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Japan Days

My Days in Japan

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Welcome to Japan-Days.info

On this web site, I will share with you some stories and pictures from the time when I lived in Japan as a member of the United States Air Force, and from various visits that my wife, Ritsuko, and I have made there since my departure from the military in 1978. I will add content to the site periodically in the "Articles" section, so please visit often. I hope that you enjoy the site.

News Feeds

Current news feed source:
The Diplomat

The Diplomat
The Diplomat is a current-affairs magazine for the Asia-Pacific, with news and analysis on politics, security, business, technology and life across the region.

Between Continuity and Change: The Rapidly Changing Security Environment in Southeast Asia (Podcasts)
Sat, 20 Jul 2019 16:48:39 +0000

Luke Hunt speaks to Greg Barton about the subregion’s changing security environment.
The Fight to Save Indonesia’s Threatened Indigenous Languages (ASEAN Beat)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 18:33:13 +0000

Members of the Mentawai community are fighting to keep their language alive.
Are Russia and the US Finally on the Same Page in Afghanistan? (Flashpoints)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 17:39:48 +0000

Not so fast, substantive cooperation between the two on ending the war remains elusive.
How South Korea’s New Offset Rules Can Strengthen Defense Cooperation With the US (The Koreas)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 15:10:59 +0000

The introduction of an offset banking system will encourage more collaboration between U.S. and Korean defense contractors.
Why Hasn’t the ASEAN Economic Community Benefited From the US-China Trade War? (Pacific Money)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:38:09 +0000

The AEC has missed a golden opportunity to accelerate its stated ambitions.
America’s Obsession With Chinese Spying Is Hurting Innocent People (The Debate)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:37:41 +0000

Has the U.S. government decided that Chinese Americans can never truly be Americans?
The Trouble With Cambodia’s Health System (ASEAN Beat)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:20:04 +0000

The poor state of the country’s healthcare system remains a major issue.
Landmark Court Ruling Grants Compensation for Families of Japan’s Former Leprosy Sufferers (Tokyo Report)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:15:19 +0000

Families hail ruling as a win in the fight against discrimination 20 years after the government abolished the leprosy segregation policy.
Imran Khan Goes to Washington: What’s on the Agenda for US-Pakistan Security Relations? (Asia Defense)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:11:23 +0000

A closer look at some of the security-related agenda items for the upcoming development and how they could impact bilateral ties.
New EU-Vietnam Economic Deal: Who Wins and Who Loses? (ASEAN Beat)
Fri, 19 Jul 2019 14:09:26 +0000

The deal reveals Hanoi’s diplomatic acumen at negotiating past tensions relative to some of the other key Asian states in a similar environment.

Travel to Japan

"The dumbing down of America is most evident in the slow decay of substantive content in the enormously influential media, the 30 second sound bytes (now down to 10 seconds or less), lowest common denominator programming, credulous presentations on pseudo-science and superstition, but especially a kind of celebration of ignorance." -- Carl Sagan, from "The Demon Haunted World" 1996

And now, 20 years later, here it is: America is sufficiently dumbed down to have been conned into electing a science denying, self aggrandizing, egotistical pitch man as its President. His actions and outbursts have been cause for great concern at a critical time when our President must manage a relationship with an equally if not more ego-maniacal ruler of an adversarial, nuclear equipped nation. Their escalating sabre rattling, resembling some sort of dumbass contest of who can be the most menacing bully, continually puts us ever closer to the precipice of nuclear war of which South Korea and Japan are likely to be the battleground upon which the greatest impact will be dealt.

Another Journey Begins

We fear for the safety of family in Japan, and thoughts of the reality and portent of this ever intensifying conflict have weighed heavily on our minds as the ecalating tension has coincided with the rapidly approaching departure date for a trip that we have been planning for the past six months. Our trepidation, however, has not stopped us from proceeding.

Now, the day of departure for our 2017 trip to Japan has finally arrived. In the early morning hours of April 20, 2017, I sit in a dimly lit corner of our room in the O'Hare Hilton, reflecting upon the hectic events of the past few days, and about our expectations and hopes about our impending journey, while trying to suppress our concern over current world events.

We look forward to seeing Ritsuko's family, and to visiting some places where we haven't been before. With great excitement, we look forward to once again experiencing the sights, sounds, and the wonderful food of this beautiful and fascinating country.

