Tokyo Governor Shintaro Ishihara’s Psychic Photos

The Present Day Nengraphy (Psychic Photo) and Its Experimental Demonstration
Tokyo: THE ASSOCiATiON OF NENGRAPHY [sic], 1972. 274pp.

This rare and strange book has much of interest inside its inexplicable formal looking cover defaced by a message in red print, which reads “Are you aware that the spirit can make direct impressions on photographic paper?” For one thing, the introduction is written by Shintaro Ishihara, governor of Tokyo until just a few weeks ago. For another, the final chapter is written by someone who probably never existed.

The book itself is a collection of “nengraphs”, uncontrolled photographs allegedly taken through paranormal means. It is unclear why Ishihara, who was a Diet legislator in 1972, found this parapsychology in particular a good opportunity to contribute a preface. But the following message on the first page of the book is clearly his, since it is written in a quite different style than the rest of the book, using some of the most formal, literary Japanese I’ve ever read.

I think readers of this blog from the Perennialist side of things may find this statement by the Tokyo governor quite interesting.

The nensha discovered by Professor Fukurai, which prove the supernatural abilities of humanity, were once applauded by foreign researchers as a very original method and valued quite highly, but have been distorted and have not received the appraisal they deserve, since social conditions in Japan prohibit an understanding of the categorical difference between the rigors of the scientific method and blind faith in someone’s supernatural powers. [… A brief overview of the Meiji period taboo on supernatural phenomena and a comparison to the European Catholic insistence on the verifiability of miracles follows.]
However, in these pages is revealed, according to Mr. Miyanaka, a reconstruction of the genealogy of Japanese-style approaches using nengraphy as a basis, which should prove of great value not only for a small cadre of researchers, but for the salvation of the great majority of this country who have fallen into delusion and forgotten the very essence of humanity.
What I feel upon reading these records anew is that we may ourselves someday be able to approach through the means of science the truths of when it was that human beings came to be human, the limits of humanity, the existence of Mystery and the knowledge of this existence, and other values of humanity.
Science is not done for the sake of science alone. The essence of humanity, which is inexplicable through science, may perhaps be much too distant for science to ever approach, but for that very reason, the wonders of humanity, as well as the meanings of human existence, are unquantifiable.
The things that might be inspired by the mere publication of these records of obstinately persistent approaches, untainted by prejudice, in these modern times, are likewise unquantifiable.
April 7, Showa 47
Representative Shintaro Ishihara
Most of the book, unfortunately, does not live up to the standards of a scientific report. The English summary in the back will provide a representative sample: “At first [the Cosmo-Research Group] was a society for studying cosmos and cosmians, but it has come to make good use of [n]engraphy as a means of correspondence with these cosmians. The contra-NENGRAPHY worked out by Mr. Susumu Mizutani, one of these members and a student in mathematics, cultivated a new field in our nengraphic researches. This is an experiment of mental process which draws out energy contrawisely from the stabilized silver molecules of latent image neucleus [sic] on the sensitized photo-plate once returned to the light, returning to the old nonsensitized conditions and it will answer the purpose of proving the existence of minus energy in the future.”
The final chapter of this book is devoted to someone named Toshio Matsunami, and is completely bizarre. The author appears to be interested in getting the opinion of this person on how nensha works, but there is no reason to suspect that Matsunami’s opinion is valuable. He informs us that great people like Kukai can live for 200 years, that yellow is the “highest” color, and that “sounds can save people”, so therefore there is no such Bodhisattva as Kannon, and her name actually means the sound of clapping. Why exactly was Matsunami considered an authority on nensha?
Here I’d like to quote the only biography of Toshio Matsunami I know of, from an interesting book called Takenouchi Documents III:

The late Matsunami Toshio, special advisor to Emperor Hirohito, had a lot of ups and downs in his life. During World War II, he was captured by the Russian army (former Soviet) as a prisoner and was supposed to be executed by firing squad. For some reason the bullet missed him not once but five times. This strange incident was reported to Stalin who then interviewed him. Later Stalin asked Matsunami to become his advisor, because he was impressed with Matsunami’s high level spirituality. At the end of the war, Matsunami returned to Japan, where General Macarthur was waiting to welcome him as an advisor. Matsunami declined the offer because of his friendship with Stalin, but accepted an offer to become a consultant. After this, Matsunami became a consultant or a top advisor to the Ruling party, political and financial organizations, and finally an advisor to Emperor Hirohito. Matsunami was asked for advice from General Macarthur, US Presidents including Jimmy Carter. British Crown Prince Charles unofficially met Matsunami in Kyoto for advice concerning a problem with his wife Diana when he visited Japan. Because of his high spirituality, many people sought advice from him. He was even nicknamed as ‘Charlie Cook’ in the USA and regarded as a messenger for a highly noble space being. Matsunami was even called ‘the successor’ by George Adamski, a well-known author who wrote a book entitled ‘Record of boarding a flying saucer’, probably because he was somewhat similar to the successor. According to followers, Matsunami boarded a flying saucer (for him a flying saucer was an ‘IFO’ not ‘UFO’) through teleportation from Tokyo each Monday and took a leading role to bridge the gap between the universe and the earth.

I have never seen any other reference to this person besides in the Takenouchi book and this weird Nengraphy book prefaced by Governor Ishihara. This Toshio Matsunami is clearly an illusory creature.

Posted: November 22nd, 2012 | Book Reviews

My Accident

“Mr. Morrow,” said an English teacher. “Did you hit a student with your bike this morning?”

I understood what he was talking about but not why. Yes, that morning at 8:20, I had rounded a corner and was surprised to see another bike, its driver wearing a high school uniform and a scarf around his face, coming directly towards me. We brushed each other, I turned around and asked “are you okay?” only to see him disappear around the corner. I silently cursed the rudeness of high school kids, and pedaled on. That was several hours ago.

“That student went to the hospital,” the teacher continued. “He had a bruise, and his pocket was torn.” He gave me a piece of paper. “Would you be willing to write a statement explaining what happened?”

The last time I had been made to write a statement explaining my actions was in elementary school, when I was caught using spell check on a spelling test. I knew Japan did not assign fault for accidents, but I felt like socially, I had just been accused of something outrageous–like I had knocked the kid off his bike and then ran away. But that’s not what I did.

Or was it? Had I really seen that student go on to school as if nothing had happened?  If I hadn’t, I would have stopped my bike. Right?

The only reason the high school had identified me is because I’m the only foreigner in town. If I had been anyone else, I thought self-righteously, that kid wouldn’t have known what hit him, and that would teach him to flee from the scene of an accident. My memory was uncertain, but I still felt wrongfully accused by the whole process. I was made to take a photocopy of the statement down to the board of education, where one of my coworkers, Okita-san, translated it into Japanese. I expressed my disbelief to her.

“I don’t think you’ll have to pay for the torn pocket,” she reassured me. “Insurance will cover it.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: November 9th, 2012 | JET 5 Comments »

The Tree in the Middle of the World

The Tree in the Middle of the World (1989) is a Japanese children’s book by Ghibli animator Makiko Futaki. According to the Afterword, Ms. Futaki got the idea for the book while visiting Yakushima to draw great, ancient trees for My Neighbor Totoro, and the idea got stuck in her head of a tree so large it could have animals and people living in it. Another afterword is by Hayao Miyazaki. Here are the first six pages of the book.

In the middle of the world stands one great tree. Long ago there were a few people who knew about it, but these days, it seems that everyone has forgotten.

That tree sprung up in a valley encircled by scraggy mountains, and before long overtook the mountains, and grew so, so tall that you couldn’t see the top. The tall trunk split into far-off branches, and bushy leaves billowed out and melted into the clouds.

Nobody knew how many hundreds or thousands of years ago the first leaf sprouted on this tree. Over the centuries its surface was covered with countless layers of moss, mistletoe, and sprouts, so much that it was impossible to see the original trunk.

In a little cottage at the base of this tree lived a girl named Cici and her grandmother. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted: November 5th, 2012 | Japan 1 Comment »