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

Sunday, December 5, 2010

The Way of Nirvana: An Exhibition by Mizue Kato

The cultural exchange between India and Japan dates back to 6th century AD., when Buddhism was transplanted in Japan via Korea and Japan. It is said that Bodishena, an Indian priest was present at the inauguration of the renowned Todaiji temple at Nara in 752. Many Japanese Buddhist scholars had also visited Tagore's Shantiniketan.
Mizue Kato's paintings like the 'Lord Buddha', the 'Silk route', the 'Gandhara' can exhibit a mind fostered by the principles of Lord Buddha. This wonderful exhibition took place at the Bharat-Japan Sanskriti Kendra, Salt Lake, Kolkata.
The inaugural ceremony was presided by eminent poet Sri Nirendranath Chakraborty. The Japanese Consul General also visited the exhibition. The exhibition which remained open from 20th November-4th December, was attended by many art lovers, Japanese language students of the city.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Touching souls: Painters who portrayed India

India has a long history of cultural relations with Japan. It started in 1902 through a historical meeting between two great intellectuals, Tenshin Okakura and Rabindranath Tagore in Calcutta. Tenshin, the Forerunner of Japan-Bangla relationship, was deeply impressed by the revivalist movement on culture and arts, going on at that time in Kolkata. On returning to Japan he sent two distinguished artists, Yokoyama Taikan and Hishida Shunsō to Kolkata, where they met Rabindranath Tagore and Abonindranath Tagore and exchanged opinions and artistic views. The relation further enhanced by the five visits of Rabindranath to Japan (1916, 1917, 1924, 1929-twice). Since then there have been an intimate and lingering cultural and artistic tie between the two countries. These encounters had brought into contact a remarkable group of intellectuals and artists of Japan and Bengal. They not only influenced Indian artists but also got influenced by the new line initiated in Bengal and gave contemporary Japanese art an Indian touch.
The paintings presented here represent the impressions the Japanese painters received while they were in India and have been produced by the characteristic method of the Japanese Art.

Nanpū  Katayama(1887-1980):

Nampū Katayama was born in 1887 in Kumamoto city, Kyushū. His original name was Kumaji. Katayama began studying painting under Fukushima Hōun in Kumamoto. In 1909 he moved to Tokyo and started learning historical portrait painting under renowned painter Takahashi Kōko. At this time he got the attention of the grand master of ‘Nihonga’, Yokoyama Taikan. Taikan urged him to submit his painting for the official Bunten exhibition (Ministry of Education Exhibition). In the annual Bunten exhibition of 1913 katayama’s painting was nominated for one of the highest awards and since then didn’t look back.
In 1914 Katayama joined the Nihon Bijutsu-in (Japan Art Institute) after its revival and his paintings were frequently exhibited at the annual Inten exhibitions (formally known as Nihon Bijutsuin Tenrankai or Japan Art Institute Exhibition). In his long, distinguished career Katayama won many titles and awards. In 1958 he became the member of Japan Arts Academy (Nihon Geijutsu-in). In 1968 Katayama was decorated with the prestigious Order of Cultural Merit award.
Taikan made a deep impression on Katayama. He considered himself as a follower of the great artist. Katayama’s work covered a wide range of subjects and forms, including landscapes, historical subjects, and portraits and so on. Some of the Katayama’s masterpieces are in the collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo. Katayama visited India in 1916.

Shôkin Katsuta (1879-1963): 

Shôkin Katsuta was born in Kawagoe in 1879. He went to Tokyo and entered the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakko to study painting. There, he studied under famous Nihonga painter Hashimoto Gahô (1835-1908) and successfully graduated in 1905. 
Katsuta went to India after his graduation to study ancient Buddhist painting. Rabindranath invited him to his school in Shantiniketan. Responding to Tagore’s invitation Katsuta went to Shantiniketan and joined as art teacher there. He stayed in Shantiniketan from 1905 to 1907. His trip to India inspired some of Katsuta's most important work.
Katsuta was an exhibitor with the first official Bunten in 1907. His work was shown at the Bunten six times, at the Teiten thirteen times and at the Nitten two times. He was also a judge at the Teiten. Katsuta had a rich collection of paintings by Abanindranath Tagore who is regarded as the father of modern Indian art.

