Tag Archives: Japan

Hou-Ren-Sou: A Recipe for Japanese (Over) Communication

And it works: Hou-Ren-Sou: Communicate X 3.

Voyager of the Flattening World

The Japanese word “hou-ren-sou” means spinach. Spinach is a vegetable you find at the authentic Japanese restaurant, as in “ohitashi” or boiled and chilled spinach with soy sauce and in “goma-ae” or spinach with sweet sesame paste. This “hou-ren-sou” is, however, a special term in the business management context and nothing to do with those delicious dishes. The three syllables of the word, “hou,” “ren,” and “sou” are abbreviation of the three management keywords regarding the Japanese style communication at the workplace. Almost all the Japanese freshmen are repeatedly taught, during on- and off-the-job training, the importance of the “hou-ren-sou.” Let’s see its recipe in more detail.

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2013-12 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Listening, are You?

2013-12 Shinnyo-en Buddhism Podcast – Listening, are You?

  • What’s Wrong With Everybody Else?
  • Learning to Listen in a Different Way
  • Adjusting Your Vision of the World
  • Looks Like a Duck, But Does It Walk, Talk and Act Like One?

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(Based upon guidance in Resonance, Issue 7, 12/2013)
For buddhist practitioners, and arguably everyone in general, the actions and words of others are our best reflection of who we are, and what we represent to others. Going through life thinking, “Wow, everyone I know is so negative. Why can’t they be more positive?”  Or when service at an establishment is particularly poor or excellent, it isn’t so much a random factor of what solely someone else chose to do. We, as the other 50% of that interaction, are bringing ourselves, and our own actions, speech and thoughts to the very same connection with another person.

We observe that each of those opportunities to connect with another person come with messages, spoken and unspoken. Each of us may hear these voices in every encounter, and find in them lessons for reflection and action. Listen to the words of your mother and father. Listen to your husband or wife. Listen to what everyone around you has to say. Listen to all manner of counsel, and to the groans of the sick and suffering. You will find the voices of the buddhas hidden within them. Listen with sincerity and awaken. This most basic practice is the first step toward a direct experience of the timeless essence of buddhahood.

Think about what you feel when you hear or receive the communications from others. What goes through your mind if someone is uttering a robotic, “Thanks, have a happy holidays…” over and over, versus someone who seems to have genuine appreciation or caring, and simply smiles and says, “Thank you.” You can sense whether someone is genuinely conveying gratitude, or repeating a rehearsed autonomic script designed by a marketing writer.  And did the way you approached the situation, invite the kind of response you received?

When you start to really figure out what it’s like to be in another person’s position, perhaps a fast-food service clerk who meets an endless stream of people who just want to get through an order, and perhaps really would prefer an iPad menu to a human interaction, becoming increasingly numb towards the never-ending line of people waiting for their turn to hear, “Welcome to… may I take your order?” Do you ever start that interaction with gratitude that they’re ready to help? Or do you respond equally automatically, “Yes, I want…” Listen to yourself, and think about if that’s the kind of words you want to receive. Listen to others and discover why they respond that way to you.

Of course, listening without resulting action is equally non-productive and does not lead to actual practice. So, in performing your own personal fitness listening training, you will also develop your skills in conveying compassionate truth. People who ask for opinions and comments are easier to deal with than those refusing to listen, but even then the words chosen must not only be heartfelt and kind, but also be appropriate to the recipient.

Realize first that a person who is taking the time and energy to refute what you’re saying, and arguing, has already demonstrated a basic caring of your opinion, otherwise why not just shrug and walk away? How do you know when the wrong words are in-use? Ever witnessed a conversation that goes, “Oh, you’re so stubborn.” And the reply is, “No, I’m not!” — wrong words, with a defensive response. That person doesn’t want to hear that they’re stubborn. There’s a different path to get through what you’re trying to say. But to know that path, you need to be open and understanding what the person wants. For that person, being stubborn is a negative trait, with which they consider being labeled as unacceptable But their passion, commitment, and perseverance are all alternate ways they express their steadfast determination. So it’s those traits that are yours to learn to appreciate..

