Category Archive 'Japan'
20 Aug 2017

“Honoring Fallen Enemies”

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Bartholomew Xerxes Ogilvie, Jr., at Ricochet, has a little story that seems especially relevant these days. Alas! it’s the kind of thing that people on the Left will never understand.

In 1944, a 20-year-old U.S. Marine corporal named Marvin Strombo got separated from his unit on the island of Saipan. Making his way back toward the rally point, he stumbled across the supine body of a young Japanese soldier. The man had apparently been killed by the concussion from a mortar explosion: his body was completely intact, bearing no apparent wounds. The sword at his side marked him as an officer. And poking out from underneath his jacket Strombo could see a folded Japanese flag.

Strombo hesitated but then reached out and removed the flag. It was covered with Japanese calligraphy: good-luck messages and signatures from the young officer’s friends and family. Flags such as this were popular souvenirs among Allied troops, so Strombo knew that if he hadn’t taken it someone else would have. But Strombo made a silent vow: “I knew it meant a lot to him … I made myself promise him that one day, I would give back the flag after the war was over.” …

a few days ago, 93-year-old Marvin Strombo made the long journey to Higashishirakawa, where he met with the surviving family and friends of the young enemy soldier whose final resting place he had seen. He was able to bring them the closure of knowing where, when, and how Yasue died; and he was able to return to them the flag they had sent with Yasue when he’d gone off to war. “I had such a moment with your brother. I promised him one day I would return the flag to his family,” Strombo told them. “It took a long time, but I was able to bring the flag back to you, where it belongs.”

The Japanese were our enemies in World War II. And make no mistake: they were on the wrong side. Even the Japanese themselves know that today. Sadao Yasue was fighting for the wrong cause, defending a militaristic regime that was bent on conquest and domination of its neighbors, at the expense of its own populace. He was part of a military that, elsewhere in the same war, committed atrocities that are too horrible to contemplate.

But he was also a human being, a young man with a family and friends who loved him. People he left behind, people who had nothing to do with the war, except insofar as they suffered its miseries and the pain of his loss. Returning the flag to these people and honoring the sacrifice he made in no way undermines the outcome of the war, nor does it represent an endorsement of the evil for which he fought. It is nothing more and nothing less than an expression of human decency, a way of reaching out and acknowledging the pain of war.

In front of the courthouse at the center of my small North Carolina town is a statue of a Confederate soldier. Not a hero, not a leader, just a generic representation of the thousands of young men who went off to war and left grieving families behind. It is not an endorsement of slavery or a message of racism; it is nothing more and nothing less than a somber acknowledgement and reminder of the pain that war brought.

The next time I drive through town, I wonder if it will still be there.

RTWT

15 Apr 2017

The Japanese: Nuked Too Much or Not Enough?

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Rugby players from Team AIG Japan wearing black tackle people. Surprise ending

Correction: Commenter Larry Cox explains that the Rugby players are the New Zealand “All Blacks.”

04 Apr 2017

The Japanese: Nuked Just Right

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04 Mar 2017

A Martial Arts Story

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From Peter Cohen, answering a question at Quora:

A tea ceremony master was walking through the town market one day when he accidentally jostled a samurai. The samurai took great offense, but because the samurai and the tea ceremony master were of the same social caste, the samurai could not simply lop off the tea ceremony master’s head. So the samurai challenged the tea ceremony master to a duel the following dawn.

Now the tea ceremony master knew nothing of sword fighting, but was bound by honor to show up for this duel. Not wanting to embarrass himself, he went to the town sword master and asked the sword master if he could be taught to use a sword. The sword master was rather flustered, not really being able to teach much in the space of one evening. He showed how to hold a sword, how to do a basic sword stroke, and then said;

“I can teach you nothing about how to fight this evening, but I will tell you this; Go to the bridge in the morning, hold the sword thusly over your head. Think of the tea ceremony. When your opponent approaches, strike with all your might.”