Kosetsu Nosu: (1885- 1973):

Portrait of Tagore by Kosetsu Nosu with Tagore's autographed poem
The Enlightenment of Buddha under a Sacred Fig (Bo tree) while attacked by Mara devils, the wall painting of Kosetsu Nosu, Mulagandha Kuti Vihara Buddhist temple founded in 1931, Sarnath, India.

Kousetsu Nosu was born in 1885 in Kagawa prefecture, Shikeku. He went to Tokyo to study painting and entered the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakko and successfully graduated from there. He was also associated with Nihon Bijutsuin. 
Nosu came to India for the first time in1918 to study ancient Buddhist arts. He met Kampo Arai who was also in Kolkata at that time. Arai offered him to work as his assistant to copy the famous frescoes at the cave shrines of Ajanta. Arai and Nosu completed their work on 17th March 1918.
In 1932, Nosu come to India for the second time to paint his own frescoes in the new Buddhist Vihara at Sarnath near Benares. The frescos were supposed to be painted by Senren Kiriya. Unfortunately Kiriya passed away suddenly on 19th July 1932. Felt drawn to India as the land of Buddha, Nosu expressed his interest. He reached Kolkata on 25th of November, 1932 with his assistant Mr. Kisho Kawai and his son Mr. Yoshiaki Nosu. After visiting Sarnath he went to Shantiniketan to pay a visit to Tagore and also to seek his advice. Nosu went there once more to learn fresco at the Kalabhava(the school of arts) when he found it difficult to paint the frescos in Japanese technique. In the next five years, Nosu painted 17 frescos based on 17 tales of Bouddha-Jatakas on the walls of the Mulagandhakuti Vihara.
Life long devotee of Lord Buddha, Nosu is revered as one of the stalwarts of Buddhist painting in Japan. He had a deep respect for ancient India art and his artistic mission leads to closer unity and friendship between nations, India and Japan.

Yokoyama Taikan: (1868-1958):

Ryūtō 1909

Taikan was born in Mito city, Ibaraki Prefecture. He entered the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakko in 1889 and graduated in 1893. There, he studied under the Kano school artist Hashimoto Gahō and had classmates who would also become leaders in Nihonga, Shunso Hishida, Kanzan Shimomura, and Kogetsu Saigo.
After graduation, Taikan spent a year teaching at "Kyoto Shiritsu Bijutsu Kogei Gakko" in Kyoto. He returned to Tōkyō in 1896 as assistant professor at the Tōkyō Bijutsu Gakko, but resigned only a year later together with Tenshin Okakura because of a confrontation in the school and joined Okakura in establishing the Japan Fine Arts Academy (Nihon Bijutsuin).In 1914, Yokoyama along with Kanzan Shimomura concentrated on reviving the Nihon Bijutsuin (The Japan Fine Arts Academy) which had closed down upon Okakura Kakuzo's death in 1913.Taikan Yokoyama was an important leader in the Nihonga, or "Japanese traditional" school of modern Japanese art. He was extremely influential in the evolution of the Nihonga technique, having departed from the traditional use of the line drawing. His style was called "Mourou-tai (Blurred style)". He became a teishitsu gigeiin (imperial artist) in 1931. In 1935, he was appointed as a member of Teikoku Bijutsuin (the forerunner of the Japan Art Academy), and in 1937, He was one of the first persons to be awarded the Order of Culture.
Taikan came to India along with Shunsō Hishida in 1903. He, along with Hishida was one of the first modern Japanese painters to visit India. They worked in Abanindranath's studio at Jorasanko in Calcutta.Taikan's presence gave the Indian artists, especially Abanindranath and Gaganendranath an opportunity to study and adapt the Japanese techniques. The Japanese wast tecnique, demonstrated by Taikan and Hishida left a deep impression on Abanindranath's art.
Taikan also was very willing to explore Indian themes in his work, for example the Ras Lila or 'love-play' of Radha and Krishna. Taikan and Hishida also visited Ajanta and carried their impressions back to Japan. His trip to India, jointly with Hishida inspired some of Yokoyama's most important work. Noted painter Mukul Dey during his sojourn to Japan in 1916 was able to observe the influence of the Ajanta frescoes on Taikan's work. He describes seeing a painting "Of the beautiful girls of life size with flower hair dressing of the type of Ajanta Cave paintings". And also says that Taikan's technique by 1916 "Resembled that which was employed on our ancient wall paintings of Ajanta, Bagh and other places".

Kampo Arai (1878-1945):

Portrait of Tagore by Kampo Arai
Kampo Arai
Kampo Arai was born in Ujiiie of Tochigi prefecture. Enamoured by the paintings of Yokoyama Taikan and Kanzan Shimomura, the two most famous Japanese 'Nihonga' painters of the period, Rabindranath Tagore, during his stay in Japan in 1916, wished to have a few of their works copied for him to take back home. Arai, a painter of the Nihon Bijutsuin at that time, was commissioned by Tomitaro Hara (an art connoisseur) to copy two paintings by tailkan and Kanzan for Tagore to be taken to India. Ari Kampo copied the paintings and came to Kolkata in 1916 on Rabindranath Tagore's invitation. In Calcutta Arai worked in Vichitra studio. 

Kampo Arai visited Calcutta and Santiniketan and travelled around India from 1916 to 1918. Arai went to the ancient cave shrines of Ajanta to copy the famous frescoes there. He also visited Puri, Konarak and several other places of historical and artistic interest in Orissa along with Nandalal Bose.

Akino Fuku: (1908-2001):

Indian Woman

Akino Fuku
Akino Fuku was one of the three great Japanese women painters. She began her study of Nihonga under Suisho Nishiyama in 1929. And her work was first accepted by Teiten in 1930.After the World War II, Akino decided to leave Japan Fine Arts Exhibition (Nitten) and participated in the foundation of Sozo Bijutsu (the present Soga-kai), non-official group of Japanese painters, with Uemura Shoko, Fukuda Toyoshiro and Yoshioka Kenji among others. In 1962 she was invited as a visiting professor of Visva-Bharati University in India and spent one year there. This experience gave her painting a new scale. She found herself drawn to India. Famous for her landscapes of the eternal soil of India and for her vivid portraiture of the people living there, she created new horizon for the Japanese style painting.

Ikuo Hirayama: (1952 - 2009):

Ikuo Hirayama

Ikuo Hirayama, one of the Japan's most celebrated painters was born in Setoda-chō, Hiroshima Prefecture. In 1952, he graduated from the Tōkyō School of Art (today’s Tōkyō National University of Fine Arts and Music, popularly known as "Geidai"). His 1959 work "Bukkyo Denrai" depicting an ancient Buddhist monk who introduced Buddhism to Japan, first gave him widespread recognition. A traditional Nihonga-style painter, Hirayama's career has been built largely on his Buddhist-themed paintings, as well as "fantasy" and "the holy dream." The paintings epitomize a sense of hopefulness and cooperation, peace and tranquillity. His Silk Road paintings convey Hirayama’s belief that the road, with its exchange of commerce and ideas, showed that cultures can interact constructively. Hirayama’s efforts to create beauty have reached well beyond the canvas. As a campaigner for the preservation and restoration of the world's cultural heritage and recognition of the importance of these sites, he devoted much of his resources and energies. As an honorary UNESCO ambassador, he has travelled the world promoting and personally funding the preservation of historic Silk Road sites.