Achieving the bodhisattva path is not about simply shaving your head like a monk – at that point, you now have a shaved head. That would be akin to holding a paint brush and palette of enamel paints, and saying you’re a painter. The Shinnyo Path is a lay Buddhist practice based upon what you do, not what you try to appear like, or say you’re going to do.

So, what is a bodhisattva life? …doing what is basically right, such as being honest and making efforts to be in harmony with others, all the while thinking what it means to be an example to others. It’s about trying to become someone that others can count on, be it at home as a good family member, or in the community and society at large. This is what it means to accomplish what bodhisattvas do, and walk the path to becoming a buddha oneself (also known as… enlightenment.)

Momoiro Clover Z – Nippon Banzai Lyrics (translated to English)

(because it didn’t exist elsewhere… and I’m not a native speaker, and it is lyrics, so it’s not exact, nor perfectly translated.. so here goes!  Momoiro mononofu!)

Original nihongo lyrics here http://www.kasi-time.com/item-55204.html – ももクロのニッポン万歳! (日本万歳/歌詞) Romajii lyrics – see the About section on the below YouTube video (or the end of this post).

[“Hyoito”: phonetically like a bubble sound pop, pop, pop, pop, pop, or howling, or barking…] Japan!
<bubbles> Japan adventure!
Momoiro Clover Jet!

I’ll go to Japan!
<bubbles> Kyushu!
<pop> Fukuoka Mentaiko (salted fish roe)
Saga-ken steak! Miyazaki steak!
Nagasaki steak! Kagoshima pork (chop)
Heavenly chicken in Kumamoto! Horse sashimi!!
You’re always eating, Bakka-chan (dummy)! Hehhehehehe.

<bubbles> Okinawa!
<bubbles> Haisai (Hello in Okinawan) Mensore (Welcome in Okinawan)
Aiya! Aiya! Iyasassa! Iyasassa! (well known Okinawan song)
Bitter melon! Bitter melon! Pineapples! Pineapples!
Why not come?!

<bubbles> Shikoku!
<pop> Look a Tokushima temple!
We don’t have time to dance here!
Kochi bonito (fish)! Ehime oranges!
Kagawa Univ. Temple here at last!

We’ll fly all over Japan
And see everyone’s smiles!
The Mount Fuji views!
(Fly! Fly! Fly!)
Flying on the wings of a dream
That arrives while you sleep
(We come directly to your city!)
Momoiro Clover Jet!

<bubbles> Chugoku
<pop> Chugoku-chiho
Tottori sand dunes, sand dunes
Okayama kibi-dango (millet dumplings)
Yamaguchi fugu, fugu (puffer fish)
Shimane mane shimane manemura (said like a tongue-twister – Shimane/Shimane village)
Hiroshima!? Momiji manju! (maple-leaf shaped cake)

<pop> Kansai bound for us!
Hyogo! Akashiyaki (dumpling) really tasty!
Osaka! Takoyaki (octopus pastry balls) baked right up!
Shiga! Lake Biwa yikes It’s so big!
Kyoto! A nice Yatsuhashi (a sweet dumpling)!
Wakayama! Tasty ramen (noodles)!
NARA! What can I eat? Shikasenbei (cracker snacks)!
Better not eat too much?
Powder (paint) is Kansai’s pride!

<bubbles> Hokkaido!
<pop> Suddenly big-kaido!
Salmon, Tomorokoshi (grilled corn), Milk, Ikura (salmon roe),
Genghis Khan (mongolian BBQ)
Here is heaven!

Wanna fly all around Japan!
Let’s go to see everyones smiles!
The jet’s really great!!
(Fly! Fly! Fly!)
Flying on the wings of a dream
Drinking juice from boxes with a Z
(The toilets are really clean!)
Momoiro Clover Jet!

<bubbles> Chubu!
Momota Kanako’s (red) place of birth
We ski at…
We live in the..
Gifu Prefecture!
Used to play in…
Aichi, Japan!
Oh! What about Kinki?
Mie (prefecture)!
Delicious grapes from
Yamanashi (prefecture)!
And born and raised in Shizuoka (prefecture)!

