Tag Archives: japan

Rabbit Holes of History: Japan, War & Post-war (incl. O. Stone + D. MacArthur) & Micronesia

plane on Palau island of Pelilu – site battle of Bloody Nose Ridge between Imperial Japan and Allied forces

My pal Tom wrote the following (March 27, 2017): 

Been watching Oliver Stone’s “History of the United States” on Netflix. I’ve read a lot of history, but this is really eye-opening stuff. Particularly, my opinion of Harry Truman has been completely altered. He knew the Japanese were going to surrender, but chose to drop the world’s first atomic bombs anyway, against the advice of the scientists who developed it and indeed 6 out of 7 of his own generals, simply to show the Soviets that America would not hesitate to invoke vast civilian casualties. In that context, it has to be one of the most reprehensible decisions in the history of the world.

Of course he was also an enthusiastic racist to his core, and did not see the Japanese as human beings.

I would recommend this series to anyone who wants to get beyond the propaganda and find a more accurate picture of the true heroes and villains of our recent history.

To which i replied: 

I’ve gone down this topic very deeply over the last few months with 3-20+ hour-long audiobooks, several documentaries and so on.

If you will permit me a few notes:

Continue reading Rabbit Holes of History: Japan, War & Post-war (incl. O. Stone + D. MacArthur) & Micronesia

Scrapjournal: Pacific Crossing / sketches & annotations (2017)

Pacific Crossing: map and conditions to Dutch Harbor, Unalaska (unable to port due to weather so head to Japan)

This scrapjournal is an “accordion-style” book (think that’s what you’d call it… though doesn’t create the dulcet tones of the musical instrument)  anyhow the paper unfolds in one long swath in vaguely Japanese-style.

Appropriately, the book is laden with sketches sketched in Japan whilst traveling by ship and stopping in a various ports of call from Hokkaido to Kyushu. First in pencil, then pen, then coloured with watercolours (sometimes pencils), and decorated with ephemeral bits. 

Pacific Crossing: annotations and observations re: ship life and operations (pen only)

What follows are a few sample hastily-snapped pages for archival amusement as not all are photographed and, as life goes, i no longer have this book, alas. If this situation changes, i’ll diligently update.

Pacific Crossing: annotations and observations re: ship life and operations (colour)

Continue reading Scrapjournal: Pacific Crossing / sketches & annotations (2017)

Japanese Cinema etc: quick hits/notes

Shintaro Katsu as Zatoichi, wanders – blind with cane-sword, ready for massage

Consider this a sloppy and not complete by any means roundup for Japanese and Japan-related cinema and other visual entertainment. 

Just quick hits, a few links, please take the time to add to it if you have something to say.

First, buddy Banghi puts forth:

a quick and dirty list focusing on directors highlights or favs rather than spamming a list of Kurosawa…

* Tokyo Story
* Tampopo
* High and low
* Castle of Cagliastro
* In the realm of the senses
* Kwaidan
* Akira
* Any/all Zatoichi
* Ballad of Narayama
* Rodan
* The Burmese harp
* Battle royale

Next, I made a little list of Japanese and related for folks coming to wedding as a primer – a few ideas to load up on your device for plane viewing to get ya in the spirit: Continue reading Japanese Cinema etc: quick hits/notes

Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Note: Some of this riff originally appeared in “real time” via FB social channel to the amusement of many (everyone loves a comically large bootle of hooch!) – shared here for posterity in edited form with several other topics included.

++ Confession ++

pardon me, but does this come in a large?

Well, i am at risk of irreparably damaging my reputation as a good resident of Okayama as it seems some library books are overdue.

I know! Terrible. Shameful breach of trust.

As such, i will finish this coffee (delicious by the way) and hop on the luxurious Uno Bus (seriously wi-fi, power outlets, clean, comfy, pay-per-stop) to restore my status as a decent human.

I’ve really let myself go off the rails – i’ll try to improve.

fondly, dave

PS i will not blame this on this comically huge bottle of saké – seriously, 18 litres and came in a wooden crate. Just when you think Japanese people are all diligent and serious, they pull out this! i mean the logistics of shipping, lifting, holding, pouring alone are baffling

Checkpoint busstop (yes my life does look like a Studio Ghibli movie)

Did i mention the bus has great wi-fi, power outlets, seatback headrest covers, and pay-per-stop system? Uno Bus is truly great.

Also before leaving washed dishes, folded laundry, started rice, composted food scraps, fed rabbit, aerated kobo starter, refilled kerosene heater… and didn’t forget library books(!)

Ryoko’s out of town for 2 nights teaching a tree trimming workshop & stayed in a trad guest house with wooden bath. So cool. And she’s truly incredible (and doing great with pregnancy!)

Continue reading Diary: Off to Library + cuppa Joe / good luck, stamps, ovens & social niceties

Meta Notes: Japan Travel organized + upcoming *almost finished really* riffs

If you’re curious, I put together a category in my web archive for “Japan life/travel” to round up all the various riffs, transport videos, train rolls, diaries and museum galleries i gleefully assemble. It’s an ongoing process but hey, I’m not going anywhere.

Still have a lot more museums and train stuff to share (not surprisingly) but really limit my screen time too short sessions of productivity.