Nishida Shun'ei (April 20, 1953):

Pushkar no Rojin
Under a Linden
Nishida Shun'ei was born in Ise city, Mie prefecture, in 1953 Born. In 1977, he graduated from Musashino Art University, Department of Japanese Painting. There he studied under Togyu Okumura, Hideo Shiode. Nishida was greatly inspired by Indian culture and in 1993 came here to study painting as an overseas research personnel of the Japanese Agency for Cultural Affairs. Whilst in India he was shifted to portraiture and in 1995 received the Nihon Bijutsuin (Japan Art Institute) Award as well as the newly established Adachi Museum of Art Award for “Pushkar no Rojin” (Old man of Pushkar), depicting the face of an Indian village chief. In 1996 he won the Tenshin Memorial Ibaraki Award for “Jakko” (Serene Light) depicting a young monk of Ladakh. 1998 Shun'ei was recommended for member of Nihon-bijutsuin. Currently he is working as a professor of Hiroshima City University.

Korehiko HINO:

Hino at Shantiniketan

Korehiko Hino, the well known contemporary Japanese painters, was born in Ishikawa in 1976. He graduated from University of Tsukuba, majoring in Western painting and then completed his masters in 2001 from there. Currently he is attached with the Tama University of Fine Art as an instructor. Hino has built up a solid reputation both in Japan and abroad. His pictures depict amazingly expressionless human forms with really big, creepy eyes. It is difficult to make out whether they are adults or children and therefore they grow the anxiety which all of us in the contemporary era sense in a vague, nebulous way. In 2006, Hino visited Santiniketan in India.

Photo Courtesy:

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Basho: Frog Haiku

蛙 飛び込む 
水の 音 

Matsu Basho , an eminent Hyjin or Haiku poet of the 17th century Japan, wrote this famous poem, known as Frog Haiku in English. Basho's Frog Haiku is regarded as a paradigmatic Haiku as it follows, the 5-7-5 syllabic pattern of a traditional Haiku. The firs line, ' 古池や' , consists of 5 syllable, the next line ' 蛙 飛び込む', is of 7 syllable and the last line '水の 音' is again of 5 syllables.
Tagore has given us a wonderful translation of Matsu Basho's 'Frog Haiku ' in his celebrated work 'Japan Jatri ', or his travelogue on Japan. According to Tagore brevity can be taken as an essential feature of Haiku. The existence of a 3 lined verse is hard to be traced out anywhere. These 3 lines are enough both for the poet and for the reader.
Going through the Internet I came across numerous versions of Basho's 'Frog Haiku '. Here I would like to refer to a few of these English translations:

"Into the ancient pond
A frog jumps
Water's sound "
-D .T. Suzuki

Eminent American poet Alan Ginsberg has brought out another translation . This is as follows :

"The old pond
A frog jumped in
Ker plunk-"

Another is of Robert Hess -

"The old pond
a frog jumps in
sound of water ."

How enormous was the impact of one short poem on the literary minds, we can easily comprehend from these translations. There is one word in Japanese which can well express the beauty of a Haiku - it is 'Kawaii (かわい)、), meaning pretty. Just as Sakura or Cherry Blossoms are, which bloom only for a short period of time, so is Haiku. Kawai indeed.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

焼酎: The Next Big Japanese Drink

Nihonshu (日本酒) (often referred to as sake) has been playing a central role in Japanese life and culture since the ancient times. But recently Japan's love affair with Nihonshu (日本酒) seems to be on the wane. Japanese people now are more interested in another indigenous alcoholic beverage, shōchū. Once a rough country spirit, shōchū is now the most sought-after drink in Japan, particularly among the young generation.

