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Entries in Kagoshima (2)

Wednesday
Nov022016

Ishiganto

  Walking down a cobbled slope in the Kinjō-chō neighborhood just south of Shuri Castle in Naha, Okinawa, I spotted a sign usually overlooked by tourists who can't read kanji: 敢當

  Ishigantō are ornamental tablets or engravings placed near or in buildings and other structures to exorcise or ward off evil spirits. Shí gǎn dāng, as they are called in Mandarin Chinese, are, according to Mr. Wiki, "often associated with Mount Tai [north of the city of Tai'an in Shandong province] and are often placed on street intersections or three-way junctions, especiallyin the crossing."

  Ishigantō were introduced to the Ryūkyū Kingdom from China and can be found throughout Okinawa Prefecture, where they are called Ishigantō or Ishigandō and to some extent in Kagoshima Prefecture, where they are called Sekkantō.

Wednesday
Nov092011

En

   I sometimes tell younger men that if they want to seduce someone, one of the fastest ways to close the deal, so to speak, is to inject a sense of coincidence into their meetings, popping up naturally, nonchalantly where the woman wouldn’t expect to find you. “This can border on stalking,” I warn them, “so be sure not to overdo it.”

   After bumping into each other a few times, say to the woman, “It must be fate,” then ask her out for drinks. If she believes that two of you have en (縁がある), why half the work will have been done for you. If, on the other hand, the relationship doesn’t work out, you can say the two of you simply didn’t have en (縁がなかった). Couples who divorce or break up never to speak to one another again are said to have cut the en (縁を切った).

   When people learn that both my first and second wives hailed from Kagoshima prefecture, one from the Ôsumi peninsula, the other from Satsuma peninsula, they comment that I must have some kind of en with the prefecture. “Yes,” I reply, “in a past life I was Saigô Takamori’s pet dog.”[1]

   In spite of my normal skepticism of “destiny”, there are times when the accumulation of coincidence is far too great to ignore. Take the Japanese princesses Masako and Kiko, wives of Crown Prince Naruhito and Prince Fumhito, respectively.

   Princess Masako's maiden name was Owada Masako (小和田 雅子, おわだまさこ), Kiko's was Kawashima Kiko (川島紀子, かわしまきこ). Line the two princess's maiden names up side by side with Masako's maiden name on the left and Kiko's on the right and you get: 



お o          か ka
わ wa       わ wa
だ da        し shi
ま ma       ま ma
さ sa        き ki
こ ko        こ ko

Now read the boldfaced hiragana. 

 

お o          か ka
わ wa       わ wa
だ da                     し shi
ま ma       ま ma
さ sa                      き ki
こ ko        こ ko


→ お・わ・だ・ま・さ・こ  おわだまさこ   小和田雅子  Owada Masako

お o          か ka
わ wa                     わ wa
だ da        し shi
ま ma                    ま ma
さ sa        き ki
こ ko                     こ ko

→ か・わ・し・ま・き・こ  かわしままさこ  川島紀子  Kawashima Kiko 

 

   Whaddya think? Have they got en?

 


[1] This is rather funny in Japanese. Trust me.