Concert Schedule 2020 second half~

               CONCERT SCHEDULE         revised 6th Oct. 2020

                                    Concert Schedule  2020

                     The Second Half of 2020

September(2020)

12th Sept.: St.Woolos Cathedral in Newport, South Wales. 12:00 – 13:00. (cancelled)
       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Edvard Grieg: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonata No.1
  3. Sarah’s piano solo (Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15)
  4. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  5. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Pastorale
  7. James MacMillan: After the Tryst
    Elena Kats-Cherning: Eliza’s Aria.

 

17th Sept.: Portsmouth Cathedral in Portsmouth, Hampshire. 13:10 – 13:50

        Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershew (Postponed to 27th May,2021)

  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Germain Tailleferre: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonatina
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1
  4. Sarah’s piano solo (Frederic Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 )
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
21th Sept.:Christ church in Woking, Surrey. 12:40 – 13:20. 
        Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Germain Tailleferre: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonatina
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1
  4. Sarah’s piano solo (Frederic Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 )
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
30th Sept.: Cramphorn Theatre in Chelmsford, Essex. 13:00 – 14:00. (postponed to next year)
        Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Edvard Grieg: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonata No.1
  3. Sarah’s piano solo (Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15)
  4. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  5. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Pastorale
  7. James MacMillan: After the Tryst
    Elena Kats-Cherning: Eliza’s Aria.

 

October(2020)

2nd 0ct.:St.John’s ARC centre in Harlow, Essex. 13:00 – 14:00.

     Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
  2. Herbert Howells: Pastorale
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  4. Frederic Chopin: Prelude OP.28 No.15 (Sarah’s piano solo)
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  6. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais
  7. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Pastorale
  8. James MacMillan: After the Tryst
  9. Elena Kats-Chernin: Eliza’s Aria.

 

7th Oct. St.John’s church in Caterham, Surrey.  12:45 – 13:30. (postponed)

   Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Germain Tailleferre: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonatina
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1
  4. Sarah’s piano solo (Frederic Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 )
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
  6. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais.

 

16th Oct. Unitarian church in Brighton, East Sussex. 12:30 – 13:15. ⇨ 26th March, 2021

       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Germain Tailleferre: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonatina
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1
  4. Sarah’s piano solo (Frederic Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 )
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
  6. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais.

 

November(2020)

9th Nov. All Saints church in High Wycomber. 13:10 – 13:50. ⇨ 8th November, 2021
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams The Lark Ascending
  2. Herbert Howells: Pastorale
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  4. Frederic Chopin: Prelude OP.28 No.15 (Sarah’s piano solo)
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
10th Nov. Cheltenham Town Hall in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 13:05 – 13:55. ⇨ 9th February, 2021
       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Germain Tailleferre: 1st and 2nd movements from Violin Sonatina
  3. Edvard Grieg: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.1
  4. Sarah’s piano solo (Frederic Chopin: Prelude Op.28 No.15 )
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
  6. Jules Massenet: “Meditation” from Thais
  7. Ralph Vaughan Williams: Pastorale.

                      Concert Schedule  2021

                          The first Half of 2021

January(2021)

22th January: St.George’s church in Beckenham, Kent. 12:30 – 13:00

         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  3. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.
23th Jan. St.Pancras church, London.13:15 – 14:00. 
       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Gina Kruger
  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.

 

February(2021)

2nd February: St.Mary’s church in Potters Bar, Hertfordshire. 12:30 – 13:10.

         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

 

7th Feb. Holy Trinity church in Gosport, Hampshire. 15:30 – 16:30.(unfixed)

      Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  5. Sarah’s piano solo
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  8. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.
9th Feb.  Cheltenham Town Hall in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire. 13:05 – 13:55. 
       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  5. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  6. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  7. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.
11th Feb. Guildford cathedral in Guildford, Surrey. 11:15 – 12:00.
    Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.

 

24th Feb. Holy Trinity Church in Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwickshire. 13:00 – 13:30. 

    Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  3. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

 

27th Feb.  Waltham Abbey church in Waltham Abbey, Essex. 12:30 – 13:00. 

    Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  3. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

March(2021) 

6th March: St.Martin’s church in Dorking, Surrey.  12:00 – 12:40.
 Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

 

16th March: St.John’s church in Northwood, London. 11:30 – 12:00. 

         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  3. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

 

26th March: Unitarian church in Brighton, East Sussex. 12:30 – 13:15. 

       Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.

 

April(2021)

28th April: St.Nicholas church in Brighton, East Sussex.12:30 – 13:15.

         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Claude Debussy: En Bateau.
May(2021)
5th May: Downing Place church in Cambridge.
13:00 – 13:50
         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Ralph Vaughan Williams: The Lark Ascending
  2. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  5. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  6. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  7. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.
 27th May: Portsmouth Cathedral in Portsmouth, Hampshire. 13:10 – 13:50
         Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Edvard Grieg: 2nd movement from Violin Sonata No.1 Op.8
  3. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong.
July(2021)
9th July: St.Chad’s church in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.

12:40 – 13:15.    

Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw

  1. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  2. Franz Schubert: Violin Sonata No.1 Op.137
  3. Herbert Howells: Pastorale Op.28-1
  4. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.2 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  5. Claude Debussy: En Bateau
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

                                  The second half of 2021

September(2021)

10th Sept.: St.Mary’s church in Warwick, Warwickshire. 13:15 – 14:00. 
        Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Serenade melancolique
  2. Frederick Delius: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Edvard Grieg: 3rd movement from Violin sonata No.2 Op.13
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3, 4 and 6 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Astor Piazzolla: Tango Etude No.4 for violin solo.

