NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉

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シュミッツ クリストフ Syumittsu Kurisutofu Dr. Christoph Schmitz

Jp En

Dr. Christoph Schmitz is a scholar of the work of Dr. Shizuka Shirakawa, Japan's leading authority on the origin of Kanji, or Chinese characters. Dr. Schmitz also researches the history of philosophical thought as well as Japanese thought. A native of Cologne, Germany, he currently resides in Tokyo, Japan.

His interest in Kanji was aroused while he was studying the history of Japanese thought based on the understanding of Japanese and general history, philosophy and the history of philosophy at universities both in Germany and Japan. The absence of convincing explanations of the relationship between Kanji forms and their meaning in the world of Western higher education made him lose his trust in established Kanji education. In 1997, reading an interview with Dr. Shirakawa about his work, he started his research. After teaching history of philosophy and Kanji for adult education classes in Germany, hoping to introduce Dr. Shirakawa's work and meritorious achievements to the world, in 2001, he met Dr. Shirakawa for the first time. In the following year, he became a research student at University of Tokyo Faculty of Law.

In December 2003, he started translating 'Jouyoujikai' (Basic Kanji Dictionary), a primer on Kanji written by Dr. Shirakawa with the consent of the author. To tackle the manifold difficulties of this yet unseen project took him almost three years. His aim is to base Kanji learning on natural understanding.

On Transcription
Few Japanologists seem to have read the proclamation of the Japanese prime minister from 9 December 1954, in which capitalization of nouns in alphabetical transcription of Japanese is sanctioned. After all, it still is nothing less than the official Japanese transliteration system. Accordingly, capitalization is applied in this translation to clearly mark nouns for learners who often do not know which word is a noun, and which is not. Thus, to counter the weakness of modern English spelling which does not clearly mark nouns, I come back to the traditional English capital spelling of nouns as usual some hundred years ago.

On Terminology
There are a lot of problematic or false notions widely used in the field that can mislead learning once they hoaxed the mind of the unwary, which is why I use terms that learners will find more convincing, like the following.
Tortoise Plastron, not Tortoise ‘Shell’
Those thousands of tortoises used for divination seem to have died in vain. Few term coining scholars ever took the pain to verify which one of the two shells of these tortoises was used; a rough translation with ‘shell’ or ‘carapace’ misses the specific meaning of the Kanji 甲 and gives an unclear view of the matter. The flat belly plate was used in what amounts to a percentage of more than 99 % of cases, the carapace, however, which is the hooked back shell only in very rare exceptions: It is too hard to be carved in. The character 甲 shows the flat ‘plastron’ with the vertical and horizontal notched natural ‘lines’ of the belly or breast shell.

Revisiting in 2016
This introduction with its casual explanations intending to help a first easygoing acquaintance with Shirakawa's character explanations is now complemented with your comprehensive dictionary "The Keys To The Chinese Characters"!

Giving the full contents as only a dictionary can, it renews and supersedes a part of the terminology given here.
With its technical terms and methodical approach enriched with many citations from and references to the classics, a meticulous commentary and copious indexes you will have a powerful instrument to master your study and enjoy deepening your understanding.
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千島桜 Chishima-zakura Kurile Cherry

Jp En

Kurile cherry (Prunus nipponica Matsumura var. kurilensis), or “Chishima-zakura” in Japanese, is the cherry tree that blooms the latest in Japan. It was originally a kind of wild cherry “Takane-zakura (Prunus nipponica Matsumura),” which grows in high mountains. Kurile cherry is also called Iturup cherry or Kunashir cherry. It is also known as the cherry that grows in the highest land in Honshu.

It is a deciduous shrubby plant which grows to 1 to 5 m tall. As is typical to alpine plants, the branches extend sideways. Contrary to Somei Yoshino cherry trees, it gives an energetic impression.

The tree was named so in 1936 by Dr. Kingo Miyabe, a botanist and a professor of Sapporo Agricultural College (present-day Hokkaido University). In 1973, it was designated as a protected tree of Hokkaido. When Kurile cherry trees come into bloom in the Nemuro district in the late May, a long-lasted travel of the cherry blossom front is over. During the blooming season, cherry blossom festivals are held everywhere in this district.
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江川家住宅 Egawakejuutaku The Egawa Family’s Residence

Jp En

The residence of the Egawa family located in Nirayama, Izunokuni City, Shizuoka Pref. is a historic Japanese house, which is nationally designated as an Important Cultural Property. The Egawa family was a warrior clan descended from the Seiwa Genji (Minamoto) line. An ancestor of the Egawa clan, who fought for Sutoku Joko (abdicated emperor) and was defeated in the Hogen Disturbance in 1156, escaped from Kyoto and settled in Izu province. In the Edo period (1603-1868), the generations of the Egawa clan were appointed as the local governor. Among them, Egawa Tarozaemon-Hidetatsu, the head of the family at the end of the Edo period, was famous as a scientist and engineer.
The main building (omoya) is known for having the highly elaborate structure of beams that sustain a beautifully curved roof 12 m above the ground. You can see it from the doma (earth floor at the entrance) inside the house. The residence is said to have been built during the Kamakura period (1192-1333). It is said that as Nichiren Shonin stayed at the house for several days in 1261, the house has withstood for such a long time as 700 years.
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千葉 梅ヶ瀬渓谷 Chiba Umegase-keikoku Chiba Umegase Gorge

