Sunday, March 29, 2015

Honoring Japanese Americans at JACCC's Vietnam Memorial

Seen here on the 50th anniversary of the US Marine Expeditionary Force Landing at Da Nang Republic of Vietnam, is the newly completed Veterans Memorial at the JACCC Plaza honoring those American of Japanese Ancestry whose lives were lost in the Vietnam War. 
Most notable name on this memorial is that of Jimmy Nakayama who was killed by friendly fire during the Battle of the Ia Drang November 1965. His story and tragic death is featured in the film Once We Were Soldiers and Young by Retired General Hal Moore & Former UPI Reporter Joseph Galloway. We won't show you the scene here for it is as horrific as it is sad. We at American Mishima honor these brave men with both a military salute and a respectful bow. Like the Vietnam saying goes: All Gave Some - Some Gave All. Rest in Peace.

If you wish to see the clip from Once We Were Soldiers, here is the link: Jimmy Nakayama Scene

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Japan's New Izumo Carrier Gets Commissioned

After lengthy sea trials, the JMSDF commissioned it's newest class of "Helicopter Destroyer" carrier DDH-181 Izumo in a formal ceremony atop her decks on March 25th, 2015. The Izumo is one of two scheduled ships of her size and class to be built for the Japanese Maritime Self Defense Force. The Izumo is the exact size of the WWII IJN Carrier Shokaku. What separates the Izumo from other aircraft carriers is the absence of a steam catapult or ski-lift. However this does not stop the Izumo from carrying STOVL (Short Take Off Vertical Landing) aircraft such as the proposed F-35B variant of the F-35 II Lightening. 
All fixed wing aircraft debates aside, the Izumo will carry up to 25 aircraft. She is planned to carry up to 9 V-22 Ospreys, 7 ASW helicopters, and 2 SAR helicopters. The Izumo comes fully loaded with an electronic suite, antisubmarine gear, 2 phalanx guns, and 2 SeaRam Close in weapon systems making her a formidable weapons platform for the 21st Century. 
So now that you got your commission, what are you going to do next? Well, for the Izumo it's six months of training out of her home port at Yokosuka than off to her first patrol doing surveillance. While the Izumo may appear small next to the US Navy's Nimitz Carriers, she carries enough firepower and equipment to provide a variety of missions from humanitarian to peacekeeping. While the debate will continue on the part of PM Shinzo Abe as to the need to scrap Article 9's provisions limiting Japan's defense forces, we at American Mishima hope to see Japan one day have a fixed wing aircraft carrier of her own to help provide more security in the region and continue to play an ample role in our continued military alliance. Until that time we wish the Captain and the crew of the Izumo a big Ganbarre and may she keep Japan safe.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

New Video from the Tsubaki Grand Shrine

Tsubaki Grand Shrine - Setsubun 2015 from Alex Williams on Vimeo.
For those of you who have never attended a Shinto Ceremony especially in this country, you will find this video taken this last Setsubun will give you a sense of how ceremonies take place at the Tsubaki Grand Shrine of America located in Granite Falls just one hour's drive north of Seattle. We haven't been able to go up there in the last three years but we at American Mishima highly recommend visiting. Please Enjoy!

