7.26.2016

Genshu




Raw undiluted sake is the brew masters dream put in bottle form, etched in Japanese calligraphy - Genshu.   Most sake you see on the market is diluted down and tweaked for taste by adding water and brewers alcohol; industry standard dictates that sake should be at around 15 to 16% alcohol.   The naked essence of sake fully matured will yield at around 20% or more of alcohol, the highest naturally occurring alcoholic beverage in the industry.  



Basically, we don't want to get you too drunk in order to enjoy Japanese sake, and neither do we want to pay more tax because of higher than standard alcohol content in our beverage, so some compromises have to be made.   Genshu is rarely sold on a large scale, so whenever you have a chance to visit sake breweries in Japan do so, and try sake in its most natural form, especially undiluted sake.  
yellow caps and kikijokos and squeezers




Why travel all the way out to visit a brewery just for sake when I can either order online or buy at a store...?  Sake that has been bottled has additional carbon dioxide added again and has therefore been exposed to different pressure, temperature, and sunlight.    Bottles do offer some protection against UV, but not enough, and it's not like you would even notice a difference in the quality of the sake unless you were a purist... At this brewery ( won't list the name), I was sampling Genshu and although the sake was bottled and yellow-capped  for the tasting, they weren't sealed which means the sake was taken directly from the cold storage fermentation tanks and placed right on the table the morning I arrived there.   No finer sake poured fresh can ever be matched!  Over 100  types of genshu were sampled.  


Another reason to visit breweries is to get away from the city.   Most great breweries are deep in the backwoods of Japan with only a few in micro urban cities.   I do not particularly like drinking with Tokyo types and folks who cannot hold their own alcohol, so I avoid crowded places.   Drink for taste,  not to get drunk.   Socializing as long as there is edification is good, not mindless chatter over meaningless topics.    On my most recent trip I was, and am always blessed to nomunicate with local Jukujo.

Genshu Lovely in her purity


Sake in its raw undiluted form is full of body and character, even the aromatics give off rare and alluring scents.   Lavender, flower water, acacia, some herbaceous notes here and there, just to name a few are what can be picked up from flute or a full bell-shaped wine glass.    Visually, Genshu is quite viscous with  long legs  stretching  down the side  of the glassware.   She's got a silky sheen and smooth all the way down and fully imbued with mysticism and religious aestheticism  of generations, it's this continuity of tradition that is reflected in every single living thing in Japan.



Keep in mind that Genshu is where it's at, and you need to try as much as you can while supplies last, at least so that you can experience that natural essence of the brew master's dream!





7.20.2016

August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, especially  in places like Tohoku and Kanto regions.  August is also  the most contentious month of the year in Japan; with the end of the war and war-related guilt.    Then there's the great exodus back home for millions of Japanese.   Obon season is what it's called in Japan, and it's  where families return to their hometowns to remember their ancestors and to spend time with loved ones.  Gravestones are visited, cleaned, and washed; rice or alcohol is often placed on  miniature altars next to a  headstone.  This is a way for Japanese to reconnect with their roots; a way for them to stay grounded and founded in the ways of tradition and cultural protocol.   


For the foreign tourist, some places will be overcrowded and expensive to reach; for Japanese, this is normal and can't be helped.   Wherever you go there will be lines and hordes of people  driving on highways and riding on buses.   Restaurants will be filled to capacity where the lines stretch on and on seemingly endlessly.    Japanese fathers will be overworked on supposedly what they consider a holiday, is just another work day for them,  but with family.   The tourist will definitely be headed to far away exotic locations for respite.   Youth hostels will be filled to capacity.  


August is a soul searching month for the Japanese; a time for family and "Japanese" friends.   A good way for the foreigner  to enjoy the long Obon holidays would be to surround oneself with nature.  A good camping expedition in some remotely located region of Japan works wonders for the soul.   In my vast experience, I had spent the hot summer months camping up in Hokkaido near a lake or an onsen town somewhere, making sure to pack plenty of bacon and salmon.   Fresh coffee grounds have to be packed in with everything else too, along with a pot for boiling water and rice.   Tents and grills; the camera and tripod; the fresh bottles of chilled sake; eggs and sausages.   Now there's a trip.


