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Nagasaki Hanami Guide Prime cherry blossom spots throughout the prefecture

Events | Wabi-sabi | Bunraku | Haiku nagazasshi │ March/April 2012

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nagazasshi Volume 5 Issue 5 March/April 2013

Editor-in-chief Audrey Akcasu

Deputy Editor Qi Yang

Assistant Editors Raymond Arcega Katelyn Schwartz

Copy Editor Rosario Paz

Magazine Manager Kim Durinick

Layout and Design Douglas Bonham

Contributors

Dan Ayres Jean Davis Susan Fogarty Jasmine Francois Justin Janicki Keith Lauher Carter Scott Genevieve Seah Matthew Wypcha

Founders

Andrew Morris Matthew Nelson www.nagazasshi.com

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Cover photo: Sue Ann Simon

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verywhere you look, new life is blossoming from the remnants of winter. Spring has arrived! Japanese society follows suit with the changing of the season, not only in celebrating rebirth by viewing cherry blossoms and other seasonal flora, but also in work and at school. It’s the time of year when people change jobs or locations and when students begin their next stage of education. The change of seasons is a motif fixed deeply in Japanese culture. One can see it in all forms of life and art (18), including theater (6) and poetry (9). We are excited to introduce many of these themes in this issue, and we hope that you, too, will appreciate the coming of spring, perhaps under a cherry tree (12). As we begin this season, we remember that only two years have passed since the Tohoku disaster. Although signs of longlasting effects are still slow to surface, we should not fail to recognize the progress made in reconstruction with help from friends in Japan and abroad. Let this new year hold even more progress. the air is changing once again the flowers bloom the world awakens

気が変わる / ki ga kawaru また花が咲く / mata hana ga saku 世が覚ます / yo ga samasu We hope you enjoy spring and find inspiration to write a haiku of your own for the Nagazasshi’s first haiku contest (11).

Audrey Akcasu, Editor-in-chief March/April 2012 │ nagazasshi


Contents Events

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Bunraku

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Haiku: Lines between lines

9

‘Tis the Season

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Sakura Science

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The Art of Transcience

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Kanji of the Month

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My Two Yen

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Second in the series on Japan’s traditional theater A profile of Japan’s famous poetry

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Recommendations for hanami in Nagasaki Facts about the ubiquitous cherry blossom An introduction to wabi-sabi style

Reviewing Nagasaki’s Penguin Aquarium

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photo Douglas Bonham

Event of the Month Nagasaki Tall Ships Festival April 25-29, Nagasaki Dejima Tall ships from all over the world gather in Dejima for Japan’s premier ship festival. Visitors can watch sail drills and fireworks, ride ships and enjoy hands-on events such as a rope tying tutorial and canoe trips.


Events The 12th Annual Doll Festival March 3-4, Omura Storefronts throughout central Omura will be displaying traditional dolls. Other events include a tea ceremony. Camellia Festival March 2-3, Matsuura The Fukushima area of Matsuura is hosting their 40th annual camellia festival, where you can view forests of blossoming trees, but also buy seeds to grow your own tree and win prizes. Saikai Spring Festival March 16-April 14, Saikaibashi Park Spring is the season for flowers, but in Saikai you can enjoy the cherry blossoms while watching a natural phenomenon: the whirlpools in the channel where Omura Bay meets the ocean. Kanokaen Festival March 30, Unzen Get a new take on cherry blossom viewing in Tachibana Park, as 200 men parade the streets with flaming torches, braving the darkness in celebration of a historical battle dating back 400 years.

Shimabara Rebellion Memorial April 14, Minami Shimabara Help commemorate the 40,000 victims of the Shimabara Rebellion of 1637. The night view of Hara Castle, decorated with one candle for every victim, is an enchanting sight not to be missed. Hasami Pottery Festival April 29-May 5, Hasami Head to Hasami for the prefecture’s biggest porcelain market. You can get the famous pottery for once-in-a-year low prices, and also try out a pottery wheel or pottery painting. Don’t miss the Hasami-themed photo contest either! Azalea Festival Early April-Early May, Omura and Sasebo Both Sasebo’s Saikai National Park and Omura’s Uraminotaki Park play host to a dazzling display of azalea flowers. In Sasebo you can view the flowers with the backdrop of the 99 Islands, while in Omura, they grow beside a waterfall.

Kobafuryu Festival April 1, Kamikoba Denshukan, Sasebo This is a rain-making ritual that has been performed by farmers since 1690. Enjoy festival music, dance, and processions carried out by locals throughout the day.

