EppsNet Archive: Japan

Indignities

26 Mar 2017 /

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 . . .

Manzanar diorama

Manzanar diorama


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

5 Feb 2016 /

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.

Not a Chinaman's Chance by Charles M Russell 1894

According to the Supreme Court ruling, the Chinese “recogniz[ed] no laws … except through necessity, [brought] with them their prejudices and national feuds, in which they indulge[d] in open violation of law.”

The court also noted that their “mendacity is proverbial; [that they were] a race of people whom nature has marked as inferior, and who are incapable of progress or intellectual development beyond a certain point … [and they would not be granted] the right to swear away the life of a citizen, … [or] the … privilege of participating with us in administering the affairs of our Government.”

After the Immigration Act of 1917, existing Asian immigrants were excluded from employment by racial hostility and increasingly moved into self-employment as laundry workers, store and restaurant owners, traders and merchants. Chinese immigrants congregated in Chinatowns established in California and elsewhere.

 

Between 1942 and 1946, 110,000 to 120,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated in internment camps. About two-thirds of those interned were second- and third-generation citizens by birth.

Newspaper headlines of Japanese Relocation - NARA - 195535

Sixty-two years of Chinese exclusion ended in 1943 with the passage of the Magnuson Act, which allowed a quota of 105 persons to immigrate each year. Yes, that is the correct number — 105 Chinese immigrants per year. In 1946, the Luce–Celler Act provided for an annual quota of 100 immigrants per year from the Philippines and India.

Token immigration quotas remained in effect until the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 abolished the quota system based on national origins.

 

In the last 50 years, Asians have risen to the top socio-economic levels of American society, proving once again that what happens to you is not nearly as important as how you react to it.

Asian-Americans seem to be focused on keeping their families together and making sure their kids get a good education, rather than peddling grievances about the past or even the present, e.g., Why are Asians not being nominated for Academy Awards? or Why has there never been an Asian president?


Am I Smarter Than A Japanese Schoolchild?

5 Aug 2015 /

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2015/aug/03/alex-belllos-monday-puzzle-question-area-maze-smarter-than-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?


Women’s World Cup: USA 5, Japan 2

5 Jul 2015 /

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.”


Are the Viet Cong Still in Those Tunnels?

23 May 2015 /
Cu Chi 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 . . .


Other People’s Kids

5 Feb 2014 /

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.

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Japan, Day 8: Walking in Tokyo

29 Dec 2013 /

Things you notice when walking in Tokyo . . .

1) There are lots and lots of people . . .

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

Walking in Tokyo

2) Most of them are not very tall . . .

Giant among pygmies

Giant among pygmies

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.

Tokyo is a vertical city

Tokyo is a vertical city

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Is that a McDonalds up there?

Sake

Sake

Ueno Park

Ueno Park

Flying back home tomorrow . . . sayonara!


Japan, Day 7: Ginza

28 Dec 2013 /

Ginza

Ginza is one of the best-known shopping districts in the world, with numerous department stores, boutiques, restaurants and coffee houses.

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

Ginza

One of our favorite stores was the 12-floor UNIQLO. They’re coming to Orange County this fall!

UNIQLO

UNIQLO

Uniqlo

UNIQLO

Art Gallery

Art Gallery


Kashoen Boutique

Kashoen Boutique


Ito-ya Stationery Store

Ito-ya Stationery Store


Ginza

Ginza


Ginza

Ginza


Japan, Day 6: Matusmoto Castle, Travel Day

27 Dec 2013 /

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 . . .

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle

Matsumoto Castle


Japan, Day 5: Snow Monkeys, Yudanaka

26 Dec 2013 /

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 during the warmer months. Starting in 1963, the monkeys descend from the steep cliffs and forest to sit in the warm waters of the onsen (hotsprings), and return to the security of the forests in the evenings.

Wikipedia

Today we ventured into the cold and hostile forests above Nagano to visit the legendary snow monkeys.

The monkeys aren’t friendly or unfriendly. They don’t approach you but they don’t try to stay away from you either. They might sit still for a selfie but they won’t smile.

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkey

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Snow Monkeys in Hot Springs (Onsen)

Yudanaka

We stayed the night at a ryokan (bed and breakfast) in nearby Yudanaka Onsen, a hot spring resort, where we enjoyed traditional accomodations, including a multi-course Japanese dinner and sleeping on the floor (on tatami mats and futons).

Our room didn’t have beds but it did have a flat-screen TV. There’s a limit to how much deprivation up with which a traveler is willing to put.

