Hobonichi 2021・Daily quotes
January cover page
This is a poem by Ōtomo no Yakamochi (大伴家持), which I shan’t pretend to be able to translate precisely. I did manage to get the general gist of it, because there are many websites that offer a more modern version of this poem, for example:
A very fitting poem for the first month (and day) of the new year. I love the comparison between the piling up of falling snow and the (hoped for) piling up of good things in the new year. When I saw this aptly picked quote, I knew it would be rewarding to try to read all of them!
I believe the spirit of poems has continuously been handed over from the time of the Manyoshu [to the] Meiji poets and finally to us today. In short, both 1300 years ago and now, the feeling of “I love you” that is composed in love poetry hasn’t changed.
I want to make a note of things that it would be inconsequential for me to forget if I don’t write them down on the spot. When I realise “this thing is inconsequential!”, my face lights up and I quickly try to make a note of it. Things like “children of this age hold their legs like this when they sit”, or “my uncle usually puts the cup here when he stops drinking”.
Things that are unpleasant, but also feel good at the same time.
Times when you should be sad, but the sadness just doesn’t come.
A feeling of increasing loneliness even though you were laughing the whole time.
Feelings that you can’t name, feelings so insignificant, but you still can’t ignore them.
On the first Monday of January, [I think] “Thank God It’s Monday”. I find it’s a “what a welcome Monday, let’s get to it!” kind of day. From this day on I reckon there are many people who start their jobs. Together with a sense of “let’s get to it!”
I have been using a Hobonichi Techo for 12 years. Without change, the thing I do first every year is to copy the holidays of my husband, who works as an auctioneer at the market. Even during Golden Week it appears that the market is often open. I note down the wish “do your best at your job with good humour this year as well”
In rugby, you get excited before a match and raise your spirits, stirring up your team mates as you stand on the pitch. However, it’s an interesting thing, it’s actually problematic to feel the same emotions during the kickoff moment. Although you have to be in an excited state, the game proceeds in an exceptionally strategic way. Because you have to input the strategy into your head and issue instructions to your team mates. There are many cases where you fail if you go in with an excited mentality similar to [the one you feel] at the kickoff site at the start of the game.
Since I have grown older, I’ve reached the point where, if someone – be they younger or older – is an amazing person, I can truly recognise that “this person is amazing”. Since some time or another I’ve become truly able to think like that.
Rather than going somewhere, I like to digest places I can’t go by making a drawing of them. There are also places where it is better not to go, rather than seeing how it differs from the real place, because there are many times when I let my thoughts expand too much into a direction that differs completely from the real place. In short, it’s ok if the places you want to go to only exist in your heart.
Upon entering a restaurant with his family and being asked by the waitress “would you like a seat in a tatami room or on a couch”, my father said with a loud voice “at a table!”. I think both options come with a table, dad.
Calligraphy is a tactile art. It is not a visual art. If you can sense what sensation you are trying to write, what kind of sensation of the brush you are feeling as you write, you already know how to do calligraphy. Calligraphy is a representation of feeling [something].
The things I made at a time when I was young and trying to bloom, were things that had more vibrant signs of life than necessary. I am glad that I got the job done at that time without grumbling. I am truly glad I didn’t say prodigy-like things, like “[I’ll do it] once I’ve improved, once I have carefully amassed proficiency”.
A researcher prioritises reading the passages that are closely related to the hypothesis of their thesis, right? A translator cannot afford to do that, though. He translates both the famous line from Hamlet “to be or not to be” and a single word from a part however small the same way: diligently word for word. Towards the original work, towards all of the characters, the translator is in the most fair/impartial position, I think.
When I think “I can’t draw very well”, the thought becomes stuck in my head. That is why when I draw, it might look like I am not thinking about anything at all, but I am thinking. And it might look like I am thinking, but I am not thinking.
Even if I simply asserted that “in order to be happy, you shouldn’t compare yourself to other people”, I have a suspicion that there are truly barely any people who can do so perfectly. But even if it’s little by little, I feel it is important to create a place where you don’t compare yourself to others. It’s very difficult though.
[I want to tell you about] an important stretch I want you all to do every day without fail. That is the ‘while stretch’. For example, try writing in your Hobonichi while doing a leg opening stretch. That’s doable, right? In this way, do stretches while you’re doing things during your daily life. Doing it like this is quite effective.
