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03 January 2014

Dinner at LA TOUR D'ARGENT reminds me of what's happening in this world

Year of 2014 started. 

On one of new year's days I was invited to the dinner at Tokyo's most expensive French cuisine restaurant, LA TOUR D'ARGENT. It is located in The Hotel New Otani Tokyo, one of Japan's high class hotel chain.

The below photo is me in kimono at the waiting room of the restaurant. Only waiting room is as big as one ordinary restaurant. I was allowed to take a photo of me within waiting room area.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

As you see the interior is georgeous. The dining room was georgeous as well. Mirror ceiling and chandeliers, candles. Tens of garsons in black uniform walking around to serve the same number of tables. That reminds me of the film "The Great Gatsby."

I had champagne, wine, and full course of very delicous meals. The speciality of the course was roast canard. Each guest was given a card of canard (duckling) he/she eats with its number.  

A sommelier selected a wine that fits the course menu. He said one of most expensive wine the restaurant has is Romane Conti, which one bottle costs 2500000 yen, 25 thousands US $ or Euro. Of course it was not what our group could afford. So I chose half bottle of wine which costed around 19000 yen.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

I really enjoyed that. But at the same time I had to feel guilty about it. The dinner cost a lot. That one dinner can equal a few people's monthly food expense. In the world half of the population are starving. This luxurious dinner should cost equivalentl to annual income of some portion of the people in this world.

Moreover, the bottle of Romane Conti costs construction of a school that hundreds of children can attend in third world nations.  

Not just in third world but even in first world like Japan or America, such dinner is far exceeds the living standard of ordinary people. Last year I went to Okinawa. I visited the US Marine facilities. At the entrance of US Marine training camp, I saw the below sign that says "Hard training makes hard marine."

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

I saw the bus of trainees entering the gate. I heard those young people come from very poor family that could not afford college education for their children so they had no choice but to join the marine, what is called, Poverty Draft.

Meanwhile, very rich people like who can afford very expensive dinner like LA TOUR D'ARGENT exploits such young people to grow their wealth provoking wars all over the world. Kind of plutonomy. That is the social structure of today's world. I wrote a novel on this theme.

The bus transporting capitalism slaves to the military base reminds of one very historical place in Poland which I visited 6 years ago. The similar sign was posted at the gate of the facility.

military, poverty, class gap, economy, kimono,

ARBEIT MACHT FREI. (Labour makes you free.)


24 December 2013

"Chinmoku (Silence)" by Japanese Christian novelist

The novel was written by Japan's most notable novelist in 20th century, Endo Shusaku.

Recently the news that Hollywood decided to make the story into film next year was reported. The setting of the story was early 17th century of Nagasaki, Japan when the government ruled ban on Chrisitianity and entry of foreigners except Chinese and Dutch. That policy was aimed to get rid of western influence on its society in order to avoid colonization. Dutch was neutral as for this matter. Dutch hated Catholic nations and advised Japanese government to stop trading with Catholic nations.

The story started with a news that one most prominent and highly respected missionary sent to Japan abandoned his faith after severe torturing by Japanese authority. That shocked two Portuguese Catholic priests. They decided to secretly enter into one secretly Christian village in order to locate the missionary and continue Chrisian preaching for the localies.

However, they were found and arrested by Nagasaki authority and then their followers were tortured to death. One of the two died. One surviving one prayed God for his tortured followers but no salvage was done. God kept silence.

Later he finally met the person he wanted to meet from the beginning. The missionary he once respected whom he tried to locate. He was advised by the missionary to abandon his faith just as he did. Then he followed his advise. What he did was stepping on plate of engraved Jesus Christ picture. That was most usual custom to check if a person is Christian or not in those days. If you could do that, that proved you were never Christian or you just abandone your faith by doing so. He stepped on it to save tortured followers. It was a deal with the authority.

Since that era, Japanese Christian teaching was totally abandoned until it was re-allowed in late 19th century.

Surprisingly the story is based on real characters and real events. In the book the authority says "Christianity can never place roots on Japanese land. It is never universal teaching." That sounds true.

