Monday, May 18, 2009

Ludwig van Beethoven- The Only Anthem Composer Japan Honored with a Stamp

You heard it- not Hayashi Hiromori, Japan's national anthem composer, but Ludwig van Beethoven, the aurally-challenged musical genius from Germany. While in Osaka, I ask our tourist guide, Hirumi, if their national anthem or composer was featured in a stamp, and the answer was a blatant no. This really baffled me. Japan, with their fervent patriotism and "Kimigayo", supposedly the oldest anthem in the world composed during the 10th century- and not one single stamp to honor it. Which led me to think.... of a joke. What's hard and long and stinks all over? Beethoven's last movement..ha ha ha. Sorry idol, just a joke. Incidentally, Japan is an anally obsessed nation. You'll never find any country in the world with citizens obsessed with their toilets. There's a toilet with warmed pads, sound-proof toilets and a toilet that sings the national anthem- you have to stand up when you're doing your thing...yeah really?!

Hayashi Hiromori wrote the music to their anthem, but it is not known who wrote the lyrics. They first appeared in a Kokinshu, a collection of ancient and modern poems dating from the tenth century. From very early times, the poem was recited to commemorate auspicious occasions and at banquets celebrating important events. The anthem was first performed in the imperial palace on the Meiji Emperors birthday on November 3, 1880.
The Japan trip was truly a learning experienced-I learned to sing a Japanese song and I learned to count in Japanese....I wasn't able to eat a single raw thing there though, which I do weekly here at home. Hmm..ironic?