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Maciamo
Sep 16, 2006, 19:23
EDIT : title modified due to inappropriate wording.

During my years in Japan, I was told hundreds of times about the 4 seasons of Japan, that the Japanese seem to be so proud of. The Japanese also compliment themselves on their closeness to nature. I never really understood what the fuss was about. Don't misunderstand me, I love nature, and since my childhood I have been able to recognise numerous trees just by their leaves, or made a point to distinguish a mouse from a long-nosed shrew or a stout vole. I gave up studying species once I reached teenagehood, so my knowledge is still pretty superficial, but probably better than average.

What I mean here is that the Japanese only seem interested in nature and the seasons, but usually don't know much about either of them. And indeed Japan is far from exceptional for its nature and seasons, which is my second criticism.

It is now 10 months that I have returned to Europe, and during this time I paid particular attention to the passing of the seasons compared to Japan. Here are my observations.

Biodiversity

Here in Belgium, when I go to the park I can find dozens, and sometimes hundreds of kinds of trees and shrubs. In Japanese cities you always find the same few trees everywhere : cherries (along the main roads and canals, and in parks), plums (esp. around temples and shrines), gingko (along many of Tokyo's roads), and momiji (esp. in mountains and gardens) + a few conniferous like the Japanese cedar (sugi) and the pine (matsu). Hardly ever do we see oaks (kashiwa), beeches (buna), elms, maples (kaede, apart from momiji), lindens (shina), chestnuts (kuri), walnuts (kurumi), willows (yanagi), birches (shirakaba), poplars (popura), etc. Yet most of these trees are also native of Japan, as the Japanese names (and kanji) indicate.

Trees in cities and parks are the reflection of human selection. I understand that the Japanese mania of cherry blossoms has led them to plant chery trees everywhere, but unfortunately to the demise of other species. My wife, who has always lived in Tokyo, has no idea what most of the above-mentioned trees look like, eventhough she has heard of their names.

Seasons

Autumn is slowly arriving in Belgium (although we've still had over 25'C recently). The first leaves have been falling since late August, and will continue to fall until late October to mid November. The great diversity of trees means that the "autumn leaves" (koyo) seasons is much longer in Belgium than in Japan, as each varity of tree sheds its leaves at a different time. Instead of having 2 weeks of "koyo" like in Japan, we have about 3 months. This feels like a real season (3 months is exactly the lenghth each season should be, to be perfectly balanced).

This summer was particularily hot and sunny in July (and September). My image of summer was always that of the sun and long daylight. Sun rises around 5am and sets around 10:30pm in late June and early July. Still now, a few days from the Autmumn Equinox (21 September being the official first day of Autumn here), we still have longer days than in Japan in June. Summer in Kanto is so rainy and cloudy (and dark) that the only thing that make it feel like summer is the heat. For me, a typical Japanese summer is not summer. It's a strange season reminding me more of tropical countries. In fact, this semi-tropical climate starts around May and continues until October in Japan. So almost half of the year is tropical, hence the term "semi-tropical".

Of course Japan is not homogenous when it comes to seasons. Normal as it streches over 3000km, as far as from England to Turkey, across all continental Europe ! Hokkaido and the Tohoku region are much colder and snowier in winter and do not get so hot and muggy in summer. Their climate are more similar to Eastern Europe. Okinawa has no real seasons. So I will concentrate on the heart of Japan, between the Kanto and Kyushu (where 90% of the Japanese live).

Even Spring, Japan's most "sacred" season thanks to the cherry blossoms, is hardly a season by European standard. Cherries only blossoms for 1 or 2 weeks, and once it is gone there are rather few flowers and blossoms to remind you that you are still in Spring. In Belgium, we also have cherry blossoms (http://www.eupedia.com/gallery/showgallery.php?si=cherry&x=0&y=0&limit=) (some neighbourhoods also have streets lined with blossoming cherry trees), but so many other blossoming trees and shrubs (white, yellow, pink, red, orange...), and so many flowers on the balconies, in the parks or elsewhere, that it really does feel like Spring until leaves grow all over the trees and the temperature rises to reach Summer.

Here is a typical flowerbed found in a Belgian city in Spring (here in front of a train station) - and this is nothing compared to the Netherlands :

http://www.eupedia.com/gallery/data/509/thumbs/namur-gare2.jpg

Mike Cash
Sep 16, 2006, 20:04
I work outside and consequently am well aware of the passing of the four seasons in Japan (or at least my little corner of it).

I can understand not encountering much biodiversity in Tokyo. Sad to say, even out here in the Gunma boondocks I have to make a conscious effort to walk on grass every now and then....seems there's never anything but concrete or asphalt underfoot.

pipokun
Sep 16, 2006, 20:36
Setting aside the great Belgian story, gingko's hisotry is very interesting.
It was everywhere on the earth tens of millions years ago, but mysterically it all became extinct except southern part of China.
Then the samurai ruling class in the Kamakura adopted Zen and Ginko from China, so the tree became a sort of symbol of newly ruling class, samurai, after the Heian era.
Imagine if no ginko had been introduced to Germany, what poem had Goethe written for his young partner. You don't have to write a nice poem like him, but your partner would highly appreciate your kindness if you pick up ginko nuts for her to eat there.
FYI: The easiest way to cook the nuts is to put them in a paper envelope and heat them in a microwave oven.

