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2007 January 22 Monday.

My first gig of the day started off at 13:00 with the 神楽公民館英会話を楽しむ会.   

Today, only 4 of the 12 or so members showed up. 

That's fine with me, and also good for the people who did come today, because 90 minutes of free conversation time, between only 5 people, creates a very relaxed atmosphere, with plenty of time for detours into other related subjects of discussion.   

It was a wonderful class.    

For me, the most interesting topic of today is related to the photo and newspaper article that appeared in the January 21, Sunday Edition, of the Hokkaido Newspaper.   

This exhibit was brought into today's classroom by Mr. S.   

He is a retired teacher of 国語,  the Japanese Language, a required class for all of the students who are involved in the compulsory education system 義務教育 of Japan.   

The title below the photo in that newspaper article reads "The Legend of Udastu can change the town."  This photograph was taken in Tokushima Prefecture 徳島県 Mima City 美馬市 at the Wakimachi 脇町 Junior High School.   

This is a very nice school building, wouldn't you say so?  They call themselves the うだつが上がる学校.   

When Mr. S. first said these words in today's class, I had absolutely no idea of what he was talking about.  I have never heard this expression before.   

He went on to explain that the expression means "A school that is a big success."   

I was still somewhat puzzled because I did not understand the meaning of the word うだつ.   

Mr. S. went on to explain further:    During the Edo Period of Japanese history, most of the buildings in any town or city were constructed mainly of wood. 

If one building caught on fire, the fire could and would, easily spread to the buildings next door and burn down a large area of the town. 

In order to prevent this, tall うだつ were built along either side of the buildings. 

In the photo above left, you can see the うだつ on either side of the two windows, on the second floor.

From his explanation, I took the word うだつ)to mean a "firewall".
(This English word is still in common use today on the internet, to mean, protection of your computer network from viruses and/or hackers).

Even with this explanation, the phrase うだつが上がる and  うだつが上がれない literally translated as meaning "the firewall goes up" or conversely "the firewall can't go up", was not yet crystal clear to me. 

What does this have to do with being a big success?   Mr. S. went on to explain the following:    In the old days, during the Edo Period, the biggest buildings would naturally have the biggest firewalls うだつ. 

Therefore, the firewalls became a symbol of the success or non-success of any business that owned a building.    

Ah Ha!   (at that moment, i had an instantaneous 閃き ).  Now, everything was falling into place.  It all made sense. 

A bigger building must have a bigger firewall, and therefore, the firewall (tower) would be more obvious to the general public. 

Of course, big buildings cost big money, and big money is seen as a sign of big success among the current population of most human beings, on this planet we call EARTH.   

Thank you Mr. S., for your fascinating narration, of a most interesting history lesson, about the very complex,  Japanese Culture, and the Japanese Language.   

For me it was an extremely interesting class time, and also, very enlightening.    

Thank you, SIR!!!   

ありがとう! S先生.

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