About Us

Hello Everybody!!
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.

If you have any query regarding translation or interpretation from Japanese to English or vice versa,
please feel free to contact us.....
letter2anindya@gmail.com or pratyajayaditya@gmail.com

Saturday, September 19, 2009

SUMIYA: The Pleasure House of Edo Era

Sumiya: The last remaining Ageya

Sumiya was a typical traditional restaurant Ageya of Shimabara, the former entertainment district of the Edo Period (1603-1867) Kyoto, and was finally closed in 1985. It is the last surviving masterpiece of "ageya" architectural style. There are no other comparable buildings surviving in Tokyo or Osaka—or anywhere in Japan. In 1952 the Sumiya was protected by the government as the only remaining ageya in Kyoto. The building was designated as an Important Cultural Property and has been maintained as it is by Kyoto city government. It is now used as a museum open to the public.


Sumiya was a place for well-heeled to come to be entertained. It was an elegant restaurant and pleasure house where banquets and dinner parties were held accompanied by the entertainment of geisha and taiyu (the top level of courtesans), who performed tea ceremonies, sang and danced. There were both ageya and geisha-dwellings Okiya in Shimabara. The geisha and taiyu lived in the Okiya, meaning "storehouse," and were summoned to the ageya, houses of assignation to perform at banquets and dinner parties.

The Cultural and Historical Significance

But to label the Sumiya to a "brothel" is to limit its significance and function. Most of the entertainment was of a very different sort and the women who performed here were not to be bought. Sumiya figures prominently in several phases of Edo Period artistic and political history. During the middle of the Edo Period, this building served as a meeting place and cultural salon where elite and powerful men gathered. great artists, writers and politicians of the day met. It was for example the meeting place of Shimabara Haidan, a well-known haiku group. Many poems were created about Shimabara, and in rememberance of the most famous there are 7 memorial stones scattered about the neighbourhood. It was also a showcase for some of the most talented artists and artisans of the era.

Amazingly, the same Nakagawa family has owned and managed Sumiya for 13 generations, since 1641. In 1787 Sumiya was expanded to about its present scale.

The Architecture

Sumiya is the finest extant example of Edo Period (l603-1868) Ageya architecture: plain on the exterior but sumptuous within; elegant and spacious like palaces of the samurai, but refined and casual like tea rooms. It combines the taste and craftsmanship of the sukiya-tsukuri (Sukiya style) with the elegance of Shoin-tsukuri (Shoin style).The rooms contain artwork by famous artists of the time Maruyama Okyo and Yosa Buson.

From the street, one can see the outside of three rooms on the upper floor, the Ogi no Ma, Suiren no Ma, and Donsu no Ma. It is a two story building roofed with tile, copper plates and shingles. It has three main parts:

  • The lattice work exterior and entry way

  • The huge, open kitchen

  • The interior rooms

The interiors of Sumiya surprise us with their freshness and originality. After passing through the front gate of Sumiya, you first enter a pleasant & large courtyard. Going through a small area where there are storage lockers, you come into the original kitchen and food and drinks preparation area. It is very spacious and has five “stoves” for cooking. Above, slats in the ceiling were used to ventilate the smoke that floated up from the fires. In the foreground, a large tatami area remains. Further in are the rooms for customers. In the rear of the Sumiya there is a gracious garden. Behind it are two teahouses, one with a copper roof, the other thatched. The house contains the characteristics of a traditional house as well as the characteristics of Kyoto culture. It is quite dark inside the Sumiya. However, darkness does not necessarily represent inconvenience. The dimness of incandescent or candle lighting has a relaxing effect on people. This dimness is part of the essence of Japanese architecture. Its fusuma (sliding paper doors) and byobu (folding screens) are decorated by some of the greatest artists of the Mid-Edo Period, such as Yosa Buson (l716-84), Maruyama Okyo, Kishi Ganku (1756-1836), Yamada Gazan and Emura Shumpo. These and other artifacts are now showcased. Among these works is the famous National Treasure, "Plum Blossoms", by Buson.