 

October(2021)

1st Oct.: Unitarian church in Brighton, East Sussex.
12:30 – 13:15.
Violin: Fumi Otsuki,   Piano: Sarah Kershaw
  1. Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Serenade melancolique
  2. Frederick Delius: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Edvard Grieg: 3rd movement from Violin sonata No.2 Op.13
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3, 4 and 6 from 6 Studies in English folksong
  7. Astor Piazzolla: Tango Etude No.4 for violin solo.

 

November(2021)

8th Nov. All Saints church in High Wycomber. 13:10 – 13:50.
  1. Pyotr Tchaikovsky: Serenade melancholic
  2. Frederick Delius: 1st movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  3. Edvard Grieg: 3rd movement from Violin sonata No.2 Op.13
  4. Sarah’s piano solo
  5. Frederick Delius: 3rd movement from Violin Sonata No.3
  6. Ralph Vaughan Williams: No.3, 4 and 6 from 6 Studies in English folksong.

THE JAPANESE RUSTIC LIFE IN 1950S . 12

The nature, culture and living in a small village in Japan just after the last world war, reflected through the boy’s eyes.

Chapter 12 Solitude and a true friend (1954)
Yoshiharu Otsuki (Sendai, Japan) and Yasufumi Otsuki (London)

Saved

He rang the doorbell, but as usual nobody came to let him in. He unlocked the door and went into the living room. The light was on but there was nobody there, even though it was around 9 o’clock. He put down his bag on the floor and plumped down exhausted on the sofa. He switched on the TV set and flicked through the channels – the evening news, variety shows, drama etc. , but nothing interested him. The sound of violin came from the music practice room along the corridor.
“You’re lagging behind the tempo! You made a mistake again! Keep to the right rhythm! Do it once more! One, two, three – go!” His wife’s angry voice could be heard over the violin sound. He muttered to himself, “ Not again!” He knew dinner wouldn’t be coming any time soon and resigned himself to having to wait till the practice ended. He sank in the sofa and started to recall the day’s events.

It was his first day at the company he had joined after quitting his job at the university, where he had been investigating industrial materials for 15 years in the faculty of engineering. In the course of his research, he identified the problems that he wanted to work on in the future, and he decided that working for an electronic parts manufacturer would give him a better chance of succeeding than continuing in the highly restricted research field that he was limited to at the university.
The reality of the situation there was totally different to what he’d naively imagined. While working at the university, he had been involved in some joint research projects with the company, so already knew quite a lot about it. In specific fields, the company usually had more advanced research technologies and equipment than the university.
The company was impressed with his research experience and left him in charge of new material development. However, the research field that he would be involved with at the company was quite different from his own, requiring him to learn some disciplines from scratch in order for projects to start and progress smoothly.
Before joining the company, he had been given a tour of the work place by one of the directors. The director told him that there was no research equipment in the places he was being shown, but he felt that implied that such equipment must be in another area of the factory, and probably this area was off limits to visitors. However, just after he came to the company, he made a complete tour of the place and realized that the company didn’t have any equipment specifically for research. He couldn’t say the director had lied to him but he certainly felt that he’d been mislead. Moreover, he found there was no established research and development system either, which meant no research and development technologies. They had been developing new products using production machines after the daily work ended, and, as the production machines were set up for a particular day’s production, it was impossible to use them for development without resetting them. He was very disappointed when he realized the situation, and had to resign himself to the fact that it would take about ten years to build a proper research and development system.

After looking around the factory, the engineers taught him how to operate the machines and do the necessary paper work. He spent half his working time trying to make a research and development plan for the project he was committed to. Having no experience in some of the areas involved, it was impossible to come up with a comprehensive strategy, but he had always had a fundamental belief that the first part of any project was to establish some kind of working plan, even if speculative information had to be used as a source to produce it.
Even after a regular eight-hour day, he could not leave work, having to attend managers’ meetings for more than four hours. In these meetings he was often unable to understand the agendas, and the thick smoke (most men smoked in those days) in the small room almost made him sick. He did not mind the 12-hour days – this was no different to when he worked at the university – but the different and unhealthy working environment put a lot of strain on him and he returned home entirely exhausted on his first working day.

As he’d changed his job completely of his own volition, he could not complain about his situation to anybody. Nevertheless, he wanted to relieve the strain by telling somebody about his problems. He would have spoken to his wife, but she was completely wrapped up in her son’s violin practice. He tried to get over the frustration he felt, telling himself that it was just the first step in realizing his life goals.

The telephone rang.
“It’s me. How’s it going? Working hard?” It was one of his friends.
“It must be tough working at a company in a totally unfamiliar environment, especially at your age. Are you coping OK?”
“Yes, but I’ve been well able to understand that the worlds of company and university are completely different, but I think things will work out.” He started to talk about the difficulties he was facing, but, moved by his friend’s concern, he couldn’t continue. His friend, being fully aware of how he felt, was silent for a few seconds before going on,“ Well, it’s bound to be hard in the beginning but hang in there – you’ll get used to it, and things will improve. Anyway, I’ll call again soon.”

He went over again and again what they had talked about, again feeling touched by how his friend had been worried about him. Mopping away the tears from his face brought him back to reality, and he noticed the sound of his son’s violin. He was playing Mozart’s Violin Sonata in E minor, K304. Even though Mozart’s music is usually uplifting, it sounded slightly melancholy to him.

The end

<<< Showing again the story presented in Youtube >>>

Lost

In the village on New Year’s Eve, it was the custom for people to visit the temple on the top of the mountain behind the village to give thanks for their good fortune over the past year and to ask the gods for their continued protection during the next year. They tolled the bell to renounce the 108 worldly passions which had possessed them through the year’s activities. The form varies depending on the locality or temple – in some areas a priest strikes the bell while people gathered around pray, or people pray at home to the sound of the bell coming directly from the temple, or from a famous temple via the radio. Recently some temples have received complaints that the bell is too noisy, and are limited to striking the bell in the daytime or stopping it altogether. It is sad that religious observance has decreased to such a point.
As the boy’s family had come to the village from another place (or maybe just from a lack of piety!), they ignored the custom and went to bed early, intending to get up to see the new year’s first sunrise. The three of them – his mother, sister and him – had been invited to visit the temple by neighbors. His father was back from the city for the year – end holidays but wasn’t included, because he spent most of the time away drinking with his relatives, or at least that’s how it seemed to the boy.

The boy’s life was so monotonous. In school, where pupils spent the greater part of the daytime, he did not take an interest in the class, just sleeping or thinking about playing after school, so it never really felt like he was there. When school finished, on fine days he often went to the river or lake to catch fish, spending rainy days alone bored in the house. There was also a mountain, and as the fishing was a way to get extra food to fill his stomach, he only really played when he went there. The mountain was 777 ft (238m) above sea level with forest, creeks, areas of wild grass and bare rock. Naturally, there were poisonous snakes and other dangers but he knew how to avoid them.

The area was rich in wild berry * and every summer he picked full basketfuls of them, his family enjoying a sweetness which was never tasted in any cakes.
*(Scientific name; Rubus hirsutus. Popular name; grass-berry. Area of distribution; east Asia. Genus; Raspberry. The stems have a height of about 6 inches and the leaves are grass-like. The bright red berries look similar to raspberries but are much sweeter.)
At that time, strawberries had spread from the city area to the countryside and even the people in the village could buy them at a nearby town. However, they were not sweet enough to eat without milk and sugar. Strawberries are similar to Potentilla, hebi-ichigo in Japanese, which in that region were called snake’s pillow, for it was believed that snakes slept laying their head on this berry. The villagers never ate strawberries without wondering why city people could be so fond of eating anything so unsweet. The fall was very rich in nuts and fruit such as pears, grapes, persimmons etc. In the winter he could not catch fish and there was nothing to be had in the mountain, so he was always hungry. He had to satisfy his appetite with dried persimmons, which were made by exposing the peeled bitter persimmons to the sun for several months or leaving them on the trees.
On the other hand, he could enjoy playing in the mountain throughout the year; in spring, running around under the trees with green leaves and picking the wild plants and flowers; in summer, climbing up the trees and sleighing on shale-covered slopes in the cool forest and catching the river crabs; in fall, picking fruit and sleighing on the rotten leaves; in winter, sleighing on snow-covered slopes. Of course, many wild animals such as foxes, raccoon dogs, wild boars, giant flying squirrels etc. lived there but did not show themselves, being wary of people. There were bear sightings but only a few times a year. Spending his time in this way, he tired himself out playing and basically just rested and recovered from his exertions when he was at school.

On that day (New Year’s Eve), he was excited about climbing the mountain with his family, because they rarely had a chance to go out together except for shopping in the big city a couple of times a year. Furthermore, they were going to his mountain, where he always played like it was his garden, so he was particularly cheerful before leaving their house. Fortunately, there had not been much snow that year and many people had passed along the trail before them, so they could climb smoothly without slipping.
He was cheerful and also garrulous by nature. He sometimes joined a group of gossiping women and chattered freely with them, usually dominating the conversation. At that time, he was quite a popular person but after entering primary school, he was bullied by his classmates and became taciturn and a complete loner.
In the evening at the beginning of the climb, he followed the area illuminated by the flashlights of other families and companions, then went back and forth along the line chatting gaily to everybody.
“Be careful – If you slip and fall you’ll hurt yourself,” his mother called out to him anxiously.
“It’s all right. Don’t worry – we are in my garden here!” he answered.
The other people laughed as he kept on stepping on and off the path and darting in and out of the line, taking no notice of his mother’s words of caution.
The mountain trail was wide enough for 4~5 persons at the starting point, and gradually got steeper and narrowed to a space enabling only 2 people to pass at a time. After climbing for twenty or thirty minutes, you reached the halfway point, where people usually sat on a big stone at the side of the trail and took a rest for a while. That evening, everybody was wearing long rubber boots, having presumed that the trail would be muddy, so they got tired and had to rest standing before they reached the stone.
After passing the halfway point, the mountain trail went into deep forest and started to cross a steep slope. Here, the trail narrowed and became slippy where wet fallen leaves had piled up, causing the people to walk slowly and carefully to avoid falling into the valley below.
As the boy‘s family entered the forest after passing the half point, he was some way away from them, still moving among the groups of people ascending. His mother and sister were busy chatting to other people and had almost forgotten he was there. Running on the dark trail, there was suddenly nothing under his foot and he found himself falling down the steep slope. He came to a halt at the foot of big tree far from the road due to a big pile of leaves. It was completely dark around him but far above him many flashlights were moving. It seemed impossible to climb back up there because the slope was so steep and covered with slippery leaves.
He shouted for help, and at that moment the excitement he’d felt on the trail disappeared and he thought gloomily, ‘ I’d rather die than have everybody see me down here helpless.’ He stopped shouting and crouched down at the base of a tree and considered how he might get back to the trail. He sensed a temperature difference between his left and right foot and realized he’d lost his right boot during the fall. Fortunately, the moon came out from behind the clouds at that moment and the moonlight shone on the ground through the leafless trees. Opening his eyes widely, he scanned the area above him to try and find the missing boot. “ There it is!” he exclaimed, finding the boot on some leaves at the base of a small tree just above him. In such cold and difficult conditions, it would have been too hard even for a wild mountain boy like him to get down the mountain without boots. He reached out and drew the boot to him with a small branch then put it back on, much to his relief.
It occurred to him that he might be able to cover himself in dry leaves and spend the night there. However, he remembered the time that some other boy had got into difficulty on the mountain and failed to return home – almost all the villagers gathered to go and search for him. He would have to get back home before dawn, or the same thing was likely to happen again.
Looking up at the trail far above him, he muttered to himself, ‘How can I get back home?’ The steep slope was thickly covered with the fallen leaves of oak, maple, beech etc., and it seemed surely impossible to climb up.
‘Then should I go down?’ he wondered. He could not see anything down below in the pitch black of the valley, and this scared him a little. He remembered what an old man in the village had said: “When you lose your way in the mountain, your instinct might be to descend to the valley – going down is easier than climbing up and you might think you could reach the village by walking along the river – but this is a mistake because there are many dangers in the valley. There is actually less danger on the top part of a slope, and it’s much easier to see where you are from above, so it’s best to climb up to the top of a ridge.” He went over the valley option for himself: ‘I am sure I could reach the village through the valley – the worst thing would be poisonous snakes, but it’s winter now so that’s not a problem. On the other hand, there is no proper trail along the river, so I would have to climb over big rocks the whole way – I’d probably fall into the river, get soaked and freeze to death. Yes, the valley route is dangerous.’
He thought about other possibilities: ‘I could walk along the slope and try and find a way through the trees, or just go left or right until I hit a woodcutter or animal trail, but the slope is so slippery, and it’s difficult to see very much in this moonlight.’
Then he realized that he could see faint lights from the distant village. He was staring longingly in that direction when he became aware of a shape with two small shining points about a hundred feet away. ‘What can it be?’ he thought. It began to move slowly closer to him and he could see it was a fox. When he was younger, he would have been terrified of the animal, but now he was much more scared of the prospect of being bullied by his classmates. The fox stopped moving and they stared at each other. After a few minutes it shook its’ head up and down, turned on its heels and slowly left. Then it occurred to him, the words coming to his mind and gushing out from his mouth almost instantaneously, “I can just follow the fox’s trail – it’s bound to hit a main trail sooner or later.”
After he checked out the condition of the slope immediately in front of him with a dead branch, he grasped a branch on a tree with his left hand and took a step forward, being careful not to slip on the dead leaves. He repeated the process again and again and advanced slowly.
After what seemed an eternity, he caught sight of something big between the trees – it was the big stone at the half-way point. “ Made it!” he exclaimed in relief, only to lose his footing, and he would have fallen back down the slope if he had not just managed to catch hold of a small branch. Finally, he laid himself down on the big stone, sweating profusely but more from relief than exhaustion.

Opening the front door quietly and entering into the hundred-watt light of their living room, he felt rather than saw his mother and sister staring at him. Almost collapsing on the floor, he braved a glance at his mother. Her face was beyond description, looking both angry and relieved.
“Where have you been all this time?” she said, trying to hide her emotions. He just wanted to tell her about his frightening experience and to be comforted by her, but then he thought if he told her the truth, she would just get even angrier and his scolding would go on for even longer. He decided to tell her something more plausible and just go to bed. He regained his composure and said, “On the way back, I met one of my friends who lives on the hill and stayed at his house playing with him.”
“You should not stay late at night at somebody’s house – it’s not polite,” she said, the anger welling up inside her.
“I said I should go but they said it didn’t matter, today being New Year’s Eve,” he replied quickly, not feeling confident that his explanation would satisfy her.
“And you’ve got dirt and leaves all over your face and body – how on earth did you do that?” His mother did not miss a thing.
“On the way back from my friend’s house, I slipped and fell down a slope.”
During their exchange of words, his sister, sitting by her mother, was looking at him unforgivingly.
“ Brush off the dirt and leaves quickly, wipe your face with a towel and go to bed.”
She’d believed him – he’d done it!
He went straight to his room and quickly fell asleep in the cold bed, without praying to be released from the one hundred and eight worldly passions he had stored up during the year.

It was the middle of the night a week afterwards and he was half awake and half asleep in bed. He felt a great deal of pain all over his body. It was as if he was being pressed under some great weight and could not move any part of his body. He was able to make out the shape and saw it was some kind of animal.
‘Ah, it must be the fox I saw when I was in the woods,’ he intended to shout, but no sound came out. His hands and feet were also completely paralyzed.
‘ Help – I can’t breathe!’ He eventually managed to scream. Several minutes passed and the pressing force gradually diminished. He awoke with shaking hands and covered with sweat to see his mother’s worried face before him. She hugged her son’s stiff body.
It was the first time he could ever remember her holding him like that, but there was no joy in the realization at that time. After a while his muscles relaxed and he was able to open his strongly clenched fists. She felt the change in her boy’s body and laid him down on his bed again saying, “What’s the matter? Were you having a nightmare?”
He could not reply because the image of the nightmare lingered. After she settled him back in bed, she stayed by him for a while until he calmed down and fell asleep.
The following day, he was chewing over the experience from the previous night. He was anxious about the connection between the fox that had appeared in his nightmare, and the one he had seen on the mountain. Even to this day, there are some superstitious people who believe that foxes have the power to possess people. In Japanese folk religion, everything, including inorganic matter, has a soul. A person’s soul might become an evil spirit if they die an unnatural death, and in some cases, even a living person may become a spirit. The same thing can happen with animals and inanimate objects. In that village the fox was believed to cheat people by entering a person’s body and controlling their behavior by taking over their mind – fox possession.
The boy was afraid that the fox he’d encountered that night had chased him home and possessed him. Even if he told his mother, she would not believe it, because she had been born and raised in a big city, where such superstitions were not taken seriously. On top of that, he would have to confess that he had lied that night. He did not want to deal with that, so he kept his concerns to himself.
Three days later, he had the nightmare again. This time, he could not tell what was on top of him but the pressure was lighter than the previous time, and he only cried out a few times. His mother judged it to be a simple bad dream, and, without hugging him tightly this time, tucked him back in bed.
The next day, hoping to understand the cause of his torment, he tried to recall what had happened in the nightmare but without success.