August is prime season for self-reflection much like the throngs of Japanese who return home to pay homage to their ancestor's tombstones, and to reflect on family and self.    Three days is enough for me when it comes to camping out, though.  It's so hot, humid and sticky in August.  Having less is often more when out in the sticks.  We value the necessity of electricity, toilets, and water, even a television set.   This is the value of camping out and getting away from the August rush.     


I don't know about you, but waking up in the morning to the smell of sizzling bacon and freshly brewed coffee is sublime, next to a pond.  On another grill, there's some salmon and eggs working together; adding to the harmony of breakfast...   I like to catch up on the news, too, but since there's no wifi out there I can tune in on AM radio.   Yasukuni Shrine would be the most likely topic of discussion.     I'm sure many of us have completely forgotten about real radio broadcasts sounds in the morning from the AM station.    


After breakfast and a quick power nap, the morning bath must be sought out.   Many of the natural hot springs in luxury hotels use sumi products for face washes and shampoos.   Sumi is a type of petrified wood used for centuries by the Japanese who value the therapeutic effects of natural soaps and cleansers.   The smell of fresh calcium in rich mineral springs is intoxicating, too.   Soaking the bones and refreshing the mind and working up another appetite for lunch.    


On the road again to a remotely located temple or shrine.   Perhaps some light hiking around a small valley gorge somewhere is really nice.    Never see the point of returning home to the U.S. on long summer holidays,  nostalgia just isn't there anymore, at least not for me.   This far away from my homeland - not motherland - I reflect on a lot of what's been happening in D.S.A ( Divided States of America).   The endless chatter about a Trump America, and stuff about Hillary Clinton.


The Japanese police are chubby, cute; perverted, kind,  and overall cordial when dealing with non-Japanese.  I like it that way.    In my time here they have stopped and carded me over a dozen times for speeding, loitering, and parking.   They have dealt with me kindly, unlike a time in the U.S.  when the Redondo Beach Police pulled me over at midnight.   35 police officers strong plus one ghetto bird  circling above drew assault weapons on me at a gas station; 3 12 - gauge shot guns, 3 or 4 AR-15s, 9mms and so on.    An officer approached  and cuffed me rather firmly causing me to have a light strain in my risks for several weeks.   The lead officer asked if I had understood why I was pulled over.   I nodded my head "yes."  Once I gestured with my head they released the cuffs and let me go at the scene.   They never actually told me why they pulled me over; I assumed it was because I was driving with an expired drivers license....which I have done for several years in Japan...Or when I welcomed President Obama on my Uyoku Gentsuki the first time he visited Tokyo and was pulled over by an army of Japanese police officers - they were thoroughly confused!   They didn't know whether to ticket me or arrest me, so they let me go.



Getting out on the road and taking in nature has a way of giving you perspective.   Most foreigners most often will never realize how good they have it here in Japan, and I hope they never realize it to be honest.  Leave Japan, but don't take the Jukujo with you.  They belong under my jurisdiction.   This summer I plan to focus on enjoying summer sakes while on business trips this summer.  Might pay a visit to Kuheiji Brewery in Aichi Prefecture or Asahi Shuzo in Niigata for some delicious Genshu ( Undiluted sake, that is higher in alcohol content), which is extremely rare to enjoy at a sake brewery if you are not actually in Japan!    I will bring a nice bell shaped wine glass this time around.   The traditional serving size is typically a 50ml cup from a Japanese "ochoko."  This drinking ware only serves to properly ration out sake in order to give everyone a chance to enjoy sake whereas in modern day society the need to serve in portions is relative to the number of people in your group.   If you are solo or with another person these measurements have no usefulness.  Wine glasses are perfectly fine to enjoy the bouquet that each and every sake has, along with the visual appeal you get from glass drinking ware.   If time is on my side I will also stop through Yuya Onsen to commune with the onsen gods.   