Traditional Japanese Meal

Traditional Japanese Meal

Onsen

Onsen

Traditional Japanese Accomodations

Traditional Japanese Accomodations


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

25 Dec 2013 /

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

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market: Inner Market

Tsukiji Market: Inner Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market


Tsukiji Market

Tsukiji Market

There’s a temple near the market. We met these girls, who spoke a little English, not much. They were delighted to take photos with us. Japan is a friendly country. In California, if you asked strangers on the street to take a photo with you, I expect you’d get a mixed reaction.

They start making peace signs in photos very early in Japan. I saw kids as young as two years old doing it without being asked to. I asked our guide the reason for that and she said “Because we’re so happy.”

Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple


Tsukiji Temple

Tsukiji Temple

Asakusa

Asakusa is a district in Taito, Tokyo, Japan, most famous for the Senso-ji, a Buddhist temple dedicated to the bodhisattva Kannon.

Wikipedia

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji

There is a long street lined with shops leading to the temple.

Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Asakusa Senso-ji

Asakusa Senso-ji


Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Shop in Asakusa (100 yen = 1 dollar, roughly)

Across the street from the Senso-ji is the Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center, designed by Kengo Kuma. Mr. Kuma is an acclaimed Japanese architect, although to the untrained eye, the boards in the windows might give the impression that the building is under construction or renovation, neither of which is the case.

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Asakusa Culture and Tourism Center

Imperial Palace

The Imperial Palace is the main residence of the Emperor of Japan. Twice a year — on New Year (January 2) and the Emperor’s Birthday — the public is permitted to enter the palace grounds. The imperial family appears on the balcony of the Chowaden Hall and the emperor normally gives a short speech greeting and thanking the visitors and wishing them good health and blessings.

If it’s not one of those two days (it wasn’t), the palace is closed, but you can still stand outside in the plaza and take a photo if you like.

Imperial Palace

Imperial Palace

Odaiba

Odaiba is a large artificial island in Tokyo Bay, Japan, across the Rainbow Bridge from central Tokyo. It was initially built for defensive purposes in the 1850s, dramatically expanded during the late 20th century as a seaport district, and has developed since the 1990s as a major commercial, residential and leisure area.

Wikipedia

Rainbow Bridge

Rainbow Bridge


Odaiba at Night

Odaiba at Night

Christmas in Japan

It’s December 25. Christmas is not a big deal in Japan. If you say “Merry Christmas” to people, they’ll say it back to you, if they understand English, but it’s not a holiday and stores and businesses are open. New Years is the big holiday here.

They do, however, have a lot of what we in the States would call Christmas lights, but in Japan are called “illuminations.”

Illuminations

Illuminations


Illuminations

Illuminations


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

24 Dec 2013 /

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.

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Sunrise

Japanese Dawn

Japanese Dawn

Lake Ashi

We started the day on a sightseeing boat at Lake Ashi:

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

Lake Ashi (Shinto shrine in foreground, Mount Fuji in background)

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 is said to increase longevity. Eating one is said to add seven years to your life. You may eat up to two and a half for up to seventeen and a half years, but eating a whole third is said to be highly unadvised.

Owakudani is accessible via the Hakone Ropeway. In the States, we’d call this a tramway. I swear to god when I heard “ropeway” I thought we were going to have to pull ourselves up the mountain with a rope.

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Our guide is on the right:

Hakone Ropeway

Hakone Ropeway

Owakudani

Owakudani

See the large buildings at the bottom of the photo below? Look up a bit from the one on the right and you’ll see the stand where the black eggs are cooked up and sold. It’s a short hike up the mountain.

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

Owakudani

We ate some black eggs:

Owakudani: Black Egg

Owakudani: Black Egg

They also have black ice cream:

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Owakudani: Black Ice Cream

Mount Fuji

Mount Fuji (Fujisan), located on Honshu Island, is the highest mountain in Japan at 3,776.24 m (12,389 ft). An active stratovolcano that last erupted in 1707–08, Mount Fuji lies about 100 kilometres (60 mi) south-west of Tokyo, and can be seen from there on a clear day. Mount Fuji’s exceptionally symmetrical cone, which is snow-capped several months a year, is a well-known symbol of Japan and it is frequently depicted in art and photographs, as well as visited by sightseers and climbers. It is one of Japan’s “Three Holy Mountains” (Sanreizan) along with Mount Tate and Mount Haku; it is a Special Place of Scenic Beauty, a Historic Site, and was added to the World Heritage List as a Cultural Site on June 22nd, 2013.

