Tag Archives: Japan

KotoJazz @ Jeffrey Hull Gallery, Nov. 3

 

Beautiful water color and oil paintings, by Jeffrey Hull Gallery, Cannon Beach, OR. Visit the gallery at 172 N. Hemlock St., downtown Cannon Beach, and join me for some KotoJazz at 5pm, Friday, November 3rd. Visit  http://www.hullgallery.com/the-30th-annual-stormy-weather-arts-festival/

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Koto Jazz Piano at Japan Fair 2017, July 8 & 9, 2:30pm – 5pm; Annual Dinner, Sat. July 8, 6pm

Come join me at what promises to be an enjoyable event that offers you a visual introduction to all things Japanese. This includes a colorful fashion show to original Japanese performance by famous Kokyu performer Daikuke Kiba and my own variations on 1,000 year old Japanese koto music played on the keyboard. These include Haru no Umi, Tori no Yo Ni, and Kojo no Tsuki. I will also play my originals including recent art show selections Windy Wheat Fields and Snow Blossoms, and hyper fast Snow Flurry.

Sample previews are available here: https://kotojazz.wordpress.com/2017/03/27/sanger-de-christo-arts-center-represents-the-west-with-classy-exhibit/

 

Varieties of Garden Landscape Flowers

I am guilty of consuming garden plants like a sweet tooth consumes candy.

The following is an account/ list of all the plants I purchased in 2016, primarily for my front ornamental garden only. The garden image of my front Japanese/ Chinese gardens can be viewed here at Kotojazz 83: the lazy man’s way to making area gardens. I also purchased a few herbs for the back yard, ranging from chamomile to parsley, fennel, mints and sage.

 

Kampo & Chinese Medicine

The Japanese health care system is imaginatively and brilliantly eastern- western integrated and yes, supremely “ying” and “yang”. To expand on the document I published with the U.S. – Japan Foundation many years ago, the following describes kampo which is covered by health insurance providers in Japan. Japanese kampo is the study of traditional Chinese medicine that began in the 7th century. While kampo includes acupuncture and holistic wellness, herbal medicine has become the centerpiece of modern kampo. Herbal medicines have been used in China for thousands of years. They have been standardized and manufactured for widespread commercial use in Japan.

The medicinal use of plants was called the Shennong Ben Cao Jingo in China which was compiled around the end of the first century B.C. At the time, 365 species of herbs or medicinal plants were identified and classified. Chinese medical practices were introduced to Japan through Korea during the 6th century A.D. From 608 to 838, Empress Suiko dispatched young physicians to China. In those years, Japan sent 19 missions to Tang, China to research and bring back Chinese herbal medicine to Japan. Today in Japan, 148 different, mostly  herbal abstracts can be prescribed under Japan’s national health insurance system (source: National Institute of Health, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114407/). Modern day Kampo is different from modern traditional Chinese medicine (TCM). While TCM incorporates Chinese philosophy such as yin and yang, Japanese campo favors a more scientific approach.

The first volume of the treatise included 120 drugs harmless to humans, the “stimulating properties”. These herbs are described as “noble” or “upper herbs” (上品):

chineseherbs

The second volume comprise 120 therapeutic substances intended to treat the sick, but have toxic, or potentially toxic properties of varying degrees. These are tonics and boosters, whose consumption must not be prolonged. In this category, the substances are described as “human,” “commoner,” or “middle herbs” (中品):

The third volume has 125 entries containing substances which have a strong impact on physiological functions and are often poisonous. They are taken in small doses, and for the treatment of specific diseases only. They are referred to as “low herbs” (下品), these include:

Japanese/ Western Influence:

Yumoto Kyūshin (1876–1942), a graduate from Kanazawa Medical School, was a key proponent of scientifically interpreting and testing Chinese medicine. His “Japanese-Chinese Medicine” (Kōkan igaku) published in 1927 was the first book on Kampō medicine in which western medical findings were used to interpret classical Chinese texts. The significance of these Japanese publications is documenting the application of clinical trials and empirical data to determine specific chemical properties and their functions within the Chinese herbs.

