The Lecture

The Lecture

The Lecture

The Lecture

One has been a guest lecturer for students studying to join the Japanese automotive industry.

Over the decades of lecturing, the landscape of the Japanese student and their attitudes has changed in a significant manner.

With the first wave of students from the early 1990’s into the 2000s, one really felt a deep affinity and a kind of camaraderie in the classroom with these young people.

Camaraderie with Japanese and Canadians

As time marched on things gradually changed.

Perhaps due to the collapse of economic bubble in the early 90s, which lead to a societal decline, and, as a by-product, produced a lost generation of Japanese.

The gradual fraying of the “lifetime employment” system.

The proliferation of “convenient” processed foods poisoning the body, mind, and soul of the Japanese.

コンビニジャンクフード

A break down in the family structure leading to a significant increase in the divorce rate, thus many more children from broken homes.

A sense of hopelessness and lack of purpose now prevalent throughout large swaths of society.

The Mickey Mousesification of Japan.

Then came the next wave of students.

These are the children of this lost generation.

Japanese poverty

Often in the Japanese culture, parents place the onus of discipline on the teachers.

However, when observing poor chopstick manners, one always regards this as a reflection of the household where they were raised.

Hold Chopsticks Correctly Please

Therefore, one can not totally blame these children for poor manners and disrespect towards people in authority, perceived or otherwise.

This being so, keep in mind, all adults are solely responsible for their own attitude and behaviour.

Two snotty little brats received a growing opportunity to help them along into adulthood just the other day.

Very rarely are people asked to remove themselves from the classroom, this was a rare day.

退室前に一礼

Wanting to send these troubled children on their way fully edified, the entire class of twenty-eight pupils served as the captive audience for the “lecture.”

First, they were asked if they were aware of the present problems concerning the South China Sea.

Silence.

Then, asked if they knew where petroleum products come from.

There was some kind of murmurings: “Doesn’t oil come from the Middle East???“

Oil development in the Middle East Institution of Civil ... Oil development in the Middle East

Progress!

Now, how does the oil, which is the lifeblood of civilization, especially the automotive industry, come to Japan.

That’s right!

Oil tankers.

Oil Tankers Fuel Japan

The next question was more of a statement.

Ever wonder about the shipping route from the Middle East to Japan?

Correct, through the South China Sea.

Middel East To Japan Via South China Sea

Has anyone here ever wondered what would happen if this oil stopped coming to Japan?

Of course not.

The clear answer is you will no longer have a job, or indeed a bright future whatsoever, especially with a poor attitude and obnoxious behaviour.

Gas station runs out of gas during oil embargo - The ... Gas station runs out of gas during oil embargo

The “lecture” was concluded by letting them know (with a heart full of love and empathy) that someone of my amicable disposition is most likely to be the easiest interaction they will ever have in their sheltered lives.

Best wishes to all who have a desire to make a meaningful life with purpose, whether as a Mercedes Benz mechanic, or a diligent proprietor of a successful automobile dealership.

Bonus:

Someone missed the memo!

Being ignored after addressing someone is unacceptable.

One has to be reminded sometime the voice must be raised in order to capture their attention.

That reminder came today for an insolent boy.

The protocol is to open your book, and then do whatever you want after that.

It’s called tatemai, or better yet shakojirei.

One also had the class repeat the following at the beginning of the second period, for their own personal growth and edification.

千里の道も一歩から ~ senri no michi mo ippo kara
thousand-mile journey starts with first step

実るほど頭を垂れる稲穂かな ~ minoru hodo kobe wo tareru inaho kana
the more noble the more humble

自業自得 ~ jigyo jitoku
suffer consequences of own action

身から出た錆 ~ mi kara deta sabi
reap what you sow

自ずと明確になります ~ onozuto meikaku ni narimasu
clarity over time

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Divine Diva Marian Anderson

Marian Anderson sang for the Empress of Japan in 1953.

