EppsNet Archive: Japan

Indignities

I was at the Japanese American National Museum in Little Tokyo over the weekend. Had to use the men’s room and the only stall available had a broken door latch. In order to keep the door closed, I had to press on it with my foot. Unfortunately, I pressed a little too hard and the door broke through the restraint and flew open in a forward direction. Granted, the Japanese had to put up with indignities at internment camps but that was in wartime . . . Read more →

Feb. 5, 1917: Immigration Act Passed Over Wilson’s Veto

On this date in 1917, Congress overrode President Woodrow Wilson’s veto of the previous week and passed the Immigration Act of 1917, which, among other provisions, introduced a period of near complete exclusion of Asian immigration to the United States. Not that life was a bed of roses for Asian immigrants before 1917. Asian laborers were sought out for demanding and dangerous railroad jobs involving explosives. The phrase “Chinaman’s chance,” meaning little to no chance at all, dates from this period. Asians were not allowed American citizenship and were frequent victims of hostility and violence with no legal recourse. For example, in 1854, George W. Hall was convicted of murdering a Chinese man. On appeal to the State Supreme Court the decision was overturned because all of the evidence against him was from Chinese individuals. According to the Supreme Court ruling, the Chinese “recogniz[ed] no laws … except through necessity,… Read more →

Am I Smarter Than A Japanese Schoolchild?

Are we talking book smart or street smart? If a Japanese kid is computing the area of a rectangle while I’m out gettin’ my bling, who’s smarter, I ask you? Read more →

Women’s World Cup: USA 5, Japan 2

I turned on the TV just as the announcer was shouting “2-0, USA!” so I thought they must be showing highlights of the game against Germany. It’s only 4:06 p.m., the match probably hasn’t even started yet. Then I sent a text to my kid, “This will teach me to tune in to soccer games on time.” I sent a second text saying I thought when the announcer yelled “2-0, USA!” they must be showing Germany highlights. Then I sent a third text, “My god in the time it took me to type that they scored two more goals.” View image | gettyimages.com Read more →

Are the Viet Cong Still in Those Tunnels?

The tunnels of Cu Chi are an immense network of connecting underground tunnels located in the Cu Chi district of Ho Chi Minh City (Saigon), Vietnam, and are part of a much larger network of tunnels that underlie much of the country. The Cu Chi tunnels were the location of several military campaigns during the Vietnam War, and were the Viet Cong’s base of operations for the Tet Offensive in 1968. — Wikipedia The tunnels are now a popular tourist attraction. My son and seven of his friends are currently on a post-graduation trip to Southeast Asia. Here’s a picture of him in the tunnels. There were Japanese soldiers hiding out on Pacific islands for decades after World War II. They never heard the war was over. Is there any chance there are still Viet Cong in those tunnels? I think I see one over his shoulder . . . Read more →

Other People’s Kids

My wife is telling me that the parents of one of our son’s high school friends are moving back to their home country of Japan. She doesn’t understand how parents could move so far away from their children. Their two kids, both in their 20s, are staying here in California. “Well,” I say, “other people’s kids are often a little disappointing, in my opinion,” and she starts knocking on something that I’m pretty sure is not even made of wood. Read more →

Japan, Day 8: Walking in Tokyo

Things you notice when walking in Tokyo . . . 1) There are lots and lots of people . . . 2) Most of them are not very tall . . . 3) Because there are a lot of people in a small amount of space (even though they are small people), Tokyo is built to take advantage of vertical space. For example, I’ve never seen a two- or three-story fast food restaurant in the U.S. but they’re common in Tokyo. Businesses that usually are two or three stories in the U.S., like department stores, in Tokyo are eight or ten stories. Flying back home tomorrow . . . sayonara! Read more →

Japan, Day 7: Ginza

Ginza Ginza is one of the best-known shopping districts in the world, with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses. One of our favorite stores was the 12-floor UNIQLO. They’re coming to Orange County this fall! Read more →