“The process of creating your role” is often talked about, but as for me, I don’t think that “roles” are things that you “create”. To what extent you can start up the character from the screenplay, that is not an act of “creating”. You felt it from the screenplay and you made a mental picture from the text. If you can get the thing that must be described as the ‘presence’ of that person, the thing that is like the manifestation of that person’s energy, in your belly, it means that you can go out onto the stage.
Sometimes I want to see people because I feel lonely, other times I don’t want to see people because I feel lonely.
I think you can truly only understand the world’s origins and how it’s made deeply by actually moving and standing there and experiencing it with your entire body. That’s how I learned it. By actually meeting people, by actually climbing mountains. So far, by making these journeys, that conviction has gradually grown stronger.
When dogs and children make something their own, they protect it carefully, love it and treat it with care. The sort of feeling with which a dog hides its snack, the sort of throbbing of the chest of a child who is looking at a toy at their bedside. That kind of vigour is something I wish I had.
We can all wish for a positivity to direct ourselves towards our dreams and goals and carry a hope for the future. But, humans can’t always be go-getters, they suffer the occasional setback. Even at such times, it is not a bottomless pit, there is a bottom limit. At such a point, science can be very powerful. This lower limit is still solid. It is scientifically guaranteed. When we reach this point, there is no other option than to bounce back up.
You and nature are opposed to each other one-on-one. Moreover, that is sufficient. It’s being alone, but it’s not loneliness, it’s solitude. That is the original perspective on nature.
Daughter: “Dad, which do you like more, Perfume or mum?”
Father: “Ehhh, I think your mother. I feel embarrassed…”
Daughter: “Mum, which do you like more, GLAY or dad?”
One of the interesting things about the laws of nature is ‘the beauty of formulas’. Mathematics-based physics was born when the pioneers Newton and Einstein tried to explain all things in nature in as few steps as possible. It is very beautiful and fascinating.
In New York everyone is in a good mood. I mean, even the shopkeepers aren’t like ‘good day’ or ‘welcome’, but like ‘hey, how are you?’. When I asked my friend, who is a writer and editor living in New York, he said ‘they think being in a good mood is a sign of maturity’. That being in a good mood yourself is a sign of maturity.
In my case, I have been drawing manga ever since I was 5. Because the time when I draw manga is the most fun, in my student days, whether I joined the track and field club or the light music club, I was always drawing manga on the side. To me, manga is the biggest type of play.
“Hey, do you know this?”
“It’s a Carnegie quote!”
“We can read it!”
I didn’t understand Nepalese, but it was already written all over their faces. I became happy and shouted out to the children “let’s read it together!”
‘Remember, today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday!’
O my god, that’s exactly what I was like before I came out here to travel, isn’t it?
I couldn’t make any sense at all of this quote and I thought it was due to my Japanese. Turns out it needs a fair bit of context. Here is the original article it appeared in. I think he means that he is inferring what they are saying based on their smiles and behaviour.
Among failures, successes are mixed in together with the failures. There is no such things as a complete, total, utter failure; among the failures are good things that are hard to find even when you look for them, such as creating roads and relationships that lead to the next step, making discoveries along the way and gaining ability (skills).
In my case especially, there is no point in looking back and thinking ‘why did I fall ill?’. I also don’t know about the future. Yes, I can only look at ‘the now’. I only look at that. Everyone is so enslaved by the past and future. I mean, that is all they look at. That’s probably because they will live a long life. Because they assume they will live a long life.
I had spent a day at a department store and it was exhausting. Finally, I did some shopping in the food department in the basement and after that I went to buy some meat and go home. But since I couldn’t find the meat department, I asked the clerk: ‘where is the meat plaza?’.
I first met the pianist Spike Wilner the day before the live performance. So it was like “Nice to meet you, by the way, can you play this song?”, rushing through the introductions and handing him the score to ‘Ringo Oiwake’. Then, while looking at the score, Spike started playing ‘Ringo Oiwake’ veeery slowly, in the empty store before it opened. It was impossibly slow and felt like an entirely different chord.
To this day, I am a devoted handwriter. Even when I was writing a series for the same magazine, my deadline would be one day earlier than other people’s deadline. “What’s up with that?” I used to wonder, but it was because the editor would type it into the computer for me.
February cover page
It’s not snowing. Rather, the world carrying us is going higher and higher through a cosmos filled with snowflakes.
I’m not worried. What is there to be worried about? I think I can think about worries when I get there. There are also people who worry about things right from the start, when they haven’t even occurred yet and get stressed. It’s fine to toot your own horn a little, isn’t it?
