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Lethargic Man (anag.)

Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-08-11 22:54
Subject: Japan trip report #7: Nikkō
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Tags:japan, trip reports

Today we're going to go on a trip to Nikkō,* a town in the mountains quite some distance north of Tokyo. Nikkō is famous for its imperial shrine and temple complex, which is extremely sumptuous, and was for me the highlight (along with the fireflies I saw in Kyoto) of my holiday in Japan; many of these photos are worth clicking through to the high resolution versions.

Read more...Collapse ) [Japan blog posts] [personal profile] lethargic_man's Japan blog posts </p> —Originally posted on Dreamwidth, where there are comment count unavailable comments. Please comment there using OpenID or a DreamWidth account (which you no longer need an invite code to create). Though I am leaving comments enabled on LiveJournal for a bit, please don't comment here if you can do so there instead.
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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-08-05 17:55
Subject: Japan trip report #6: Kamakura
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Tags:japan, trip reports

On today's blog post, we're going to go on an excursion to Kamakura. We start with a (slightly watered-down) tea ceremony in an old teahouse attached to Jomyo-Ji temple:

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-29 21:23
Subject: Japan trip report #5: Tokyo
Security: Public
Tags:japan, trip reports

Before we head off to Tokyo, one last photo from Atami, which I forgot to put into the first trip report. In the UK, all hotel rooms come with tea, coffee and the wherewithal to prepare them; in Germany, much to the horror of a stereotype-fulfilling Brit such as myself, they do not. In Japan, I was pleased to see, the situation is more like that in the UK, only, of course, the tea on offer is green, not black.

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Which segues, tangentially, into something I noticed during my time in Japan. When I went to South Africa, I was, in much of the country, in a small minority having white skin. I felt a sense of insecurity as a result, which might be summed up as 'my good treatment in this country is entirely dependent upon the favourable attitude of the ethnic majority' (leaving alone the fact I'm not sure there is an ethnic majority in South Africa). I expected to feel something similar in Japan, where the native word for non-Japanese, gaijin, carries, as I understand it, the same pejorative overtones as goy or gadje. To my surprise, I didn't feel any such insecurity (and indeed never heard the word gaijin during my time there, or at least not knowingly). I'm at a slight loss to explain this. Maybe it's because in the city where I grew up there were plenty of people of oriental and Hindustani ethnic origin, but few blacks, leaving me conditioned not to feel the former as exotic.

Although Japan, as I said beforehand, adopted western culture wholesale in the wake of the Meiji revolution, there were a number of people in traditional costume visible on the streets. Some of them were tourists, others, as our tour guides pointed out, were simply not knowledgeable enough to be wearing appropriate combinations of clothing, but some were. In particular, anyone serving in a temple or shrine in a religious role would invariably be wearing traditional clothing, along with servers in teahouses traditional enough to have a tea ceremony, and in our ryokan (on which more when I get to it).

And so, on to Tokyo. Tokyo is, as I discovered to my surprise, the largest city in the world, numbering forty million people. (I expected this to be somewhere in the Third World.) Maybe due to this, it didn't really seem to have one centre, but many.

Here's a few view from halfway up the Tokyo Skytree, which is the tallest building in the world, saving only the Burj Dubai:

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-15 14:21
Subject: Japan trip report #4: Some general impressions
Security: Public
Tags:japan, trip reports

Some general impressions of Japan this time, before we move on to Tokyo. They drive on the left there; if you're not used to it, be careful to look both ways before crossing the road:

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Also for a country with lots of high technology, we saw a surprising number of people doing fairly menial jobs one would have expected to have been at least partially automated, for example acting as a tram conductor, or sweeping the street using not just a broom but indeed the old-fashioned kind consisting of a bundle of twigs, rather than street-sweeping vehicles.

We saw a lot of people doing their jobs in a public context, for example traffic police, wore white gloves. I suspect this owes something to nineteenth-century England, though how, I'm not quite sure.

There are lots of people in Japan wearing surgical masks; apparently something like one in four of the population suffer from hayfever.

There are a lot of USAn fast food chains to be found in Japan; I saw there chains, like Denny's or Wendy's, which I hadn't seen since my last time in the States in 1990.

And lastly, for today, the ecological niche which is filled in the UK by seagulls (black-backed gulls and herring gulls) is filled in central Japan (I didn't see this when we went further west), instead by black kites. It was quite something to see these great big birds of prey swooping low over beaches. Sadly, I didn't have a camera with me when I got to see them really close up; and when I did later have a camera, I didn't get to see any close enough up to get a decent photo of.

