Shunkunitai located in Nemuro Peninsula in the eastern part of Hokkaido is a huge sandbar, 8km long by 1.3km wide, which divides the Sea of Okhotsk and Lake Furen. On the accumulated three lined dunes, there are many kinds of natural surroundings such as seashores, grasslands, marshes, forests and mudflats. Providing fine natural environment for various kinds of wildlife, it looks like a floating forest.
Its academic importance is highly esteemed. In the center of the dune is the greatest Ramanas rose (Rosa rugosa) colonies, which continues 3 km. In the wetland along the sea is the breeding ground of red-crowned cranes. White-tailed eagles inhabit here, for there are abundant fish in the ocean near the sandbar range. Shunkunitai is one of the nation's eminent paradises for wildfowl.
清 is a character combining the 氵 three dots water-classifier and 青 ‘blue-green,’ that can first be seen in the Tenbun (Zhuàn Wén) seal script. In reliable Kanji science, the classifier does certainly not always show the leading notion of the character’s meaning, here, however, it originally points to the clearness of water. The basis of its meaning is 青 ‘blue-green,’ which is a color that represents the aesthetic sense of the time when Kanji were created. The lower element of 青 is 丹, which means that there is 丹 ‘cinnabar, vermilion’ (pigment taken from earth and rocks including sulfur) in the mine’ s well for digging cinnabar. Cinnabar of green-bluish color was also collected from such mining wells. The upper element of 青 represents 生 which shows fresh, green, sprouting grass. Chinese characters were created by clerics of the ancient Chinese dynasty of the Yīn (Shāng) dynasty. In contrast to the following Zhōu period, the people of Yīn (Shāng) were a coastal people or were living in areas close to the seas. Even in the present sailors often have tattoos. Especially coastal people often had the custom of tattooing and ritual body painting, which is an expression of the religious view of that period. Such 青 was used as a ‘sacred’ color in rituals. Therefore, the 青 of the so called 青銅器 ‘Seidôki: bronze vessels’ (青銅 ‘Seidô: bronze’) also is no accident. Blue and vermilion were both used for curse exorcism and pacification. It was believed that a force working against curses that exorcizes evil spirits resides in the color used for ritual body painting and festive vessels. As was already emphasized in color theories like that of Von Goethe and Schopenhauer, it is evident that such sacred colors as green-blue and vermilion strike the visual sense intensely. Among them, 青 blue-green was thought of as an especially tranquil color with a pacifying and purifying effect most appropriate in curse exorcism.
Great Green Grid is a lattice-shaped windbreak forest in Konsen Plateau in the eastern part of Hokkaido. It is a globally “large-scale” forest, which can’t be constructed in this country except in Hokkaido. It is registered as one of Hokkaido Heritages.
The side of each lattice is 3,000 m in length, the green belt is 180 m in width, and the total length of the forest is as long as 648 km. It became famous after astronaut Mamoru Mori captured it with a video camera when he flew aboard the space shuttle “Endeavor,” from which alone we can imagine how huge it is.
It was originally built to protect nearby cattle farms and grazing ground from wind and snow, but it has also become habitats and pathway for wild animals. In recent years, it is a popular spot for horse trekking and animal watching.
Hideaki Tokita, born in 1979, Tokyo, is a rising star in the world of “netsuke”. There are said to be less than a hundred netsuke artists left in Japan.
Netsuke, which became popular during Edo period, is a small accessory which serves as a toggle on a crafted box called “inrou”, or money pouch both of which hang from obi sash. Today, there are more netsuke collectors abroad than in Japan. Mr. Hideaki was exposed to netsuke for the first time while studying in New Zeeland which also led him to start learning jade sculpture
He met with Mr. Mick, a sculptor, who later became his teacher. Under Mr. Mick’s guidance, Mr. Tokita started carving and soon attracted attention and praise from world leading netsuke collectors. In 2007, he received a Newcomer Award from Japan Ivory Sculpture Association.
“Time spent observing is the same as time spent learning. Even for a piece of leaf, if you make an effort to learn something, you will be rewarded”.
His work, born from his ethos in which he pushes himself to the edge in order to sharpen and polish his artistic intuition, releases a powerful presence which is unique in the world.