February 2nd. In France, it is called ‘crêpe day’. This day is also called ‘La Chandeleur’ and ‘candle procession day’. Light is the symbol of Christ. Because of the fact that light is something that is brought about by the sun, it has apparently come to be that they eat crepes, which represent the round golden sun.
If you feel ‘that was good’ about the time you were doing it, I think that’s called ‘a good time’. Even experiencing unrequited love, though it is in my opinion surely the worst feeling, might some day be counted among ‘good times’. Isn’t happiness ‘having a good time’?
When we try to understand things, even now, ‘separating’ and ‘joining’ are the things that provide us with a ‘way of thinking’. If you write it in kanji, the one becomes 分類 ‘sorting’ and the other becomes 系統 ‘grouping’. We’re not just talking about science here, but all living things and non-living things taken together, whenever we try to understand all sorts of things, without exception we are looking at it from either of these viewpoints.
There are times when those who listen to my music are reminded of something and cry in the audience, and I cry in sympathy with them. ‘Cut it out’, I think, but still I cry.
From now on, I want meet the elderly people who came and survive in Alaska and listen to their stories. If I don’t listen to their stories now, the tales that are stored within them will be forever lost when those people are no longer there. Hoshino Michio said this at some point. In my opinion, one person dying is the same as one library burning down.
Something that happened at my part-time job at an izakaya. I shouted, repeating the order, but while I should have shouted ‘one opened mackerel!’, I shouted ‘open one mackerel!’. I was laughed at by the boss: ‘the mackerel is already opened!’
When I was a police reporter for NHK, I was suddenly entrusted with being newscaster for the capital region. When I was promoted to the position of reading the news, I was shocked that the copy was so difficult to understand. Moreover, I couldn’t hold my breath because the sentences were too long. So I rewrote the copy so that I would be able to read it. Because I couldn’t hold my breath, I cut down the long copy. When I cut it down to the level where I could hold my breath, it became easier to read.
The things that enrich our lives, in my opinion, are curiosity and the power of imagination. The world is overflowing with things we don’t know yet.
There isn’t really any way to recover from a cold quickly. However, there are ways to make sure it doesn’t get worse: diligently doing things such as resting, sleeping, drinking water. Also, make sure your body doesn’t get too cold. It is also important to change out of your clothes properly if they’ve become wet. So the necessities of life are important: living environment, food, clothes. By taking proper care of these aspects, I believe you can make sure that you don’t make the cold worse.
‘Living by oneself’ and ‘being able to look after people’ are actually almost the same thing. When one is young, one is only thinking of becoming successful, but as one becomes an adult, one’s flower won’t wilt before one knows it when one has a sturdy vigour for the sake of others.
I think people who wear the things they’ve knit themselves are charming. The sweater or scarf shows off the personality of the person who made it and, in addition, the happiness of wearing it emanates from that person. Furthermore, hand-knitted clothes give a sense of maturity when a young person wears them and a sense of youth when an older person wears them. Why that is, I am still figuring out.
There isn’t a single thing that doesn’t have anything to do with design. Things that can be turned into motifs are scattered all over the place. Anything whatsoever can be applied to any sort of shape and one could propose “this is also design, isn’t it?”
If you feel like you really want to tell something to a person you care about, I think you can only stand up honestly like a person who doesn’t have anything and return to the starting point of the embarrassment: what do I want to tell, to convey, at this opportunity?
Because consciousness is an orderly activity, garbage naturally accumulates in the brain. That’s why we sleep.
When I was waiting on the platform, thinking that once I got on board the shinkansen I would read the mystery novel that I had started on, a passing shinkansen stopped 100m ahead of me. The people behind me had started saying “what’s wrong?”, but I ー the rest of that detective novel on my mind ー answered, without thinking and on no grounds whatsoever “maybe there has been a murder?”. My mind was full of that detective novel.
I think it’s a little strange, the notion that one is only a good person or a bad person. There are people who have both elements, who are neither good nor bad, neither black nor white. That’s why my pro wrestling became the way it is.
The Tale of Genji is a long story, but there are hardly any descriptive narrative parts in which the feelings of the characters are described. People’s feelings are only described in poetry. Basically, poetry is the best way to express your own feelings. That has continued to be the case to this day, I believe. What can’t be said face to face between a husband and wife or a parent and child, can be communicated through poetry.
When your interests increase because something unexpected leaves a deep impression on you, that’s as if your friends in this world increase, I think. That’s why I am currently editing the series かがくのとも while keeping that feeling in mind, that you too could become a friend.
Tomizawa: “It’s because when you are holding the ball and you’re standing in front, it becomes a 15 against 1 situation.”