Japan, Day 6: Matusmoto Castle, Travel Day

Matsumoto Castle Matsumoto Castle (Matsumoto-jo) is one of Japan‘s premier historic castles. The building is also known as the “Crow Castle” (Karasu-jo) due to its black exterior. It was the seat of the Matsumoto domain. It is located in the city of Matsumoto, in Nagano Prefecture and is within easy reach of Tokyo by road or rail. The keep (tenshukaku), which was completed in the late sixteenth century, maintains its original wooden interiors and external stonework. It is listed as a National Treasure of Japan. The second floor of the main keep features a gun museum, Teppo Gura, with a collection of guns, armor, and other weapons. — Wikipedia Today was mostly a travel day, driving back to Tokyo from the lair of the snow monkeys. On the way back, we stopped at Matsumoto Castle, an impressive edifice built back in the late 1500s . . . Read more →

Japan, Day 5: Snow Monkeys, Yudanaka

Snow Monkeys Jigokudani Monkey Park (Jigokudani Yaen Koen) is in Yamanouchi, Shimotakai District, Nagano Prefecture, Japan. It is part of the Joshinetsu Kogen National Park (locally known as Shigakogen), and is located in the valley of the Yokoyu-River, in the northern part of the prefecture. The name Jigokudani, meaning “Hell’s Valley”, is due to the steam and boiling water that bubbles out of small crevices in the frozen ground, surrounded by steep cliffs and formidably cold and hostile forests. The heavy snowfalls (snow covers the ground for 4 months a year), an elevation of 850 metres, and being only accessible via a narrow two kilometre footpath through the forest, keep it uncrowded despite being relatively well-known. It is famous for its large population of wild Japanese Macaques (Macaca fuscata), more commonly referred to as Snow Monkeys, that go to the valley during the winter, foraging elsewhere in the national park… Read more →

Japan, Day 4: Tsukiji Fish Market, Asakusa, Imperial Palace, Odaiba, Christmas

Tsukiji Fish Market The Tsukiji Market (Tsukiji shijo), supervised by the Tokyo Metropolitan Central Wholesale Market (Tokyo-to Chuo Oroshiuri Shijo) of the Tokyo Metropolitan Bureau of Industrial and Labor Affairs, is the biggest wholesale fish and seafood market in the world and also one of the largest wholesale food markets of any kind. The market is located in Tsukiji in central Tokyo. There are two distinct sections of the market as a whole. The “inner market” (jonai-shijo) is the licensed wholesale market, where the auctions and most of the processing of the fish take place, and where licensed wholesale dealers (approximately 900 of them) operate small stalls. The “outer market” (jogai-shijo) is a mixture of wholesale and retail shops that sell Japanese kitchen tools, restaurant supplies, groceries, and seafood, and many restaurants, especially sushi restaurants. — Wikipedia There’s a temple near the market. We met these girls, who spoke a… Read more →

Japan, Day 3: Atami, Lake Ashi, Owakudani, Mount Fuji, Shinjuku

Atami Our hotel in Atami was on the eastern coast. Where we live in California, you can watch the sun set over the ocean every day if you want to, but here the sun rises over the ocean, which is a little bit different. These photos are from the balcony of our room. If you look closely, you can see the United States in the background. It looks very small from this far away. Lake Ashi We started the day on a sightseeing boat at Lake Ashi: Owakudani Owakudani (lit. “Great Boiling Valley”) is a volcanic valley with active sulphur vents and hot springs in Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan. It is a popular tourist site for its scenic views, volcanic activity, and especially, Kuro-tamago (lit. “black egg”) — a local specialty of eggs hard-boiled in the hot springs. The boiled eggs turn black and smell slightly sulphuric; consuming the eggs… Read more →

Japan, Day 2: Kinkakuji Temple, Nishijin Textile Center, Tea Ceremony, Bullet Train, Atami

