On January 15, 2022, the submarine volcano “Hunga Tonga Hunga Harpai” off the coast of Tonga erupted. It is a large eruption that is said to be “once in 100 years” and “once in 1000 years”. It is said that the eruption has a height of about 20 km and a radius of about 240 km. In the future, dust will stay in the atmosphere for a long time and block sunlight, which may cool the earth. In the 1991 eruption of Mount Pinatubo on Luzon Island, Philippines, which is said to be the largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century, the eruption reached the stratosphere and blocked sunlight, causing the temperature to drop by about 0.5 degrees on a global scale. In the northern hemisphere, crops have become poor in some areas, which are about twice as low as usual, and even in Japan, it was a record cold summer in 1993, and the government has had the experience of urgently importing Thai rice and other rice. In addition, there are concerns about tight energy supply. With the growing reliance on solar power, solar power is an unreliable energy in an emergency. Nuclear power generation is one of the strengths of such an emergency. It is unpredictable what the impact of the Tonga volcanic eruption will be in the future, but I think we must build a system that can restart nuclear power generation at any time.
I will never forget the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake on January 17, 1995. Even now, 27 years later, it will be revived vividly. In addition to this, in that year, there was a subway sarin incident in March, an ANA hijacking incident in June, and a sodium leak accident in the fast breeder reactor “Monju” in December. It was a year when social unrest overwhelmed Japan, but it was also a year when events that symbolized the dawn of the Internet era occurred. At midnight on Thursday, November 23, the Japanese version of Microsoft’s OS “Windows 95” began to be sold in Japan. Akihabara in Tokyo and Nihonbashi in Osaka were a long line of customers who buy it from midnight. It was also a year when the world changed completely. Personally, I remember that I had some troubles in my home and feel like wanting to run away, and I went on a one-week trip by car, following Basho’s footsteps.
When I visit the nearby plum grove, it smells the strong plum scent. There must be plums that have begun to bloom, and as I walk forward, bright red plums are beginning to bloom. Normally, it will start to bloom in another week or two, but why did it bloom so early this year? It seems that the temperature is lower than usual this winter, and there seems to be some other reason. Tomorrow is January 17, the day when the Great Hanshin-Awaji Earthquake occurred 27 years ago. By the way, I left home early in the morning that day, but I remembered that the white plums I had planted in the garden were in bloom and I was distracted by the scent. I’m a little worried. I pray that my worries are needless.
Christmas rose is a very popular flower for flower lovers. Christmas Rose has a beautiful myth about the birth of Jesus Christ. When the angel told the shepherds about the birth of Jesus, many people brought gifts for the blessing. But one poor sheep-keeper girl had nothing to give and she couldn’t bring anything. An angel came down to such a girl and shook the lily in her hand toward the ground. Then, pure white flowers bloomed in full bloom, and it is said that the girl delivered the flowers to Jesus. This flower was a Christmas rose. Christmas rose is the English name, and Helleborus Niger is the correct name. “Helleborus” means “food of death” and “Niger” means “black”, and the black roots of this plant contain poison. In the old days, it was used to apply the poison to the arrowheads or dissolve it in drinking water to reduce the troops of the enemy country. Christmas rose is a flower that has a beautiful myth and a scary side.
The petals of sasanqua flowers are piled up on the ground in the last night’s storm. Every petal is alive. It may be because it feel the warmth of the earth. The earth is also gorgeous with its color. It looks like a sasanqua flower in full bloom that has bloomed on the ground again. There are many things that make me think just by looking at such a landscape. The ecosystem of plants, all things in a state of flux, what gets up must come down, etc. The seasons come around, and when the sasanqua flowers are gone, it’s already spring.