Nakatake: “Because they aim for the opponent that is holding the ball and go towards him like ‘waa’. It gets like ‘waa, here’s one, here another one, here’s another one!’”
Date: “I don’t want to carry it, the ball. It turns into a feeling of ‘I don’t have it anymore! I don’t have it anymore now!’. The foremost position is especially scary.”
Some googling told me that this one is about being scared while playing rugby. The original article is here.
What I recently learned and made me think ‘that’s lovely’, is the concept of ‘competence’. If I were to translate it liberally, it’d be something like ‘the capacity of being familiar with many things’. Or if I put in in another way, like a song: ‘I smile at the world, the world smiles at me’.
When I’m ill I get dizzy. When I am living life bumping my body into various things, delusions take over reality. But I don’t like it when my daily life becomes full of delusions. Eventually I started feeling like the expressions my pet cat Rocco made were like a movie scene. No, if I didn’t think that, it might have been boring. That’s why I suspect that I brought myself to think in that way.
At first I thought this was a very strange little quote, but after some seeing the original article (here) I’ve figured it out. Key information:
So realising that his cat had a bit of an actor vibe he started taking ‘dramatic’ pictures of his cat as a way to cope with his Parkinson’s.
When I was watching figure skating with my wife’s family, the music from ‘Phantom of the Opera’ オペラ座のかいじん came on. Without delay, my mother-in-law said: ‘Member of the Opera!’ オペラ座のかい い ん. So the opera is membership-based, huh?
What I want to say to those who are entering university, is that they should study, but not just study. I want them to eat delicious things, listen to good music, look at good images and, by doing that, develop your appeal as a human being. What is worth the name of ‘youth’, after all, are reading, travelling and loving.
The best way to support restaurants. It’s by going to restaurants. Going to the restaurant, eating some food, saying ‘thanks for the meal’ and paying them with money. That is the basis of support, right?
Ambergris 龍涎香 can sometimes be extracted from beached sperm whales. It is written like ‘dragon drool scent’. A different name for it is ambergris アンバーグリス. It is a calculus that is formed inside the intestines of sperm whales and it is thought that it consists of hardened, undigested parts, such as octopus and squid bills. It is highly prized as a perfume.
I had the hardest time with this one, because it uses the word 採材 and I couldn’t readily find a decent definition. Weblio EN gave me ‘wood conversion’, which didn’t seem quite right. I imagine it means something like ‘resource extraction’, but I am still very curious why I can’t find this word in any dictionaries.
I am sometimes asked ‘what is the knack to taking cute pictures of mushrooms?’. Get your face close to it, if possible do a 360 and search for an angle at which the mushroom looks cute. Then, just by carefully removing the ‘debris’ that is stuck to the mushroom, it looks 50% better. That’s also a very important point.
The original article is delightful!
The hammer throw is difficult if you not only lack physical strength, but also technique. The hammer is heavy, because it’s about 7kg, or 16 pounds. It’s no good throwing a heavy object far with only your physical strength, you also need technique. That’s why it’s an event where one’s development curve as an athlete is slow, or rather, comparatively gentle. This means that there is also the joy of spending time on it. It’s an event with a long life span for athletes.
March cover page
While I was sleeping like a log I missed the first storm of spring. What a shame! I like those spring storms. That moment when sweet dust touches your nose is to die for. For some reason it warms my body from the inside.
In the rocket business, the things we’re moving are absurdly important and expensive. That’s why the thought ‘we absolutely can’t fail’ is foremost [in our minds]. But because there has been a failure in the past, the success rate will never become 100%. Our current success rate is about 97.8%. Even if we pile up successes, we will approach 100% without end, but we will never manage to reach 100%. That’s why we are at least aiming for a perfect score at every launch.
Even if I had a single flash of personal and poetic inspiration, it’s not like I could give expression to it on my own, because the source material is the many things I have lived though up to this point. The self that I arbitrarily think is my self is a container with the name ‘self’ and inside of it it is full of other people, nature and irrelevant things.
At first I didn’t get this at all, but now I think it’s kind of deep and it does ring true; we are an amalgamation of our surroundings, cause our surroundings impact and shape who we are.
Currently struggling with
I got a Hobonichi Techo Cousin and I’ve been trying to read the daily quotes. The first two were easy, but I’m struggling with the third one. That made me wonder if there are other people out there reading the daily quotes who may want to read them together?
For what it’s worth, here’s the quote for 3 Jan (I assume they are the same across all models):