DoctorP
Sep 16, 2006, 23:57
I would add that the lack of biodiversity (as you put it) in cities is due to lack of creativity. Japan has many different species of trees, however you will be hard pressed to find them within city limits. Venture out into the countryside and you will notice the difference.

gaijinalways
Sep 17, 2006, 02:32
CC1 is probably right, though I have still been hard pressed to see colorful autumns here unless I travel to some special area. Contrast this with New England in the US, where driving to work brings you in direct contact every day with a colorful landscape.

The seasons thing in Japan is another one of those mysteries of naiveness!

JimmySeal
Sep 17, 2006, 02:46
Japan has shiki - four seasons - spring, summer, fall, summer, as any Japanese person will be delighted to teach you.

Elizabeth
Sep 17, 2006, 03:06
I would add that the lack of biodiversity (as you put it) in cities is due to lack of creativity. Japan has many different species of trees, however you will be hard pressed to find them within city limits. Venture out into the countryside and you will notice the difference.
If I remember correctly, the exact number in Japan is a grand total of more than 5,000 species of trees and shrubs, herbs and grasses (higher plants) which comes to around a quarter of the US total. :-)

Maciamo
Sep 17, 2006, 04:17
If I remember correctly, the exact number in Japan is a grand total of more than 5,000 species of trees and shrubs, herbs and grasses (higher plants) which comes to around a quarter of the US total. :-)

If you are looking at all plants, including the rare ones and imported ones, it is easy to reach impressive numbers. The National Botanic Garden of Belgium (http://www.br.fgov.be/) (just outside Brussels) has over 18,000 species of plants ! In comparison, Tokyo's Jindaiji Botanical Garden (the biggest in Japan ?) ha sonly 4,500 species of plants. Let alone Koishikawa Shokubutsuen, near the Imperial Palace, which has maybe less plants than a regular Belgian park (or some personal backyards).

DoctorP
Sep 17, 2006, 09:37
Japan also doesn't allow for a lot of different species to be imported for fear of overpopulation.

Too bad other countries didn't do this with Japan...Kudzu has taken over in many places of the US!

taehyun
Sep 17, 2006, 13:31
I think this is little bit complicated and we shouldn't judge only from one point of view. It is absolutely correct that the trees and all other plants (and animals) are connected with some kind of belief, are worshied and traditional part of the Japanese landscape.
Behind this, however, is the way Japanese are used to see the nature. It is not just the nature, it is a friend, a partner or an enemy, it is alive and it is a kind of society itself, only it follows rules and order different from ours.They are deities, they transform into humans and contact humans, marry them, kidnap them, protect them.
Japanese want to know and to be in contact with their nature, not just to watch it or use it...They have smaller amount of plants, because they want to know every type, for it is a living creature.
And as for the 4 seasons...The climat changes all over the world.

ricecake
Sep 17, 2006, 13:58
The seasons thing in Japan is another one of those mysteries of naiveness !



Someone never missed a chance in unmasking Japan's artifical uniqueness.

Maciamo
Sep 17, 2006, 22:53
Behind this, however, is the way Japanese are used to see the nature.

More than Europeans or Americans ? 1/4 of the Japanese live in the Greater Tokyo, and another fourth in other big cities of over 1 million inhabitants. Parks are much scarcer in Japanese cities than in Western cities. Tokyo is only concrete as far as the eye can see (even from the top of a tower). I really don't think that modern Japanese are more used to see nature, or are closer to nature than almost any other people in the world. It is a bit ironic that Japan's native religion (Shintoism), which is all about the relation between humans and nature, has resulted in Japan being one of the country the most alienated from nature.


Japanese want to know and to be in contact with their nature, not just to watch it or use it...They have smaller amount of plants, because they want to know every type, for it is a living creature.

One of my complaints was that my wife and a good deal of the Japanese I met had very little knowledge of plants and animals. I was asked by educated adults whether deer ate rabbits ! :eek: (no kidding) When some of my Japanese students started talking about cherry blossoms, I asked them whether they prefered yae-zakura, somei-yoshino-zakura, ookan-zakura, chidare-zakura, or othe varieties, and quite a few of them weren't sure what was the difference between them (although it is pretty obvious).



And as for the 4 seasons...The climat changes all over the world.

What is that supposed to mean ? Japan did not have 4 seasons before ? Does it not have 4 seasons now because of climate change ? Do other countries aquire 4 seasons ? I really don't think that any of those are true (except over millions of years, but not since the beginning of human civilisations).

pipokun
Sep 17, 2006, 23:20
More than Europeans or Americans ? 1/4 of the Japanese live in the Greater Tokyo, and another fourth in other big cities of over 1 million inhabitants. Parks are much scarcer in Japanese cities than in Western cities. Tokyo is only concrete as far as the eye can see (even from the top of a tower). I really don't think that modern Japanese are more used to see nature, or are closer to nature than almost any other people in the world. It is a bit ironic that Japan's native religion (Shintoism), which is all about the relation between humans and nature, has resulted in Japan being one of the country the most alienated from nature.
I guess you've travelled a lot around Japan, but not Tokyo. If your wife was from Okutama, western part of edit: TOKYO, you might complain how boring Tokyo life is.
And forest coverage ratio...
Tokyo>Your country (of course, this is only Tokyo, does not include kanagawa, saitama or other neibouring cities)
But, population density in Tokyo and your country...
So how many Belgians think biodiversity includes your great Botanic Garden?
For me, a botanic garden is just a garden.

