I'll be in Osaka May 23-28 for my youngest son's wedding. While there
will be very little time I would like to take in some of the scenery.
We have a short trip to Hiroshima planned, but are there any not-to-
miss sites?Especially interested in 20th Century military stuff which
I assume is a bit rare in Japan.Also wondering what kind of gift/gifts
to bring for the bride's parents. I remember from having hosted
Japanese exchange students that it is traditional to bring something.
They also have two other children. Gifts for them?I'm particularly
interested in finding=A0 some of the Tokyo Disneyland airliner models
that I have seen (and have a couple), but Iheard that they were only
at Tokyo International. Guess that I'll find out when I am there.Still
looking for a trading partner in Japan.Cheers,Tom"Aim toward the
Enemy." Instruction printed on US rocket Launcher and Claymore mines.
Oh, you've got to see Admiral Togo's battleship, IJN Mikasa...you are
already going to his shrine, and his flagship is the only surviving
pre-dreadnought period battleship in the world.
Steer clear of Yasukuni Shrine. It's the home of the souls of all the
warriors who fell in defense of Japan, and American visitors are about
as warmly greeted as Japanese visitors to the battleship Arizona
memorial in Hawaii.
The Japanese forts of the Shogunate period are considered spectacular
and beautiful, particularly given the fact that they are mainly built of
Attending a "No" theater play is almost a necessity, as it's a glimpse
into the distant past of Japanese theater and its very stylized history.
It's all about subtlety of doing a rigidly proscribed performance of a
character, like a gymnast performing a set series of acrobatics...in a
attempt to do the character exactly as it should be done.
You probably won't understand it, but I doubt most of the Japanese
audience does either.
It gives you bragging rights, like seeing Wagner's "Ring Cycle" at the
Met, and wastes a hell of a lot less of your time.
Same goes for a sumo match, easily the most pure and gentlemanly form of
man-to-man combat that ever (with the possible exception of fencing)
existed, yet very highly competitive.
And if Kirishima is still there, give him a hurrah from me.
Go Japan; go Kirishima!
Japan is noted for many beautiful natural wonders, treasured more due
the fact that wild areas in such a populous island are few and far between.
The two keys to understanding the people and their country are
_restraint_ and _subtlety_; keep your eyes and ears open, your voice
soft, rare, and respectful, and notice the nuances of the behavior of
those around you as to what to say and do and when... a lot of times a
respectful nod and saying nothing will serve you far better than saying
anything... particularly anything about WW II.
Avoid that like the f***ing plague.
Believe me, I know.
You start talking about that...particularly if everyone's had a few
drinks, and you are stumbling through a minefield. Avoid it entirely.
On the other hand, the defeat of Kublai-Khan's attempted invasions and
the Japanese triumph at the Battle Of The Tsushima Straits under Admiral
Togo in 1905 might open a worthwhile route to getting a military
discussion going...if you dare attempt it.
Frankly, I don't think I'd even try it.
Miyamoto Musashi, Japan's greatest swordsman, would be a better choice
for a safe topic of discussion; if you play your cards right on that
one, you might get invited to see Kendo practice and the history of
Japanese sword making, as well as famous historical swords.
(BTW.. if you do run into someone who _has_ a historical or modern-made
top-notch Katana sword, don't ask them to take it all of the way out of
the scabbard when they show it to you... if they want to take it out,
they will. Normally they will just show you a few inches of the blade
under the hand grip so you can admire the quality of the metalwork on
the blade and the type of Hamon line down its edge... don't, DON'T, ask
them to hand it to you, and if they do attempt to hand it to you, bow
and kneel a bit before taking it from them, while resting it on your
upturned and open palms in its scabbard... or, for Real Respect...your
upturned lower upper arms just behind your hands, without grasping its
handle, or attempting to take it out of its scabbard. Pull it slowly in
close so you can examine it in detail, and then, bowing a bit again,
hold it back out to them in the same way you accepted it from them, so
they can take it back. The sword is not merely a weapon; it is a holy
and living object, and it has a soul; treat it the way a rabbi would
treat a Torah, or a priest a communion chalice.)
