The pot with crickets or About the Japanese spirit
An article dedicated to Japan published in magazine Contrafort (English translation)
The tragedy that occurred on March 11, 2011 in the Country of the Rising Sun had very serious consequences and will probably forever be imprinted in the collective memory of the Japanese people. This disaster has shocked us too, reminding us once again how fragile life is and how uncertain is the evolution of human communities, no matter how flourishing. The earthquake and the tsunami followed by the failure of nuclear stations, superimposed over a more frequent series of other disasters of natural or human origin in different regions of the world shows that we live in a world which almost seems apocalyptic and which is losing balance. The Asian Dragon, symbol of the tellurian forces, has awaken.
At this moment of danger, from all over the planet without delay started arriving messages of compassion and solidarity with the Japanese people. Thus, supporting Japan, representatives of other nations were contributing to the survival of their own human solidarity.
Because of my passion for music, in recent years I have had the opportunity to correspond via the Internet with some Japanese people whom I contacted as soon as I heard the news about the earthquake. Yasushi Miura, a techno artist who lives in Tokyo, said he was excited that someone at the other end of the world thinks of him and asked me not to forget what happened. Another Japanese, Tatsu Suzuki, manager of Bump Foot music netlabel, thanked me as well for the fact that I didn’t remain indifferent. Just two months before the earthquake Tatsu launched on his website a jazz-inspired album of mine, entitled "Secret Journeys." A month after the disaster already, I proposed him another album, our collaboration continuing.
Today Japan has become a cultural space with brilliant achievements in art and fashion, science and technology. Sakura, cherry blossom, is not by chance a symbol of beauty, showing faithfully the particular sensitivity of the Japanese. The emblematic minimalist spirit, the elegance and sobriety, the concentration and subtlety of Japanese artist is a model to follow. The exceptional character of the Japanese way of life comes from tradition, from the vital layer of memory without which no civilization can survive. It is a country of contrasts, where a skyscraper and a highway is bordered by a Shinto temple. I think also a part of that equation is the recent attempt of Japanese researchers to apply Buddhist principles in the development of robotics.
I was impressed in a novel by Yasunori Kawabata by the beautiful traditions of Japanese domestic life, revealing for the knowledge of their character. Like, for example, a custom to keep pots with crickets in homes, just for the passion for the singing of these insects.
Beyond these small details, almost touching in their simple humanity, the Japanese spirit remains as enigmatic as a Buddhist Koan about silence. Try as he might a stranger to decipher the meaning of the haiku "Basho's Lake," about the frog that jumps into the muddy lake, the mind will never succeed to trace its true meaning. The fascination that Japanese culture exercises is part of the wonder in front of the perpetual mystery of life.
In an interview with the Ambassador of Japan to a Romanian radio station, His Excellence observed at one point that the Japanese are more “silent” than other people, Japanese language always making reference to an extraverbal content. In a sense, the Japanese are "pessimistic." But their high courage is proven by the gesture of those who sacrificed themselves during the overcoming of the crisis at the Fukushima station.
Of course, every country has its problems, life is difficult anywhere in the world. The ability to solve the faced problems is one of the great virtues of the Japanese.
A strange premonition had the well-known ambient musician of Norwegian origin Geir Jenssen alias Biosphere. In February 2011 he was seeking information about how Japan has overcome the difficult times after the Second World War, in order to produce a music album on this theme. The picture of a nuclear power plant built on the shores of the ocean attracted his attention, causing him to question the safety of Japanese energy system. That image led him to choose this as the new theme for his album. It happened a month before the catastrophe in Fukushima. It seems that the option to build nuclear power plants even in areas that were affected by the tsunami in the past proved to be a fatal mistake.
Today the typical methods of Japanese education have a global audience. Japanese artistic creations are very popular, being exported and highly appreciated. The movie "Seven Samurai" by Akira Kurosawa is among the ten films preserved in an American bunker under the White House, in order to be passed for people of a distant future.
Japanese Literature is also translated and well known all over the world. Kawabata’s creation has the same gift to cultivate a sense of beauty to the readers by sending them a deeply humanistic message. And Yukio Mishima's novels are some real lessons of courage. Their author refuses to remain a passive spectator of the theater of life and chooses to take his destiny into his own hands. Haruki Murakami presents thru a literary language of great elegance some characters that the Western audiences perceive as surprisingly familiar. The entire series of novels by Murakami has been translated into Romanian and enjoys a great success among the readers from our country.
For the young people of today, Nintendo and Sega games and Japanese animation films have become what the books of Jules Verne, Jack London and Kipling were for their grandparents, making their adolescence an age of miraculous adventures. These young people easily identify themselves with the strange heroes with oversized eyes, namely due to the humanity and innocence that they inspire. Representatives of the new generation express through their Japanese alter egos their option for a world of beauty, a world without wars and conflicts.
A project being developed in the computer game "Final Fantasy Versus XIII" alludes to the immediate reality. It replays the tragic story of Romeo and Juliet in a modern world that loses its magical aura, where chivalric ideals disappear under the onslaught of cold pragmatism. The character named Noctis, which may become the representative of the last monarchy, somehow reminds the young Crown Prince of Japan, who transgressed tradition, by choosing a spouse who is not part of a noble family.
While writing these lines, the latest news announced a new earthquake in Japan. The dragon is not calm yet