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 00:44
So how many Belgians think biodiversity includes your great Botanic Garden?
For me, a botanic garden is just a garden.
No, that was just an example in response to Elizabeth's post. The actual number of plants in a country does not mean much, because nowadays species are imported from numerous countries. That is why it becomes difficult to say which species is native and which is not. How long does it take for a species to become "native" ? Cherry trees were imported from China to Japan. Are they native ? If yes, why not a import from 100 or 50 or 20 years ago ? My point was that there are few different kinds of trees in Japanese cities, because Japanese people like to have a lot of the same trees (e.g. gingko, cherries...) rather than a lot of diversity. I guess it matches the Japanese concept of harmony through homogeneity.

The 2nd point of this thread was that Autumn in Japanese cities was very shortlived (only about 2 weeks of "koyo") because of this lack of diversity in trees, while in Belgium the "koyo season" matches almost exactly the 3 months of Autumn. This is also true for flowers and blossoms in Spring. Therefore, Belgian (and most other European) seasons are more clearly marked than in Japan. Therefore, why do the Japanese think of their 4 seasons are more clear-marked ?

If I were Chinese I would ask the Japanese government for a public apology for having taught its people lies about the seasons which have deeply offended trees in my country, because the spirit of the trees in the parks heard Japanese tourists say that Japanese trees had more colourful leaves in autumn. :p

gaijinalways
Sep 18, 2006, 00:56
Actually the Great Kanto Plain covering from Tokyo to Hiroshima and something like 85% of the population of Japan. I hardly see much nature in that big metro spread. Luckily though, there is quite a bit of small gardens in Tokyo, but as Maciamo related, very little open park areas (some 18% compared to London/NYC at about 60%).

Add to that the Japanese consideration of nature includes the sentiment that artifical nature in arranged gardens is somehow nature made better! Uh sure, many areas in Europe and the US are reforested farmland in some cases, but these areas aren't ridgely planted in symetrical rows as well bending branches to make nice shapes. Natural indeed.

taehyun posted
Japanese want to know and to be in contact with their nature, not just to watch it or use it...They have smaller amount of plants, because they want to know every type, for it is a living creature.

Uh, they hardly seem to know them, so in what sense are you referring to? Some Japanese do seem to enjoy going out in nature, though others are dreadly afraid of it, insects, etc. Remember some Japanese consider living in an urbanized suburb to be living in inaka!

By the way Maciamo, personally, I wouldn't worry too much about comparing gardens as that doesn't support your main points as well. Remember, man-made gardens are hardly 'natural'.

DoctorP
Sep 18, 2006, 01:27
I feel sorry for you and Maciamo as your view of Japan seems limited to the cities. The two of you should get out more and view the countryside.

It is true that places like Tokyo are poorly planned and now mostly concrete, but there are truly beautiful places too that have a full Autumn and many beautiful colors.

It pains me that most every comparison on this forum goes back to Tokyo. Japan is much more than that!

Importing different species to your native country to improve its diversity isn't a good thing. On the surface it may seem like a good idea, but it isn't always. Some species become intruders, actually choking off life to other species. Maybe if you don't like the diversity in Japan you shouldn't hold the Japanese people directly responable, but rather Mother Nature...she ultimately decided what species would grow where.

caster51
Sep 18, 2006, 01:55
i think the important thing is the mind that feel four season.
then it is how we must express the season in the cocreat jungle like festival, food , ceremony, fashion........

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 06:09
I feel sorry for you and Maciamo as your view of Japan seems limited to the cities. The two of you should get out more and view the countryside.
It is true that places like Tokyo are poorly planned and now mostly concrete, but there are truly beautiful places too that have a full Autumn and many beautiful colors.
It pains me that most every comparison on this forum goes back to Tokyo. Japan is much more than that!

But Okinawa is hardly Japan. Most Japanese live in big cities, not in the countryside. I don't care at all what Japan looks like, I care about what most Japanese people say and feel about nature and the seasons. Why the hell would I criticise the way nature is in a specific part of the world ? What matters is how humans interact with it and control it. The Japanese cut their beautiful forests to plant "sugi", then put concrete on every mountain, hill, river bank or coast that can come into contact with people, then they claim they have a deep respect and admiration for nature because of Shintoism and appreciate the passing of the seasons more than anybody else. This is what bothers me. It's like if they said that were vegetarian but ate meat everyday anyway. It's like saying that they love democracy but nobody cared about politics or bothered to vote at elections.

taehyun
Sep 18, 2006, 09:51
Thank you for your reply.:-)
I mixed things:sorry: a little bit and caused misunderstanding
Traditionally, form 8th century till the beginning of 20th,when the "father "of the folkloristic studies in Japan ,Yanagita, did his research and collected all that stuff, yes ,there has been knowledge about nature ...plants ,animals ,anything.
But the economical boom in the 60ties , which turned Japan into the biggest consumer society in the world whiped out any knowledge, and any will of apprehension - cherries are to eat them and to drink a lot under the tree, plums are for jam, etc...And all this results in the tragicomical situations Macciamo described.
I read about the view on the nature in books, based on researches made 100 years ago, when still the traditions were alive, and Japanese hadn't cut their roots with their own hands:(

DoctorP
Sep 18, 2006, 10:26
But Okinawa is hardly Japan.

