Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category
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Last week we went to Ise Grand Shrine, which is the most important and revered Shinto temple in Japan. I still haven’t sorted out the pictures from there, but while we were there, we visited the Frog Shrine as well.
The Frog Shrine (Okitama-jinja) technically is not in the town of Ise. It’s actually located in Futamigaura, a small town near Ise known for its fishermen.
Futamigaura is more famous as the place where you can see Meota-iwa, or the Married Rocks.
They are two rocks in the ocean – a big and a small one – which are connected with sacred ropes. The ropes are made from braided rice stalks. The visitor reached them after walking on a narrow road along the seashore. Many Japanese enjoy spending hour watching those rocks. Especially popular is to watch the sunrise in summertime, when the sun comes out of the ocean between the rocks.
According to the legends and the traditional Japanese religion, the rocks represent Izanagi and Izanami, who were the married god and goddess that founded Japan.
However, I found the Frog Shrine much more interesting. The frog is considered the patron god of the local fishermen. As you may know, fishing with boats is not the safest profession in the world. At this shrine the fishermen’s wives prayed for the safe return of their husbands while they were out in the ocean.
That was the reason for choosing the frog as a patron – the word for it in Japanese – kaeru – sounds in exactly the same way as the word for “return.”
As it is customary in all shrines in Japan, at the entrance you can see a fountain (in the picture at the top), where you can cleanse your mouth and hands – it is a common ritual before entering the shrine.
There is also the obligatory shop, where you can buy talismans supposed to bring you happiness, wealth and prosperity. You can also get those small wooden plates in the picture above and write on them your wishes, which should come true.
The stone and metal frogs are the most interesting part of the shrine. They are scattered around the entrance and also along the seashore road.
Commissioned by different people or provided as gifts to the shrine over many decades, they come in different sizes, shapes and expressions.
Here are two that have baby frogs:
Another one is made from bronze:
People even leave money near the frogs for good luck:
Here is a rough looking frog:
This appears to be quite old:
And this was the smallest one I could find:
And here we have a whole group:
All in all, it was quite an interesting experience to spend a few hours among those frogs. The only odd thing was that I didn’t see a single live frog in the whole area.
© 2012 Blogwrath.com
This one looks like a recent addition:
The cute cat in uniform is Iemon (pronounced ee-eh-mon). He works for a police station in Kyoto (Japan).
According to Mainichi newspaper, Kayo, the wife of Tatsumi Yamada, a police sergeant, found Iemona few years ago, when he was a homeless kitten. She raised him and he turned into a healthy and friendly cat.
The desk in the small police station became his favourite spot and he made many friends among the local people who visited the place.
There are many elderly people in that neighbourhood (over 30%). Common problems among them are the fraudulent phone calls they receive to lure them into making bank transfers to scammers. Dealing with those calls was the job of sergeant Yamada.
He came up with the idea to get Iemon involved in his investigations. His wife made the cat’s uniform and hat. Whenever Yamada is called to investigate a suspicious call, he takes with him Iemon. He says that when the cat is with him, the elderly people tend to listen to his advice more carefully and are more eager to discuss their problems with him. Iemon is also very popular with children.
Only in Japan…
It was exactly a year ago today… It was long after midnight – my wife was already sleeping, while I was still typing trying to finish an urgent project.
Suddenly, the phone rang (I hate those late night calls; it’s usually some unintelligible drunk). The call display showed the name of a Japanese friend from Toronto, so I picked it up. She quickly said that Japan has just been hit by a large earthquake. She had to hang up to try to connect with her family (for your information – nobody of them was killed or injured).
I woke up my wife and we spent the rest of the night trying to connect with her family. After several failed attempts we managed to talk to them on the phone. They live far from the shore, so the waves didn’t affect them.
Several tile-stones on the roof broke down, but there was no other damage (the traditional Japanese houses usually can survive a strong earthquake). A couple of minutes before the disaster hit, their four cats went totally berserk – screaming and running around.
There wasn’t that much damage in the town either.