With luck, your son has indicated your interest in military things to
his bride, and her family will take it from their.
They'll do a far better job at it than you could ever do, so take their
advice and invitations to see things rather than suggesting destinations
If they do want to take you to Yasukuni Shrine (I doubt they will) you
are being offered a very great honor indeed, and you are also walking on
eggshells... as are _they_ for taking you there. Be a fly on the wall if
you don't want trouble. The holiness of that site in the Japanese psyche
makes Arlington National Cemetery look like any old graveyard by comparison.
For God's sake, don't suggest you want to go there to them, or you are
really putting them on the spot, and they'll feel compelled to take you
Best advice is to check with your son and his wife about everything in
detail before suggesting anything.
Particularly with your son, as his wife may be embarrassed to point out
that you are making a faux-pas by suggesting something.
If you suggest going somewhere, and her family says there's some reason
they can't go there - due to weather, car trouble, something the kids
need to do for school, etc. _drop the idea immediately_; what they are
telling you is "no" in a very polite Japanese way, where saying "no"
outright is considered very impolite. If there is a real problem of some
sort, they'll either suggest a specific time when you could go there, or
get around to it at their earliest convenient opportunity without you
having to suggest it again.
Me, I'd just keep my mouth shut the whole time, be very respectful, and
let her family take the lead in where to go and what to do. :-)
The model-building aspect might be very helpful though; model builders
are a brotherhood worldwide - and if you can contact Japanese model
builders who speak English and start discussing methods of putting wear
on aircraft and mud on tanks, I'm pretty sure any ice will melt quickly
indeed, and you might have trouble getting back to your in-laws in a
timely manner, as the Japanese modelers might well start dragging you
over to _their_ places to show their hospitality.
I'll bet shooting the breeze with a bunch of Japanese modelers about the
entire history of Tamiya tank models, or the Otaki 1/48th scale fighter
planes from the 1960s with their rice paper instruction sheets - while
sipping sake or downing Sapporo beers at a bar would be a ball, and
something you'd remember the rest of your life.
Especially when the live squid bar snacks arrived, swimming around in
their little tank.
(No, I'm not kidding - they deliver them live to office buildings for
lunch. The key was squeezing the ink out of them before sending them
out, so they wouldn't suffocate on it as they swam around on the way.
You want some food that will really stick to your ribs, these things
have around three hundred suction cups that they will surely attempt it
with. Failing that, ask about the Curried Sea Cucumbers.) :-D
One thing you might encounter is very detailed models and small-scale
dioramas; as in Japan space for hobbies is always at a premium due the
cost of housing, so you might run into only a few models of large scale
or a larger number smaller ones, but ones that a great deal of time and
effort have been lavished on.
If you go to Hiroshima, go to Kure: there you will find a museum with
a 1:10 scale model of the Yamato along with a host of fantastic 1:200
or so scale warships built in Kure during the Meiji, Taisho and Showa
If you go to Tokyo, then of course as below:
Sorry, but that is rubbish. The Yasukuni shrine, much as one may
disagree with it and its official government status (clothed as a
private religious body until you examine it in detail), welcomes
anyone who wants to pray or donate there---in fact I did that once
about 8 years ago, Shinto ceremony and all. All those men were human
after all, just like the rest of us. But if you are interested in
paraphernalia, don't bother with the shrine, just go to the next-door
Yasukuni museum newly built about 8 years ago, which houses some nice
stuff, like a Zero (or was it a Judy?), Ooka, etc. Of course it is
nationalistic so the English may make you laugh (or cry).
Indeed. If you are heading West from Osaka, stop by the only really
authentic one left, at Himeji. Beautiful example of the light style of
build. Most castles were destroyed either by order of the Meiji
government, or during the Boshin War.
You could also try a Kabuki performance, and in Osaka you have access
to some great Rakugo and Manzai comedy. Also don't forget to visit
Osaka castle, Nijo castle in Kyoto, and the famous great Buddha in
Nara... I spent 9 years in Kansai and after 1 year in Tokyo I wish I
was back there...
Whew, expensive! Heh, if you are up in Tokyo, I could let you see my
Bujutsu teacher, then you will have an idea of what real bujutsu