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Japan’s Traditional Performance Arts

photo flickr.com/barbery

The second edition of Genevieve Seah’s series on Japan’s rich theatrical history

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uppetry is one of the oldest art forms in existence and has been practiced in nearly every culture throughout history. From the shadow puppets of Indonesia to the cookie-obsessed monster on TV, puppets are brought to life to tell stories and entertain. The traditional Japanese puppet theater, bunraku, is one such form of puppetry. Unlike other forms of puppet theaters, where great pains are

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taken to hide the presence of puppeteers from the audience, in bunraku, three men manipulate one puppet in full view of the audience. Performing alongside the puppeteers are the tayu narrator and shamisen musician, who are commonly regarded as the two pillars of bunraku. These three elements work closely together to deliver a theatrical experience unique only to this traditional Japanese art found nowhere else in the world. Bunraku today is the name of the art form itself, but it was not always so. It was originally the name of the theater at which this puppet drama was performed. It gradually became synonyMarch/April 2013 | nagazasshi


文楽 Bunraku

舞 台 芸 術

mous with the art form by the end of the Meiji era and is today used as its official name. Until this time though, the art was known as ningyou joururi, literally meaning “puppet narrative singing”. The term alludes to the origins of this puppet theater. There is a long history of narrative singing in Japan, especially by blind priests who accompany themselves on the biwa lute. Puppets also have a long tradition in Japan, often as part of shrine rituals, where the puppets take on the impurities of people and are sacrificed in their place. In the Edo period, these two traditions came together, and bunraku was born. When the art form first came into existence in Osaka theaters, there was only one puppeteer for each puppet. As the mechanisms of the puppets became more sophisticated, more puppeteers were implemented to manipulate them, evolving bunraku into the three-man ensemble it is today. The puppet, which can be as tall as 150 cm in height and weigh as much as 10 kg, is supported by the omozukai (main puppeteer) who manipulates the puppet’s head, facial expressions and right hand. The hidarizukai (left puppeteer) manipulates the left hand and the puppet’s interaction with stage props. The ashizukai (feet puppetnagazasshi | March/April 2013

eer) controls the movement of the puppet’s legs and feet with their hands and accompanying sound with the stamping of their feet. The three puppeteers have to move as one and communicate their intentions without words to orchestrate a performance of such expressiveness that the puppet seems to come alive. More importantly, the expressions and movements of the puppet must be so realistic and enthralling that the audience will fully be focused on it and forget the presence of the puppeteers. It is said that because the bunraku puppet is operated by three puppeteers, it surpasses the expressiveness of a human actor. While this might be an exaggeration, the puppet is absolutely capable of expressive actions not available to a human. For this reason, the puppet is the most attractive feature of bunraku and captures most of the audience’s attention. However, one mustn’t forget about the two pillars of bunraku that help bring the puppets and drama come to life: the tayu narrator and shamisen musicians. The tayu narrator single-handedly carries the challenging task of narrating the story: explaining the background, describing the scene and varying his voice to recite the dialogue for all characters.

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Bunraku is truly a unique and rare form of theater. Striving to perfect the primordial art of storytelling, bunraku demands absolute coordination and flawless harmonization on the part of its

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performers. The art injects into lifeless puppets the nuances of human emotions and brings such realism to the performance that it has the confidence to allow its puppeteers to appear on stage. These are the reasons why bunraku is often lauded as one of the most sophisticated and powerful forms of puppet theater in the world. n January/February 2013 | nagazasshi

photo flickr.com/wallyg

Certain climatic sections of scenes are so long and difficult that they are designated as kiri sections, which means that only certain narrators are permitted to perform them. These designations appear in program booklets and are considered highlights of the performance. The narrator is accompanied by the three-stringed futozao (thick-stringed) shamisen with its deep reverberating sound. The shamisen players have to play as one with the narrator and focus on the importance of bringing life into the story rather than on musicality. At times, the shamisen players are required to take over the role of the narrator and tell the play with music. While the narrator can use words, it requires technique and finesse to express human emotions through an instrument with a single tonal color.


