Tag Archives: august 15

VJ Day

15 Aug

Today is 「終戦記念日」 (lit. “Anniversary of the end of the war”), or, as it’s referred to in the West, VJ Day.

So today is the 65th anniversary of the end of World War 2. Unfortunately it’s not the anniversary of war completely.

I’m not going to write a lot of this today because last year I wrote a post about the 64th anniversary that included an English translation of part of the Japanese Emperor’s speech to the people of Japan (click here to read it).

And the year before, I wrote a post about the 63rd anniversary that explained a bit about 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) and it’s relevance to this day. (click here to read that post).

This year 「終戦記念日」 (VJ Day) is on a Sunday (today), so I’m sure 「靖国神社」 (Yasukuni Shrine) was crowded today.

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Also today was the last day of this year’s 「深川八幡祭り」 (Fukagawa Hachiman Festival)…also called the 「水かけ祭り」 (“Water Tossing Festival“) because people watching the festival throw water on the people carrying the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines). Even firefighters hose them down.

Two years ago I participated in this festival by helping to carry a 神輿 (portable shrine).

It was fun…but carrying that heavy thing all day and also tossing it up and catching it many times…my arms and legs were aching the next day!

This festival occurs every August in the 門前仲町 (Monzen-Nakachou) area of Tokyo…but the big main festival only occurs every three years.

When I participated two years ago it was a “big, main festival”…and next year when the big festival is scheduled again, I am invited to join again.

Click here to see photos and videos of this festival from two years ago when I was a member of one of the 神輿 (Miskoshi portable shrines) teams.

Summer of ’69

15 Aug

As I’ve mentioned before, I was born in 1969.

◆ 1969 was the year that Led Zeppelin released their debut album

Led Zeppelin I

Led Zeppelin I

This album is forty years old now. The members of Led Zeppelin who are still alive, have become old…but this album is still excellent.
If you don’t own a copy, you should buy one.

◆ Also, on 1969 July 20, the first astronaut landed on the moon (I wrote a post about it…click here).

I wasn’t born until November 1969, but I’m sure that this was a momentous event for those that witnessed it.

◆ August 9th was the 64th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan

but it was also the 40th anniversary of the 1969 August 9 grisly murders of Sharon Tate and others by the notorious “Charles Manson Family” in California.

Charles Manson in custody.

Charles Manson in custody.

The late sixties changed America in many ways and took away it’s “innocence”.
The Vietnam War, hippies, drugs, Woodstock…and the Charles Manson trial.

I heard that many Americans only began locking their house at night after the murders by the Manson Family. Even the judge in the trial began carrying a gun under his robe after Manson tried to stab him with a pencil in court. (The court officers intercepted him before he reached the judge and they escorted him out of the court room…as they did, Manson yelled to the judge: “In the name of Christian justice, someone should chop off your head!”)

Once Charles Manson showed up in court with an “X” carved into his forehead, and the next day his “Family” had matching “X”‘s in their foreheads. (Years later, Manson carved more into the “X” and turned it into a swastika).

Also, tomorrow, a member of the “Manson Family” who went to prison in 1975 for an assassination attempt on then-US President Richard Nixon will be released from prison.
Her name is Lynette “Squeaky” Fromme, and she is the only member of the Manson Family who is still loyal to Charles Manson. And she’s getting out of prison tomorrow (2009 August 16) after serving 34 years of a life-sentence.

◆ Today is the 64th anniversary of VJ Day

but today’s also the 40th anniversary of the first day of “Woodstock“, the three-day rock / folk music festival in New York that went from 1969 August 15th to 17th.

3-day ticket for Woodstock Festival, 1969 August 15-17

3-day ticket for Woodstock Festival, 1969 August 15-17

A three-day outdoor concert in the mud and rain with little food and water…I don’t think it sounds enjoyable. Maybe I’m just not the right generation to understand the appeal of Woodstock.

Forty years ago this summer America went through alot of changes.