One day his sister said to him,
“On New Year’s Eve, where did you really go? Mom was worried sick about you until you came back. After we got back, she went to the home of the family we went up the mountain with to ask if they’d seen you since, and she said that if you did not come back by the next morning, she would go to ask the chief of the village to search for you. The next morning, she went to their house again to apologize for troubling them.”
Even after hearing that, he still could not bring himself to tell her the true story.
That night, he had the dream again. It was worse than before but he endured it without crying out. He had the nightmare again sometimes, but it over time became less frequent, although he still had it once every year or two until he was about twenty years old.

The phenomenon the boy experienced in his nightmare is called sleep paralysis. Some doctors dismiss it as stress-induced, and some people even put it down to supernatural causes, but there is no generally accepted explanation for it. In the author’s opinion, the boy’s nightmare was not caused by falling over the edge into the dark or the accidental meeting with a fox, but rather from feeling unwanted after his family failed to show much emotion when he returned home. Maybe this denial of affection in such a situation is a similar thing to mothers in Japan sometimes telling a disobedient child (usually boys rather than girls) that he is not her real child but was in fact found as a baby while floating in a basket on the river. The boy’s mother sometimes said the same thing to him. He usually did not believe her, but sometimes he felt it might possibly be true.
Possibly the recurrence of his nightmare might be attributed to the remorse he felt for having worried his mother. If he had apologized to his mother as soon as his sister told him what his mother did on that New Year’s Eve night, his stress might have been relieved naturally. The inconsistency of thought and behavior that his stubborn character caused has remained a constant all through his life.

The end

THE JAPANESE RUSTIC LIFE IN 1950S . 11

The nature, culture and living in a small village in Japan just after the last world war, reflected through the boy’s eyes.

Chapter 11  A Great Man (1954)

Yoshiharu Otsuki (Sendai, Japan) and Yasufumi Otsuki (London)

 

The definition of a great man

1.The great men described in the moral textbooks of compulsory education

The author is an ordinary engineer who has many inventions including one or two world firsts in a limited field to his credit, but hopefully it is not too impudent for him to comment on the three great men described on Youtube. What makes these men ‘great’ seems to be difficult to define clearly. Wikipedia has a long list of great people, defining them as people who stand out in history because they achieved remarkable results. Many of them are monarchs and their relatives.

However, history tells us that sometimes these kings, queens and princes were quite ordinary and achieved nothing of note and sometimes were clearly incompetent. Therefore, this definition seems wanting. The Youtube part of this essay mentioned the stories of great people that were taught in primary school classes, so the people described in the moral textbooks of compulsory education (published by The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology of Japan) were investigated, particularly in reference to the differences between Japan as a militaristic nation (1942~1944) and as pacifistic one (present, 2015).

The number of people listed is less than 40. (The emperor and his relatives were listed many times, so they were omitted from this investigation.) There are only two great men common to the textbooks of both eras, and they are both military men. It’s not surprising that many men from the services were chosen when Japan was a militaristic nation, but even now, the textbooks of a nation supposedly striving for peace contain the examples of one or two astronauts, who surely share a responsibility for at least some developments in the armaments field. This fact alone gives us an indication of what the government’s long-term intentions are.

The textbooks of the militaristic era were written less than a century after the new government had been established, and the selection of people was intended to create an impression of the legitimacy of the emperor and the power of the new government.

On the other hand, textbooks at the present feature people from various fields such as business, art, science, history, sports, entertainment etc., and the emperor isn’t included. Those regarded as ‘especially superior’ were chosen for their popularity, excellence of performance or contributions to public welfare. There are no politicians or soldiers.

Edward Jenner is the only foreigner in the prewar textbook and there are six people in the present one – Jean Henri Fabre, Abraham Lincoln, Helen Keller, Pierre de Coubertin, Anne Frank and Mahatma Gandhi.

Accordingly, the selection of “great people” is influenced by government policy, and cannot be regarded as impartial. The influence of these choices can be seen in the fact that recently astronauts are highly regarded by children, and many aspire to become astronauts in the future. As it seems clear that much of the research done in space exploration is tied up with the development of weapons, this really frightens me.

Kinjiro Ninomiya and Hideyo Noguchi were the two people selected for textbooks of both eras. They are described as follows –

 

2. Kinjiro Ninomiya (1787 – 1856)

He was born into what was originally a relatively rich farming family. However, at the age of five, a large storm and subsequent flooding destroyed their fields and severely damaged their house. Unable to work their land properly, the family became impoverished and the young Ninomiya was forced into doing manual labour on engineering projects and making straw sandals. When he was twelve years old, his father died and he took over the running of the family farm. At sixteen years old, his mother died and they were again hit by devastating floods. The family was broken up and the three children were taken to live with different relatives. This was not done out of sympathy but rather an eagerness to gain an extra pair of hands to help with farm work.