<bubbles> Hokuriku!
<pop> Kaga-Hyaku-Man-Goku (old name for Kaga 1 million dollar city), Ishikawa (prefecture)!
Toyama medicine! Niigata rice!
Fukui? Fukushima? Las Vegas?

<bubbles> Kanto!
Tokyo headquarters.
Kanagawa where I was born
Saitama where my cousins live
Chiba where I used to play
Ibaraki for the baths
Tochigi.. Gunma…
Yeah! A-Rin ♥

<bubbles> Tohoku!
Do your best/Cheers Tohoku! (referring to recent disasters)
Fukushima peaches, I really love!
Yamagata cherries, I really love!
Miyagi beef tongue, I really love!
Akita Komachi (rice), I really love!
Aomori apples and Teppan (yaki – grilled dining)!
Iwate fish, I really love!
Please don’t give up!
Keep hope close to you (your chest area)!
Wanna fly all around Japan!
Let’s go to see everyones smiles!
The jet’s really fast!!
(Fly! Fly! Fly!)
Flying on the wings of a dream
Eating sweets/snacks (marked with a) Z
(The juice boxes are really great!)
Momoiro Clover Jet!

<bubbles> Japan!
<pop> Japan adventure!
Keen (phonetic)!
<bubbles popping>
Momoiro Clover Jet!

——Romajii version—–

Hyoito hyoito hyohyoito NIPPON
hyoito NIPPON daibouken
momokuro JETTO!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito kyuushuu
hyoito fukuoka mentaiko
saga ken SUTE-KI miyazaki SUTE-KI
nagasaki SUTE-KI kagoshima TONTEKI
ooita toriten kumamoto?… basashi!!
tabete bakka jan! uhehehehe

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito okinawa
hyoito haisai! MENSO-RE!
aiya! aiya! iyasassa-! iyasassa-!
nan kuru nai sa-

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito shikoku
hyoito ohenrou mairi
mazu wa tokushima ryouzenji
awaodori nanka shiteiru hima nai!
kouchi KATSUO! ehime mikan!
saigo wa kagawa no ookuboji!!

nihon zenkoku tobimawarou!
minna no egao ai ni yukou!
fujisan wo nagamero!!
(FLY! FLY!! FLY!!!)
yume no tsubasa de hitottobi!
neteru aida ni tsuichau Z!
“anata no machi made mairima-su”
momoiro KURO-BA- JETTO!!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito chuugoku
hyoito chuugoku chihou
tottori sakkyuu de sakkyu- sakkyu-
okayama kibi-dango-
yamaguchi fuggu- fuggu-
shimane mane shima nemma- nemma-
hiroshima? momiji manjuu!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito kinki
hyoito kansai ikimasse-!!
hyougo! akashiyaki meccha oishi-
oosaka! takoyaki honma saiko-
shiga! biwako muccha dekai
kyouto! yatsuhashi ii dosu naa
wakayama! RA-MEN oishii de-
nara! kuerun? shikasenbei
nanka konamono ookunai?
konamon wa kansai no hokori ya de–!!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito hokkaidou
hyoito ikinari dekkaidou
shake toumorokoshi MIRUKU ikura
…koko wa tengoku!?

nihon zenkoku tobimawarou!
minna no egao ai ni youkou!
JETTO ki wa suggoi JE’!
yume no tsubasa de hitottobi!
JU-SU nonderya tsuichau Z!
“hikouki no TOIRE! juho–wa’!!”
momoiro KURO-BA- JETTO!!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito chuubu
momota kanako no shusshinchi
SUKI- wo shimashita! nagano ken
LIVE mo shimashita! gifu ken
asobi ni itta naa aichi ken
e! kinki da yo ne? mie ken
budou ga oishii yamanashi ken
chabatake ni sodateraremashita’! shizuoka ken

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito hokuriku
kagahyakumangoku ishikawa ken
kusuri wa toyama! okome wa niigata!
fukui? fukushima? RASU BEGASU?