[Japan blog posts] [personal profile] lethargic_man's Japan blog posts

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-08 17:19
Subject: Japan trip report #3: Atami Castle
Security: Public
Tags:japan, trip reports

This is Atami castle. (Again, all images are clickable through for mostly higher-resolution versions.)

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It's twentieth-century, but built to resemble an Edo-period castle. (Japan has few old buildings, due to a combination of having built in flammable materials, non-earthquake-proof construction, and heavy bombing during the War (with the notable exception of Kyoto, the "city of ten thousand shrines", which was spared).)

The castle contains a number of small museums.Read more...Collapse )

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-01 20:37
Subject: Love's Labour Lost at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse
Security: Public
I'd like to see Love's Labour Lost at the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse between the twelfth and seventeenth of September—this rather than a play at the Globe because I've never been to the former yet. I'd also like to pay £10 for a standing seat because I'm a cheapskate. ;^b

Anyone want to come with me?

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-07-01 13:42
Subject: Japan trip report #2: Kinomiya shrine in Atami
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Tags:japan, trip reports

Many of the tourist sites we saw in Japan were Shinto shrines or Buddhist temples. Japan has the, to western sensibilities, odd situation in which most people adhere to two religions. People go to Shinto shrines for happy events, such as births and weddings, but Buddhist temples for sad ones such as funerals. This state of affairs seems to have come about because Shinto worship consists entirely of venerating local deities; there's no code of ethics around which to structure one's life, and Theraveda Buddhism appears to have moved in to fill that gap.

This state of affairs with regard to Shintoism also means the religion has no holy books, which made aviva_m question where the rituals that we saw came from, then. Presumably they were all transmitted through oral tradition.

Actually, most people in Japan today are fairly secular (this may be because some of the great Buddhist temple complexes supported revolts against the shogunal government a few centuries ago, and the shogun responded by breaking their power in the land). Quite a few, seeing western-style church weddings in films, decide they want one themselves, so join a church a few weeks before their wedding in order to be able to achieve this—leading to the crazy situation of their having three religions at once.

Shinto shrines are to be distinguished from Buddhist temples in two ways. One is that before making an invocation to the enshrined deity, one claps one's hands twice, presumably to get the deity's attention, then bows; the other is that the approach to every Shinto shrine is marked by the presence of at least one Torii gate, usually, though not always, of red-painted wood, marking this as holy ground.

At the start of our holiday, Andrea and I spent a few days recovering from the jet lag in the beach resort of Atami, less than fifty miles from Tokyo. There we encountered our first shrine, called Kinomiya Jinja.

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You'll be getting to see plenty more shrines and temples here in due course.

[Japan blog posts] [personal profile] lethargic_man's Japan blog posts

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-06-28 22:18
Subject: Japan trip report #1: Food
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Tags:japan, trip reports

aviva_m and I have just come back from our honeymoon in Japan; here's the start of my trip report on it (further instalments to come).

Read more...Collapse ) Well, that'll do for starters. I'll talk about something different next time.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-06-17 21:10
Subject: 1904 Singer's Prayer Book
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Tags:limmud, liturgy

A while ago I discovered that the Singer's Prayer Book editorship made quite a lot of tweaks to subsequent early impressions of the first edition. I'm intrigued to know how the earliest impressions were different from the late first edition (from the 1950s) that my father has, and have been keeping my eye out for a few years for early impressions online. Unfortunately, truly early ones (pre-1895, or for that matter even pre-1900) don't seem to be turning up. When I had another look a few days ago and found the 1904 impression scanned and readable online, I thought this was probably going to be as good as I was going to get, and I had a look through this volume to see what it offered.

(I'm aware that most of my readership to whom this would be meaningful will be reading from Facebook, not LJ or DW; but I'm posting it here anyway, so that I can find it again afterwards.)

The early impressions, 1904 included, made much use of references to save page-count (to keep the price down to 1/–), something that was eliminated in subsequent volumes but without retypesetting the complete book; hence the joke: How can you tell someone who uses the first edition Singer's siddur? Get them to count to one hundred and see if they go 94, 94a, 94b, 94c etc. In the 1904 impression mincha consists of a list of references to prayers found elsewhere, and takes up a single page, expanded in later impressions to no fewer than fifteen pages.

Tallis and tefillin are to be donned after, rather than before, ברכת השחר.