Kinjiro Ninomiya was first taken in by his grandfather’s family, and then moved to other members of his family. He studied hard and earned money with side jobs while working for his relatives. By the time he was twenty years old, he was able to rebuild the family home and restore their fields with the money he had saved. He then let his fields to other farmers and started working as a manservant in a samurai family. Through studying by himself and his experience there, he learnt a lot about the management and running of samurai families, and gradually came to be given jobs with more and more responsibility. Then he was asked to save both his mother’s family and the head of his family from economic difficulties. Performing this work successfully, the head of his family recommended him to the daimyo’s chief retainer for a role in reorganizing his personal finances and paying off considerable debt. In about four years he was able to pay off the whole amount of the debt – about 470 thousand pounds (66 million yen)- and made a profit of 140 thousand pounds. Despite his spectacular success, he never received a penny for his efforts. His indifference to personal gain and his remarkable ability with economic management were applauded by people in his area. This led to him receiving many requests to help out from villages with financial difficulties, as well as from samurai families. He performed these duties successfully and was awarded samurai status by the local government. His good reputation came to the attention of the national government and spread among the daimyos. He took on an endless line of projects connected with financial rescue, the development of farming fields, farming economics etc., and was busy up to his death. The projects he initiated are said to number over 600, and his long stays in area while working on projects led to the town being named after him.

His method was based on thrift and the efficient management of farming, which samurai living in rural districts relied on financially. This was achieved by such means as increasing the area under cultivation by reclaiming land, and selecting crops based on local climate and other regional factors. In my opinion, he was successful because he had both the knowledge and practical ability to carry out reforms in farming management, the need for which had arisen because of the limitations of the feudal system. Within the system, there were four levels of hierarchy – one ruling class (samurai) and three ruled classes (farmer, craftsman and merchant). (In addition to those classes, there were a special upper class consisting of the emperor and the nobility, and a bottom class of people that included criminals and people not on any family register). The samurai depended financially on the tax they received from various industrial activities. As Mr. Ninomiya lived in a rural district, the local government and samurai families depended mostly on the tax of crops. Agricultural practice at the time enabled farmers to make a comfortable living in usual years, but its inadequacies led to bankruptcy and farm closures in times of natural disaster.

The samurai class, being the administrators of their land, should have taken measures against the possible occurrence of such crises but they spent their income irresponsibly and had nothing saved in reserve. Consequently, neither the samurai or the farmers had any plans for response to natural disasters, so there were frequent nationwide famines.

Mr. Ninomiya learned farming techniques and management from working with the farmers, and, as a result of his unfortunate experiences when he was younger, knew deeply the importance of putting aside money to cope with the effects of natural disasters. Furthermore, he had also mastered financial management while working for samurai families. His unique talent, therefore, came from his experience bridging divisions within the class system. His know-how was especially valuable to the samurai class, who up to that time had never governed with any understanding of farming. Moreover, he reformed unhelpful farming systems, not just politically but often also by leading the physical labor needed to implement the changes.

Now many Japanese companies have a management concept of ‘on-the-spot decision-making’ or ‘hands-on approach’, which means managers should take the initiative with there-and-then decisions. This may have come about because of Ninomiya’s ideas.

School textbooks tend to emphasize his selfless attitude and how he strived, in the midst of poverty, to overcome hardship and improve the life of people in the community by eliminating waste and more prudent use of funds. However, many of his successful farming methods are applicable to other areas of management, and this may be why he is considered to be a great person.

 

3. Hideyo Noguchi (1876-1928)

Hideyo Noguchi, bacteriologist, is familiar to all Japanese. He became a medical doctor in Japan, worked in the U.S. at the University of Pennsylvania, and then became a research fellow of Rockefeller University. He had great strides in his studies on yellow fever, snake poison etc., and died in Ghana while further studying yellow fever. He was nominated three times for the Nobel Prize, which had never been given to a Japanese at that time. (The first Japanese Noble Prize winner was Hideki Yukawa, being awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1949.)

Hideyo Noguchi was born into a farming family in the Tohoku district (the northeastern part of Japan). He lost the use of his left hand after burning it badly in the fireplace at home when he was one year old. This disability led to him being bullied at school. However, his teacher recognized his ability and paid for him to have surgery. The operation was successful and because of it, the young Noguchi came to understand the importance of medicine. He applied himself to his studies and became a medical doctor and bacteriologist.

When the author of this essay learned about Dr. Noguchi as a child, he felt a deep kinship with him, as he was also badly burnt in his infancy and bullied at school as a consequence. However, he could not help feeling that many things had been left out from the simplified version of the story that appeared in the textbook. The operation and relief from bullying that followed was surely the starting point of ‘an initiation process’ in his success story. Neither the teacher or the textbook mentioned any of the essential episodes of this process, for example – how chances arose for him and how he took them, how he strove to realize his ability, and, unlike the story about

Ninomiya, there were no details about his private life. These omissions left the author feeling deeply unsatisfied with the account.

The story of Dr. Noguchi left the boy (the author in his childhood) feeling tormented by his bottled-up feelings about his situation. The burn scars he had on his face that resulted in the bullying were not physically restricting, and so didn’t require surgery, and even if the scar tissue had been removed, all the attention it would have caused would have surely increased the bullying. This led him to feel that he had missed out on a similar opportunity to start a process that might have helped him to overcome his problems. In the end, the anguish he felt about this spoiled his admiration for Dr. Noguchi.