I have lived in many areas of Japan. I, myself, do not refer to Okinawa as Japan, I will call it Okinawa. It is much different than the rest of Japan. You are the one whose view has been limited to a confined area.



Most Japanese live in big cities, not in the countryside.

Actually many have homes in both areas. They live in the city during the work week and escape during the weekends!


Why the hell would I criticise the way nature is in a specific part of the world ? What matters is how humans interact with it and control it. The Japanese cut their beautiful forests to plant "sugi", then put concrete on every mountain, hill, river bank or coast that can come into contact with people,

I think that the concrete you refer to is used to prevent soil runoff, and damage to the environment (at least in the countryside). You say that they cut their forests, but I know of many forests that have never been touched.

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 17:12
It is much different than the rest of Japan. You are the one whose view has been limited to a confined area.
Are you pretending to know better than me which places I have been to in Japan ? I can tell you that among all the cities I have seen in Kyushu, Chugoku, Shikoku, Kansai, Chubu, Kanto or Hokkaido, almost all fit the description I made of Tokyo regarding the lack of diversity in trees, and the lack of nature within the city in general compared to European cities of the same size. Naturally a town of 100,000 inhabitants will be greener than Tokyo, but never as green as in Europe. Even Japanese villages tend to have all houses concentrated around the centre (usually around the station), with no or very small gardens/backyards for each house. In Europe, even in the big cities like London people have a backyard (and/or frontyard), with trees, flowers, little birds... No wonder most Japanese are clueless about plant names beyond the few "nationalist symbols" like sakura, ume, fuji, kiku or tsutsuji.

DoctorP
Sep 18, 2006, 17:32
again, I wasn't referring to cities, I referred you to the countryside. Sorry that you missed that.

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 17:36
again, I wasn't referring to cities, I referred you to the countryside. Sorry that you missed that.
And I mentioned the towns and villages that make up the countryside. Sorry you missed that.

DoctorP
Sep 18, 2006, 17:38
I didn't miss it...many of the areas that I chose to live in, the homes were about 1/2 km apart from one another with farmland everywhere and quite a few forests and wildlife...it was actually quite peaceful and a lot like home.

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 17:40
I didn't miss it...many of the areas that I chose to live in, the homes were about 1/2 km apart from one another with farmland everywhere and quite a few forests and wildlife...it was actually quite peaceful and a lot like home.
That is not the point of this thread. I am talking about the influence of Japanese people on the biodiversity (mostly in cities), resulting in a poor knowledge of native species of Japan (e.g. inability to recognise a beech or an oak from the leaves).

I don't give a damn about your living around farmland. Please stay on topic.

DoctorP
Sep 18, 2006, 17:42
That is not the point of this thread. I am talking about the influence of Japanese people on the biodiversity (mostly in cities), resulting in a poor knowledge of native species of Japan (e.g. inability to recognise a beech or an oak from the leaves).
I don't give a damn about your living around farmland. Please stay on topic.

Your initial post did not say only in cities. Therefore you lumped all Japanese together. You do that a lot. I will concede that people within the cities probably are ignorant to quite a few things when it comes to nature, but not all Japanese are the same.

Maciamo
Sep 18, 2006, 17:44
Your initial post did not say only in cities. Therefore you lumped all Japanese together. You do that a lot. I will concede that people within the cities probably are ignorant to quite a few things when it comes to nature, but not all Japanese are the same.

I never said all Japanese, but most, and indeed most of them live in cities.

Mike Cash
Sep 18, 2006, 18:01
Actually the Great Kanto Plain covering from Tokyo to Hiroshima and something like 85% of the population of Japan.

From Tokyo to where????

Hiroyuki Nagashima
Sep 18, 2006, 18:41
:D
Is it comparison of urban region limitation?
Is it comparison of urban region limitation?
If it is it,
Because population of Brussels is around 1000000,
It is strange to do Tokyo and Osaka and comparison.


A city of scale the same as Brussels is Sendai.:blush:

pipokun
Sep 18, 2006, 22:10
The haunted mentality, sakura, seasons or whatever, of your friends/students/wife
The answer is perhaps simple. You asked them leading questions for the answer you needed, such as "what is the climate in Japan like?" or "what is your favorite activity in spring. I guess many people tell you "the four season" or "hanami" first. For you, they were repeated answers to hear millions of times, but for your friends or wife, it was the first time.

Timber industry in Japan actually has lots of problems and has been destroyed for years, though we have resouces. But this economic or industrial problem does not have anything to do with what you call, the mental problem, right?

DoctorP
Sep 19, 2006, 04:26
I don't give a damn about your living around farmland. Please stay on topic.


please keep things civil...and no more insults! My comments were on topic.

