Friday, May 27, 2016

President Obama Visits Hiroshima

In an event no one ever saw coming, President Obama became the first United States President to visit Hiroshima. It had been a long desire for him to do so and we at American Mishima are thankful that this historic moment has been made. Joined by Japanese PM Shinzo Abe, President Obama made the pilgrimage to Peace Memorial Park and laid a wreath for the the 125,000 people that died there from the Atomic Bomb dropped by the B-29 Enola Gay. This figure included mostly civilian men, women, children, a number of Koreans, and a dozen American POW's. This figure does not include the untold thousands that died later from radiation sickness. 
It is most poignant that for an American President to visit Hiroshima. Not to apologize, but to mourn those lives lost and speak of peace. We are pleased that the president met with three Hibakusha present and later spoke of the peace that was forged from this terrible weapon that unleashed its indescribable cruelty that was later repeated in Nagasaki. Japan and the United States have become the best of friends since those dark days near the end of WWII.

"That is why we come to this place. We stand here, in the middle of this city and force ourselves to imagine the moment the bomb fell. We force ourselves to feel the dread of children confused by what they see. We listen to a silent cry.

We remember all the innocents killed across the arc of that terrible war and the wars that came before and the wars that would follow. Mere words cannot give voice to such suffering, but we have a shared responsibility to look into the eye of history and ask what we must do differently to curb such suffering again.

Someday the voices of the Hibakusha will no longer be with us to bear witness, but the memory of the morning of Aug. 6, 1945, must never fade. That memory allows us to fight complacency. It fuels our moral imagination. It allows us to change. And since that fateful day, we have made choices that give us hope." - President Barrack Obama 2016.

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

一日の画像 - Picture of the Day

Seen here: President Obama visiting the Venerable Mingtsung Shih at Phuoc Hai Temple in Vietnam. Our good friend Mr. Tony Truong had the pleasure of working with the Venerable Mingtsung for a Yoga "Flaming Mouth Service" when he visited the United States years ago. We at American Mishima hope this meeting will have been blessed for the President's continued goodwill tour of Asia.

Friday, May 20, 2016

Reflections: The Human Cost of War 71 Years Later

In this famous photo, a lone Japanese Soldier returns home to Hiroshima at the wars end only to find nothing of the home he left behind. It has been 71 years since the Japanese Surrender in 1945 and generations later, opinions and emotions vary. We often try to stay clear of the issue largely in part because there are some people out there born long after the war who maintain historical grudges. For them, there is nothing anyone can do. We find it pointless to get into how the war started or how it ended. What has happened has happened. It's the human cost that ultimately weighs past the butchers bill cut in gardens of stone. Generations will continue to look back and continue this debate long after we are gone. Those who have fought this war have all but left us now. It's up to the historians and those who care enough to know of this great tragedy, to retell the tales, and teach the lessons of total war so that they never be repeated. And while Japan has emerged from its catastrophic defeat into a modern nation, there are still those who fear the future as being the past. 
It is indeed surreal to see images of my fellow countrymen being shot out of the sky as this unfortunate crew of this B-29 seen in this photo. Surreal and sad as it is for those on the ground. How lucky for America that neither Japan or Nazi Germany had the technology or resources to bomb America's cities into the firestorms that killed so many civilians hiding in their bomb shelters experiencing a terror we shall never know. I think of the words of my dear friend John O'Hara who witnessed his home in Osaka being bombed by American B-29's. His eyes would light up as he recall the sounds of the explosions. He was only a boy but even today in his twilight years he can never forget the sounds of Osaka burning. There are so few people left who can tell you these tales. Only now has more film footage surfaced showing those last desperate battles in the sky over Japan. It is sad and heart wrenching to see both your fellow countrymen die and your tomodachi suffer. They say that is war and the only real winner is who is left. Those who ignore these lessons and sabre rattle are playing a dangerous game. Even now a new Cold War is an incident away from turning hot. Peace is always the best policy but to protect the peace we must always be on guard for the latter. How fortunate are we to live in the Heisei Era where America and Japan are the best of Allies. May we never be at war again.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