The picture was totally different a few kilometres away, near the shore, where the tsunami hit the houses. Pieces of information were coming through the night, painting a picture of devastation. Only the next day it became clear that this was one of the worst earthquakes in recorded history.
Then came the news that the Fukushima nuclear power plant was badly damaged by tsunami – almost everybody thought that a new Chernobyl was unfolding.
The rescue operations started immediately. Although Japan is well-prepared for such events, the magnitude of the disaster needed much wider mobilization. Common people donated their time and contributed money. Help from abroad also was welcome – from USA, Canada, European countries and other places (Israel was one of the first countries to provide medical equipment and send medics).
Even the Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) quickly sent trucks with food and other supplies. The Nippon Foundation, a large charity, which had worked for decades to eradicate leprosy in India and tried relentlessly to make Aung San Suu Kyi and the generals to work together to improve the medical conditions in Burma, found an efficient way to help. Yohei Sasakawa, its chairman, came up with the idea to distribute thousands of envelops with 50,000 yen in each among the survivors, assuming (rightfully) that the government will be slow in covering the needs that go beyond food and shelter.
With everybody working, the results were spectacular. Here is the well-known picture of a highway, which was restored in one week:
When we visited Japan a few months later, in most places the damage was almost completely repaired. The debris were removed, the fields cleared, and only the remaining foundations of houses remind you of those who might have been swept away by the waves:
Most of the people affected do their best to continue with their lives, like the woman with the blanket in one of the iconic photos taken shortly after the disaster:
Of course, not everything was perfect – many still complain about the incompetence of Naoto Kan’s government and his Democratic Party, which didn’t work efficiently enough. (Still, they were much better than Murayama and his Socialists, whose work after the Kobe earthquake was disastrous.)
There are still unanswered questions about Fukushima, especially about the actions of Tepco, the company, which owns the plant. Often their information was incomplete and even deceptive. There is also anger about General Electric, which built the reactors, but didn’t provide complete information about them (they even refused to share the information in the reactor’s black box).
Despite all that, I think there is at least one thing we can agree about – the year that just passed showed that the collective efforts of well-organized people, working in conditions of adversity, can achieve results, which are truly miraculous. Nobody expected that Japan would recover that quickly, but the recovery is already a fact.
Maybe that’s the lesson we can learn here (but applying that lesson would be very difficult elsewhere in the world).
© 2012 Blogwrath.com
The Tokyo Marathon is a unique event, where many of the participants appear to show off the creativity they put into their costumes and don’t care much about any athletic achievements.
In this year’s marathon we could see Jesus Christ:
He appeared last year as well:
Strangely, Mohammed, Islam’s “prophet” was missing from the competition – maybe people were too afraid that some psychotic Muslim may stab anybody who dared to appear in Old Mo’s costume (although in Japan psychotic Muslims are under control and political correctness is a virtually unknown concept). Besides, unlike the crazy Muslim fanatics, the Christians have a sense humour.
Still, there was a running hotdog:
Spiderman dropped by as well:
A dazzling tranny:
And another one follows him/her/it:
And who knows what this is:
Japan – as crazy as always.
I thought it was good to start the posts for the New Year with an uplifting, feel-good story. That’s hard, because the last year was marked by gloom and pessimism – Obama’s incompetence, Europe’s march to economic disaster, the fake Arab springs bringing Muslim fanatics to power, etc., etc.
I think I found an event that could be a source for optimism, even though it was rooted in another disaster. I am talking about the March earthquake in Japan. After going through my records of the trip to Japan two months ago, I have finally sorted out the pictures I took.
One of the things I wanted to do while being in Japan was to go to the Fukushima area, which was the worst affected region. We were perfectly aware that the authorities wouldn’t let us go that far, but it was worth the try to get some idea about the magnitude of the events.
As you may recall, the earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011 was one of the worst in the world’s recorded history. Even though the earthquake was so powerful, the country was very well prepared, the main damage was caused by the tsunami, which followed it. Over 20,000 people died in those events.
