Name "Japan" discovered in China as possibly the oldest example

Name of "JAPAN" (日本)atop in center

October 22, 2011

The paper which introduces that an epitaph found in the ancient city, Hsian, in China has Chinese characters with "Japan" (日本) was published in China.

The epitaph is a slate in which the deceased's achievements are inscribed before being buried in the grave.

It is supposed that the epitaph found was made in 678.

It has been a big mystery of Japanese ancient history that when the name of the country "Japan" came to declare oneself.

Although the view that the name was used in Taiho Codes in 701 was leading, if the epitaph is a genuine article, it will go back further.

The Japanese call their country "Nippon" in Japanese, and write "Japan" in English.

When was first Japanese Sign Language used ?

"Hokoku Festival Folding Screen"    
Men (center) use sign language? ("Hokoku Festival Folding Screen") 

We don't know when Deaf people started using sign language in Japan, only when the first school for the Blind and Deaf-mute was formed in Kyoto in 1878.

Toyotomi Hideyoshi (1536 -1598) was a daimyo warrior, general and politician of the Sengoku period (1467-1573). He unified the political factions of Japan.

In the summer of 1604 when it was the 6th anniversary of Hideyoshi's death, a special grand festival was held for eight days at the shrine, Hokoku jinja, in Kyoto.

KANO Naizen, the retained painter of the Toyotomi family, painted the "Hokoku Festival Folding Screen", which is designated as the important cultural property.

The rows of houses of Kyoto of those days and people enjoying the festival with richly and freshly expression, etc. are drawn in the folding screen.

Okamoto Inemaru, a former teacher of Deaf children in Kyoto, pointed out that the scene of men who look at fingers each other is in the screen.

He mentioned that it seemed that they communicated in sign language saying "We will go tomorrow" if regarded as the sign language.

Aoki Mokubei: famous deafened potter in Edo period

Aoki Mokubei (1767-1833) was a potter and literati painter in the Edo period.

He was born in Kyoto and his real name was Aoki Sahei.

At an early age he studied with the great scholar and seal carver Ko Fyo (1722-1784). He later studied pottery and soon became famous for his reproductions of classic Chinese-style ceramics. 

Mokubei (木米) had judged the temperature of the kiln with a sound emitted from the fire in it. Therefore, his ears always swelled up in red.

Literati painting
Since he didn't change the technique and continued chinaware making so that there was no time for complete recovery.

He lost hearing in later years and used his new name Robei (聾米: Deaf-bei) instead of Mokubei (木米).

He also gained fame for his literati paintings. 

Teacher wins prize at invention exhibition in Yamagata Prefecture

October 21, 2011

The 46th Yamagata invention exhibition is open on October 21-23 in Sakata City, which 240 works are exhibited. It is sponsored by the prefecture chapter of the Japan Institute of Invention and Innovation, the prefecture, Mainichi Newspapers Yamagata branch office, etc.

A lot of the works, such as power generation, disaster prevention, ecology goods, etc., are seemingly affected by the Great East Japan Earthquakes on many young inventors; a "seismograph" which makes sound  or shines when shaken, a "disaster prevention best" with many pockets for drinks, a towel, valuables, etc.

KAMIO Tomoharu, a teacher of the Prefecture Yamagata School for the Deaf, invented a device for the Deaf students that changes the sound of the pistol into light when it is shot at the track and field. His work won the Governor prize in the category of the school staff.

Japanese source:

"Terakoya" as place for basic education for Deaf children in 1850's (Edo period)

"Terakoya", a private school

There was a private basic school, called "Terakoya", during the Edo period, generally run by one teacher who was a monk or once a samurai before.

Among 3,090 'Terakoya' schools, 266 schools (8.6 percent) accepted the children with physical disabilities according the study by Ototake Iwazo (1929). The largest number of pupils were the Deaf-mute.

Because those who did not have the ability to perform physical labor were considered useless, the parents of children with disabilities sent their children to these private schools hoping for their children’s future independence. 

These students were educated in inclusive classrooms, and the teachers devised and modified the traditional instruction and materials according to their needs. For the Deaf children, the teacher collected daily necessaries, toys, picture books, etc., and taught them Chinese characters by connecting with a thing or a picture. 

Some of them became skilled in writing Chinese characters gradually. Moreover, the skilled Deaf pupil was able to communicate with a hearing person in writing about what he wanted to say.

It is unknown about how many Deaf children were educated exactly at Terakoya. However, each such goodwill promoted the education of Deaf children in Japan.

Lecture meeting by doctor who signs to be held in Tokyo

The Study Group of Education of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing will hold a lecture meeting in Tokyo on November 3, 2011, 13:30-16:00.

Dr. HIRANO Koji, the lecturer, began learning sign language in his high school days, and became a certified sign language interpreter.

He graduated from the medical department, Tohoku University in 1990, and opened an otolaryngology clinic in Tokyo in April, 2004. He has been involved in medical activities for the Deaf.

