Bhutan and GNH

A friend of mine has just come back from his trip to Bhutan. I had an opportunity to see his slide show.

He entered Bhutan via the eastern part of India. Some photos showed a dramatic change of the atmosphere just after passing through the immigration gate. The roads on the Bhutan side are kept up neatly and the red roves of each house look beautifuly in the landscape. It’s like from chaos to harmony.

As you know, Bhutan is famous for GNH, Gross National Happiness. GNH is criteria that Jigme Singye Wangchuck, the 4th king of Bhutan, advocated as a counter concept against GNP, the materialistic world’s measurement. I think that the 4th king is a wonderful leader and a good branding planner as well.

I don’t know whether Bhutan people are the happiest in the world or not. Actually, a survey done by University of Leicester in 2006 told that the number 1 nation in the world was Denmark, (Bhutan was No.8.) though the result of the research doesn’t matter at all.

The important thing is that the leader showed the direction where the nation should go into both domestically and internationally with a few words. In addition, the words ended up uplifting people’s mind and giving them confidence and motivation to build the happiest country as the slogan said.

Do you remember a terrible slogan that a prime minister of one country said; “society of the least unhappiness”? I felt depressed whenever I heard it. A slogan should have some power to drive people and it should be made up of some positive words.

I think that Japan also needs some good words that light up the way we are going. We can’t work happily with “Ganbaro Nippon” or “We’ll get through this together” anymore.

photos: Tourism Council of Bhutan

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The Mingeikan Museum and a Li dynasty’s white pot

I went to The Mingeikan Museum, or The Japan Folk Craft Museum. It’s a small but very beautiful museum with a massive traditional Japanese structure. What brought me there was a Li dynasty’s white pot, which inspired Muneyoshi Yanagi (1889-1961), a founder of the museum, to advocate the fork art movement in Japan.

The pot was smaller than I imagined and I almost passed it. It didn’t seem to be an epoch-making item that made Yanagi create a new concept of the folk art. It was more like quiet and reserved. That’s all the more reason for getting bored looking at it.

Yamagi received the pot from Noritaka Asakawa in1941. Asakawa, who was both teaching in elementary school and studying sculpture in Seoul, got to know that Yanagi owned his favorite Lodin temporary. Then, Asakawa rushed to visit Yanagi to see the Lodin all the way from Seoul with the Korean pot as a gift to Yanagi.

Yanagi was deeply fascinated with the pot and since then, he really got into Korean porcelains. Finally, he found the beauty in common crafts that were made by anonymous craftsmen and called it Mingei. According to what he defined Mingei, it should be practical, anonymous, mass-productive, reasonable,skilled, regional, collaborated and traditional. To put it simply, it’s an artfor the people, by the people.

The spirit of Mingei is still living in modern era. Besides, it is strongly developing. I was convinced of it when I heard the news that Naoto Fukasawa, a successful products designer became the 5thdirector of The Mingeikan Museum. Maybe,many people know or use the products that Fukasawa designed in their daily life. Muji products and ±design products are some of them.

There is no doubt that Fukasawa’s motto of his design “super-normal” is rooted in the beauty that Yanagi found.

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The Olympic games were over but I still have other interest in London. Do you know what? It’s Sherlock!!!
Sherlock is a BBC TV drama series that was broadcast on NHK BS. It’s a modern version of Conan Doyle’s “Sherlock Holmes” and the character portraits what Sherlock would be like if he was living in the 21st century.
In this series, Sherlock is a “consulting” detective. He is super smart and observes everything intensively like mechanical eyes to find any possible clue to solve any cases at a glance. At the same time, he is too self-confident, arrogant and what he does always bugs people, even staff members of the London police. Yes, he is obviously a problem person.
Even so, Sherlock seems very an attractive character and Benedict Cumberbatch acts modern Sherlock so nicely. I think that he successfully shows some aspects of Sherlock, such as talented, freaky, wild and childish. He is cut out for the role!
At the end of the latest season 2, Sherlock Holms disappeared suddenly. Is he dead or still alive? The last scene of the story left me some mysteries and disturbed my heart a lot. I’m dying to see the next episode for the show as soon as possible but the problem is that the shooting for the next season has not started yet in London! How long do I have to wait for it?
As I look for some information about next season’s episodes, I got totally hooked on Sherlock.

Benedict Cumberbatch navigates BBC's Olympic opening coverage

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London Olympic Games Opening Ceremony

The London Olympic games have started.

I got up bright and early to watch the live broadcast of the opening ceremony on TV. I was intrigued to the fantastic show, which James Bond, Mr. Bean and Paul MacCartney appeared.

In the last Olympic Games, China showed their 4,000 years of history by featuring their great inventions, such as paper, printing, a compass Then, how about in London? Danny Boyle, a filmmaker and the general director for the ceremony, selected these things as theme for the show: capitalists and laborers, immigrants and social security. They are the selection that I hardly come up with when I think of what England is like.

The images of United Kingdom that most Japanese commonly perceive are, maybe, gentlemen, high tea, gardening, liberty prints, Burberry and such. However, there were no such hi-society things in the show. Danny Boyle seemed to prefer bitter reality to sweet glories.

The New York times introduced a comment from Aiden Burley, a Conservative member of the Parliament, in its article “A Five-Ring Opening Circus, Weirdly and Unabashedly British.” It says: the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen — more than Beijing, the capital of a communist state!

NYT also added; The ceremony seemed to be suggesting that the thing that is most British about the British is their anarchic spirit and their ability to laugh at themselves. The show has made me aware of another aspect of England and it’s more interesting to me than watching competitions, in which Japanese athletes are totally dull.

photos: The New York Times

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