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Japan

敷島の大和ごころを人問はば朝日に匂う山桜かな

Vieraskynä: Setsuko Konishi

(ShikishimanoYamatogokorowoHitotowabaAsahininiouYamazakurakana)

When people ask about the heart of Japanese (it is) fragrance of mountain cherry blossoms in the morning sun (Motoori Norinaga: 1730-1801 Japanese poet and scholar of literature).

You might have heard the terminologies “Reaganomics” in the USA, and “Abenomics”(Prime minister Abe, Japan). Have you ever heard of Sakuranomics? It is said that economic enhancement by Sakura Cherry Blossoms in Japan may be bigger than that of Tokyo Olympics in 2020.

In the midst of Sakura blossoming season, two Finnish students in my Japanese Language Class and the father of one of the students visited my city “Kamakura.” They arrived at Kita-Kamakura station which is located in the yard of Enkakuji Temple, the head Temple of Zen Buddhism. I saw my students only on online camera before; it was exciting to see them walking towards me.

Before going to have lunch, we saw from outside the Tokeiji Temple, a nunnery which played an important role for rescuing battered women who did not have the right of declaring divorce in former days. Tokeiji Temple’s graveyard is also known as a resting place for philosophers and writers, who loved Kamakura, in the history of Japan and chose to live here. (12thcentury~)The head nuns of this temple were sisters and daughters of Emperors in the past.

Then we went to a restaurant to have Japanese food: Washoku–which is designated as UNESCO World Heritage. We were happy finding small cherry buds in one of the cooked salad. The waitress in kimono told us that it was the day for Yabusame Shooting with bow and arrow from a running horse. We ran to the Tsurugaoka Hachiman Shrine and watched the riders solemnly perform some rituals before the game. Since we didn’t have enough time then, we could not wait for the shooting performance and I showed the video of Yabusame later in class.

We walked to Kamakura Station through crowded Komachi Dori Street. We visited Kaburagi Kiyokata’s residence museum. He was a famous Japanese painter and his small, lovely and traditional garden was so compact, but shows the sense of great nature. Color paint and style of Japanese paintings are very different from western oil paintings. It was a different experience from visiting famous temples in Kyoto. We enjoyed window shopping at antique shops and an incense shop along the way to the station.

We took bus from Kamakura Station to Kamakura Great Buddha. (13thcentury) The Great Sitting Buddha is a little shorter than the Indoor Buddha in Nara near Osaka, the oldest capital in Japan. Student R said when he saw me praying in front of Buddha, “If I prayed in front of Buddha, it will cause a great trouble.” To me it was an interesting remark.

We then visited Kamakura Kannon (Mercy of Goddess). She is a tall and beautiful Statue with decorative metal ornaments on her head. We could command the view of the city which was protected by the steep hills behind and the sea in front. Samurai warriors opened this capital for the first time in Japanese history. Previous rulers of Japan were emperors in Nara and Kyoto.

At the end of the day trip, visitors said it was a joyous and educational trip. It was a pleasant experience for me, too. I was very happy having Finnish visitors to my beloved city Kamakura.

Setsuko Konishi

Helsinki Summer University Japanese Language instructor

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