Sho-Saiko-To:

One such example today is Sho-saiko-to. The Chinese herbal medicine “Sho-saiko-to” is a mixture of seven herbal preparations, which is widely administered in Japan to patients with liver damage caused by chronic hepatitis or cirrhosis. Sho-saiko-to contains

  • Bupleurum Root,
  • Pinellia Tuber,
  • Scutellaria Root,
  • Ginseng,
  • Jujube,
  • Licorice, and
  • Ginger.

The herbs include such properties as baicalin and baicalein, and saikosaponin which possess anti-fibrogenic activities and the ability to inhibit hepatoma cell proliferation. Clinical trials have been confirmed in the U.S. by Natural Wellness for their SST product – http://www.naturalwellness.com/products/sho-saiko-to-sst.

The following are not connected in any way to sho-saiko-to, but are similarly organic and naturopathic. These herbs and foods are known to be easy on the liver and/or health remedies for the liver:

  • lemon/ lime,
  • avocados,
  • turmeric,
  • leafy green vegetables,
  • green tea,
  • walnuts,
  • garlic,
  • olive oil,
  • dandelion leaf,
  • beets,
  • carrots,
  • broccoli,
  • cauliflower,
  • grapefruit,
  • apples,
  • cabbage,
  • quinoa,
  • millet/ buckwheat.

Each of the 365 species of herbs and medicinal plants and various combinations from Chinese medicine and Japanese kampo are either healing agents, serve as preventive health care, or support ongoing health maintenance.

But don’t forget, there are a range of healthy remedies in standard western herbs which we already incorporate into our daily consumption extravaganzas. The standard cooking herbs pictured here are a healthy supplement to your diet.

herbgarden

By Chris Kenji Beer, Koto jazz

Sources: National Institute of Health, Japanese Society of Oriental Medicine, Natural Wellness, Wikipedia , shosaikoto.com, iherb.com.

 

11 Beautiful Untranslatable Japanese Words

My favorite, Yuugen – “awareness of the universe that triggers emotional responses”, and Shinrinyoku – “bathing in a deep forest”, http://theodysseyonline.com/le-moyne/11-beautiful-untranslatable-japanese-words/221351

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Koto Jazz 49: Haibane Renmei’s Shinto Message

The anime story about “The Charcoal Feather Federation” (Haibane Renmei) sends a deep spiritual message. The setting of the story resides in the idea of a purgatory type of state for lack of a better term (although this does not necessarily reflect the intent of the author nor is it wholly representative of the true translation).

This state is more psycho-social spiritual than an actual physical place or state that are often associated with western ideas of purgatory. The mindset of the main characters are all about relationship, giving and receiving, and letting go of the thinking that holds us back from attaining a place of spiritual freedom- freedom from the trappings of our mind’s thinking, such as self blame and guilt, and lack of self- forgiveness.

This is what makes the Haibane Renmei a must see. Every one of us has a place or part of our life- story and life- thinking that we struggle to come to terms with; we struggle to forgive. It comes in a form we may have long buried and forgotten. If we find ourselves being dismissive when reading this, we most absolutely have something we imperatively must find, face, and forgive.

The first step is to find it and face it. Haibane Renmei emphasizes the important messages we may gather from our dreams and memories. Then, having found and faced it, can we muster the courage to forgive?

This is the ultimate aim of a spiritual life, and I argue each of our lives. If we have not forgiven our self, we are not able to forgive the same in others. Thus, that part of us is projected out; becomes a cancerous toxic presence in our own life, and therefore among our circle of friends and family. The creator of Haibane Renmei, Yoshitoshi Abe, has a gifted way of bringing the spiritual life, including the progression into the next life, as interwoven with the life of here and now, a notion very appropriate for the Shinto tradition. However, it presents the current life we lead and the progression through spirituality into the next life, in terms foreign to western concepts of life and death. These are Shinto- Buddhist concepts, though Abe-san handles it masterfully.

Once we have forgiven the self, we free our self from our own mental trap and become empowered with the capacity to forgive. Often the “forgive process” comes from someone else, as was the case with Reki in the Haibane Renmei story, the girl who could not remember her dream, nor forgive her self. The story suggests a need for a loving catalyst, a loving person in one’s life who reaches and makes the “forgiveness connection”. I’ve needed more than one person to help me make my “forgiveness connections”.

That is the means by which we obtain freedom to reach a higher spiritual presence in this life and the next.

