Saturday, 24 November 2007

Philosophy, Kabbalah and a Sagitarus/Scorpio Party

Actually I am currently running in "insane learning mode", because I intend to pass the JLPT (Japanese Language Proficiency Test) upcoming on the 2nd December, but because I the last weekend was 3 day long weekend, and because today (28.11.) I woke up before 5 o'clock, you are granted with this story.

A little interlude to my dating ^_^
For the post date, I actually choose the date the story happened, so for this one everything happened on the 24. November. That is because this date is much more interesting than the actual post date, in my opinion.

天狼会 Tenroukai

So 24th was a Saturday and in the middle of a three day weekend due to Labour Thanksgiving Day on Friday 23rd. Since even in insane learning mode I cannot learn for 3 days through, I decided to grant myself some break on this Saturday and went to a group conversing about philosophy and the magic immanent to life. A Japanese friend of mine happened to lead this group, which she named 天狼会 (tenrou-kai), 天狼星 (tenrou-sei) means Sirius, the brightest star in the night sky and 会 (kai) means meeting. So she invited me to come along, since she knew I am interested in philosophy.

However she told me in advance that I would most probably be the only 外人 (foreigner) attending and that the language would be solely in Japanese. In boundless self overestimation I thought I might be able to follow the discussion, a discussion about the very foundations of existence, of human nature and far more complex aspects. Well I couldn't ^_^. I guess even if it had been in German or English I would have had a tough time to follow, but being in Japanese it was simply 無理だよ (not possible).

On the positive side I learned a lot Japanese, by trying to follow a complex Japanese conversation 一生懸命 (isshoukenmei, literally with one's life at stake, as hard as one can) for 4 and a half hours, since that is how long the group disputed. And luckily every now and then, people would make a break and someone took the chance in explaining to me the basics of some concepts they were just talking about, so that in the end I also learned some very interesting things as well!

But first things first, let's see which characters attended such an uncommon group. First we have 先生 (sensei, teacher, master) my friend Kazue, who lived 16 years in Japan, 8 years in the USA, 8 years in Norway and then came back to Japan being fluent/native in those three languages as well as familiar and close to there culture. Apart from that she is also a great fantasy artist and might in the near future publish her own deck of Tarot cards. She said her intention in leading this group is helping each on of its members as individuals to grow at her/his own pace and with her/his own ladder to become a more fulfilled, harmonic being, being able to influence one's surrounding in a positive helping way. Making us able to easily help people, for what you first have to understand more about yourself.
Then we have Masa, like me a friend of Kazue, who is half Japanese and half Australian, which means I was able to dispute with him a bit in English from time to time. He is openly gay and told me some interesting things about gay culture in Tokyo. Next is 暁さん (Akatsuki, Morning Dawn), who's real life name is Akihiro. He is a musician and very deep into reading books about philosophy. Last is the most interesting character, I forgot his real name, but it easy to find him a new one: 仙人 (sennin = hermit) or maybe Erosennin, for those who read/watch Naruto. He also joined the group for the first time and told us he had secluded himself from society and lived like a hermit for 8 years. I don't know if that is true, but his behavior supported his argument. The second name I gave him is not really fair, since I know he had no sexual interest in any of us, he just forgot how to deal/speak with other humans. So sitting next to him, every time he talked to me he touched me, which was a bit discomforting. He also would make compliments to each of the others all the time and tell not only the female how beautiful we all are. Apart from his strange but nice compliments (also about character or teaching/explanation skills) he would ask questions all the time 連発 (shooting questions like from a machine gun). But, I can assure you, not easy questions. Most of them I couldn't understand, but the others had a tough time answering them, which made them interesting. The guy also appeared to know a lot himself and was apparently curious about what others would think about certain things after thinking about them alone for 8 years? He lived and lived as professional calligrapher.

