Monday, August 15, 2005


We are in the middle of Obon here, which can best be explained as a cross between All Souls' Day and Easter. All Souls' Day in the sense that it is a time when the spirits of ancestors return to the house and Easter in the sense that it is the second most important family celebration of the year. We happened to be round at A.'s parents' house yesterday when the priest was visiting. He was a red nosed fellow. Apparently, he always comes round to A.'s parents' at the end of his Obon round, perhaps because they give him beer. I think he arrived at about 5pm. He was still there at 9pm, and well into his fifth beer, when I went back to our house. There was some talk in the kitchen about when he might leave. He talked about how he knew the "bishop" of Doryo-san really quite well and how he didn't get summer holidays because there was so much to do because of Obon (bit like a vicar talking about not having Christmas holidays). I think there is a certain type of priest who is the same the world over.

(The photo is of Obon nasu, a model of a cow made of aubergine, which apparently is a must for any self respecting Obonist. Think of Halloween without the pumpkin faces! There is also a compulsory horse made of cucumber. The image was stolen from this site, which kindly gave permission to use it. )


Anonymous said...

I can just about get my mind around an aubergine masquerading as a cow but a cucumber horse.....well....not sure about that one.

Anonymous said...

Want to add to a blog of ages ago about slavery (shortly after you moved to Japan) but can't be bothered to search your archives to make the appropriate comment.
Just to say there was a very interesting programme on C4 this evening called "The Empire Strikes Back".
Quoting from the Guardian review it says:
'I believe African slaves were ripped off by the British Empire' says Dr Robert Beckford a lecturer at school of historical studies at Unversity of Birmingham.'I want to know who bankrolled it, who insured it and who made a mint from it'. Beckford believes that Britain should pay reparations to the descendants of slaves and he hired a team of experts to put a monetery figure on the amount owed. In process he detailed how institutions such as the Bank of England, Guys' Hospital, HSBC, Barclays and National Gallery all have slavery in their histories. He particularly ripped into Lloyds Insureance Co.
He took a trip round London, pointing out the lack of commemorative notices etc. and then set about placing his own signs outside the various institutions!!
You would have found the programme interesting.

Anonymous said...

I would loved to have seen this. Sounds really interesting. Wonder whether Hochschild's book was mentioned or had anything to do with getting it made. It certainly opened my eyes.

The archiving and search functions on this site are rubbish. I will have to sort it out someday. Actually, I wrote a few blog entries just before I came to Japan. The most relevant one here was a slave walk of the city of London I put together for myself after reading a book by Adam Hochschild called "Bury the Chains". It is here . My other posts were here ,here ,here and here

Collinsom92 said...

hi, your blogs are quite interesting,and the picture captivating.this comment comes all the way fro Africa in appreciation of your nice artistry!

Anonymous said...

Don't think he mentioned Hochschild's book but then again he may have done. He did refer to the CoE's plantation and devoted quite a bit of time to coffee houses and their place in the whole thing. By the way I did read your blog on your tour of the London sites when you originally posted it on this blog - it was a much more wide ranging than Beckfor's tour - it was a helter skelter sort of affair,