And I hope that somehow, in order to mitigate the madness that drives nationalist ferver and the illogical quest to destroy, that calmer, more reasonable minds and logic will prevail, and that the impending crisis will be averted.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: July 31, 2018

Japan Culture

Post Date: July 22, 2017

A few years ago, Yuko Suzuhana, a beautiful and talented young graduate of Tokyo College of Music, trained in the classic art of Japanese poetry singing known as Shigin, shared her vision for starting a new kind of rock band with some of her friends.

Wagakki Band: (front l-r) Kiyoshi Ibukuro [koto], Yuko Suzuhana [vocals], Asa [bass]; (rear l-r) Wasabi [drums], Machiya [guitar], Daisuke Kaminaga [shakuhachi], Beni Ninagawa [tsugaru shamisen], Kurona [wadaiko]. Photo from wagakkiband.jp

Together, they formed Wagakki Band, a Japanese rock ensemble that is not quite like any group that I have ever seen or heard. As the name wagakki, a generic term for traditional Japanese musical instruments, suggests, the band incorporates a traditional musical style, specifically using the instruments Koto, Shakuhachi, Shamisen, and Wadaiko, along with electric guitar, bass, and drums into a sound highlighted by Yuko Suzuhana's beautiful vocals in the style of Shigin to forge a unique sound.

There are eight very talented artists in the band. As I noted above, Yuko Suzuhana is the vocalist. Daisuke Kaminaga plays the shakuhachi (bamboo flute). The percussion section of the band consists of two drummers, Kurona, who plays wadaiko (traditional Japanese drums), and Wasabi a percussionist who performs in a most unique style with a modern drum kit. Electric bassist Asa, and electric guitarist Machiya are the other musicians playing modern instruments. Kiyoshi Ibukuro plays the koto (a large harp like string instrument), and Beni Ninagawa plays shamisen in the style "tsugaru jamisen".

Each artist, in addition to being exquisitely talented musically, presents themselves in costumes that incorporate traditional style with modern. The vibe that they create is sublimely infectious, and their music and performances present a modern representation classical Japanese culture that is visually and audibly pleasing, representing their native culture in a most positive manner to the world.

When their first recording was uploaded onto YouTube, the band became an instant success, and after creating more music videos and live performances since 2014, their popularity has grown exponentially, not only at home, but all over the world.

A lot of their studio videos and live performances are on YouTube. I have embedded two in this article. The first is a live performance from 2017 of the band's iconic hit song "Senbonzakura" (1000 Cherry Trees), and the other is a video from a 2016 live performance in an outdoor venue in Nikko, Toshogu Shrine.

Wagakki Band Video - Senbonzakura (1000 Cherry Trees) - live 2017

The video below was filmed in June 2016, when the band performed at the 400th anniversary of Toshogu Shrine in Nikko, Japan. Toshogu is a Shinto Shrine of great historical importance. It was built to honor Tokugawa Ieyasu, the founder and first Shogun of the Tokugawa Shogunate that ruled a unified Japan from 1600 C.E. until the Meiji Restoration in 1868.

Live performance at Nikko Toshogu Shrine June 2016

Please look for more of their content on YouTube, and I hope that you enjoy the performances of Wagakki Band as much as I do.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: October 14, 2018

U.S. Military in Japan

Post Date: March 1, 2011

On a rainy day in 1974, I was on my way out to the flightline to work on the air sampling equipment in a WC-130 when I decided to take a camera with me. I doubt that I had any motivation for doing so other than wanting to take some pictures of en route aircraft. However, maybe, just maybe I thought that some day, far in the future, when I am much older and as gray as that monsoon sky, I might like to look at these pictures again, and imagine the feeling of the drizzling rain, the sound of jet engines, and the smell of JP4.

Perhaps some of my comrades of the 610 Military Airlift Support Squadron will also enjoy these pictures, so here they are.

Looking toward the terminal, some of Lockheed's finest of the era - a line of T-Tails (C141's) and a FRED (C5A)

Yokota AB Flightline

Down the other way, more C141's, and more rain; you can barely see the tower

Yokota AB Flightline

Flight Crew boarding -- this one is ready to go

Yokota AB Flightline

Re-fueling an enroute C141 - this brings back memories of being on the Yokota Air Base Flightline in the 1970's - I love the smell of JP4!

Yokota AB Flightline

Here is where I was to work that day -- a Weather C130

I hope that you enjoyed the pictures.

 | Published by: Japan Days  logo
 | Date Modified: March 28, 2017