Enjoy your August















5.28.2016

Toyama Prefecture

Toyama Prefecture




Finally had a chance to revisit Toyama properly.    Last time was just a stop over for ramen, this time turned into a nice jaunt, and again sample the ramen.  I had to eat this delicious bowl of Toyama Black, and yes you can have it in Tokyo, too.  For me, it's better to be in the place where it's known best, the backcountry of Toyama.   Imagine with me for a moment, thick cuts of melt in your mouth pork, bamboo shoots soaked in an aromatic soy sauce black pepper broth... Noodles are boiled to perfection.  Because you are in Hokuriku the soy sauce is not like the stuff people pour over sushi in the States with, but a much more refined and milder version of soy sauce.   Don't imagine it like you would something you use on other Japanese food, but something a better.  If you love black pepper without a doubt this ramen will be a hit.



Why Toyama?  Nobody has really heard about this prefecture.  Is it like Tokyo?   Tokyo is Tokyo, not Japan, per say.    Tokyo could actually stand on its own as a country because of its sheer density, culture,  and local economy.    Tokyo favors sight-seekers while Toyama favors the nature lovers and the tree huggers.   Toyama is very much Japan while Tokyo is a hodgepodge of different fusion concepts and designs, fusion foods, and cultural anomalies.    Tokyoites still think it's un-Japanese to share a bath with the opposite sex, and the same could be said for all of Kanto region.   Cultural purism abounds in every other prefecture except Tokyo Prefecture( actually not a prefecture, but could be considering its size and population). 




Kansui Park has one of the most beautiful promenades for walking and is arguably one of the best date spots.   Bridges, canals, waterways, and plenty of spots to sit on green grass and wide open spaces.   Breathe in the clean fresh air while taking in the gorgeous vistas of the bay and mountains.   You could easily spend an entire afternoon here being lazy.  Maybe even read a book on Toyama's lush greenery.    I got online to see if I would be able to book a room for the evening.  Lucked out and found a place in Unazuki Onsen; huge room with a 24-hour hot spring bath and only a 5-minute walk from the station.   I took the last room and off I went.  I made all of my connections on time thankfully and had no preparation for this trip.   Everything was serendipitous like it was all meant to happen just for me.    On a final note for Toyama City, there are lots of museums, pubs, natural parks, and some decent places for shopping.   Its transportation hub is very well thought out and English is spoken by many people here.








Toyama for me represents the coming together of the very best the West has to offer without the gaudiness of Harajuku and the swankiness of Omotesando and the Ginza.   Toyama is the place for  the Eurocentric fashionistas who prefer a more toned down image when they drink their coffee.   A moderately reserved city with clean-cut urban professionals that have a healthy appreciation for city life.   People who live here love it here and many would balk at the idea of living anywhere near Tokyo. 




The reason I chose to visit was for the legendary hot spring baths, delicious water, craft beer, and Japanese sake, and in typical fashion had a chance to chat with Hokuriku's lovely Jukujo.     From Kanazawa Station it takes about 20 minutes on the Hokuriku Shinkansen to reach Toyama Station.    If you want to by-bass Toyama Station you can continue on to Kurobe-Unazuki Onsen Station ( This is a shinkansen stop!).  From there you can take another line directly to Unazuki Onsen.    I chose to spend the afternoon in Toyama City for only one reason and that reason was to spend a lazy afternoon sipping coffee at the gorgeous Kansui Park Branch Starbucks Coffee shop, aka...voted the most beautiful Starbucks in the world!   It's basically just a glass terrace version of Starbucks overlooking Kansui Bay.   You can imagine how difficult it is to get a seat!   I lucked out and was able to get the best spot to enjoy my N.Y. cheesecake and straight black.  ( divine).




The rail networks is really great if you like trains.  Train enthusiast will love Toyama's dated train station all neatly preserved in original form.    Train lines meander around ridges and valleys and lowlands.   Take in views of soaring cliffs and rice terraces filled with water.   Catch a glowing  red sunset over rice paddies with snow-capped mountain ranges in the backdrop!  This is Toyama Prefecture....(sigh).    One interesting note about the Kurobe Line is that you can bring your bicycle onboard without breaking it down.  Just roll it right on the trains and keep it next to you.  The two lines you may want to remember are the Ainokaze Toyama Railway and the Chiho Railway lines.  These lines will take you to some of the most pristine areas arount Toyama Prefecture.