Leaving aside his personal feelings, the success story of Dr. Noguchi was further investigated, but only the following was found.

Simon Flexner (1863-1946), the famous USA bacteriologist, came to Japan when Dr. Noguchi was in university. At that time, medical organizations in Japan were completely dependent on German medicine, and it was very rare for them to have an English-speaking doctor. Dr. Noguchi could speak English, so acted as his guide. He tried to persuade Professor Flexner to offer him a job in the USA but without success. Then, under his own initiative and without the professor’s consent, Dr. Noguchi went to the USA. Professor Flexner reluctantly employed him as a private researcher to study snake venom. From that time, he worked diligently under the professor and achieved excellent results with that research. He also obtained noteworthy results with his research into the causes of yellow fever, eventually dying in Ghana while continuing his studies. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize three times on account of his work.

It appears that there are people who are not happy with the way his success story is related in textbooks – indeed, there is quite a lot of criticism of Dr. Noguchi and his work. However, even if this criticism were valid, it ought not to diminish his achievements. It might be the case that there are simply not many private stories that demonstrate an ‘ initiation process’, and this could be the reason why descriptions of his personal life are limited to his childhood.

In conclusion, it can be said that the main reasons that Ninomiya and Noguchi are considered ‘great’ are, of course, their remarkable accomplishments and the hard work they achieved them with.

During Noguchi’s lifetime, there were several medical scientists in Japan whose achievements were equally or even more impressive than his, and several scientists had already accomplished advanced results in other fields as well – remarkable when you think that it was only half a century since western science had been introduced to Japan. However, they were not considered for the Nobel Prize due to a lack of nominators in Japan. On the other hand, Dr. Noguchi was in the USA, which might have led to him being nominated 3 times.

 

The end

 

<<< Showing again the story presented in Youtube >>>

 

A Great Man (1954)

1. Albert Schweitzer

 The Japanese archipelago is a string of more than 3,000 islands in the east of Asia extending 1,300 miles between the Sea of Japan and the western Pacific Ocean. It’s climate changes gradually from the south to the north according to the shifting seasons. The rainy season is in June and July, and this promotes the growth of rice, the main crop, throughout the country. The Japanese plum also ripens at this time, and accordingly the kanji characters used to write ‘rainy season’ are the ones for plum and rain. The boy lived in the northern part of the mainland, which usually had its rainy season from the end of June to the middle of July.

In that year, the rainy season ended unusually early and the sun beat down hard every day even in early July. The sunlight did not pour directly into the classroom due to the high position of the sun, but it heated up the school and made the pupils sweat. Sometimes there was a breeze and it dried their sweat, so it wasn’t so bad. That day, the boy was sitting on a chair next to the window, looking outside with a blank look on his face. The cicadas started chirping energetically and the leaves rustled in a strong wind. It was noisy outdoors. No, that’s not quite true –actually the teacher’s voice was louder but the boy’s thoughts were flying somewhere outside the classroom.

Suddenly the teacher’s voice seemed to get louder. Well, it would be more accurate to say that the boy became interested in what the teacher was saying.

Dr. Albert Schweitzer was a great person with a kind heart, loving his childhood friends dearly. One day, his rich parents bought Albert a very nice hat, but he did not wear it because he wanted to wear an ordinary one like his poor friends. This shows that even as a child he thought of others, an example of the philanthropy he would become famous for as an adult.”

No, that’s rubbish!’ The boy almost said aloud, ‘That’s definitely not true. There is another more selfish reason that he did not want to wear the nice hat.’

In the boy’s village, children were always on the lookout for somebody to bully. This person was chosen on the slightest difference from others, irrespective of wealth and ability. His family lived on his mother’s earnings as a teacher, while almost all other families were farmers. Such a tiny difference was a good enough reason to single somebody out for bullying. On top of that, he had a burn scar on his face, which often made him a target.

One day, his mother bought a cloth hat for him but he never wore it. All the village boys wore a tatty straw one, so he knew that if he wore the new cloth hat when he was with them, that would definitely be another reason for the boys to bully him. Of course, he kept the fact that he was getting bullied secret from his mother as he did not want to make her sad. (Being so wrapped up with her work might have been why she failed to notice the hard time her boy was having.) Teachers at that time certainly didn’t pay enough attention to bullying, which still seems to be the case today. She did not know why he continually refused to wear it and finally tried to compel him to do so.

He wore it only one time when he went to a big city far from the village. He didn’t have any problems and the experience taught him that the people around him in his village were narrow-minded and unaccepting of differences in other people. Therefore, this biased view made him conclude that Dr. Schweitzer must have been afraid of bullying too. Of course, the village boys didn’t think the story of Dr. Schweitzer was true – it was just a story in their textbook. Later, he studied Dr. Schweitzer’s achievements, and was embarrassed to think how he had regarded him at that time. However, whenever he heard anything about the lives of great men, he could not stop himself doubting the truth about it. Anyway, he has since tended not to read such stories.

 

2. Johann Carl Friedrich Gauß

 It was the beginning of autumn and the boy had been gazing blankly out of the classroom through the window as usual. This area had another, shorter rainy season in September, and it was raining on that day. Puddles could be seen here and there in the schoolyard, and the branches of a big willow were shaking in the strong wind and rain. The view from the window sometimes became unclear in the intermittent heavy rain, and it reminded him of a rainy scene depicted in some Chinese painting. He made plans for what he would do after school – these didn’t include studying, of course. The thick cloud would be good for fishing, but the heavy rain would make it difficult to see the fish biting, and it was a little bit too early to pick chestnuts. He finally decided that it would be better to stay inside and read. Maybe he would look at the copy of Grimm’s Fairy Tales his mother had bought, or a children’s novel, or his elder sister’s textbooks with all their pictures and maps of the world. He had looked at the chapter about Slovenia containing a picture of a pretty girl many times. His mother never bought him comic books, saying that reading things like that would make him stupid. (The comic books were drawn by great cartoonists such as Osamu Tezuka, who is much respected nowadays.)

