Thursday, March 11, 2010

Thursday, March 11, 2010-

Short but sweet. The best news I've gotten in 2010? The fact that everything has now fallen into place for my cousin Andrew Beske to come visit me in Japan for a full week this May! Can't wait for what promises to be a ridiculously fun trip in which we will take time to see Tokyo, visit the hot spring region near Mt. Fuji, and onward until we reach Kyoto. The last city, Kyoto, is actually an ancient capital of Japan, it is extremely famous for beautiful buildings, castles, old style districts, geishas, and even an occasional samurai...okay not real samurai, they were all disbanded last century, but for a handsome fee you can dress up like one and hold a sharp sword! Haha.
I think I'm as happy as Andrew was when we took this picture on my driveway over sixteen years ago! That's him practically suffocating me in a bear hug I can only assume my mother encouraged him to make in order to capture a sweet moment on film. But it's true, I can't wait till you arrive at the Narita airport in only TWO MONTHS, my man. Just promise you won't greet me like this, okay?! Can't wait. It'll be a super big highlight to my spring, and hopefully enough motivation to get you through finals at Creighton. Seriously, two months is like nothing. I've been in Japan for nearly seven months!! What's another couple?

Sunday, March 7 – Wednesday, March 10, 2010-

I think the time has well come that I follow up on a promise I made to Kathy Tegtmeyer Pak back in Tokyo this past January when she suggested I make an “Acoustic Habitat.” Follow this link to Kathy’s Tokyo acoustic habitat for a glimpse, or should I say a listening of what life in the big city sounds like:

PS. This is me, to the right -> Eagerly sorting out the sounds of a tiny Japanese village. These really come in handy at school when we have to identify different fish calls...

One last thing I figured I would add were some fun quotes contrasting the noise and ruckus of humanity with the power of pure silence.

And so, without further ado and in no particular order, my Japanese acoustic habitat...


Today, the sound of sleet falling on the windows was so loud that it sounded like a frying pan full of hot oil

See how nature - trees, flowers, grass - grows in silence; see the stars, the moon and the sun, how they move in silence.... We need silence to be able to touch souls. ~Mother Teresa


The town loudspeakers play chimes at noon and five telling the workers in the fields when to come in for their meals. Occasionally a woman from the town hall comes on, echoing her call throughout the area, telling so-and-so to come to the city office, that there’s local paperwork due today, or that tomorrow there will be voting for such-and-such a position. It let’s me know what an old-fashioned town I’m living in, most Japanese villages stopped such PA systems years ago

Silence is as deep as eternity; speech, shallow as time. ~Thomas Carlyle, Scottish Satirist


The rush of the river as I pass over the bridge to and from school. As the Spring has unfolded the waters have continued to rise. No doubt today’s ugly mix of snow and sleet will melt, causing the currents to swirl faster and harder than before. That race of sprinting water, combined with the river birds' screech, has been a constant drone in this area for hundreds and hundreds of years

When the river is deepest it makes the least noise ~Spanish Proverb


The occasional prayers of priests and families as they come to the temple and graveyard near our house to pray.

From the tiny family shrine in the Kobayashi's house I hear the clear metallic ring of a bell every night as they say their prayers

Let us be silent, that we may hear the whispers of the gods. ~Ralph Waldo Emerson


The noise of siblings.

The theme song to Mario Brothers as Masahito (…and I…) play Wii each evening

The occasional spat of bickering. I am reminded that I am in a household with a young brother and sister duo every time one of them is told that they have to scrub out the bathtub. Inescapably, the accused always tries to argue that, in fact, they had cleaned it out last and that the task now falls back on their sibling. I’ve offered to help, but my host mom just gave me a wink and told me it was never really about cleaning out the bathroom =)

Silence is the secret to sanity. ~Astrid Alauda


The thunk of my bike’s broken left pedal every time I step down. It drives me crazy and always makes me bike faster so I won’t have to listen to it any longer

Silence was never written down. ~Italian Proverb


In the kitchen at the Kobayashi’s store I can hear the rhythmic thud of the fillet knife and the quite pick-pick-pick song of a charcoal fire, slowly roasting fresh Ayu sweetfish

Everybody should have his personal sounds to listen for - sounds that will make him exhilarated and alive or quiet and calm.... One of the greatest sounds of them all - and to me it is a sound - is utter, complete silence. ~Andre Kostelanetz, Russian composer


The strange power I have over simply tuning out the Japanese language. I have found that I can pay attention and for the most part understand what is going on, but I am not yet at the point where I understand EVERYTHING that is said around me. For that reason I can simply draw away into my own thoughts and the conversation is completely muted to me, waiting until I once again dive head first into unscrambling the constant flood of words in which I am treading

I have often lamented that we cannot close our ears with as much ease as we can our eyes. ~Richard Steele, Irish writer and politician


The hourly chimes of the nearby elementary school building. Is it simply a universal agreement that all schools use the same up and down melody of London’s Big Ben clock tower for their school scheduling?

Silence is a fence around wisdom. ~German Proverb


The beeps, chatters, and clicks of television, movies, emails, commercials, telephones, music, internet, and iPods that are now more than just pastimes for us to enjoy from time to time, they are a nearly inescapable connection to the world, one that fascinates me and holds me captive to its perpetuation. For an idea of the remarkable truths about the web today visit this site by the BBC:

especially this estimated counter of web usage each day:

And to think, we’re all a part of it…

To silence another, first be silent yourself. ~Latin Proverb


Every few minutes a car or tiny country truck zooms down the street below my third floor bedroom window. When I lie awake at night and a big semi comes past I can feel the windows shake in their shutters. It always puts me at peace, knowing that I’m not the only one awake in the world

Honk if you hate noise pollution. ~Bumper Sticker


And of course, the music of the toilet. STOP!! Don’t think of it like that, what I’m trying to say is that the Kobayashi’s, like many other Japanese households, have a very high-tech toilet. I never imagined I would see a day when an entire bathroom is at the control of a seat side remote control. It even goes so far as to play you a pleasant piece of classical music, should you so wish, and that is what I mean by the sounds of the toilet

Silence is more musical than any song. ~Christina Rossetti, 19th century English poet


ps. does anyone else think the man in the black and white photograph looks like my dad?? I'm just hoping his eyesight's as bad as his hearing so he won't be able to read me making fun of him ;) still love you, pops