Haiku: Lines between lines

Justin Janicki delves into the history of one of Japan’s poetic pillars

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ow much can there really be to three short phrases, and what can I really tell you that you couldn’t have figured out in the few seconds it would take for you to read one yourself? Well, to start off, haiku are much more than just three simple phrases. There are variables to a haiku that are meant to invoke maximum level of imagination using the least amount of words. In writing a haiku, the author is only meant to take it so far. There is blank space between the images, where the words end and the reader’s imagination is meant to take over.

photo flickr.com/rakudiary/

Originally, haiku used to be a part of much larger compositions. They were used simply as a heading, to prepare the setting of the actual poem that was to follow. It was the Japanese poet, Basho, who realized its potential and thought to make it stand on its own.

The first and perhaps most generally understood of these, is the threephrase layout. In English, a haiku is typically written in three lines, each representing one phrase. However, in Japanese, all three are written in a single, vertical line. Traditionally, each phrase is constrained to a count of 5, 7, and then 5. Unlike English poetry, which is measured in syllables, a haiku is counted in on (sounds). A single on measures one phonetic sound from the Japanese language.

A haiku, in its traditional sense, is compiled of three primary elements.

The second element is the presentation of two images of which the

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reader is meant to analyze. The two images are typically highlighted by a single kireji, or cutting word, punctuating one of the haiku’s three phrases. This is an element that has remained consistent throughout all haiku and generally defines its overall purpose. So without it, you are pretty much delving into some other form of poetry.

It is not always what is said that is meaningful, but what hasn’t been

Finally, in a haiku you will usually find that one of the words relates to a season. This is a kigo (seasonal word), which is derived from a list called a saijiki (almanac of seasonal words). Kigo are used to apply a setting to the haiku and present a small jumping point for the reader’s imagination. Authors have been known to bend these confines, and modern writers have even broken away from them completely. To be honest, what is art if you can’t have a little fun with what you’re creating? If you have spent a lot of time in Japan or studying its culture and society, then you probably know all too well the importance of subtlety. It is not always what is said that is meaningful, but what hasn’t been. It’s all about filling the gaps of our perception and making connections that aren’t blatantly visible.

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A tale of two styles Very traditional: 古池や蛙飛込む水の音 (furuike ya/kawazu tobikomu/mizu no oto) at the age old pond a frog leaps into water a deep resonance -Basho Matsuo Breaking from traditions: 梅雨に入りて細かに笑う鯰 かな (tsuyu ni hairite/komaka ni warau/namazu ka na) in the rainy season the rippling laughter of a cat fish - Koi Nagata

I encourage you to take what you have hopefully learned from this article and seek out a book at the nearest library. There are several resources online that list the various kireji and kigo. n

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Nagazasshi Haiku Contest 2013 Inspired? You’re in luck! This spring, Nagazasshi is hosting its first haiku contest! The winners will have their poems published in the May/ June issue! Given the time of year, the theme is 梅 雨 (tsuyu), rainy season. Who can enter? Anyone! The contest will be divided into three groups: junior high school students (and under), high school students and adults. Deadline: Please have your poem(s) in by April 6th, 2013 (late entries will not be accepted) Entries: Participants are limited to 3 poems each. Please keep them in traditional 5-7-5 format. Poems must be in ENGLISH. (If you write it in Japanese, please provide a translation into English). Include your name and age along with the poems. Send entries and questions to nagazasshi@gmail.com. Please tell your friends and students! We look forward to reading your poems! nagazasshi | March/April 2013

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‘Tis the Season Check out some Nagazasshi readers’ recommendations for cherry blossom viewing spots all over the prefecture! photo Sue Ann Simon

Nagasaki City Tateyama Park (立山公園) Access: By bus: From Nagasaki Station (長 崎駅前), Chuobashi (中央橋) or Suwajinja (諏訪神社) take a bus bound for Tateyama (立山). This is arguably the best and certainly the most popular park for cherry blossoms in Nagasaki City. With a view directly over Nagasaki Bay and the surrounding area, Tateyama Park sits atop Tateyama Mountain. During cherry blossom season, the park is awash with visitors taking advantage of the fantastic views, densely packed cherry trees and delicious food stalls. At night, the lit

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lanterns hanging from the trees cover the park with a warm glow. If you fancy exploring the area, Tateyama lies on the edge of a hiking trail. A short walk to the right of Nagasaki Higashi High School, up a sharp concrete road towards a small red shrine, will lead you to a path through a bamboo forest. This path takes you to both a spectacular lookout platform and the site of the first observation of the transit of Venus across the sun. If you follow the trail back down from there, you’ll find a beautiful hidden shrine cut into the hillside. –Jean Davis

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Isahaya Route 124 (scenic drive) Access: By car: Take routes 34, to 57, to 124 in Isahaya. By train: Moriyama Station on the Shimabara line.