Again, if you choose to not go directly to Toyama Station, Kurobe Unazuki Onsen is a major shinkansen station you can get off at, and from there you can board local trains bound for Kurobe City.


Finally, arriving at nightfall, I walked out of Unazuki Onsen Station gates and was impressed at this lovely fountain shooting up hot steamy hot spring water.   Quite a few Chinese and Korean tourist, too.



After check-in, I had one of these!  Unazuki Beer made from river water and hops grown right in Kurobe.  Quite refreshing after a long journey from Kanazawa Prefecture.   Pure water is the source of pride for the locals here in Kurobe and boasts one of the purest water dams in the world.   



Nightfall came, and the moon was full and the skies were clear.  I opened up the veranda windows wide and sat out drinking just beer.  T.V. was on and volleyball was on the tube.   The beer and onsen went straight to the bones and I fell into a deep sleep.   When I woke up the next morning the weather was gorgeous and sunny.   I grabbed some nihonshu and went down to the outdoor bath to enjoy my liquid breakfast.  Who needs solids, anyway...?







I took my time and checked out nice and slowly.   I took 5 dips in this onsens all night and morning.  Had a chance to reflect on a lot....The last onsen I visited was on the other side of town just after lunch called Kindama Onsen, and it is super amazing water.



Mission accomplished....

5.27.2016

Deboning MacArthur

mcarthur
( Old Soldiers Do Die and Fade Away)