Tondoyaki is a fire festival of the little New Year (about January 15 by the lunar calendar). Officially, it’s called Sagicho, but I didn’t know until recently. It seems that there are various names such as Dondo-yaki, Saito-yaki, etc. depending on the region. Generally, the event is held on January 14th or 15th, and in Kyushu, it is often held on the 6th or 7th. Bamboo is used as the main material, and it is assembled into columns, cones, squares, etc., and the central bamboo material is attached with decorations and lucky charms equivalent to coins, and they were baked with decoration. It is believed that it is the origin of the Shinto ritual that welcomes the god of good fortune of the year, Toshitoku-jin, and is the custom of the Izumo area.
When I was a kid, my mother’s parents’ house had a Goemon bath. Robai(Japanese allspice) was planted near the bathroom, and it was in full bloom by this time of winter. At dusk, it was very impressive to see the Robai in the sunset while the smoke in the bathroom drifts, and I can still see the scene. Ryunosuke Akutagawa sings “The length of the branches that can see Robai through the snow”, but I feel like I understand it. Robai is about a month earlier than plum blossoms and begins to bloom when it is really cold. In the murderous winter scenery, the flowers and scent are much more noticeable than plum blossoms, but no Tanka poet or Haiku poet has sung Robai before that, including Basho. This is because Japanese allspice came into Japan in the late Edo period. It is also called “Karaume” or “Nanjingume”, and is called “Winter sweet” in English. It’s the perfect name for Japanese allspice, which gives off a sweet scent in the cold winter.
There are more than 200 varieties of Boke(quince), such as vermilion scarlet quince, pure white quince, and chintz quince, which is a mixture of red and white. It was Soseki Natsume who explained the quince accurately. He says it in the next passage of “Kusamakura” 《Quince is an interesting flower. The branches are stubborn and never bent. If you say that it is straight, it is not straight at all. However, the straight short branch collides with the straight short branch at a certain angle, and the whole is completed while holding it at an angle. There, red or white flowers that do not get the point bloom quietly. It can even flicker soft leaves. If you evaluate the quince, it will be the flower that realized the most the stupidity among the flowers. There are people in the world who say that they keep too their honesty to a fault. When this person is reborn in the afterlife, he will surely become a quince. I also want to be a quince. 》
In Kansai, it is crowded with “Ebessan(Ebisu)” for these three days. “Ebisu” is a festival that enshrines Ebisu, the god of fishing, the god of prosperous business, and the god of fertility of five grains. It is held every year from January 9th for 3 days, 9th is called “Yoi-Ebisu”, 10th is called “Hon-Ebisu”, and 11th is called “Nokori-Huku(Remaining Fortune)”. Nishinomiya Shrine (Hyogo Prefecture), Imamiya Ebisu Shrine (Osaka Prefecture), and Kyoto Ebisu Shrine (Kyoto Prefecture), which are called Japan’s three major Ebisu shrines, are visited by about 900,000 people for three days, but in 2021, the number of people decreased by 80% to about 200,000. Each shrine would have been enthusiastic about this year, but what will happen as the Omicron stock gains momentum? I am worried about the sales of Fukuzasa and Kumade which are decorated with lucky charms at the tips of the branches.
Murouji Temple is also called “Women’s Koyasan ” because it allowed women to visit, although Koyasan has closed to women since ancient times. Murouji has continued to heal the visiting women over time, in solidarity with the women. This Murouji Temple is located 60km to the east and 110m to the north of Hase-dera. In other words, Murouji Temple and Hasedera Temple are on the line of 34 degrees 32 minutes north latitude, which is almost perfect. This was broadcast on NHK TV in 1980 as “The Road of the Sun” and caused a sensation. It introduced a mysterious fact that many ancient ruins and historical shrines are lined up on the line from Awaji Island (Isekuruma Shrine) in the west to Ise (Kamishima) in the east at 34 degrees 32 minutes north latitude, centering on the Hashihaka Kofun in Nara prefecture. The sun worship led by the shrine maiden, represented by the mysterious queen Himiko, is still beautifully inherited by the Hinomaru in the form that most clearly symbolizes Japan in the world.