As per UNESCO, Mount Fuji has “inspired artists and poets and been the object of pilgrimage for centuries.”

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

Mount Fuji as seen from Owakudani

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

 

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

Mount Fuji from Visitor Center

At the Mount Fuji Visitor Center, you can fold an origami Mount Fuji to commemorate your visit:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

The yellow one is mine:

Origami Mount Fujis

Origami Mount Fujis

Shinjuku

Shinjuku (Shinjuku-ku, “New Lodge”) is a special ward located in Tokyo Metropolis, Japan. It is a major commercial and administrative centre, housing the busiest train station in the world (Shinjuku Station) and the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building, the administration centre for the government of Tokyo. As of 2008, the ward has an estimated population of 312,418 and a population density of 17,140 people per km2. The total area is 18.23 km2.

Wikipedia

The Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building is 48 stories tall, and splits into two sections at the 33rd floor.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building

The 45th floor of each tower has a panoramic observation deck. It was late afternoon when we got up there.

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Dusk


Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset

Tokyo Metropolitan Government Building: Sunset


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

23 Dec 2013 /

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 released because of mental illnesses (persecution complex and schizophrenia) on September 29, 1955; he died of tuberculosis shortly after in 1956.

The present pavilion structure dates from 1955, when it was rebuilt.

— Wikipedia

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion

Kinkakuji Temple: Golden Pavilion


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple


Kinkakuji Temple

Kinkakuji Temple

Nishijin Textile Center

Nishijin is a district in Kamigyo-ku, Kyoto, Japan, and (by extension) a traditional textile produced there, more narrowly referred to as Nishijin-ori (Nishijin fabric).

Nishijin weaving was created in Kyoto over 1200 years ago by using many different types of colored yarns and weaving them together into decorative designs. These specialized procedures are tedious, but necessary to obtain the spectacular design needed to ensure the quality of Nishijin weaving.

— Wikipedia

What the blurb above means is that images and patterns are not dyed after the fabric has been produced, the yarn is dyed before weaving, which yields the finest quality but is much harder to create.

Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show


Kimono Show

Kimono Show

Tea Ceremony

We participated in a traditional Japanese tea ceremony, involving the preparation and presentation of matcha, a powdered green tea.

Fun fact: You don’t enter the tea room through that big opening in the front. You sort of crawl in through a small door on the right-hand side, which you can’t see in the photo. There’s a traditional reason for this, something to do with samurai not bringing swords to the tea ceremony (they won’t fit through the little door), but in modern times, it seems a bit of an unnecessary ordeal.

Tea Room

Tea Room

Bullet Train

We took the Shinkansen (bullet train) from Kyoto to Atami. These trains run on time. If the board says the train leaves at 3:12, it leaves at 3:12. Don’t show up at 3:13 and wonder where your train went.

Bullet Train

Bullet Train


Bullet Train

Bullet Train

Atami

In Atami, we enjoyed a traditional Japanese dinner, so traditional that our guide was unsure of what a couple of the items were. Atami is on the eastern coast and has a spectacular fireworks display that they shoot off over the bay.

Traditional Japanese Dinner

Traditional Japanese Dinner


Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks

Atami Fireworks


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

22 Dec 2013 /

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 tower, with three extra stories underground, and gold leaf on the sides of the tower to impress visitors.

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Otemon and Main Tower

My son asks me, “Couldn’t invaders cross the moat on this bridge, just like we’re doing?”

“I’m going to go out on a limb here and speculate that the bridge was added in modern times, not as part of the original construction.”

Osaka Castle: Moat

Osaka Castle: Moat

We entered the castle through the Otemon Gate:

Osaka Castle: Otemon (Western) Gate

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

Osaka Castle: Main Tower

There was a gentleman at the castle with a large supply of something or other that birds like to eat, so the birds followed him around:

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

Osaka Castle: The Birdman

He didn’t speak English but he kindly shared some of his bird food with us:

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Osaka Castle: Feeding the birds

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji (Todai-ji, Eastern Great Temple), is a Buddhist temple complex located in the city of Nara, Japan. Its Great Buddha Hall (Daibutsuden), houses the world’s largest bronze statue of the Buddha Vairocana, known in Japanese simply as Daibutsu. The temple also serves as the Japanese headquarters of the Kegon school of Buddhism. The temple is a listed UNESCO World Heritage Site as “Historic Monuments of Ancient Nara“, together with seven other sites including temples, shrines and places in the city of Nara. Sika deer, regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion, roam the grounds freely.

