Tag Archives: NYC

100 year old Japanese trees in America

25 Mar

Did you know that there are 3,000 Japanese さくら (Sakura (Cherry Blossom)) trees in Washington DC, America?

Japanese Sakura in Washington, DC (photo from Yahoo! News)

Did you know that those trees were a gift of friendship to America from Japan? And that the first two trees were planted near the White House by the then American “First Lady” and wife of the Japanese Ambassador to America?

I knew all of that already and I also knew that there are Japanese-style 花見 (“Cherry Blossom Viewing” parties) in Washington DC every spring when the flowers are in bloom.

But I didn’t know that Japan gave the trees to America in March 1912. One hundred years ago this month.
And I also didn’t know that the first two trees (the ones planted by the wives of the then U.S. President and Japanese Ambassador) are still standing in the same spot the were planted in Washington DC in 1912.

So, this year’s 花見 (Cherry Blossom Viewing) in Washington DC is special because it’s the one-hundredth anniversary of the gift of the trees from Japan.

The さくら (Cherry Blossoms) are already in bloom in Washington DC because of unusually warm weather in America now.

Another event to help mark the occasion took place in New York City earlier this month.
2012 March 1-6 was called “Japan Week” in NYC.

I don’t know much about this event but from looking at their website, it appears that visitors could experience a lot of Japanese culture that week in New York.

A woman playing the "Koto" (Japanese harp-like instrument) at "Japan Week" in NYC.

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Anniversary of one tragedy and another around the world

11 Sep

Today is the tenth anniversary of the 2001 September 11th terrorist attacks in America.
No one will ever forget the two jumbo jets that were crashed into the World Trade Center towers and brought them down. It was a shocking and tragic event.
2,753 innocent people were killed in the attack on New York City.

But less often mentioned are the other two planes of the September 11th attacks.
American Airlines Flight 77 was hijacked and crashed into The Pentagon in Washington DC, killing 184 innocent people.
And United Airlines Flight 93 was also hijacked and most likely headed for another high-profile crowded target to be crashed into. But this flight was different. The hijackers of United 93 had their cowardly plan foiled by the heroic passengers and crew of that flight!
The passengers and crew of that plane called their loved ones on the ground and told them that they understood what had to be done…and then they overtook the terrorists and forced the plane to crash into an empty field rather than another building.
Tragically, 40 innocent people lost their lives from that flight…but if it wasn’t for their selfless actions, the death toll most likely would have been much higher.

Memorial to the passengers of United Airlines Flight 93

Some of the phone calls weren’t disconnected and a telephone operator heard the voice of one of the passengers named Tom Beamer as he led the revolt against the terrorists with rallying cry to his fellow passengers of “Are you ready? OK, let’s roll!

Shortly after the events of 2001 September 11th, the American heavy metal band “L.A. Guns” recorded a song about the heroes of United Flight 93.

The song is titled “OK, Let’s Roll!”.  Here are the lyrics:

United Airlines Flight 93
Left 8:01 from Gate 17
Victims of a war they never knew existed
Hell looked them in the eyes and still they resisted

Lost brave souls, your courage we remember
Sacrificed your lives that September
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

So began the massacre at twenty thousand feet
Red devils lead the charge and pulled the captain from his seat
They watched them cut and slash at anyone left standing
We knew deep in our hearts this plane would not be landing

Never once were they ever in control
Lives were lost, but they never took a soul
We still hear your battle cry
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll
Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

Skies of Pennsylvania became a battle ground
Two hundred miles away, the towers had come down
One last chance to say goodbye, he called her on his phone
Said he knew what must be done, “I am not coming home.”

Are you ready? Okay, let’s roll

–“OK, Let’s Roll” by L.A. Guns

You can listen to it here:


—-
Today is also the six-month anniversary of the 2011 March 11 earthquake and tsunami that devastated the Tohoku area of Japan.

There are still many people there living in evacuation shelters. And, just like the 2001 September 11 attacks, there are many heart-breaking stories of people who lost their loved ones. And there are stories of courage and people helping each other.

Both the events ten years ago in America and six months ago in northern Japan were terrible and shocking.  I hope we never have to see such tragedies ever again.