Shochu Glass with Tenmoku Finsh
Shōchū Glass with Tenmoku Finsh

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Indo-Japan cultural tie down the ages: A wonderful exhibition

If you are having some free time or musing on paying a visit to the Salt Lake City Centre shopping complex, do visit this exotic photo gallery at the 3rd floor of Rabindra-Okakura Bhavan, Salt Lake. It is close to the City Centre and within commutable distance from any part of the city. This permanent exhibition on the legacy of Indo Japan Cultural tie remains open throughout the day, everyday. The variegated picture gallery represents all aspects of Indo-Japan relation, cultural, political and spiritual. Subhas Chandra Bose's Japanese associations, Tagore's successive visit to the Land of Rising Sun, Justice Radhabinod Pal's dissenting role at the Tokyo Tribunal, eminent Indian painter Nandalal Bose attending a tea ceremony in Japan , Satyajit Ray and Professor Kazuo Azuma's epistolary correspondence, all comes within the purvey of this wonderful exhibition. Also remarkable are the prints of paintings of contemporary Japanese painters like Ikuo Hirayama and Korehiko Hino who have depicted Indian life.

Rabindra-Okakura Bhavan
Block-DD-27/A/1, Sector-1, Salt Lake, Kolkata-700091
Near City Centre

Sunday, March 7, 2010

JLPT N1,N2 N3.... Old wine in a new bottle?

Goodbye JLPT 1Q, 2Q, 3Q & 4Q. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test is undergoing a significant change. Not only could an examinee appear this examination twice a year, but, the mode of these tests is also undergoing a change.

Following are certain aspects of the New Test which makes it different from the older one:

Total five Levels: In contrast to the previous tests, 5 levels have been designed.

  • N1 Approximately the same level as the current Level 1 test, but designed to measure slightly more advanced abilities.
  • N2 Approximately the same level as the current Level 2 test.
  • N3 Positioned at a level bridging the current Level 2 and Level 3 tests.( newly established)
  • N4 Approximately the same level as the current Level 3 test.
  • N5 Approximately the same level as the current Level 4 test.
(“N” stands for both“Nihongo” and “New”)

In India this year, N1, N2 N3 tests will be conducted twice a year, one in the month of July, and the other in the month of December. N4 & N5 will be conducted once a year, in the month of December only.

More emphasis has been given on the listening part:
  • The Guidebook for the New JLPT has rightly pointed out that more emphasis has been given both on practical Japanese communicative competence and on knowledge of the Japanese language, in almost all the levels the time allotted for the listening part has enhanced.
  • The marks ratio has too changed, the listening part comprises of 60 marks out of total 180 marks, whereas, in the previous test it was 100 out of 400.
The division of the test too under goes a change:
  • N1& N2 have 2 divisions, a vocabulary, grammar and comprehension paper comprising of 110 minutes for N1 and 105 minutes for N2 and listening paper of 60 minutes for N1 and 50 minutes for N2. There will be 3 papers in the other 3 levels N3, N4 and N5.
  • Criteria for passing in the exam have too changed. The requirements for passing have changed so that examinees must now exceed the minimum acceptable score for both the total as well as each scoring section. Failure to exceed the minimum acceptable score in any scoring sections will result in a fail for the entire test, even if you’re total score is above the minimum acceptable score.
For Further Information:

Sakura Academy and the New JLPT Examination:

The Sakura Academy, a Japanese language school located at Barasat was established in the year 2005, and since then, it has been promoting Japanese language courses in the eastern India. At present Sakura Academy is running three branches located at Santoshpur, in South Kolkata, at Barasat in 24-Parganas(North), and at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan in Salt Lake in collaboration with Bangla Akademy. Admission for regular Japanese classes is going in full swing. Keeping in view of the requirements of the Japanese language students, Sakura Academy have introduced specific orientation classes for the respective levels of the New JLPT examination.

Those interested to take admission may contact at 9830737935 or at 9903528232 .

Saturday, February 27, 2010

Ikebana Worshop . Rabindra Okakura Bhavan .Kolkata

Ikebana, the tradational Japanese art of beautification with flowers is appreciated allover the world. Thanks to the effort of the Japanese Consulate and the Bharat Japan Sanskritik Kendra at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan, Saltlake Kolkata, that we Calcuttans could experience the magficience of this art. An Ikebana Workshop for Ikebana enthusiasts was organized at Rabindra Okakura Bhavan on 9th February, 2010. Eminent Ikebana Sensei Mr. Katsuhito Kurata demonstrated the craft of Ikebana in the workshop. The Ikebana Workshop was inaugurated by the Honarary ConsulGeneral of Japanin Kolkata. Following are some pictures taken at the workshop ...................

