This year, the summer solstice was the 22nd
of June. The midnight sun in Scandinavia
is well known. In Stockholm, during the 3
hours in the midnight, it changes from the
twilight to the dawn. At 22 o'clock, the
sunshine is as strong as the middle of the
daytime and at 02 o'clock, the morning sun
is clear and bright. The summer solstice
is called "Midsummer" and is a
very important festival in Scandinavia. Grownups
and children, everybody longs and loves "Midsummer".
Most of people spend the day in the park,
at a summerhouse or on a yacht. It is an
open-air activity day.
In Tokyo, the sun rises at 4:20. Birds begin
chirping 10 minutes before the sunrise. I
awake by the chirping even if I live really
in the center of Tokyo. To get up with birds
just before the sunrise gives me a nice feeling
like winning a race against the sun.
In May, I made a short trip to visit some
renovated station-towns, the reserved cultural
heritage villages in Kiso.
The villages have a simple structure with
a single narrow street, sometime with slopes
and steps. Tightly built wooden two storied
houses with deep eaves make lines on the
both sides of the street. The back yards
are often vegetable fields that end with
steep hills or a ravine.
To be in the village even renovated model
area, I experienced old days life much easier
to understand than through books and illustrations.
An important author in modern Japanese literature,
Toson Shimazaki (1872/1973) * CLICK * was born there. The line of houses, the
villages and the scenery were his childhood's
reality. He was sent to Tokyo for his schoolwork
when he was 9 years old. His elementary,
junior and high school have been in Tokyo
since then. Even to day those schools are
well established and highly respected in
Tokyo. I felt how quickly Japanese modern
life style took over the old traditional
way of life.
It is exiting and joyful to visit European
old towns. They are cozy and tasteful. When
we return from those towns, shops, restaurants
or castles, the nice cozy hotel with the
same traditional atmosphere receive us.
Our Tokyo went through big earthquakes, fires
and the air raids. The authorities and engineers
focused their efforts to the disaster prevention.
It looks we have lost our quality of life.
Do we have lost our traditional interest
in life with nature?