Why do we SOBA?
                 Our basic way of thinking.

How is your daily life? Living satisfactorily with a peace of mind or struggling with fear and/or anger?
Our life is not so simple just to say yes or no to such a question. Sometimes we live with satisfaction and sometimes we live in agony.
When a night falls on us with silence and serenity, we often think of ourselves and our beloved family.
Where are we going? What will be our future? Is it safe and fullfilling? In order to obtain such fullfilling life, what should be done now?.....and our thought goes expanding from the individual issues to the future of us all. ie. our surrounding world on the global level.

    Why do the nations so furiously rage together?
    Why do the people imagine a vain thing?
    The kings of the earth rise up and the rulers take counsel together against the Lord and
   against His anointed.
    Let us break their bonds asunder and cast away their yokes from us.
    Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron.....

Famous Händel's Messiah I sang in my school days still casts above grave question together with our aspiration to be free.

1) Executive Summary
Current world has full of problems which current leading principles cannot contribute for the solution. More precisely, because of such principles problems are arising and getting serious to insoluble
World urgently need to find out new principles to solve these problems which would put our world in great danger. We believe that oriental philosophy especially Japanese traditional philosophy will give the world for the clue to solve the issues. Think of it seriously and realize that the primary value is not the power (greed ) but the life.
We ,through soba, would like to show and explain the possible solution. Because the foods are very basics of the human life and easy to understand and follow.
What's wrong with current leading principles/philosophies?
Why could Oriental philosophy and Japanese principles be helpful?
Soba as a tool for understanding would give you good explanation.

So eat and learn Soba and you would understand the life and harmony of the universe.

2) Historical Review and Recognition on Current Era (What's wrong with the modern civilization?)
Modern world boasts its highly advanced scientific civilization and we are fully enjoying its benefits.
However does the mankind itself sufficiently evolve and become cleverer to cope with such civilization?
The transition of the modern history was starting from the great navigation which widen the views of the people and made fights to acquire colonies. War has been justified as an effective measure to settle international conflicts. Colonies made slavery to be more competitive. Industrial revolution made more powerful empires to dominate other people and countries. The gap between the countries and people have been widened and isolated.
 Now look at the armed conflicts amongst countries which make the killing easy/efficient and push us all on the brink of ruin. Look at the polluted earth which makes the people sick and the accumulation of CO
2 results global warming inducing possible world food crisis. These are just examples of our not so well recognized imminent dangers.

 Though people is endeavouring to solve these problems, can they be successful with the current leading philosophy and its principle? Regrettably they seem to be helpless. US president Obama also declared "the Change" but it seemed the change was only based on the technical way and did not include the philosophy and principle itself. The "Endeavour" is meaningful only if its direction is right. Astray endeavour without having the new principle is not only meaningless but sometimes could be harmful. Arnold J. Toynbee, the author of "A Study of History"

 British historian Arnold J. Toynbee (1889-1975) writes in his "A Study of History" it gets the turning point of the history from mighty european oriented civilization to another civilizations which has been oppressed by the power.We are in the same boat (earth) and share our fate. Any principle which cannot be applied to the whole world cannot serve to the part of the world too. Thus philosophy has been developed by responding to the needs of the each era. And now what principle the philosophy can show to the people in this turning point of the history. We need the new principle which is more universal and comprehensive in this borderless era to allow human to coexist harmonically with all creations of the universe.

The Science Technology backed by European Culture has created great Techno Civilization nowadaysReneDescarteswhich has been started by French phylosopher René Descartes (1596-1650) with his famous words. "Cogito, Ergo Sum"' (Je pense, donc je suis. or I think, therefore I am.) He doubts everything and says however undeniable Self or Ego really exists. Then Substance which can be recognized clearly by our Logos also exists. Those two, Self to think and Substance to extend, are the only entities. Thus Self to think becomes a starting point of the modern philosophy and Substance to extend becomes a starting point of the modern science.

This rationalistic thought was the necessity of the era to move from the superstitious medieval period into the rational modern period. Normally it is simply thought as the shift from religion to science. It is a turning point from spiritual worship to substancial worship and also worship of eternity to worship of time/progress. The will and desire of the human combined with scientific progress created great power. Thus the Modern European Civilization could be defined as Civilization of Power backed up by the philosophy of eternal progress, eternal endeavour and eternal change. But also the reflection of his era with Thirty Years' War (1618-1648) in which about one third of Germans were dead could be seen. Ie. the lack of notion on life and death especially the death. This power has been used relentlessly to rule and dominate the nature and the other human which has created current problems.
Mother nature should not be an object only for human's use and the substance should not be recognized only as mathematical extention. We can be a poet in the nature looking up the blue sky and listening murmuring of a stream and we muse about the life and death and feel how life is transient. Feeling the transience makes us to love and live much more vividly with full of thankness to the family, country, globe and universe.