He is also acting as a board member of the "Medical Network for the Deaf/HoH" (MNDH) which is a nationwide network organization of the medical staffs who study health care problems of the Deaf/Hoh.

Dr. Hirano will talk about his various experiences as a doctor, and MNDH activity, etc.

Story of three men with disabilities in Edo period

SHIBATA Kyuo (1783-1839) from the merchant class was good at mentality in the late Edo period.

He explained the right path in an intelligible way introducing the example in daily life, taking advantage of his own experience as a professional storyteller.

However, from around 1826, his eyesight declined rapidly and he became blind completely.

Notes of his lecture were taken by his son in colloquial style, and published in 1835 and afterward.

"Kyuo dowa," one of the books has a story which Kyuo discerned each disabled person's mentally aspects.

The story goes:
A long time ago, a blind man, a physically disabled man, and a Deaf man became intimate, and they drank together.

If the blind man sings, the physically disabled man takes rhythm by clapping his hands. The Deaf man stands and dance. They all enjoyed themselves.

While the three men are enjoying drinking, there was a fire in the neighborhood, and it was a big fire.

Although the blind man heard people crying, he did not know the direction to get off.

Although the physically disabled men found a blazing fire, he was already unable to stand up. The Deaf man had turned the back to the fire, and did not know what it was about at first. He was calm.

When the three men became desperate for escape, a man ran to them at this time, and had the blind man carry the coward physically disabled man on the back first, and then had the Deaf man took hold the blind man's hand.

The physically disabled man on the back pointed and taught the Deaf man where the exit was. He finally knew it was a fire, and was greatly surprised, pulling the hand of the blind man in hurry. They were able to get the fire through.

The story tells a lesson that it is important to help each other and cover a fault mutually.

Group of cochlea implant users requesting for financial support to Shiga Prefecture

October 20, 201l

NOSE Kihei, president of the Association of Persons with Cochlear Implant, and others visited the Shiga prefecture office on October 19, demanding the office to influence in the Government, etc. towards support of the purchase of the big-ticket main part of apparatus, or insurance application.

Nose and TOMIOKA Katsumi, vice president, said to the person in charge who received them in the office, "While there is support to the hearing-aid, the aid to the persons with cochlear implant is ceased if he gets serious, which is strange. We would like you to understand our actual situation." They submitted a letter of the request addressed to the governor.

According to the association, insurance for the cochlea implant is applied to required accessories, but not the main part of apparatus which costs around 1 million yen. This is a great burden for them when the apparatus is found to be a failure or updated.

It is said that there are 120-130 users in the prefecture, and that younger than 18 years old accounts for 60 percent.

The support system of the main part of apparatus is spreading in the country. There is also an example with support of the maximum of 1,100,000 yen in Kumamoto Prefecture. In the Shiga prefecture, Koka City is supporting the maximum of 200,000 yen.

Japanese source:

English article on 'Subtitle glasses'

English article reported by news media:

'Subtitle glasses' to debut at Tokyo film festival

The Yomiuri Shimbun
TOKYO - Olympus Corp. and a nonprofit organization have jointly developed special eyeglasses that project subtitles on the lenses so the hearing impaired can enjoy Japanese movies.

A type of head-mounted display (HMD), the glasses will be unveiled at the Tokyo International Film Festival that runs through Oct. 30.

The device was developed by the Tokyo-based precision equipment maker and the non-profit Media Access Support Center, based in Kawaguchi, Saitama Prefecture.

MASC has been working to provide better access to information for people with hearing difficulties by promoting captions for films and DVDs, and is providing captions from its Web site through the iPhone to the device.

According to MASC, subtitles for the hearing impaired need to include not only dialog but also information on who is going to speak before actors deliver their lines. It also needs to explain to viewers about footsteps, honking horns and other sound effects.
As it costs at least 1 million yen per film to print these subtitles, few films provide them. Only 51 of 408 new releases in 2010 had the special subtitles.

Theaters showing these films are also limited, especially in rural areas. Since the subtitles may annoy non-impaired viewers, the films are generally shown only for about two days even in metropolitan areas.

Mitsuhiko Ogawa, 49, vice director of Tokyoto Chuto Shiccho Nanchosha Kyokai, an association for people with hearing disabilities, said films give people with hearing problems an important opportunity to relate to other people and society. "It would be great if we were able to go see a movie with anybody, anytime, anywhere," Ogawa said.

Even if the HMD comes into wide use, however, scripts for subtitles still have to be made for each film. MASC director Koji Kawano, 48, said making HMD subtitles costs less than one-fifth of usual subtitles as the HMD subtitles do not have to be printed on film. "The problem is who bears the cost," he said.

Kawano stressed films with HMD subtitles will also be good for seniors with hearing difficulties. He said demand could be increased by expanding the HMD's functions to allow the use of foreign-language subtitles.

Read more:

English article on deaf woman with four languages

An English article reports on a Deaf woman who speaks four languages.

