Yamaguchi Shi

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    • Day 260

      Morning tea with Spinoza (Yamaguchi)

      November 25, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 18 °C

      One night I camp in a park next to a majestic five storeys pagoda. I feel blessed with this spot, all the more that the site stays open all night : I can watch the beautifully litten building and visit some temples while on my way to do the dishes. I even enjoy the luxury of choosing among three toilet blocks ! I elect my favorite : the one with large mirrors, clean sinks and... plugs ! Despite the relaxed atmosphere for camping in Japan, I set up my tent discreetly, between a zen garden and some bushes, so as not to disturb anyone.

      In the morning, in a bright mood after a good night of sleep, I have my breakfast comfortably seated in a wooden shelter. A couple arrives nearby and starts doing some harmonious (and sometimes odd) Tai Shi moves. An eye contact and a smile with the lady, and here she comes to start a chat with me. Her English is really good and she seems like a thoughtful and interesting person. Since we still have things to say to one another after a few minutes, she kindly invites me for a cup of tea. Here I am, pushing my bicycle through the narrow streets of Yamaguchi to reach their home, instead of getting started with my day. Why not? It is not as if I had an appointment anywhere...

      The lady, Keiko, is a self-taught potter. She shows me her workshop overlooking their garden. You can feel her inner joy and unboasting pride of creating beautiful objects. The man, Osamu, is a Spinoza scholar, probably one of the top-end specialists of Spinoza in Japan. Looking at his desk and at the bookshelves, I feel dumbstruck at my own ignorance. I would never have imagined that so many books had been written on Spinoza's philosophy and feel ashamed for not even being sure which country he was from and in which language he was writing... Shit, my philosophy classes seem like ages ago. Wikipedia reminds me of a few facts : Spinoza was neither Italian nor Swiss, as the name might suggest, but from Holland, originally from a Portuguese/Spanish jewish family, who had to flee the Spanish Inquisition. And he was writing in...Latin ! Like most intellectuals in 17th century Europe. But this was not an easy guess since this dear Baruch was fluent in "hebrew, aramean, spanish, portuguese, dutch and could also write in french, german, italian and ancient greek" (!). He almost became a rabbi but was soon expelled from his community at the age of 23 while he was starting developing his own philosophical stance, inspired by such major thinkers as Descartes, Hobbes, Leibniz.

      But anyway, during our tea I cannot even recall 1 or 2 titles of his works, so I carefully avoid the topic so as not to make a fool of myself. Instead, we gently talk about Japanese vs French culture (they lived in Paris for a while), travels, food... while tasting delicious red bean sweets. I leave them light-hearted in this wonderful sunny day. The flawless cycling lane along the river, edged by multicolor autumn leaves, creates a perfect setting for my ride. Today, everything seems smooth and effortless. I feel myself powerful and flexible, highly adaptable to what will come up next. Could this be the art of joy described by Spinoza ? 😊
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    • Day 259

      Renards à l'honneur (Tsuwano)

      November 24, 2019 in Japan ⋅ ☁️ 19 °C

      Une autre journée de route et la pluie est revenue. J'atterris humide dans une guesthouse à Tsuwano : de nouveau une chambre tatamisée avec futon. Cette fois, sont aussi mis à disposition desvpeignoirs/ kimono à enfiler après le traditionnel et réconfortant bain chaud. C'est ma deuxième guesthouse en 10 jours et ce n'est pas du luxe ! Comme chaque fois que je retrouve plus de confort, épuisée, je dors comme une souche.

      Je visite le lendemain un important temple dédié au dieu du riz "Inari" et à ses renards messagers "Kitsune", représentés un peu partout, comme au Fushiminari à Kyoto . Là c'est moins photogénique avec la pluie et mon appareil handicapé, mais on trouve des points communs : le vermillon omniprésent, les allées de toris, les symboles associés au renard, comme sa bavette rouge et un rouleau ou une boule dans la gueule (représentant un sutra et de la nourriture, Kitsune/ Inari étant priés pour plus de fertilité et de prospérité).