Every era had its own concern and problem and we did find the solution for it. But the change made by Techno Civilization came too far and it made the usual leading principle useless. The Power made the chaos. Does Civilization of Power based upon Logos which devides human from animal still make eternal progress by eternal endeavour? Answer seems to be very clear.
It's the time to change our thought about the value of the life. We should learn how to control our desire (greed and avarice) in order to be free and peaceful.
Go back to the top of this page

3) Why could Oriental philosophy and Japanese principles be helpful?
       Three main elements of the Japanese Philosophy
Inochi, Kokoro and Jigoku are said to be the three philosophical principles to carry through Japanese culture.
‡@Inochi (Life
  Feel the nature as a living thing and the power something great that makes the nature as such is called as God.
  Mountain, River, Grass and Tree are all living and Gods. This is an ancient Japanese traditional feeling  about the world in Shinto and Dainichi Nyorai which is a symbol of such concept in Buddhism (Mahayana-the Great Vehicle) comes  across with Shinto so easily and settled in Japanese mind. Every living thing has its end ie.the death. We cannot  escape from this truth.Sakura in its full blossom
Sakura (cherry
χ) is the national flower of Japan and just a word Flower means the cherry.   Why does Japanese love Sakura so much? It blooms only for a moment and scatters. The life is very short and most of it is used for the preparation of the blossom in a flash. And its full blossom is gorgeous and pure and more over the way it scatters is graceful. Japanese see the beautiful life there and adore such life. The life is so short indeed but that's why it is so precious. Because of the darkness, we enjoy the light and because of the death, we find the true value of the life.  This is a prayer in praise of life.
Thus we love our life and the life of other people together with all other lives in universe. Thus we are tied together and have a feeling of the unity and warm consideration to other people with respect. It is called "Jihi
Žœ”߁h(Heart of Buddah)

‡AKokoro (Mind, the heart of thing

  Mind is full of worldly desires which create so many torments. The introspection on our mind is essential to get spiritual awakening and to be free. Buddhism classifies Kokoro in 8 gradations (Shiki
Ž―). Ie. First 5 are the sensuous consciousnesses (eye, nose, ear, tongue and body senses) and consciousness comes at 6th position. And this is what traditional European philosophy calls the mind. But Buddhism have Manashiki (––“ίŽ― consciousness of subliminal-self) at 7th, then Arayashiki  (ˆ’—Š–λŽ― consciousness of cosmic-self (Jihi) which is the mind of Buddah) comes at the end. Last two shikis are beyond logos and ego which go deeper in our mind.

  There is a teaching "Ichinen Sanzenh
iˆκ”OŽOηj ByodouinHououdou, NaraThe world consists from 10 worlds. Ie.Six worlds of delusion .....Jigoku (’n– Inferno), Gaki (‰μ‹S Hungry  Ghost,world of  greed ),  Chikushou (’{Ά Beast, world of ignorance), Asyura (ˆ’C—… Asura, world of anger and strife),  Ningen (lŠΤ Human, world of uncleanness, agony and transience), Ten (“V Heaven, world of pleasure, distress of being out) and 4 worlds of spritual enlightenment   .....ShoumonΊ•·, Engaku ‰Šo(these two are the disciples of Shakyamuni-Hinayana or the Lesser Vehicle),   Bosatsu •μŽF   (Bodhisattava),  Hotoke •§(Buddha)
  Amida Nyorai of ByodouinEvery moment has these ten worlds and each world contains these ten worlds in it. So there is a world of Buddha even in the world of Inferno and also there is Inferno in Budda. Thus every living creature is equal and by just introspecting this moment deeply, we will be enlightened and come nearer to Buddhahood.

So there are not bad guys and also good guys. We have 10 worlds within ourselves and the effort to try to be out from the 6 worlds of delusion decides our value.

Remark: Byodouin Hououdou in Uji, Kyoto was constructed in 1053 by the noble family called Fujiwara as a symbol of the Gokuraku (Heaven) on earth and now listed as one of UN World Heritages. These pictures are in courtesy of Byodouin Temple in Uji who has the copyright.. Amida Nyorai at right is designated as a national treasure of Japan .

‡BJigoku (Inferno
Saicho ΕŸ(767-822) who established Japanese Tendai-syu used the Inferno as a tool of his teaching. Thus to feel this world as Jigoku becomes common in Japan and Joudo-kyou by Genshin ŒΉM(942-1017) who sees this world as uncleanness is born. The money you make cannot be brought to the hell to buy your pardon. Your way of living will decide where to go after your death. Heaven or hell and which type of hell?
  There are 8 types of inferno and the dead is to be sent to the hell depending upon the gravity of the sin commited. For example, Syugou-Jigoku
O‡’n– (3rd hell of 8 types)This is for the person who made a sin of illicit love affair. There is a sword-leave forest in which the sinner is to be thrown. He finds his lover high on the tree of this forest and tries to climb up there frantically.   All of a sudden all leaves turn to the swords and tear his flesh into shreds. But he wants her and continues to climb up all soaked in his blood. Finally at the moment he arrives at the top where the lover was, she disappears but her voice calls him from the ground. Come down quick and enbrace me. I fell to this hell because of  you. The man desperately tries to go down. Then all swords turn the blades up and shred the man again. At the  moment he gets down on the ground, she smiles from the top of the tree. And he has to repeat it eternally.....
It is similar to the Greek myth of Sisyphus.  Even before our death, almost all of us suffer this type of love affair hell. Hell does exist in our now-living world. And other worlds of Gaki, Chikushou and Asyura ....too. Try to reflect on ourselves to get rid ourselves of all worldly thoughts and to attain perfect serenity of the mind. That is the teaching of the "Ichinen  Sanzen".
Go back to the top of this page

