Archive for the ‘Japan’ Category


November 2, 2013

Enjoy the ride 🙂


June 3, 2012

While reading a book on Bauhaus from the Taschen Basic Architecture series (highly recommended!), I come across a Japanese name – Iwao Yamawaki. Born in 1898, he studied in Dessau in the early 1930s. It makes me think of the journeys he must have made, of possible culture shock (What could have shocked him exactly?), of him trying to learn German (How did he communicate? What foreign languages did he know?). I’d love to read his memoirs, but there doesn’t seem to be anything left – just a handful of unappealing “artistic” photos, somehow primitive and boring, and a book about “Japanese house now” from the 1950s. Someone of course has produced a monograph, claiming that Yamawaki went on to become one of the most important architects of post-war Japan, but I suppose it’s just a pitch, because if he had been one, surely there would be more about him on the Internet.

Need further research anyway. Need to install fonts. Because there were others, apparently: Kikuji Ishimoto, Bunzo Yamaguchi, Chikatada Kurata, Takehiko Mizutani… Exotic (?) guests from an already fascist Japan in the just-about-to-be-fascist Germany, studying at an anti-fascist school that was closed in 1933.

And finally, a sentence in (nomen omen) German: “Der Architekt Iwao Yamawaki, später einer der Protagonisten des Neuen Bauens in Japan, und seine Frau, die Weberin Michiko Yamawaki”.

Seine Frau…

Even with the Internet our lives make up dozens of novels that disappear without a trace as we are staring at our screens…


June 1, 2010

Umurbrogol sounds like the name of a place in Mordor – and in a way it is just such a place. 13,489 people died on it, in it and round it within three months, from September to November 1944. 

Umurbrogol is a mountain in the centre of the Pacific island of Peleliu and with 1,794 Marines killed and 8,010 wounded the battle of Peleliu had highest casualty rate of any battle in the Pacific War. The Japanese used some 500 limestone caves and mine shafts within the mountain to turn it into a true invisible fortress. Although before the D-day the Americans dropped 519 rounds of 410 mm shells, 1,845 rounds of 360 mm shells, 1,793 500-pound bombs and 73,412 .50 caliber bullets onto the tiny island (only six square miles in size), they destroyed nothing but the aircraft on the local airfield, which those of the Marines who survived the landing under constant and unexpected fire had to run across the next day without water and in 46°C heat. But the airfield positions were just the beginning. The ending were the tunnels of Umurbrogol. And in between, the battle for The Point, a coral promontory, where the K Company (3rd Battalion, 1st Marines) was reduced to 18 men, suffering 157 casualties.

The tunnels… It was only the second time napalm was used in the Pacific Theatre.

A Japanese lieutenant, Ei Yamaguchi, held out in the caves in Peleliu with his 33 men until April 22, 1947. The Americans had to sent a Japanese Admiral over to convince the holdouts the war was over. This was the last official surrender of World War II.


February 21, 2010

DolgorsĂĽrengiin Dagvadorj is one of the most successful yokozuna ever, third on the all-time list and first man to win all six honbasho. He is better known under the shikona of AsashĹŤryĹ«, literally “morning blue dragon”, Asa being a regular prefix in his stable.

In July 2007 AsashĹŤryĹ« decided to skip the regional summer tour of TĹŤhoku and HokkaidĹŤ beginning on 3 August because of injury. However, he was then seen on television participating in a soccer match for charity in his homeland of Mongolia. Media storm ensued. The Sumo Association suspended the rikishi for the upcoming September tournament as well as the next one in November, the first time in the sport’s history that an active yokozuna has been suspended from a main tournament. Moreover, his salaries were cut by 30% for the next four months and he was also instructed to restrict his movements to his home, his stable, and the hospital. It was the most severe punishment ever imposed on a yokozuna since the Grand Tournament system was adopted over 80 years ago.

On March 26, 2009, the Tokyo District Court ordered Kodansha to pay the wrestler ÂĄ42.90 million in damages, believed to be the highest award for libel damages against a magazine in Japanese history

Criticised for not upholding the standards of behaviour required of a yokozuna, Asashōryū retired from sumo in February 2010 after allegations that he assaulted a man outside a Tokyo nightclub.

He stated: “I feel heavy responsibility as a yokozuna that I have caused trouble to so many people. I am the only person who can put an end to it all. I think it’s my destiny that I retire like this.”

He was 29.