To learn more please visit: Tsubaki Grand Shrine

Saturday, March 14, 2015

American Mishima Looks at The Eternal Zero

In an era where many new big budget war films have been produced in Japan, none other has hit home so personally than Japan's latest entry えいえん の ゼロ - THE ETERNAL ZERO. Over the last ten years we have seen and reviewed such notable films as Otoko Tachi no Yamato, Ore Kimi, Oba - The Last Samurai, and the Isoroku Yamamoto movie The Admiral. Critics have long claimed these films are revisionist and lack responsibility for Japan's wartime atrocities. I could not disagree more. Japan's war while marred with notable war crimes such as the Rape of Nanking, Bataan Death March and so forth often overshadows the stories of bravery and unheard stories of survival against the overwhelming might of the United States. As often said, there are heroes and villains found on every side in every war. Japan's fighting men of that era were no exception and we will make no apologies for people we can not speak for. Thus we leave this to director Takashi Yamazaki to offer us a glimpse into the life Japan's Naval aviators in his new big budget film THE ETERNAL ZERO.
As many of our readers may or may not know, this author's father had passed away from the effects of Agent Orange he was exposed to during his tour in Vietnam. Paralleling our own personal experience of seeking out the truth as to what happened during the war, we find our young protagonist Kentaro Saeki (played by Haruma  Miura) embarking on a journey for the truth. This all comes about after the funeral of his grandmother Matsuno (played by Mao Inoue - from Oba-The Last Samurai) when it is revealed that his grieving grandfather Kenichiro (played by Isao Natsuyagi) was not his real grandfather this whole time. To Kentaro's shock, he and his sister Keiko Saeki (played by Kazue Fukishi) discover their Oba-chan Matsuno was married before to another man named Kyuzo Miyabe (played by Junichi Okada) who volunteered to join the Kamikaze. Knowing nothing of their real grandfather, the two Saeki siblings seek out across the countryside to interview former Zero pilots to learn what kind of man their grandfather Miyabe was and why he joined the Kamikaze.
To Kentaro's shock, he is either turned away or met with utter contempt for Miyabe who was accused of being a coward who would fly away from every battle. This was not what Kentaro expected to hear and it troubles him even more to understand that if Miyabe was such a coward, how could he have volunteered for a suicide mission? The answers would come when he meets former Zero Pilot Isaki who speaks from his hospital bed as he battles terminal cancer. Isaki (played by Isao Hashizume) dismisses the notion of cowardice and reveals Miyabe's true character noting an incident at Rabaul that earned Isaki's respect.
Well after the attack on Pearl Harbor and the disaster at Midway, Miyabe was assigned to be the flight leader at Rabaul. When tasked to go on a revenge mission over Guadalcanal,Miyabe concludes that the distance is too far and would leave them only less than ten minutes flying time over the target. For this reason, Miyabe objects to the mission and is punched out by his superior officer in front of all the men. Having no choice, Miyabe leads his squadron on the futile mission. 
Upon the return from Guadalcanal, one of Miyabe's pilots is critically wounded and low on fuel. With Rabaul within sight, the wounded pilot's engine sputters out forcing him to ditch in the sea. Miyabe could do nothing but circle around before he too was out of fuel and forced to land. The Air Sea Rescue planes could not find the downed pilot. They report to Miyabe a scene of sharks circling a pool of blood in the pilots last known position. To the squadron's shock, the downed pilot was declared a disgrace and a coward by the commanding officer. Miyabe verbally defends his pilot's courage and reputation leading to Miyabe being beaten to a pulp in front of his own squadron by his commander for defending his pilot's legacy. For Isaki, Miyabe was no coward. He had learned of Miyabe's wife and newborn child that was his inspiration to live. This of course countermanded the mindset of the Japanese Military of the time where their mandate was to die for the Emperor with no hope of ever returning home. As anyone today knows, this is no way to fight a war but this is what Miyabe was faced with. Isaki decides from that moment that he would do everything in his power to protect Miyabe. Weeks later, he would get his chance. 
In an air battle over the Solomon Islands, Miyabe's squadron is jumped by American fighter planes. Miyabe finds himself in trouble with a deadly P-51 Mustang on his tail firing 50 caliber rounds at him. Miyabe's piloting skills keeps him in the air but as the P-51 lines up for the kill, young Isaki dived in a rams the American plane sparing Miyabe's life. This act of insanity nearly kills Isaki. But it also demonstrates an act of loyalty not lost on Miyabe. As Isaki is sent home to recover from his injuries, Miyabe never forgets his sacrifice.
