Japanese Dance, Myth and Renewal During Shoryoe

Procession of Shoryoe at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, Osaka, Japan

Procession of Shoryoe at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

My Japanese keeps getting better and better, as I was able to understand a lot of what was going on during Shoryoe, the Memorial Service for Prince Shotoku at Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple here in Osaka.

Prince Shotoku built the temple in the sixth century. He was the first Buddhist statesman and was the lay founder of Buddhism in Japan.

I adore this temple and spend a lot of time here, always finding something new and amazing!

Today was no exception. In addition to the Temple Sale held every 21st and 22nd of the month. today featured Shoryoe and bugaku, classical dance of Japan. Bugaku is considered a national important cultural asset, and performances have been in Japanese imperial courts for over 1,200 years.

Drummer

Drummer during Shoryoe at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis.

Enjoy these photos! Some people watch television; I stood at a Buddhist temple for three hours in the sun! Learned the word for sunburn – hiyake! I am also booked to lead my first photography tour of Japan! With the Community House Information Center in Rokko Island, Japan. Mark your calendar for Nov. 29, 2018. A photo lesson then street photography! More info soon!

Drum at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

Drum at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

Dancers

The giant red balls were made to resemble spider lilies. Everything is about nature in Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

MaskedDancers

Masked dancers perform bugaku, classical dance during Shoryoe at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple April 22, 2018. Photo by Sydney Solis

Children wear butterfly costumes during bugaku, classical dance at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple Shoryoe in Osaka, Japan. Photo By Sydney Solis

Children wear butterfly costumes during bugaku, classical dance at Shitennoji Buddhist Temple Shoryoe in Osaka, Japan. Photo By Sydney Solis

SunMask

Masks that resemble the sun are worn on dancers. The sun brought gorgeous gifts that were then given to the children wearing butterfly wings, then given to the priests. A beautiful myth and ritual to experience! Shoryoe Memorial Service for Prince Shotoku at Shitennoji temple, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

Dance of the Shishimai, mythical lion. this was the original dance, a somber event. Photo by Sydney Solis

Dance of the Shishimai, mythical lion. this was the original dance, a somber event. Photo by Sydney Solis

Myth has the ability to pitch us out of ordinary, profane consciousnes and into sacred time. Experiencing these types of rituals, such as Shoryoe, is a participatory consciousness, and a sense of spiritual renewal is the result. Children dressed as butterflies performing bugaku, classical dance. Photo by Sydney Solis

Myth has the ability to pitch us out of ordinary, profane consciousness and into sacred time. Experiencing these types of rituals, such as Shoryoe, is a participatory consciousness, and a sense of spiritual renewal is the result. Children dressed as butterflies performing bugaku, classical dance. Photo by Sydney Solis

Waiting

Mythic Yoga Journey To Japan Haiku Video Poem No. 1

Shitennō-ji i Buddhist Temple and stupa, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

Shitennō-ji i Buddhist Temple and stupa, Osaka, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis

Upon my first visit to Japan in November 2016 at age 50, I became a filmmaker!

I had started writing a bunch of haiku and tanka poems during this powerful experience, then turned them into video poems.

This Mythic Yoga Journey to Japan Haiku Video No. 1 was the first video I ever made in my life!

I used to work as a professional photographer back in the silver gelatin days, spending many hours in the

The dharmachakra wheel at entrance of Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple in Osaka, Japan. The faithful touch and spin its wheel upon entry and exiting. Photo by Sydney Solis.

The dharmachakra wheel at entrance of Shitenno-ji Buddhist Temple in Osaka, Japan. The faithful touch and spin its wheel upon entry and exiting. Photo by Sydney Solis.

darkroom for The Photo Works in Boulder, Colorado as well as newsrooms. I was rather slow to adapt to digital and social media. And I’m sure not one to be seen hunching over my I-phone all day posting stuff instantly or answering messages immediately.

Luckily technology has made it easy for people like me to make videos!  I’ve been getting better slowly. You can see from other YouTube movies I’ve made, such as Shitennō-ji Buddhist Temple here a short distance from our apartment in Osaka. Check out and subscribe to my YouTube channel for more. I will be posting more over time!

Enjoy Mythic Yoga Journey Haiku Video Poem No. 1, featuring the dharmachakra wheel.

Sakura Fever at the Japan Mint in Osaka is a Transcendental Event

Watching the hoards of people enjoying and photographing the cherry blossoms at the Japan Mint in Osaka is an event in itself! Photo by Sydney Solis

Watching the hoards of people enjoying and photographing the cherry blossoms at the Japan Mint in Osaka is an event in itself! Photo by Sydney Solis

Sakura fever has struck. The falling petals of many cherry blossoms throughout the Kansai region have forced me outside to make pilgrimages on my bike around Osaka and else where to view these breathtaking beautiful trees. They remind me of how short life is. Most cherry blossoms have now faded and dropped their petals like snow.

Sakura at the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis

Sakura at the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis

Every  year the Japan Mint in Osaka opens its black gates on April 11th – 17th for cherry blossom viewing. My friend Jessica from Malaysia organized some friends to go. I rode my bike to meet them, since it’s in my part of town. I saw the flood of people coming out of the Temmabashi Station. At first I thought it was a protest, the unbelievable stream of thousands of people so great! Then I realized what it was!

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Sakura at the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis

Crowds can make me a bit claustrophobic, and the impact of foreign tourists in Japan made the crowds at the Mint on Friday intense. But I just had to catch a view of these last, intensely blooming trees of pink and white, pale or bright.

Some had double or eight blooms, some chrysanthemum-like. 135 varieties, from Kyoto, Tokyo, Hokkaido and Kansai lined the path at the Mint along the Dojimagawa River.