I Love Rock And Roll

19 Jul

Do you know the song “I Love Rock And Roll“? If you do, in fact, love rock and roll then I’m sure you know this song well. “I Love Rock And Roll” has been covered by many artists since it’s original release 36 years ago (I can’t believe it’s already been that many years!)…but do you know who wrote and recorded it originally? It’s quite likely you guessed it was Joan Jett & The Blackhearts.

But, although her version reached the #1 spot on the U.S. music charts, Joan Jett’s version of the song is a remake. She isn’t the original artist. It was Alan Merrill with his band (at the time) The Arrows who wrote and originally recorded the rock masterpiece “I Love Rock And Roll”.

Alan Merrill in 2011.

Alan Merrill is American and currently lives in his home state of New York…but he has lived in both England and Japan for a number of years…and reached celebrity status in both countries. Mr. Merrill was kind enough to do an excellent and interesting interview with me.

Click here to read his interview with me (and then come back and leave a comment on this post with your opinion of the interview).

My favorite country in the world is Japan.

Alan Merrill

(My interview with Alan Merrill: www3.ocn.ne.jp/~tokyo5/interviews.html#merrill.)

Is it right to cheer?

3 May

It was reported on the news yesterday that the self-credited mastermind of the 2001 September 11 terrorism attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in America, Osama Bin Laden, was killed by the American military.

Without a doubt, anyone responsible for crimes against humanity such as Bin Laden was should be brought to justice.

But I’m not sure I agree that the celebrations and cheering across America that was shown on the TV news yesterday is appropriate.

A crowd in Washington DC cheered the news that Osama Bin Laden was killed in a firefight with the U.S. military.

The Americans crowds that were shown on TV were chanting “USA! USA! USA!” and singing pro-America songs such as the American National Anthem.

It reminded me of the images of the reaction in some Middle Eastern countries about ten years ago after the WTC attacks on America.
There were some anti-American crowds in some countries who were cheering America’s loss.
It was quite offensive to see!

I certainly wouldn’t compare a villain such as Bin Laden to the innocent lives lost on 2001 September 11th…but seeing Americans cheering may fuel “anti-American” feelings in some countries.

JapanNYC

15 Mar

Carnegie Hall in New York City, USA is currently having a festival of Japanese arts and culture that they call “JapanNYC” from 2011 March 14th until 2011 April 9th.

Some may feel that they should have canceled the event after the earthquake struck the Sendai area of Japan on 2011 March 11th…but Carnegie Hall decided to continue with the planned Japan festival in honor of the earthquake victims:

Everyone at Carnegie Hall was deeply saddened to hear the news of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on Friday. While plans for our JapanNYC festival proceed, we offer our thoughts and prayers to those affected. At this incredibly difficult time, we feel it is particularly important to pay tribute to Japan and its people through these festival events.

–Clive Gillinson, Executive and Artistic Director of Carnegie Hall, NYC

If you’re in the New York City area from now and April 9, you should consider checking out some of this event.
I’ve never seen a “Japan festival” in America but this one looks interesting. Among the scheduled events, they will have Taiko Drumming, Noh Theater and concerts led by the famous Japanese conductor Seiji Ozawa.

Here’s a promotion video for the event:

Sadako’s crane part of WTC memorial

11 Sep

Today is 2010 September 11.
Nine years since the 2001 September 11 terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center.

Last year I wrote a post about Sadako Sasaki. She was a young girl in Hiroshima when America dropped the atomic bomb on that city in 1945 and she developed leukemia from the radiation and died at the age of twelve.

The story of the 千羽鶴 (“1000 origami cranes”) that she folded while in the hospital is well-known in Japan.
(Click here to read that post.)

Almost all of the origami cranes that Sadako Sasaki folded were cremated with her when she died, but her family kept a few of the cranes.

Sadako Sasaki’s surviving brother learned of a memorial in New York to the Japanese employees of Fuji Bank‘s New York branch in the World Trade Center who died in the 2001 September 11 attacks.
This memorial included thousands of origami paper cranes…and now one of those cranes is one of those folded by young Sadako Sasaki before she died in 1955.

You Wanted The Best…

8 Oct

KISS was on the American TV show “Late Show With David Letterman” to promote their new album (Click here to read my post about their album).

I haven’t seen the David Letterman show (or any other American TV show) in many years…but thanks to YouTube, I was able to find out about this and watch it!

Here it is: