Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Neighbourhood Hirakata

My neighbourhood in Hirakata could be defined by the personal experiences I have had in it. Thus, my way home by bicycle could be a representation of this boundary as well as the area I visit to make my daily purchases in the supermarket and in others shops. This neighbourhood is mostly inhabited by families. I can often see women walking hand in hand with their children during the day or elderly women with their daughters. Early in the morning, a lot of men wearing white shirts and black pants go down the hill on their way to work holding their briefcases in one hand.

This is the view from my balcony. I can see from there a bigger part of the neighbourhood of Hirakata-shi including the ever-present mountains. In the center there is a traditional Japanese graveyard. Instead of a plaque sitting on the bottom of a tree, this gravestone represents the usual ritual for the dead. Apparently, the latter is gradually left aside because of a preference for Japanese people for alternated methods which are less expensive, such as these high-tech graveyards where an electronic system brings the urn to the family.



This photo represents one of the first things I have noticed when I arrived in Hirakata-shi: men’s hair salons. On a walk around the neighbourhood, I have encountered more than fifteen of them. Then, I noticed the men’s hairstyles which are highly detailed. From my cultural background, this is not something usual; women more than men take care of their hair. If not, the men could be seen as feminine. How is it perceived by Japanese people? We can however say that these hairstyles show a lot of creativity.

                                                                                                                                        More hairstyles.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Early impressions of Japan

I had a lot of early impressions since the very first moment I arrived in Japan in late August. One of them is portrayed by this picture. The place shown is in the middle of the Path of Philosophy (Tetsugaku No Michi) nearby green mountains on a Saturday late afternoon. Having concluded that they were coming back from school noticing their uniforms, I asked myself: “Why are they there?” I don’t remember a single time where I was at school on Saturday! This is something into which I would like to take a closer look: the Japanese thought; the Japanese way of thinking familial, social and cultural education. Kitaro Nishida used to walk on the path everyday thinking about a way to conciliate Western thought and Zen philosophy. Maybe this could help me to understand the Japanese education system!



While sightseeing in the Namba area of Osaka, I noticed these places where large windows give visible access to those people, obviously Japanese, sitting in front of electronic machines. The noises produced by them and their powerful colors caught my attention so I stayed for a while in front of what was happening. Asking to my friend what was the name of that game, he said to me “pachinko”. It may seem unusual, but it was the first time I heard this word even though I saw this game several times in movies. And apparently it is a phenomenon in Japan. I just had to walk one more minute to notice that those places are everywhere and seats are full even on weekdays. According to some information I got then, pachinko may indeed be a social and cultural phenomenon regarding the number of persons playing it and the time that can be spend by them to play. As it is shown in the picture, mostly men occupy the place. It could be interesting to look further into it.