Posted in CONFERENCE PRESENTATION, CULTURE, EDUCATION

IN JAPAN LIGHTNING IS RED!

Ino Hayata Hironao seizing the Nue as it falls to the ground amid clouds and lightning. From the series “One of the Eight Hundred Heroes of the Water Margin of Japan” (Honcho Suikoden goyu happyakunin no hitori). Woodblock print, signed Ichiyusai Kuniyoshi ga, published by Kagaya Kichiemon (Kichibei), circa 1830-1832. Vertical oban (39.6 x 26.7 cm.)

Welcome QR Code readers!

This post is just a placeholder for REFERENCES and LINKS for a student research poster to be presented at the North Carolina Geographical Society annual meeting in Greensboro, NC on November 1, 2019.

ABSTRACT: Lightning is a short-lived, but powerful part of nature. Although it is often photographed in modern times, lightning flashes have seldom been depicted by landscape artists. Colorful skies were common through art history and paintings, but most lightning storms in western landscape art have depicted the flashes as white, or yellowish. An interesting part of art history is the red lightning bolts depicted in the classic paintings of Japan’s Edo Period (1603 – 1868). All Ukiyo-e artists (at least for those whose work has survived), almost always depicted lightning as red in color. Furthermore, the bolts are painted in a nearly abstract, linear fashion, and not in lightning’s true dendritic shape. Is the red lightning of this famous period artistic license, or can it be explained as something else? Are there meteorological or cultural reasons why these artists painted lightning as red? Could the style reflect mythology and representation of the metaphysical rather than realism? Importantly, are there atmospheric science lessons to be learned, and teaching moments to be made in this discussion? The purpose of this educational project is to advance that dialog.

https://libmma.contentdm.oclc.org/digital/collection/p15324coll10/id/90981

https://onlineonly.christies.com/s/artist-woodblock-japanese-prints-online/utagawa-kuniyoshi-1797-1861-53/58101

https://waraie.com/en/thunder-god-raijin

https://www.fujiarts.com/japanese-prints/k355/186k355f.jpg

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/75299

https://www.theartstory.org/movement/ukiyo-e-japanese-woodblock-prints/

https://www.thingsjapanese.com/osaka-school-after-hokuei-kabuki-scene-lightning-dragon-demon.html

PLEASE CHECK BACK LATER FOR AN UPDATED LIST.

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Posted in CULTURE, MY PHOTOS, Popular Culture, Restaurant Reviews

Restaurant Review: Lunch at the “Double Happiness” Chinese Restaurant in Wilmington

I do not usually write restaurant reviews, but I had a great lunch last week at the “Double Happiness” Chinese Restaurant in Wilmington.

I was in Wilmington for the 2019 PCA/ACA South Region Conference (see my presentation post linked here). I was getting tired of conference snacks, and I had a hankering for some good Chinese food. Not a buffet — I wanted a sit-down meal. I searched Google, and saw that the Double Happiness restaurant was well-reviewed. Please visit their website linked here:

The business has two restaurant locations in Wilmington. I went to the one on Wrightsville Road. It was not too crowded at the time, but I arrived there just after it opened for lunch. As you can see from their website, they have a lot of great artwork within. Here are some photos posted to Google linked here. I even took a photo of the pretty menu cover!

Indeed, the menu is expressive of “double happiness”. I would have liked to have kept the menu through the whole meal, just to look at it.

I started off lunch with some Wonton Soup:

Next up, a double dose of happiness continues with double spring rolls:

The main dish was Beef with Broccoli, and I chose the brown rice:

I did not choose any desert, but I ate the fortune cookie, then saved the mint for later:

What was the fortune from the fortune cookie you ask?

Lunch was great. I would like to return sometime for a full dinner. Maybe next time I can get someone to drive me so I can drink a beer or two with dinner!

Posted in CULTURE, Popular Culture

Do American college students have something to learn from Japan’s “Coming of Age Day”?

Do American college students have something to learn from Japan’s “Coming of Age Day”?

The second Monday in January is a Japanese public holiday termed 成人の日 Seijin no Hi”. “Coming of Age Day” or “Adults Day” honors young people who have turned 20 years old since April 2 of last year, or will turn 20 by April 1 this year. Twenty-years old is termed the “age of majority” — meaning that the youth join all other adults in the larger society. Age 20 is also known as the “age of maturity”. The holiday is an important rite of passage for young people, and the tradition dates back centuries. The day is observed to congratulate and honor those young people who will accept the responsibilities of being an adult citizen. Certain legal rights are expanded at that age, but with that also comes with an expectation of increased responsibility.

https://tokyogirlsupdate.com/akb48-coming-of-age-ceremony-2015-20150134643.html

The legal age for drinking alcohol, smoking, signing a lease, getting a loan, or getting married without parental consent is 20 years old in Japan.  Japanese youth are expected to give up childish behavior, and commit to being a more serious adult. Ironically, as age 20 is also the official legal drinking age – thus many young people are welcomed into the adult majority by having their first (legal) drink of sake, and many become intoxicated in celebration. I think that most American college students would agree that the best way to demonstrate maturity and independence is to drink alcohol.