So we left on a beautiful sunny day in early October (the weather in Japan is still warm that time of the year). After a few hours’ drive we reached Sendai, a beautiful city, which was affected badly by the earthquake, but by October everything was already fixed. Fortunately, the city is not that close to the shore and the tsunami didn’t reach it.
Sendai was the place where the only Canadian in Japan died during the tsunami. That was Father Andre Lachapelle, a Catholic missionary. One of the charity projects of his Church was a kindergarten in a village near the shore. Shortly after the earthquake struck he drove to the village to help. He died on his way there.
Then we went to the shore, which is only a few kilometres from the city. The traces of the devastation were clearly visible. Before March, the area was filled with many houses, but now almost everything is gone.
Only some of the industrial and office buildings survived, although many of them are not safe to use.
As of the traditional Japanese houses, they have been completely destroyed. Only the foundations of those houses remain, including a cemetery. That type of house is light and can withstand a strong earthquake, however, that doesn’t help at all when the area is hit by tsunami.
Although most of the debris has been cleaned up, there are few piles remaining, which still haven’t been processed. Japan has a very strict recycling program – everything is meticulously sorted out and reused, especially metal and plastic.
Then we headed south to Fukushima. On our way we saw even more destruction.
We stopped in a small town and went to the ocean shore to take pictures. Many of the houses are close to the shore, yet they have been less affected by the tsunami; many of the houses were intact.
Still, the devastation is visible. There are houses completely destroyed:
A ruined store, a bridge that crumbled, concrete shattered near the ocean:
There is even a car, which is still in the little river:
Miraculously, a small Shinto shrine has survived while most of the buildings around it have been destroyed:
An odd thing we noticed was that we didn’t see any people, except a small group of workers with a bulldozer. The town looked deserted.
We have been there for less than half an hour, when a police car approached us. The two officers were wearing face masks and white gloves. They explained that the town had been evacuated because of radiation and they are patrolling to ensure that nothing is stolen from the houses.
Then they asked if they could check our car. By the way, as it is common with the Japanese police, they were very polite and considerate. They asked for permission before checking every part of the car or any of our bags. And every time they bowed slightly with gratitude before proceeding with the search. I was tempted to see what would happen if we refused to let them check a bag, but didn’t want to push my luck.
After they were done we chatted with them for a while. It turned out both of them were from the Nagasaki police force. Police officers from different areas serve in the Fukushima area for a month at a time to keep order. They said that the radiation in the town was negligible, but the people have been evacuated as a preventive measure. They found it strange that a Canadian would go to this town.
Then we continued our way south. We kept driving near the shore. Everywhere the picture was similar – you see mostly foundations and damaged buildings. The closer you get to the nuclear power plant, the more police you see and at certain point the army units appear.
The tiny Japanese Army is practically invisible under normal circumstances – they usually stay in their bases. The leftist press even pretends they don’t exist, very rarely can you see pictures of the military in its publications. However, they were heavily involved in helping people during the disaster, searching for survivors, clearing the affected areas and helping built temporary shelter for the survivors.
At certain point, still away from the plant, we were stopped and asked to turn back – they say it may be dangerous to continue. That put an end to the trip.
On the way back I was thinking what made Japan so resilient when dealing with disaster. I did research on how the survivors coped – since so much of the infrastructure was destroyed, they were accommodated in schools and sports facilities. Everything was very well organized – the areas inside those buildings were even assigned their own new postal codes.
The restoration efforts started right away and proceeded with lightning speed. Here is a badly damaged highway, which was restored in less than a week:
The people, who lived in those temporary accommodations, with the exception of the children and the elderly started helping right away – many volunteered to clean the debris, help restore the businesses they worked in, etc. All of that was done on a strictly voluntary basis – the emergency forces would’ve been able to do everything even without them.
But being helpful is a matter of ethics and tradition for the Japanese. They are frequently accused that they are prone to a herd mentality, that they lack individuality, etc. Japan simply has that idea of how important mutual help is, which makes everybody feel an obligation to be useful.