I believe in most cities around the world you would be hard pressed to find people who could positively identify either a beech or and oak leaf. It is not something that is often taught anymore, unless one studies these things outside of school. These are often skills that are passed down by older generations, and being that Japan (and the rest of the world) are becoming life-less drones who are stuck to their PS2's, cell phones, i-pods, PC's, laptops, insert latest gadget here... etc... it is not so hard to understand why they are lacking in these skills now.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2006, 04:39
please keep things civil...and no more insults!
I don't think that saying that I don't give a damn about something is an insult. It only refers to my interest.

My comments were on topic.
I don't think so. I made the topic, I am the one to decide what is on or off topic.

I believe in most cities around the world you would be hard pressed to find people who could positively identify either a beech or and oak leaf. It is not something that is often taught anymore, unless one studies these things outside of school. These are often skills that are passed down by older generations, and being that Japan (and the rest of the world) are becoming life-less drones who are stuck to their PS2's, cell phones, i-pods, PC's, laptops, insert latest gadget here... etc... it is not so hard to understand why they are lacking in these skills now.
Well, I learn to distinguish leaves of at least the most common 20 or 30 varieties of trees in my country in both primary (elementary) and secondary (junior high) school. We had to make a herbarium by collecting the leaves by ourselves, dry them and flatten them (e.g. inside a phonebook), paste them on a blank sheet of paper, search in books or encyclopedia (or ask our parents) which tree they were, describe them, and we were rated on the quality and quantity of our researches. I do not know any (French-speaking) Belgian that hasn't done such a herbarium at school.

DoctorP
Sep 19, 2006, 04:42
Well, I learn to distinguish leaves of at least the most common 20 or 30 varieties of trees in my country in both primary (elementary) and secondary (junior high) school. We had to make a herbarium by collecting the leaves by ourselves, search in books or encyclopedia (or ask our parents) which tree they were, describe them, and we were rated on the quality and quantity of our researches. I do not know any (French-speaking) Belgian that hasn't done such a herbarium at school.

Japanese children do this as well in elementary school. They also study insects quite extensively. I do not believe that they carry it into the Jr or High school level as these tend to be more specialized.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2006, 04:44
Japanese children do this as well in elementary school. They also study insects quite extensively. I do not believe that they carry it into the Jr or High school level as these tend to be more specialized.

I have just asked my wife, and she has never done it at school or in her life... The Japanese education system being extremely homogenous, we can very well suppose that if she hasn't it wasn't part of the curriculum that year. Maybe children do it now, but it hasn't always been the case.

DoctorP
Sep 19, 2006, 04:47
I can testify that it has been done the last several years, as my children have all done it. I will have to ask my wife later, but if I recall correctly, she had to do the same when she was younger.

Of course I am not calling you are your wife a liar.

Mike Cash
Sep 19, 2006, 04:50
I don't think that saying that I don't give a damn about something is an insult. It only refers to my interest.


Unfortunately, the "I don't give a damn about...." phrasing, when used in direct connection to what another person has just said, is considered dismissive. And while a dismissive remark is not an insult, it is insulting.

epigene
Sep 19, 2006, 04:54
Japanese children do this as well in elementary school. They also study insects quite extensively. I do not believe that they carry it into the Jr or High school level as these tend to be more specialized.
Yes, I've done that, too. And so did my children (now in their 20s).

DoctorP
Sep 19, 2006, 04:56
Yes, I've done that, too. And so did my children (now in their 20s).

Perhaps Japanese schools are not as extremely homogenous as some people think.

epigene
Sep 19, 2006, 05:28
Perhaps Japanese schools are not as extremely homogenous as some people think.
I can't say for sure, but curriculum can change quite frequently (like in, say, five years or so) and also differ by type of school. Also, the schoolteacher has significant elbow room on what part of the textbook is emphasized, especially in elementary school. A teacher with keen interest in nature can organize special outdoor classes, spend double class time on it, etc. The opposite can be true, of course.

FYI, I went to a "mission" (i.e. Catholic) school. My kids went to local public schools here in Tokyo. My 4th and 5th grade teacher in elementary school liked field excursions. I can't say how extensively my kids studied plants and trees, but I did have to accompany them on excursions to collect leaves, etc.

Hiroyuki Nagashima
Sep 19, 2006, 07:53
I remember the time of a primary schoolchild.
It is a park in autumn in winter,
I collected "MATUBOKURI(a pinecone)" and "DONGURI(an acorn)".
Though I do not eat, the fruits which I collected form a toy.
The cultivation of a plant was a required class.
"A morning glory", "a sponge gourd", "a gourd"
"ASAGAO(A morning glory)"
Observation of a vine,
Observation of flowering of a flower,
A pressed flower of a morning glory,
I extracted a pigment from a flower and made paint

I make a scrubbing brush with a fruit of "a sponge gourd".:cool:
It is the making of water bottle with a fruit of "a gourd".:(
I failed in cultivation of "a morning glory" and have cried
A sponge gourd grows too much and makes a fuss,
(brought up to height of the second floor of a school building):blush:

Other than it
"A killifish" "crawfish" "tortoise" "goldfish" "bell cricket" "beetle" "stag beetle"
We bred it in a classroom
The insect gathered it in a Shinto shrine.
Because there were various trees in a Shinto shrine, there were a lot of insects.:-)

misa.j
Sep 19, 2006, 08:07
I believe in most cities around the world you would be hard pressed to find people who could positively identify either a beech or and oak leaf. It is not something that is often taught anymore, unless one studies these things outside of school.
That explains why there is a whole college course for forestry. I too think that it is a very specific knowledge.