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"

August 15

15 Aug

Today is August 15. 終戦記念日 (Anniversary of the War’s End) in Japan.
In America and other Western countries it’s called “V-J Day” (Victory over Japan Day) and celebrated on August 14 (due to the time difference).
Anyways, on August 15, 1945 (Japan Time) Japan surrendered and the World War 2 ended.

So, every year on August 15, many people go to 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) in Tokyo to pay respects to those who died in the war. Among these people are numerous Japanese politicians (including, usually, the Prime Minister of Japan)…this angers Japan’s neighboring countries, because among the war dead enshrined at Yasukuni are the military officers that were found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war.

Because Japan colonized much of Asia before and during WW2, and committed war atrocities in those countries. They protest the annual visits to the shrine by the Prime Minister of Japan.

Today, former-Prime Minister Koizumi visited the shrine, as he did when he was the Prime Minister. But the current Prime Minister (Fukuda) didn’t want to upset Japan’s neighbors, so he didn’t go.

It’s a tricky decision for a Prime Minister to make whether to visit Yasukuni on August 15th or not. If he goes, Korea, China and other countries will see it as Japan “glorifying their war-time past” and strongly protest. But if the Prime Minister doesn’t go (as P.M. Fukuda did), then the descendants of those who died fighting for Japan will feel offended.

Speaking of the descendants, Hideki Tojo who was the Prime Minister of Japan during World War 2 was found guilty of war crimes by the war trials held in Tokyo by America shortly after the war and executed.
His grand-daughter, Yuko Tojo believes her grandfather was innocent and the trial was unfair. She also believes that Japan was only defending itself and Asia in general during WW2.
She visits Yasukuni Shrine every year on August 15 and gives a speech to like-minded listeners.

I saw her when I visited 靖国神社 (Yasukuni Shrine) on August 15th a few years ago.

I put this post up today not to try to get angry, political responses. I hope noone posts any comments that are rude or insulting toward any nationality.

I’m not saying that the grand-daughter of former Prime Minister Tojo is wrong or right.

There are some right-wing extremists who say shocking things about Japan and other countries (especially on occasions such as V-J Day), but most Japanese people admit that Japan did terrible things during the war (as did other countries) and they want the world to just be a peaceful place.
War is no good. But today’s Japan is quite different from the Japan of over sixty years ago.

Let’s all get along.

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Anyways, let’s change the subject.
Are you watching the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

Right now, China has the most medals.

The top seven countries (as of 2008/8/15):

  1. China – 22 gold medals (35 total)
  2. USA – 13 gold medals (40 total)
  3. Germany – 8 gold medals (13 total)
  4. Korea – 6 gold medals (16 total)
  5. Italy – 6 gold medals (13 total)
  6. Australia – 5 gold medals (18 total)
  7. Japan – 5 gold medals (11 total)

You can see the most up-to-date listing (and all countries) at the Official Beijing Olympic Website. (Click here for the Olympics’ medals page.)

Have you seen the logo for the 北京オリンピック (Beijing Olympics)?

The red mark at the top of the logo is a 印鑑 (name stamp) that is used in lieu of a signature in China and Japan. The white mark inside looks like a man running…but it’s also the second 漢字 (Chinese / Japanese character) in the name of the city 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)).

The character is 「京」 (can your computer show it?) and, if manipulated, resembles a person running…as in the logo above. But I guess only people familiar with the Chinese or Japanese writing system can see the meaning in the logo.

By the way, the name of the Chinese capital, 北京 (Beijing (or Pekin, as it’s still called in Japan)), translates to “Northern Capital“. And the capital of Japan (where I live), 東京 (Tokyo), translates to “Eastern Capital“.

The written characters are often the same in China and Japan…but the pronunciation is usually quite different.

Also, the 東京マラソン (Tokyo Marathon) logo is the character for “big” (looks like: 「大」) arranged to look like a man running also.

Here’s the Tokyo Marathon 2007 logo (it’s the same one every year):

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Here’s another slideshow of some photos I’ve taken at various times and places around Tokyo:

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