May 15, 2021
[Column] Broaden your perspective, take care of yourself

Monthly column in Asahi Newspaper Hokkaido version
May 15th, 2021.   Noyuri Mima

 The Golden Week, spring vacation this year has over. How did you spend your time? I spent one day gathering edible wild plants, and the rest of the time I stayed at home writing a book. In between, I just cooked.

 A year ago, I wrote the column about the word “Azumashii”, which I learned after moving to Hakodate from Tokyo. This time, I searched on the net to find out what other dialects there were, and found the page of the Oshima Agricultural Extension Center of the Oshima General Promotion Bureau. There, I found a collection of agricultural terms as well as a collection of Hakodate dialects.

 I imagined that the person in charge of the project was interested in the dialect of the southern part of Hokkaido as he was creating agricultural terms. The number of words in the collection is over 500. The words are arranged in alphabetical order, and each word has standard Japanese, examples of conversation, and its meaning. As the language is changing day by day, I am grateful that such records are still available.

 In the past month, I received three new book donations, one of which was a popular TV documentary about professional classical musicians. The subject of a much-discussed in the program, in which they were forced to think deeply about their music, their careers, and their lives when their concerts were cancelled and their ensembles could not practice.

 The second book is a historical reconsideration of the nature of universities in the post-COVID-19 era. Faculty members are exhausted by a shrinking population, declining research funding, and declining international reputation. Online classes continue, and the question of whether campuses are necessary is also reexamined.

 The third book is about the future expansion from the machine learning technology of artificial intelligence, which is already integrated into our lives. Just as we need to get used to driving a car, we need to be able to use machine learning, which will become even more prevalent in the future.

 What all three books have in common is that they consider the problems facing society that have been accelerated and brought to light by the pandemic, and where they are headed. We need to broaden our perspectives regionally and historically, as if shifting from the eyes of an insect to the eyes of a bird.

 While broadening our perspective from Hokkaido to Japan and the world, we should also think about the Showa, Heisei, and Reiwa eras in which we live in what is known as the Anthropocene, an era in which the global environment has changed rapidly since the birth of humankind.

 Next year’s cherry blossom viewing should be a good time for everyone so that we can have Cherry-blossom Hanami party. Take care of yourself. If all goes well, the second book I wrote for high school students nine years ago will be out around October.