Where were you on March 11, 2011 I was in Japan when this big one hit! At least the biggest one I ever felt. Here is the live account here. Theme Music for the Post: Elevations by Erik Wollo = Sphere into Dreams. Best enjoyed wearing stereo headphones.
Remaining optimistic is important. It's important too for us old timers to remember why we came to Japan. I still remember how it felt when I was getting checked - in at the L.A. International Airport ages ago. Sitting down putting my shoes back on after going through the detector. Hollywood star Tommy Lee Jones was in the chair next to me. What a strange coincidence that was. I recall how he had looked down at me from his sunglasses, too. He's taller than I. I remember what it had felt like during taxi when the plane was preparing for take off. Thoughts were flashing through my mind about this and that and about what I was going to do once the plane's wheels had finally touched down in Japan. I was on my way to the Land of Green Tea and Onsens; Temples and Geisha; Kabuki and Sumo. What a feeling. What nostalgia.
These feelings are still fresh in my mind and I still realize how exciting Japan really is. Once these feelings have gone then I guess it's time to go. I'm nowhere near ready to leave Japan, though. There are people who are ready to leave, and they should leave , by all means. You shouldn't live in a place where you're not happy. So on the theme of optimism I'd like to talk about positive things.
One more thing, never let anyone tell you what is the acceptable norm here Japan. There is no acceptable norm. If there is, let me know. Some expats and surprisingly many Japanese haven't a clue about how to really enjoy Japan, and many come off as pretentious and dull witted thinking that they know what's best for everybody else's life. If an expat enjoys teaching and living in Japan forever, then let him teach and live in Japan forever. Don't disrespect him for what he enjoys doing. Not everybody wants to have a sexless marriage and not everybody wants to work 60 hours a week either. And not everybody wants to pay into the pension scam, but would rather have the option of choosing their own plan. It's his life and it's what he chose to do, even if he chose not to get hitched with an American / Oolong Chu junky. You can do and be whatever you want to be in Japan, as long as it doesn't intrude on the freedom of another person or break any laws.
Back on topic. First it's the Sake No Jin, so have a look there. If you are interested in learning more about local sake and the latest trends on sake development, then I highly recommend attending this sake fair. There will be some great people there. I'll be incognito, so if you have any angst against me, don't approach me. Other than that, I'm a pussy cat. Flower, money, and other gratuity I accept; cookies and candy what have you.
Third, Japanese politicians are starting to get their act together. The Sunrise Party, or the Tachigare Party, and the right are appealing to broader and larger interest groups than before. There's also talk of a coalition party between the DPJ and the LDP, which is signaling something of a unity government. I'm also noticing Japan is remaining firm with China, like it rightfully should by not playing into Guilt and apathy over issues that have no business on the bargaining table. A strong Japan is central to recovery, not one that bends anymore than it should. So much has already been compromised because of non-action.
Moving on, The question of guilt has been getting a lot of press lately. First of all, guilt is a Christian principle, which is completely foreign to most of Asia. There's simply no basis for it culturally nor historically. Japanese society is more shame-based, unlike Christianity which is guilt-based. In other words, getting caught is more of a consequence than the individual or collective response to guilt. You don't expect China to feel guilty and remorseful over its transgressions in Tibet, and neither do you expect the Japanese, since either side isn't willing to expressly acknowledge guilt. Maybe I can demand my own government in North American to force its historians to revise topics over issues related to the full and uncensored accounts of slavery in North America, by further implicating 'white guilt' on an issue that occurred almost a century ago. This isn't going to happen.
It's these topics that should be completely off the table when it comes to doing business. At least there are cultural implication for Asia. There's no need to feel guilty on either front if neither are willing to confront history respectfully and accurately. Remember what happened in 1989? In America's case, to acknowledge guilt is a religious requirement according to the Christian faith, which is necessary through the confession of your transgressions in order to achieve salvation. Without guilt you couldn't confess your sins, and without confessing your guilt you cannot receive true forgiveness. We ALL know the man whose hand loosed the atomic bombs, Paul tibetts. You cannot possibly be in heaven singing with the angels about the benevolence of Christs' love if you found no guilt in your actions on that fateful day. You may be looking up from somewhere, not down. I'm just not convinced. Most psychopaths have zero guilt and remorse for their victims, even at the time of death.
