Sunday, July 24, 2016

Obon 2016

Seen here are this year's Hatsubon candles and wooden plaque along with offerings at the Koyasan Temple in Little Tokyo Los Angeles. Among those names is are good friend Mr. Soji Kanogawa.It seemed not so long ago we were a Hatsubon family grieving for the losses of my father and uncle. This year we do have one loss in the family. Albeit distant, this is still family.

Martin Ruiz was a direct grandson of my grandfather Luis Rosas-Sanchez from his marriage to his second wife Raquel who by which had two daughters Maria Luisa and Patricia. Martin who I did not know personally is the son of My aunt Maria Luisa which makes him a direct descendant of my grandfather whose looks he had. Unfortunately, time ran out as his pancreatic cancer ended his life before we had a chance to meet so I could tell him of his grandfather he never knew. As with every Obon, family we have prayed for return and partake in the food and drink offerings as is Japanese custom to feed the "Hungry Ghosts." I pray from my grandparents Luis & Rosablanca as well as my father Luis & Uncle Enrique but also for this cousin I never met so that he too can eat and possibly meet this grandfather. Martin was originally from Mexico City and had been living in New York City where he had been receiving treatment. He is survived by his wife and three children. Such a tragic loss to die so young in his early 30's. We would like to think that he was there today with the rest of the departed Rosas family & friends at the Koyasan Buddhist Temple sitting with his grandfather offering me a quick smile and a wave for the thought of our offerings and prayers. Obon is special in that way even if you are not Japanese or Buddhist for that matter. My grandparents have since seemed more comfortable and in a sense quite possibly my uncle since my father explained how this all works. We wish all our family and friends who have passed on a happy Obon and may they enjoy the food & drink and smile down upon us wherever they may be.
In Gassho.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Obon Passing: U.S. Congressman Mark Takai 1967-2016

U.S. Congressman Mark Takai of Hawaii lost his battle with pancreatic cancer at his home in Honolulu Hawaii. He represented Hawaii's 1st District January 2015 to his death on July 20th 2016. He had served as a Lieutenant Colonel in the United States Army Reserve and served in Kuwait during Operation Iraqi Freedom.On May 19th, 2016 he announced he would not seek re-election having discovery of his pancreatic cancer but vowed to serve out his term. Takai is said to have embodied the Aloha spirit and worked hard to the improve the lives of people. His career included notable efforts to benefit the Asian American, Native Hawaiian, and Pacific Islander community. This also included efforts to reunite Filipino World War II veterans with their loved ones, secure treatment for veterans suffering from service-related radiation exposure, and commemorate the patriotism of Japanese Americans during World War II. He leaves behind a wife and two children. 

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Tokyo Nebuta in Los Angeles

This past Sunday July 17th we went to the Tokyo Nebuta show at The Avalon Theater in Hollywood California. This fun free event bought to Los Angeles was the brainchild of Tech Guru Shinichi Temmo who seeks to spread this festival around the world. We really didn't know too much about this show other than it's origin and popularity in Aomori City Japan. And from what we could see from the preview videos, this looked like this was going to be fun and it was!
Going into this, we knew little about the show's founder or many of the dancers that would be performing. However one local favorite that being LA Taiko Project was set to perform. They brought an electrifying performance that elevated traditional Taiko into a unique innovative style that spans the centuries and carefully crafted 21st Century blend of beats with masterful choreography to become it's own modern equivalent to what the Yoshida Brothers have done for Shamisen. We have seen them several times before and they never disappoint.
These colorful characters seen here are the famous Nebuta Dancers. From this point forward 
the show became interactive as the leader of this group would lead the audience into "Haneto" or what we Hakujin call "The Nebuta Step" which after a couple hours wore this author out! In Haneto, the leader would shout “Rassera Rassera!" Everyone responds with “Rasse Rasse Rasse!” All this while jumping twice in the right foot and twice in the left foot alternately. Sounds like fun right? Just you wait!
This little known free event that had initially had two dozen people (mostly Japanophiles and some Nisei) quickly became a packed house. We met dozens of people wearing summertime Yukata such as the ladies seen here with my wife. With $6.00 Asahi Beer and $1.00 Ramune the place was pumping! From this point on came a strange marriage of Traditional Nebuta Festival dance and a mixture of freestyle, ballet, and hip-hop. And at the conclusion of each act the Haneto came out and each performer along with the Nebuta dancers had everyone jumping “Rassera Rassera! - Rasse Rasse Rasse!” 
This was a lot of fun but these guys were killing me! Next time more Asahi to keep my feet going! We sure hope Tokyo Nebuta comes again to Los Angeles. They do have a Facebook page so look them up! The video you can see us in the opening shots. Keep your eyes out for this event! You'll have fun as well as sore happy feet! “Rassera Rassera! Rasse Rasse Rasse!”

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Heisei Emperor set to Abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne?

Japanese media sources have recently reported that the Heisei Emperor is looking to abdicate the Chrysanthemum Throne in order to pass it to Crown Prince Naruhito while he is still alive. This hasn't been done in over 200 years but the fact is the 82 year old Monarch is getting old. He makes this decision based on his ability to carry out his duties as Emperor. While no specific date has been set, the Imperial Household Agency say the Emperor plans to address the public in which he will discuss his future plans and that for the Japanese Imperial Household. They say his decision has been accepted by both Empress Michiko and the Crown Prince. In our humble opinion, he has been a kind, gentle, uplifting symbol of Japan particularly during times of crisis. While we certainly hate to see Emperor Akihito step down after his long 28 year reign, we understand and accept his reasons for retirement. We at American Mishima wish nothing but the best for the Emperor and Empress Michiko. 

Right Ruling - Wrong Response

Seen here is the PRC's newest Type 025D Destroyer Yinchuan (DD*-175). This advanced vessel said to rival the US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class destroyers was commissioned in the port of Sanya, Hainan Province hours after the PRC soundly rejected the Hague's International ruling against the PRC's claims in the South China Sea. The official statement reads: "With regard to the award rendered on 12 July 2016 by the International Tribunal in the South China Sea arbitration established at the unilateral request of the Republic of the Philippines…the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China solemnly declares that the award is null and void and has no binding force. China neither accepts nor recognizes it." As if things could not be more tense, Beijing further threatens the disputed region with establishing a Air defense Zone to defend its man made island bases built atop coral reefs in international waters. Clearly this is not helping de-escallate growing tensions.
While the International Court has no way to enforce the ruling dismissing China's historical claims to economic zones as it's own sovereign territory consuming 90% of the South China Seas, this does look bad for the PRC. But this has been a crisis of their own making which goes further than annexing a small land locked country as its own province based on an old map. In the end this is all about business and how far will one country will push its neighbors and the International community at large to the brink of war to gain an economic advantage over its competitors. As it stands, fishermen from Vietnam, the Philippines, and Indonesia have clashed with Chinese vessels and there has been bloodshed. 
While the Vietnamese Navy has done little to protect its fishermen, the Philippines have taken the PRC to court and won. Score one for the little guy right? Morally this stands as a victory for the sovereign rights of a small country that's been violated by a larger power but this is far from over. As Beijing plays both victim and aggressor, further rights of navigation passage flights will continue.We hope that someone in Beijing pulls back on this and cooler heads prevail. Nobody wants a war. But you wouldn't know that with the talk coming out of China. Let's hope this doesn't get further out of hand resulting in the loss of life and prosperity.