Language is no barrier for hearing-impaired woman

October 22, 2011
By AKI FUKUYAMA / Staff Writer

Kim Surim learned to speak Japanese, English and Spanish after she lost her hearing when she was only 6 years old.
Kim Surim

Today, at Credit Suisse Securities (Japan) Ltd. in Tokyo, the 39-year-old Seoul native talks with her supervisor in Japanese and communicates in English at meetings.

"I cannot hear the voice of my daughter, but I am happy if I can hear the voice of her heart," Kim said of her 3-year-old daughter, speaking in fluent Japanese.

She acquired the three non-native languages by reading people's lips. She learned how to pronounce words by imitating the movements of their mouths. "A life itself means facing up to challenges," she said.

Kim was taken care of by a relative after her parents separated when she was 2.

She came to Japan when she was 12, following her mother. However, her mother was working all day, leaving Kim to an acquaintance.

She learned Japanese while reading manga and novels to ease her loneliness. Kim thought that she might be able to do the same with other languages.

She went to Britain to study English after graduating from high school. She quit a major paper manufacturer when she was in her 20s and learned Spanish while wandering through 30 countries.

She learned how to roll her tongue to pronounce certain sounds by asking conversation partners to show her their tongues.
At one time, she collided with a wall because she was looking at someone's lips while they were walking.

Credit Suisse valued her language skills and hired her four years ago to check whether stock transactions are conducted in compliance with laws and regulations.

Her colleagues are from as many as 30 countries.

This spring, she published a book, "Mimi no Kikoenai Watashi ga Yonkakokugo Shabereru Riyu" (Reasons why I can speak four languages although I cannot hear), from Poplar Publishing Co.

She is donating part of the proceeds to a movement to promote dogs for the hearing impaired.

Temple to remember the DeafBlind child in Edo period

There is a story about the temple called Yuteiji in Osaka, established in 1755.

A boy was born to a rich merchant of Sakai, OYAMA Yakube, in the Edo period. But the baby was DeafBlind that made his parents wail.

They worried about the poor child's future, purchased land, and built magnificent residence.

Though they made the child enable to live carefree throughout life, the parents were not satisfied, thinking something missing.

They considered many things to make themselves satisfied, but there were no means to solve their trouble. So they visited Honganji Temple in Kyoto to consult.

The priest took over the child's education. He made the child grasp a Buddha statue first. Then wondering, the child stroked it with his fingers, and seemed to be happy.

After a while, the child found the mercy of Buddha for the first time, and felt joy from the bottom of his heart. Unfortunately, he passed away at the age of eight. How deep his parents' sorrow!

Getting the name "Yutei" for the child's Buddhist name, the parents prayed to Buddha for him everyday. The residence in which they lived while praying for the child's bliss became a temple.

New bus friendly to the Deaf in Yamaguchi Prefecture

Deaf group tries on the sound and the sonority condition of sound in the magnetic loop loading bus.

October 20, 2011

In order that deaf and hard of hearing passengers use the bus in comfort, Hagi City in Yamaguchi Prefecture has carried the equipment which raises the sensitivity of a hearing-aid using magnetism to two updated "Hagi loop-line buses". They will begin operation on October 21.

According to city officials and the apparatus maker, the installation of the magnetic loop system to the bus is the first in the whole country.

With the system, the sound of an announcement in the bus or a chime is collected with a microphone, and a clear sound with less noise can catch with a hearing-aid through the magnetic loop antenna constructed under the floor of the bus.

This system has been progressively introduced even in the court of a lay judge trial, a theater, a concert hall, the movie theater, and the baseball field.

At the ceremony for the delivery of the buses on October 19, six Deaf persons rode on the bus for a trial. Yuki Yamamoto (68), president of the Hagi Society of the Deaf, changed the switch of the hearing-aid, and was surprised that she was able to hear the announcement clearly. "This kind of bus would be good for people who are elder and hard of hearing."

Source (Japanese):

SUGIYAMA Sampu, Deaf haiku poet in the Edo period (1600-1868)

SUGIYAMA Sampu (1647-1732) is known as a patron of MATSUO Basho (1644-1694), one of the best haiku poets in the first half of the Edo period (1600-1868).

Sampu, who was the owner of a fish wholesale store under the Tokugawa shogunate, supported Basho's life with his economic strength.

He was Deaf and weak by birth. Though it is unknown when he followed Basho to study haiku, he was one of Basho's ten best disciples.

The "Basho's hermitage" was the guardhouse of the fish preserve possessed by Sampu who provided when Basho moved to live in 1680. Also Sampu and his fellow paid to build the home for Basho who returned to Edo from a long trip in Eastern Japan. Sampu took care of his master Basho over twenty years until Basho passed away.

Basho was sad about his favorite disciple Sampu being Deaf, and once mentioned about him: "Sampu did not use deafness-related phrases, which made himself more respected and elegant in the haiku style."

We don't know exactly how Sampu communicated with his master and fellows, but reasonably in writing for the communication.

American code of ethics for sign language teachers translated in Japanese

October 18, 2011

Code of ethics for persons engaged in sign language instruction or interpreter training never exists in Japan.