He suddenly remembered he was now in his mathematics class – a subject that he was not good at. Pupils had to write their answers on the blackboard more often than in other classes. Unfortunately, the boy always became nervous when he had to speak or do anything in front of people, so he came to his dislike the subject, and that surely resulted in the poor assessment given to him by the teacher. That day, as a short break from the lesson, the teacher related to them a story of a great mathematician.

Gauss, the great mathematician, was born in Germany, and exhibited his splendid talent from his childhood. Here is my question for you all.

What is the sum of integers from one to ten?”

The boy instantly came up with the answer of fifty-five.

The teacher continued, “Does anybody know the answer? Raise your hand.”

He, however, did not lift his hand.

The teacher said, “You clearly can’t come up with the answer so easily, but little Gauss had the same question in his school, and he was able to give the answer as fifty-five in no time – a mathematical genius can calculate that fast.”

The boy was unimpressed. He did not think that such a simple calculation test was a convincing example of genius. How did he calculate it, then?

The image of the number array from one to ten sprang in his mind. He connected one to nine, two to eight, three to seven, and four to six with an arrow, and then added ten and five to make fifty-five. This instantly led to the answer. He felt anybody should be able to do that without any help from a teacher.

He momentarily thought that if that test was truly an indication of mathematical ability, even if he were not exceptional like Professor Gauss, he might be able to become professor of the mathematics someday. However, he couldn’t overcome his feeling that he wasn’t good at this subject, and subsequently never had much interest in mathematics. Later in life he came across the episode about Professor Gauss again and found that the teacher had in fact asked for the sum of the integers from 1 to 100, and the young Gauss had replied correctly immediately. As he couldn’t even get an image of the necessary number array in his small brain, he felt somewhat more convinced by this account.

Why had the textbook used the ‘one to ten’ example? (At the moment of writing this essay, the author doesn’t know whether the story about Professor Gauss was written in a textbook or a teaching manual.) Possibly the author of the Japanese version had considered that the ‘one to ten’ story would be easier for the pupils to understand the genius of Professor Gauss – the ‘one to a hundred’ version being way beyond their comprehension. But hadn’t he felt that by doing so he didn’t do justice to the great mathematician? On the other hand, that being able to add up the integers from one to ten is not a proper way to assess mathematical talent is surely proved by the unremarkable life of the author of this essay!

Great people earned their fame by their fantastic achievements, and relating these achievements precisely would never have led to the misunderstandings just described. However, the textbook made the mistake of trying to convey their greatness with trivial incidents, greatly underestimating the instinctive ability of children to understand without the need for oversimplification.

Consequently, the boy learned in that class that textbooks are not always right. This understanding has been useful to his various studies since, and even contributed to a certain innovation in some cases.

 

3. George Washington 

 Children living in an agricultural mountain village had a busy time doing farming work and taking care of their siblings every day after school. As his family didn’t earn their living from farming, the boy had to only draw up water from the well and carry it about a hundred meters in a bucket to a water container a couple of times a day. Then he could play as much as he liked every afternoon. (Of course, he did no inclination to study.)

Sometimes children were temporarily released from their duties and played with him. In the evening, they left him alone and went back home in twos and threes and resumed their chores, which included such things as tidying farming equipment up, heating the bath, preparing the dinner etc. He enjoyed playing together with the other children so much and he hated it when they left. Probably because of that, he continued to dislike evenings for a long time after.

Now, he was sitting on one of the branches of a persimmon tree on a farmer’s land next to his house. While he was gazing absent-mindedly at the view around him in the lingering evening light, he heard a familiar step. He could hardly believe his ears because his mother usually came home after dark – she never came back at that time. When the sound of her footsteps got closer, and then stopped under his persimmon tree, he held on to another branch and leaned out of the tree to see her.

What are you doing up there?” she said.

Ah, it’s you, mom – I thought so.” At that moment, there was a loud crack as the branch broke and he fell to the ground heavily. As the same thing had happened to him many times before, he was instinctively able to break his fall and avoid serious injury. He did feel some pain but not wanting to worry her, he stood up straight and didn’t show it.

She shouted at him, “What were you doing up there? Now you’ve broken the branch and it’s not our tree.

You must go and apologize to them.”

Why should I apologize?” He muttered to himself. It was true that the persimmon tree was on their neighbor’s property, but they never tended to it and always left the fruit on the tree every year. To the boy it was just like a wild tree and besides that, it was so big that breaking one smallish branch didn’t seem important.

Why should I apologize to them?”

She replied sternly, “If you damage somebody’s property, of course you should apologize to the owner. Go and apologize – now!” He knew that if he continued to argue, he wouldn’t be allowed inside their house and he would have to go without dinner, so he reluctantly went to apologize to the farmer’s family.

The head of the family said to him kindly, “That tree is nothing special to us – it just happens to be there on our land – there’s no need to apologize.”

That’s just what I thought,” the boy said to himself.

A few years later, he learned the story about George Washington damaging a tree and could understand his mother’s intention at last. Consequently, the reason he was never able to hold a very high position, even in a small company, might be put down to his lack of the kindness that Washington had displayed. The one thing he learned from the episode was that the persimmon tree is more easily damaged than most trees.

 

The end