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07 October 2015

Visited the location site of 007 film "You Only Live Twice"

Last month during what is called "Silver week" holidays (September 19 to 23), I visited a feudal period castle, Himeji Castle. It is located in Himeji city, 3 hours and half by Bullet Train from Tokyo and almost 1 hour from Kyoto.

As the train was reaching the Himeji station, I could view the white castle from the window.

 

As soon as I got out of the station, I could view the castle far away.

history,samurai

It was magnificient view. As I got closer to the castle, its appearance impressed me more.

history,samurai 

history,samurai

The castle has had that appearance since early 17th century. It is one of 12 still existing castles from the feudal period. In late 19th century, there were hundreds of feudal lords' castles in Japan but most of them were dismantled by new modern government order or destroyed by air raid during the second world war.

The castle went through several rennovation because it is old and wooden-made. But the basic structure and materials are the same as the old days with no elevator inside. Tourists have to climb up ladder-like stairs to the top 6th floor.

Actually such castle tower is not for residence of feudal lord rather, it was for symbol of power, observatory, and evacuation from the enemy invasion. So not functional for living. But the veiw from the top was spectacular.

It is designated as World Heritage site in 1990's. So it is famous internationally. But it was already famous before designated as World Heritage site. The castle was one of film location sites of 007 "You Only Live Twice."

The film was released in 1967. It showed how it was like in those days Japan. First James Bond actor Sean Connery wore kimono like a Japanese man and played like Ninja. Ninja were spies like 007 in feudal period. Himeji Castle was used as a ninja training facility.

The story is unrealistic like a comic. Maybe that is the feature of the film.

But viewers can enjoy sight-seeing of Japan. Seeing Sumo matches, kimono bond girls, fishery village, traditional wedding, Ninja, Himeji castle, volcano mountain and etc. All the things are very much Japanese. Not only those things but modern aspects of Japan were included such as subway, city neons, Toyota sporty car, 1964 Tokyo Olympic facility and pier buildings that James Bond fought against gangs.

 

Interestingly, foreigners could find more beauty of Japan than native Japanese.

This film is kind of basic form of 007 film since it was last work based on Ian Flemming novel. The story has some mutuality with film "Mission Impossible, Ghost Protocol". It included the global criminal organisation called "SPECTRE" that James Bond fought against.

SPECTRE is latest 007 film scheduled to be released this year. In that sense it is a great timing to see this old 007 film.

I am glad that James Bond, modern day ninja visited Japan and let viewers enjoy touring of this mysterious country.

Last scene of the film depicted Japan's mysterious aspect. Eruption of the volcano. Japan has many volcano. That is why we have many natural hot springs as well as earthquakes that sometimes caused big tsunami and destroy nuclear power plants.

 

17 August 2015

Summer Festivals and a ceremony in TOKYO

Firework, I saw at a military base in Tachikawa.

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Dancing on the street, in kimono. Kagurazaka

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Floating lanterns on Sumida River, Asakusa. Each lantern represents soul passed away.

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31 July 2014

Puff the magic dragon, lived by the sea, in the land called "HENOKO"

I saw the dragon there, in Henoko, Okinawa prefecture, southernmost chain of the islands in Japan.

You might not believe that. This is the proof.

dragon,

Yes, it looked like rainbow. But the sea is known to be sacred place for the dragon. The locals worship it and established a shrine on the sea coast.

military, okinawa,

Recently the dragon seems not very comfortable living there because of construction project going on his or her place. On the sea coast is US Marine training camp base, Camp Schwab. There is a plan to expand the base by reclaiming the sea where he/she lives.

 

The locals oppose the plan because their environment would be deteriorated as well. However, US military and the Japanese government never mind local resisitance movement.

 

Will he/she leave as the things are? I doubt it.

 

The sea reminds me of what I experienced 3 years ago in Kaminoseki, Yamaguchi prefecture in the mainland of Japan. Actually I learnt about that town when I joined environment activists meeting in Henoko. I met Kaminoseki activists who protest the construction project that reclaims the sea to build nuclear power plants there. They did the same things as locals in Henoko do, kayaking the sea to prevent construction work from proceeding.  

military,okinawa

So I visited Kaminoseki later. There I saw the same scene.

