Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Hangover of impatience

I had very strong gin and tonic last night.
I got drunk and don't remember anything about the dinner at my friends' place except a few things.
I was squatting with my arms around the toilet, trying to throw up in vain.
Eventually I came home. Once again in the bath room, this time I was successful.
The next moment, I was in the bed, wondering what is the meaning of it.
Rather, I was trying to convince myself that one should not look for the meaning about everything.
There is no reason. Just accept it. 
That is the teaching of Lao Tzu.
Why do I have to go through this? There is no reason.
I have gone through everything just to learn that there is no reason.
I have been very impatient about my travel site.
It has been difficult to find link partners.
Now I say to myself, "It is all right. The things will come naturally. After all, I am creating everything. Stop analyzing. Just accept my own creation".

I have finished writing on the Asakusa seaweeds. I will work on pawn brokers near Asakusa and how to sell gold.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

To promote this blog

It seems like darkness, the darkness of a cave.
It seems to me that there is no one around me.
This is how I feel about the blog with Blogger.
I have blogs in Japanese with another company and it has several services to help us promote our blogs. They seem more helpful to me.
Probably, I don't really understand how this entire site is functioning, and once I get used to it, I will feel that I have written a stupid entry like this.
Nevertheless, I cannot help feeling that this blog is like an isolated island floating on the dark surface of a vast ocean.
Occasionally I have visitors as if they were migrating birds looking for a day's rest.

Yesterday, no new link to Asakusa Underground was added to "hope" list. Good news is that a fellow country man from Choshi, Chiba kindly put the link to us in his business site, ArtisticNippon. You can see plenty of beautiful Japanese pots and art crafts there. 

My girlfriend's site is flourishing. Plenty of hits have been recorded already. She has written just one post.

Is there any tips to promote one's own blog?

Monday, April 28, 2008

A French woman who loves Japan

My girlfriend started her own blog in Japanese.
She is French and doesn't speak Japanese well. She has tried to learn the language, but it seems too difficult. I am so glad that I don't have to learn it any more. 
It is too painstaking. I still have nightmares about my school days.
"Oh, my god, the time is running out and I have to come up with the answer."
"What can I do if I flunk. The university will expel me. How can I explain this to my parents."
Every day and every week you have to memorise kanji (Chinese characters) or the names of kings in England or something.
The title of her blog is "Furansu josei no Nihon wo aisuru Michi", which means The Way for a French woman to Love Japan.
She tells me the outline of her entry every morning while having breakfast and I am her ghost writer.
Another important task is added to our Asakusa Underground project.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Save the Asakusa seaweeds

Asakusa is just an old sector of Tokyo, which has nothing to do with marine lives.
Most of the tourists there may think so.
However, the name of the place means "Shallow grass". It can be interpreted as the reeds in the shallow water. Half a millennium ago, Asakusa was on the sea.

When they eat sushi rolls, people never think Asakusa was once well known for the cultivation of nori, the paper-like seaweeds wrapping the roll in their hand.
Now the wetlands at the river mouth of the Sumida have been turned into the reclaimed lands, and the sea weeds cannot grow there any more.
Asakusa nori is on the verge of extinction.

There are a few men in Chiba, the neighbouring prefecture to Tokyo, who are trying to revive the species in Tokyo Bay. Though it is polluted, its marine resources are surprisingly diverse. Those guys are unsung heroes protecting the endangered species.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Tell me how to promote small businesses

If someone knows it, please tell me how one can promote his small business.
Yesterday I sent an email to the owner of Kyoto Craft man House, who desperately wants to expand his business horizons.
He has a cute little Internet site and even a blog in English. I suggested that he should register his sites in English directories, but is it really useful?
He is making beautiful kimonos and, like any other traditional industries in Japan, his craftsmanship is not rewarded with the financial gain that his skill deserves.
Is there any link exchange site for small and traditional businesses?
I think it should, but wonder where I can find it.
Once in a while, we hear success stories of small business owners using Internet. I would like to know how they get their sites recognized.
Well, we need to save whales and help Tibetans. I agree. Then, don't you think wonderful kimono making skills should be preserved as well?
Please tell us where we should look in order to contact people who are interested in old and new small business owners with their skill unique in the world.

Friday, April 25, 2008

Kyoto Craftsman's Guest House

He seems to be an old man. At least there is an old Japanese man working with kimonos in the photo.
He must be the owner of this guest house at Nishijin in Kyoto.
His family may have been making kimonos for hundreds of years, and the industry is in decline for the last couple of decades.
Fortunately, his factory is still surviving, thanks to the income from the guest house, it seems.
The old craftsman is asking for help in his internet site. He needs new ideas and new markets abroad.
Can anyone help the man who is struggling to transmit his know-how and tradition to the next generation?
Well, I have to write about him on our site first.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Taste Thunder Raisers

Yesterday I wrote an article titled "Taste Thunder Raisers".
It is about a traditional sweet sold in Asakusa.
It is nothing fancy, just folkloric.
You don't regret it if you miss eating it in Japan.
That is exactly the reason why I want to promote this sweet.
I just wonder why people try to eat and do something recommended in a guide book.