So much for the 自己紹介 (jikoshoukai self introductions) let's hear what little I was explained or have understood from their conversation:

言霊 Kotodama

The dictionaries I use translates this to:
GE: der Sprache innewohnende mysteriöse Kraft; Wortseele; Seele der Sprache.
EN: soul or power of language
They explained the concept to me like this: Every thing you say to another person will have some effect on them, even if it is only out of habit and unintentional. An example is the Japanese partition greeting 気を付けて (ki wo tsukete = tale care). You say it for friends without really thinking about it, and still it will influence them subconsciously trying to remain healthy. A more direct example is screaming "Go to Hell and die!" to someone. The someone will get angry and be in a bad mood for quite a while, changing her/his image about you seeing the world with different eyes for a while (everything will be annoying and such).
仙人 explained to us further, that this concept can be broken into syllables. For example the Japanese あ (A) usually has good connotations, building bridges and connections to the 相手 (partner, the person you are speaking to). It appears in many positive words like ありがとう (arigatou, thank you), 愛 (Ai, love), 相手 (Aite Partner) and so on. While the vowel え (E) will make some distance between you and your 相手. E.g. ええ (an expression of surprise, stepping one step back in your head).

The idea is that knowing about this influence we could positively influence the people around us, giving them hope and courage in though time, cheering them up when they are sad, and so on. But also being more careful about saying negative things, since it could have bad influences on people.

京都 (Kyoto) / Jerusalem
神道 (Shinto), 仏教 (Buddhism) / Judaism

Another chapter of the conversation were about similarities between Japanese customs and beliefs (they never used the world religion) and Judaism, as well as a comparison between Kyoto and Jerusalem. Especially regarding earlier time and history.
They claimed to have found quite astounding similarities, alas I was not really able to follow their astoundingly fast recitation of these :(


仙人 would at one point ask me to write this Kanji 永 (ei, eternal, long time). Alas I am a total noob in Calligraphy / Writing with brush. So till he was able to explain to me some interesting concepts about Kanji. Human usually use their right brain part for logic / language and the such and the left for artistic things like images (Don't kill me if it was the other way round). The interesting thing about Kanji is, they can be both symbols of language and as images, especially concerning but not limited to calligraphy. So writing a Kanji can tell interesting aspects about one's connection between left and right brain half. And practicing calligraphy can strengthen this connection.
He also told me than in China and Japan (both countries actively use Kanji) there are some "fortune tellers" which will try to analyze your personality, based on how you write certain Kanji. So these "fortune telling" is actually based on some psychological interactions.

万葉仮名 Manyougana

People having interest in Japan usually know about the four common "writing symbols" used 平仮名 (Hiragana, syllable writing for everyday words), 片仮名 (Katakana, syllable writing for foreign words and special terms), 漢字 (Kanji, from China adapted writing symbols having one or several meaning and pronunciations) and ローマ字 (Latin characters). But there is a fifth one called 万葉仮名 (Manyougana), which precedes 平仮名 and 片仮名. It consists out of Kanji used for pronunciation only without there meaning. Later such 万葉仮名 Kanji were simplified to 平仮名 and 片仮名.
The 仙人 was not only able to write them, but knew the steps the went through in becoming the simplified version and knew the reasons about it. 書道大家さすが。As expected from a master calligrapher. I had already learned about these in school, but he showed the steps to me brush by brush and explained me certainly fascinating new aspects about them, which however because of lack in understanding I could not follow :(

男色ひ言 Gay Slang

Faster than I could have noticed the conversation drifted to gay slang words and gay culture in Tokyo. No wonder I couldn't follow this one, I have enough problems with the normal language, how should I be able to follow the florid slang of gay people.
Well I guess you can't stay for 4 and a half hours on serious topics without at least once speaking about something funny and cheering up a bit. I couldn't really follow as I said, but there appears to be a quite famous gay district in Tokyo called 二条目 (Nijoume) and separated culture to have grown.


They intended to discuss to discuss the Jewish Kabbalah at the meeting, but didn't find that much time for it, because of all the question coming from the 仙人. I didn't really understand much, but one goal seems to be to find your own roots. It also contains lots of mystic symbols and a lot of numerology which (currently ^_^) leads to an ultimate "ascension" in the year 2012. Whichever that means, if it did, I couldn't follow. Maybe the end of the world? No that were Jehovah's witnesses. Maybe we can delve deeper into it next time.

OO-Parts (Out Of Place Artifcats)

At the end the discussion went to OO-parts ( I didn't know about this term. It refers to object that seem to be out of place where they appeared. This term is for example used for rune tablets or gold coins found in America, which came from Vikings in the 14th century.
But for the open minded dreamer / Sci-Fi fan :) , there are also a lot of OO-Parts which date back to before humanity or before written/orally handed down history. E.g. the ICA rocks found in Peru which display humans and dinosaurs or a rusty nail dating back some million years before Christ. Or very regular shaped spheres dating back 3 billion years, which seem artificially created.
There are also a couple of interestingly enough validated cases, like a complex instrumentarium found in ancient Greek, that exceeded the technology of the rest of the world in decades!

There were a lot of other discussions going on, but these were the ones I could at least grasp a tiny bit from. ^_^
Apart from being interesting, I guess it is a really good training in the Japanese language and I will probably attend it again :).

Sagiratus / Scorpio Party

After that Me and Kazue parted and met with Yoko, another friend of her. Together we had dinner and then went to Abiko a city near Toride and Chiba in the Chiba-ken. It was a birthday party for Kazue and Shawn, who hosted the party, but much more than that.
For once Kazue opened up an art gallery in the basement of the building at this party and Shawn shared poems, he had written to the concept the paintings were about. So you could wander around the gallery, cherish on the pictures and delve into the attached piece of poetry and afterwards exchange your impressions with the two artists and listen their ideas about their works.

See two of her pictures here:

The Hanged Man


Apart from that the party included some poetry reciting, where every guest was give the chance in reciting her/his own poems, a lot of great conversations, interesting guests, dirty talks, flirting, singing and all the other essential parts for a good party.
What made it also interesting was the mixture of people attending. They basically consisted of people being English teachers in Japan, training Taijitsu Budo Bujinkan (remember? that is were I know Shawn from), being in the computer profession and/or interested in philosophy and magic. What a combination! The conversations I had were really interesting! For quite some time I talked to yet another Shawn from South Africa, which lives as a writer in Japan and dearly loves the concept of metaphor. This makes talking to him to a real enjoyment, since he indeed is talking in metaphors all the time ^_^. We share a lot of basic morale / ideals about life and I am very glad I have met him!

Alas there was one problem. Because of the excellent and amazing public traffic system in Japan I didn't even realize just how far away from home I was. I asked someone to check, when the last train for me would leave, to still get home. Only then I realized, what I already wrote above, that I am near Toride where I have already been once. This means I was about 3 hours away from Atsugi. Wow! The only weak point of the traffic system are that the trains stop at some point after midnight and only resume in the morning. So I had the choice of leaving this amazing party early at 10:30 pm or accepting Shawn's offer to stay over night.
I know what you think and I wish I had, but I had not. I planned to learn Japanese on Sunday, being the last weekend before the JLPT and stupidly left the coolest party ever after only arriving. :/ Please kill me, Uargh, thx.

At least I was not alone. Yoko, Kazue's friend who joined us earlier, also wanted to catch the last train so we shared a 2/3 of the path together joking around in Japanese or English.

Tape Listening Learning Technique

Yoko told me some interesting technique a friend of her used to become fluently in Japan starting from zero in no time. He was in school and simply had to adapt as quickly as possible to be able to follow the lessons. So what he would do was to tape/record every lesson and listen to it at home until he was able to understand it, by looking up unknown words grammes and the like. By that he also got the pronunciation so strong into his head that when he is speaking now, no Japanese person could distinguish him from natives.
This technique sounds really interesting and much better than educational tapes, since the conversation is real and can be interesting. So I intend to try it next time I attend the 天狼会. :)

I also hope to have another chance to meet the persons I only started to get to know at the party. I could bite my arse for leaving early!

exploring the last secrets and entering unknown territory

Pictures From The Party

Shawn the host

Kazue-sensei drunk ^^

Eliza, who I accompanied to Budo classes another time

the guy left to me is Shawn from South Africa, to which I enjoyed conversing

Music and dancing (after I left)

Going out (after I left)

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