(" China shouldn't play the guilt card at the bargaining table over something that happened 70 years ago! It's unprofessional and serves no purpose other than to further exacerbate an issue that has no connection to the greater scope of international co-operation, co-prosperity, and peace. How can you force guilt on one party when the other party doesn't feel it's guilty, from a cultural standpoint? ")
Next, Westerners cannot condemn Japan over its annual whale hunt when America is still dropping bombs and killing hundreds, if not thousands of Iraqi and Afghan civilians, who are merely suspected of being terrorist. There's no justification. And then calling it an accident. It's about prioritizing what deserves more attention, not about dolphins and whales over the welfare of human beings and the murder of innocent non-combatants. There are so many more issues on the table that need to be discussed here. Let's address the human problem first, not one man's crusade because his favorite Flipper died in his arms because he was out buying Porsches every year and wasn't able to afford to release all the dolphins from captivity. What is more newsworthy here?
3-11, do you remember where you were at? I was sitting in Starbucks at the Yokohama Station when the big earthquake struck. Maintaining my composer I neatly packed up my things and left a ravaged Starbucks; broken light fixtures, and broken glass all around. I headed for my screamer and took to the roads like Batman. Down route 15 and 16 I witnessed the largest mass exodus of people ever. Salarymen were stranded and left without any means of transportation. Traffic signals were flickering out of order and horns honking all around. Bumper to bumper everywhere.
I had to struggle for weeks without bottled water and toilet paper. My local supermarket rationed out food. My favorite comfort food is tsukemen, a noodle dish I used to stock up on. I was allowed only two packs and one bottle of mineral water, which most times were sold out. During the whole ordeal Japanese remained calm and orderly. Truly impressive. The people here are such good examples of order and social rest. Sure, there were some isolated incidences in less populated areas, but on the whole no major crimes were reported. It took about two full weeks to get things back to normal for me. I tried going to a spa to get the monkey off my back, but, it didn't happen. Whenever there's irregular geothermal activity or earthquakes, hot spring sources are disrupted. Some onsen dried up completely like in one onsen town in Tohoku somewhere. Luckily, Niigata lost no onsen activity and hot spa sources weren't affected at all. In fact when JR shut down most people who where left stranded in Niigata had no problem being stuck in Niigata; onsen and sake. Hotels were pretty much all booked to the max for weeks at a time, sometimes months. The hot spas provided a temporary respite and it was all good. Sake was drank, and enjoyed until JR came back online. Niigata really came through for a lot of stranded commuters.
I want to change the tone a little to reflect on the scope of this blog. There are over 600 posts to date on various topics related to Japan. And no, the video below is not an endorsement for iPad 3. The target base is focused on the very best and basic aspect of Japan. I have a tweeter, youtube, and BC account.
These posts are presented from a rare perspective of a guy who obsesses over all things Japan. Not the otaku culture, but the physical and natural culture, and every now and then I rant about a topic I believe passionately in, like down below.
Every now and then I like to introduce a great Japanese, either that, or a Jukujo. This time I would like to introduce someone worthy of honor and respect. A Guerrilla fighter. Keeping in line with March and optimism as my central theme, I decided to select Hiroo Onoda. 小野田 寛郎
Born March 19th, 1922, came to fame as the only Japanese soldier to never surrender. 30 years after the nation of Japan surrendered, before he did! Not all Japanese soldiers portrayed by overzealous white authors can claim that the Japanese soldier was weak and ineffective. There were strong and courageous soldiers who fought against the Allies in the Pacific theater. History records Pearl Harbour and the Corregidor Islands as victories for the Japanese Army. Let no one fool you, and it's a sad day when the Teacher's Union and The Ministry of Education tell you otherwise. You do not have to surrender your dignity, nor twist the facts to represent a Westerner point of view.
