Monday, April 30, 2018

A Fond Farewell

This week, the Koyasan Betsuin in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles bid farewell to one of it's student priests. In the span of over five years, the Rev. David Jakuhō Weiser went from practitioner to priest. He is returning to be his native Pennsylvania to near his family. For us few "Hakujin" who attend the traditionally Japanese-American Buddhist Temple, he has made us proud. We wish him all the best. 

Friday, April 27, 2018

A Cautious Optimisim: Korean Leaders Meet to End Korean War

Today saw the beginning of a brave new world as the leaders of both North and South Koreas met face to face at the DMZ. Kim Jong Un stepped into South Korea with President Moon Jae-in. This was the first time a North Korean leader stepped foot into the south since 1953. This is truly a historic event. And while Kim calls for the end of the Korean War, we urge caution. We don't see how reunification can happen without major concessions from the North. And then there are the North Korean people itself who worship the Kims like gods. How do you de-programme an entire nation? To suddenly stop this way of life in the north would be as complicated as trying to de-Nazify Germany without WWII. It is not to say it is an impossibility. East and West Germany came together but this will be much harder and far more complicated. Kim Jong Un still maintains a four million man army and despite Kim's optimistic smiles, he is still a man who brutally executed a family member with an anti-aircraft gun and fed another to starving dogs. We do hope his desire to end the Korean War is genuine for we all want peace. We just don't see how Kim will give up power or dismantle the totalitarian state in order to reunify the peninsula. And while it is easy to distrust, it is harder to imagine a scenario where the DMZ is dismantled and Kim strong-arming our ridiculous impulsive leader (who will likely claim that he alone should get credit for achieving peace) to remove American troops from Korea that could become a prelude to invasion. Thus, we urge caution. It's not that we want to piss on the possibility of lasting peace, we worry that this may appear too easy and perhaps be a ruse to fulfill an agenda that could lead to catastrophe. If there is any sincerity in Kim's words, the Koreans will have to take baby steps to build a better world where they shall live as one people, one nation. It is up to the Koreans to decide their fate. We wish them all the best and hope they choose wisely and choose for the side of peace. The world is watching. 

Studio Ghibli Theme Park to become Reality

In a world of chaos comes news that will delight fans of Hayao Miyazaki around the world. This week saw the announcement of the creation of a Studio Ghibli theme park near Nagoya, Japan.  They plan to have rides and forest trails that feature the worlds of My Neighbor Totoro, Kiki's Delivery Service and Howl's Moving Castle. We can't tell you what joy this brings us as parents of small children who love Totoro and Kiki. They say this will be built in Aichi prefecture where the Expo 2005 was held in Nagakute City. Buildings will have a European look as seen in many of Miyazaki's animation classics. And yes, they will have the beloved Kusakabe house featured in My Neighbor Totoro. The park is expected to open as early as 2022. We can hardly wait!

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Playing the Fool or Played by the Fool? PM Abe's Risk By Association With America's Unstable Leader

In a week of chaos made by America's Reality TV Show "President," PM Abe of Japan plays a risky game with Donald Trump at his private resort in Florida. We're not sure exactly what Mr. Abe is thinks he is doing there. On the surface, he's there to discuss the TPP agreement and other concessions. But is he trying to reason with the unreasoable? Or is he using his political savvy to out-con a notorious con-artist? They say there is guilt by association and for PM Abe, he is taking an awful risk that could cost him. With Abe's unpopularity at an all time high is it worth attempting to get close with a scandal ridden president facing possible impeachment who just threw his own Secretary of State under the bus while coddling up to Vladimir Putin? The risk for Abe is if he walks away empty handed, he becomes the fool. This would not look good for Japan nor for our alliance with Japan. By playing into Donald Trump's rule by chaos, PM Abe is seeking to follow Trump's toxic brand mirroring a metting with North Korea's leaders, a move that would give the rogue regime letgitimacy. That's something no American administration has done or should do for it weakens our levearge against the nuclear armed totalitarian regime as well as playing right into Pyongyang's hands. We would like to think based on PM Abe's early body language from his first meeting with Trump that he sees Donald Trump as the fool and not the other way around. But this may not be so. In becoming Trump's golfing buddy, this uncomfortable personal association exposes a weakness that will further hurt Abe politically at home and abroad not to mention his golf game which its well known that Donald often cheats. Many Americans here don't trust Donald Trump, and neither should Shinzo Abe. We sure hope PM Abe knows what he is doing. As we say here in America, the optics look bad. When you lie down with dogs, expect fleas. 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Hidden Gem: Japanese Tea House in Los Angeles

This past Sunday we attended a mini-Sakura Matsuri that was hosted by the Japan Foundation held at Brand Park in the Los Angeles Suburb of Glendale. To our suprise, Brand Park is home to the Shoseian (Whispering Pine) Japanese Tea House & Friendship Garden. According to the City of Glendale's website, this beautiful tea house was built in 1974 through the combined efforts of the sister cities of Glendale and Higashi-Osaka. The name Whispering Pine Tea House was given by the Fifteenth Grand Tea Master of the Urasenke School of Tea in Japan.
We can't emphasize how beautiful this place is but we can guarantee this will not be our only visit. We could only imagine how special it would be to attend an actual Tea Ceremony would be in such a setting. 
The Shoseian Tea House has been designated as a historical landmark and in our humble opinion a hidden gem of Japanese Culture nestled at the foot of the Verdugo Mountains to enjoy.
If you would like to learn more of this unique Japanese Tea House,  please visit their website at

Monday, April 9, 2018

Sign of the Times: Japan Activates First Marine Expeditionary Force Since WWII

In a move that will likely draw protests from Beijing, Pyongyang, and elsewhere, Japan's Ground Self Defense Forces announced the activation of Japan's first Marine Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade. With recent escalations in tensions in both the South China Seas and territorial incursions near the Senkaku Islands, the creation of such a Marine Expeditionary Unit has become necessary to protect Japan's outer islands. Tomohiro Yamamoto, Japan's vice Defense Minister is quoted as saying: “Given the increasingly difficult defense and security situation surrounding Japan, defense of our islands has become a critical mandate.” 
This adhoc MEU force is said to number around 2100 and will see the addition of amphibious assault ships, vehicles, and V-22 Osprey tilt rotor aircraft. The creation of this brigade which is the first of its kind since the end of WWII will enable Japan to project power beyond the home islands. This will of course be seen as a threat to China and North Korea but that's the ever increasingly dangerous world we live in. We at American Mishima hope they never have to see combat, but if they do, we wish them all a safe return under the peace these Marines will fight for.

Saturday, April 7, 2018

Battle Flags Returned

Kyodo News ran a story this last week we thought we would share here. Two battle flags that were taken by American Troops in the Philippines and one battle flag captured by the British in India were returned to the familes of the men whose signitures were found on these flags. It was a custom among Japanese soldiers to write theirnames and messages to loved ones during the war. In many such cases, these flags serve as a reminder of the lives long lost to war. We at American Mishima thank the American and British families who have chosen to return these flags to the surviving relatives so that it may add closure to the Showa Era and provide a lasting peace. 
If you have a Japanese battleflag or capturered war relic that bears the names of Japanese soldiers that you wish to return to the families of the deceased, you can do so through an American non-profit group known as The Obon Society. They will be happy to assist you. To learn more, please visit their link here: Obon Society.