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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, ...

昭和天皇 武蔵野の陵

The title in English would be The Emperor Showa. And his Majesty's Mausoleum is named the Musashino no Misasagi, thus the long title:
( しょうわてんのう むさしののみささぎ)。
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This is the imperial mausoleum of Japan and it is here where his Majesty’s remains are honored. Here in this hallowed ground where over a hundred and seventy ginkgo trees line the pathway leading up to his tomb, one can get a sense of the awe and reverence bestowed upon this whole cemetery, which is called Tama Goryo located in Takao, an area rich in nature and abundant waterways and rolling lush green hills.
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In American and European history textbooks, The Showa Tenno is referred to as the Emperor, a blasphemous name uttered by Westerners and Asians when it is heard by all Japanese.  The proper title is The Showa Tenno.    In America you don't honor Ronald Reagan by referring to him as " Ronnie" or " that "old gipper" posthumously , do you? Neither do you call Pol Pot "Old Potty," or Caesar Augustus “Old Cease."
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After WWII, in accordance with the American mandated Constitution of Japan, the Emperor was positioned as the symbol of the State and of the unity of the people.  Accordingly, Showa Tenno performed his duties as stipulated in the Constitution on the advice and approval of the Cabinet, including receiving the credentials of foreign ambassadors, attesting the appointment of Ministers of State and other high officials, welcoming foreign Heads of State and other eminent foreign guests, and granting audiences.

The biggest irony here, though, is that these same duties were performed by every other Emperor since the Kamakura period! The only difference today is that the current Emperor lacks the power to make or declare war. And it was only Emperors Meiji and Taisho and Showa who possessed this power, so in theory the Emperor of today is merely fulfilling the exact same roles of previous Emperor's and Empresses before his great great grandfather.
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With such a fact, the emperor really hasn’t lost much in terms of his influence at home and in the world on a diplomatic level. One sided Westerners and even some Japanese will never truly understand this point.
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His Majesty ended the war. It was his words alone that ended the war. Millions went to war in his name, and all of them stopped fighting in his name only. You could’ve dropped ten atomic bombs on Japan, and the Japanese never would’ve stopped fighting. It was the Emperor that ended the war, not MacArthur! This should give you a sense of the Emperor’s power back then.
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As I approached the entrance I saw off to the right a small body of water, so I approached it. As I got closer a crane flew up out of a thicket and into the branches out of plane sight. I remember in school my teacher telling me that the bellowing of a crane in Buddhist mythology signifies the soul crossing over into the after-life upon ones death. The eerie sound that comes out of these creatures is mystical and carries with it the nostalgia of thousands of years of religion and history. Millions of souls have been carried over.


Continuing my journey down this holy wooded area I felt something like a minty ice cold nudge press down upon the top of my head for some strange reason(strange). I kept wiping the top of my head with my towel, but there was nothing. Can’t understand what happened to me.


At any rate, I felt pleasantly aware of my surroundings. As I was making my way down this long and wide winding pebbled foot path, which seemed like trillions of tiny little stones being moved under my feet, there was a cool breeze blowing through what seemed like thousands of swaying trees filtering and cleaning the air around me; the smell of summer finally permeating through and revitalizing my mind, body, and soul. I was truly happy to have made this trip there. After leaving I felt so refreshed.
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There were so many security details roaming around incognito everywhere. They were hiding inside small security boxes and even behind trees. I was impressed!


Getting there is easy: Take the Chou line from Tokyo or the Yokohama line from Yokohama to Hachioji. Change to the Chuo line bound for Takao. From Takao station it’s a 25 minute walk, and by taxi, if he drops you off by the entrance is 710 yen; 1.5 km. Signs pointing to the this place are in English. They close everyday at 4pm.

This sake hails from Niigata and is made by Uehara Chuzo, the only sake brewery( last time I checked) in Japan that's licensed under the imperial household to brew sake for the royal family. This sake is one of the finest and is well known throughout Echigo Yuzawa in Niigata. This is a Junmai-shu!
In closing, I do feel that for Japan to have a Monarchy that has the longest unbroken lineage in human history is a amazing. Unlike its neighbor China who overthrew theirs back at the turn of the 20th Century. Five thousand years thrown away and then as a result the country was plunged into utter civic chaos for decades, which created the perfect environment for other dictators to seize power costing the lives of millions of Chinese people and years of hardship, toil, and pain.


The Emperor for me represents and embodies the very essence of Japan. I can’t think of anything or anybody else who does. Human beings need order and control. They need symbols and gods and rules to live by and to govern their thoughts and actions by. Freedom and responsibility are very hard to align in society. I feel that Japan today suffers from a lack of leadership which it needs more now than ever. Political figures have been utter failures and will continue to be for years to come . The Emperor’s presence always heals and brings comfort no matter where he goes and he is honored and respected the world over.


Long live Japan’s Emperor.

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