The Sign Language Teacher Center, Inc. has believed that the code of ethics is needed for Japanese sign language teachers and interpreting trainers, and has translated the "Code of Ethics of the American Sign Language Teachers Association (ASLTA)" into Japanese.

The Center is thinking to develop its original code of ethics, referring to ASLTA, etc.

ASLTA's Code of Ethics translated in Japanese:

ASLTA Code of Ethics in English:

Caption system for Japanese movies developed

October 17, 2011

The Media Access Support Center, Inc. (MASC) has been working on the Japanese caption on a movie or DVD.

MASC has developed the caption system for Japanese movies jointly with a precision machinery maker, "Olympus". The system will be used for the first time at the "Tokyo International Film Festival" which will be open from October 22.

With the small head-mounted display (HMD) used like glasses, caption emerges in the space in front of the screen.

When the caption information is on the website of MASC and HMD is connected to a cell phone unit "iPhone", caption is sent through iPhone.

According to MASC, it is necessary to put in the name of a person before he or she speaks, or to explain sound effects, such as a footstep and a horn of a car, in written form in the movie for people who are Deaf or hard of hearing.

Because a captioned movie is very costly, such as 1 million yen or more per work, the number of captioned movies is limited. Out of 408 new Japanese films, only 51 have been captioned in 2010.

Also, especially there are few theaters in rural areas to show the captioned movie, and since caption on the screen is troublesome to the hearing audience, the captioned movie is usually shown for only two days in the metropolitan area.

Deaf beggar drawn in old picture scroll (1712)

Although we can figure what the life of a person with disability was like those days, which is easily found in the corner of an old picture scroll and genre painting, it is hard to look for the Deaf person who does not appear in these materials.

A picture of the Deaf beggar is found in the 10th volume of the "Japanese-Chinese Illustrated Assemblage of the Three components of the Universe" (Wakan sansai zue: 和漢三才図絵). Also it includes a statement that describes about deafness and muteness.

The illustrated encyclopedia was edited by Terashima Royan (dates unknown), an Osaka physician, and completed in 1712. It includes chapters covering astronomy, geography, plants, clothing, implements, and other topics.

100 years later, Kobayashi Issa wrote a haiku poem about a Deaf beggar as mentioned in the previous blog.
 (Haiku poem on mute beggar in Edo period:

Priest Takuan Sōhō describes the communication needs of the Deaf in Edo period

Takuan Sōhō

Tokai-ji Temple
Yellow pickled Daikon radish that carries the same name, "Takuan"

Takuan Sōhō (沢庵 宗彭:1573 -1645) was a major figure in the Rinzai school of Zen Buddhism.

He was the first abbot of Tokai-ji Temple in Edo (now Tokyo), which was constructed especially for the shogunate, the Tokugawa family during Edo period (1600-1868).

He has also been credited with the invention of the yellow pickled Daikon radish that carries the same name, "Takuan," which most of the Japanese love to have.

Takuan, who wrote the essays well, states that even if a person is Deaf, he can understand what is said in writing.

He has proved that writing as a communication tool for the Deaf is valid for effective communication.

He also wanted to show that the Deaf are not necessarily stupid or incompetent, as well as communications between the Deaf and hearing persons are meaningful in writing for business.

Moreover, Takuan points out that educating the Deaf should be done with the use of visual clues including a character.


Call for voting on logo name of the 2012 World Deaf Table Tennis Championships

The official logo of the 2012 World Deaf Table Tennis Championships

For the name of the official logo to be used specifically for the 2012 World Deaf Table Tennis Championships (WDTTC), which will be held at Tokyo in April, the WDTTC secretariat has chosen five names from a large number of the name submitted, as follows: 

1. Hope
2. Tappy
3. Tahwin
4. Takkun
5. Tappin

The voting deadline is at the end of October, 2011.

The result of vote will be released by on the WDTTC official website, and "The Japan Deaf News," an official newspaper of the Japanese Federation of the Deaf.

WDTTC official site (English version):

Born Deaf-mute as principle of retribution in Edo period

Suzuki Shosan
Zen teacher of the Soto sect

Suzuki Shosan (1579-1655) was a Zen teacher of the Soto sect and story-book writer in early stages of the Edo period.

Born in Mikawa (now part of Aichi Prefecture), he belonged to the direct vassal of a shogun who served the Tokugawa family.

He always considered life and death from his samurai days and became a Zen monk at the age of 42.

He contemplated on Buddhism as one of the believers, used the story book in Kana (Kana Zoshi) which was in fashion those days for those believers, writing the "Unfortunate Tale" (『因果物語』1661), etc. to explain the Buddha's teaching in an easy way.

In this tale, Shosan wrote:
"A certain person took the secondhand thing out of the temple dedicated to the Kannon, and made it firewood. By the punishment. his child born was mute."

Shosan described the principle of retribution, again here. Found is the influence of the Buddhism thought of those days about the deaf and mute, which therefore was believed by many people at that time.

