Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Hiroshige's Tokaido Series: 47, 48, and 49

Hiroshige's woodcuts of the Tokai Road show lively Edo era scenes. 

Then and Now

I am neither blind nor indifferent to Japan's faults, as some may have inferred from the previous post.  One of these, as I see things, is a frequently displayed indifference to the plight of structures of cultural or historic value.  Case in point: this photo shows a Meiji era estate in Niigata City, its extensive grounds an oasis of  green in the drab city center, its spreading trees the favored roost every evening of hundreds of birds.  The stone marker informs us that the Meiji Emperor rested at the residence in 1878 during a tour of northern Japan.  Deserving of preservation, surely.  Alas, no.  I passed by the other day, and the above is what I saw.  Everything reduced to rubble, bagged, and ready to be carted away.  Mottainai.      

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Few Thoughts

One of my readers has complained (in a manner as nasty as it was ungrammatical) that I gloss over Japan's 'dark underside'.  Japan has its dark side, to be sure;  I am aware of no country that hasn't. But to those who, like my learned and gracious reader, expect me in this blog to ridicule the country for its failings, to screech with righteous indignation over the occasional instance of Japanese discrimination against foreigners, or to debunk every laughable attempt at historical revisionism by some right-wing nut-job, to such visitors I should like to recommend the following: . Unlike our dear Mr. Debito, I am not an expat in Japan who is only content when he is disparaging the Japanese. I have better things to do. I happen to be fairly happy here, and this blog reflects my interest in and respect for my adopted home and its culture.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

View 50 :Sakanoshita (坂之下), from Hiroshige's Tokaido Series

Sakanoshita, on the border between Shiga and Mie prefectures, lies about 420 km from the start of the Tokai Road in Tokyo. In Hiroshige's day there were about 125 inns for travelers in Sakanoshita.  The hamlet today comprises a little over 100 households.