29 juli 2006

Tokyo and Paris

Familiar with the former as a semi-inhabitant,
with the latter only as a tourist on some rainy days in November.
Both are inspiring to many.
Also to Viktor & Rolf, apparently.

They created two dresses.
One french ballroom gown,
One japanese kimono.
Worn by two women who performed a beautiful dance.
Which Ingrid and I went to see tonight in Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum.

Ingrid just got back from Paris and I from Tokyo.
She loves dance.
I love Japan.
This night seemed to have been made for us.

Two cities,
Two dresses,
Two girls,
Differences, but also,
many similarities.
What a wonderful evening!

21 juli 2006

Luchtkasteel - Air Castle - 空中楼閣

Long talks on the beach are always good. Today's talk got me thinking about luchtkastelen (sorry, I just love the word in Dutch). Too easy to build and too hard to deconstruct. Its shape changes and changes. When its foundations are laid, the rest automatically follows. Destructing every intention of the real castle's colour, shape and size. Only when below the new foundation an old one, a stronger one, a real one, is found, there is a chance that the new luchtkasteel will be destructed. Then, the real castle might even decide to appear.

18 juli 2006


Another heatwave is hitting the Netherlands at the moment, and as I got out of my library-cave today to pick some embassy-stuff up at the foreign ministry, I had to go through it. During lunchtime I had a discussion with my friend Marinda on patriotism in the Netherlands and in Germany. Marinda is a true Germany-lover and very knowledgeable about the country. She told me that the German government is still sponsoring trips to Germany for Dutch highschool students to foster understanding between the two countries. Somewhat like what the Japanese government is doing (although those programs are being reformed at the moment...). After our discussion I went to the library to get Ian Buruma's 'The Wages of Guilt' (戦争の記憶:日本人とドイツ人)on the way Germany and Japan are dealing with their past, fascinating book (well, the introduction and first chapter are as far as I got today, but they're great!). All in all it is interesting to see how my friends respond to my previous patriotism-blog and I am looking forward to more comments.

For now, some heatwave pictures.. :) (click on the photo to have a better look)

This, on the left, is the canal surrounding the old town of Leiden. Students that do not live on the right side of it, are doing something wrong ;). On the right a for once not so disgusting public expression of sentiment (this opposed to the desks in the library that I would not want to show to anyone I was giving a tour of my "top-class" university).

On the left a picture with a painting by Rembrandt. The City of Leiden has put up paintings of the famous master all over town to show that it is very serious about celebrating the Rembrandt Year! The picture on the right shows a very prestigious project of the former City Council. It is a big screen with all the things Leiden is (supposed to be) well-known for. The thing is also hiding one of the most ugly construction sites in town.

Lots of guys are walking around half naked these days.... Not sure what to think of it, but as me and my friend were relaxing in some terras seat anyway, we glanced at this guy and thought, well.. decide for yourself.. ;) On the right, something that reminded me of Japan. The guy this bike and jacket belong to, apparently forgot the latter, too hot I guess. And wheras it is pretty common for items like this to disappear, this was still there (at least when I picked up my bike)..

To the left a nice poem painted on the Faculty of Arts. And to the right, a very typical Dutch summer view!

17 juli 2006

How Patriotic are YOU?

Since my appointment with my thesissupervisor last Wednesday, I've been working on my thesis like mad! And what do you know, it's fun! I never thought I would be motivated this much. I do not want to bore anyone too much with talking about Japanese patriotism, but chances are that you will find me referring to it every now and then, just because its on my mind these days.

The current Koizumi administration has been working very hard to show the Japanese people that it is not a bad thing to love one's country. Raising the flag, singing the anthem, visiting Yasukuni to honour the people who died for Japan in the war... the list goes on and on. The theme of my thesis is the current debate on patriotism in Japan. There is a revision of the Basic Education Law waiting to be discussed in the Diet (Japanese parliament). This bill includes a phrase which says that schools must make an effort of teaching children about love of their country.