Refrerences (English):
Suzuki Shosan:

Kana Zoshi:

Deaf Rugby team prepares for the first international match in Japan

October 11, 2011

The first international match against the Australia team will be held in Aichi Prefecture on November 5, and in Osaka Prefecture in November 12 as the top League opening performance game.

Prior to the event, the three-day training camp for the Japanese all-star team of Deaf rugby held in Tokyo ended on October 10.

The hearing Japanese team failed to win the World Cup, and the Deaf Japanese team challenges the victory at the international match.

Captain KURATSU Keita (23) vowed the victory with a smile on the final day of the training camp. "The Japan Team didn't win the World Cup, but we will certainly."

He had joined the National High School Rugby Championship in Hanazono, Osaka when he was a student at Tokai University Shoyo High School, and has studied abroad in New Zealand. His team is called the "Silent Typhoon."

The international match in Fiji has been arranged since two years ago before being called off. Instead the Australian team will visit Japan, which will be the first international Deaf rugby match in history in Japan. The Japanese team is united for victory.

Although the Silent Typhoon is not an official team which the Japanese Rugby Football Union recognizes, Keita says, "We will fight on behalf of Japan."

Related link:
Deaf rugby team training in preparation for international championships

Kyōgen: Traditional entertainment in Muromachi period (1333-1568)

Kyōgen (狂言) is a form of traditional Japanese comic theater, developed alongside Noh, a traditional play which entertained the shogunate and the warrior lords in Muromachi period (1333-1568).

Kyōgen plays are invariably brief – often about 10 minutes, as traditionally performed between acts of Noh – and often contain only two or three roles.

Also the kyogen plays are mostly comedies. Sometimes, the persons with disabilities play a main role in the play.

One of the kyogen is related to the persons with disabilities is titled "The Three Disabled Men" (三人片輪).

One rich merchant advertised in order to  employ a disabled person. A blind man, a man with physical impairment, and a Deaf-mute man came to the merchant.

Actually, these three men were gamblers who lost money from the gamble, and they behaved as if they were disabled.

The merchant, unaware of who actually they were, ordered them to guard the clothing storehouse, the sake cellar, and the vault, respectively, before he went out on business.

Then, the three men decided to drink what they liked in the sake cellar and steal money in the vault to gamble once more.

They got drunk and danced, completely forgetting that they played as a disabled man. When the master came back home, the men got back in a flurry to act like the disabled person, but their plan was then disclosed. These panicked men run away.

This comic play with old terms is so inappropriate and discriminatory that some of the Noh groups rarely perform it nowadays.

Hearing dog trainer from Taiwan studying training system in Japan

Rim Minkin (left) with the candidate dog visits Arima Moto, JHDD president (back), in Nagano Prefecture.

October 5, 2011

Rim Minkin (28), a hearing dog trainer for  the working dog project at the National Ping Tung Uiversity of Science and Technology in Taiwan, with her Taiwanese candidate dog is studying the training system at a government-certified organization the "Japan Hearing Dogs for the Deaf" (JHDD) located in Miyata-mura in Nagano Prefecture, for three days from October 4 to spread the hearing dog activity in Taiwan.

To train a hearing dog in a public transportation facility or a city area is required for the registration of a hearing dog based on an international standard. However, the law of Taiwan doesn't allow such training. So Rim has to visit Japan to study how to train the trainer and hearing dog training process in Japan in order to spread the activities in Taiwan.

ARIMA Moto, JHDD president, visited Taiwan in June, and trained the seven-month-old Taiwanese dog. The training will continue.

Rim said, "People need to understand about the hearing dog in my country. We want to enhance the knowledge to them." Arima encouraged her by saying, "The spread of hearing dogs will be accomplished for sure, if you do your best even in Taiwan."

Zen Buddhist monk Dōgen Zenji mentions on Deaf people

Dōgen Zenji, a Zen Buddhist teacher

Dōgen Zenji (道元禅師: 1200-1253), born in Kyoto, was a Zen Buddhist teacher in the Kamakura period (1185-1333).

He founded the Sōtō school of Zen in Japan in 1244 after traveling to China and training under the Chinese Caodong lineage there.

He is known for his extensive writing including the "Treasury of the Eye of the True Dharma" or "Shōbōgenzō" (正法眼蔵), a collection of ninety-five fascicles concerning Buddhist practice and enlightenment. The Shōbōgenzō is his masterpiece.

Another collection of his talks is the "Shōbōgenzō Zuimonki" (Gleanings from Master Dōgen’s Sayings: 正法眼蔵随聞記) in six volumes. These are talks that Dōgen gave to his leading disciple, Ejō, who became Dōgen’s disciple in 1234. The talks were recorded and edited by Ejō from 1235 to 1238.

Dōgen Zenji comments on Deaf people in the Gleanings from Master Dōgen’s Sayings:
"You sit in religious contemplation in a Buddhist temple, without chatting with other people, just like a Deaf or mute person. What is necessary is only to sit in religious contemplation."