4) Soba as a tool to understand and the vital energySoba Flowers in my back yardSoba is a name of Japanese buckwheat noodle backed up by Edo (Former name of Tokyo) Culture and also means buckwheat itself. It's tasty and healthy. Soba grows very fast (about70 - 85 days depending upon the variety and climate) and is vigorous wild plant. It grows almost in any soil and strong to cool climate. Normally it doesn't need fertilizer nor pesticide. Thus it is natural and safe crop with superior and well balanced nutritional factor, rich with Vitamin B and Rutin etc. to adjust and enhance our body function. It's biological value is very high and it is gentle to our body and digestible even in raw.

Canada grows buckwheat and mojority is exported to Japan. Manitoba is known as Buckwheat Capital of Canada.
Soba is very simple to make. Add water and mix it well with Sobako (buckwheat flour) of your choice and knead and flatten it then cut with a big Sobaboucho (Soba Knife). That's all but within such simplicity it involves deep wisdoms of traditional Japanese thought and secrets of life.

In Edo period (1603-1867), to become a Soba Master it was required to have an apprenticeship for minimum of 5 years and 3 months. First three years was only for the mixing (Kibachi-Bowl work), then another 2 years for only flattening. And last three months for cutting which was the easiest part. After that finally he could stand at the starting point to explore his own Soba. It was not an end but just a biginning. Everybody can make his/her own soba at his/her skill level even though the way to master Soba is a long way to go and mysterious. However what I explained now is just the Soba in the narrow sense of the definition and it is just like a tip of iceberg and invisible part is the decisive factor of Soba's quality. The truth is always hidden and requires our effort to see it and our soba (work) always reflecting ourselves vividly ie. honesty for honest guys, guile for cunning guys...

Here in North America, Soba is not so popular yet like sushi. But I know a kind of boom in NYC recently.
For normal people, industrial dried soba is what they know about. But JAS (Japanese Agricultural Standard Act) stipulates that as far as minimum 30% of buckwheat flour is used, it is allowed to label it as soba though it actually should be called as Udon (Japanese thick noodle made by wheat flour) à la flavor of buckwheat. So taste, texture and nutritional component.....everything is totally different. What do you expect to such type of so called soba? I have no intention to deny it. It's really handy and convenient for busy day to day life. It's a matter of TPO. But it normally spoils us due to the convenience and deprive from knowing and tasting authentic Soba. You should know the convenience is just a convenience which is not indispensable to the life. Such convenience is comfortable but too much convenience causes various problems we confront now and leads the people and the world into depravity. Over production, over consumption and over garbaging destroys the idea of the life's basic value and take the mind of thankness away from us. Busy life takes Mom's or wife's home-made cooking away from a family. And they replace it to ready-made convenient foods but busy husbands and children don't sit down at the table to have a meal together, thus loosing the chance of chatting each other and becoming lonely and making social unfitness of the children. Get it back, our lost mind.

A word "Hand-made Soba" (Teuchi Soba
Žθ‘Ε‚Ώ‹Ό”ž) was created some 250 years ago in Edo era. At that time, there was no soba-making machine invented and everything was hand-made.
But why they did put this word of "Hand-made"(Teuchi) only for Soba?
Because the spirit of Soba was to accept and entertain the people from a bottom of the host's heart and the host by him/herself made the soba not leaving the work to apprentices. So in order to express such hearty hospitality, people put the word "Teuchi" (Hand-made) only for Soba.
Thus the spirit of Soba is to pay a deep and warm consideration to other people which is in line with traditional Japanese phylosophy.
With this Soba Spirit in mind, we are checking and reviewing everything in the process.
ie, How is it grown? Are seeds clean and safe? not genetically modified? no unnecessary chemicals used? How is it harvested and kept? How neatly is it cleaned? How effectively milled into flour keeping original ingredients intact? or in the restaurant How other materials are made?...same checking for everything to be used even water should be done. Working like this is time-consuming but makes you realize and understand truth of the life also the danger of the world now. Through Soba, we will be able to think of the supreme value of the "life" and to feel supported each other, thus to create a sound chain of the history in the future.
So enjoy the life more vividly by making and eating Soba!

šVital Energy
Every food has its energy.

Go back to the top of this page

Return to the Index Page