Some other good news, the remains of a five year old boy was discovered and identified from the tsunami wreckage recently. The remains were returned to his family and then cremated and placed in an urn. There are still thousands of unclaimed remains of victims in the disaster hit areas in Tohoku, and with noone to claim them. One Buddhist monk has committed himself to guarding these remains until they're are properly DNA checked and returned. The urn, which Japanese traditionally believe to be the gateway to the next world, through which souls can return every year during the summer festival of Obon, is extremely important.
The grave must be cared for by surviving family, who in return, expect spiritual protection from their deceased relatives. Buddhist tradition dictates that a body is cremated and the ashes are placed in an urn, along with the bones that remain. Nationwide, 500 bodies recovered after the huge waves swept ashore have still not been identified, and more than 3,000 of those who died have never been found, according to some reports.
The souls of the unidentified cannot pass into the next realm in which case they remain in limbo somewhere. The remains of an individual has to be cremated along with the bones, urned and looked after by a loved one. Only then can it pass into the next realm. Christianity teaches that you have to let the dead be with the dead. Let them rot in their flesh and to not be concerned with the welfare of the remains. We turn our loved ones over to the undertaker and let him look after our loved ones. Japanese are more civilized in this regard.
I'm sure Billy Graham is in Sendai now teaching Japanese this, and how they have to let go and let god, and about how Japanese traditions and culture are of the devil and pagan in nature. He'll be spreading his poisonous doctrine along with his charity, and many stupid Japanese will swallow it hook line and sinker, because so many are broken and weakened by all the bad press they've been receiving over the disaster. Bring your charity, not your fucking religion. Japan has its own indigenous faith and belief system.
I'm extra critical of my own country and the devils that represent it because I can. It's the illusion that America creates that many naiveté Japanese would rather believe.
("For many, It’s difficult to understand America.
Firstly, the law of contradiction is what governs America. It was the slave owners who declared ”We hold these truths self evident that all men were created equal.”
I mean, we are the most godless and the most religious; the most puritan and the most lascivious; the most charitable and the most heartless of societies; we are interventionists to the degree that we are isolationists; we espouse Thoreoux’s Maxim that government governs best which governs least, yet we look to Washington to address our every problem.
Our environmental conscientiousness is out matched by our environmental recklessness; we are outlaws obsessed by the rule of law; we are individualist who speak of family values; we are a nation of fat people with anorexic standards of health and beauty; the only things we love more than nature’s wilderness are malls and hyper-technology").
Putin is back at the Helm in Russia. It's no surprise, he was waiting for this chance. He will show his teeth in this term. What will all this mean for bilateral relations with Japan...? We have to assume the worst, or nothing at all. Putin is an economy president/premiere. There's no way he's going to negotiate a settlement deal over any of the islands, especially as China starts to reconsolidate its claims on the islands just south of where Kamchakcha is located....( northern territories). Too little and too late for Japan on this call. There is a little happiness on my part with Putin back at the helm. With him there it neutralizes America's broad reach into Eastern Europe and the Middle East. Putin will not tolerate a missile defense under the former Secretary of Snakes Condi Rice, nor George W. Smutch. I still remember when he was handing out the Medal of Freedom to soldiers at Mathesda. One of the soldiers almost spat in his face, or a least look like he was going to. Iraq was not worth a leg, an arm, or any other body part. No matter how much you spin the nonsense and ignorance, it just simply wasn't worth it.
Back on Japan, just wanted to clear up a few things. There are no radiation fears in Japan. Most Japanese who are overreacting are quite stupid, like the pastor who made headline news the other day for claiming that he was looking for property in South Korea, and was going to move there if the Korean government grants him a residents permit. I use the word Pastor to denote his religious affiliation; he's a Christian or of a similar faith that worship white gods and other delusional modalities that are completely foreign to Japan. See, how these Western religions poison and distort reality through fear and doubt ? They rot at the core of Japanese sensibilities? And then you've got the "NGRs" ( nuclear gamma ray refugees) who are far less than a Japanese, just ignorant, that are demanding asylum in Canada and South Korea. It's wrong and it's absurd. Just stay here, clean up, and rebuild. Then, go and purify yourself at the nearest shrine. As a matter of fact dunk your whole head in the water trough.
March is looking to be an exciting, yet turbulent month. I remain optimistic and with bated breath (sigh).