Friday, April 25, 2014

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

President Obama dedicate Ema at Meiji Shrine.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Picture of the Day: Ritual Essance

As part of an ongoing tradition dating back to the Age of Myths, Emperor Akihito is seen here in court ceremony and ritual harvest festival 2014. Ritual is as important as in times past. They say as the Emperor prays for peace and rich harvests, the essence of the Emperor is ritual. Such rituals are the spirit of Japan.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

First Excerpt from My Dad's War in Vietnam

On my dad’s way to Vietnam that summer of 1965, the ships carrying the men of the 1st Air Cavalry Division namely my dad’s D Company 15th Transportation Corps arrived in Hawaii for a brief stopover. And like many of the young men whose first time in Hawaii was to go out and see the sights, my father visited Waikiki Beach to take the obligatory photograph with the iconic Diamond Head in the background. What happened next was rather unexpected. You see being from Mexico City, it was not so common to run into people outside of Mexico to be speaking Mexico City Spanish much less in of all places Waikiki Beach. But low and behold the familiar dialect my father had known since youth beckoned him to approach the two older sunbathing ladies conversing in the tropical sun to ask them where they were from. They instantly recognized my father’s Spanish as being from Mexico City and rejoiced to have met a fellow countryman so far from home. They asked him what he was doing there in which my father revealed he was on his way to the jungles Vietnam. The idea of seeing a young man on his way to war must have struck a chord with them as they revealed they had just visited the Vatican in Rome. They presented my father with a small medallion they said was blessed by Pope Paul VI and asked that he wear it so that he would come home alive. My father true to his Catholic faith wore this medallion and it is still with us today.  

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

History's Unexpected Find: Japan's Sole Titantic Survivor

When people think of the century ago tragedy of the RMS Titanic, one conjures up the images of the wives and children of aristocrats rowing away in half empty lifeboats while the poor Irish passengers from steerage cling to the ships stern for some slim chance of survival in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic. While it was known there were other European peoples on board the ship, what many people do not know is that there was a sole Japanese man aboard the ill fated ocean liner. More astonishing, he survived!

His name was Masabumi Hosono. As history records Hosono was a 42 year old man who worked for the Ministry of Transport who two years earlier had been sent to out then Imperial Russia to study their railway system. His journey took him from Russia to London to his passage aboard the fabled doomed liner as a Second Class Passenger. When he was awoken by a cabin steward to alert Hosono that lifeboats were already being launched, the steward assumed he was a Third Class passenger. Hosono made past all the obstruction to the boat deck where he made note of the careless firing of flares which he described as being ceaseless, hideous, and terrifying. The desperate scene aboard the boat deck had left him to contemplate his fate and the thoughts of never seeing his wife of children again when suddenly an opportunity for survival opened up.

As Lifetboat No.10 was lowered someone shouted "Room for two more!" Hosono observed a man jumping into the boat inspiring him to take a leap of fate that would save his life. Of course he would still have to endure the extraordinary sounds of explosions of the ship breaking apart and the screams and cries of those who would die with the ship. By his own account he recalled: "After the ship sank there came back again frightful shrills and cries of those drowning in the water. Our lifeboat too was filled with sobbing, weeping children and women worried about the safety of their husbands and fathers. And I, too, was as much depressed and miserable as they were, not knowing what would become of myself in the long run."
While such an account of survival such as Hosono's would have been found to be remarkable in the West, he was ostracized and subjected to Mura-Hachibu as well as being heavily condemned as a coward by the Japanese Press for "Betraying the Samurai Spirit and not going down with the ship." He had been described as a stowaway by one survivor and subject to racial prejudice in the inquiry that followed the disaster where one crew member accused Hosono of disguising himself as a woman to escape aboard Lifeboat No.10, an accusation that was false yet played heavily in the Japanese Press of that time. Hosono would lose his job but soon re-employed by the ministry because he was too valuable and would continue to work for it until his death in 1939. However this did not stop Japanese textbooks from using him as an example of how to be dishonorable.  Hosono would die in obscurity that same year of 1939. His family would never speak of it for it had become a source of family shame until the 1990's. After James Cameron's Titanic was released, two private letters detailing Hosono's accounts were made public which as declared by Hosono's grandson Haruomi Hosono restored the Hosono family honor.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Los Angeles Koyasan Buddhist Temple members make Hanamatsuri sweet tea offering to mark the Buddha's birthday.