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito kantou
katsudou kyoten yo toukyou to
kanagawa de umareta no
itoko wa saitama na no
chiba ni wa asobi ni iku no
ibaraki de kaisuiyoku☆
gunma tochigi gunma tochigi
u—–n! a-rin!!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito touhoku
ganbare! ganbare! touhoku!
fukushima no momo ga daisuki desu
yamagata sakuranbo daisuki desu
miyagi no gyuuTAN daisuki desu
akita komachi daisuki desu
aomori ringo wa TEPPAN desu
iwate no osakana daisuki desu
douka akiramezu
kibou wo sono mune ni

nihon zenkoku tobimawarou!
minna no egao ai ni yukou!
hikouki wa hayai zo-
(FLY! FLY!! FLY!!!)
yume no tsubasa de hitottobi!
okashi tabetterya tsuichau Z!
“JU-SU okawari ii desu ka-”
momoiro KURO-BA- JETTO!!

hyoito hyoito hyohyoito NIPPON
hyoito NIPPON daibouken
momokuro JETTO!

Japanese Chicken Ham Recipe (Shizuoka-based) Boiling Water Sous Vide

Yuka's Chicken Ham (Japanese-style)
Sous vide chicken ham ala Yuka

So, the reason for this post is *I* was for one amazed at the results. My wife left a couple of stock pots sitting on the stove close to bed-time. I looked in and noticed each one had a bunch of (after 4 hours) 90 deg F water and a lid, with a plastic-wrap covered sausage-looking roll in each one sitting in the hot water.

So I had to ask, “What are those?”  She says, “It’s chicken ham.”  I think to myself, “Hm… raw chicken stuck in a plastic wrap tube and sitting in some hot water… isn’t this botulism in-the-making?”  So I do the research.

Turns out in Japan, they’ve been making a version of a sous-vide style chicken dish for centuries. You can use white or dark meat, as long as it’s boneless.

And you’ll note the recipe calls for all of 4 ingredients:

  1. Boneless chicken
  2. Salt
  3. Pepper
  4. Sugar

The process is that the chicken is pierced with a fork to allow the seasonings to penetrate.  The salt+pepper+sugar is liberally sprinkled all over the chicken, then placed in a zip-lock bag with the air removed, and left to cure/marinate in the refrigerator for 24-48 hours (depending on how seasoned you prefer your “ham”).  If using the 2-day version, pour off the accumulated liquid after the first day, re-seal and return to the refrigerator.

After the curing, rinse it with cold water.  If you prefer it less-salty, let it soak in cold water for 30 minutes after rinsing it.  Pat the chicken dry with towels to remove excess moisture.

Wrap this in plastic wrap, sausage casing, a silicon tube, or whatever else you have that is boiling-water safe (it’s just to form the shape of the finished meat – if you don’t mind it looking flat and natural, just put it back in a clean ziploc bag and remove the air (using a straw helps get the last bubbles out.)

Bring a pot of water to a boil, large enough to allow immersion of your chicken package.  Turn off the heat once boiling, and place the chicken package into the boiling water, and cover with a lid.  Let it sit and gradually cool for the next 5-7 hours (if you live in a particularly cold climate, you might place the pot into an oven so it’s a little more insulated.)

Then you take it out and slice and eat it, or what have you (it’s just like pork ham, without all the nitrates, food coloring, and other additives.) Some people then take the finished chicken and then place it in a smoker to add a smoke flavor, or any other thing you might do with a canned ham.

Food process-wise, the reason this works is the internal temperature of the loaf immersed in boiling water, once covered, will gradually reach the minimum 140 deg. F for sterilization, and then maintain that temperature for over 45-60 minutes as the water finally cools from 212 deg. F back down to 140.  That process usually takes 2-3 hours if covered.  (If left uncovered, it would cool-down too quickly to be safe.)

Pretty much the simplest chicken recipe I’ve ever seen, and the results are fantastically tasty and juicy.


Note the proportions to this recipe (it scales perfectly well, you just need enough hot water in the pot to keep it from cooling down too fast – approximately 4:1 water to chicken should be enough):

-One large chicken breast: 250g (1/2 lb)
-Sugar: 1 large tablespoon
Coarse salt-black pepper mixture: 1 large tablespoon (1/2-1/2)

My wife used about 2 lbs. of chicken to a 8 qt. stock pot with about 5 qts. of boiling water and double-layered the plastic wrap.

