Updated: Jun 8
2023 年 6 月 8 日
"Why are you learning Japanese?" is one of the common questions I get asked. Well, it's simple really. I like making new friends. And how unimaginative it would be to travel the world and just expect everybody to speak English! Why should they anyway? For me, German was the key that opened the door to Germany. It's no different with Japanese.
So here I am, pondering the homework my tutor Miki-san has given me. "GENKI" 元気 means healthy; well; fit; in good health. Am I fit in Japanese? I can only really test that out by regularly travelling to the country. Meanwhile the sun still rises above Langen, Hessen. 私はよく、「どうして日本語を勉強しているのですか？」と 聞かれます。👉🏻「新しい人に会うのが好きなので」
Last month I was sitting in an Inter-City train travelling from Utrecht to Frankfurt. There were also 50-odd other people sitting with me. All close together, all in the same metal box on wheels. A train. I had reserved a seat in the Ruhebereich, ie the quiet zone. I was in a 4-seat unit. The human being opposite me had a friend who was sitting beside me - diagonally. As the rolling countryside passed by outside my meditative thoughts were abruptly interrupted by the crackling, explosive sound of a huge bag of crisps being opened opposite me. Said human being proceeded to stuff these into her mouth. Upper jaw closed on lower jaw, trapping the hapless crisps in between. A wooden house being destroyed by an earthquake could not have done better. But worse was to come. She then offered the crisps to her friend, stretching diagonally in front of me. A blatant infringement of territorial space. Human beings! Aren't they sometimes.....well....just disgusting? I mean, she didn't even offer me one! On this occasion I sought refuge in the quiet of the buffet car. But escape is not always possible. Eating habits, communication habits (eg 🗣 loud talking on mobile phones), hygiene.......Everyone seems to be in their own bubble these days. 食生活、コミュニケーション習慣 (例 🗣携帯電話での大声での会話)、衛生状態.....最近は誰もが自分の *バブル* の中に陥っているようです。
Random thought flashes 💭
👉🏻 The life-saver at a swimming pool who is harangued by parents because they have to fill in a form. They do not thank him, even though he has just saved their kid from drowning.
👉🏻 Customers who ring me up expecting a violin for their kid immediately. The Amazon Prime Mentality. People seemed to have lost the ability to be patient.
👉🏻 Patience? what is that? I'm in my bubble....do you actually expect me to park my e-bike?....read on here....and this applies to Frankfurt too.....https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2023/jun/04/what-sprocket-left-that-bike-there-my-life-as-a-pedestrian-in-badly-behaved-britain
👉🏻 And maybe the biggest bubble of all. Nations. Quote Erich Fromm (philosopher) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Fromm : "Nation states are often narcissistic,..." i.e. they have an inflated sense of self, a clinging need for admiration, and apathy for others. History is littered with nations who thought they were so important. They were so proud. And today, still, when their pride has been hurt, they lash out with aggression - like children in a tantrum - invading other people's spaces.
Respect, self-control, patience and tolerance now seem like dirty words. I could write pages on this. But you get the gist. 尊敬、自制、忍耐、寛容という言葉は、今では良い言葉ではありません。
I was not "Genki" last week. I had a nasty little stomach bug, and had to cancel numerous nice activities. However, I felt strong enough on Sunday to attempt a modest little walk - just 6km. But a solo 🚶🏻♂️walk. I was still feeling weak, and would never have kept up with my usual hiking colleagues if they had come.
I am sooo happy with my € 49 "go anywhere" train ticket.
So, I caught the little train that runs into the Odenwald - the vias - https://www.vias-online.de/odenwaldbahn/ .
I relaxed into my seat and closed my eyes. This is train travel as it ought to be - clean seats; clean, working toilets, friendly ticket inspectors, and even human beings who do not burst bags of crisps in your face (although the last point cannot be guaranteed).
I had a very pleasant ride.
