Dec 31, 2013

The Ideal That the Country Japan Was Founded on

I don’t know why NHK broadcasted the series of Oliver Stone’s documentary “Untold History of the United State” at the end of the year. Anyway I watched Episode 7, which was about the Vietnam War.

Of course, Oliver Stone severely criticized LBJ and Richard Nixon. From my stand point of view, they should be blamed for mismanagement about Vietnam War, but at the same time they also made some achievements, for example LBJ’s the Great Society’s programs and Nixon’s visit to China in 1972.

It is interesting for me as a Japanese to know that Oliver Stone and Ronald Reagan seemed to believe in the same justice of America. Ronald Reagan insisted that his policy embodied the ideal of the U.S., but Oliver Stone thought that he betrayed it. In the documentary, Oliver Stone quoted the words of John Adams, which represented the ideal that the U.S. was founded on, in order to blame Richard Nixon.

There are many people who criticized the government and politicians in Japan, too. But both of them don’t seem to have the common ideal, just like what Oliver Stone and Ronald Reagan do. Japanese people ever have had the ideal that the country Japan is founded on, haven’t they?

American people think the United States of America as an artificial product, which was made in order to achieve their ideal, but Japanese people think the country Japan as a natural product, which has existed for many years.

Democracy is the ideal for the United States of America, but it is just one of the political systems for Japan. Winston Churchill said,“It has been said that democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” Japanese people could understand what he meant.

I wrote, “Is Japan really a democratic country? The answer is that "yes, it is formally." in the entry “Is Japan Really a Democratic Country?”

Although Japan is now a democratic country, Japanese people don’t believe in the ideal of democracy. There is a country that doesn’t have the ideal that it was founded on.

Dec 29, 2013

A Hot Spring in Snow

Every winter vacation, my wife and I went to a hot spring to recovery our exhaustion, which has accumulated for a year. This year, we stayed at a hot spring inn in Kaminoyama, Yamagata prefecture, which was full of snow.

I love a hot spring in snow, because the contrast between the warmness of a hot spring and the chillyness of the snow is really nice.

Yamagata prefecture is on the Sea of Japan, where snow falls heavily every winter season. Tokyo, was clear and sunny, but after crossing Ou Mountains, it turned to be a snowy world.

Just after arriving at a hot spring inn, Meigetu-so, I rushed to a public bath.

It is wonderful to see snow falling while taking an open-air bath. The hot water warms my body and at the same time open air cools my head, so I can stay in the hot water for a long time. Fallen snow absorbed noises, and I listened just to hot water spring.

After taking the bath, we drank a lot of sake with nice fish dishes, while seeing snow falling in a warm room. Fish caught in the Sea of Japan is much more delicate and delicious than in the Pacific Ocean.

I feel like making harder next year, now.

Dec 21, 2013

Superman and the 442nd Regimental Combat team

The movie “Batman vs. Superman,” which is a sequel of “Man of Steel,” will be out in July 2015.

Batman and Superman are complete opposites in every aspect. Batman is the dark knight, but on the other hand the sun makes Superman a super hero. Bruce Wayne is a son of a millionaire in Gotham City, whose model is obviously New York City, but Clark Kent grew up in Smallville, Kansas.

It is most interesting that Superman who was born in the Planet Krypton is very patriotic, but Batman who is a born American doesn’t believe in his government.

In Frank Miller’s comics “Batman: the Dark Knight Returns,” Batman said to Superman, “You always say yes to anyone with a badge or a flag. No good,” while fighting against each other.

Superman’s patriotism reminds me the motto of the 442nd Regimental Combat team, “Go for Broke.”

In the period of World War II, Japanese American citizens in the U.S. were interned in camps, because they were thought to be anti-American, even though they had American citizenship.

Most members of the 442nd Regimental Combat team were young Japanese Americans whose parents were interned. They had to prove that they were the true Americans, and they fought bravely in Europe in World War II.

After Superman fought for life to save America and the Planet Earth, at the end of “Man of Steel,” General Swanwick talked with Superman.

General Swanwick: Then I'll ask the obvious question: How do we know you won't one day act against America's interests.
Superman: I grew up in Kansas, General. It's about as American as it gets. Look, I'm here to help. But it has to be on my own terms. And you have to convince Washington of that.
General Swanwick: Even if I were willing to try, what makes you think they'd listen?
Superman: I don't know, General. I guess I'll just have to trust you.

Superman has to keep trying to trust American people, so he keeps fighting for Americans like the 442nd Regimental Combat team, because he was born in a foreign planet.

Dec 16, 2013

Martina and Chris: A Real Friendship

I watched a documentary on TV called “unmatched” about the relationship between Martina Navrátilová and Chris Evert.

They were top tennis players in the late 1970s and the early 1980s, and they competed for the grand slum title countless times.

They were complete opposites. Martina said on the documentary, “Chris was the girl-next-door, but I was a muscular lesbian from a communist country.” They played tennis very differently. Martina always tried to rush to the net and Chris tried to make a passing shot on the baseline.

It is interesting that both their outsides and insides were in contrast to each other. Although Chris looked the girl-next-door, she was full of fighting spirit and cool on a court. Martina, on the other hand, was physically strong, and mentally vulnerable. Martina was hurt by being treated as if she was an evil when she played against Chris.

In the documentary, they talked to each other quite intimately, and they appeared to trust each other deeply. In her prime, Martina thoroughly beat Chris. Chris said, “Unfortunately she played better than I.” But Martina said, “Chris always covered for me, when the press criticized me.”

The documentary shed new light on their true friendship under the myth. It might be worth watching it, unless you're not a fan of tennis.

Dec 1, 2013

Three Photographs of Yellow Ginko Leaves

I had not been feeling well because of tonsillitis for two months. Now that I have gotten much better, I will try to write my first entry since October.

When I walked to the nearest subway station, I found that the morning sunlight was shining on the yellow leaves of a ginko tree. I tried to take a photograph of them with my iPhone.

I wanted to express the contrast between the yellow of the ginko leaves and the blue of the clear sky of early winter. The ginko tree was so big that it couldn't fit on the screen of my iPhone, and I was disappointed with the resulting photograph.

On another day, I went to Kishimojin shrine, which is a ten minutes walk from my house. There was a huge ginko tree full of bright yellow leaves. Of course, I could not take a photograph of its whole tree with my iPhone, so I wondered how I should crop it.

Just under the tree, yellow leaves were spread out like a yellow carpet. I shot a photograph of just the yellow leaves on the ground. I like the contrast between light and shadow on the yellow leaves and between the yellow of leaves and the red of the Shinto gate.

I looked up and I found the sunlight through yellow leaves, and I took a photograph that was full of the yellow.

In the end, I love this photograph best. I realized that when taking a photograph, how you crop an image is most important.