Shinjinarenai means 'unbelievable'

Contrary to popular belief, I'm not a Japanophile, although I lived there as an exchange student and like my host family, my friends, and my aforementioned nickname. I'm a 19 year old political science major in upstate New York, I usually try to smell good, I play myriad games, read myriad books and webcomics, watch the Daily Show religiously, am culturally but not ideologically Jewish, self-identify as bisexual because I seem so far to like all sexes and genders equally, have an affinity for unnatural shades of hair color, am a licensed student of the way of tea, and generally tend to THINK a mind-bogglingly huge percentage of the time.

I don't really like drawing attention to myself but it's rather late at night and I'm running out of entertaining options. Besides, I've been reading and lurking here for weeks, it's about time.

It's a pleasure to meet you all.

Forums: 
MeiLin's picture

Most High

The Daily Show? Tea? Thinking?! You I like. Wink Are you talking actual tea ceremony or just tea in general?

Voyeur (Guest kitty is guest)'s picture

Hi! I'm Kitty and I really need to figure this site out (I got redirected from Tales of MU and I usually just read the stories, but you were on the "Newest first" page.)

See now, I'm an anthropology student and I'm heading out one day to study geisha and Japanese sexuality. The first subject is my passionate one, but I've got the difficulty that, in my hick neck of the woods in Georgia, there's no direct info about Japan. And since geisha are my passion, I need to know everything about tea that I can. Do you have a blog?

(Oh dear god, I hoped that I'd never ask anyone if they had a blog...)

V's picture

Embodiment

I finished reading "Shogun" a while back, which deals with Japan--I'm curious if you've read it, Shin (Yes, you're gonna be "Shin" unless you have another short nick you prefer--sorry), and whether it accurately captures the flavor of the society, as it was back then.

It could be an interesting place to start, Kitty, as it's probably available even in Georgia (big bestseller back in the day, and all) and features quite a 'slice of life' about Japan, although it's not going to be any sort of a handbook, really.

Oh, and welcome to the both of you

Nye's picture

Supplicant

Daughter of a Samauri is also a great book of Japanese culture at the end of the Edo period. I think I got that right. It's written by a woman who lived and married in that time, but eventually moved to the US much later in life.

Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

Wow, Mei likes me! I'm wonderfully flattered. Thank you! I like you too, Mei, and I love reading this thing. Yes, tea ceremony- Urasenke style, to be precise. I'm trying to get from upstate to downstate so I can attend tea ceremony classes again, but that may have to be on hold until I can actually return to my old sensei at home in Himeji. I adore tea in all of its forms, be it black, green, herbal, anything- but the way of tea guides my life.

Kitty, I do indeed have a blog, and it chronicles my time in Japan, but I'll warn you- it's unreliable. It's where I vent my thoughts and feelings, and basically the only person who reads it is me. If you want to read about Japan, start in Aug. 2006 and go from there. http://www.xanga.com/Spotbunni
I'm not really sure how much fun it will be to read, because it's detailed stories rarely found between lengthy rants that were never really intended to be read. If you have specific questions, contact me here or there and ask them- and nonspecific too, if you need. I'd be happy to help.

V, Shin works just fine. Reminds me of the hebrew character. Thanks for the warm welcome! Shogun is actually on my reading list for this summer, I've been meaning to get around to it for a while now. I've read some Japanese history, and translations of very old works, and I've taught the history of my adopted town and castle to English language tour guides, but I'm no expert in it. The books I'd recommend 'flavor of society'-wise are those of Mishima Yukio. He was an amazing author who accurately portrayed some of those timeless aspects of the Japanese mind. I'd recommend a copy of 'Death in Midsummer and Other Stories'- translated, of course- as a wide introduction. I also recommend reading about his life and suicide, as he did live what he wrote: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yukio_Mishima

I mean, whenever you're not reading something wonderful of Mei's.

MeiLin's picture

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And I kick myself all the time for having given away my copies of the Sea of Tranquility books. Have you seen the movie "Mishima"? Accuracy be damned, it's visually stunning.

Every people on the face of this earth are weird. We all, as cultures, have our oddness, our particular humanity. (I love people for this, deeply, deeply love them.) But there is something about the way the Japanese are weird that just gets me where I live. My GOD they're weird! They can produce one of the most severely beautiful aesthetics ever known to humanity, and then turn around and buy used schoolgirl panties from vending machines. Shit like that.