I personaly don't remember distiguishing the types of trees being a part of my school curriculum, but I wish it was.

Mars Man
Sep 19, 2006, 09:54
I would suggest, Maciamo san, that you let this one run free for a while. It most evidently stands that you have twisted the theme a bit, and have attempted to force changes mid-stream.

I put off posting here purposely. Some good comments and observations, in their various degrees of relativeness and correctness, have been put out on the table along with their opposites. The title to this thread makes a positive assertion, namely, that Japan does not have four seasons, and that Japan does not have biodiversity. Firstly, universally acceptable working definitions should be decided on as to what makes four seasons, and then a model against which to compare the degree of biodiversiy. (which you did, Maciamo)

However this has nothing to do with cultural comparisons, which I say is fair enough, only, then we have to allow room within the discussion for wide sweeps, seemingly off topic even, to build arguments to prove or supply evidence for a point.

I say Japan has four seasons, in different ranges of length and degree, but never the less a universally agreeable on four.

When compared to Saudi Arabia, yes, Japan has great biodiversity.

taehyun
Sep 19, 2006, 11:04
[
I personaly don't remember distiguishing the types of trees being a part of my school curriculum, but I wish it was.
Well, I think it is not in any curriculum, it is joushiki, common knowledge, which people get by reading books other than manga.

Maciamo
Sep 19, 2006, 16:40
The title to this thread makes a positive assertion, namely, that Japan does not have four seasons, and that Japan does not have biodiversity.

:sigh: The word "lack" was intended to mean that it was "not enough", not that it was "inexistent". I always use the word "lack" in that sense. If I had meant that "there wasn't any seasons or diversity", then I would have said "Japan has NO seasons and biodiversity". But that is an absurdity.

I suppose it was obvious from what I wrote that my sole point in this thread was that seasons were less clearly marked in Japanese cities than in Belgian ones, because the little variety of trees in the former (due to human selection) has resulted in a blossoming period and red-yellow-leaves period restricted to a much shorter period than in Belgium.

DoctorP
Sep 19, 2006, 17:21
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=lack&x=0&y=0

There are 4 possible definitions for Lack Of

The definition you refer to now is Lack in

Lack of implies none....lack in implies a shortage of.

Sorry if I misunderstood your meaning, I can not possibly read your mind. My responses are based upon your useage of Lack Of

pipokun
Sep 19, 2006, 20:26
:sigh: The word "lack" was intended to mean that it was "not enough", not that it was "inexistent". I always use the word "lack" in that sense. If I had meant that "there wasn't any seasons or diversity", then I would have said "Japan has NO seasons and biodiversity". But that is an absurdity.
I suppose it was obvious from what I wrote that my sole point in this thread was that seasons were less clearly marked in Japanese cities than in Belgian ones, because the little variety of trees in the former (due to human selection) has resulted in a blossoming period and red-yellow-leaves period restricted to a much shorter period than in Belgium.

Your sole point here is about the Japanese nationalistic mentality, isn't it?
The comparison on nature between Japan and your country is off-topic here.

I guess your wife has her great asset, being a multi-lingual person. I forgot what I did in my cooking class in my elementary school, actually I hated it, but I like cooking now. This is also an outcome.

Mars Man
Sep 20, 2006, 09:22
Perhaps a better wording would have been in store--as it stands, Maciamo, you are incorrect. It would be good, perhaps, to let this run free for a while. MM

Kinsao
Sep 21, 2006, 23:31
Since I'm getting above myself today, I comment in this thread as well - hope you don't mind... :bluush:

First off...

Well, I learn to distinguish leaves of at least the most common 20 or 30 varieties of trees in my country in both primary (elementary) and secondary (junior high) school. We had to make a herbarium by collecting the leaves by ourselves, dry them and flatten them (e.g. inside a phonebook), paste them on a blank sheet of paper, search in books or encyclopedia (or ask our parents) which tree they were, describe them, and we were rated on the quality and quantity of our researches. I do not know any (French-speaking) Belgian that hasn't done such a herbarium at school.

You know, I wish we had done some things like that at school in the UK.
For me personally, my parents were keen to teach me about nature - types of trees, flowers, animals and their habits, etc. - and I enjoyed learning this stuff. But we hardly learned anything like that at school.

Perhaps the curriculum in Japan is lacking much teaching about nature? It certainly sounds like it, if the majority of people really have very little knowledge about it. Of course, I'd expect people who live in the country to have a better knowledge than city-dwellers, and as was pointed out, the majority of Japan's population live in cities. So maybe it's not considered very important in schools to teach about nature? Perhaps the curriculum is more "career-focused"? Is knowledge about plants and animals considered to be not very useful? These are all questions that run through my mind, but I don't know the answers...


The word "lack" was intended to mean that it was "not enough", not that it was "inexistent".

Maybe that is what might confuse. People are inclined to argue that Japan has "enough" seasons and "enough" biodiversity, thank you very much. Well, I don't know Japan, so I can't say about that. But in fact, it seems like your point isn't that Japan doesn't have enough biodiversity, but rather about a lack of imagination to make the best use of a diversity of different plant species in its urban planning, and a lack of general knowledge about plants/nature, which seems to you surprising, as Japanese are often represented as a nation proud of its "closeness to nature" and four seasons.