As the war becomes more desperate for Japan, the Kamikaze are formed. Miyabe is sent home to train the next batch of pilots. Unbeknownst to most of them, they will be ordered to go on suicide missions. This news sends Miyabe in complete anguish over his young pilots who in his best efforts tries to protect by issuing failing grades to his best students who are eager to join the fight to save Japan from defeat. Many of his students do not understand what Miyabe's intentions are and accuse him of cowardice. 
Isaki who is then reunited with his former squadron leader finds Miyabe a broken man who mourns for his young pilots. It is here that Miyabe meets another young pilot to whom he will entrust his will to live on for Japan's future. As more of Miyabe's pilots are sent to their deaths on Kamikaze missions, Miyabe himself is ordered to lead the protective fighters who are assigned to provide fighter cover so the Kamikaze can reach the American Carriers. At the last minute, Miyabe asks to trade planes with a young Kamikaze pilot named Kenichiro. Shortly after the planes take off, Kenichiro's plane develops engine trouble with oil spattering the canopy thus preventing the young pilot from carrying out his mission. He quickly realizes that Miyabe had done this on purpose to spare his young students life. 
In the climax of the film, Miyabe does the unthinkable and flies through a hail of lead to attack an American Aircraft Carrier. Out of his many planes, Miyabe is the only plane that day who will tragically get through. Meanwhile back at base, Kenichiro discovers a note left behind along with a photo of his wife and child reading "That if you survive the war please take care of my wife and child." It is through this process that Kentaro discovers the truth. The man who was told was his grandfather was the same Kenichiro whom Miyabe sacrificed his life to protect so he could fulfill a promise to his wife Matsuno to return to her in any form even if he is reincarnated to care for her and their child. I could tell you more but the film just gets emotionally heavier. 
Having learned the truth from their adoptive grandfather, Kentaro returns to interview the Zero pilots to discover their true feelings about Miyabe they unwilling to earlier reveal with many of them acknowledging that they owe their lives to Miyabe. What he learns will change his perception of the war and that of his family. By films end, Kentaro is transformed when he comes face to face with his real grandfather as he makes one final flyby in his A6M Zero on his way to his final mission. All we can say is that we were emotionally blown away by this scene. 
As we stated in the beginning of this review. we draw personal parallels to Kentaro's story as we have sought to understand our own family story that took place in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. It is through the recollections of those veterans who survived these wars that the human element so often removed from history books is found. This film contains many spectacular flying sequences and CGI effects so well done, you almost would think such scenes were done with real carriers and warplanes. Much like The Admiral, we are shown the Attack on Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Midway from a different perspective. The two films compliment each other as they both tell the stories of Imperial Japan's Naval Aviators. Where we go from here is to the stories of the Kamikaze. Where Ore Kimi captured the mental anguish of the veteran pilots assigned to such suicide missions, The ETERNAL ZERO takes this one step further and confronts the horribly incorrect modern day notion that Kamikaze and modern day suicide bombers are the same. They are not. If you read Dan King's book The Last Zero Fighter, you will discover such comparisons by both Americans and today's Japanese youth are complete ばか (bullshit)! They were Japan's best and brightest tasked to do a horrible thing that many knew could stop Japan's defeat. It's an impossible thing to imagine, but the men of that generation endured it. A trip to the Chiran Kamikaze Museum will make you about it.
We at American Mishima hope that you see this film and walk away with the understand of what Japanese pilots faced and what hardship bestowed upon them in the days and months following Japan's catastrophic defeat in their ill fated war against America in the Pacific. We don't see this as "Revisionist" nor do we see this as a film absent of Japan's fault for starting the war. Miyabe openly considers Pearl Harbor a failure for Japan that will guarantee their defeat. Perhaps, there were men like Miyabe who thought on modern terms that were unpopular and seen as criminally defeatist at the time. It is entirely possible. While panned back in Japan as a "Pack of Lies," this fictional work depicts the war as a tragedy. It does not by any means glorify war. Of course, there will be those who don't get it and some who do most notably current Japan PM Shinzo Abe and Yoko Ono who both expressed how they were emotionally moved. We say to you, see it for yourself and be at peace.