In fact centuries after that era, even after freedom of faith was insured by the constitution, less than 1 % of the population are Christian today. More surprisingly in this season you can veiw many illumination and Christmas trees and find Christmas events in Tokyo. But very few of them are dedicated Christians. Japanese Christmas events are nothing but commercial purpose.

One remain of Christianity of that era may be tea ceremony. There is a legend that Japanese tea ceremony was modeled after Christian mass ceremony in that era. In fact founder of tea ceremony, Sen no Rikyu was a man of the era that Christianity was still allowed and his wife and daughter were Christian.

If that is true, Christianity was continued throughout banned era. The root was placed. Praise Jesus and Praise tea!


26 June 2013

German Film "Das Schönauer Gefühl" ATOMKRAFT? NEIN DANKE!

Recently I have become a big fan of Germany, Deutschland.

The documentary film I saw represents one aspect of that.


Germany has recently decided to terminate operation of all of nuclear power plants in their country until 2022.

German people started heated movement of non-nuclear policy after Chernobyl accident in 1986.

The film described non-nuke and self-sufficient power generation movement of people living in one small town, named Schonauer. After going through fierce battles with big power company and debates and referendums among localies, they established their own power generation system and company.

Germany is indeed very sophisticated society. German people are so enthusiastic about civil activities.

Since Fukushima accident, Japanese citizens are learning what Germans did and are doing.

I am one of student of German experiences.

Ich bin Deutsch!! Danke schonn!!

The below photo is me in German logo T shirt, that says "Nuclear? No Thank You."


The below video is what I took at the anti-nuke event in September 2011. One German anti-nuke activist made a speech on the stage to tens of thousands of audience attending.


20 June 2013

Attended the Speech meeting of Japan's first openly gay parliament member

Her name is Kanako Otsuji. She is now 38 years old. Last month she obtained the seat for Japan's upper house parliament.

On 18 of June, she made a speech in the meeting titled "Sexuality and Politics" held by Rainbow Action group, at Nakano Zero Hall in Tokyo. Around 60 people including me attended the meeting.

gay, homosexuality, lesbian,

She was a candidate for that position in the election held 5 years and 10 months ago. She was listed in candidate list of nation-wide proportional representation constituency for one of Japan's major political party, Democratic Party of Japan. That was very first time in Japan's history that a major party nominates openly gay person as its candidate. She gathered some votes but could not reach passing border line. However, after more than 5 years, only 2 months left until the end of the term, she got to the position because several members died or resigned from the parliament. Kind of strange incident.

In the speech she talked about profile and how she is doing now. She used to be a member of prefecture congress in Osaka. She came out during that time. She is now actively working as a national parliament member and got involved in many law-making tasks. She recently was invited to and then attended a sexual minority's meeting held in US embassy in Tokyo.

I asked her how Japan can be changed in terms of this issue since Japan is different from western nations in the sense that Japan is not advanced in minority rights issues.

Her reply was, those nations and Japan have things in common that are practicing democracy. Democracy does not necessarily mean majority of people make the rule. Everyone has decision making right. We can make changes by making laws. Japan can change drastically when the time comes. Japan is not very religious like western nations. We are rather concerned about peer pressure matters.

That may be right, I think. According to the Reuter news report, the world-wide survey on ordinary citizens opinion about gay issue revealed Japan is as open-minded as western nations. Especially, younger generations' supporting rate for gays was higher than that of US.

Is it due to the recent gay liberation movement? That may not be a major cause. As she described Japan's morale standard is based on peer pressure. Homosexuality has been considered abnormal in this society but never been considered sin like Christian societies in the West. In fact histricaly Japanese society tolerated gay relationship until premodern time ended. Details in this post.

Furthermore, when we acquire new things, we can change very rapidly like late 19th century's industrialization or reconstrution after the second world war.

Ms. Otsuji said even after entry of parliament, she never experienced any harrassment by other people in the house. People are friendly and trusting her very well.

Thanks to her, her outing of what she is helps our nation progress further, to more democratic and civilized. She is the proof of our democracy, freedom and flexible culture. I am proud of her. We all should be proud of her.