Kinkakuji Temple Kinkaku-ji (lit. “Temple of the Golden Pavilion”), officially named Rokuon-ji (lit. “Deer Garden Temple”), is a Zen Buddhist temple in Kyoto, Japan. The site of Kinkaku-ji was originally a villa called Kitayama-dai, belonging to a powerful statesman, Saionji Kintsune. Kinkaku-ji’s history dates to 1397, when the villa was purchased from the Saionji family by Shogun Ashikaga Yoshimitsu, and transformed into the Kinkaku-ji complex. When Yoshimitsu died, the building was converted into a Zen temple by his son, according to his wishes. During the Onin war, all of the buildings in the complex aside from the pavilion were burned down. On July 2, 1950, at 2:30 am, the pavilion was burned down by a 22-year-old novice monk, Hayashi Yoken, who then attempted suicide on the Daimon-ji hill behind the building. He survived, and was subsequently taken into custody. The monk was sentenced to seven years in prison, but was… Read more →

Japan, Day 1: Osaka Castle, Todai-ji Temple, Kiyomizu Temple

Osaka Castle The main tower of Osaka Castle is situated on a plot of land roughly one square kilometer. It is built on two raised platforms of landfill supported by sheer walls of cut rock, using a technique called Burdock piling, each overlooking a moat. The central castle building is five stories on the outside and eight stories on the inside, and built atop a tall stone foundation to protect its occupants from attackers. The Castle grounds, which cover approximately 60,000 square meters (15 acres) contain thirteen structures which have been designated as Important Cultural Assets by the Japanese government. In 1583 Toyotomi Hideyoshi commenced construction on the site of the Ikko-ikki temple of Ishiyama Hongan-ji. The basic plan was modeled after Azuchi Castle, the headquarters of Oda Nobunaga. Toyotomi wanted to build a castle that mirrored Oda’s, but surpassed it in every way: the plan featured a five-story main… Read more →

Japan, Day 0: Floyd Mayweather at Panda Express

We saw Floyd Mayweather at LAX . . . Actually, my son saw him. When the boy pointed him out to me, all I could see was the back of a smallish man in a black hoodie surrounded by half a dozen of the largest human beings I’ve ever seen. You have to get past those guys to get your shot at Floyd. They were all standing on line at Panda Express in one of the food courts. Normally, I don’t envision famous, wealthy people eating Panda Express, and if they do, I don’t picture them standing on line for it. I picture them sending someone to fetch it while they hang out in the first class passenger lounge. Good advertisement for Panda Express. Better than those ridiculous goddamn talking pandas. In other close encounters with boxing legends, I once saw Sugar Ray Leonard and his family at Juice It… Read more →

HW’s Movie Reviews: 42

Look at this — before Jackie Robinson, they didn’t let black guys play major league baseball! Right . . . that was 70 years ago, in the 1940s. Let’s move on already. You know what else they did in the 1940s? They rounded up Japanese Americans, just took them right out of their homes and their jobs, and stuck them into “relocation camps.” When’s the last time you heard a Japanese person talk about relocation camps? They don’t talk about relocation camps because they’re too busy being engineers and doctors and businessmen and raising their families and sending their kids to top universities. You can focus your mind on what other people did a long time ago or you can focus your mind on what you’re doing right now. Let’s move on already. Rating: Footnote: We’ve come full circle on blacks in baseball. The defending World Series champion San Francisco… Read more →

The Beauty of Cultural Diversity

My son’s one-eighth Japanese on his mom’s side and the student body at his school is about 40 percent Korean, so when he comes into my room yelling, “YES! I am going to shove it” — punctuated with a fist pump — “at those Koreans tomorrow,” it doesn’t take long to figure out that Japan must have won the World Baseball Classic . . . Read more →

This is the Way

This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy: Do not think dishonestly. The Way is in training. Become acquainted with every art. Know the Ways of all professions. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything. Perceive those things that cannot be seen. Pay attention even to trifles. Do nothing which is of no use. — Miyamoto Musashi, The Book of Five Rings UPDATE: One of my son’s friends has a hamster named Miyamoto Musashi. His book says he’s very famous in Japan, but then it would say that. Read more →