Tag Archives: japan

Questions After Watching The Film Silence

silence-posterI watched  Silence a movie about Catholic missionaries sent to Japan in the 1600s. It made me ask lots of questions.

Can faith truly can be transferred from one culture to another.  When you attempt to adapt a faith so it fits into another culture does it change so much that it becomes something else entirely?  Is that a good thing? 

Is it morally right to attempt to transfer a faith common to one culture into a different culture when trying to do so can result in enormous suffering?  That kind of suffering is depicted in a graphic and violent  way in Silence. 

Rather than trying to convert others to our faith wouldn’t we be better off  learning from people of all faiths? Perhaps if we put our truths together we could actually find a way to ‘save’ the world. 

People talk about a simple faith.  Is faith ever simple?  In the movie Silence faith is a messy, troubling puzzle. Trying to untangle that puzzle is painful and heart breaking and costly. 

Is coming to faith a static one time thing?  There is a character in Silence named Kichijiro who keeps questioning and rejecting his faith for a variety of reasons and then returning to it.  That seemed pretty realistic to me.

Do those television evangelists really have it right?  I watched a sermon by one of them the other day and its basic message was if you believe in God everything will work out for you.  That doesn’t happen in the film Silence where people who are intensely devoted to their faith have tragic things happen to them. 

Can anyone truly say……..”God told me to do that?” Some people claim that happens to them and then they go ahead and do some pretty terrible things in supposed obedience to God’s voice.  In Silence the priest Rodrigues is desperate for God to tell him what he should do. But God is silent. Maybe that’s a good thing.  Could it be that “God’s voice” is  a combination of our own conscience, the advice of others, and what our faith has taught us is good and right? 

Other posts…….

Chinese Spiritual Practices

A Religious Opinion

A Veronica Sighting


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Remembering Hiroshima

This past week President Obama visited Hiroshima, the first American president to do so since the United States dropped an atomic bomb on the city in 1945. The many photos of Hiroshima in the media reminded me of our own visit to the city.  

memorial centopah in hiroshima peace parkThis cenotaph holds the names of all the people killed when the bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.  The arch shape represents a shelter for the souls of the victims. 

memorial centopah hiromshimaThe epitaph on the cenotaph says “Let all souls rest in peace for we shall not repeat the evil of war.”

ringing the peace bell in hiroshima

I’m ringing the Peace Bell in the Hiroshima Peace Park. Visitors are encouraged to ring the bell as a symbol of their desire for peace in the world. The surface of the bell is a map of the world without country boundaries and the inscription on the bell says “Know yourself.”

yesterday coffee house hiroshima

The Yesterday Coffee House in Hiroshima featured many varieties of coffee to be enjoyed while listening to Beatles music. 

city bread hiroshimaAt a  bakery we discovered bread baked with the city of Hiroshima’s name in the crust. 

atomic bomb dome hiroshima

The Hiroshima Peace Memorial or Atomic Bomb Dome was named a World Heritage Site in 1996.

atomic bomb dome memorial hiroshima The ruin serves as a memorial to the 70,000 people who were killed in the atomic bombing of Hiroshima as well as another 70,000 who suffered fatal injuries from the radiation.  

artistic manhole cover hiroshima

These kind of artistic sewer access covers can  be found in cities throughout Japan. 

cherry blossoms in hiroshimaThe cherry trees were just starting to bloom in Hiroshima during our visit. japanese pancakesDave watches okonomiyaki or Japanese pancakes being made for us in a Hiroshima restaurant. 

hiroshima street entertainerWe listened to a singer on the streets of Hiroshima. hiroshima museumIn the Hiroshima Peace Museum Dave learns more about the factors that led to the bombing of Hiroshima.woman on street in hiroshimaInteresting woman we encountered on the streets of Hiroshima. 

peace mound

The Atomic Bomb Memorial Mound contains the ashes of 70,000 unidentified victims of the bomb. 

Other posts……

Japanese Pancakes

When the Coin Rings Luck Springs

Japanese Surprises


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A Kaleidoscope of Possibilities

You probably had a kaleidoscope when you were a kid. You peered inside and turned the end of the cylindrical tube so the colorful glass pieces it contained tumbled into a myriad of patterns. Until I visited Japan, I thought of kaleidoscopes as children’s toys.

With my friends Rudy and Sue Nikkel outside the Kaleidoscope Museum in Kyoto

Then I toured the Kyoto Kaleidoscope Museum and realized kaleidoscopes are much more than playthings- they are works of art.

Japan has five kaleidoscope museums in different cities. They show the works of Japanese kaleidoscope creators who have gained international reputations. The first kaleidoscopes came to Japan with traders in 1819 just a few years after a Scottish physicist named David Brewster invented them. They were objects of intrigue because it was a period of Japanese history when anything from the western world was banned.

In the Japanese language, kaleidoscopes are known as ‘hyaku-iro-megane’, which means ‘mirror tube with a hundred colors.’ One of the first industries the Americans revived in Japan after defeating the country in World War II was the toy industry and many kaleidoscopes were manufactured in Japan for export to North America.  It was only in the 1990s however that kaleidoscope making and creating became an art form in Japan.

The museum we visited in Kyoto has a large collection of kaleidoscopes of all shapes, sizes, and designs.  We saw kaleidoscopes that looked like pagodas, vases, leaves, butterflies, and houses.  There was one kaleidoscope located inside a huge clay pot. A famous elderly Japanese potter had made the terra cotta container and her granddaughter who is a kaleidoscope artist had created the kaleidoscope inside.

One of Japan’s kaleidoscope art galleries has a giant kaleidoscope you can actually walk into. The Kyoto museum didn’t have a kaleidoscope that size, but they did have one you could stick your whole face into and see your features refracted into hundreds of beautiful colored bits.

The kaleidoscopes we saw had lovely names like Dawn, Star Life, Dazzle and Marvel Eyes.  Two especially unique kaleidoscopes were called Dream Light and Blue Flower. They were created by Japan’s most famous kaleidoscope artists Mitsuru and Yuriko Yoda, a husband and wife team. Their work is in the collections of kaleidoscope aficionados around the world. Some of their pieces sell for as much as four thousand dollars. Japan has juried exhibitions and competitions each year for kaleidoscope artists.

The kaleidoscope museum in Kyoto began as a government project but after funding was cut, donors and volunteers kept it open. The elderly gentlemen volunteering the day we were there were infinitely helpful and polite. They showed us how the various kaleidoscopes worked and they operated the kaleidoscope light show. A room in the museum was darkened and the walls danced with huge spinning kaleidoscope patterns coming from a number of projectors hanging from the ceiling. Other volunteers were hosting workshops where museum guests of all ages could construct their own kaleidoscopes.

Apparently, kaleidoscopes are popular items for businesses to purchase as corporate gifts in Japan, the United States, Great Britain, and Germany.  Rosabeth Canter an American business intellectual explains why. “ Creativity is a lot like looking at the world through a kaleidoscope. You look at the same set of elements everyone else sees, but then reassemble those bits and pieces into exciting new possibilities.” It sounds like a good way to look at any challenge in life and a good thing to remember as we begin a new year.  I bought a small kaleidoscope keyring in Kyoto to remind me that in any new or difficult situation there are ways to look at things differently and imagine a kaleidoscope of possibilities.

Read other posts about Japan……

A Time of New Beginnings

Peace Museum Hiroshima

The Globalization of Art From Japan to Cape Dorset

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Filed under Art, Culture, Japan, New Experiences, Travel