Jp En

Umegase Gorge located in Ichihara City, Chiba Pref. was created by the erosion of the Umegase River, which streams out of Mt. Daifuku and flows into the Yoro River. About 50 m high vertical cliffs are forming a deep gorge. The fault of sand and silt, which was formed about 800,000 years ago, can be seen on the surface of the cliffs. The gorge was named after Tsukigase Gorge in Nara Prefecture by Nobuzane Hidaka, a scholar of the Chinese classics in the Meiji period (1868-1912). At the ruin site of his residence on the upstream of the river, hundreds of huge Japanese maple trees, which were planted in those days, are forming a fine grove. The cherry blossoms in spring are wonderful, but it is far more wonderful in fall, when Japanese maple trees put on autumn colors. The gorge is said to be one of the best places to view autumn tints in the prefecture. As the walking trail is arranged from Yoro-Keikoku Station to the top of Mt. Daifuku, you can enjoy hiking along the river. However, you must be cautious of some steep parts in the upstream.
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安井息軒旧宅 Yasui-Sokken-Kyuutaku Sokken Yasui’s Residence

Jp En

Sokken Yasui’s residence located in Kiyotake-cho, Miyazaki-gun, Miyazaki Pref. is a designated National Cultural Asset. Sokken Yasui, a great Confucian scholar of the late Edo period, was born in the town of Kiyotake in 1799. Since his childhood, he was fascinated by learning. His accomplishment was highly evaluated as the comprehensive study of Confucianism in the Edo period, which served as the foundation for the near modern study of Chinese classics. He also fostered as many as 200 excellent figures including Kanjo Tani and Munemitsu Mutsu, base don the idea of “One should begin planning for the day in the morning. One should begin planning for the year in the spring. One should begin planning for their life in their youth.”
On the grounds stands a stone monument with the verse written by Ietatsu Tokugawa. The plum tree planted by Sokken himself still remains in the garden. Visitors can sense the atmosphere that produced a great thinker, who had a large influence in the world of thought at the end of the Tokugawa Shogunate.
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ひき岩群 Hikiiwa-gun Hikiiwa Rocks

Jp En

Hikiiwa Rocks are a group of huge rocks located in the upstream of the Inari River, one of the tributaries of the Aizu River in Inari-cho, Tanabe City, Wakayama Pref. The rocks are composed of a thick sand stone layer that was formed during Miocene epoch of Cenozoic era. A long period of erosion and water flow of the Inari River has made it into the present shape. The name comes from the shape of the rocks, which look like toads sitting in line and looking up at the sky. Largest ones are about 45 m tall, among which the huge rock on the Inari River is designated as a prefectural Natural Monument. There is a Kannon statue called Iwaya Kannon placed in a large grotto created in one of the rocks. The Kannon stood at the top of the steep stairs. Kumagusu Minakata, a natural historian in the Meiji period, often visited this area to collect plants and fungi, to which he referred in his later literature.
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金鱗湖 Kinrin-ko Kinrin Lake

Jp En

   Kinrin Lake is one of famous sightseeing spots in Yufuin.  It is called 'Below Mountain lake' because it is located at the foot of Mt.Yufu.  In the seventeenth year of the Meiji period, Mori Kuso, a Confucianist in Tsurusaki, was gazing at the surface of the lake from the outdoor hot spring bath Shitanyu when he saw a flying fish: its scales appeared to be gold in color and it shone from the rays of the evening sun.  Because of this story, the lake gradually acquired the name Kinrin Lake since Kinrin means gold scale.
    There is a hot spring by the western side of the lake and a cool spring to the eastern side.  As a result, the water is warm even in the winter and that is why fog rises in the winter.  The fish in the lake swim about so pleasantly that unconsciously your eyes start to follow them.
    Depending on your location, the view of the lake changes, so it is best to stroll at a leisurely pace.
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歴史と文学の道 Rekishi-to-bungaku-no-michi The Walk of History and Literature

Jp En

The Walk of History and Literature is an old road lined by white plastered walls, that is some 700m long and begins at Yoken Temple's Sannomaru Yagura (watchtower) Gate at the base of Shiroyama Hill in Saiki, Okayama Prefecture.

The Walk of History and Literature is included in the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure and Transport’s top 100 roads in Japan.

This road is closely connected to the history and literature of the Saiki domain. Places such as the castle town of Saiki, Kunikida Dokuho House (birthplace of Yano Ryukei, a Meiji period politician/writer); the ruins of the former Saiki domain's castle; and Sannomaru yagura (watchtower) gate are there. In addition, the beautiful white walls of the Saiki samurai residences, and Yoken Temple (the Mori family temple) are there, too.

One of the historic places along the road is the house where Kunikida Dokuho stayed with his brother during his years here as a teacher. Kunikida Dokuho House is the reconstructed building of the former Sakamoto Mansion. Visitors can pick up and enjoy reading valuable documents on display inside Kunikida Dokuho House.

Saiki has an enjoyable proximity to nature. Deer sometimes come down from the mountain and can be seen near the tearoom that is built in the former rice warehouse at Kunikada Dokuho House.
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NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - 日本語に切り替える NIPPON Kichi - 日本吉 - to english

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