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.
My Poster for the Library’s Annual Creativity Showcase!
The media blurb from Library: “The Mary Livermore Library will be sponsoring the Third AnnualUNCP Research and Creativity Showcase on April 15, 2019 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. This event will feature poster and speaker presentations at the newly-renovated Mary Livermore Library. These presentations will highlight the scholarship, research, and creative works of UNCP faculty and staff during the past year.”
Contact me if you want to learn more about my “Meteorology and Myth” project.
Notice: I have updated this article, originally posted on March 5, to include photos from the event on April 15, 2019. I also contributed another poster to the event “Blogging through the GEOG-ing” as per the TLC Directors request,
Next year my library showcase event poster will continue the Meteorology and Myth theme with a new chapter — “A Fair Candlemas”. See you then.
FYI: The following is the abstract for my oral paper presentation at the upcoming North Carolina Academy of Science meeting to be held in Wilmington, NC March 22-23, 2019.
Science education, meteorology and myth: The lightning and wind gods of Japan.
This project derives from educational modules developed for teaching atmospheric science concepts to non-science, general education college students. Folklore and mythology are not proper history or science fact, however there may be persistent, underlying truths to the narrative themes inherent in folklore. Japan’s Shinto religion holds Raijin as a god of lightning and thunderstorms, and Fujin as the god of windstorms and tornadoes. There are rational, scientific reasons why the activities of these metaphysical sky deities persist into modern, secular Japanese culture. Although Raijin and Fujin were revered as “kami” or gods, they were depicted as demonic, destructive forces of nature in traditional Japanese art and architecture. This educational project will explain the science analogies which can be used to explain the Shinto allegory in Japanese culture. Meteorological lessons were made to describe, or at least reinforce the mythology as depicted in Japan’s art, architecture and land use. Myths such as Raijin’s penchant for eating the navels of children, or why Fujin’s skin is green, can be used as discussion points to illustrate meteorological principles in an interesting way for non-science majors. For example, all Japanese painters of the Edo Period depicted lightning flashes as red in color, even though lightning clearly is not red. It might have been artistic license, or perhaps there are meteorological reasons as to why lightning was always colored that way. This teaching module explains weather phenomenon such as gust fronts, nitrogen fixation by lightning, the destructive east winds of cyclones, and others. Through the use of atmospheric science concepts in the context of art and mythology, it is hoped that arts and humanities students will come to better appreciate meteorology. Geoscience majors in turn, could have basic meteorological concepts reinforced, and also gain a better appreciation for art, history and culture.
Feel free to contact me for a copy of the full presentation or collaborative ideas.
Update! Here is a slide show gallery of my presentation.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
This is a conference paper/Powerpoint slide show that I presented in an Asian Studies session at the Popular Culture Association conference in Indianapolis, IN in March 28-31, 2018. This topic contains material dealing with human sexuality — so “trigger warning” and all that.
I received more in-session feedback and discussion than I have with any other topic, at any other conference, at any time.