Omura Omura Park (大村公園) Access: By car: Going north on route 34, the park is on the right-hand side after Omura High School. By train: A 25-minute walk from Omura Station

Although Isahaya City is not often considered the go-to destination for cherry blossom viewing, it’s home to a scenic drive and walk of exceptional beauty. The city’s two-lane road is densely lined on both sides with cherry trees, creating a strikingly picturesque tunnel that really is a must-see for anyone looking to enjoy a new cherry blossom viewing experience. While this scenic road is not large enough to be used for a hanami, there is plenty of space in the parks that mark the entrance, making the area a great place to have a cherry blossom viewing party and a charming walk. –Keith Lauher

It may seem small, but Omura Park packs in 2,000 cherry trees. On top of sheer number, this park will wow you with its variety, offering not only your typical cherry blossoms, but also wisteria cherry trees and the famous Omurazakura, which has over 100 petals on a single flower! Accompanied by a small festival that lasts from the first blossom to the last Omura-zakura (which blooms two to three weeks later than other trees), Omura Park has been named one of the top 100 places to view sakura in all of Japan. There is also a big pond, historic castle and Inari shrine within the park. –Audrey Akcasu

Below: Isahaya’s “cherry lane,” Route 124

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photo Keith Lauher

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Sasebo Hana no Mori Park (花の森公園) Access: By car: 25 minutes from Sasebo Station on route 149 along Tawara ga Ura honto. By bus: From stop #2 at Sasebo Station, a 50-minute ride heading toward Nishi Kojima (西小島) and Tawara ga Ura (俵ヶ浦). From the Nozaki (野崎) stop, walk past Nozaki Junior High School. Take a little venture outside the city to visit Hana no Mori Park (花の森公園) in Nozaki-cho. It’s a quiet little park with

ample free parking, overhead shelter, nice walking paths and lots of clean ground space to spread out your “blue tarp”. In the spring, Hana no Mori Park not only has plenty of beautiful cherry trees to enjoy a bento (lunch box) under, but right across the street is an observation deck to view the nationally famous 99 Islands (九十九島). On a lucky day, you might be able to enjoy the hanami experience to the sounds of local chorus groups practicing their songs in the park. Hana no Mori Park is a great place to have a hanami-kai (flower viewing party), but as a humble suggestion, please prepare and bring all your food and drinks with you that you’ll need for the day. This area is a bit rural and there are no markets or convenience stores close by. –Matthew Wypcha

Left and below: The scenes at Hana no Mori Park in Sasebo photos Matthew Wypcha

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Tsushima Kechi Dam and Mitsushima Cultural Center (鶏知ダム、 美津島) Access: By car or taxi, five minutes from airport, 15 minutes from Izuhara ferry port With 90% of the island covered in forest, it’s no surprise that Tsushima has its fair share of cherry blossoms. The most popular place for hanami is Kechi Dam. During the peak of the season, there are often a number of parties spread out among the dozens of trees overlooking the reservoir below. The popularity of the dam hanami is surprising – it’s one of the few times I’ve found it hard to find a parking space in Tsushima. The road encircling the reservoir also showcases a fair number of sakura and makes for a nice walk or short drive. Another great hanami spot is along a small dirt road near the Mitsushima Cultural Center. Cherry trees overhang both sides of the seldom-used, narrow path, offering a quiet escape from the relatively crowded Kechi Dam area and providing a truly idyllic spring experience. A stream runs along the roadside and often teems with turtles and other wildlife. These two spots are only about a ten minutes’ drive away from each other and are even close to the airport, so they can be easily visited in short succession. -Carter Scott

photo Maya Murata

Above: Serene hanami in Tsushima Iki Mt. Ondake Access: By car or taxi: 10 minutes from Ashibe port, 30 minutes from the airport If you find yourself wanting to experience a little bit of island life, hop on a ferry to Iki for hanami. The island offers idyllic views of cherry blossoms next to the ocean, but the best spots are the secluded parks. One park in particular lies at the base of Mt. Ondake in Ashibe Town. The park is great for picnics, playing sports, and exploring. Once you’re done with your picnic take a little hike up to the Monkey Shrine. Then, check out the observatory that overlooks most of Iki, and even some of Tsushima on a clear day! –Jasmine Francois n

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Sakura Science Audrey Akcasu gives you some trivia about Japan’s favorite trees

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ere’s a fun fact: Did you know that cherry trees fall under the scientific classification of the “rose family”? That being said, so do peaches, plums, apricots, almonds and thousands of other herbs, flowers and berries. Let’s focus on cherry trees though. So, why don’t the cherry trees we spend hours partying under bear any fruit? Well, they do. It’s just that the small berries they produce aren’t edible to us, but birds love them. The trees that make the fruit we do eat are mainly prunus cerasus (sour cherry) and prunus avium (wild cherry). While Japan does have many of these, it’s more famous for its ornamental trees, the most popular being p. serrulata (Japanese cherry), p. speciosa (Oshima cherry), p. sargentii (Sargent’s cherry) and p. x yedoensis (Yoshino Cherry), although there are over 200 different kinds!