Friday, January 8, 2010

The making of today's Japan: An Extensive review

A Review
The history of a nation often takes a meandering path like a river. The curves she creates during her course are interesting aspects to be studied. The history of Japan, a group of islands (the Japanese word for a group of islands is Shimaguni) lying in the Pacific seems to be one such. No where in human history we have witnessed such amazing development as we have seen in case of Japan during the phase of post-war reconstruction. Japan having diminished to ashes took her rebirth in the second phase of the Showa Period (1926-1989). Probir Bikash Sarker’s Jana Ajana Japan Part 2 contains many such half known, or forgotten facts about contemporary Japan. There is a whole essay which tells us how Japan succeeded in becoming the world’s leading manufacturer of automobile and electronic products, during the Showa Era, which accounted for this stupendous development. As in the case of the 1st part of this text the essays the books contain can be divided into two groups, one on contemporary Japanese history and culture, the other on Japan’s long relationship with India more particularly, with both parts of Bengal of our subcontinent. The diversity of the subjects of these essays is no less interesting.
As in the first part 1 of the book Sarker begins his ambitious journey of retracing the link between Japan and Bengal from the time of Tenshin Okakura, an eminent writer and art critic of Japan, who came to Kolkata and met Tagore during his stay. For the writer, this union of two great mind marks the genesis of Indo Japan ties which was later strengthened by people like Subhas Bose, Rashbehari Bose and Dr. Radhabinod Pal. In this essay the author touches upon the celebrated texts written by these two writers, namely, Gitanjali by Tagore and The Book of Tea by Okakura. Another interesting prose piece is The History of the popularization of Indian Curry in Japan. We all know that Rashbehari Bose took shelter in Japan but the fact that, he was probably the pioneering one to start an Indian restaurant in Japan, is less known. This particular essay gives us an interesting recounting of how with the help of Nakamura family he started the first Indian restaurant in Japan. Sarker has given us an amiable description of how Indian food became so popular in Japan, from the time Behari Bose setup his restaurant in Japan to the present time. Another essay in this book is a tribute to Professor Kazuo Azuma, the eminent scholar and researcher of Tagore’s writing. From this essay we learn how commendable had been his efforts to establish Japanese language institutes in both the Bengals as, the Nippon Bhavan in Shantiniketan and the Okakura Bhavan in Kolkata. His other two essays on Bengal- Japan tie which have been included in this section, are those on Soka, a Japanese Magazine on Bangladesh first brought about by a Japanese writer named, Suzuki Kikuko and another essay on Japanese scholars of Bengali literature.
The essays on contemporary Japan included in this book are no less attractive. Together they constitute an informative discourse on the making of modern Japan in the last century . These include an essay on the life of a woman novelist of the 19thcentury Japan named Higuchi Ichiyo, an essay on the poetic creations of Aida Mitsuo, a prophetic poet who has written Haiku to inculcate his message to the world, another wonderful essay on the National Diet Library and finally a long essay on Tojo HideAki, the prime minister of Japan during the last war, who was sentenced to death by the International Military Tribunal for the Far East. Sarker’s personal view on the history of the last world war may be contradicted, but the writer’s bold criticism of the Tokyo Tribunal which turned out to be victor’s justice (a phrase coined by Dr Radhabinod Pal , the Indian judge providing a dissenting note on the tribunal ) deserves praise. Besides, the essay provides valuable information regarding the history of Japan of the last century. To conclude, there are some unconscious typing mistakes which need to be rectified. The cover page and the back covers containing photographs of great men associated with Japan have been well constructed. The book has been published by Manchitro, a publishing house of Bangladesh.
The price of the book is 300Taka, 1000 Yen and 15 $.

Prabir Bikash Sarker
Manchitro Publication
Price: 1000¥, 300Taka, 15$
Language: Bengali