Japan 9: Religion

Japan 9: Religion

I read in The Guardian the other day that the largest single group of people in the UK now describe themselves as having no religion. And this was the first time such a thing has happened.

The proportion of the population who identify as having no religion – referred to as “nones” – reached 48.5% in 2014, almost double the figure of 25% in the 2011 census.

So having no faith is the growth belief system.

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Japan 8: The English Language

Japan 8: The English Language

English is an assimilative, aggressive language. It is insidious in its hegemony of other languages. Think Starbucks.

The French are trying to fight the good fight, but with the Internet, the march of English is implacable. Many languages are dying out but, in fairness, that’s mainly due to minorities, religious persecution and ethnic groups being assimilated and homogenised by dominant larger local societies, rather than the march of English. Continue reading “Japan 8: The English Language”

Japan 6: Oku-no-in, the holiest place

Japan 6: Oku-no-in, the holiest place

The most spiritual place I’ve been is a small field in Brittany, where Merlin is buried with his wife, the fairy, Viviane.

Outwardly it appears a fairly nondescript place. There are no signs, a small space for parking. There’s a little tree, like a whitethorn, in the corner of the field, where believers tie pieces of cloth as prayers, or votive offerings. Merlin is buried under this tree. I felt a great presence there which I cannot describe except that it was powerful, wonderful and otherly. And very real. Even thinking about it now, 26 years later, sends shivers down my spine.

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Japan 4: In search of the Geisha

Japan 4: In search of the Geisha

We went on a walking tour of Kyoto last night. It was billed as a tour around Gion, an old and fascinating part of the city.

In reality it was all about the geisha. Mari, our guide was very enthusiastic about this cultural quirk of the Japanese. ‘They are not plostitutes.’ She was adamant about that and poo pooed The Memoirs of a Geisha, which seems to indicate otherwise. I haven’t read it, I must admit. Continue reading “Japan 4: In search of the Geisha”