The next morning at dawn the tea ceremony master stood at one end of a bridge and the samurai arrived at the other. The tea ceremony master held up his sword as he had been shown and thought of the tea ceremony. The samurai watched the tea ceremony master for a good while. Finally he bowed, turned, and walked away.

22 Feb 2017

Japan, Nuked Too Much, or Not Enough?: Chicken Attack

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Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

18 Jan 2017

Yasujiro Ozu (1903-1963)

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29 Nov 2016

Poor Yakuza

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yakuza

The Yakuza life, according to Kaz Matsune on Quora:

Here is a story I heard from my father-in-law.

My-father-in law runs a small restaurant in a rural area of Japan for the past 30 years. It’s located in the even remote part of the town.

Because of the restaurant’s location, many customers come to avoid the crowd in the city for a nice quiet sit down meal.(food is very good by the way)

Naturally and eventually, some Yakuza members discovered this quiet establishment, for they too need a place to eat lunch and dinner to avoid crowds. So, they started to come to the restaurant frequently.

Now, my father-in-law is quite a big man for his generation: at the age of 80, he is 183cm (6’1″) tall and weighs 100kg (220lbs). Thanks to his physical feature, he is not easily intimidated, even by the Yakuza.

When one of the Yakuza members noticed his missing pinky finger, their mode suddenly changed. Missing pinky is a sign of Yakuza – whenever they commit a serious mistake (among their organization), it’s their custom to cut their finger off.

“Hey grandpa, what did you do?” one of the Yakuzas asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Your pinky finger.”

“Oh this? My finger got caught in the electric winch on my boat.”

“Your boat?”

“Yes, I am a fisherman also. I go and catch fish and sell, when the restaurant is not so busy.”

“You are not Ex-Yakuza?”

“No. Are you?”

“Yes, we are. We thought you were because your pinky is missing. We thought you slept with your boss’s wife or girlfriend. That’s when we must cut our pinky. We thought you were reckless and courageous, worth admiring.”

“Really? Why courageous?”

“Because you are reckless, we thought.”

“Why is it good to be reckless?”

“Because we cannot be. Police know what we are doing and where we are. They always have their eyes on us.

Read the whole thing.

16 Nov 2016

Nuked Too Much, or Not Enough Department

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japaneserockfaces

Japanese Museum of Rocks That Look Like Faces.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

08 Feb 2016

Junichirō Tanizaki – In Praise of Shadows

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shadows

A Japanese room might be likened to an inkwash painting, the paper-paneled shoji being the expanse where the ink is thinnest, and the alcove where it is the darkest. Whenever I see the alcove of a tastefully built Japanese room, I marvel at our comprehension of the secrets of shadows, our sensitive use of shadow and light. For the beauty of the alcove is not the work of some clever device. An empty space is marked off with plain wood and plain walls, so that the light drawn into its forms dim shadows within emptiness. There is nothing more. And yet, when we gaze into the darkness that gathers behind the crossbeam, around the flower vase, beneath the shelves, though we know perfectly well it is mere shadow, we are overcome with the feeling that in this small corner of the atmosphere there reigns complete and utter silence; that here in the darkness immutable tranquility holds sway. The “mysterious Orient” of which Westerners speak probably refers to the uncanny silence of these dark places. And even we as children would feel an inexpressible chill as we peered into the depths of an alcove to which the sunlight had never penetrated. Where lies the key to this mystery? Ultimately it is the magic of shadows. Were the shadows to be banished from its corners, the alcove would in that instant revert to mere void.

This was the genius of our ancestors, that by cutting off the light from this empty space they imparted to the world of shadows that formed there a quality of mystery and depth superior to that of any wall painting or ornament. The technique seems simple, but was by no means so simply achieved. We can imagine with little difficulty what extraordinary pains were taken with each invisible detail—the placement of the window in the shelving recess, the depth of the crossbeam, the height of the threshold. But for me the most exquisite touch is the pale white glow of the shoji in the sturdy bay; I need only pause before it and I forget the passage of time.