When I discussed this theme with my thesissupervisor, I told him that I had never been confronted with patriotism at school in the Netherlands. No teachers telling me to love my country, ever. So, why would such a thing be necessary in Japan? He then told be, to my surprise, that he thought the Dutch were a very patriotic people. Now, that came as a surprise. I always thought we made a very big thing out of NOT being patriotic. No, he told me(he's British), you Dutch are very patriotic. Explicitly only when the Dutch football team plays, but implicitly whenever you get a chance. According to him (and he should know because he is very smart;) ), there is a subconscious consensus about what it means to be Dutch and that loving the Netherlands is a very natural thing for us. The problem in Japan seems to be that this consensus is lacking, at least according to the politicians. They think this consensus is necessary, hence this law. Leaves me questioning about whether its a good thing to enforce patriotism, but well.. I've got some weeks left!

Thinking about patriotism in Japan did make me think about patriotism in the Netherlands as well. I have always said that I am very Dutch. But what does that mean? I am proud of my country.. we complain a lot, but I guess we've built ourselves a pretty good society/system here. I am not proud of Dutch food, like the Japanese are of their food. But I guess I am happy to be Dutch, is that it?

Let me ask you, how patriotic do you feel about your country?

10 juli 2006



9 juli 2006

Recovery from Re-Entry..

Leaving Japan wasn't very hard. I was done with the temporary character of my stay and I was also very eager to go home to start working on my graduation thesis. The past three months have been great, though. My Japanese has become better than it ever was, I am totally up-to-date on all recent political developments and socially this has been the warmest time ever. Three months at the embassy were enough to let me have a great and interesting time, but also to let me find out that becoming a civil servant will probably not be the best career choice for me. And though saying goodbye to my family and friends, and to Tokyo, wasn't easy, I knew I would be back, so the parting would only be temporary which lessened the tears.. ;)

After saying goodbye to Otosan at Ueno-station, I started my journey back to the Netherlands. The flight was fine, the middle seat was vacant which is always kind of comfy.. I wasn't prepared for the encounter with the Italian species on Milano Malpensa airport, however. Tired from the 11,5 hour flight, I walked out the gate to the security check where I was welcomed by security guards almost screaming "Go, Go!" to the Japanese passengers to make them hurry. Boy, was that a difference from all the immensely polite Japanese staff back in Tokyo. I don't know why, but I was deeply shocked. The fatigue must have had something to do with it, but still.. I wanted to turn around and walk straight back to the plane to get back to Japan asap. Thank heavens for the Japanese guy from the train to Narita that suddenly turned out to have been on the same plane. We chatted for about an hour and this made the transition back to European etiquette somewhat easier, thanks Hiroshi!

These past days I have seen my family and friends, tidied up my room and tried to get over the annoying jetlag. I've even decided to continue my studying-at-starbucks habit by going to an Amsterdam cafe to study a bit. Suprisingly, it is taking some time to get used to my own country again. Tonight my friend Likele and I joined some of his friends for a boattrip through Amsterdam. This, and the biketrip back from Likele's house to my place, made me realize that I do love living here as well.. :)

Yes yes, I have finally moved.

http://cheruchan.hyves.nl> http://cheruchan.blogspot.com

People tell me that Hyves is not the same as it used to be. Other people tell me that I really need to start writing in English as Dutch is totally incomprehensible. Well here they have it! The wonder of this blog is that I can also write in Japanese, which convinced me that blogspot is indeed a better option than Hyves. The only problem is that after three months in Japan using only Dutch and Japanese, my written English feels a bit rusty. But I guess it will come back to me, just as my Japanese came back to me over the past few months. The only thing I have not changed is the title of my blog. 'cheruchan op ontdekkingstocht' has been the heading to all I have written online since my first experiences with html back in '99 and it feels sort of weird to change it now.