      En lisant un peu sur ce Kitsune qui en vient souvent a être confondu avec Inari lui-même et vénéré comme tel, je découvre une croyance traditionnelle selon laquelle on peut etre possédé par ce renard, qui peut être aussi trompeur et malveillant que bienfaiteur. Et, surprise, cela arrive surtout aux femmes, dont le comportement est suspect si entre autres elles deviennent lettrées et peuvent parler des langues étrangères ! Il faut alors les exorciser dans un sanctuaire dédié à Inari. Mais, je cite, "en cas d'échec ou d'indisponibilité du prêtre, les kitsunetsuki [possédées par le renard] étaient battues ou gravement brûlées dans l'espoir de forcer le renard à quitter le corps de la victime". Tiens, une pratique cousine de nos chasses aux sorcières ? Décidément dans toutes les civilisations, on n'aimait pas trop les femmes cultivées ou originales ! En tous cas, la figure d'Inari est majeure au Japon : on compterait plus de 30 000 sanctuaires qui lui sont dédiés, soit un tiers des sanctuaires shintoistes.
      Plus à lire ici : http://www.aly-abbara.com/voyages_personnels/Ja…
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    • Day 15

      Opening ceremony (from the front row!)

      July 29, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      So we've ended up in the front row of the opening ceremony and it's going to be incredible! The sun is shining still and everyone is very toasty.
      Everyone has done lots of swapping today and has had great fun!
      Further updates to follow...
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    • Day 18

      Team Oren's Community Day

      August 1, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 29 °C

      After a long wait on a lovely air conditioned bus, we finally set off for our community themed day. The day began with a greeting from the mayor of Yamaguchi and some local Taiko drummers. The Mayor's warm and welcoming words started the day off wonderfully. Following this we visited a park of shrines, where the opportunity to take beautiful photos arose, including a photo near a five story pagonda. After a small stop for lunch we arrived at a Yamaguchi high school where a series of activities were awaiting our participation. After some greeting speeches including a riviting speech by our very own Gwyn, all members of Oren patrol showed mind-blowing skills in all activities on offer. The activities available to us all included kendo, tea ceremonies, origarmi, Japanese archery, koto (harp like instruments that lay on the floor) playing and calligraphy. All were throughly enjoyed by members of Oren patrol and the pupils of the high school thoroughly enjoyed our visit (and poking Martin's stomach!)Read more

    • Day 15

      Jamboree update!!

      July 29, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 31 °C

      Sorry for the lack of posts recently, we've had a lot to do to set up our site and get everything ready for all our visitors!! We'll get the blog updated with all or hoho stories as soon as possible - sorry if it takes a while... It's because we are having so much fun!!Read more

    • Day 6


      March 25, 2014 in Japan ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

      Heute fuhren wir weiter nach Hagi. Unterwegs mussten wir aber den Zug aufgrund einer technischen Störung verlassen und wurden von einem Reisebus abgeholt.

      Als wir endlich in Hagi angekommen sind, hat es so sehr geregnet, dass wir nur einen kurzen Spaziergang gemacht haben und diese lustigen Blumen gesehen haben.

      Am Abend assen wir in einem sehr guten Fischrestaurant.
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    • Day 25

      Closing Ceremony!

      August 8, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 30 °C

      We are all currently sat next to one of the two domes in the shade, with two hours to kill before we have to depart on a bus which will take us to a train station. From here, we will catch a bullet train to Tokyo for the last leg of our journey. We're all very sad that we have to leave the Jamboree site behind us but we all have new friends and great memories because of it.

