Posts Tagged ‘ Kotowaza ’

2012: Happy Year of the Dragon

“Happy New Year” .  .  .

Akemashite Omedetou Gozaimasu!  ・ 明けましておめでとうございます  —  in Japanese.

Shin Nian Kuai Le!新年快乐  —  in Chinese.

The Cloud Dragon. Ceiling of Tenryuji Temple (Kyoto) Teaching Hall.


I stayed a couple nights in Kyoto’s Tenryuji Temple in the Spring of ’91.  A group of fellows from my small, Hyogo Prefecture town, and the local Renzai Sect priest, invited me to travel with them for a weekend at the temple, about two and a half hours away by train.  These were the same guys with whom I’d experienced a Sunrise Meditation several months before, on a chilly December morning.   This weekend in Kyoto, though, turned out to be something different.  No meditation, just an enjoyable Weekend with the Guys in the Big City.  That’s another story, though.

Another Kyoto “Dragon Temple” I’ve visited — this one many times over — is Ryoanji, not too far from Tenryuji, the “Dragon at Peace” Temple.

Lantern Detail. Ryoanji Temple. Kyoto. May 2010.

So long 2011

There’s an expression, a kotowaza, in Japan:  “Time (flies) like an arrow,” or 光陰矢のごとしKouin ya no gotoshi.  So it is.  So it is.  I’ve been a little sad to see 2011, the Year of the Rabbit, pass by.  But such is the way of things です、ね.


2012 is the Year of the Dragon.  For more on the East Asian / Chinese Calendar, click here.  Dragons are a big deal in Asia.  All over the world, actually.  St. George, and all that.  And there’s Tolkien’s Smaug, of course.  We can’t forget one of the West’s most famous dragons… Puff.  And there’s Albi, from New Zealand.  But in Asia dragons are mostly, mostly, considered lucky and venerable, though wild and unpredictable, creatures.

A client in Japan sent me an New Year’s E-Card a couple of days ago.  It was littered with pictures of seahorses.  In Japan seahorses aren’t seen as seahorses, but, rather, as little baby dragons, or (竜の落し子) tatsuno-otoshigo.  The card read in part:

In Japan dragon has been worshiped as water god that controls

clouds and rain for good harvest.

According to the ancients, those born in a Year of the Dragon (…1928, 1940, 1952, 1964, 1976, 1988, 2000, 2012) tend to .  .  .

. . . live by their own rules and if left on their own, are usually successful. They’re driven, unafraid of challenges, and willing to take risks. They’re passionate in all they do and they do things in grand fashion. Unfortunately, this passion and enthusiasm can leave Dragons feeling exhausted and interestingly, unfulfilled.

While Dragons frequently help others, rarely will they ask for help. Others are attracted to Dragons, especially their colorful personalities, but deep down, Dragons prefer to be alone. Perhaps that is because they’re most successful when working alone. Their preference to be alone can come across as arrogance or conceitedness, but these qualities aren’t applicable. Dragons have tempers that can flare fast!

The Dragon Year will not only be celebrated in China and paid homage to in Japan (and Korea), but all over the world, people will be marking and celebrating the Year of the Dragon.  Here’s what’s going on in Los Angeles, for example:

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 20, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — The Year of the Dragon is a significant year in Asian tradition:  the dragon is sacred and symbolizes strength, luck and new beginnings. Throughout Asia and also in the U.S., cities are preparing for this important time of year with much fanfare and celebration—this is especially true in Los Angeles’ most unique historic district, LA Chinatown. LA Chinatown hosts one of the largest New Year celebrations in the country with more than 125,000 attendees convening in the district for the weekend-long celebration.


And in Washington, D.C.  .  .  . in Sydney .  .  . in London .  .  .  and Birmingham, Alabama.

.          .          .

Please come back for updates. . .



A Few Favorite Posts You May Have Missed…


In order to see older Home Page posts (from, say, a couple of months ago, or last summer) one would have to go to the bottom of this page, click on the “Older Entries” tab to the bottom and left, then scroll down that previous “Home Page,” then repeat the process again and again.  A hassle of sorts.  So in order to bring some of those older pages to you, I’m posting their links right here.

After Work:  いざかや、ガード下、赤提灯(from early last September) discusses my favorite kinds of little, hole-in-the-wall restaurants and watering holes.  These are some of the best kinds of places to eat and while away time with friends no matter where in the world one is.

Izakaya in Kyoto, “Pontocho.”


