I’m one of the students that went to Japan this past summer (July 2010), and I wanted to continue what I had begun in that class/trip with the Fall Semester class. If you want to know more about me check out my personal info page and my top picks from the trip over on the class website that was built when we returned from Japan. You can also check out my personal thoughts and impressions of Japan on the class blog for the trip. Be warned, my blog entries on that site are ordered backwards, so you will have to begin at the bottom of the page and work your way up. I will be doing the same with this blog as well. I was also one of the two students from the summer group that did a lot of work in Second Life building a Buddhist Temple and a Shinto Shrine to help others learn more about and virtually experience Japanese religion. During this semester I will be working with a larger group of students to improve and add on to the virtual experience of the Buddhist Temple and Shinto Shrine, so I am excited about that prospect. I saw and experienced quite a bit while in Japan this summer, and I am looking forward to continuing my studies into Japanese religions through this class this semester. Hopefully you’ll tag along as I continue this journey through future blog posts.
05.12.2010 2:27 PM
Well… blogging has not been my strong suit this semester, but it appears I’m not the only one. What blogs have been posted have been very insightful and thoughtful, and they have been very interesting to read. This semester has not been what I expected on many fronts, but I certainly enjoyed my time in this class. It was intriguing to see how others learned and picked up on the different concepts we covered this semester. I also noticed that once again there was a natural division among the students as far as projects were concerned. Three of us veered strongly towards working in Second Life, while the remainder split up (with some overlap) between working on the class website and visiting the high schools to give presentations. It was good to see everyone find something they were comfortable working on this semester, which I’m sure made it a more enjoyable experience for everyone involved. There have been lots of laughs and lots of discussions, and overall a rewarding semester.
My own experiences are not as noteworthy in my own opinion. While I was able to enjoy observing my classmates expand on their knowledge of Japanese religiousness and work out how to present this new knowledge to others, the things I needed to learn, it seemed, were more personal and took place outside of the classroom. Here is not the place to elaborate, but I will be forever grateful for the support of Dr. Roemer (aka Prof. McShortz) as I struggled to figure out what was going on and where to go from here. It won’t be the most ideal ending to a semester for me, but it’s simply the beginning of a new chapter. A new year is coming, and with it a new journey (and another year older, my birthday is in just under 3 weeks).
I continued to work on the Second Life project this semester, though personally I don’t feel as if I was as much help this time around. The Shinto Shrine and Buddhist Temple have come along quite nicely with many new additions.
I was able to explore some new scripting skills, and obtained some new animation skills which was a new area for me. While I have made several pose balls and worked with pre-made animations, I have never worked on creating a brand new animation from scratch. That was something that proved to be interesting and sufficiently challenging enough that I lost track of time (and half a day). For this class I needed to make a specific pose ball to animate an avatar doing the traditional ritual for a Shinto Shrine to show respect to the kami, it is known in Japanese as “omairi” (oh-my-ree).
Omairi consists of bowing twice, clapping twice, and then bowing once more (often the last bow is held for a couple moments as it can be used as an opportunity to offer up a personal prayer to the kami). At a Buddhist Temple one would hold a single bow for a couple of moments and offer up a prayer to the buddha, no clapping. At many Shinto shrines there are also large bells that can be rung to help gain the attention of the kami.
Another important part of Japanese religiousness is meditation, which is a part of Buddhist teachings. In our Second Life temple there are two meditation cushions one can choose from; one that sits still in a meditation pose, and the other performs a series of arm movements while sitting.
One of the last things that I helped contribute were additions to the washing stand which will be outside the complex. Shinto has a large emphasis on life and purification, and outside many shrines (and even some temples) there is a place where you can ritually wash your hands (first your left hand, then your right) and your mouth to rid yourself of impurities before entering the sacred grounds of the shrine (or temple).
I added water (very important thing to have) as well as a ladle with which to “wash” your hands. Unfortunately scripting and animating in Second Life hasn’t advanced far enough to completely replicate the actions, but the ladle will at least thank you for ridding yourself of impurities before entering the complex.
As the semester draws to a close I begin to pack up my apartment to move out and move on to other things. I’ve learned quite a bit at Ball State University, most of it being what I needed to learn about myself beyond my previous self-perception. This class has been very fun and light-hearted, something I will always look back on with fond memories. I’m not sure what life holds for me (I’m pretty sure it will involve Japan somehow or another), but I’m feeling good about what’s next whatever it may be. Sayonara!
*In the aerial view of the complex there are several important structures to know. This will not be the final layout of the complex (the Buddhist Temple will be moved to stand behind the second Torii on the other side of the Omamori Stand). Where the buildings are set up now is simply a staging and building area before being moved to the main Ball State Island. Many of the structures are rather self-explanatory (i.e. Buddhist Temple, Main Gate, Washing Stand), but there are some that need defining. A ‘torii’ is a sacred gate typically set at the entrance to an area considered sacred, such as the entrance to shrine grounds. The ‘haiden’ is the outer shrine where the public can go to perform the omairi and make donations to the offertory box. The ‘honden’ is the inner shrine where the kami is housed and typically only priests can enter the inner shrine. ‘Omamori’ is an amulet that is bought as a gift for someone and different types can range from protection during travel to good luck on passing exams. An omamori stand can be found at many shrines and are often a way of providing monetary support to the shrine’s upkeep; buying an omamori is considered a donation to the shrine.