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On this day in August…

5 Aug

◎ Forty-seven years ago today (1962 August 5), Marilyn Monroe died.
Did you know that in January 1954, she and baseball legend Joe DiMaggio traveled to Japan for their honeymoon?

◎ Tomorrow (August 6) is the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan) by the U.S.
August 9th will be the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki, Japan).

Last year at this time, I wrote a post about the anniversary of this sad event that includes the last letter written by a kamikaze pilot to his young daughter. (Click here to read it).

◎ 2009 August 15 will mark the day that Japan surrendered and ended World War 2 sixty-four years ago.
Last year, I wrote a post about this day too. (Click here to see it.)

War is terrible. And it’s known that Japan did many bad things during World War 2, but so did every country involved. Including the “Allies”.
Most people agree that it’s best that Japan lost World War 2…but dropping an atomic bomb shouldn’t have been done, and definitely should never be done again.

This is the BBC documentary “Hiroshima” (89 min):

Have you ever heard of 山口彊 (Tsutomu Yamaguchi)?
He’s the only person known to have survived both the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

tsutomu_yamaguchi

山口彊 (Tsutomu Yamaguchi)

His hometown is 長崎 (Nagasaki, Japan), but on 1945 August 6 he went to 広島 (Hiroshima, Japan) on a business trip.
He suffered burns, ear and eye damage when the “Little Boy” bomb was dropped on Hiroshima while he was there.
Because of his injuries, he was sent back to a hospital in his hometown. So he was in Nagasaki when the “Fat Man” bomb was dropped on that city!
He had misfortune of having been in both Hiroshima and Nagasaki when they were atomic bombed. But was lucky to have survived both times.

◎ August 15 – 17 will be the 40th anniversary of the “Woodstock Music & Art Fair“.

Woodstock promo poster

Woodstock promo poster

That famous three-day music festival occurred the year I was born. 1969.
I understand it was a major era-defining event for Americans who were teenagers or young adults at that time.
Personally, I don’t think I would’ve gone to Woodstock even if I was my parents’ age.
I’m not a big on music festivals. I like concerts…but all day music festivals with numerous performers seems too much to me. (Summer music festivals are currently very popular in Japan right now. The three-day “Summer Sonic” is scheduled for this weekend near Tokyo and Osaka. Others are “Fuji Rock Festival“, “Rock In Japan“, “Loudpark Heavy Metal Festival“, etc., but I have never gone to one.)

Also, I wouldn’t have gone to Woodstock because I don’t like the “hippie folk music” that was performed there. The only bands on the set-list that seem half-way decent to me are Johnny Winter and Jimi Hendrix.

If I went to a music festival, it’d be the “Loudpark Heavy Metal Festival“, “Crüe Fest“, or “OzzFest“.

Ozzy Osbourne's "OzzFest"

Ozzy Osbourne's "OzzFest"

December 8th

8 Dec

Today is 十二月八日 (December 8th). The 67th anniversary of 真珠湾攻撃 (the attack on Pearl Harbor). Actually, America observes it on December 7 because the attack occurred on Sunday, December 7, 1941 Hawaii time…but in Japan, it was already Monday, December 8, 1941 (due to the time difference).

uss-arizona

The anniversary of 真珠湾攻撃 (the attack on Pearl Harbor) is observed more in America than here in Japan, of course. In Japan, the WW2 anniversaries that are observed are the dates of atomic bombings of Japan (on August 6th and 9th) and the war’s end (on August 15th).

(Click here to read my post about the anniversary of the atomic bombing, click here to read my post about the anniversary of Japan’s surrender, and click here to read my interview with an American WW2 pilot.).

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Today is also the 28th anniversary of the murder of John Lennon (of the English band “The Beatles“), who was shot and killed on 千九百八十年十二月八日 月曜日」 (Monday, December 8, 1980) in New York City.

paper-lennon

I remember when I heard the news. I was eleven years old, and I had many classic rock albums (vinyl) that were given to me by my father and my uncle…including Pink Floyd, Cream, Rolling Stones, Aerosmith…and The Beatles. So, I knew who John Lennon was, and I was shocked that he was killed! Especially by a self-proclaimed Beatles fan!

