Saturday, July 18, 2009

Tsering's Tara

If you were with me back at the beginning of the year when I was working on my first thangka, you might remember pictures like this.

On the left is my painting. On the right is my classmate Tsering, my friend and confidant who, as you can see, was working on a painting of Tara.

Just yesterday she sent me some photos of the completed work, which I thought I'd share with you here. This is, as far as I am aware, Tsering's second thangka. We look forward to many more.

Congratulations, Tsering. Now, on to Manjushri!


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Ras al Khaimah at flickr

Ras al Khaimah, UAE, originally uploaded by jeffinmoscow.

Click this link for a slideshow of photos from our new home. (Clicking on the photo will take you to the page for this photo only and not the slideshow.)


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Nagasaki: Daionji & Tomonaga-sensei

Yesterday Mutsumi had a couple hours of work in Nagasaki and as I haven't been in a while and as I'm unemployed and mostly ready to move to the UAE, we decided to make the trip together and rode out together on the 07:00 bus. While Mustumi was working I wandered around through Daionji, a 17th century temple which sits at the bottom of a mountain that we would later that day climb by taxi.

I didn't realize until I viewed the photo on the computer that the gate is fashioned in the shape of the Buddha's feet.

The sound of summer. The first cicada I've seen this season .

After meeting up with Mutsumi for lunch in Chinatown, we went to visit her grandfather Tomonaga's grave, which has a lovely view over the bay. Mutsumi swept and layed fresh flowers, and then we walked down the mountain, which seemed to be covered with nothing but graves, only to come out in - Daimonji!


Sunday, July 12, 2009

Moving to Ras Al Khaimah

The email for which I have been waiting has arrived and I can now announce that I will next month be moving to Ras Al Khaimah, one of the seven Emirates that make up the United Arab Emirates. Mutsumi will be joining me next year after completing her contract with her present employer.

I will be teaching at the women's Higher College of Technologies, about which you can learn a little more on their website here. If you want to know more about the Higher Colleges system, have a look here.

Ras Al Khaimah is right at the northern tip of the the UAE. You may notice a mountain range, which makes the geography a little more interesting than sand dunes. Dubai is quite close by, only a 60-90 minute drive. And if the Iranians ever decide to shut down the Strait of Hormuz, as they've threatened from time to time, we'll have a front row seat.

I'll post more later. For now, here are a couple of RAK promo videos.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

Limits of intellection

I don't know who Moeka Hiraoko is. Perhaps she's a student of Parissa Haghirian, an Austrian professor of management at Tokyo's Sophia University on whose website Moeka's essay is posted. Google didn't return much on Moeka except a Facebook entry, and as her essay is copyright 2009, and is about her experience studying in the United States, I guess she may even still be a student.

Who she is, though, is not so important. It's what she has written about her experience in America that you may find interesting. A typical middle class Japanese girl who went to San Diego to study English, she took an immediate disliking to her Swiss classmate Maria, who seemed to embody the stereotypical image of the selfish westerner.

For example, her English was much better than mine and when I didn’t understand what she said, she showed her irritation very clearly. We both loved shopping so we went to malls almost everyday after school, but she didn’t care how long she made me wait, and didn’t wait for me when I took time. Also, our host family had a nine year old daughter who was cute and lively, but Maria thought that she was sometimes annoying. When she asked us if we would like to do something with her, Maria often said no, even though the family was taking care of us. All these actions are considered very rude in Japan, and I had never met someone like her before. So I started to become offended by her behavior after spending a week with her.

However, what surprised me a lot was that another girl, whose name was Ina and also came from Switzerland, said that Maria was very cool. I could not believe it at first because I thought that she was harsh and unpleasant. I asked Ina why she thought that Maria was cool. She told me that a girl like Maria, who always expresses her opinion without hesitation and does whatever she wants with confidence, is considered a cool person in Switzerland. I am not sure if this is actually the standard of cool girls in Switzerland because I have never asked anyone else from thereabout it. However, for me at the time, with barely any experience outside Tokyo, it was very surprising that someone would think about Maria like that. I had heard that Western people were not at all like Japanese people, but it was the first time that I had actually experienced it.
Moeka then does what for most people would be difficult, for many impossible. She sets aside her native inclinations to adopt Maria's behavior in order to find out from the inside what it's like to live as the other. You can read more about her experience here. Don't worry, it's not a long essay.

What struck me most while reading it was how well I could relate to Moeka's feelings. I suppose 17 years living among Japanese has made me more like them than I perhaps imagined. Which is really not a bad thing at all.

Except when you have to deal with opinionated westerners.


Friday, July 10, 2009

Rainy season

The view from our balcony 07:00 this morning. Which could have been any morning this week. Wet, gray, and windy.