President Obama to Visit Hiroshima Memorial

In a historic move, President Obama will become the first sitting American President to visit the Hiroshima Memorial. He is expected to be joined by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the Peace Memorial Park near Ground Zero Hiroshima. This has long been an expressed  personal desire on the part of President Barack Obama to visit the site memorializing the over 125,000 people who died there during the atomic attack on the city August 6th, 1945. This visit of course is not without it's controversy. Racist detractors here at home have already condemned the unprecedented visit as some "apology tour." The White House has made it crystal clear that this in no way represents an apology for the then deemed essential bombing that shortened the war. Some people will say what they will in an effort to discredit the first Black American President and others will rehash old hatreds that go back to the outbreak of WWII. From our perspective, we see this as pointless as re-fighting a war that we had long won some 70 years ago. Then again we live in a country where these same people riot and burns our own cities when they win sports championships which makes absolutely no sense at all. Go figure.
There will be no doubt there will be many more strong reactions to come (predictably negative) from those on the right. Be it politically motivated or by those who can not bury ancient rancor or hostility for a people they neither know, understand, or feel anything for much less want to. For the rest of us, it is better to consider the of the horrors of nuclear war and better ways to prevent future use of such destructive weapons. It is through such gestures of enduring peace that the memory of those lost by this horrific tragedy of war never be forgotten nor such horrors repeated. To date no U.S. President has visited Hiroshima and until recently had only been visited by the last two U.S. Ambassadors and Secretary of State John Kerry as seen in the above photo. 
It is honorable to pay respects to the dead particularly for these mostly civilian non-combatants of Hiroshima who suffered as the result of wars consequences that were far beyond their control. We have been fortunate enough to befriend a few living Hibakusha that are still alive to tell the tale of what it was like to experience a hell on earth that we shall hopefully never know. I guess to say that there is a stark contrast between Japanese and American people on how they view the bombing. For some some Americans, they can not get past the attack on the part of Japan on Pearl Harbor. For those who actually survived the bombing of Hiroshima & Nagasaki, they wish only peace in the world and bear no grudges against America. People can learn a thing or two from these few living survivors. We get it, they get it, the President gets it, and hopefully some of you will also get it. Our Hibakusha were merely school children when they watched their families die both from the initial blast and from the following suffering from radiation sickness. They will gladly share you their tales and their scars in hope that it brings peace. They know what the President's visit is about. In fact there has been a letter campaign to bring President Obama to Hiroshima which has now borne fruit. But for those who need further reassurance, White House spokesman Ben Rhodes is quoted as saying: "He (President Obama) will not revisit the decision to use the atomic bomb at the end of World War II. Instead, he will offer a forward-looking vision focused on our shared future." We at American Mishima applaud President Obama for his efforts. May there never be more future Hibakusha and no more Hiroshimas. Peace.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

Hasegawa Shoutai 長谷川小隊 War Reenactors

Seen here are the members of a local War Reenactor group known as the Hasegawa Shoutai. Founded in 2014, they are a Southern California based research and reenactment group that portrays the Imperial Japanese Army in air soft and blank fire survival games. We were fortunate to run into these guys at the recent Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino California and they were very pleasant to talk to. 
Seen here is Waye Hong smiling for our camera. It's interesting to note that this group led by Alex Chang who goes by Hasegawa Hajime includes members who are not Japanese. In fact they even boast one Caucasian member seen on the right in this photo of us taking their photos:
We have to really give these guys credit for their attention to detail and their love of paying tribute to the men who served the Empire of Japan. While staying clear of politics of the war, this group does serve its purpose of giving people here in America an opportunity to see, listen to, and observe what the former Imperial Japanese Army of Japan's soldiers gear and how they looked up close.To have found such a group outside of Japan is really a rare thing and for war historians a living reference to how such men operated in the field. 

