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

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

Shoes On, Shoes Off

Shoes On, Shoes Off

Shoes On, Shoes Off

Shoes On, Shoes Off

Now, say the title again with the voice of Mr. Miyagi, the karate master to his young disciple, Daniel LaRusso, the downtrodden and bullied boy.

Wax on, wax off.

Recall, where the training started?

The first of many training session consisted of washing and waxing the cars.

Clock-wise, wax-on.

Counterclockwise, wax-off.

If one can not recall this extraordinary cinematic event in the Karate Kid, or is too young to have ever heard about this important film, the refresh is below:

The seemly disconnected start of the karate training was significantly different from the constructed reality of the young grasshopper own mind of what karate training actually is.

Things are not what they seem.

Shoes on, shoes off.

reasons_take_off_shoes_minute_walk_in_house_toxins

One will notice after arriving in the Land Of The Rising Son, that more often than not, one must remove the shoes before entering a house and often in restaurants as well.

This was not the case growing up in the countryside of British Columbia where most of the time people wore their shoes in the house.

Recalling an very unfortunate incident where as a child the outside shoes were worn onto a friend’s mothers beautiful plush white carpet, after having failed to wipe off the doggie poo before entering their house.

I am truly very sorry for this Mrs. Henderson.

ごめなさい I am sorry

Indeed removing shoes before entering a dwelling makes perfect sense, why would one carry the impurities of the outside world to pollute one’s own inner sanctuary?

Here is the shoe secret:

Loosen the laces.

Crush down and flatten the heals of your beloved shoes under the boot-heal of the incessant shoes on, shoes off reality.

Shoes With Crushed Backs

Perhaps the shoes on, shoes off protocol leads to subconscious and ingrained disciplines, like keeping one’s outside world separated from the inner sanctum of one’s private life, thus maintaining one’s sanity.

And now here.

Mask on, mask off.

In the simple reality of going about one’s regular outside life, the mask protocol is just like every other Japanese winter flu season.

Except from now on it will extended throughout the year, to include all and has become the social norm in Japan without much further ado.

Moreover, the Japanese have already been socially conditioned to wear their metaphorical mask from an early age in order to co-exist in this ridged hierarchical society.

Perhaps the mundane tasks of life such as wax on, wax off, shoes on, shoes off, and now mask on, mask off, will lead to being mindfulness of one’s own life form, order and process, as one continues to fortify one’s own constitution and resolve in this new mask on, mask off world.

Bonus 1:
Now circle around to the beginning of this post and watch the masterful outcome of the wax off wax philosophy here:

Bonus 2:
Recommended footwear

New Slip On Shoes

Recommended Footwear 04

 

 

 

Recommended Footwear 05  Recommended Footwear 01 Recommended Footwear 06

 

Bonus 3:

Not recommended footwear

Not Recommended Footwear 06

 

Not Recommended Footwear 08 Not Recommended Footwear 01 Not Recommended Footwear 05 Not Recommended Footwear 03 Not Recommended Footwear 04 Not Recommended Footwear 07 Not Recommended Footwear 02

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

Sorry Boys, No Baseball Today

The Japanese National High School Baseball Championship tournament got cancelled for they first time in several decades.

Alas.

Personally, I am not a spectators of sports, preferring to play badminton with my local club; however, I do love the Japanese National High School Baseball Championship for its sheer fervour and passion.

This tournament is the largest amateur sport event in Japan, and if you have ever seen a high school baseball game whether at this major tournament, or at a local game with the players doing their very best along with their vision of the national high school championship clearly in their sights, there simply is nothing like this event in the sporting world anywhere.

A catalyst for many young aspiring baseball stars to go on to bigger things, in particular those who aspire to the ultimate goal of playing on a major league team, especially an American one.

Having only been cancelled twice in it over 100-year history (the tournament started in 1915), once in 1918, and then again, in 1941.

You could say that this was a “Black Swan” event for everyone involved.
Not only were these aspiring major league baseball players deeply saddened by the cancellation of this important life event, but the shock and dismay reaches far beyond the gloom of not only their immediate families and supporters, but indeed into the entire nation of Japan.

Why is this so you might ask?

National unity through friendly competition.

Yes the rivalries among the Japanese are very fierce, but this is an occasion for the Japanese to cheer on their home team, and to feel a sense of Japanese unity by doing so.

For many older folks in Japan this yearly event is a time to cheer on the home prefecture team, and to become nostalgic for the day of yore.

For the young baseball players, their high schools, and supports, this sad tales of how their dreams got cancelled with the stroke of a pen will become a discussion point long after school is out.

Bonus material:
Some of the alumni you may be familiar with having gone on to careers in the American Majors have been; Ichiro Suzuki, Daisuke Matsuoka, and Hideki Matsui, who was also know as “Godzilla” to the Americans.

Many of you may think Hideo Nomo, was the first Japanese to play in the American majors, but you would be wrong. It was actually Masanori Murakami, who pitched for the San Francisco Giants for one year in the 1964-65 season.

See the passion in action
情熱

Full on spirit
フル回転

Cheering squad practicing
応援団練習風景

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Start With The First Step

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Start With The First Step

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Start With The First Step

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Start With The First Step

At one of my favourite restaurants, the young man next to me confessed; “I just quit smoking on April 1”.

I mentioned to him that “I thought it was awesome” he quit smoking, and that “a journey of a thousand miles must start with the first step”.

He looked at me with a blank stare, and through my experience told me he didn’t understand “senri no michi mo ippo kara”, or “a journey of a thousand miles must start with the first step”. For your information “senri is about 4000km”.

Neither did his colleague, who was probably in his 50s, nor did the lady that runs this delicious shop with her relatives for that matter.

Never one to pass up an opportunity to do a quick Japanese lesson and edify the Japanese as to the origins of this meaningful, and indeed useful phrase which happens to come from Confucius.

Over the fading years I find more and more many of these older and culturally rich phrase and idioms are becoming less and less known among the Japanese, and feel that some of these beautiful elements of the ancient Japanese culture are truly fading away. Alas.

Indeed this phrase embodies the Stoic way as how to approach the long and arduous road in which we all face.

And surley, as one instinctively knows, without that first step into one’s own road, and then the next, and the next one after that, one is doomed to look upon one’s live as a life in which one never took that very first step at all.

Each day is the day to take the step leading into the heart desire and into the future of what one will become.

A Journey Of A Thousand Miles Must Start With The First Step

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