We entered Todai-ji Temple through Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate. In the photo below, the stand on the left sells biscuits you can buy and feed to the deer. More on that later . . .

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple: Nandaimon, the Great Southern Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Todai-ji Temple

Todai-ji Temple: Chumon Gate

Great Buddha Hall

According to records kept by Todai-ji, more than 2,600,000 people in total helped construct the Great Buddha and its Hall. The 16 m (52 ft) high statue was built through eight castings over three years, the head and neck being cast together as a separate element. The making of the statue was started first in Shigaraki. After enduring multiple fires and earthquakes, the construction was eventually resumed in Nara in 745,[8] and the Buddha was finally completed in 751. A year later, in 752, the eye-opening ceremony was held with an attendance of 10,000 people to celebrate the completion of the Buddha. The Indian priest Bodhisena performed the eye-opening for Emperor Shomu. The project nearly bankrupted Japan’s economy, consuming most of the available bronze of the time.

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha Hall

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsiu)

Todai-ji Temple: Great Buddha (Daibutsu)

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Todai-ji Temple: Buddha

Nara Deer Park

According to the legendary history of Kasuga Shrine, a mythological god Takemikazuchi arrived in Nara on a white deer to guard the newly built capital of Heijo-kyo. Since then the deer have been regarded as heavenly animals, protecting the city and the country.

Tame Sika Deer roam through the town, especially in Nara Park. Snack vendors sell “shika sembei” (deer biscuits) to visitors so they can feed the deer.

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: Deer are not naturally aggressive

“Deer are not naturally aggressive if you’re not aggressive with them,” our tour guide says.

In other news, grass is green and water flows downhill. What would an aggressive deer do anyway? What sort of aggressive deer behavior should we be on the lookout for?

OK, I’ll tell you: You can buy shika sembei (deer biscuits) to feed the deer. Deer really like the deer biscuits. If you have biscuits, the deer will surround you and nibble on you. While you’re feeding the ones in front of you, the deer who couldn’t find room in front will nibble you from behind so they don’t get left out.

In fact, if the deer are not sure if you have biscuits or not, they may nibble on you anyway, usually in the area of your pockets, which would be an ideal place to conceal deer biscuits.

A good thing to know is that the deer do recognize and respect an open-handed, “See I don’t have any deer biscuits” gesture and will acknowledge it by not nibbling you.

These deer, sika deer, are regarded as messengers of the gods in the Shinto religion. If that is true, the message the gods are sending us is “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park: “More biscuits, please.”

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Nara Deer Park

Kiyomizu Temple

Kiyomizu-dera, officially Otowa-san Kiyomizu-dera is an independent Buddhist temple in eastern Kyoto.

Kiyomizu-dera was founded in the early Heian period. The temple was founded in 798, and its present buildings were constructed in 1633, ordered by the Tokugawa Iemitsu. There is not a single nail used in the entire structure. It takes its name from the waterfall within the complex, which runs off the nearby hills. Kiyomizu means clear water, or pure water.

Wikipedia
Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Main Veranda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon  Gate and Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Nio-mon Gate and Pagoda

The temple complex contains several shrines, including the Jishu-jinja Shrine, known as the dwelling place of the god of love and matchmaking. Praying there is said to help one succeed in finding an appropriate love match.

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

Kiyomizu Temple: Jishu-Jinja Shrine

The temple is popular with young people looking for good fortune in love.

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Kiyomizu Temple: Kimono Girls

Japanese Lanterns

Japanese Lanterns

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda

Kiyomizu Temple: Pagoda


Japan, Day 0: Floyd Mayweather at Panda Express

20 Dec 2013 /
Panda Express Logo

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 Up.


HW’s Movie Reviews: 42

12 Apr 2013 /
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: 1 star

Footnote: We’ve come full circle on blacks in baseball. The defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants don’t have a single black player on their current roster (although some of the Latin players are pretty dark). Black men can play baseball if they want to but they don’t want to.


The Beauty of Cultural Diversity

24 Mar 2009 /
Baseball player

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 . . .


This is the Way

9 Jul 2007 /

This is the Way for men who want to learn my strategy:

  1. Do not think dishonestly.
  2. The Way is in training.
  3. Become acquainted with every art.
  4. Know the Ways of all professions.
  5. Distinguish between gain and loss in worldly matters.
  6. Develop intuitive judgment and understanding for everything.
  7. Perceive those things that cannot be seen.
  8. Pay attention even to trifles.
  9. 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.