[adapted from Wiki]


November 21, 2009

Shumei Okawa, the author of “Japan and the Way of the Japanese”, published 1926 and reprinted 46 times by the end of the war, was considered class-A war criminal by the Americans but wasn’t sentenced as the judge, seeing his behavior during the trial (patting ex-PM on his bald head, shouting in German etc.) thought him to be insane. Declared mentally unstable from syphillis, Okawa spent the next two years in a mental hospital, where he finished first Japanese translation of the entire Quran.


November 21, 2009

The “Jewel Voice Broadcast”, which took place on August 15th 1945 and announced the surrender, was the first time the Japanese could hear the voice of their emperor on the radio. Unfortunately, Hirohito used highly formal court language and practically no one understood him. So maybe the participants of the attempted military coup d’etat of 14/15 August needn’t have bothered to try to intercept the recording after all. It was successfully smuggled out of the palace hidden in laundry and the rebels comitted harakiri within palace grounds forty minutes before the announcement was aired.

The recording was soon translated into English by Tadaichi Hirakawa, later known as “Joe” T. Hirakawa or “Uncle Come Come” (1902-1993). He studied drama at the University of Washington and became cult figure after the war as the author of daily radio English conversation classes, “Kamu Kamu Eigo”, broadcast for ten years on NHK.


November 21, 2009

The surrender of Japan and its subsequent occupation is a fascinating chapter in the world’s history. A relatively large country with millions of inhabitants not only surrendered with the enemy miles away from its borders but also let the invaders seize power without a single outbreak of violence. How strange it must have been for the Americans to arrive there – in large quantities and armed to the teeth to be sure, but still not knowing what kind of welcome is awaiting them.

On August the 28th 1945 the American armada guarded by fighters and dive bombers entered Sagami Wan and two days later first marines landed in Yokosuka. On the same day C-54 airtrains appearing at four-minute intervals at the Atsugi Airfield, which had been left undamaged specially for this purpose, brought around 4200 troops from Okinawa and Iwo Jima. 

“Ceremonial completion of the surrender was rounded out on September 3 by the raising of the actual American flag which had happened to be flying over the Capitol in Washington on December 7, 1941, and which had subsequently been raised over Casablanca, over Rome and over Berlin. (…). The surrender was complete”.  [in: Linebarger, Djang, Burks. Far Eastern Governments and Politics. New York 1954. p 448].

By the end of October 7,9 million Japanese soldiers gave up their weapons.

There is still no army in Japan. And the American army is still there.

For detailed description of Love Day and the whole of the period see where NPS stands for… National Park Service.


November 14, 2009
kendo stachura

It's like, hello? Did I miss something?

Wait for me! Wait for me!

[Source: “Logo”, February 2007]



November 12, 2009

I’ve waited for so long, desired him, yearned for him… Finally, I made a decision and now… he’s with me. It was so simple! He’s thirty nine and perfect. I’m in love. I think I’m going to go to bed with him tonight…

And in September – or sooner – we are going to fight 🙂



October 22, 2009

It all started with Super Dollfies. I read about them in some blog about Japan, I suppose, and I was genuinely  surprised at how popular they are. Some of them look really pretty – as far as ball-jointed dolls (or BJDs as they are called) go – but frankly, I prefer the old-fashioned ichimatsu. And I hate collecting things, so I find the idea of collecting stuff not only for yourself but for your doll(s) too slightly disturbing. I don’t like Japanese dolls as such anyway. Teruteru bozu remind me of that cartoon ghost Casper. Daruma seem to come straight from one of those sadistic horror movies. Anesama and hagoita usually… hm… lack style? The only kind I really love are kokeshi dolls – so kawai! Sometimes, when I just want to see something beautiful, I look them up with Google Graphics (or I watch “Solitude standing” video on Youtube).  

Before writing this post I searched my memory for any past experiences with Japanese dolls and it turned out that I actually OWN a couple of Japanese dolls.  One is a shiori, which I keep upright stuck in an metal ikebana pinholder covered with little hanami-like artificial flowers. Then there is a hina ningyo-shaped postcard, which says: “Droga Joanna BÄ™dÄ™ zÄ… TobÄ… tÄ™sknić. Mam nadziejÄ™, ĹĽe siÄ™ kiedyĹ› zobaczymy. Z pozdrowieiniami Aya”. I’ve also come across a large display case with hina ningyo in a… Danish psychiatric ward – and I have a photo to prove it!  Well, at least it wasn’t a Twilight dolfie!