Other recipes include skipping the wrapping, and tying the bundle like a small roast and poaching it in broth instead. This is not a true sous-vide because you don’t need to vacuum pack the chicken.  The salt/sugar curing is the preservation step that makes this work – you wouldn’t be able to substitute salt replacements, or sugar alternatives and have a safe product for poaching without keeping the temperature higher (about 160 deg. F)

2012-June Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast – The Path to Happiness/The Goreiju

2012-June Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast
The Path to Happiness
How The Goreiju Melody Came to Be

2012-June Shinnyo-en Buddhism Monthly Focus Podcast

Subscribe to this Podcast (RSS) or iTunes

The path to our own happiness and the path to making others happy are one and the same. When we completely dedicate ourselves towards the well-being of others, our individual path to happiness begins to unfold before us. True joy results from single-minded devotion in this endeavor of gladly striving to give joy to others. Religious practice does not mean passively asking for blessings to make up for our shortcomings; rather it is an active process of spiritual growth that results from walking the path revealed before us each and every day. Hoping for a positive result without walking such a path is like anticipating the harvest without having planted any seeds.

Instead of spending our time as we like, thinking only of ourselves, to follow the Shinnyo Teaching means to dedicate our time to others and benefit them as well. That’s when we discover true freedom, and our lives become radiant. The joy of practice comes from stepping forward to make others happy in whatever way we can. If you think, “I may be unable to do much, but at least I can do this,” “I can help my family or those around me in this way,” or, “I can give of myself in service somewhere,” then keep that thought close to your heart and don’t let it slip away. The secular and the religious life are wholly compatible.

How, then, do we practice in a balanced way? With the Teaching as the common denominator, we can start to see beyond our usual way of doing things, appreciate how others have overcome problems, draw upon the wisdom they have cultivated, and broaden our own perspective as we discover other ways of seeing the world. Regarding other people’s concerns as our own and identifying with their experiences enables us to take a fresh look at ourselves. When we look at those around us, we might even see the way we used to be. When we gather and meet, we should listen to each other with humility and share our thoughts and experiences. We can then rediscover the goodness, warmth, and compassion inside of us that we may have perhaps long forgotten. There are many who could benefit from your advice and experiences that when shared with others, often shows the commonality that lies between all of our lives.

The melody of the Goreiju, or mantra of Achala’s Benevolence and Liberation, has been described as an evocative, spiritual tune, both melancholic and sweet, and yet not an elegy. The pitch rises and falls with a slow, certain rhythm, turning the Shingon dharma chant into a melody that naturally brings tears to our eyes. But what is the origin of this particular melody?

Back in 1936, when the founders of Shinnyo-en first embarked on their spiritual path, their year- old first born son who was born on a bitterly cold winter night had begun showing signs of illness. Their house was full, day and night, with people asking to be cured of illnesses and seeking other prayers to be answered. They busily spent their days conducting prayer rituals and guiding the practitioners in meditation, but at night had their hands filled caring for their critically ill son. This was at a time in Japan just after World War I, when poverty was wide-spread and starvation and hunger abounded since most of the precious resources had been consumed during the long years of battle. Every night his mother would chant the words of Achala’s mantra with a soft melody similar to a lullaby, or children’s song, and their son would finally look relieved and settle into sleep. This melodic gift, borne from a mother’s love for her suffering child is what we have come to know as The Goreiju, or spiritual mantra.

Their first son passed away a mere 22 months into his life, and exactly 100 days after the founders had committed themselves to a life of spiritual commitment. How would you receive this kind of painful experience if you had just committed to a different life? Would you be deterred from your chosen path? In this moment of pain that only a parent who loses a child can know, the founders witnessed the exchange of their child’s life and the emergence of a melodic mantra that seemed to touch people’s hearts and unifies their spirits. They saw how the never-ending turning of the wheel of life teaches us to treasure the fragility of life, and that every moment is precious. By giving the Goreiju to the rest of the world through Shinnyo-en, the founders also wished to encourage us to give the same compassionate feelings for others, reminding ourselves that the suffering of others is what we can change through our daily actions.