Also he wrote for one of his disciples, who kept training himself with his words as follows:
"Because the Deaf people don't hear, they don't know what is going on in the world;
As they have nothing to worry, their heart remains pure:
As they don't emit any words, there is no worry that they face a calamity."

New-styled subway train for friendly environment in Nagoya City

New model N3000 type train introduced into the subway in Nagoya City, Aichi Prefecture

October 7, 2011

The new model "N3000 type" train with six cars will be used for the Nagoya City-owned subway Tsurumai line for the first time in 17 years on October 10.

The train is lighter compared with the conventional trains, less power consumption by the use of a light emitting diode (LED), and more friendly environment to a persons with disability.

On new train, the wheelchair space was installed in each car. Also the lamp which blinks simultaneously with buzzer sound are attached to the door so that the Deaf person might know the timing for the door to be closed.

The purchase price of the train with six cars is about 900 million yen. The new train will start running in the end of March, next year. From now on, the City Traffic Bureau will be planning to introduce one train every year.

Blind persons playing active part in the middle ages

Blind biwa minstrel

There was already an organization of the Blind from the Muromachi period (1333-1573), and especially the blind biwa minstrels were playing an active part.

The medieval Japanese prose narrative "Heike monogatari" (The Tale of the Heike) is the magnificent literary work about the rise and fall of the Heike family (warriors) ruined by the rival warriors the Genji family who later established the government in Kamakura, Kanagawa Prefecture in 1185.

The tale was narrated by the blind person playing the biwa, and it came to be loved by even the populace at large, rather than read.

AKASHI Kakuichi (明石覚一: 1330-1371) was praised as the blind expert as a biwa minstrel who summarized this tale in the present form.

It is reported that he was a cousin of ASHIGAKA Takauji (1305-1358), the founder of the Muromachi government in Kyoto.

Kakuichi worked aiming at improvement in the social standing of the Blind including a biwa minstrel, and formed the guild system for the blind. 

In contrast, there was no social or vocational organization for the Deaf at that time.

Request for improvement of Deaf driver's license acquisition conditions

The sign that the Deaf driver must stick on his car to indicate "Deaf driving."


The profound Deaf person become able to get the driving license with the Road Traffic Law revision in 2008, but there has been little increase nationally.

According to the Hyogo Prefecture Police, only 15 profound Deaf person have acquired the driving license in the prefecture as of the end of July, 2011 after the revised law enforcement.

The Prefecture Police license division,  etc., said that there was  409  holders of license after revised law enforcement in the whole country as of March 2011. In the prefecture, there are 5,500 or more candidate over aged 18.

It has been pointed out as a reason that the profound Deaf driver must display the designed sign when driving, and that sign-language interpreting is not provided when taking a written examination.

MURAKAMI Yoshifumi (39), a Deaf Himeji-City resident, has continued failing the written examination, giving up getting the driving license. He said, "I want to have the written questions in the examination interpreted using a monitor, etc."

If the hearing-aid is used, the disability sign will be unnecessary, but Yoshifumi fears, "Will the Deaf driver discriminated because of the sign?"

SHIMAMOTO Kyoki (34), Director of the Hyogo Association of the Deaf in Kobe City, said, "We Deaf people always check around with our own eyes. We never get into any trouble with a siren on the road." He appeals for more revision of acquisition conditions as equal as non-disabled people.

Moreover, the shortage of driving schools which accept a Deaf person is also one of the reasons for the "slow increase." There are only 5 schools that offer the interpreting service out of 58 appointed driving schools in the prefecture.

The James Mountain Driving School, the only one school with the signing staff in Kobe City, said, "We had one inquiry from the profound Deaf person who wished license acquisition in three years."

The person in charge of Prefecture Police has also said, "We do not think that the number of driving schools with the interpreter is insufficient."

However, Yoshifumi pointed out, "although we would like to go to the driving school with an interpreter, the five schools are not enough. It is ideal that every driving school has an interpreter."

Reviewing such the present condition, the National Police Agency announced the reform bill of the Road Traffic Law, aiming at the the enforcement in April, 2012.

Related links:
-Revised Road Traffic Law Allows Deaf Drivers To Drive Without Hearing Aids

-Road Traffic Law Revised: Only 45 Deaf persons granted driving license for a year

Deaf painter's 100th birth anniversary arts exhibit in a crisis

 The Iwate prefecture art museum in crisis of holding the Matsumoto Shunsuke arts exhibition.

Matsumoto Shunsuke, Deaf oil painter

October 5, 2011

It is doubtful of holding the round exhibition which five art museums had planned for next year in the country, such as the Iwate prefecture art museum in Morioka-shi, in commemoration of the 100th birthday of MATSUMOTO Shunsuke (松本竣介: 1912-1948), a Deaf oil painter who had lived in Morioka-shi and Hanamaki-shi, Iwate Prefecture.

Because of the influence of the Great East Japan Earthquake, there is a possibility that the planned exhibition project budget of the Iwate prefecture art museum may be frozen again next year.