Had a fantastic discussion today with students about the former Occupational Authority under then American General Douglas MacArthur. We talked about such things like the family nucleus and at how directives under SCAP affected millions of households in Japan during and after the Occupation.
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We also discussed topics about religion and white worship and about Democracy and how Japanese people have changed over the years from generation to generation. Questions like, what were MacArthur’s real motives and was he genuinely interested in rehabilitating the Japanese people, or was there a much more sinister plot, one that saw Japan as one massive experiment in radioactive fallout, or a Milgram’s style social psychology experiment….? I could probably name a few more plausible conspiracy theories out there, too.
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Some students did acknowledge an inherent white worship, while others were in denial. Some knew absolutely nothing about the breakdown of the family as most have grown up in households where there was either very little communication or none at all, for them this is considered normal.  
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Prior to the Occupation, it was quite common for multi-generations of family members to live together under one roof. The family nucleus was much stronger back then than it is today. Families did things like share meals, bathed, watched television, and listened to radio together. The support network back then amongst family members was strong prior to MacArthur. Now, it's quite rare to see this bond between family members and neighbors, especially in the cities, and amongst the older generation.
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Under SCAP directives the family nucleus was broken and disrupted in order to weaken the strong bond shared by family. Young men were directed to start families of their own and to live in their own homes away from parents and grandparents. In actuality, this directive, by MacArthur, was derived from Christian principles, whereby a man is supposed to leave his mother and father's home and take a wife unto himself and the two ‘shall become one flesh, idea,which is wholly inconsistent with Asian culture in general where the children are supposed to take care of their parents regardless of marital status.
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Of course there are certain considerations that need to be taken into account, too, but we now know that through blamestorming the initial cause for the breakdown in the family nucleus had it's early beginnings due to the poison of Christianity and MacArthur(ism). Other things that may have also contributed later on would be decadence and conspicuous consumption after prosperity finally came to the country, and then subsequently over-westernization and the sissy(phication)[herbivore men] of the Japanese man .
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Prior to MacArthur, a Japanese mother could choose her own mid-wife and deliver her own baby in the comfort and safety of her own home with family. . Directives under SCAP forbade mothers from doing this and forced them to deliver their babies in hospitals; not even breastfeeding was permitted. As a result, babies were forced to go on formula further weakening the bond between mother and child through artificial feeding. Everything, from child rearing to education was institutionalized by SCAP, even the most sacred of all institutions including the Shinto faith had to undergo a complete overhaul, not even the dead could be interred properly according to centuries of tradition.
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On the surface, this sounds like a reasonable thing to do from a medical and occupational stand point of view, but culturally, these policies have only proven to be purely divisive and destructive.
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Under MacArthur, all vestiges of Japan’s military past had to be tragically uprooted for the sole purpose of, according to MacArthur, the implementing of Democratic principles. For Japan to have a Democratic form of government would mean better representation for the people and voter rights and universal suffrage for women. This may all sound and look good on paper, but in practice hardly any Japanese , save a few hundred or a thousand protesters, push for change in their own government Democratically. Most would rather complain about how corrupt the government is while doing very little to affect change in these institutions. 90% of the Japanese live as if the Meiji era constitution is still in place as evident in society where following the status quo is the norm under a top down system of government where strong leaders get the vote.
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In other words, if former prime minister Mr. Koizumi in his official status were to say ‘ I’m going to visit Yasukuni on the 15th of August then Japanese would scream bloody murder because he violated the separation of church and State clause in the current constitution. These same Japanese people would also claim that Mr. Koizumi was being insensitive to his Asian neighbors and in defiance to international rules and norms. And yet, even with his annual visits to the Shrine and his insensitivity to his neighbors, Koizumi enjoyed and still enjoys the highest approval ratings of any Prime Minister in Japanese history. Even now, years later after leaving office he is still considered the most popular of all prime ministers in Japanese political history. So you see, it has nothing to do with Democracy, Japanese follow the strong man like they followed Emperor Meiji and his directives.
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The younger generation is more in tune with Democratic values, but lack interest in the political process as a whole and could probably care less about what direction the country goes in. This “ I can do nothing about it” mentality also stems from MacArthur’s extensive social policies which are now proving to be the worst cultural disaster for the country. Some blame it on technology or Westernization, I hold MacArthur to blame for trying to force Christian values on an Asian culture.
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In America, if we were to compare, we took prayer out of the schools in order to draw a clear line between god and society, now to what affect it has had on society is left up to speculation, but for sure it hasn’t enhanced American society. Young Japanese are starting to refuse singing of the national anthem of Japan citing constitutional reasons, which is really bullshit because so many have no real reason to refuse singing their own national anthem in the first place, other than what their lefty teachers tell them. Most probably have no idea what’s in their current constitution, so why would they refuse singing it based off some weak assumption that “ it violates my freedom of thought” if there’s no thought to begin with? How would they know if they have no concern and knowledge whatsoever about their own society and country?
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In North America, Democracy has never served the interest and the needs of the poor, then and now. The disenfranchised working poor might have the right to vote, but their votes rarely ever count as evident through-out history, and in many more instances in North American history where minorities were taxed without representation. Instead, Government subsidized education, welfare, and medicine is not representation – just a bandage and a temporary fix to a long term problem.
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On the religious front, because we have to have both Christian and Democratic ideals meshed together in order to proceed, according MacArthur, who invited U.S. Christian missionaries to Japan in the hopes that Christianity could make major inroads against the traditional Japanese religions of Shinto and Buddhism. It failed.
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If we were to use Haiti for example, not North America because despite this being the de facto Democracy of the world, it is still largely controlled by the wealthy regardless of who’s in power. In Haiti’s case under former politician John Bertrand Aristide who was the nation’s first Democratically elected president, and who was also a Roman Catholic priest, who made Democracy his major platform, we can get a pretty good understanding of where Japan would’ve been had it went down the traditional route paved by its former captures through Western religion and Democracy. Only in Haiti's case, religion didn't encourage the wealthy to raise minimum wage so that Haitians could rise out of their poverty.
