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Japan: The Origin of the Sun

A lonely but profound trip of culture exploration
by

Xuelong Yao

on 24 November 2012

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Transcript of Japan: The Origin of the Sun

Keio University traces its beginnings to the original Keio Gijuku, an institution of Western learning unlike any other in Japan in its time. Founder Yukichi Fukuzawa (1835-1901) was a man of uncommon courage, vision, and wisdom who defied the established powers of the time and pursued knowledge above all else, endeavoring to understand the society and morals of 19th century civilization in Europe and North America. His beliefs were very progressive in a Japan that was just beginning to awake from centuries of isolation. His convictions and deeds made an incredible mark on the country that would, barely more than a century later, become the second-largest economic power in the free world. The Origin of the Sun Japan With Whom? I was gonna say with my girlfriend, but she seems not interested at all due to the purpose of this trip.

So I promised her that we will go to Paris for graduation celebration after I come back from this trip. Xuelong Yao
250598116 How long? Why Japan this time?
I hate to say this, despite the bittersweet history between China and Japan, China literally got beaten up almost to death by Japan during the WWII;
I am really curious about how Japan managed to evolve from a nation-state that did not even have its own writing script, to today standing at the top of Asia;
I think there must be certain kind of value to support this humongous leap, and the clues are just out there waiting to be discovered...
And I have been studying Japanese for 4 years, since I got into Western, so this is kind of a long-planning dream trip One week is the maximum time period she has given me. Any longer than that, as she said, I quote:"It is either your trip or me~" What can I say?...

So what I will do is to skip the most time-consuming clothes or e-devices shopping activities in Japan, and go straight to as many places as which I think are the most meaningful ones instead. I think that will be somewhere between June and July after I finish my CFA exam.

And I don't want to go there in August because it will get way too hot there for me. When Across the ocean I choose Shimane prefecture as my start point because it has a lot to do with the origin of Japanese nation... The aboriginal mythology may be a good start ... Izumo-taisha ( Izumo Grand Shrine) is one of the most ancient and important Shinto shrines in Japan. No record gives the date of establishment. Located in Izumo, Shimane Prefecture, it is home to two major festivals. Unlike other shrines, it is dedicated to the god Ōkuninushi(god of the earth), who happens to be the great-great grandson of Izanagi. Izanagi is a deity born of the seven divine generations in Japanese mythology and Shinto.
There are several other Gods who override him, but he is the one who has something to do with the creation of Japanese nation directly. He with his spouse and younger sister, Izanami, bore many islands, deities and forefathers of Japan. When Izanami died in childbirth, Izanagi tried (but failed) to retrieve her from Yomi (the underworld). In the cleansing rite after his return, he begot Amaterasu (the sun goddess) from his left eye, Tsukuyomi (the moon god) from his right eye and Susanoo (tempest or storm god) from his nose. Gods whom you are not familiar with... Izumo means "coming out of the clouds", which implies that here should be the place where the sun comes out.

And that is why Japanese people call their country 'Nihon'-"The origin of the sun". Really don't know what the word "Japan" has to do with this...

I consider this Grand Shrine as an actualization of Japanese mythologies standing as a beginning of Japanese nation, thus a great start of my trip in Japan. I was just surprised and confused like you, when I saw "spouse and sister". But then I think why not take it as a potential hypothesis that human race might actually start from incest.
What more important is that we should have the courage to face our past or the truth, knowing that one without past cannot have future coming his/her way. During October 10 to17 (Lunar calender) every year, it was said that the eight million gods of Japan left their shrines and congregated annually at Izumo Taisha. Izanagi his highness will be in one of the 19 sub shrines accepting mortals' worship. Kyoto If you are keen of high-class shopping, then neither Kyoto nor Nara would be a good fit for you. In terms of infrastructure Tokyo is way more developed a city; if you want to go on a whale-watching tour, Hokkaido is much wiser a choice; if you are interested in sword-making, Nagoya is the right place, but Kyoto & Nara possess something that no other cities can ever compete with-- CULTURAL HISTORY. Yes, it is not the history of Japan, but the history of Japanese culture evolution. Nara Tōshōdai-Temple is a Buddhist temple of the Ritsu sect in the city of Nara, in Nara Prefecture, Japan. The Classic Golden Hall, also known as the kondō, has a single story, hipped tiled roof with a seven bay wide facade. It is considered the archetype of "classical style."

It was founded by a Chinese Buddhist monk named Jianzhen during the Nara period in the year 759. Jianzhen was hired by the newly empowered clans to travel in search of funding from private aristocrats as well.

Tōshōdai-ji is one of the places in Nara that United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Orgnization has designated as World Heritage Site "Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara". Around about same time, namely 749 B.C., Japanese people finally created their own writing script "kana" with the help of Monk Jianzhen . This writing system derived from Chinese characters made education more accessible to normal citizens.

This temple is an evidence of positive relationships between China and Japan, and is well-protected from air attack during WWII thanks to the genius Chinese architecture Sicheng, Liang. Not because of his insistence that "architecture is the epitome of society and the symbol of the people. But it does not belong to one people, for it is the crystallization of the entire human race. Nara's Toshodai Temple is the world's earliest wood-structure building. Once destroyed, it is irrecoverable." , we would not be able to see this wonder of architecture. Breathtaking maple views. (one commonality with Canada) Kaiseki Ryouri Speaking of Kyoto... kaiseki-ryouri懐石料 is a traditional multi-course Japanese dinner, and is analogous to Western haute cuisine. However... The most impressive existence in Kyoto is the city itself. Why?

Because the original city was arranged in accordance with traditional Chinese feng shui following the model of the ancient Chinese capital of Chang'an (present-day Xi'an). Mind process continued I don't want to sound biased or ignorant, but China used to be so much more advanced than Japan. What force could have possibly reversed this trend??? I strongly believe that EDUCATION is the magic force that made the difference. And it is located in Tokyo, the capital of Japan You probably do not know this guys... But then, you will certainly meet him every time you travel to Japan ! One step further... After the first Sino-Japan War, the Japanese government has invested the majority of the war indemnity (which worth 4.5 times of Japan's GDP at that time) into facilitating educational infrastructures.

Thus, the literacy rate in Japan nowadays is as high as 99%, ranking the first among all the Asian countries. Let's not forget that this is a country with a population of 127,078,679. I am not trying to exaggerate the magic power that elementary schools have, but you have to admit that the competition between two nations is actually the competition between current students and prospective labor forces of the two.

In order to bring prosperity to a nation-state, there should be no question that sufficient attention should be paid to the national education system. Unfold the future I insist that instead of dwelling in the miserable past or indulging in the hatred. As Chinese people, we should respect the history as an aggregation of facts. We should let go the long-existing emotional burden and move with hope.

Most important of all is to focus on high quality education and to allow students to think critically and creatively. At least, that is from the perspective of a student. Mind process I realized that it requires courage to show your weakness and learn from those who know better.

It certainly is a wise move to make, move to make as an individual, the same applies to a nation.

If this is my obligation to learn knowledge to develop my hometown, like Japanese people used to send embassies to Tang Dynasty (838 B.C.) of ancient China, then I shall feel happily obliged.

This is what Nara has taught me. This is why I decided to go to Keio University as an explorer to verify my belief and to feel the atmosphere within this "monument" of the modernization of Asian higher educational system.

The three places I have chosen stand for the origin, transformation, and initial take-off of Japan, respectively.

At the same time, they are all easy to access. I really wish that my girlfriend would change her mind to come with me though... Conclusion Now the budget ! I will book a round-trip economy class flight for my departure and return. If I could manage to do it in early January, I might be able to get it under $1800.^_^

As for the accommodations, I will be staying at my Japanese friend's house in Shimane prefecture for 2 nights, the Utano Youth Hostel in Kyoto for another 2 nights($26.74*2), and then the Shin-Okubo Sekitei Hotel for the last 2 nights($47.76*2).

Speaking of food, I am really not a picky person. So I guess I will spend $30 tops per day during the time in Japan.

It will roughly total $2159. I can afford that simply with my payroll from working as a TA for a Japanese course this semester.

Thank you for your time watching this presentation, and feel free to ask me any questions.
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