Each art museum is expected to share the expense to hold the round exhibit, and when one of these museums is missed, the project will be failed. The persons concerned have insisted, "Shunsuke was a popular artiest associated with Iwate, so we want to hold the exhibition somehow."

According to the project plan, the round exhibition will be a large-scale retrospective exhibition which exhibits about 100 oil paintings and sketches among Sunsuke's works.

Shunsuke was born in Tokyo and moved to Iwate Prefecture at the age of two. He lost hearing at the age of 13, and began oil painting. He left the Morioka High School at the age of 17, and went to Tokyo. He joined the Pacific Oil Painting Society (太平洋画会研究所), mingling with his hearing contemporary artists. He painted mainly urban scenes and also worked on a self-portrait.

Encouraging picture presented to Fukushima School for the Deaf

 The picture shows the white stork which is said to send a fortune and an encouraging message in the center. (photo:

October 4, 2011

At the National School Principals Association meeting which was held after the earthquake disaster, the principal of the Fukushima Prefecture School explained the confused situation of the school at the time of disaster emerging.

UEDA, principal of the Toyooka School in western Japan who attended the meeting, had encountered the typhoon in October, 2004 when he was a vice-principal. Although the first floor of the school building was flooded and teaching materials and equipment sank, he received support and encouragement from schools for the Deaf all over the country.

For this devastating disaster, Ueda suggested that not only in the contribution, but "We would like to give support which gets across to the heart", and proposed to make something like a picture.

Twenty-four kindergartners and middle school students finished the colored paper work with one-thousand folded paper cranes over three weeks. They sent it to the Fukushima Prefecture School on October 3.

The topsoil of the schoolyard containing a radioactive material was removed in the Fukushima Prefecture School in August.
However, the physical education class in the outdoors is presently restricted partly.

Receiving the gift from Toyooka, the vice-principal said with a gratitude, "We feel the depth of bonds. Although we have still influence of the nuclear power plant disaster, we would like to do our best."

Deaf European Parliament member to lecture on European disability measures in Tokyo

In Japan, important disability-related laws --- The Basic Law for Persons with Disabilities, the comprehensive welfare law, and the anti-discriminatory law --- are currently discussed.

During his visit to Japan, Mr. Ádám Kósa, a Deaf European Parliament member, will give a presentation on the European policies and legalization related to the persons with disability to offer the better picture of future Japan to the concerned individuals and groups.

There will be two events with Mr. Kósa.

1. Theme: Disability laws
- Date:
October 19, 2011, Wednesday, 13:00-16:30
- Place:
Auditorium of the House of Councillors Office Building (the first floor) in Tokyo

The Nippon Foundation and the Japanese Disability Forum (JDF) sponsor the event.

2. Theme: Sign Language Law

- Date:
October 22, 2011, Saturday, 12:30-16:30
- Place:
Itami Aiphonic Hall in Itami City, Hyogo Prefecture

This even will be organized by the Hyogo Prefecture Association of the Deaf.

Both events are free admission.

English link:

Deaf woman volunteers to help people in earthquake disaster stricken area

September 28, 2011

SUZUKI Akiko (39), a Deaf-born woman from Saitama Prefecture, is an office worker, and has been tackling support of people in the stricken area by the Great East Japan Earthquake in March.

Akiko was interested in the volunteer activity in her high school days. She had the chance to participate in the volunteer project for the East Japan which the Saitama City Social Welfare Council organized in June.

She has been denied the volunteer activities because of deafness many times, but she applied for the project, feeling anxiously if they would reject her again.

She has volunteered to work twice a month since June, working to clear the debris up in the area, etc.

Through the volunteer project, Akiko has experienced many difficult times. She said, "Even if the disaster victim talked to me at first, I behaved as if I understood him or her. I communicated only with my friends in writing."

Through her frequent visit to the stricken area, she has become confident in herself little by little. She said, "Every time I see those people smile, I feel like to help them more. They have changed me, for I used to be shy."

Akiko's husband Ken-ichi (41), and three daughters understand why she works as a volunteer and support her, too.

Akiko said, "Support of reconstruction in the stricken area requires a lot of time. I hope even we are disabled, we want to do something for the disaster victims."

Middle Ages: Principle of Retribution in Buddhism

The "Kamakura period" (1185-1333) and the "Muromachi period" (1333-1568) in Japanese history are similar to the Middle Ages in Europe.

These periods are so called from the place where the political power by the warrior class was established in Kamakura in Kanagawa Prefecture and Muromachi in Kyoto Prefecture, respectively.

Moreover, these periods were permeated by the Buddhism spread even to the ordinary people from the aristocrat class, governing the center of their life.

The idea of retribution in Buddhism thought affected the persons with disabilities most. This is the idea that a certainly bad result is brought about, if a bad cause is made. If used as a warning for not making a bad thing, it would be good. However, conversely in practice, if the person carried out the bad thing and as a result he will be blamed or punished.