A representative ethical notion in East Asian thought widely spread in China, Vietnam, Korea, and Japan Confucius’ teaching and Confucianism [the teaching of the person Confucius and what people have made out of it later are different things]. In Kanji science, however, the process before this character became a completely abstract notion is the main focus of interest. Actually, at the time of Confucius correct knowledge about the origin of Chinese characters had already been lost. In this sense, it was a character that could easily be manipulated or exploited. One can often hear the popular belief that it is the combination of the person-classifier at the left side and the number two at the right side. There also is the view that it was developed as a generalization of the notion ‘between two human beings,’ becoming one of the five basic tenets of Confucianism 仁 ‘Nin, Jin: humaneness,’ 儀 ‘Gi: rightness,’ 礼（禮） ‘Rei: propriety,’ 智 ‘Chi: wisdom,’ and 信 ‘Shin: trustworthiness.’ Certainly, the classifier is the person-classifier; here, however, the focus is on the interpretation of the right part.
Actually, from the standpoint of correct Kanji science, apart from the original number characters there is not even one case among Kanji with an element standing for an abstract number. It may look like this in the form of the present Common Use Kanji, which differs from the old character forms, but the idea that something abstract is incorporated as an element in Kanji always is characteristic for vulgar belief.
The part 五 appearing in 悟, for example, has no relation to the number 五 ‘five,’ but shows a double wooden lid firmly closing a ‘norito,’ i.e. ritual prayer receptacle. As a character that really shows two human beings there is the character 比 and others.
Basically, the elements appearing in Kanji are human beings and things. As they are things extant in ancient society, the person-classifier shows the form of a person who is about to sit down and the left part is the cushion at the sitting place. As this is the Orient, it is not a chair, but a cushion or mat. Thus a rather different way from there to the abstract ethical notion of humaneness becomes evident. In other words, it is the heart or mental attitude of offering a seating cushion to somebody. It means the mental attitude of consideration and feeling of hospitality towards guests or visitors. Originally, it is a notion for expressing such a warm feeling or attitude.
Daisetz Suzuki was a great philosopher, who introduced the highly crystallized concept of Zen to the western world. He was born in Ishikawa Prefecture in 1870. While studying at Tokyo University, he took up Zen practice at Engakuji Temple in Kamakura, where he lived a monk’s life. He studied Zen under the Zen monk, Soen, and given the name Daisetsu, meaning “Great Simplicity.”
Suzuki intended to introduce Zen to the West, acting as a bridge between East and West. What he wanted was the unity of East and West, for which he accomplished a great feat of translating Zen texts into English. Suzuki wrote a translation of “the The Tao Te Ching,” a Chinese classic text, and then “the Daijo Kishinron (the Awakening of Mahayana Faith).” In 1907, Suzuki published his first original book in English, “the Outlines of Mahayana Buddhism.” His had a great influence on intellectual persons in the western world. During the ear of the counterculture in the 1960s and 1970s, the world of Zen, which was introduced by Suzuki, inspired adoration for Oriental world among the westerners.
Suzuki kept practicing Zen over a lifetime, and thought and talked of deep-rooted social problems including races, religions and racial disputes through the quest for the spirit of Zen.
Okera-mairi is an annual event to celebrate the New Year at Yasaka Shrine in Kyoto. It begins on New Year's Eve and ends on the morning of New Year's Day.
The practise of Okera-mairi comes from the belief that, by bringing the holy fire of Yasaka home in the New Year and cooking a 'zoni' (vegetable soup with rice cakes in it) from that fire, one will have perfect health for the next year.
'Okera' is an asteraceous perennial, and its root was traditionally used as a gastrointestinal medicine in Chinese traditional medicine. It was also used as a charm to ward off evil spirits by feeding it into the flames. These beliefs and practices turned out to become today's Okera-mairi.
After the ceremony of the watch night on New Year's Eve, the holy fire is divided into five Okera lanterns by the hands of the Shinto priest. Each lantern comes with an 'Okera-gi', a piece of wood with a wish written on it. People bring the holy fire with the wishes back home by lighting a rope of twisted-bamboo.
The sight of the visitors returning home from Yasaka Shrine, spinning their rope to keep the fire alive is also a specialty of the Okera-mairi. Such a tradition today let's us see the continuation of ancient Japanese beliefs in the power of fire.
Yururi Island is a small uninhabited island off the coast of the Nemuro Peninsula. It is prefecturally designated as a Natural Treasure. “Yururi” means “an island of cormorants” in Ainu. The island still remains as a breeding place for cormorants, etopirika, keimafuri, red-faced cormorants and many other sea birds, some of which are on the verge of extinction. It is a flat table-shaped island surrounded by cliffs with a height of 40 m. Just to the north of it lies a small island of Moyururi. This island is known for bright green pastures, where a herd of about 20 horses are leisurely grazing. The horses on this island were once used to carry sea tangles but now they have run wild. The island is also the breeding place of sea otters and seals. On top of the cliff spread wetland, where 300 species of plant grow. Yururi Island is a paradise for wild life.