Sumiya is a precious heritage, retaining the essence of Japanese culture, lightness and the darkness and the decorativeness of Kyoto culture.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

NHK Special "What Did Justice Radhabinod Pal Ask?: Tokyo Trial, Unknown Battles"

‘India has been a lighthouse for the history of impartiality’, observed Mr. Kazou Ogura, President of the Japan Foundation, commenting on the history of mutual understanding between Japan and India. The year 2007 has been celebrated both in Japan and in India as Indo –Japan Friendship year. Mr. Kazou Ogura, in his short interview which was published in the Asahi Shim bun, referred to the dissenting opinion raised by Radhabinod Pal at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, and also in his speech delivered in defense of Japan at the San Francisco Peace Conference. It is well known that the minority opinion raised by Pal has been greatly esteemed as a mark of impartiality in Japan. People like Mr. Kazou Ogura, feel that ‘Japan must value India’s faithfulness’
Born in 1886 at a small village called 'Salimpur', of Kusthia district in Bangladesh, Pal became a judge of the Calcutta High Court in 1941and the Vice-chancellor of Calcutta University in 1944. However, it is owing to his role at the International Military Tribunal for the Far East, for which he is, remembered today .The International Military Tribunal for the Far East which was formed in the year 1946 turned out to be dissatisfactory from the very beginning. Pal’s sweeping criticism of the tribunal as ‘Victor’s Justice’ influenced the opinion of Judges of Netherland and France, who also provided a dissenting judgment of the tribunal. Judge Pal emphatically pointed out that that all judges were appointed by the winning nations as a consequence, the tribunal turned out to be partial and unjust. Moreover, Tribunal introduced new concepts of war crimes like ‘aggression’ and ‘conspiracy to commit crime’ by which the Japanese defendants were charged. This part of the Tribunal was vehemently criticized by Pal and he rightly pointed out that at the time the war broke out such concepts of war crime had no existence. Nandi in his essay on Judge Pal rightly points out that, ‘till 1944 France, Great Britain and the United States had agreed that aggression was not a crime in international law.’ Thus Pal felt that the Japanese could be tried only for committing conventional war crimes. It would be wrong to suppose that Pal was ignorant of the atrocities committed by the Japanese Army, he acknowledged the atrocities of the Japanese Army but he pointed out that such atrocious acts should be taken into account in the Class Band Class C trials. Finally by citing the case of Atomic bombing at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which were more heinous and more of a state organized violence against humanity than Japanese atrocities committed during the war, Pal questioned the legitimacy of the Tribunal and felt that if the accused were guilty, no less were the victor races .
It is interesting to note that till 1952, the year in which American occupation of Japan ended; Pal’s typewritten book containing his dissenting opinion was prohibited from publication by the Occupation forces.
Japan’s reverence for Pal is well-known. Decades after the trial Japan still honors him. In 1966 Pal was conferred the First Class of the Order of the Sacred Treasure by
the then Japanese Emperor . A monument dedicated to him was erected after Pal's death at the famous Yasukini Shrine. Besides, on 23rd August, 2007, erstwhile Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe met with Pal's son, Prasanta, in Kolkata, during his day long visit to the city.
These are all events of contemporary history which is known to many of us. However, what has
passed into oblivion is the fact that, Japan post-war pacifism is also linked with the life of Justice Pal. In fact Justice Pal took an active part in the Congress of the World Movement for the World Federal Government that took place from 3rd to 7th November in the year 1952. Those who criticize Pal for having accepted awards from the Japanese government have failed to view his emotional attachment and his regard for Japan from the right perspective. Pal was a diehard nationalist and so like his fellow brother judges of the tribunal he could not comply with the idea of taking revenge in the name of justice.
The above mentioned documentary made by NHK on the dissenting role of Judge Pal will help us to know about this part of contemporary history which has been forgotten in our country.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Japanese Language Course at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan, Salt Lake

Certificate Course in Elementary Japanese comences at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan, Salt Lake Kolkata.

After a long waiting we are on the threshhold of the fulfilment of a long cherished dream, i.e., introduction of regular Japanese Language classes at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan. The Rabindra Okakura Bhavan was inagurated by the earstwhile Japanese Prime Minister Mr. Shinjo Abe, further, eminent scholar and translator of tagore's works Professor Kazuo Azuma provided financial support to this institution. From its inception this institution has created an enthusiasm among Japanese students in Kolkata. Now in collaboration with Sakura Academy, the Bharat Japan Sanskriti Kendra introduces Japanese Language classes at the premise. Gifted with a splendid language lab, thiw institute will prove to be extremely helpful for students preparing for the JLPT (japanese Language Proficiency Test) Examination, conducted by the Japan Foundation. Further, it is expected that the institute will turn out to be beneficial for those engaged in Japanese language and culture related arenas.

Brochure 2009