I alighted 45 minutes later at Otzberg-Lengfeld station, south of Darmstadt. My goal was Otzberg castle, a mere 3 km away. I was going to take it really slowly, stopping at almost every bench (as long as it was in the shade).
You always think that you have to go far away to find interesting places, leaving the more local places behind. Wrong. After a short walk I reached Lengfeld church - a typical Hessen romanesque building with a picturesque spire...私は病気だったので、日曜日に小さな一人散歩をしました
...and ancient gates....古い教会の門
Good Protestant organ tones wafted out into the sunshine.......(it was Sunday morning)......オルガンの音が聞こえられました
...Then, on through the charming high street with its market building and welcome shade...
.......and water fountain.....
The gradient rose as I left the houses behind me and entered the fields of wheat and barley....村の外で
Looking back I noticed that that monument to Christianity dominated the skyline......with a cheeky poppy to distract you.....教会の尖塔、生意気なポピー🤣
Across the fields in the other direction Otzberg castle rose up on a modest hill........
It's real name is "Veste Otzberg"......this link is in German....(well, I mean, what do you expect?).....https://www.schloesser-hessen.de/de/veste-otzberg (There is an English version, but it is obviously a google translate job, or from somebody who thinks that they are fluent in the lingo)........
I soon needed a break, and sat down on the next bench. Aha! placed here on Annemarie Franz's 90th birthday.......well, she must have been a fit old lady.....more than can be said of me today......私は休みます。 ".....90歳の誕生日を迎えたアンネマリー・フランツへ...."
Through gaps in the hedges I glimpsed the rolling countryside. This is the northern edge of the Odenwald, mostly farmland......いい眺め
Slowly but surely I got closer and closer to the castle. The little settlement around it is pretty unspoilt.......オッツベルクの小さな村
At last....the gateway....did I have to knock?.....ついに門......ノックしなければなりませんか
......the wheel mechanism suggested a former drawbridge......跳ね橋 (?)
In good German fashion the enticing waft of grilled sausages came around the corner......a Biergarten, where all the good folk of Otzberg spend their Sundays it seems...ソーセージの匂いがした.......バーベキュー?
....but no, sausages and beer were not for my stomach today. I was content to admire the roses around the old garrison house.......
.....and found a shady bench to nibble my sandwiches.......城壁の近く
Leaving the castle.......私は出発します
And reaching the railway station some 20 mins later (there was no ice cream shop this time.....).......I was met with even more red roses...もっと赤いバラ! with a matching red door...
........it must be a good year for them....(roses I mean, not red doors).
Thank you for reading ".......Opinion.........."
Feel free to share the blog with friends.
p.s I tried to draw the kanji characters for "opinion". It's often a mystery to me how these characters originated. However here we have
"idea/mind/heart" followed by "look at/hopes/opinion"
and a last minute newsflash : This week in Frankfurt....https://db.nipponconnection.com/en/2023/event/film
I am helping out as a chauffeur.........! Here are some quick impressions...
The main cinema in the Mousonturm. My picture shows: Marion Klomfaß (r) introduces Masaaki Kudo (m) before the screening of his film The far Shore. Anyone who has seen Japanese tourist brochures will have seen alluring pictures of the chain of islands in the south - Okinawa. Broad, idylic beaches and clear water. The reality for young people who actually live there is rather less than idyllic. Kudo traces the struggles of a very young couple with a toddler. Father is immature and clings to a selfish "power" role over his partner. The young mother is dissillusioned with life and despite her disgust, but for want of money, is forced into prostitution. This is real cinema. Kudo spent 3 years in Okinawa and his screenplay is based on real life experience. This is no fantasy. Loud applause greeted the end of this film, and a lively discussion. I am glad I was there.
Socks for all fancies
Matcha Ice Cream!
The main venue on the Waldschmidtstrasse....the Mousonturm.....
The adjacent Naxos Halle.....
Something for every taste