Dear, Beautiful Kyoto (from early last August).  A little homage to a place that’s wafted into and out of my life (or my life has drifted into and out of Kyoto) since the fall of 1984.

Near Kyoto University, looking East towards Shinnyo-do Temple. 2009.


And here’s one about “kotowaza” (wise sayings/proverbs):  Spring Trips / C’est la Soul Sonic Boogie.   And here are Five Favorite Post from 2011.


One more:  this one’s just a couple months old, but it surprisingly didn’t get as many “hits” and looks and so forth that I thought it would, and deserved:  “Regain, Chibi Maruko-chan and (in retrospect) Simpler Times.”   If you don’t check out the Regain and other vids (one of them below), you’re really missing out.


I’ll do this again from time to time, bring forward former, fun posts.  Enjoy.


“Ishi no ue ni mo san nen…”

In a Front Page piece from back in the summer,  I discuss (among other things) and provide examples of kotowaza (proverbs or wise sayings), including —

“Even monkeys fall from trees” (Saru mo ki kara ochiru / 猿も木から落ちる )

and “Sit on a rock for 3 years” (Ishi no ue ni mo san nen / 石の上にも三年).

“Even monkeys fall from trees” is pretty easy to understand.  In other words, even those with the most apparent skill (whether in social climbing or quarterbacking a college football team [St. Tim]) will someday get their comeuppance.  “Sit on a rock for 3 years” is a little more obtuse.  In sum, it means “be patient”.

So, with that noted, I ask those several of you who’ve emailed me about when I plan to post Satsuma, Part II (the follow up to, surprise, Satsuma, Part I) to please sit on a rock for 3 years, or, perhaps, just 3-5 more days.  I’m very appreciative of your eagerness to read the follow-up.  Hold on, I’m coming.

.    .    .

With that out of the way I post below, as several brilliant non-sequiturs, a few photos from bygone days, 1990-1, when I lived in the small town of “Asaki” (not the real name), Hyogo Prefecture.  This town forms the backdrop for my story “Etsuko“.  I’ve only recently come across these photos.  I haven’t really “cleaned them up”, yet, so pardon any old pits or shmutz on them.  Enjoy.


Woman walking her dog. Near my house in "Asaki". Spring 1991.


Youngsters at Hyogo Prefecture ski resort. February 1991.


Ruins of Takeda Castle. December 1990. One trainstop and a 30-45 min climb "Asaki", where I lived in 1990-1.


Spring ’10 Trips. C’est la Soul Sonic Boogie.


Sign at Heian-Jingu (Shrine).

Sign at Heian-Jingu (Shrine). Kyoto.


For the past week or so I’ve promised various people that I would be posting additional Spring ’10 Trip Information, including pricing and trip package details, “withing the next day or two”.  I’m talking about the group trips here:  the ~ 2-week  “Cherry Blossom Spring”  and the ~ 1-week  “Kyoto Sojourn”  trips.  General itineraries for each are, in fact, up (see top of this page) and anyone who’s emailed me with any questions, including pricing, has received a prompt response.  At any rate, I’m still not quite ready to publish all that to the world at large, but almost there.  I will have that information up before the end of THIS week.  Promise.     Ishi no ue ni mo san nen.

Kotowaza are Japanese proverbs, “wise sayings”.  I use one just above: Ishi no ue ni mo san nen.   The literal translation is “Sit on a rock for 3 years”.  Loses something between the Japanese and the English, indeed.  It means:  “Have patience. Patience.  Patience…”  I think of this one a lot.

Other favorite kotowaza of mine, which can sum-up an emotion, nail a situation, or remind me of an attitude or outlook I need to adopt — and to which I posit you can, or will, relate — include:

Baka ni tsukeru kusuri wa nai. There’s no medicine for (to cure) a fool.

Kaze no naka de sodatta ki wa ne ga tsuyoi. A tree that’s grown up in the wind has strong roots.

Chi mo namida mo nai. [S/he has] neither blood nor tears.

Heh o hitte shiri tsubome. [No use] scrunching-up your bum after the fart.

Saru mo ki kara ochiru. Even monkeys fall from trees.

I’ll leave it to you to figure out their respective “inner meaning”, though I believe each is rather obvious.  If you want to guess or have a question, please feel free to comment below.  I’ll be incorporating these and others into one of my stories — it’s a work in progress.

.  .  .

Taikai no itteki . . . Just one drop in the ocean.    Only a moment in time.  C’est la vie . . . C’est la Soul Sonic Boogie.