About the cities... perhaps, with this "close to nature" kind of "stereotype" (not sure if that's the right word ><) prevailing since a long time, people have become a bit complacent about their use of / connection to nature, hence unimaginative in their urban planning? :?

As far as it goes about the seasons, I think I understand what you're saying... that actually a "season", or at least, the "feeling of a season" (I don't know how to describe it...) doesn't last very long, compared with a country like Belgium where the seasons come closer to the "3-month balance". (So "lack of seasons" isn't meaning too few seasons, but the fact that when autumn, for example, arrives, it's "autumn feeling" lasts for only a few weeks.)

gaijinalways
Sep 21, 2006, 23:37
My apologies Mike, I extended the Kanto plain past its original territory. Better and correct would be to say approximately 85% of the people in Japan live in the part of Honshu from greater Tokyo to Hiroshima. Thus, related with the topic thread, not so many Japanese live outside of cities and urbanized suburbs, and in many of these seemingly treeless environments, they hardly seem in touch with nature. Their idea of nature in my opinion is often something you visit on vacation.

Maciamo
Sep 23, 2006, 07:47
Perhaps the curriculum is more "career-focused"? Is knowledge about plants and animals considered to be not very useful?

In Belgium and France, school teaches people about all the academics, whether you like it or not. Everybody has to learn maths, physics, biology (including the names of plants and animals), chemistry, geography, history, economy, philosophy, religion, several languages... You can choose to have more or less of one subject (at least for maths, sciences and foreign languages), but you must have at least 2h/week or each until the end of highschool (which in Belgium normally coincide with the end of compulsory education at 18). You cannot pass to the next grade, and thus finnish highschool, by failing one major subject or 2 minor subjects the same year, or twice the same subject in a row. So if you fail biology in the 9th grade and again in the 10th grade, you have to repeat the 10th grade until you pass biology (and the other subjects of course). There is usually little pity (at least in the schools I went to). This means that anyone who finnish highschool in Belgium is supposed to know all the basics of all the subjects mentioned above (except if they kept cheating at their exams, but they would need to be very good at it, and it doesn't work at oral exams).


But in fact, it seems like your point isn't that Japan doesn't have enough biodiversity, but rather about a lack of imagination to make the best use of a diversity of different plant species in its urban planning, and a lack of general knowledge about plants/nature, which seems to you surprising, as Japanese are often represented as a nation proud of its "closeness to nature" and four seasons.

Exactly.

In fact, urban planning for architecture in Japan didn't really exist as such until last year, when the government introduced the concept (a university professor of architecture admitted it to me, a bit before I left Japan). Maybe things will change for trees as well...


As far as it goes about the seasons, I think I understand what you're saying... that actually a "season", or at least, the "feeling of a season" (I don't know how to describe it...) doesn't last very long, compared with a country like Belgium where the seasons come closer to the "3-month balance". (So "lack of seasons" isn't meaning too few seasons, but the fact that when autumn, for example, arrives, it's "autumn feeling" lasts for only a few weeks.)

You understand me well. Thanks for your reply. :-)

Thunderthief
Sep 23, 2006, 08:13
Reading, writing and arithmetic is all anyone needs to get by in life, learning anything else in public school is rather pointless, thats what college is for (specialties).

caster51
Sep 23, 2006, 12:49
http://www.mediawars.ne.jp/~tairyudo/tukan/tukan400.htm
http://www.minnanomori.com/data/info02/d_info02.html

I think japanese konwlege of trees is better than Belgium

Maciamo
Sep 23, 2006, 17:22
http://www.mediawars.ne.jp/~tairyudo/tukan/tukan400.htm
http://www.minnanomori.com/data/info02/d_info02.html
I think japanese konwlege of trees is better than Belgium

Why is that ? Because a few people have written books or made a website about trees ?

Maciamo
Sep 23, 2006, 17:24
Reading, writing and arithmetic is all anyone needs to get by in life, learning anything else in public school is rather pointless, thats what college is for (specialties).
Thank you, that was very representative of an average American's point of view.

Given that this forum is composed mainly of Americans and Europeans (about 50-50), maybe we should make it more about differences between Americans and Europeans. I took care of summarising these differences here (http://www.eupedia.com/forum/showthread.php?t=24169).

gaijinalways
Sep 23, 2006, 21:48
Hardly representative American opinion, in my opinion (of course I am an educator, though). Interesting contrasts in the link Maciamo. I would take issue with a few comments, but overall it seems to ring true. One area that is changing is with education, where now in England (not sure about the rest of the UK), education is not as cheap as it used to be, but still far cheaper than in the US.

Also agree about the seasons bit, but actually, does it matter how long each seaon is (except for the long insufferably hot and humid summers here)? Summer is long here in japan, but I do find comfort in knowing it is shorter than HK's (March to mid October versus Japan's eary June to sometimes mid October). This year we are finally starting to get some nice night verus the usual tropical nights we get in the early Japanese 'fall'.

