirit of "Mottainai"!

5: "Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

6: "The Pink Book for Fulfilling the Whims of Adult Women"

7: "The cultural roots of Japanese New Year

8:Rekindling the Spirit of Herbivore Men Through Taiko Drumming?

9: "Publishing 'Proof of Japanese Identity' - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No. 10"

10: "Publishing 'Proof of the Japanese' - Part 2 - Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 11"

11: "For the Japanese, What Does 'Work' Mean? - Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 12"

12: Learn from the keen insights of our predecessors – Hidetoshi Tojo's Column No.13

13: Japanese Language Quirks: Logographic and Phonetic Characters

14: "What Does 'Shikinen Sengu' Mean to the Japanese? - Hidetoshi Tōjō's Column No. 15"

15: Cultivation Required in a Global Society? - Column by Hidetoshi Tojo, No.16"

16: "Publication of 'Shrine Tourism'!! Hidetoshi Tojo's Serial Column No. 17"

"What Does 'Shikinen Sengu' Mean to the Japanese? - Hidetoshi Tōjō's Column No. 15"

LIFE

 "What Does 'Shikinen Sengu' Mean to the Japanese?

 - Hidetoshi Tōjō's Column No. 15"

"Significance of Shikinen Sengu: Ise Grand Shrine and Izumo Grand Shrine"

This year holds special importance in the Shinto shrine industry as both the Ise Grand Shrine and Izumo Grand Shrine, considered particularly vital in the shrine community, are undergoing Shikinen Sengu, a periodic relocation and reconstruction of the main shrine.

In Ise, this is referred to as "Shikinen Sengu," meaning the "scheduled relocation" of the main shrine. This event occurs approximately every 20 years, symbolizing renewal and cyclical life patterns. Similarly, Izumo Grand Shrine is undergoing the "Honden Senza-sai" or the "Main Hall Relocation Ceremony," also known as the "Great Shikinen Sengu," after a hiatus of 60 years. Notably, both shrines are experiencing Shikinen Sengu in the same year, a historical first.

The reasons for conducting Shikinen Sengu are not entirely clear, but one common understanding is to preserve and pass down shrine construction techniques and traditions. With the diminishing demand for shrine carpenters, this practice helps ensure the continuity of these skills.

For the Ise Grand Shrine, there are various theories, including intentionally lowering the lifespan of the main shrine to maintain its freshness. The shrine's unique construction without using foundation stones for pillars is cited as a deliberate strategy to reduce its longevity.

Other explanations involve the influence of the "Sangen Kuyō" (Three Elements and Nine Divisions) calendar, which calculates energy flows. Some theories suggest that imposing the burden of Shikinen Sengu on devotees helps anchor their faith and elevates their consciousness. Despite the seemingly dubious psychological aspects, it is undeniable that Shikinen Sengu involves substantial financial investment. The budget for Ise Grand Shrine's Shikinen Sengu is estimated to exceed 55 billion yen, considering the entire shrine complex.

The Shikinen Sengu at Ise Grand Shrine is scheduled for October 2nd. If you have the opportunity, consider visiting both shrines this year. It might provide insights into something deeply valued by a Japanese individual.

"Participation in Hidetoshi Tōjō's Nationwide Caravan Final Lecture"

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 "Participation in Hidetoshi Tōjō's Nationwide Caravan Final LecHidetoshi

 

 

"Inspiring Experience at HidetoshiTōjō's Lecture on the Essence of Being Japanese"

I had attended lectures by notable figures several times before, but this time was unique. Despite being about a familiar topic, I learned many things for the first time, especially focusing on the theme of "What Should the Japanese Be?" Having discovered Eritoshi Tōjō through this global community, I was eagerly anticipating the insights he would share.

In his talk, he passionately emphasized the importance of having an identity as a fundamental step to understanding others in the international community. While listening, I reflected on the need to consider more about the things that concern me personally.

He stressed the significance of "thinking more" about everything, as satisfaction with the current worldview leads to being bound by preconceptions and halted thinking. Even something as familiar as a logo, when attempted to be drawn, may pose a challenge if not approached consciously. This lesson reminded me that awareness is crucial because what is not consciously acknowledged is effectively unseen.

In essence, it highlighted the importance of taking a keen interest in each aspect of life, reflecting on the "why," and considering one's perspective. This, in turn, leads to self-discovery and the appreciation of identity.

The lecture motivated me to cultivate a habit of contemplating more deeply about everyday scenes, my identity as a Japanese, and various aspects of Japan. I aspire to develop this habit to confidently welcoming foreigners, proudly saying, "Welcome to Japan, the world's oldest country." It was an enlightening talk that reminded me to actively seek the truth to pass on Japan's pride to future generations.

I truly enjoyed and benefited from this enriching experience. Thank you. (M.O, K University)

"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

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"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

"Understanding Japan's Obon Festival"

Title: "Understanding the Bon Festival in August"

In August, many people in Japan take time off to return to their hometowns for what is commonly known as the Bon holiday. However, how well do we truly understand the significance of this Bon Festival? Most people might associate it with Buddhist practices, such as ancestral memorial services and visiting graves.

Surprisingly, the concept of ancestral memorial services is not originally related to Buddhism. Buddhism, centered around the teachings of Buddha, focuses on enlightenment and the liberation from the cycle of reincarnation, rather than the practice of memorializing ancestors. So, how did the Bon Festival become associated with Buddhism in Japan?

The idea of ancestral memorial services originated from Shinto rituals known as "sorei-sai," where ancestors are revered. Shinto, with its fundamental principle of "keishin suuso" (respecting both gods and ancestors), emphasizes the veneration of ancestors. While the term "Bon" is derived from the Buddhist "Ullambana" festival, initially, the focus was on Buddhist monks conducting rituals, not ancestral remembrance.

During the Edo period, the government implemented the danka system, requiring citizens to register with a temple to travel or secure employment. In this Buddhist-centric society, the government enforced the Buddhist-style practice of ancestral memorial services. Through this process, the Shinto practice of venerating ancestors and the Buddhist Ullambana festival merged, forming the present-day style of commemorating ancestors. Therefore, the concept of ancestral memorial services is a unique blend of Shinto and Buddhist elements that evolved independently in Japan. It's worth noting that this style of honoring ancestors is not universally practiced in all Buddhist countries.