Friday, March 6, 2015

New American Mishima Book Release!

This week, we are proud to announce the release of our 5th book and first entry into the the Science Fiction Genre by American Mishima author Louis Edward Rosas titled: ISHIMARU.The plot goes as follows:

Millions of miles from the nearest human outpost, the gold laden Deep Space Merchant Vessel Fortin has been high jacked of her cargo in an act of Space Piracy on her return flight back to Earth. After narrowly escaping to the surface of EROS 3117, Commercial Flight Engineer Michael Connors has found himself marooned and in dire need of medical attention in a place where human life cannot exist. With hours remaining on his dwindling oxygen supply, he must face his fears in the alien unknown for the fight of his life. Enter the Ishimaru, a fabled ghost ship of the past where one cannot distinguish from reality or an oxygen starved fantasy. It is here that one man will fight for survival all alone on a hostile planetoid far from home.  

Product Details

  • Paperback: 122 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (March 1, 2015)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1508424683
  • ISBN-13: 978-1508424680
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.3 x 9 inches 
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces
Available on Paperback and Kindle Versions.
To order your copy, please click on the following link:

Another Encouter with the A6M-Zero Fighter

This past week, we ventured north to Camarillo to visit the Commemorative Air Force's Southern California Wing's Military Warplane Museum located at the Camarillo Airport in Camarillo California. We had photographed this exact Zero before at the Western Museum of Flight but we can never get enough of this magnificent warplane. Built in 1943, this A6M Zero is the world's only flying Zero with its original engine.
Like any machine, this baby does leak oil now and then and undergoes routine maintenance to keep her flying. Considering she is 72 years old, she's in pretty good shape.
The A6M was the principal Naval Fighter for the Japanese Imperial Navy. Designed by Mitsubishi engineer Jiro Horikoshi, this remains one of the most beautifully designed planes of the Second World War.
If you would like to see this plane up close or find out more information on her, please visit:

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Meet Retired Captain William Albracht: Former Green Beret & Author

This past weekend, we had the distinct honor and privilege of meeting former U.S. Army Green Beret Captain William Albracht, the commanding officer of Firebase Kate in the Central Highlands of Vietnam. Captain Albracht's book Abandoned in Hell - The Fight for Vietnam's Firebase Kate is the true story of a small band of 28 American Soldiers and 150 Montagnards who were left to hold off an assault on a small hilltop firebase against 3000 North Vietnamese & Viet Cong Forces! Sounds incredible? It is!
Mr. Albracht  seen here together with co-author and former U.S. Army Captain Marvin Wolf who also served in Vietnam with the 1st Air Cavalry (1965-1966 - the same time and place my father served) conducted a book signing in Pasadena. Mr. Wolf is no stranger to book signings as he has many books of his own he has authored. For Mr. Albracht, he was quite comfortable presenting his book and happy to be out of the Illinois winter weather here in Southern California. The event drew a small welcome crowd at Vroman's Bookstore which also included a short reading followed by a Q&A session. It was truly and honor to hear these gentlemen speak. In an age full of fake heroes, men like these are the real deal.
We had a great time meeting these gentlemen warriors. We at American Mishima hope you will take the time to learn more about Mr. Albracht's book and also wish to see this harrowing true story be made into a major motion picture. You just can't make stuff like this up. But don't take my word for it. Read the book! You'll be glad you did!

To get your hard cover copy of Abandoned In Hell - The Fight for Vietnam's Firebase Kate by William Albracht & Marvin Wolf,
Please visit their link at:

Abandoned in Hell: The Fight For Vietnam's Firebase Kate 

To see other books by author Marvin Wolf, please visit:
Marvin Wolf

Iran's Navy Blows Up Fake Carrier

In what can be best surmised as a publicity stunt for the home audience, the Iranian Navy staged a "Military" exercise to prove they can blow up a U.S. Navy Carrier. Naval observers from around the world have described Iran's full scale mockup of what they claim to be the USS Nimitz as nothing more than a cheap B-Movie prop that's bound to titillate at most 13 year old boys and those hard line Mullahs who really think the Iran's Revolutionary Guard is up to the task of defeating the most powerful navy in the world with little more than speed boats armed with RPG's. Sounds silly? Sure! In the even they might be serious, let us introduce a reality check. They could send 100 speed boats and we can introduce their "Swarm" of high speed boats to our little friend we like to call Mr. Phalanx.
Yes, the Phalanx is a sea borne version of what the A-10 Thunderbolt does in the air but is standard compliment for all US Naval Warships. This weapon system can shred apart a missile miles out at sea. No one in their right mind would want to go toe to toe against one of these automated terrors. Oh hell no! For Iran's little excuse for a navy, it would almost take the fun out of martyrdom. Anyone who knows anything about Carrier task forces can tell you that our carriers don't sail alone. Nobody's does. We have other ships to handle those kind of threats but if you are dealing with missiles or by some odd miracle one small high speed boat actually gets through, then I once again will defer to our good friend Mr. Phalanx. 
Sure, they can dream all they want and we can laugh at Iran's oversimplified naval strategies. For all we know this was their answer to Argo - the movie about a fake movie. Maybe this is a movie about a fake navy? Who knows? Maybe they got an Iranian Chuck Norris to star in this silly production. They would have to be out of their minds if think they could actually destroy one of our carriers. So unless Iran's puny naval forces want to play games with the US Navy, they best learn to swim because they are going to get wet down in Davy Jones Locker. Nice try Iran but no cous-cous!