Hiroshima Memorial- Goodnight Aunt Shigeko

It’s nearing August 7, and what more relevant and appropriate topic is there than the Hiroshima memorial ceremonies that happened across Japan, the U.S., and the world today? My apologies in advance for the dark nature and reality of the subject matter.

Here is a poem I wrote when I was a teenager, then revised as a young adult, accompanied by a stunning visual from the Hiroshima Memorial in Japan (see above), a photo I took during my visit there with family in 2005. This is also a personal memorial as my own Aunt Shigeko’s life was taken from the long term affects of radiation and died before I had a chance to get to know her (mom of course, knew her so much better than I):

Goodbye Hiroshima; Goodnight Aunt Shigeko

The solitary ding of a wind chime’s bell resonates

By the pull of an incessant morning breeze.

The artificial wind slips through room walls,

Through arms and bodies; passes from and through blinded eyes instantaneously.

It whistles a note a few octaves higher, much higher

Than the Liberty Bell that resounds over wheat fields

Along waves across the Pacific

And into pulsating Blood lines of an isolated island nation this August 7 evening.

The Cloud spreads wide, and true air dissipates,

sucked into a black- hole- like vortex of toxic power and energy.

Bodies dissolve in a flash of blinding light and

Caste indelible shadows on memorial walls.

As the sun evanesces, the breeze feeds a blaze

that glows much greater than the largest sunspot

on the Rising Sun, seething over ancient rice fields

to the pounding beat of taiko drums from distant hills

onto hands raised high to ease the sun’s radiance.

She bows low to touch the parched earth

Amid the swirling ashes of friend and foe which

Rise and glitter in a surreal anti- Amakudari.

Goodnight Shigeko- obasan.

Koto Jazz 29: Health Science & Shinto Spirituality

For decades, nearly all credible sources, including the World Health Organization (WHO), continue to place Japan as the #1 healthiest country in the world, consistently recording the world’s highest life expectancy and lowest infant mortality rates, among many other statistical categories. Scientists and health experts have asserted this is due to their diet — consumption of omega- 3 seafoods and seaweed. Perhaps, this is part of the picture. In Koto Jazz 24- Waterfalls and Koto Jazz 28- Beyond Prophecy, I explored the spirituality of waterfalls and the connection of spirituality to nature and energy, a crude attempt to describe the relationship between science and spirituality. This journey continues here.

I would suggest that the top contributor to Japan’s world health status is more due to its healthy Shinto spirituality (despite their ongoing depletion of natural beauty in their own country in the interest of development), and the sheer luck of their geography (abundance of waterfalls, oceans, and mountainous country that cannot be developed). Spiritually, scientifically, Japan is a Shinto- spirit filled country that takes seriously the “inter-connectedness” of our body– our body’s spiritual and physiological health– with the Natural world. It is also a country with a highly developed infusion of “Eastern medicine”; a medical community and insurance industry that supports Eastern medicine.

I have explored the health benefits of how electric ions we may receive in the presence of ocean waves, waterfalls, or old growth forests supports our pH balance. If we have a low concentration of electrons in our bloodstream, medically referred to as Acidosis (high acidic pH) (see Acidosis on Wikipedia), being present in these natural environments may increase negative electric ions in our body. An abundance of these negative ions can improve the body’s immune system. In addition to waterfalls and old growth forests (which we have successfully depleted worldwide), alkaline foods such as vegetables and some fruits can contribute to our body’s pH balance, according to Oriental Detox (see link below). Metabolism, the process which provides nutrients to our body and cells, is reinforced by negative ions, while positive ions in our bloodstream weaken our cell’s metabolism and immune system, according to Oriental Detox. High acidity, positive electric ions in the body not only harms our immune system, our body’s ability to protect ourselves from illness, but it also substantially accelerates the aging process.

To circle back to the Shinto worshipful reverence to Nature, it is only in our own personal, individual best interest to heed the call of our own inner, natural attraction to waterfalls, oceans waves, and old growth forests to replenish our bodies with the spiritual, physiological food we need to sustain our lives. Unlike the western approach to being “saved”, we can actually take action in our day to day decision making and choose to care for “the Temple of the Spirit” by giving it the spiritual, physiological food our bodies need.

In a following blog entry, I will propose how the presence of audio music and sounds can provide similar spiritual/ therapeutic/ scientific and physiological health benefits in our lives.