Mark Chapman asked John Lennon to autograph the new (at that time) John Lennon / Yoko Ono album, “Double Fantasy” (which he did)…then he shot John Lennon in the back four times.

chapman1

(Mark Chapman’s police mugshot)

doublefantasy

(“Double Fantasy”)

John Lennon’s Japanese widow, オノ・ヨウコ (Yoko Ono) is in Tokyo for a concert to commemorate the 28th anniversary of John Lennon’s passing with a concert at the famous 日本武道館 (Nippon Budokan) called “John Lennon Super Live“.
At the promotion for the concert last week, she distributed pieces of a smashed clay pot that she made…and asked everyone who received a piece to return in ten years so that the pot can be reassembled.

Do you know that the world’s only official “John Lennon Museum” is in Japan?
It’s at the さいたまスーパー・アリーナ (Saitama Super Arena) near さいたま新都心駅 (Saitama Shintoshin Station) not too far from Tokyo.
Admission is ¥1500.

63年前

4 Aug

This Wednesday, August 6, will be the 63rd anniversary of the atomic bombing of 広島 (Hiroshima) and on Friday, August 9th, will be the 63rd anniversary of the bombing of 長崎 (Nagasaki).

Both cities will have ceremonies this week to mark the solemn occasions, as they do every year.

Of course as an American, I know that next December 7 ( 2008 ) will be the 67th anniversary of the Pearl Harbor attack.

I guess it should come as no surprise that both Japan and America observe the anniversary of the date that they were attacked, not the date that they did the attacking.

War is terrible and I don’t want to get into politics or which country (if either) was justified or not.

I just wanted to put something on this site to commemorate the anniversary of the somber dates.

I consider adding quotes from the online journals of the atomic bomb survivors, but as heart-wrenching as they are to read…I decided to post about someone who is often demonized in the West (especially America) but seen as a tragic hero in this country (Japan).

The 神風 (Kamikaze pilot).

The word 神風 (Kamikaze) literally means divine wind, and it’s actually the name of a 台風 (typhoon) that is said to have saved Japan from attack by Mongolia in the 13th century.

The official Japanese name for the 第二次世界大戦 (WW2) fleet of pilots that intentionally crashed their aircraft into Allied ships when Japan was low on ammunition is 特別攻撃隊 (Special Attack Units).
Common people began to refer to them as 神風 (Kamikaze). (By the way, the correct pronunciation is kah-mee-kah-zeh (not a “long E”)).

Unlike their image overseas (which is often one of faceless lunatics with a death-wish crashing their planes rather than fighting the conventional way), in Japan 神風 (Kamikaze) are viewed as having given the ultimate sacrifice. Japan was low on ammunition and many pilots were called on to join the “Special Attack Units“…and for the honor of themselves, their families, and their country, they agreed.

As I mentioned above, I don’t want to get into the politics of it. But the 神風 (Kamikaze) were allowed to write last letters home to loved-ones.
These letters are kept in the same places that the “souls” of the 神風 (Kamikaze) and all warriors who died for Japan are enshrined: 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine).

Here’s a translation of one letter from a 神風 (Kamikaze pilot) to his infant daughter:

Motoko,

You often looked and smiled at my face. You also slept in my arms, and I gave you your baths. When you grow up and want to know about me, ask your mother and Aunt Kayo.

My photo album has been left for you at home. I gave you the name Motoko, hoping you would be a gentle, tender-hearted, and caring person.

I want to make sure you are happy when you grow up and become a splendid bride, and even though I die without you knowing me, you must never feel sad.

When you grow up and want to meet me, please come to Yasukuni Shrine. And if you pray deeply, surely your father’s face will show itself within your heart. I believe you are happy. Since your birth you started to show a close resemblance to me, and other people would often say that when they saw little Motoko they felt like they were meeting me. Your uncle and aunt will take good care of you with you being their only hope, and your mother will only survive by keeping in mind your happiness throughout your entire lifetime. Even though something happens to me, you must certainly not think of yourself as a child without a father. I am always protecting you. Please be a person who takes loving care of others.

When you grow up and begin to think about me, please read this letter.

Father

P.S. In my airplane, I keep as a charm a doll you had as a toy when you were born. So it means Motoko was together with Father. I tell you this because my being here without your knowing makes my heart ache.

[Lieutenant Sanehisa Uemura
Kamikaze Special Attack Corps, Yamato Unit
Died on October 26, 1944
25 years old]

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