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Enough science, let’s talk history. The practice of “viewing cherry trees” dates back to the Nara period (710-794), but it wasn’t until the Heian period (745-1185) that the term hanami came to refer specifically to cherry blossom viewing. It started out as a dainty activity for the elite, but spread throughout the classes, and eventually came to be enjoyed by the common people during the Edo period (16031868). What took them so long to jump on the wagon, we may never know. If you haven’t noticed already, Japan takes cherry blossoms seriously. They are referenced in songs, books and other forms of pop culture. You can see them as decoration on pretty much anything you could imagine, from dishes to the one hundred yen coin. Cherry blossoms even have a place in Japan’s military history. When Japan invaded a new country, they would plant cherry trees there as a sign of their occupation. While Japan still plants trees all over the world, they are now used as gifts - a sign of friendship, not war. n March/April 2013 | nagazasshi


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The art of transcience

Wabi-Sabi

Susan Fogarty introduces this uniquely Japanese art aesthetic

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abi-sabi. What is this? A longlost cousin of the Japanese horseradish wasabi? Not quite. These two words wabi and sabi express a Japanese philosophy and aesthetic based on seeing the beauty in imperfection, irregularity, incompleteness and transience. “難しい muzukashii (That’s difficult)…” I hear you mutter. Wabi-sabi can be related to art, craftwork, architecture, fashion, interior design, and philosophy. Think of it as finding the beauty in the cracks of a pot or seeing the rustic charm of a rundown cottage. It’s like this, but something stronger. If something is truly wabisabi, it should strike you with a sense of nostalgia. Some people argue that it can only be understood by Japanese and is part of the Japanese identity. Others even take it a step further and try to live their lives in a wabi-sabi way. Wabi-sabi has a long history and the meaning of the words have changed over

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time. It traces its roots to Zen Buddhism. Now safe in the knowledge that wabi-sabi is impossible for foreigners to fully understand, I will try to further explain this term that is more of a feeling, rather than an idea. Let’s look at the kanji: 侘寂 侘 (wabi) first had negative connotations of sadness, loneliness, isolation and being miserable. It now means rustic or simple; it conveys a certain pride in simplicity. Originally, 寂 (sabi) meant withered or decayed, but now it expresses serenity or elegance in the passage of time. Although the kanji differ, there is a link with this and 錆 (sabi), meaning rust. Again, this reinforces the idea of decay and time passing. These more positive meanings of wabi and sabi came about during the 14th century. Together they express the modern day concept of beauty in the simple, rustic, impermanent and imperfect. We see wabi-sabi in flower arrangement, Japanese gardens and certain ceremonies such as the tea ceremony. If you’re still struggling to grasp this idea, don’t worry. Wabi-sabi is often put on lists of impossible to translate words, along with things like arigata-meiwaku—when someone does a favor for you even though you don’t

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want them to, but out of politeness you allow them to do it. They only make things worse for you, but to be polite you have to say thank you...Yeah. Wabisuki is an aesthetic movement which came about during the 16th century when all things wabi—simple and imperfect—became cherished and sought after, while things of the previous decadent and ornate style were rejected. Simple pottery was favored over the gaudy Chinese style. Think of it as a 16th-century hipster movement. It wouldn’t be right to think of wabisuki or wabi-sabi simply as a folk revival, as it claims to have more power than a

simple aesthetic preference, in that it can inspire feelings in the observer. Again, wabi-sabi wasn’t restricted to art. A wabibito, for example, is a person who is content to live simply with few possessions, just like the Zen Buddhist monks. As wabi-sabi is the beauty in imperfection and decay, the passing of time and changing of seasons is an important part of it. One can argue that the link to this is Japan’s obsession with seasons. We often hear, “Japan has four seasons,” and there are many festivals that celebrate the changing seasons and the passage of time. These include spring hanami (flower viewing) and the viewing of photo Audrey Akcasu