The article has not been posted yet since my collaborator Mon Chi-Chi is in Thailand.
Being ignorant of Html, I am not supposed to touch the layout of our site
Well, I had a little revelation this morning, at the very moment of waking up. "I should put links with the people in Blogger", something said to me.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Mon Chi-Chi, the artist

Mon Chi-Chi and I are creating ASAKUSA Underground, an alternative Tokyo travel site.
My collaborator is a digital artist.
His creation is subtle but audacious.
One can tell immediately that he is talented.
Now it is about time he promoted his art.
Last night we had a long discussion by telephone about the direction of developing our site.
He is in Bangkok now.
It seems that he is a little confused.
He is the son of my cousin.
We are running a bit of a family business.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Choice from Tao Te Ching

Having finished translating the old Fukuoka's writing, I chose a quotation from Lao Tsu.
I had thought it would be easy because Fukuoka is nikcknamed a modern day Lao Tsu, but it was not the case.
I looked for something relating to "non judgement", thinking that I would be able to end the article quoting Jesus' famous words "Don't judge others".
It would have been perfectly suitable to the article's context if I had found a line like, "Good and evil do not exist".
In reality, Lao Tsu didn't clearly mentioned that there is neither good nor evil. The closest to this among what he said is that one should not respect either virtue nor righteousness.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Free calls

A few weeks ago, we received a notice from SFR, which is a telecommunication company connecting us to telephone and ADSL.
They had already had its free call service to various countries, but Japan and Thailand were not included. In the letter, they informed us that these areas were officially included.
My girlfriend is still caucious, thinking that it could be a fraud.
After several trials and verification on her account (she is the one who pays), we were ready to go for calling my family and friends.
I talked with Hiro, my old friend and my mother.
Both of them are in Japan.
Later in the evening, we got a call from Mon Chi-chi, the son of my first cousin and my collaborator for Asakusa Underground travel site, currently travelling in Thailand.
He had been to several go-go-bars and naughty places and seemed to be having a nice time, though he said that he was a little disappointed because he had not picked any square girls on the street.
Families and friends are nice, aren't they?

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Fukuoka, the old ecologist

Fukuoka Masayoshi is an old Japanese ecologist who has worked a lot in Africa and Asia, planting trees in deserts.
His method is abnormal. He doesn't do anything. That is his philosophy. Sometimes he is nicknamed "modern day Laotzu" because of this attitude.
He just uses his mud balls mixed with seeds. Thanks to their excellent combination, once the plants hatch, they help each other to grow. Some decades later the desert becomes green.
"Human beings are very stupid to think that they know something. In fact, they don't know anything, and with so-called scientific approach, they destroy the balance in nature", he says.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Ikkyu, a Zen master

Ikkyu is one of the most interesting Zen monks in Japan.

He was an illegitimate child of an emperor in 15th century.
Though he was a Zen monk, he didn't mind eating meat and drinking heavily.
He loved to frequent brothels and please ladies of pleasure.
At the age of 70+, he lived with a young woman half of his age.
She was a beautiful blind singer.
Ikkyu saw a Buddha at the precious part of her anatomy and composed a poem.
"How juicy Buddha's mercy is!", he wrote.

Friday, April 18, 2008

the first two month of Asakusa Underground

Two months have passed since my cousin and I started Asakusa Underground travel site.
It is about time we summarise what we have done and have not done.
Since my collaborator is travelling in Thailand and I am away from Japan in France, our project that has been advancing satisfactorily is now at rest, which is fine and necessary for us to stand still, breathe well, and look back calmly.

As for articles, we have written more than thirty of them, in which "English Conversation Cafe" is the last one. We have another article "A Shelter from the Japanese Society" to be checked and posted in the site. As a whole, it is a good pace.

In terms of links, we have no means to measure what we have achieved. We have sent many e-mails asking reciprocal links and registered our site at twenty something search engines. At this moment, we do not know how effective it has been. We will see it after Mon Chi-chi is back from Thailand and set a site analyser on our pages. I can not do it here since we respect each other's role: Chi-chi takes care of the site management and its graphic creation and I, writings in English. After all, I don't know anything about Html codes and site designs. Once he is back, we are going to do a big clean-up of dead links, errors in the articles, and so forth. The analyser will be added then. 

Last night, I finished typing my play "The Hag (Yama-Uba)", which is an adaptation from a Noh play supposed to be written by Ikkyu, an extraordinary Japanese Zen master in the 14th century. I will translate it into French, but at the moment I want to work on travel articles for Asakusa Underground.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's not stealing. It's recycling.

My girlfriend and I got up early this morning.We drove down to a neighbourhood nearby.
She saw there a heap of transparent plastic boards to be disposed.
They were about 2 meters by 1 meter. It was what she was looking for to protect her wooden sliding door from rain.
I had a hang-over and felt a little ashamed to do this semi-stealing.
I said to myself, "It is not stealing. It is recycling those abandoned objects. There is nothing wrong. On the contrary, we are doing something good for our environment".
I was very glad when we finished this without being noticed by their former owner.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I thought I lost it.

I thought I had lost this blog. I was not able to log in. In this type of situation, recently I try to accept it as it is. A Zen attitude? Yes. I learned it from Dogen. If you are able to accept the current situation, it will start changing as your thought flows.

In reality I didn't lose my blog at all. I did not log out at all. That's why I was not able to log in. Now I am back here.

I just thought I lost. In fact I didnt lose it.

It seems that life works this way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Surf Report

11:16 AM

The Mediterranean is as flat as usual.

There is no typhoon swells here. Never.

So, my friends are literature, Kafu and Laotzu and all that.

My mind is as calm as the sea before me.

Time doesn't exist. Nor is self.