      Yesterday was a day of dropping tents and packing up which everyone found incredibly tedious but there was one point before the evening was upon us where everyone was enjoying themselves. As I'm sure you are aware our leaders have worked very hard for the last 18 months making sure we have a very enjoyable, smooth and memorable Jamboree and through any troubles we or they may have had, they managed to pull it off. To say thank you we paid the Hungarian food house to bake a cake for 40 for us and also wrote down a little message of thanks to the leaders and put them in a UK contingent water bottle. The leaders were all emotional but they deserved it and once again on behalf of the KD's I'd like to thank all of the leaders for being amazing. We couldn't have hoped for any better!

      Later on in the evening was the closing ceremony. It was enjoyed by all and saw the handing over of the Jamboree to North America where it will be held in 2019. It also saw some high profile guests from within Scouting, Japanese parliament and the UN talk to us about various issues and how we can change the world in enjoyable, inspirational lectures. The closing ceremony was great except for one element... the entertainment. There were two artists that are apparently big in Japan. The first was called C-UTE and were very hyperactive. I don't think any of us enjoyed it immensely but none of us could have expected what came next. There was an American artist (who lives in Japan) called Marty Friedman who came on with his band. The Swiss next to us enjoyed them but I think they're the only ones. In fact, Gwyn believed that "Marty Friedman exemplifies the contents of Pandora's box" along with many other statements about him. Even though the music didn't appeal to all of us, the closing ceremony was still very good and we will all remember it fondly.
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    • Day 17


      July 31, 2015 in Japan ⋅ ☀️ 31 °C

      We all woke up yesterday at the early time of 5am to go to Hiroshima. Saying that all were excited is an understatement. The early start all got to us though and as a result I must apologise for the late blog update. We all got ready and had to rush for the bus as we almost missed it. Luckily, the buses were also slightly late!

      After a 2 and a half hour drive which included a short anime movie about the events of Hiroshima to prepare us for what was ahead and airconditioning which some people said was the best part of their day. We started making our way around the park and luckily Lee apparently had an encyclopaedic knowledge of Hiroshima though Cerys thought that was debatable.

      After looking around the area and the museum we all went into the readings hall where poems written by survivors of Hiroshima were read. After that they called for messages from Scouts. We were all very proud when Alex Cater stood up and delivered an incredibly moving message about how violence is very rarely the answer and talking things through is better for everyone. After all of this we went on the bus for the way home. I'm confident that all of our unit learned something and had fun in the process.
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    • Day 21

      Community Day with Gleision

      August 4, 2015 in Japan ⋅ 🌙 23 °C

      Waking up at 5am and being typically inches from being late we, Gleision, embarked on our 3 hour journey to our first activity. Due to our hour long toilet breaks this took its toll but still we were all either quaking in our sweaty shoes or extremely excited for...THE BUG DOME!

      On discovering The Giant Japanese Killer flying scarab, Jon the fearless ran miles. Quickly followed by the rest of the patrol out of the frying pan and into the fire, or in this case out of the bug museum into the open air exclosure, where we met marvels next big blockbuster, Beatle Boy.

      As we attended to Adam's constant barrage of exclamation due to the numerous Beatles defacating on his hat. An adorable Japanese boy walked in with his family instantly capturing what Japan is all about by donning a whole six scarab, a number of which but inches from his face. Of course watching the whole patrol jump with fear, laughed and continued to laugh and enjoy the experience.

      After refuelling with salty chips from the local bug museum canteen, it was time to travel another ten minutes to the local town hall, where we appreciated a play to God's depicting a story from Japanese mythology. Orochi, eight headed snake had killed all but one of their children after plotting with princess the brother of the Sungoddess poisons the snake with a poisoned stake. Once defeated the beast retrieves the Treasure Sword of Heaven from the tail.

      On giving this sword to his sister he accepted back into heaven and got the princess.The accompanied by percussion and traditional Japanese singing it was a very gripping experience.

      After a very filling launch we concluded our community day with multiple work shops at Hagi Junior School rounding from origami to traditional Japanese toys.

      Having truely experienced Japanese culture it was time to head back to the bus for our 3 hour drive back.

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    You might also know this place by the following names:

    Yamaguchi Shi, 山口市

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