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast (Sounds)

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast
The Sounds of Buddhism

2012-April Shinnyo-en Buddhism Introductory Extras Podcast

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When you have your first opportunity to witness a Buddhist ceremony of any kind, I imagine you will hear and see a lot of new things that have little or no explanation given to you – the ringing of bells at various times, or the rattling sound of a staff with a bunch of metal rings on it, or chanting in a language unfamiliar to you.  Buddhism came a long way to reach the various countries where it is now practiced.  Originally from India, the birthplace of Shakyamuni Buddha, scholars and students traveled to and from China, Thailand, Japan, and eventually here in North America, and to every other continent on the planet. As Buddhism is a person-to-person teaching – that is, that its preferred transmission is “heart-to-heart” from one person to the next so that both receive the benefit of the teaching process, and each scholar or student has a different way of expressing the teaching attuned to the particular listener involved.

Sounds are significant in Buddhism because, psychologically-speaking, the human brain expands its activity when listening to sounds or music more than any other form of sensory input.  For example, when you’re singing a song, even one you know extremely well by heart, it’s difficult, or impossible to think of anything else while singing.  You psychologically are focused on several things at once: the lyrics, the melody, the intonation, the timbre, your vocal muscles, your emotional state, and the vibrations coming from your larynx and body as you resonate the sounds. Ancient Buddhism understood this very well.  When reciting something simple, like the often heard master syllable, “Om” your focus changes to what you are doing. Every denomination of Buddhism has its own core chant. You may have heard this one, which is related to Nichiren, one of Buddhism’s many master disciples. Or this one, which is from Shinnyo-en.  Each of these repeating chants is used to bring focus to the normally unquiet human mind, and generate spiritual harmony as it is chanted in unison with others.

The chanting you hear in the background during the introduction of each of these podcasts is from Shinnyo-en and normally accompanies three bows performed at the commencement of each gathering. These are meant to remind ourselves that our teachings do not emanate from ourselves but from the many people who came before us, and those who encounter it in the future. The unfamiliar language you hear is from the ancient roots in India, known as Pali. While certain chants have been adopted to the native language of the particular practicing denomination, such as in China or Japan, the core chants which begin each service are often performed in the original Pali to respect the origins of the teaching, and for practical purposes, because the translated versions are not nearly as poetic nor rhyming.  The musical melody is one from Shinnyo-en which became unified to our expression of the Goreiju (or spiritual mantra) Goreiju (instrumental) – Gamelan Bells.mp3. This mantra is found in many other denominations of Buddhism, but the melody is unique to Shinnyo-en and has many historical roots in the teaching.

Sounds from a spiritual sense, are meant as a purification process.  As a pure sound is emitted from a pure source, it is believed that the sound helps purify all that it touches.  Buddhist services and ceremonies are often begun and ended with sounds, whether from an instrument or the human voice.

At most every service conducted on a regular basis, you will hear the sound of a wood clave (or hyoshigi in Japanese) being struck two times, and then once.  And at the end, a single strike to indicate the end of a chant or the service chanting. When conducted by a lay person, the same sounds may be produced by striking a small gong or bell. When you’re at home doing your own home practice, if you don’t have an actual set of clave or gongs to use, you can just clap your hand to your thigh to make the sound in a similar way. As many chants are repeated, and in some cases hundreds of times, hearing the sound of the gong is often your way to know this is the time for the repeating chant to finish.

During services conducted by an officiant of higher rank, or purity in a practical sense, you will hear the service chanting by the officiant begun and concluded with the bronze chime sound (or kondo kei) instead of the wood clave.  They may also use a hand bell at the conclusion of their service chanting, further serving symbolically and sonically as a purification of the area of the service and of those attending it.

And for grand purification ceremonies you might see a religious leader walking with a wooden staff with a number of metal rings at the top – this is called a shakujo in Japanese. As they walk, you will hear the clatter of the rings as they strike the ground with the staff.  Then at the beginning and ending of each chanting, instead of a clave, bell or gong, you might hear the shakujo being shaken in-time with the chanting, and then a final longer shake to end the chant.

So this was a little introduction to the many different sounds associated with Buddhist practice and ceremonies.  I hope you will find it useful to help broaden your understanding of what is a simple and yet complex form of spiritual belief and personal development.