Monday, September 5, 2011

A New Feature: Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki

I was employed in a small (7,000) town in Japan as a Co-Ordinator for International Relations (kokusai koryuin in Japanese) from August 1987 until August 2001. My job was to teach English to the town's folks and to plan international events. Also, between April 1996 and May1997 I had the wonderfully difficult job of writing a column for my town's weekly newsletter. It was the WEEKLY AYA (shuho aya in Japanese, shown below).

This was the letterhead (masthead) for each issue. The town flag is on the left and is supposed to represent the greenery/forestry of the town and the alphabetical spelling of the town's name, A-Y-A. (I always thought that was kind of clever).

The date and volume-number is shown on the upper right-hand corner...This is my first appearance, April 5, 1996. (note: Those first characters are read Hei-sei and represent the reign of the Emperor. This was the 8th year of his reign, ie 1996. The character after 8 is "year", the character after 4 is "month", and the character after 5 is "day." Congratulations! You can now read dates in Japanese!) 

The yellow circle is "Aya Town's Movement" which is the population/census information for the month. (Those first two characters are the town's name, Aya-cho.) This is current as of March 1, 1996 (characters in parantheses are the difference from February). So the number of men in town was 3510, there were 3905 women, and a grand total of 7415 people in Aya that month.  There were a total of 2,562 households in town that month.

The black box is the Aya Constitution. Yes, each town had a Constitution. I don't feel like getting into the "mood" of the writing, but the basic gist says this: In order that we can create and maintain in the future a town with everyone's peaceful cooperation for bountiful nature and traditions, Aya's Town Constitution is herewith established: 1. Our town will be a town living and raising our natural environment 2. Our town will be healthy and robust 3. Our town will be a place where our young people have pride and dreams 4. Our town will maintain crafts and skills along with our culture 5. Our town will be bright and friendly, full of cooperation and kindness. 

Yeah, it was heaven on earth alright. ;-) All kidding aside, Aya the town actually was wonderful. The people were very friendly and the mountains and! I definitely do miss living there. However, the people who wrote that Constitution who I actually worked *for*, not so much.  :-)

Anyway, this is my way of introducing a new feature on my blog, Russell's Ken-Bun-Ki. The title comes from my name (I bet you figured that part out) and the three Japanese characters for seeing, listening, and writing. The name was actually coined by my wonderful editor who happened to be my wife, Yuko. Another reason I had a good time doing this...although once or twice we did get into "discussions" about what I wanted to say.

Come back next Monday for the first article about Earth Day. I'll reprint the entire article in Japanese and then translate it into English. :-)

Ja, ne! (Japanese slang for "see ya!")

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