If you remember the Katrina hurricane disaster in Louisiana a few years ago, you may recall that thousands of people, especially from the welfare underclass, waited for months and years until somebody else finished rebuilding their houses. They were even upset at the possibility that the Latino workers may stay there after they finish and turn the “chocolate city” (as the New Orleans mayor called it) into something else. Even more drastic example was the earthquake in Haiti – the victims still live in tent cities doing nothing, while surrounded by 90% of the ruins they never bothered to clean up. The gullible Westerners sent billions of dollars in help only to have the money stolen by the local crooked politicians and charities. Even one of the Haitian cultural “luminaries”, Wyclef Jean (who ran for president), stole millions of dollars from the donations to his “charity”.
In contrast, to most Japanese such behaviour is unthinkable. Nobody would consider it normal that they could stay doing nothing while somebody is working to build their homes. Even the looting after the disaster was so minuscule, compared to other countries. Even Yakuza (the Japanese Mafia) got involved in the rescue works right away distributing goods. I don’t recall the murderous New Orleans gangs doing anything even remotely similar, except killing people and looting the abandoned houses.
The important thing is that the Japanese still adhere to their values, which have allowed them to survive on their inhospitable islands for thousands of years. After the Second World War Japan was more devastated than Haiti, the quality of the goods they produced was nothing to brag about, they had no natural resources, yet they found the strength to turn the things around and become one of the most prosperous countries in the world.
The crucial reason for that situation is that Japan is a monocultural country – over 99% of the people are Japanese and they take their values and traditions seriously. And those are values and traditions that have been proven to work for the benefit of society. There is very little diversity and self-loathing.
Many of the “multicultural” problems we have here are unthinkable in Japan. If some dumb Muslima demands that a Japanese company accommodate her “right” to come to work in hijab or niqab, she’ll be ejected from that business faster than a champagne cork. And just see what will happen when somebody asks for a Muslim prayer room. A few months ago I had a talk with a Japanese correctional officer, who told me that some Muslim criminals (usually murderers and rapists) in Japanese jails complained to their embassies and they demanded that the Japanese supply halal food for them. The demand was laughed out and it is still talked about as interference in the affairs of Japan.
It is still a shame to be a bum in Japan, while in Canada it’s a badge of honour, which would bring you all kinds of goodies. There is another aspect of the entitlement culture that you can’t find in Japan – the consumer debt. The consumer debt is a cancer that destroys millions of people in the West. Feeling temporarily rich by charging everything on a credit card is perfectly acceptable here, even though most people become slaves of the banks.
In contrast, the Japanese don’t like being in debt. Although all banks and many department stores issue their own credit cards, the reckless use of those is quite rare. Japanese have little personal debt and the household savings are estimated to be about $19 Trillion. The largest bank in the world – Japan’s Postal Bank – one of the most popular banks in Japan, holds personal deposits of about $4.8 Trillion. The Japanese government has more than enough currency reserves – unlike USA or Greece it doesn’t depend on borrowing from foreign countries to pay for its programs (they have some debt, but it is internal, owed to Japan’s citizens).
Not bad for a country with no natural resources and a very small army…
Can we learn something from Japan that we can use? Not necessarily. Japan still keeps in its culture, ethics, and business practices everything that made it highly successful. We, on the other hand, are very creative in finding more and more ways to destroy the values and practices that made the West great. If anybody has a credible strategy to stop that process, I will print out this post and eat the paper…
© 2012 Blogwrath.com
Israel was the first country to offer help to Japan less than an hour after one of the strongest recorded earthquakes followed by tsunami devastated parts of the country. The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called the Japanese government with his offer for assistance.
Of course, you can find that reported in the Western mainstream media, at the time they were more interested in the propaganda of the Palestinian terrorism (under the code name Israeli Apartheid Week).
Shortly after the offer was made, Israel sent a delegation, which included 50 medical staff and 18 tons of aid for the victims of the disaster. Israel was the first country to send medical aid. The medics set up their field hospital in Kurihara, in Miyagi prefecture.