Activists on the beach calling for the halt of the project but the authorities and power company never minded their voices. The project was about to be proceeded and the beach might be destroyed sooner.

military,okinawa

I felt something when I was on the beach. I sympathized, and then prayed to call for the help.

 

Two weeks later a big earthquake and tsunami occurred in Fukushima. 4 nuke plants were destroyed by the nature and massive radioactives were released to the environment.

 

Now the construction is halted in Kaminoseki (not yet terminated.) No nuke plants are operated in Japan at present.

 

In that town, there enshrined the sea dragon.

 

Was it just an coincident? I just don’t think so. That is why I’ve been feeling fear.

 

04 March 2014

Very homosocial and divine experience in Fukushima

Not homosexual, homosocial! I joined naked men in thong festival in Hobara town, Date-city, Fukushima Prefecture.

You may feel familiar with Fukushima. Yes, that is in the same prefecture in which that severe nuclear accident occurred after the earthquake and tsunami hit the nuclear plants 3 years ago. Hobara is 50 kilometers away from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plants.

On 2nd of March, I traveled to Fukushima from Tokyo. I brought my gaiger counter (radiation level measure).  This was my 5th trip to Fukushima since that disaster. My purpose this time was my third time participation in the festival as naked man in thong walking and running on the street. Other 2 times I joined radiation clean-up mission of the town.

What my gaiger counter indiated at the Tokyo Railway and Fukushima Station were very similar.

radiation

radiation, Fukushima

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3 years ago, it was different. The below is what I took in Hobara Station July 2011, 4 months after the accident.

radiation, Fukuhshima

As you see, the counter needle went more right. It was over 0.1 Rem. More than 10 times of normal level.

However, it went down but still radiation level is higher than normal.

On that day I went to the gathering place near the Itsukushima Shrine in Hobara town to put on thong.

Fukushima

Over there around 70 men gathered to prepare for the participation. All guys became naked and bathed in hot water tub and after that they got themselves in thongs by local festival staff. Naked guys waiting in a room holding thongs in their hands. Talking about their bodies. Someone joked about that. (See the photos on this Japanese site which were taken 3 years ago) The thong contains cup to hold guys' private thing. After it was tightened by the staff, it was like being chained on your ass to hips. Kind of extra-ordinary feeling.

fundoshi, thong

It is called, Fundoshi or Mawashi in Japanese. Sumo wrestler wear that. In the old days, it was maily used as underwear or swimwear for all the men in Japan.

The festival is named, Tsutsuko-hiki Festival. It literally means pulling the Tsutsuko, divine rice in a big straw bag which weighs 800 kg. To wish for rich harvest and health of the localies. By pulling the bag from all the direction the rice turns out to be soft and sweet rice cake. If you eat that, you can stay healthy all year around.

I learned about this festival when I joined the radiation clean-up mission. Then I decided to join the festival every year to wish for betterment of the town's environment. Only God can change things better, I guess.

After dress-up of the thong guys had to wait for the main event for 1 to 2 hours. Until then other things such as performances or children sports event went on outside.

During that waiting period, guys chatted each other drinking sake (Japanese alchohol beverage) and eating foods in a small room. It is the very men's world. Talking about life, sex and etc. I hesitated to talk about nuclear things because it was too serious for the localies.

Guys were mostly from Fukushima. One young man was from Australia. He said that he now lives in Iwaki-city in Fukushima as translator. He said that he enjoyed wearing Fundoshi. That amazed me. Only one caucasion young man among 70 Japanese men. It was like the short novel I wrote on this blog. A foreign guy experiences very traditional thing which modern Japense do not any longer.

After an hour long talk, I found myself very drank. The main event started and I ran with other guys to the shrine. Guys transported Tsutsuko on the carrier shouting "Wasshoi." After transporting it on main streets of the town, we placed that on the road. Then we, guys pull and bang that on the road shouting.

Later we transported that back to the shrine and the Tsutsuko bag was cut to open. Rice cake in it was divided and handed to participants and gallery. I enjoyed this festival last year and two years ago. However, this time I got too drank to remember what exactly I did.

I just hope things are getting better in Fukushima, Japan and the whole world.    

 

 

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