The sturdy bay, as the name suggests, was originally a projecting window built to provide a place for reading. Over the years it came to be regarded as no more than a source of light for the alcove; but most often it serves not so much to illuminate the alcove as to soften the sidelong rays from without, to filter them through paper panels. There is a cold and desolate tinge to the light by the time it reaches these panels. The little sunlight from the garden that manages to make its way beneath the eaves and through the corridors has by then lost its power to illuminate, seems drained of the complexion of life. It can do no more than accentuate the whiteness of the paper. I sometimes linger before these panels and study the surface of the paper, bright, but giving no impression of brilliance.

In temple architecture the main room stands at a considerable distance from the garden; so dilute is the light there that no matter what the season, on fair days or cloudy, morning, midday, or evening, the pale, white glow scarcely varies. And the shadows at the interstices of the ribs seem strangely immobile, as if dust collected in the corners had become a part of the paper itself. I blink in uncertainty at this dreamlike luminescence, feeling as though some misty film were blunting my vision. The light from the pale white paper, powerless to dispel the heavy darkness of the alcove, is instead repelled by the darkness, creating a world of confusion where dark and light are indistinguishable. Have not you yourselves sensed a difference in the light that suffuses such a room, a rare tranquility not found in ordinary light? Have you never felt a sort of fear in the face of the ageless, a fear that in that room you might lose all consciousness of the passage of time, that untold years might pass and upon emerging you should find you had grown old and gray?

Via Belacqui.

28 Oct 2015

We Don’t Know Anyone Like That

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tsundoku

23 May 2015

Nietzsche Manga

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Even bishōjo have a thing for Fred.

NietzscheManga

Hat tip to Belacqui.

04 Apr 2015

16-Course Lunch at the World’s Best Restaurant

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noma-japan-2-bontanebi
Course 2: bontanebi (still twitching shrimp) served with bits of wood ants featuring a lemon-scented pheromone.

Jeralyn Gerba undoubtedly pulled rank as a prominent travel blogger to get to the front of a 60,000+-long line of eager diners trying to catch a meal during the world-famous Copenhagen-based Noma restaurant’s six week long “pop-up” visit to Tokyo.

[M]y epic midday meal was like a thousand-year culture and history lesson served in a few dozen bites. …

I was psyched to hear the Noma philosophy straight from the horse’s mouth. How does a restaurant become the best in the world? How does such an outlandishly expensive operation create enough buzz to maintain the spotlight? You’d expect some flash (hello, 16-course tasting menu) and a few gimmicks (serving “technically dead” crustaceans covered in ants), but you might underestimate, as I did, the degree to which each and every item on the plate (not to mention the plate itself) has meaning, intention, and purpose. There’s an answer for everything, including moving to Japan. These guys are not messing around.

Read the whole thing.

18 Jan 2015

Ultimate Office Prank

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Somebody actually paid a fortune to arrange the installation of video and other technologies providing the simulated appearance of full 1-to-1-scale giant robots, Zaku, called “mobile suits,” from the popular Gundam anime, at a high-rise Tokyo office building. Futher Gundam appearances have been promised.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

08 Aug 2014

Kintsugi Tool

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Kintsugi1
Kintsugi2

kintsugi-repair:

Guess what this is.

This is is a tool called taiki, which means tai fish tooth. Don’t say it’s creepy. It’s a traditional tool to polish gold. Tai fish has strong teeth, so it is one of the best tool to make sprinkled gold shinny.

My friend who also learns kintsugi is a chef, and he gave a dozen of teeth. it’s interesting to hand make kintsugi tools.

鯛牙をつくってみた!

これは文字通り鯛の牙を筆の柄にくっつけただけの道具で、昔から金を磨くのに使われているらしい。

金継ぎ友の友人が料理人で、鯛の牙をごっそりくれたのだ。ありがたや!

鯛牙はお店でも買えるけど、自分で作るとさらに愛着がわくねー

Via Collections & Recollections.

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Wikipedia:

Kintsugi (金継ぎ?) (Japanese: golden joinery) or Kintsukuroi (金繕い?) (Japanese: golden repair) is the Japanese art of fixing broken pottery with lacquer resin dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy it speaks to breakage and repair becoming part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise.

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