The country delivered 10,000 coats, 6,000 blankets and several thousand pairs of gloves. It also sent 300 Geiger counters to help monitoring the increased levels of radiation after the nuclear plant disaster. The counters were supplied by Rotem Industries, a firm that supplies technology to Israel’s nuclear reactor in Dimona (I wonder if they are on the lefties’ boycott list).
Without any doubt, the help will be highly appreciated by the Japanese people. No need to deliver the goods in unmarked containers (something the Muslim fanatics in Pakistan wanted done for the US aid).
Hopefully, the Japanese mainstream media would learn something from those events. They are notorious for their bias against Israel, based mostly on ignorance and partially influenced by the Palestinian lies.
It is a surprise to those journalists that the help came from a highly developed and prosperous country, which owes everything to the labour and ingenuity of its people. Israel is not the military camp they erroneously believe it is.
Even the poor people from Kandahar, Afghanistan, after being abused and killed for decades by Taliban savages, found a way to collect donations to help Japan.
No help is coming from the Hamas and PLO terrorists (although they have more than enough money). Neither the rich and lazy Gulf Arabs are sending anything (they didn’t send anything to Pakistan either). Wait, I forgot, there is not a single Arab university capable of educating specialists qualified to work in the difficult conditions in Japan. The oil money buys all the engineers, teachers, drivers, and slaves needed in the Gulf. Too bad you can’t export them.
A fascinating event took place in Tokyo last December. It was a demonstration against the Chinese provocation in the Senkaku islands area and the clumsy way in which the Japanese government dealt with it. Last summer a Chinese “fishing boat” confronted vessels of the Japanese coast guard. The captain was arrested, which made China furious and it demanded apology and compensation. The Japanese government caved in and released him without any further action.
The organizer was Gambare Nippon, an action committee for Japan.
Several thousand people gathered at one of the large Tokyo parks carrying Japanese flags. The demonstration was peaceful, the organizers specifically asked the participants to keep order. That wasn’t necessary, because the people were peaceful anyway.
All they used to make their point were posters and signs.
This was in sharp contrast with the anti-Japanese demonstrations in China organized because of the same incident, where they damaged Japanese restaurants and burned Japanese flags.
Every participant brought a flag and you could see a sea of Japanese flags were at the Tokyo demonstration (although I saw some Tibetan flags as well).
Then the participants marched through the streets of Tokyo, greeted and cheered by the people in the streets. There was no violence or hostility shown whatsoever, although they passed by few Chinese restaurants. Read the rest of this entry »
These are pictures from a large Motor Show in Tokyo. The show itself is fascinating, it shows the newest makes of cars released by the largest auto makers.
As captivating as the cars are, they are just part of the attraction. Even more important are the crowds of pretty girls that the organizers hire to present their cars. Some of them are models, other students; there are also some who take a leave from their regular jobs to take part in the show.
Their participation surely boosts the attendance of the male audience. Once the American marketer Gary Halbert said that you can increase the sales of any product if you manage to attach to your presentation an image of a beautiful woman.
Obviously, that observation has not been lost or ignored in Japan, that’s why the show is so enjoyable.
In Canada we have departed hopelessly far from that kind of enjoyment. If they ever organized such an event here, the presenters will most likely include the politically correct blend of transvestites, middle-aged men, weight-challenged persons, hijabs, and all types of visible and invisible minorities.
So let’s enjoy the show and the girls before the political correctness infects Japan.
There are more pictures on the next page: Read the rest of this entry »
This is a café located in the university town of Tsukuba, Japan.
Despite its scary name, the coffee and the pastries there are quite good.
Many Japanese companies love to include English lannguage information in their logos, promotions, etc. The trouble is that they often don’t bother to check the spelling or the grammar. Since in the country not many people speak foreign langauges, mistakes are made quite often. Although, in many cases the errors could be easily prevented if they simply look up the word in a dictionary.
However, that’s not what they did at this company located in the Ibaraki area, which shows its “telpone” number on the building. To be fair, we already pointed out the mistake to them last year, but it is probably cheaper to leave the sign as it is.