This prodigious forgotten heroine of human rights must be lauded and recognized for her incredible impact on the American society as one of the first person of colour to reach worldwide fame and acclaim based upon her sensation voice and dignity as an agent of change in the racially segregated United States.

Marian Anderson Divine Beauty

On January 7, 1955, Ms. Anderson became the first African-American to sing with the Metropolitan Opera in New York, which was after performing for Empress Nagako (Kojun) in Japan.

Even in 1953, Ms. Anderson had experienced difficulties finding accommodations in segregated America, however, in Japan, she stayed in a suite at the Imperial Hotel, and was treated as royalty.

Indeed, the Japanese Broadcasting Corporation (NHK), the sponsor of her trip, made sure to take care of her as an honoured and dignified guest of the Japanese people.

NHK Logo

Marian-Andersons-Japanese Concert Schedule

All who have experienced Japanese hospitality can attest to the meticulous care taken by the host to make sure their guests are left with a favourable impression of Japan and her people.

Incidentally, one’s own father experienced this incredible hospitality in 1968 at the invitation of Nissan (My Father’s Hat Came Back To Japan).

Ms. Anderson noted, “When we left Tokyo we found ourselves traveling as a party of eight.”

“A young woman was provided as an interpreter, and there were four men to serve us in other capacities. One young man was sent along to be banker and cashier; he carried the money and paid bills at hotels, restaurants, and shops.”

Ms. Anderson also observed how the Japanese staff around her were “energetic planners,” and “carried out a schedule as rigid as a railroad timetable.”

JR時刻表 株式会社交通新聞社

Ultimately it was her humility (also a noble Japanese trait), and desire to keep the soul of a song as the primary focus that brought her universal acclaim and the attention of Empress Nagako, who invited Ms. Anderson to perform at the Imperial Palace on May 23, 1953.

The Divine Diva Marian Anderson made the following observation about the Japanese audience.

“The way the Japanese listened was extraordinary. The concentration was intense and the quietness almost uncanny. No one seemed to stir, and at first I was conscious of the deep silence and immobility. They were not upsetting in any way, but they made me feel that a similar intensity was expected of me.”

Marian Anderson, the Philadelphia singer and civil rights

True Heroes Do Not Arise Incidentally

Marian Anderson Statue

They are anointed visionaries driven by an inner guiding light, where their predetermined destiny is to shed the light of truth onto the demoralized and troubled corners of the human soul.

Along with classic staples, the achingly powerful “Deep River,” was at the top of the Japanese sponsors wish list.

This spiritual, written by an unknown African American in the 19th century is one of Ms. Anderson’s greatest interpretations, and undoubtedly tugged the heartstrings of the still-recovering nation of Japan.

Her voice captures the pain and longing embedded in the song’s history and surely resonated so very deeply within the Japanese soul.

Ms. Anderson stated:

“It is so true that no matter how big a nation is, it is no stronger than its weakest people. And as long as you keep a person down some part of you has to be down there to hold them down. So that means you cannot soar as you might otherwise.”

This is ever more so true these days.

These extraordinary words of profound wisdom shall ring eternally true into the hearts and minds of all racists, bigots, and jingoist, whichever narrow stripe or cross they choose to bear.

 

Really Great Grandmother

Really Great Grandmother

Really Great Grandmother

Really Great Grandmother

Ancestor veneration, the way forward.

Being raised in the occidental tradition, including sporadically attending a variety of churches, did not prepare one for the experience in Japan when fully understanding exactly why the Japanese venerate their ancestors.

Some time ago now, one’s cherished mother began putting together the family tree while digging deep into her European roots.

Family Tree

The interesting stories mother told about her grandmother both intrigued and tickled the funny bone.

Now there is a clear understand of where one’s grandfather got his incredible sense of humour and his sharp tart wit.

Helen Olga Kean Inglis-Richardson is the paternal Great Grandmother, and she bore 10 children.