</p>

No Kaddish deRabbanan after ברכת השחר or, later on, פִּטּוּם הַקְּטוֹרֶת. (Even the second edition (1962) merely says some congregations recite it there.) This kaddish is included in the 1904 impression after Shacharis with the legend "Kaddish to be said after reading Lessons from the Works of the Rabbis".

מזמור שיר חנוכת הבית לדוד is found after Shacharis, with the label "In some Congregations the following Psalm is said daily before ברוך שאמר". The subsequent Mourner's Kaddish is missing altogether.

ויברך דויד is only said standing until משתחוים.

In ובא לציון and elsewhere Aramaic is described instead as "Chaldee".

No עלינו or subsequent kaddish in mincha on Friday. (The idea, so I've heard, is that these are both recited at the end of the service, and when services are recited back-to-back, you're not really ending it. We still do this between mincha and ne`ila on Yom Kippur.)

No meditation before kindling the Shabbos lights.

No Mourner's Kaddish after במה מדליקין. (This was also the case in the second edition.)

A little to my surprise, וְדִי בְּכָל אַרְעָת גַלְוָתָנָא "and in all the lands of our dispersion" is already added to the first יְקוּם פָּרְקָן in this edition. (This is one of the rare cases of an Orthodox authority tweaking the traditional wording of a prayer; the rest of the Orthodox world (e.g. ArtScroll) still has here "in Israel and in Babylonia" and expects the reader to infer the rest of the world as well.)

The Prayer for the Royal Family is somewhere I was expecting change; over the years the wording of the mediaeval prayer הַנּוֹתֵן תְּשׁוּעָה לַמְּלָכִים. was gradually shortened. (Of course, that prayer was written about absolute monarchs, which is why my (non-Orthodox) shul in London replaced it with a prayer for the government, not one for the Queen with a single short reference to the government ("her counsellors").) The wording given here, with changes compared to the second edition in bold, reads:

He who giveth salvation unto kings and dominion unto princes, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, who delivered his servant David from the hurtful sword, who maketh a way in the sea and a path in the mighty waters,—may he bless, guard, protect and help, exalt, magnify, and highly aggrandize [in the Hebrew only, redundantly repeating the following words: אֲדוֹנֵינוּ הַמֶּלֶךְ] our Sovereign Lord, King Edward, our gracious Queen Alexandra, George Prince of Wales, the Princess of Wales, and all the Royal Family [in the Hebrew only: יָרום הוֹדָם may their glory be exalted].

May the supreme King of kings in his mercy preserve the King in life, guard him and deliver him from all trouble, sorrow and hurt. May he make his enemies fall before him; and in whatsoever he undertaketh may he prosper. May the supreme King of Kings in his mercy put a spirit of wisdom and understanding into his heart and into the hearts of all his counsellors, that they may uphold the peace of the realm, advance the welfare of the nation, and deal kindly and truly with all Israel. In his days and in ours, may Judah be saved, and Israel dwell securely [missing here: the text of the second edition, and probably also later impressions of the first edition, is missing altogether: "may our Heavenly Father spread the tabernacle of peace over all the dwellers on earth"]; and may the redeemer come unto Zion. O that this may be his will, and let us say, Amen.

No Prayer for the State of Israel, of course, as it didn't exist yet.

Duchaning is, surprisingly, missing.

The traditional wording for מָעוֹז צוּר is given. (Chief Rabbi Hertz later changed לְעֵת תָּכִין מַטְבֵחַ מִצָּר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when thou shalt have prepared a slaughter of the blaspheming foe" to לְעֵת תַּשְׁבִּית מַטְבֵחַ וְצָר הַמְּנַבֵחַ "when you have caused the slaughter to cease, and the barking of the enemy" [translation by myself], but it was changed back in the second edition.) דְּבִיר, which I would translate "shrine", and designates part of the Temple, is translated here as "oracle".

The four verses after the psalm before bentshing on Shabbos and yomtov are not given. (Only the first two are there in the second edition.)

Psalm 150 to be recited at the end of the wedding service. (Also in the second edition; reduced to "Some congregations" in the third.)

At the end of the last page, the end. :o) Total page count: 660, as against 841 in the second edition, 903 in the third and 926 in the fourth.

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Lethargic Man (anag.)
Date: 2018-04-02 17:05
Subject: Berlin's other wall
Security: Public
Went today to have a look at Berlin's other wall—the last remnant of the thirteenth to fourteenth-century mediaeval wall enclosing the twin cities of Berlin and Cölln, that is.

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