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Mr. Aristide had all the trappings of an ideal leader for the West. He was educated, he embraced Western religions, he stood for Democratic principles, he enjoyed warm relations with  the United States under former president Bill Clinton. Haiti had a thriving Democracy and the people loved him for it. The U.S. loved him for it too, until he started pushing for better economic conditions for his own people; until he started demanding reparations from France, the country’s former colonizer. Haiti is such a small island with no leverage economically at all against the bulwark of American economic hegemony all across the Carribean and the Atlantic. America was no longer happy with its little experiment in Democracy with Aristide, but not because he was unDemocratic, he was too Democratic. He was becoming too popular and difficult to control. He was removed from power on baseless corruption charges.
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There’s never a shortage of Christianity and Catholicism in poor and needy countries that have lost wars that were either initiated or instigated by the West. In every expansionist policy initiated by the West since the 14th century, the spread of Christianity has preceded it. Missionaries would come baring gifts and god in one hand, and in the other a dagger of deceit, making them more spy than saint. Funny how the Atheist prosper...?
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Author and journalist John Gunther wrote that MacArthur and the Pope were the two most important people affecting religion in the world at mid-century.[12] MacArthur later remarked that he wanted to be remembered by history not for the many battles he fought, but for, in his view, "the solace and hope and faith of Christian morals" he gave Japan.
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And all the while, as countries through-out Asia were being carved and doled out by the West, Japan kept a watchful eye as millions of Chinese and Southeast Asians willfully sat back and allowed Western nations to take control of their precious resources. We remember both Arrow Affairs. We also remember how the missionaries came, like when they initially came to the African continent bearing gifts and smiles and promises of a better way of life through their gods and their language, while all the while they were merely plotting the downfall for generations of Asians and Africans through the guise of charity and a free meal, like today. Yet, Asians and Africans have to be grateful and show gratitude to our former colonizers, and we are not supposed to be bitter and resentful because of the prosperity some of us have received while the vast majority of us have still not found our place in the world.
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MacArthur and his minions bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki, they bombed Tokyo which was made up of a much larger swath of land then than what you see today. After the smoke settled the Japanese rebuilt Tokyo from the ground up with American blood money, which eventually ushered in a new era of prosperity for the Japanese. The Japanese in turn are supposed to be grateful to the Americans for this, and they are supposed to forgive the Americans for killing millions of innocent Japanese people, and the firebombings as well….. Japanese have simply moved on, forgive, no. How can you forgive the unforgivable. It would be unthinkable.
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In contrast, in North America, the American negro is supposed to be grateful for having a half American negro half white president because he was elected as the first non-Anglo president, American negro are supposed to be forgiving of the negro Holocaust perpetuated at home and abroad by men who came in the cloth. The American negro is supposed to forgive and forget, which is another Christian principle that serves to weaken the minds of good and sensible peoples. All of Asia and Africa is supposed to be forgiving of Western atrocities because of so-called Christian values and show gratitude for receiving a Democracy and an English education and some prosperity, how arrogant.
On a side note, Just because I was born in America as a free man doesn't mean I have to be in cahoots with its foreign policy, then and now. We had negro soldiers during WW2 who weren't as fortunate. They were born free but without rights, and equality without quality education and representation as they had to attend segregated schools. It wasn't until 1941 that Roosevelt signed executive order 8802 into law prohibiting racial discrimination in the national defense industry - we now know that this had nothing to do with the human dignity of the American negro, but more to do with the legitimized murder of misguided negro; just more bodies for the war machine, more bodies for the meat grinder, in the Pacific Theater.
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Moreover, racial segregation in the American armed forced continued on up until 1948, which is ironic to me because according to Japan's new constitution under SCAP racism was completely eliminated in Japan before it was eliminated in America, yet there were still negro soldiers fighting for America in the Pacific in limited capacity; cooks and dishwashers. Desegregation of the armed services ended in the fifties, contrary to what Harry Truman signed into law by 1948.
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According to the VOA, African-American soldiers played a significant role in World War II. More than half a million served in Europe. Despite the numbers they faced racial discrimination: prior to the war the military maintained a racially segregated force. In studies by the military, blacks were often classified as unfit for combat and were not allowed on the front lines. They were mostly given support duties, and were not allowed in units with white soldiers
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Back on topic,
The reason I presented this element into my essay is because it highlights a pattern among many former colonies through out Asia and Africa, and negro in the Diaspora. When Western expansionist policies become firmly supplanted into a society where sacred institutions such as the indigenous religion of the people become subjugated, the victim nation looses sight of his/her moral compass and starts to fight for the victor in wars that have absolutely nothing to do with the original victims of the War that made them victims in the first place.
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The American negro fought to prove that he could be a competent slave all over again, but this time with a gun, and for some respect through the killing of innocent people abroad. He had to prove that he could fight alongside his former slave owners descendants in order to be considered worthy to be called American, the four hundred years of free slave labor their ancestors faced wasn’t enough for their descendants even be called an American, they had to kill for Uncle Sam instead. This is despicable at best and a shameful legacy of the negro race. The negro could've stood up like Mohammad Ali. But I guess that falls beyond the scope of pure reasoning; my enemy's enemy is my enemy logic, because my enemy told me that if I fight his enemy, then my enemy will consider me his friend and give me a cookie. Way to go Bubba Gump.
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In Japan’s case, The Japanese didn't have to stoop so low as to take up arms for its enemy for international recognition on the war front. But I suspect had Christianity took root in Japan, and had the Emperor converted to Christianity like MacArthur had contemplated, then Japan as we know it today wouldn't even exist in the same way that has charmed those of us who live and work here, and for the rest of the millions of others who admire and love Japanese culture and traditions. Chances are this country would've been sectarian, remained dirt poor, and dependent on Western powers, much like Afro-Caribbean countries, had the Catholics and Protestants had their way here! We should bring back Nero, this way the Christian problem would be completely eliminated from the whole world! Christianity brings oppression and economic dependency to non-Western and non-Anglo aligning nations that only serve the rich and influential at the expense of the poor and indigent.
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I don't pay homage to MacArthur. I don't acknowledge him as a great leader nor as a soldier of valor. MacArthur was a politician, and frankly speaking, lost his wits when he advocated using the atomic bomb again on another country. He was nothing more than a warmongering religious zealot with an over-sized ego who did more harm than good to Japan. Maybe some day the Japanese can be a proud nation again without the legacy of a dead American general as an influence.