Two kimono-clad girls drink sake during a coming-of-age day ceremony in Tokyo. (Photo by Yamaguchi Haruyoshi/Corbis via Getty Images) https://www.gettyimages.com/detail/news-photo/two-kimono-clad-girls-drink-sake-during-a-coming-of-age-day-news-photo/543775336

Seijin Shiki ( 成人式refers to the social celebration and observation of the youths’ commitment. This usually involves a ceremony at a Shinto shrine and/or commemoration at legal offices in local prefectures. The entertainment districts in Tokyo are filled with young people and their families. Even Tokyo Disneyland also hosts events.

Ikuta Shrine Kobe, Japan https://hyogojapan.com/coming-of-age-day-japan/

Notable is the formal wear the young people wear. A formal kimono is traditional for young women. These are termed a  furisode (a long-sleeved kimono for unmarried women). These are all strikingly beautiful garments. Most young women rent them for the ceremonies, as these formal kimonos may cost thousands of dollars each.

Kimonos are one of the more unique and interesting aspects about Japanese culture:

https://tokyogirlsupdate.com/2018-seijin-201801136771.html

Young men wear either Western-style formal attire or a traditional men’s kimono with hakama.  Some celebrants instead wear traditional (historical) Japanese dress. A recent trend has begun, where participants wear “cosplay” type attire, as some may choose to dress as a famous Japanese character. They perhaps “party hard” on this day, because from then on they will have to be a responsible adult.

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See more photos at   http://netachou.blog.jp/archives/27809156.html

Unfortunately, there are fewer participants every year, which is a reflection of Japan’s declining birth rates and its inverted population pyramid. There is also an attitude of rejection of the concept by some youth.  The idea of taking on more responsibility merely because of age is not something some agree with. Japan’s “age of maturity” is scheduled to be legally reduced from age 20 to 18 in the year 2022. Japan’s leaders hope that more young people will mature faster, get married sooner and start families at an earlier age.

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2017/03/25/national/social-issues/coming-age-japans-shifting-definition-adulthood/#.XD9PnVxKiUk

Do you think that a commitment to maturity would take hold among American youth? Why or why not? Is twenty years old the right age for American kids to accept responsibility? How about thirty? Please comment.

It took the sap about 3:00 to flow today.

Posted in MY PHOTOS, OLD RESEARCH, Uncategorized

My entry for the American Meteorological Society T-Shirt design contest 2018

Spoiler Alert: It didn’t win.  I had entered the American Meteorological Society’s annual “T-Shirt Design Contest” last summer. The winner was to be awarded free registration to the Annual Meeting of the AMS that is being held this month. They will  also be selling the shirts — of the winner — at the conference. Here is my design, although I never made it into a real fabric shirt.

I would like to tell you a little bit about how I came to make this design. The t-shirt I designed is just a plain white shirt with black text.  I suppose it could be made in color, but for the purposes of the contest, I just wanted the image to be as clear as possible for the judges.

How did I come up with the idea? I came up with the design from two different ideas. 1) I thought of the National Weather Service map symbols used on the station model on a synoptic weather chart. 2) I also have an interest in Japanese culture and art. (See my current work on Meteorology and Myth.)  The shirt depicts the Japanese kanji for “thunderstorm”.* The Japanese word is raiu.

Background: Kanji symbols are one of the three (maybe four?) methods of writing the Japanese language. There are thousands of kanji symbols. This system differs from our letters in that kanji is a symbolic — or logographic — system. The symbols (or “words” if you will) look like the real things the words represent.

The symbol on the left combines characters for “lightning” on top, with the symbol for “rice field” on the bottom. When the symbol is placed in this context, the symbol no longer means rice field — instead it   means “drumming”.  This is very appropriate! Thunder can sound like the pounding of drums as a thunderstorm approaches the observer. The symbol on the right is the kanji character for “rain”.  Note the symbol includes those four dashes which look rather like rain falling from the flat base of a cloud.  Maybe on to a rice field?

From “The Rising Sky” blog on WordPress.

When you put them together, it “spells” (cough) the Japanese word Raiu – or Thunderstorm. Link: Here is how to pronounce the word “Raiu”.

The other inspiration for my T-shirt design was based on the US National Weather Service symbols used on their synoptic weather charts. Meteorologists place these symbols on a map around a particular station, to represent conditions at a point in time.

Notice that the NWS symbols for thunderstorm, and the various conditions associated with types of thunderstorms storms look like logographic writing.  The basic thunderstorm shorthand symbol is a horizontal line with a perpendicular straight line down on the left side, and a zig-zag line with arrow on the right.  The zig-zag obviously represents a downward lightning path. Perhaps the left line represents the downward rush of rain and cold air, typical of a mature thunderstorm.

Actually, I had thought at first of just using the NWS thunderstorm symbol as the T-shirt design, but then thought the kanji script might be a good conversation starter.  I hope you like my design. Maybe someday I could have the shirt printed out. Do you have any suggestions as to how I might improve the design? Please comment if you want us to order some!

It took the sap about 2:05 to flow through this one.

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*References: I found a WordPress blogger who has posted articles about Japanese kanji script. He also posts interesting articles about Japanese culture. I defer to his expertise here.

https://therisingsky.wordpress.com/2013/09/05/kanji-tip-15-%E9%9B%B7%E9%9B%A8-thunderstorm/

Weather map symbols:

https://www.joshtimlin.com/learning-center?lightbox=dataItem-irgddmlj

https://www.thoughtco.com/symbols-on-weather-maps-3444369