Tuesday, May 10, 2011


May 4, 2011
The Yomiuri Shimbun

The following is a translation of the Henshu Techo column from The Yomiuri Shimbun's May 4 issue.

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"I can hear birds in the Tohoku region singing the Western scale: 'Do, re, mi, fa...'" composer Toru Takemitsu said.

And it was Michio Kato, noted for his play "Nayotake," who called the Tohoku dialect "the most beautiful language." He said, "If the Tohoku dialect were the standard language, the establishment of opera in Japan would have come a century earlier."

Birds singing do-re-mi-fa and the soft ring of the Tohoku dialect that is evocative of opera--the languages of birds and humans seem to have been similarly blessed by the Tohoku climate.

But this spring, the country's most beautiful language has become its saddest language. Birds, which had the greenery in which they once roosted taken away by tsunami, probably cannot sing brightly today [May 4], which is Greenery Day.

A newspaper photo showed an unforgettably horrible scene in Takata-Matsubara, formerly a beauty spot known for its white sand and green pines in Rikuzen-Takata, Iwate Prefecture.

The massive tsunami swept away about 70,000 red and black pines together with the beautiful sand, converting the place into a wasteland of debris and mud as far as the eye can see. On the desolate land, a lone red pine, which appears to be about 200 years old, miraculously remains standing, pointing the sky as if to say, "Join me."

Seasonal birds are not the only ones drawn to the tree. Local residents who have pledged to reconstruct their town have also rallied around the tree.

(May. 9, 2011)

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