A Japanese friend of mine asked me if I saw the Asura statue. I said, "I want to see it, but..." She said the exhibit would be closing soon. I asked her if she saw it. "Of course!" she said.
She also said the following. The sentence contains no subject or object. My translation follows.
「日本人じゃ見るよ」 "If you're Japanese, you'll go see it," or "Because I'm Japanese, I've gone to see it."
I didn't clarify the meaning with her. I went to the museum on Wednesday. It was very warm day. To get into the museum, I waited for 70 minutes under the sun. The Asura sculptures of Kofuku Temple are at the Tokyo National Museum until next Sunday. In this exhibit, we have a 360 degree view of the national treasure, "The Asura Statue."
Among the curator's words, I thought the following interesting. "Asuras were originated in Persia and became gods in India. Asuras are fighting gods." Wow, fighting gods! I thought I went to see peaceful gods. I looked at three faces of the statue. They seemed to be someone I knew. The front face appeared divine with twisted eyebrows. He or she had a long and slim waist line and wore a pair of sandals. The sandals weren't a simple go-ahead, but a go-ahead with a supporting rope around the heels. A short string with a knot connects the supporting rope to the sole of the sandal.
I was impressed with all the detail of the statue. I wondered how the craftsman achieved the delicate lines and textures. Then I read its technique. First, a basic pole and modeling clay were used to construct a foundation. Second, use lacquer to stick several layers of hemp cloth on the surface. Third, wait to dry a little and open the back and remove the clay. Fourth, use wooden pieces to reinforce inside, and later, paint a mixture of lacquer and some wooden dust all over the surface. Lastly, paint colors and gold.
Yesterday, I watched Jakucho Setouchi in a television interview. She listened to viewers' personal problems and gave her advice. She is one of the best-selling authors. She became a nun around 1970. One of her well known works is her translation of Genji Monogatari into a modern language, and I believe Donald Keene's translation into English is based on Jakucho's. I haven't read hers, but I have read Donald Keene's. She said she turned 88. She is young and acute. She received a Bunka medal like a Japanese Nobel prize in 1987. She's been an activist and often appearing on media.
In the interview, Jakucho was informative and humorous, and at the end of it, she said something very interesting. It was a kind of advice makes most Japanese mothers to nod. It's the kind of opinions most Japanese feel comfortable, I think. She said,
"It's okay to spoil your children. Spoil them as much as possible while living with them because once they go outside into the society, they meet the harsh reality."
In my opinion, I think it's cruel for children if parents do not prepare them for the harsh reality. By now, I thought the above spoiling-children teaching or concept was studied and analyzed and confirmed as the source of our many problems. I was surprised that the people in leadership roles like Jakucho still give such advice.
It's been very difficult for me to say this to Japanese in the Japanese language. Eve Kushner of red room said something like this, "It's weird that I can talk something I feel shameful in a foreign language, but not in my own." I agree with her. Maybe, Kunzang can talk with Jakucho-san.