5.25.2016

Japan: School Textbooks

From the Desk of the Soul of Japan





The Board of Education, along with its teachers get together to decide which textbooks to use in their schools.  The selection process for which books to use is highly contentious because the BOE and the Japanese Government rarely see eye-to-eye on what curriculum is best for students.   I will introduce three textbooks in this post.




On the one hand, many of the teachers are seen as left-wing leaning in their stance on education, and prefer to teach on themes that are light hearted watered down versions of history, English, and social studies.   On the other hand, the government wants to introduce a more progressive curriculum for students with subjects that touch on oral history and real life situations related to Japan.


Most Japanese students of today have zero relevant knowledge about the world other than their own subculture.   Most high schoolers are still reading books  about how to make friends with foreigners and how to be more international minded even now - in 2016!   They are way behind the Times.   I have argued with these people about their materials and what they should be presenting to the younger generation of today.   Ignorance is bliss is no longer cute.


The two big textbooks being used in Japanese high schools are Big Dipper and Vivid for the English program.   These two textbooks teach more than just English, they also teach social studies, history, and cultural awareness with little care about how useful the subject material would be in a real life situation.   I have read these books from cover to cover and find the contents rather non-educational.  Topics on the internet, telephone talking, and American  activities, and more fill the pages of this book...  The usual subjects but repackaged and re-taught again every single year.   Publishers are Suken Shuppan and Daiichi Gakushusha.


The textbooks I brought  to their attention and one that all high schools in Japan should be teaching is published by Ikuhosha.  This is a government-approved textbook that covers more relevant topics of today more vigorously.  The books is titled atarashii mina koumin  ( Everybody is new Citizen).    This book touches on topics related to Japan with a more mature angle.  Subjects that make students think about the realities of their own country and the world.   Most teachers focus attention away from issues at home, and only focus on light topics and on subject material that is not thought-provoking.


This would explain why many young people take little interest in what is happening in their societies today, and why many simply do not care.   The ones that do care don't think they can do anything to bring change or that their voices have no meaning.  


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