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A Foreigner’s Attempt at Wabi-Sabi photo Eddie Fogarty

This photo is not beautiful in the traditional sense, but there is something striking in its austerity. It is the only tree for miles- its very existence is irregular, almost a mistake. The way its branches are leaning to one side means it is imperfect and it looks like it could die or be blown away at any moment - transience. kouyou (autumn leaves). Very wabi-sabi indeed. The brevity of haiku and the way these poems try to capture a moment or snapshot in time reflects the transience of wabi-sabi. With that brief introduction to a very Japanese concept, I dare you to perplex a Japanese friend or co-worker with the innocent question: “What’s wabi-sabi?” Or how about if someone comments on the lack of furniture in your apaato

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(apartment), tell them you’re going for the wabi-sabi look. Just be warned, wabisabi is never dirty or unkempt. Your home is wabi-sabi if the lack of possessions is down to a concentrated effort to be satisfied with what you have; if it inspires some rustic yearning of some kind, then it’s wabi-sabi. If your bins are overflowing and you’re eating cereal off a plate with a fork, that’s not wabi-sabi, it means you’re lazy. n

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My two yen: Reviews Nagasaki Penguin Aquarium 3-16 Shuku-machi, Nagasaki penguin-aqua.jp/english/

Dan Ayers on where we can mingle with the puffy aquatic creatures residing in our own backyard

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estled away to the east of Nagasaki City lies scenic Himi, where lush green hills and a sparkling bay afford stunning views. The jewel in the crown of this suburb is undoubtedly the fantastic Penguin Aquarium. We arrived alongside the lapping waves of the Amakusa-Nada Sea on a sunny winter’s day just in time for the Penguin Parade– two words that would surely bring joy to all but the most stone-hearted of folk. Politely ushered on by the diligent Penguin Ladies, these puffed up flightless birds stomp around to obscure music in a hilarious manner. The real pièce de résistance of the performance must be the bridge crossing, in which a dozen or so King Penguins huddle together and gingerly plod over a little red bridge. It’s enough to make the manliest man’s man–Bruce Willis, let’s say–mutter kawaii (cute) under his breath. Be sure to bring your camera, for the parade takes place against a backdrop of swaying palms and turquoise water, a quin-

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tessential “Kodak Moment.” When the music ceases, the penguins shuffle away from whence they came, giving us time to explore the innards of the aquarium. For the concerned animal lovers among you, rest assured that the likeable sphenisciformes are treated to spacious, spotless areas with plenty of fresh aqua gushing in. The tanks allow the spectator to observe the penguins in their “natural habitat,” elegantly swishing through the water, as well as notably inelegantly waddling about on terra firma. Looking for penguin variety? Never fear, the Penguin Aquarium features numerous species, each with informative descriptions in English coupled with corresponding maps detailing where they are found in the wild. From the intrinsically cute Tiny Penguin–one of which is called Rachel– to the anarchic punk that is the Macaroni Penguin, you won’t be disappointed. Can’t stand the sight of these feathery fish fans? Don’t worry, other intriguing oceanic specimens are peppered throughout, from archaic and alienlooking crustaceans to the noble seahorse. Also featured is a gargantuan March/April 2013 | nagazasshi


photo Dan Ayers

The tanks allow the spectator to observe the penguins in their ‘natural habitat,’ elegantly swishing through the water

tank utterly brimming with sea life, displaying an array of dazzling colored exotic fish amidst the fearsome sharks and stingrays.

Had enough of aquatic animals? Landlubbers can pop into the snake enclosure, a special collection in honor of this year’s Chinese Zodiac. Attached to the aquarium is a petit gift shop flogging the obligatory souvenirs, as well as a café serving ice cream and nagazasshi | March/April 2013

hot drinks. We unashamedly lingered until the wonderful words “pengin tacchi taimu” blasted out of the speakers, prompting us to rush for the outside area faster than was good for us. One word of caution: If you wish to participate in “touchy time,” you may have to swallow your pride and queue up with almost exclusively young children. It’s worth the rouge cheeks however, and the feeling is just… well, you’ll have to find out for yourself. To top it all off, the entrance fee is just one 500 yen coin. So next time a free weekend opens up, don’t sit about twiddling your thumbs, make haste for the Penguin Aquarium! n

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Sakura are in the air! Here's a guide to the best spots around Nagasaki for hanami. Also, the history of bunraku and of haiku, and a review...

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