One of these two is a former Prime Minister who was assassinated while his house guest Charlie Chaplin (also allegedly targeted in the assassination to – oddly enough – provoke the US into war) was at a sumo tournament. The other is a happy poet who loves small museums￼.
Indeed, today (Dec. 15) was a tea ceremony at former PM Inukai Tsuyoshi’s house (he was assassinated by 11 young officers in 1930s during the chaotic military build-up period of Japan) here in Okayama.
First off, went to the tea ceremony with our group including Mitsuko-san with whom i rode the fantastic local Uno bus to the station where Yano-san picked us up in his van along with our tea sensei Matsuki and we met Sachiko-san at the event.
Ryoko was in charge of the wagashi (sweets) for the event. There is more to say about tea ceremony but suffice to say, there is a lot of preparation and intention but the actual event is rather brief and while calm, not necessarily solemn but rather jovial.
Really the main point is to enjoy tea and refining the process – the right scroll, the ideal flowers, the followed sequence of serving, receiving and drinking and admiring the items.
Ryoko had prepared me with my kit of wagashi-eating sticks, fan and little bag for ring.
After the tea, we went to check out the Okayama native Prime Minister’s museum, his birth home, and later his grave.
Inukai Tsuyoshi’s life bio is super-fascinating. Basically he was the last civilian Prime Minister before the military co-opted the government leading to the catastrophes of the Pacific war and the mis-guided “Greater east Asia co-prosperity sphere”.
￼Inukai’s struggle against the military led to his assassination during the May 15 Incident of 1932, which effectively marked the end of civilian political control over government decisions until after World War II. Inukai was shot by eleven junior Navy officers (most were just turning twenty years of age) in the Prime Minister’s residence in Tokyo. Inukai’s last words were roughly If I could speak, you would understand (話せば分かる hanaseba wakaru) to which his killers replied Dialogue is useless (問答無用 mondō muyō). The insurgents also attacked the residence of Makino Nobuaki, the Lord Keeper of the Privy Seal, the residence and office of Saionji Kinmochi, headquarters of the Rikken Seiyukai, and tossed hand grenades into Mitsubishi Bank headquarters in Tokyo, and several electrical transformer substations. The original assassination plan had included killing the English film star Charlie Chaplin – who had arrived in Japan on 14 May and was Inukai’s guest – in the hopes that this would provoke a war with the United States. However, at the time, Chaplin was watching a sumo wrestling match with the prime minister’s son, Inukai Takeru, and thus escaped. Inukai’s murderers received only light sentences for their actions.
By the way, these photos are really just for reference and artifacts to recall the visit, not meant to be “photography”, just *snaps* if you catch my meaning.
The building was “old style” but recent build so climate-controlled and I like this year-by-year museum layout too.
Rough translation about the whiskey from Ryoko:
Inukai Bokudou put a high-class whiskey in a banquet for the young people who gathered together and said, “It’s already open but please drink it.” While, actually, he just broke the new seal on a new bottle.
Hanko (stamp “signature”) kit
Books and Scrolls
Lots of books and scrolls and while not translated (this is hardly a popular tourist attraction!), since i am recently studying various book-making techniques, i could look with interest and vague intelligence about the styles.
Photos of Photos
Was duly impressed by the quality of the olden photos including some extremely wide panoramic shots with most everyone in crispy detail. In this case, a captures of his face presented in various medium and circumstances.
Oh Ryoko came to join us for a bit before whooshing off back to her duties.
We stopped into his birth house briefly – oh i didn’t even mention the items purchased at the “gift shop”… some photos, a graphic book of his story and collected inky stamps and brochures to appear in a scrapbook at some point. And the “zen garden” – dang i am hardly thorough but my intentions are solid.
Anyhow his birth house showed some old-timey kitchen living which shows the organized and sensible yet rustic Japanese way of doing many things #oversimplification
Grounds and Neighbourhood
Such a lovely day, chilly and cloudy but trees in full effect including citrus fruits, (some i don’t really know what to call them so stashing them here to remember to figure it out).
Oh a shrine nearby was a little shabby, not sure how these are maintained, i mean most have money boxes and rally payments for blessings. Anyhow, there it is, there are plentiful and ooze character for the most part.
Finally, a visit to his Grave in a little memorial yard along with many others. Instead of just epic graveyards/cemeteries (those do exist) there are so many little collections of o-haka appropriated here and there, many dating back to who knows when with inscriptions long worn off. In this case, Inukai’s was there along with his son (who was prominent in his own right) and several others.
I often describe Japan as going 100 years in future and 100 years in the past at the same time and this photo sorta captures this with olden graves with shinkansen bullet train tracks in the background with frequent trains whooshing by as the death sentinels remain as they were long before modernization (including Admiral Perry and his ilk) showed up.
With that, a drive back station, a quick snack and a bus ride home. a great day but about an hour too long for my limited energy but noted for next outing.