We at American Mishima hope the Hasegawa Shoutai will continue their living history research and further wish them great success. Hopefully one day we can use them in one of our movies.

かんばって ください!
To learn more of the Hasegawa Shoutai Please visit their facebook page:

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Oldest Japanese Zero Ace Passes Away

With sadness, we regret that inform you that Mr. Kaname Harada the world's oldest Japanese Naval Fighter Ace has passed away at the age of 99. He is best known in the west through his interviews with author Dan King who chronicled his wartime experiences in his book The Last Zero Fighter  for whom King had named the book in his honor. 
During WWII, Lt.J.G.(Lieutenant Junior Grade) Harada participated in the attack on Pearl Harbor, Wake Island, the Battle of Midway, Guadalcanal and many others. He is credited with 9 Kills and 10 shared aerial victories. 
After the war, he founded an award winning pre-school in Nagano. In more recent times he had been an outspoken critic of the recent military buildup by the government of Shinzo Abe. But people who knew him best like Dan King would like us to remember Mr. Harada as a kind and gentle man whose wisdom was not lost on those who would listen to his tales of his tragic generation. Like many men who have seen the horrors of war, Harada suffered from PTSD and would speak of his nightmares. One could only imagine what survivors guilt he must have endured after the wars end. And like my father's Vietnam Generation, the surviving servicemen were blamed by the very people they fought to protect for the war itself. What indignity!
We are fortunate that Dan King (seen in the above photo with Harada) was able to tell his story to dispel such myths of Japanese Servicemen chanting nationalistic slogans in their final moments were not true. More to the contrary their last words were often for their wives and mothers like anyone else at death's door. Harada had long painfully carried the memory of the dead. Now he has left this earth to rejoin his Squadron in heaven. May he find the peace his generation was tragically denied. And further that his story, spirit, and wish for lasting peace and harmony live on for generations to come!
さよなら はらださん! さよなら!

To read more about Mr. Harada, please read Dan King's book:
The Last Zero Fighter 

Monday, May 2, 2016

Two Zeros Take Flight

It is such a rare thing for WWII Aviation buffs to see one Japanese A6M Reisen Zero Fighter particularly one in flying condition, but entirely another to see two Zeros flying together! This last weekend at the Planes of Fame Air Show in Chino California saw this rare pairing of two of the world's five known flyable Zero's take to the skies to dazzle both war historians and aviation fans alike.
The Zero seen here tail number 61-120 is owned by the Planes of Fame Museum. According to her history, she was originally built by Nakajima in May 1943 and was deployed to deployed to Iwo Jima before being redeployed to Saipan where she was captured intact. After the war she was flown by many test pilots including famed aviator Charles Lindbergh and was destined for the scrap heap until Ed Maloney bought it in 1951 for his Air Museum in Claremont California. 
Still retaining its original Sakae engine, Zero 61-120 has the most original parts of the world's few remaining flyable Zero fighters. Seen here with the Commemorative Air Force's (CAF) Zero Tail number X-133, the two planes took to the skies and demonstrated Jiro Hirokoshi's  ideal air frame and performance that illustrated Japan's most profound wartime achievements in aviation technology. 
Despite it's tragic history, the A6M Zero symbolized Japan's resolve during WWII particularly late in the war when such planes were piloted by young cadets who made up the Special Attack Squadrons (Hotaru - Firefly) Kamikaze Squadrons. It is sad to imagine how so man young men in the prime of their lives climbed into these planes from their bases in Kagoshima to fight a futile effort that did neither bought Japan more time to develop jet fighters or win the war. 
All tragic history aside, it was something to see the look in the eyes of our friend and Buddhist Priest Reverend Ryuzen Hayashi who said his Grandfather flew the Zero during the war. You could see a sense of both cultural and national pride that his country (while tragically misguided into war) developed such a beautiful airplane. It was something unique to see. For us, the Zero will remain our aesthetic favorite for it's beautiful air frame design and a joy to watch as she took to the air.
We hope these planes will continue to be cared for so they can thrill future generations to come.