The first four, including Grandfather from the paternal Great Grandfather (Inglis), and six from her second husband (Richardson).

Having rejected her first husband after coming back from World War I, as apparently he was a gambler and philanderer.

WW1 soldier

She told him outright, “I raised these four children by myself for the last four years, and can do so into the future, so just keep moving on.”

Along with the tale of a Victorian-era food fight, including breakfast condiments such as peanut butter, I can only surmise what a fun and fascinating lady she was after hearing her incredible stories.

She also joked to my juvenile mother that, “Whenever Mr. Richarson hung his pants on the bed post I became pregnant.”

An interesting statement from a woman born in the late 19th century, and as one can see by her picture was a product of the Victorian era (Born 1896-Meiji 29).

Helen Otta Kean -Inglis-Richardson- Stephen Kean Filiatrault Great Grandmother

Researched the family lineage extensively, our matriarch gathered many intriguing stories including the migration from Europe across to the East Coast of the United States, and up to the west coast of British Columbia.

Quite the trip to say the least in the early part of the 20th century, nothing short of perseverance and endurance in what could only be surmised as an arduous life.

Covered Wagon From East to West

Which brings all back the ancestor veneration.

Thank you so very much to Really Great Grandmother Richardson.

Here is to let you know now, in one’s eyes you are a magnificent deity and now regarded as the Goddess of Playful Mischief.

Now venerated on the family’s kami dana, you must be somewhat surprised your incredible journey has continued up until this very day, and is now firmly planted in the extraordinary nation of Japan.

神棚-Kami Dana-03

The Way of Gods from which the Japanese evolved is the belief all dead becoming deities with one foot inside this mortal coil, and the other in the heavens.

And in this, can feel her spirit as passed down by grandfather where many happy childhood memories reside.

Indeed, the Japanese believe the ancestors watch over their clan, and retain influence over the behaviour and actions of their decedents throughout time.

Really, one must avoid shaming the family at all costs as one’s ancestors are keeping watch over the past, present, and future.

神棚-Kami Dana-04

 

 

May I Peel Your Face Off

May I Peel Your Face Off

May I Peel Your Face Off

May I Peel Your Face Off

A valuable life skill passed down from one’s living ancestors (Mom) is the ability to read and then adapt to most social situations.

This innate curiosity and social-intelligence is a DNA level gift from the folks, although, on the rare occasion a little too much curiosity was not really such a good thing at all.

Being able to communicate with the Japanese in their native language and taking an interest in peoples lives and their unique stories, has served one well while cultivating deep roots in one’s adopted homeland of Japan over 30 years.

Two Japanese Business Person Greeting with Japanese Flag

Communication in Japanese is truly the key for anyone who would like to understand the Japanese on a deeper level.

One can not stress enough that continuing to learn and practice Japanese daily is so very important not only to engage the Japanese in their native language, but for one’s own personal growth and edification.

Based upon personal experience, learning and practicing Japanese every day can be so very rewarding, and will always leads to unique opportunities to enrich ones life in so many ways.

For certain, talking to new people and indeed to random strangers has always seemed natural and something positive.

Talk to Strangers Now More Than Ever

Learning by example, one would often see Mother engaging people as she went throughout her daily life experience, starting random interaction with “how’s everything going?” or “what’s your story?”

As they say, the apple does not fall far from the tree.

The apple does not fall far from the tree

One of the true joys of life is wandering throughout the world initiating conversations with strangers and hearing their unique stories, and in some cases making lifelong friends.

With Japanese language skills being honed over decades, one has found it possible to reveal the true character of the random Japanese stranger by disarming them with a smile and a joke and the simple question of “what’s up with you today?”

The other day a good Canadian whiskey was discovered and at a very reasonable price in the Mega Don Quixote (Japanese taking American big box to the next level).

Canadian Whiskey Selection

Standing next to me was a man, his wife, and his two elementary school age daughters.

I turned to him and said “look at this very reasonably priced bottle of Canadian whiskey, I highly recommend it.”

The Japanese are always are always startled at first when their native language flows from an occidental’s lips in a quasi-native manner.

Surprised Japanese Face

Somewhat taken aback at first, this gentleman was then happy to be enlightened with the fact that, “the majority of Canadian whiskey is made from rye,” and “this one happens to be quite good.”

There and then we had our ichigo ichie moment (see “once in a lifetime” here), and this random family in the liquor section of the big box retail store was left with something interesting and fun to talk about on their way home.

Perhaps when this father breaks out this bottle of Canadian whiskey for his ban shaku (晩酌 = a drink with one’s dinner at home), the story of how a random gaijin recommended this whiskey will be revisited.

Canadian Club

However, not everyone appreciates a random gaijin striking up a conversation in the supermarket, which is understandable as the Japanese are fundamentally insular people who stick to their own groups, and do not really enjoy encounters with random strangers, a foreign one nonetheless.

Regardless, one deeply believes these ichigo ichie moments are especially important during these changing times when our human connection is being slowly eroded by hidden forces.

Therefore, even now more so than ever, the need to build new relationships and to solidify our human connections is of paramount importance in these profoundly changing times.

Who are you going to connect with today?

Ichigo Ichie 一期一会

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

People You Meet: Ms. JJ Walsh

Also know as the “Inbound Ambassador.”

The joyful and exuberant Joy Jarman-Walsh (@jjwalsh) grew up in Hawaii and is a decades-long veteran of Japan.

Inbound Ambassador Join Button JJ Walsh

A psychologist by training, Ms. Walsh first experienced life in Japan as an ALT on the Mombusho sponsored JET program, many moons ago now.

Teaching and travel around Japan opened Ms. Walsh’s mind to new possibilities for work, culture, and lifestyle prompting her to settle into a long-term relationship with Amaterasu.

Perhaps her heart, like the heart of so many having come to Japan at that particular point in history, was touched by the spirit of the Japanese and their unique way of life.

Ms. Walsh is a powerful activist for sustainable solutions to the pressing issues facing our living planet.

JJ Walsh and Nishimura Kazuhiro at JapaneseFabric'MAEKAKE'~Anything

Looking for sustainable alternatives to industrial age material, Ms. Walsh is gracious enough to sacrifice her time to build a like-minded community throughout Japan, and by extension the world for positive motion toward our shared sustainable planet.

She host a daily online talk show interviewing guests who share visions, hopes, and desires.

There they explore what is fundamentally important to all of us as human beings, a healthy and sustainable environment for all in our shared world and for those who will come after.

One of the many fine characteristics I found in Ms. Walsh, is her deep sense of purpose and her sustained perseverance in her noble quest to change the world for the better.

Her wonderful laugh and variety of eyewear make her interviews sparkle with positive joy and a deep sense of community building.

In the depth of Ms. Walsh’s heart lies the spirit of high-quality customer service, and the need to align the changing face of Japan with the necessity of preserve culture, traditions, heritage as well as the daily quality of life of the local communities throughout Japan.

おもてなし

Her sustainability activism mandates that operations in the new tourism paradigm of Japan must also be done with targets to improve the quality of the natural environment through efficiency, zero-waste policies, and active stewardship.

She, as a visionary, emphasizes the balance between the needs to create sustainable business models, which balance profits with the needs of people and our planet.

Weaving a symphony of good will not only among the foreign community in Japan, but indeed along with her Japanese allies, globally she has taken a leadership position among those desiring a sustainable future.

Hearing the calling long ago now, along with her partner, Paul Walsh they also co-founded GetHiroshima in 1999.

Map of Hiroshima

There they developed close ties to residents, visitors, and local businesses in their community over many years.

Furthermore, raising two bilingual children in Hiroshima bound her even more tightly into her community while broadening her ether connections to wider and wider circles of friends, allies and her like-minded audience.

Starting in 2019, Inbound Ambassador is her platform to encourage businesses and entrepreneurs to adopt sustainable business practices.

It is also a place to promote positive examples and case studies of sustainable business success.

The mission is for these stories to promote awareness and more general adoption of sustainable, long-term-focused business strategy, for the good of the whole.

Ms. Walsh was kind enough to conduct an interview, and we had a really fun time talking about many things.

Interview is here.

Indeed, one has thought, could the Inbound Ambassador be the embodiment the sustainable spirit of hospitality as these novel and wise clean practices are adopted and are flowed into the mainstream?

Perhaps in this new tourism paradigm, Japan will now start to receive respectful guests not unlike pilgrims, where they can enjoy the multitude of unique Japanese flavours tickling each individual fancy in a way that is respectful to the Japanese, our society and the ancient culture of the Japanese.

Ms JJ Walsh Banner

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura is a Hero

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura is a Hero

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura is a Hero

Dr. Tetsu Nakamura is a Hero

Unsung heroes abound, but no one really hears about them and their altruistic deeds.

Why are these people’s noble deeds for the betterment of humanity unreported and unnoticed by the greater world?

These unheralded saints do not do this honourable work for fame or glory, but as the deepest inner calling to something higher than self.

One would have never know of Dr. Tetsu Nakamura, if he had not been assassinated in Afghanistan.

Memorial held in Afghanistan for late doctor Nakamura

This is where he dedicated his precious life to improve the living conditions our long-suffering Afghani brothers and sisters.

This is the distressful headline which brought this Japanese martyr to one’s attention:

‘He Showed Us Life’: Japanese Doctor Who Brought Water to Afghans Is Killed

Dr. Nakamura was a physician and honorary Afghan citizen who headed Peace Japan Medical Services (PMS), an aid group.

First arriving in the region in 1984 as a volunteer at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan he treat patients with leprosy and Afghan refugees fleeing the Soviet–Afghan War.

Through his time spent there, Dr. Nakamura identified malnutrition as a root cause for the health issues in the region, and from then onward broadened the scope of his work into agriculture and irrigation, and focused on building canal projects in eastern Afghanistan.

2017 Outstanding Civil Engineering Achievement Award

He drew inspiration from the irrigation canals built in his native Fukuoka more than 200 years ago without the aid of modern equipment.

Philosophically he stated, “One irrigation canal will do more good than 100 doctors.”

He also said: “A hospital treats patients one by one, but this helps an entire village. I love seeing a village that’s been brought back to life.”

Moreover, he also wisely declared: “Weapons and tanks don’t solve problems. The revival of farming is the cornerstone of Afghanistan’s recovery.”

No doubt true to his Japanese agrarian heart along with the humanitarian living within him, he understood the incredible power of unity when a community comes together for the good of all and work to produce food.

Sadly, Dr. Nakamura was fatally shot in a targeted killing on December 4, 2019 in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

Tetsu Nakamura is a hero 03

These attackers also killed five others of their own Afghani brothers and sisters.

One can not fathom the devastation brought upon the affected families losing their bread winner, along with the dreams of a better life for their family on the way out of poverty.

Indeed this was senseless act of violence against a man who dedicated much of his life to helping the most vulnerable Afghans.

One can never know the darkness and evil residing inside the hearts of the assailants to carry out such a despicable act.

Is it a deep seated believe in a medieval dogma, indoctrinated from childhood, teaching hatred towards other because they are different?

Who knows, perhaps this vile act was simply carried out in exchange for one of the most powerful motivators of this material world; money.

Regardless, Dr. Nakamura’s incredible gift to the Afghani people, and the countless strangers’ live he touch with his divine work will far outlast any faceless and nameless assassins.

Tetsu Nakamura is a Hero

Dr. Nakamura was laid to rest in his hometown Fukuoka on December 11, 2019.

Tetsu Nakamura Funeral picture

April 12, 2021
Archive center in Fukuoka passes down lessons of Tetsu Nakamura

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