So much to share with you though! Especially some sorta olden stuff about:

  • Galleries, exhibits & museums in Japan, SF, & Nepal + a visit to Subpop HQ in 2010 (not to be confused with visit in 1999 ish)
  • Ayurveda treatment in India, Lanka & Pokhara
  • Artifacts from Palau, Yap and Guam which have been on my mind again recently
  • Tour with The Matinee in Ontario, 2017 (or was that 2018?)… 

Oh, I’ve also been tidying up an archive of Vancouver Olympic “meta coverage” meaning coverage about the coverage and media about media if you know what I mean… More to say about this in True North Media and Olympics category including a live twitter coverage of an interesting CBC panel #NoteToSelf

Also tuned up a section called Transit Chronicles which consists mostly of twitter riffs while rolling around Vancouver 2008-2012 ish.

In the meantime, here’s stuff about Japan so I have somewhere to point people to want to ask me about “where I am” “what to see” “how to do stuff” etc. etc. – keep in mind, I am a “inaka/country boy” – well really I live near a sort of forgotten provincial capital city which is just perfect in my mind, and don’t really know anything about Tokyo or Osaka and very little about Kyoto… but there are loads of resources about those places.

I know more about small cities, rural/farm experiences, scenic trains, remote hot springs, fermented foods, and post offices #theusual

Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

You could be forgiven for thinking that my life involves entirely eating delicious food and drinking fantastic coffee as you are somewhat correct… however, there is slightly more going on as i am  into the routine of “regular life” and doing things which I file under “life administration”. As such, some tasks (as much as I delight in the mundanity of everyday activity) doesn’t get documentation.

Not that these things are not interesting – but because in the diligence and action itself, there’s interestingness – but photographs aren’t always timely nor appropriate and in themselves, there’s not often a story to be told. Within this thought is why I enthusiastically and rather comprehensively documented everyday life when first arriving in a new place… As in: when you stay in a place for a while, the uniqueness of every day life fades and it’s easy to think that “I’ll do this another time” or “I’ll wait for something special” or “why bother?”

With this in mind, over the last few months of settling in my new home and life, I’ve remembered to fill up this “new white sheet of paper” with all the spectacular regularness of simple errands, neighbourhood observations, pleasant routines and out n’ abouts. Continue reading Diary: Days go by – filled (mostly) with coffee, food and and sundry tasks

Artifact: Camera, large format with bellows (Okayama, Japan)

Artifact: Camera, large format with bellows (Okayama, Japan)

Collection: Payphones (vol. 7) – assorted / Japan, Whidbey island

Hello to the people in the future,

What follows are public telephones created in a time when phones did not roam freely and in pockets.

To make a call, one would either enter a specially-created booth (or box), or simply stand close by as the receivers were tethered to the phone unit by a short cord, then insert a variety of coins depending on the location called (local, domestic or international) or in some cases, use a purpose-made phone card, or even a credit card (though doing so often exposed one to fraudulent actors).

Perhaps you have already imagined the unsanitary nature of sharing a phone handset (placed next/close to ear and mouth of course) with strangers – though perhaps this increased “herd immunity” despite being rather unpleasant. Continue reading Collection: Payphones (vol. 7) – assorted / Japan, Whidbey island

Riff: Japan Imperial Era Names, a brief primer

Maybe you noticed my affinity towards dropping in Japan imperial era names in reference to “Showa this” or “Taisho that” – In brief, while modern Japan also uses BCE/AD year dating system, also uses imperial eras to count years… in a somewhat confusing manner.

Briefly:

Each Emperor has a name while living (example Hirohito) but their era name also becomes the posthumous name (in Hirohito’s case Showa). When a new imperial reign begins, the numbers start from one.

Birth years and other important dates are generally referenced from this system. I.e. i was born in Showa 45 or 1970.

2019 was an extra anomaly as Emperor Akihito abdicated and his era “Heisei” (which will also be his posthumous name) in his 31st year of reign, and a new era “Reiwa” began on May 1 2019 when his son/heir Naruhito took the throne. So 2019 was both Heisei 31 and Reiwa 1. 2020 is Reiwa 2.

So blah blah blah. I came to tell you that Taisho era is my current topic of interest. This was about 100 years ago and the “jazz age” in Japan as well as west. The previous era “Meiji” was when Japan started opening up to the outside world (a topic in itself) with a charismatic emperor.

Taisho era was different and relatively short and squeezed between the impending militarism which came with Showa and the fundamental societal changes of Meiji.

Taisho saw rise of *western* clothes/styles, dancing, woman’s role expanding with jobs and relative “freedom” of being.

A seminal literary work from this time is Tanizaki’s Naomi which tells the story of a young woman seizing her liberation in all aspects of her life.

Anyhow, here’s an article meaning to share with more about above now that i laid a foundation.

Carry on.

The Taisho Era: When modernity ruled Japan’s masses  BY MICHAEL HOFFMAN SPECIAL TO THE JAPAN TIMES

Memento: Barber (vol. 4, only Okayama)

A little coif maintenance with a friendly barber named Touse-san in the neighbourhood called 理容タカシマ

PS I am the one on the right