We are Anindya & Pratyay, Japanese Language teachers and translators. Presently we are teaching at a Japanese Language Learning Centre in our hometown, Kolkata-India.
The most interesting part of language learning is experiencing another culture. For, Language does not exist apart from culture, that is, the socially inherited assemblage of practices and beliefs that determines the texture of our life. The study of Japanese language offers unique insights into Japan’s fascinating national culture, which boasts a rich heritage in the fields of native craftsmanship, performance art, visual art, music, film and graphic design. Anyone who can see and feel the beauty of the Japanese Language and culture can improve her/his cultural understanding and international awareness. It also helps one to gain an enhanced perspective of one’s own language and culture.
Through this Blog we would like to offer and share our knowledge and exchange our views & ideas with you all on Japanese language and culture. Let’s expand our possibilities both professionally and personally by learning Japanese.
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Monday, June 8, 2009
Retracing Japan’s Aristocratic Legacy
Japaner NadiNari Ful: A Review
Retracing the singularity of a race or a linguistic community poses to be one significant challenge of our time, the world of Globalization. Though equally modern in terms of industrial development and living standards, tradition and cultural integrity finds an important place in the life of Japan. Viewed from this perspective, Probir Bikash Sarkar’s Japaner Nadi Nari Ful , a book chiefly on Japan’s traditional past ,( River, Geisha, and Sakura ) appears to be a significant effort to make us familiar with this aspect.
The first section of the text delineates with the rivers of Japan or more particularly how down the ages Japanese life had been dependant on them. There are around 70 rivers in Japan, Sarkar notes, of these five, which are bigger than the rest may to be noted . They are Tonogawa(16, 840 km.), Ishirigawa(14,330) Shinanogawa(11,900)Kitakamigawa (10, 150)and Kisogawa(9,100). The word for ,river’, in Japanese is Kawa or Gawa(川、河) . The author has rightly pointed out how even in our time, the word kawa is used in many place names or in surnames of men and women , as in the case of , Kawamura, Kawabata and many others . This informative prose in details discusses how in the past fishing had been one of the oldest trade in Japan , in the Meiji Restoration period how most of the modern cities and harbors were established by the side of these rivers, and in the post war period not only in Tokyo but in other cities as well, dams were erected to resist flood. The legacy of indebtedness to river still continues, people in Japan during the GoldenWeek enjoy fishing Goldfish &Crawfish in river, those who can afford enjoy a House Boat(Iyakatabune) in the river. The writer refers to Basho , the eminent Haku poet of the 17th century ,whose Sumidagawa river journey is famous and a statue of the poet has been erected by the river bank to commemorate the poet’s experience of the river journey, 300years back.
The following subject Sarkar touches upon is the world of Geisha in Japan. The writer’s detailed analysis points out how since 7th century the Geishas or court entertainers developed in Japan and it had two aspects, they were cultural activists as well as sexworkers. Although today only women can aspire to be Geishas, in ancient time, the author notes, there were also Male Geishas, a strange fact which we are ignorant of .This custom flourished during the Edo period chiefly, the author has observed that by 1780s women Geishas surpassed their male counterparts. Finally in the post War period ,with prostitution having banished by law , Geishas regained their social status . The concluding part of the essay deals with how Geishas have been treated in various literary works, which includes Nobel laureate Kawabata’s famous novel, The Snow Country.
The last section of the text is about Sakura or Cherry Blossom, Japan’s national flower. At the beginning the writer quotes a line from Basho , that state that the poet is reminded of many things , Sakura as well . Musing on Sakura and the fondness of Japanese people for it , the writer has touched upon a number of subjects, the etymological source of the word Sakura, Sakura and other flowers of Japan, Sakura as a flora , institutions named after Sakura all over the world ,and finally the festival of Hanami花見 or Cherry Blossom viewing festival . Truly, few other races can be found to be so sensitive regarding flowers.
Putting aside the subject of the book the illustrations the writer includes deserves praise .There are altogether forty-one pictures on the above mentioned subjects.
The book has been published by Doshdik publishers.
Price of the book: 200Taka, 1000Yen, 10$