Monday, August 25, 2003

I made it into a newspaper again! Click here!

Thursday, August 14, 2003

Slight update:

Actually, now that I think about it, I think that the tram drivers have given up on the English recording entirely. I haven't heard it in months, whether I'm with other westerners or not.

Some of you have heard/experienced the...er...interestingness of the traditional Japanese toilet. Of course, some of you know of the Japanese version of the Western Toilet, too. For those of you that haven't...remember how the Japanese occasionally had the reputation of taking a simple idea just a bit too far?

Wired News: Luxury Loo: The Seat Also Rises: "'So there I am, sitting on this sleek-looking loo, idly punching the buttons on this little panel next to the toilet, and all of a sudden my bum is right smack in the middle of the perfect storm,' he said. "

Tuesday, August 05, 2003

Today is the 58th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. Here is an interesting article refuting recent historical revisionism.
CNN.com - Blood on Our Hands? - Aug. 5, 2003
The traditional American position has been that America dropped the atomic bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki to end the war early and save lives. Recently, historians have been refuting this, arguing that the U.S. government believed that the atomic bombing was militarily unnecessary -- Japan was on the brink of surrender already.

But this article points out that "Japanese wartime leaders who favored surrender saw their salvation in the atomic bombing. The Japanese military was steadfastly refusing to give up, so the peace faction seized upon the bombiing as a new argument to force surrender."

In any case, at 8:15 this morning, all over Japan, people will pause and reflect....

Sunday, August 03, 2003

Whenever I go to Kagoshima City, I use the city tram system to save wear and tear on my shoes. (I've gone through three pairs of walking shoes so far....) In each tram car, there are pre-recorded announcements of the stops, along with a few ads. Now, interestingly, there is also an English version of these announcements, which the driver turns on when he sees a foreigner get on.

Female voice: "Tsugi wa Kajiya-cho; Kajiya-cho de gozaimasu."
Male, British voice, speaking verrry slowly: "Next is Kajiya-cho. Kajiya-cho is the site of many historical landmarks, including the Museum of the Meiji Restoration, the statue of Okubo Toshimichi, and the birthpla--"

-- and then we reach Kajiya-cho. I have never heard the full English version of the recording. Actually, when I get on the tram by myself, the driver almost never switches on the English recording. When I get on with more-obviously-foreign friends, though....

R.

Note to self: BS1 August 10, 10:00 PM.

Okay, let me explain. BS1 is Broadcast Satellite channel one, which is going to show a week of documentaries about World War II. The first night, they are going to show the results of a project to preserve the memories of those who lived in Hiroshima during the war. Drawing from their memories, along with film and photographic archives, NHK has tried to re-create pre-bomb Hiroshima in CGI, in extreme detail. Even some homes' interiors and gardens were digitally re-created. When some of the survivors viewed the finished project, they were moved to tears.

Modern Hiroshima, of course, bears little resemblance to Hiroshima before the war. The area where the peace park is now used to be a very crowded residential area. Most of the homes were built of wood; thus, they were completely destroyed. The few buildings that were left standing were of brick and stone construction.

When we were at the Peace Museum, a guide mentioned two of these buildings specifically; Honkawa Elementary School, less than 500 meters away from the hypocenter, and a small textiles factory, less than 100 meters away from the hypocenter. Each of these sites had a "miracle survivor," someone who was lucky enough to be in the basement when the bomb exploded. At Honkawa, a young girl who had arrived late to school that day was in the basement where the shoe lockers were, changing into her inside shoes. In the textiles factory, a man was checking inventory in the basement storeroom. He later drew a sketch of what he saw when he got out of the building; the waters of the Motoyasu River, turned to vapor by the shockwave and heat flash, leaping skyward.

There is still an elementary school at Honkawa, but what was left of the original building was razed and a new school was built. The textiles factory was repaired and turned into a "rest house"/information center for visitors to the peace park. (We had actually stopped there without realizing...)

And yes, it has taken me until now to be able to put more of my thoughts on Hiroshima in writing.

R.

Friday, August 01, 2003

Here, then, is a new definition of jerk:
Arsonist sets alight 140,000 origami cranes in Hiroshima
Why did he do it? The perpetrator is quoted as saying, "I did it because I have been frustrated since failing to graduate [in March this year]."

Words fail me. Fortunately, only one of the booths w. paper cranes in it had been opened that morning. (Check my Hiroshima photo album for what the place usually looks like -- it's the Childrens Peace Memorial.)

R.