Usually it was also common about the responsibility before the person is born. The tendency to dislike the abnormal appearance of a person strengthened at that time. Since such an inferior view on the person with disability was connected, a person with disability and his or her family had to live with patience or hardships.

Meanwhile, because of the Buddhist belief that if a person performed a good deed while alive, he or she would be rewarded after death, it was customary for people to donate those who were poor or in trouble.

Although there is no telling whether it was achieved as full-scale relief, the record exists that temples and individual priests were making relief work, respectively.

Hard of hearing climber reaches 100th mountain in Hyogo Prefecture

Kagawa Masaichi succeeded in reaching the top of the 100th mountain in Hyogo Prefecture

September 14, 2011

KAGAWA Masaichi (64) , a Kobe City resident in the Hyogo Prefecture, traveled across 100 mountains in the prefecture over about one year and four months.

He lost hearing in the right ear because of a high fever when he was six months old. He uses the hearing aids in daily life.

He retired a drug company at the age of 60, and started thinking of mountain climbing once he had given up. He set up a goal to climb the 100 mountains in Hyogo Prefecture.

He begun climbing first on May 28, 2010. Every time he climbed a mountain, he marked the mountain in red on his map.

In mountain climbing by a Deaf/hard of hearing person, danger lurks. He cannot hear warnings of hearing mountaineers. Also it is difficult to ask for help.

Before climbing, Masaichi decided a route after studying the map and made a plan carefully checking other mountain-climbing records. He stuck the red tape as a mark at the turning point to avoid lose his way in the complicated mountain trail, either.

On September 13, 2011, Masaichi reached the summit on the last and 100th mountain "Miharaisan" (祓山: 773 meters high) at last,  He was glad that his goal was finally achieved. "I have continued this with my own mind to learn the beautiful nature."

His wife Yuriko (58) has accompanied him to 30 among the 100 mountains. "When climbing the mountain, Masaichi truly seemed to be a different person. It is hard for me to keep up with his pace, but we would like to enjoy the rich nature in Hyogo as long as we are healthy enough to move around."

Folk tale: Mute wife's pray answered

Ishiyama Temple in Shiga Prefecture

It is a well-known folk tale about a mute wife in Kyoto during the Heian period.

A long time ago, there was a mute woman who lived in Kyoto. Her parents already passed away and the nurse was taking care of her.

The mute woman married a man who was introduced by a certain match maker as he said that she was still young and beautiful.

However, the husband knew later that his wife was mute, so she went out to Ishiyama temple in Shiga Prefecture next to Kyoto and hide herself there.

The mute wife prayed to the Goddess of Mercy (the Goddess of Kannon) at the temple, "I heard that you fulfill the wish even it is difficult. Please cure my muteness so that I can speak."

While she was confined in the temple and prayed for several days, she met a Buddhist ascetic of Mt. Hiei who was coming for worship. She was able to speak in response to his incantation. The ascetic said it was because of the old evil spirit on her. The woman was glad with a tear, and presented the rosary of crystal to him as a gratitude.

On the other hand, the husband was never able to discover where his wife was, but with the faith, he had worshiped at the holy place here and there.

When he worshiped at Mt. Hiei in Shiga Prefecture near Kyoto, he met the Buddhist ascetic who carried the crystal rosary. He knew at once that his wife stayed in Ishiyama temple. So they happily got back together.

They believed this was the Kannon's divine favor, worshiped and served the Kannon further.

Japanese group who developed wasabi alarm device awarded Ig Nobel Prize

Tajima Yukinobu (left) and IMAI Makoto tell joy prior to the Ig Nobel Prize ceremony at Harvard University.


The award ceremony which the "Ig Nobel Prize" is presented to the humorous scientific studies, etc. was opened in Harvard University at Cambridge,  Massachusetts on September 29.

Seven Japanese, including TAJIMA Yukinobu (57), Director of the Scent Marketing Association which developed the alarm device and IMAI Makoto (49), a Shiga Medical College lecturer, were awarded the chemistry prize jointly.

Japanese scientists have won the Ig Nobel Prize for five consecutive years. According to the prize secretariat, "the discovery of a suitable density of the Japanese horseradish (wasabi) in air to wake up those asleep in emergencies, such as a fire, and development of the Japanese horseradish alarm device using this" were highly evaluated as estimated to be "very unique and practical" this year.

Yukinobu said before the award ceremony, "I am really glad that our technology to alarm the Deaf about danger was evaluated in the world."

Also Makoto, an expert on sleep disorder,  said, "I was indeed surprised at the notice of the award."

As a company Shimusu located in Tokyo manufactured the alarm devices, President URUSHIHATA Naoki (46) was one of the recipients. Other two persons were from the Air Water Disaster Prevention (Kobe) which offered the portion of the gas injection machine.

The wasabi alarm devices were presented to the Kagawa prefecture School for the Deaf and the Kagawa Echo Academy for Deaf Children, both in Takamatsu City in April, 2009.

English Article:

Related link:
Smelling alarm unit developed to save Deaf persons from the fire