Maciamo
Sep 24, 2006, 20:18
Also agree about the seasons bit, but actually, does it matter how long each seaon is (except for the long insufferably hot and humid summers here)?

It matters for those who care about the seasons, about harmony, and about nature in general. Japanese culture puts a lot of emphasis on harmony (a, almost a synonym for Japan, as in a or aH), nature (Shinto is all about the relation between humans and nature), and the seasons (cherry blossoms are a symbol of Spring and of Japan, and the Japanese are quite obssessed by the seasons). As a nature lover myself, I expected a lot from Japan, but was also disappointed (as for many other things) in this aspect of Japan.

In Tokyo (where I lived and heard people boast about Japan's wonderful seasons), I feel that the seasons are as follow :

- semi-winter (from mid-December to mi-March) : half of the trees stay green, it hardly snows and never freezes, so that it doesn't really feel like winter.

- short-lived Spring (mid-March to early May) : it does feel very much like Spring during the 1 or 2 weeks of cherry blossoms, but the lack of other blossoming trees and the lack of flowers doesn't give the impression of Spring the after the cherry blossoms have fallen.

- low Summer (early May to mid-June, then again from late September to early November) : as hot as, or hotter than Summer in Northern Europe. The stability of the high temperatures, even at night, certainly does not make it feel like anything else but Summer.

- high Summer (mid-June to late September) : a tropical Summer (hot and humid, with stable temperature day and night) unknown in Europe. Very similar to South-East Asia, the Carribean, or other tropical areas.

- short-lived Autumn (early November to mid-December) : temperatures become cooler. Leaves on trees become yellow or red, then fall.


Tokyo (as well as the West of Japan, from Kyushu to the Kansai) is indeed described by climatologist as a semi-tropical region, which means that Summer is very long (about 6 months), winter is very mild (almost no frost), and Spring and Autumn only last from 4 to 6 weeks. The low latitude of Japan compared to Europe also means that there is little difference of daylight between the summer and winter solsitices.

Maybe it is this ephemerous character of Spring and Autumn in Japan that makes them so special in the heart of the Japanese. Like for the ephemerous cherry blossoms, that sometimes only lasts for a week, the Japanese feel that they have to be ready to "catch the moment" before it is gone. This is why they are so keen to follow the evolution of the blossoming line from Kyushu to Hokkaido and await impatiently the first blossoms, then all rush to see them at the same time. Indeed, if they don't rush they might miss the chance until the next year. I believe that this is why the Japanese make so much fuss about Spring and Autumn. The only similat craze in Europe would be to see other ephemerous phenomena, like a solar or lunar eclipse.

Mars Man
Sep 25, 2006, 09:14
Just wanted to say, a bit belated, that the new title fits the heart of the opening very well !! MM

gaijinalways
Sep 26, 2006, 17:15
I understand, though viewing foliage in New England in the US is similar (though running from North to South) for the excitement level generated, and in each state it only lasts a few weeks (though the fall itself, of course, lasts longer).

nurizeko
Oct 17, 2006, 22:46
I didnt even think to make comparissons, it wouldnt be fair.

Comparing the worlds largest most densest urban sprawl with a small green city in the heart of the most naturally stunning and beautiful part of Scotland would just be blatantly unfair, especially since Aberdeen has actually been barred from entering the Britain in Bloom contest because we always clean house with it.


There were some nice gardens in Japan though, and I tried to make Tokyo greener by buying a big plant pot arrangement for my girlfriends homes balcony, a small gesture towards turning tokyo green.


I feel sorry for many Japanese who dont really know nature at a level that us more green sub-urban rural types do, including rural Japanese, but then again, if they did, they would probably find the densest crunches of Tokyo depressing, and it wouldnt do to make depression an even bigger problem in Tokyo.


One of my major concerns about possibly living in Japan would be the lack of a garden, I could live in an apartment in my own country easily enough because the streets would be green below, or at least a park nearby, but in Japan having a garden must be like a lottery win.


I remember a house nearby my girlfriends apartment, it had a pretty substantial garden (for Japan) it would be nothing more then a small patch of lawn outside the FRONT of a western house in one of our more crunched up city centres, but it was a garden, and the house looked expensive (if still smaller then my cruddy place dating from the 60's) and I emagined how much they had to pay just to even begin to get the same quality of life and space that in Britain would be within a poorer persons budget range.



Anyway, rant aside, Japan has tis nature, its just, as said, outside the cities, or or the outer edges.

Japan's declining population isnt all bad, maybe it will give Japanese more of a chance to enjoy open space, planned public spaces and all that.

craftsman
Oct 18, 2006, 14:00
As a nature lover myself, I expected a lot from Japan, but was also disappointed (as for many other things) in this aspect of Japan.

Sorry to pick up on this but are you talking here about Tokyo or Japan or Japanese culture? From the sentence it is not too clear.

nurizeko
Oct 20, 2006, 21:36
- semi-winter (from mid-December to mi-March) : half of the trees stay green, it hardly snows and never freezes, so that it doesn't really feel like winter.

It was pretty cold, but more of a sharp cold, when it snowed it really snowed quite ehavily and for a long while, but the snow seemed to melt away not long after.

It seemed to be getting warmer just about the time I was leaving anyway.

I have to mention though I stayed in Ome city, which is like, at the edge of mega-Tokyo.