Monthly Archives: June 2017

Kimi no Na Wa and Twilight

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Kataware-doki Fragment of Time

We are told in the movie, Kimi no Na Wa, that kataware-doki means twilight in the dialect of Hida, where Mitsuha lives. Iwakage has more about the land of Hida as seen in the movie, if you click here. 

Strange things can happen during kataware-doki, the toki time of kataware. And they do, in the movie.

Kataware means a fragment. Fragment of time. Also, the fragment of the meteor that crashes to earth in Hida, obliterating Mitsuha’s hometown.

Let’s consider the fragment of time called kataware-doki. Twilight is a fascinating time of day — or is it night? It is the time between day and night, when it is neither day nor is it night. It is kure, dusk. Many haiku have been written about kure. Here’s one by Basho.

kono michi ya / yuku hito nashi ni / aki no kure.

This path —  no one walks it  —  autumn twilight

This lonely path that Basho describes could be a viewed as an autumn day turning into night, or as late autumn when the season turns to winter. It may even allude to the time when his life is coming to a close.

Kure is a border between two things such as light and dark, life and death, between two instants of time. It is at such a border that all things are possible.

As we were pondering twilight, Earth and Sky posted an article on three definitions of twilight, saying “You can define twilight simply as the time of day between daylight and darkness, whether that’s after sunset, or before sunrise.” They explain how Civil, Nautical, and Astronomical Twilight are defined — astronomically.

Still, these definitions do not explain how we feel about twilight.

Photo: Earth at twilight as viewed from space, NASA

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2017.12.04 Update. Basho in his autumn haiku used kure for dusk. The character for dusk is 昏, also read kare. We noticed that, in the movie, the teacher also explained kataware-doki as karetaso and tasokare. We find that tasokare is written 黄昏, where the first character means yellow and the second is dusk. Now, kare usually means “he, him.” But kare if pronounced tare or dare would mean “who?”

So, we are back to the title of the movie, slightly rephrased, as:

Who are you?

Perhaps that was question being posed by Makoto Shinkai.

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Kimi no Na Wa and Musubi

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Preface

Kimi no Na Wa is an extremely popular and powerful anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai. We say “powerful” in that it is thought-provoking of matters outside the ordinary limits of time and space.

Musubi.  Kumihimo is a Japanese braiding method for making decorative and functional cords, and it is depicted in several scenes in the movie. Musubi is a knot, a tying together, of connecting people and things. The photo shows two kumihimo cords in a musubi knot.

Motohisa Yamakage has taught Koshinto through books such as The Essence of Shinto. Yamakage Sensei writes, “Musubi means to unite or bind together. … the concept of musubi signifies the proliferation of life and spirit. … the very process of creating and giving birth to life and spirit is described as musubi and we [Koshinto] place it in very high regard.”

Time and Space.  We have related the Tanabata Festival tale as the weaving of time and space. This is an observance since early Jomon times that takes place in the seventh night of the seventh lunar month, when the moon is only half-full and the stars in the Milky Way can clearly be seen. The word tanabata means a kind of weaving loom. So picture a fabric being woven with threads of warp and woof. The threads of the warp represent the flow of time, and the shuttling of the woof creates space.

Kimi no Na wa (君の名は) is an international hit movie, entitled Your Name in English. The warping and entangling of time and space is the theme of this metaphysical movie. Perhaps that’s why millions of people find the movie so intriguing.

In today’s essay, we consider how the movie conveys the message of Musubi through the imagery of braiding.

Early on in the movie, we see that Mitsuha lives with her sister and grandmother in a very small town in the rural land of Hida. Grandmother is priestess of an old shrine which has as its goshintai sacred object a megalith in the center of a meteor crater. Mitsuha serves as miko-san shrine maiden and performs a ritual at the shrine. Grandmother is also teaching Mitsuha to braid cords in the style of kumihimo. What, we wonder, is the significance of these elements?

Musubi in Kimi no Na wa

Grandmother’s explanation of Musubi uses the imagery of kumihimo. In one scene, Mitsuha and her sister are going with their grandmother on a pilgrimage to the sacred place of the megalith. On the way, Grandmother is explaining Musubi. We have restored the original word, kami, to the subtitles.

Musubi is the old way of calling the local guardian kami.

Tying thread is Musubi. Connecting people is Musubi.

These are all the kami’s power.

So the braided cords that we make are the kami’s art and represent the flow of time itself.

They converge and take shape. They twist, tangle, sometimes unravel, break, then connect again.

Musubi-knotting. That’s time.

Musubi

From the above, we can see that the concept of musubi is that of gathering and connecting. Grandmother has explained how people are connected in time and space, and she stresses the time element. This is the basic theme of the movie.

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