Gods, I love them.

V's picture

Embodiment

= http://www.thewhistlingkettle.com/

I'm definitely not a tea connoisseur, but when I was in Ballston Spa, I said "Holy crap, that's a lot of tea", so maybe you'll find something you like, if you're that part of upstate Smile Nice little tea shop.

Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

I agree with you 100%, Mei. All people are strange, weird, and beautifully human, but the Japanese are the ones who make me wonder at it.

Mishima, I'll definitely keep an eye out for that movie. I've never actually 'met' someone else who's read him before! After I finish one of his books, I can't do anything but sit there and be stunned until something distracting happens, like I notice the sun is setting or class is over.

Speaking of class, I go to school at UAlbany, which is near enough to Saratoga Springs that I may now make the trip there this fall just to visit that shop that you mentioned, V! It looks amazing! Thank you sooooooo much! I can't wait!

Nye's picture

Supplicant

I love tea, and got to watch a tea ceremony at the Cherry Blossom Festival in SF this year. It was very interesting.

teehee's picture

Devotee

Allo, I saw your pic-- I

This one I don't think is inappropriate, but there's the warning out there... how is one a Jew culturally? I hail from the Midwest/almost Bible Belt and don't have a huge variety of different people readily available.

How did you get interested in tea? My hubby is half-Thai, but knows nothing about his heritage, and sadly, because of the relationship with his mom, does not really want to know.

/endshelteredquestioning

Shinjinarenai's picture

Postulant

My short hair and I have not been getting along well recently, so I'm glad that at least SOMEONE likes it.

Don't worry about questions- I taught a couple of classes of Catholic Japanese schoolgirls about Jews, and after that, I don't really think I can be phased. They had some.. misconceptions, I should say, about the Holocaust.

How is one a Jew, culturally. Hm. Where should I start? Jews tend to band together very, very strongly- I think it may be a result of the historical antisemitism (and recent, too). One is religiously technically a Jew by virtue of having a Jewish mother, although some claim it as an ancestry when they're talking about the religion, and other things like that that get me confused. Anyways, when you're born Jewish, you're born not only into that faith, but also into that ethnicity.

This is probably an aside, but yes, I regard 'being Jewish' as an ethnicity. Judaism is the religion, and being ethnically and religiously Jewish are not mutually inclusive. I am an example. Ethnically I am completely Jewish, but when it comes to my beliefs I tend more towards being agnostic.

Anyways, one is born into Jewishness as an ethnicity- the food, the strange holidays no one seems to be able to pronounce, the painful explanations from your parents of why you can't have a Christmas tree or go easter-egg hunting, the Seinfeld, bagels, Woody Allen (if you're that sort of Jew, other varieties of Jew have other cultural symbols). Maybe one's parents speak Yiddish, maybe you have to go to Sunday school and learn hebrew, and you become involved in the community as a kid, culminating in your Bar or Bat Mitzvah at 13 or so that is your coming of age ceremony. And for most of the Jews I know.. thats it. They're a Jew and always will be. Something about that childhood indoctrinates us completely. An analogy might be growing up in a very Italian household, or an Irish home, or any very tightly knit ethnicity- you take on that culture yourself. And thus one is culturally Jewish.

I've known some lovely people who have decided to convert, which is quite the rare thing, and have become culturally
Jewish through a great deal of effort. So the birth isn't necessary, but that's how it usually goes.

I don't know if any of my rambling was useful- it's hard to describe all of Jewish culture in one forum post because I digressing on my own upbringing or the different kinds of Jew if I'm not careful.

And now tea? Whew. Well, the short of it is, I went to a Japanese high school which had a tea ceremony club and went to one meeting to see what it was like and explore the culture, and kept going, at first because the Japanese were so thrilled, and then because I loved it. There is nothing so aesthetically and spiritually beautiful as a bowl of tea made with a pure heart.

teehee's picture

Devotee

Wowee. Biggrin Thank you for the explanation-- it has helped broaden my world view. It does bring up another question/mental image, though: Japanese Catholics! Masochism to the max? (J/K!!!)

Hopefully one of these days I will get to travel and see the world! The farthest I have been away was a 2week trip to France and Italy after highschool. I got laughed at in McDonald's trying to order in French >.> and smellishly molested in public transportation in Rome! <.>

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