To share these stunning trees with the hoards of people is quite the transcendental experience.

Just as entering a temple or church, passing through the threshold of a Tori gate or door, you  enter enormous iron gates that are usually closed except for this ritual time of year.

Time then stops. You are on the path, viewing trees of stunning allure and awe and beauty as if in another world.  Joseph Campbell said that there is revealing maya in something like cherry blossoms. Maya being the Sanskrit term for illusion for obscuring maya, hiding you from the truth. But with revealing maya you get a glimpse of that truth. It is revealed to you in that instant.

Sakura fever! At the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis

Sakura fever! At the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis

I always feel that with nature. It blasts you out of this world and into the infinite. It’s amazing to watch all the thousands of people in the crush, taking pictures, laughing and enjoying this collective experience. One the walk is done, you exit the gate. Time and space return. And you can’t help but feel renewed. The Japanese understand experience this well!

Before the Japan Mint in Osaka opened, I was along to Dojimagawa Riverfront to photograph the last of the cherry blossoms there. The mint was still closed, but I snapped this picture of them behind the gates! Photo by Sydney Solis

Before the Japan Mint in Osaka opened, I was along to Dojimagawa Riverfront to photograph the last of the cherry blossoms there. The mint was still closed, but I snapped this picture of them behind the gates! Photo by Sydney Solis

Hoards of people viewing the cherry blossoms at the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis.

Hoards of people viewing the cherry blossoms at the Japan Mint in Osaka. Photo by Sydney Solis.

Tanka poem I wrote about Sakura, cherry blossoms, from my first experience of the event in 2017 when we came to look for housing. I made a hand-made book of the poetry and photographs from a book I pulled out of our apartment's recycling bin! One day to be published! Poem, photo and art by Sydney Solis

Tanka poem I wrote about Sakura, cherry blossoms, from my first experience of the event in 2017 when we came to look for housing. I made a hand-made book of the poetry and photographs from a book I pulled out of our apartment’s recycling bin! One day to be published! Poem, photo and art by Sydney Solis

 

Photography & Artwork of Japan by Sydney Solis Available

I Spy Japanese Eye! Photography of Japan by Sydney Solis!

I Spy Japanese Eye! Photography of Japan by Sydney Solis! Osaka, Japan

The wonderful thing about my new life in Japan, that at 51 years of age I am reborn! I recently cut all my hair off and went white.

15 long years since my first husband died and raising my two children on my own are done!

My kids turned out amazing, splendid – I’m so proud of them! I’m remarried to my perfectly matched soul mate and have never been so happy or healthy in my life!!!!

So the next phase of my life is here! Before I became a kids yoga teacher, founding the pioneering Storytime Yoga and Mythic Yoga, I was a news journalist and photographer. I paid my way through college myself as a wedding photographer, and I won first place in the Transitions Abroad Magazine College Travel Photography contest. I worked as a journalist, editing and writing for newspapers like the Bakersfield Californian, The Boulder, Colorado Daily Camera , The News in Mexico City and Digital Video Magazine in San Francisco.

Katsuo-ji in Minoo, Japan. By Sydney Solis.

Katsuo-ji in Minoo, Japan. By Sydney Solis.

I have decided to return to my writing and photography. So I’m excited to announce my portfolio of photography and mixed media collage!  Many years of photos are in there – I used to work with silver gelatin printing, and for many years for a commercial photographer in Boulder, Colorado. My travels from Latin America to Europe to The Caribbean and United States are there. There are also plenty of pictures of Japan!

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Fall color explosion in Minoo, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis.

More of my photography and fine art products, everything from metal prints to bathmats you can get these days, are on my sites of Society6 and Fine Art America.  I also have I -phone stock photography of Japan available on Stockimo, and high-resolution DSLR stock photography of Japan available on Alamy. 

I’m still writing, of course, and will publish the numerous manuscripts I’ve written over the years, as well continue writing this blog. Travel is booming in Japan, and the demand for English-language reporting is huge. I’ve also been hired by Taiken Japan to write travel articles and take pictures! What fun! My dream come true!

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Used kimonos for sale at the Kitano Tennmangu Shinto Shrine sale in Kyoto, Japan. Photo by Sydney Solis.

You always get what you wanted, just not the way you expected it! All that is required is to follow your bliss! Live authentically and don’t take be afraid to make big changes when necessary!  No matter what the cost! I did! And that made all the difference! That’s what I am, the result of my Mythic Yoga Journey!

So enjoy my photographs, support your local artist! I am heading to the Kyoto International Photography Festival soon and will be hosting a Poetry Reading in Kyoto for Writers in Kyoto as well June 24. And so much more! Stay tuned!

Japanese and U.S. Citizens Lose When Their Governments Revise War History

Japanese symbols for peace

Japanese symbols for peace

“The nationalist not only does not disapprove of atrocities committed by his own side, but he has a remarkable capacity for not even hearing about them.” – George Orwell

United States President Donald Trump is trying to start World War III. With the ultimate newspeak of “preventative war” and dangerously provoking North Korea he wants to attack it with “fire and fury.

The sanctions the United Nations imposed upon North Korea will surely provoke it into war just as sanctions provoked Japan into World War II. The U.S. wants war, as it has nowhere to go with its rigged stock market at 22,000 and the S&P 500 ready to blow can’t conjure up any more Quantitative Easing to inflate away its $20 trillion in debt. The dollar is down, the weakest since 1985,  markets seem vulnerable to some upside surprises, and It’s stuck with a bubble popping, so war, just as it got the U.S. out of the Great Depression, is the answer.

As if the U.S. needs more of its endless wars going on for the past 16 years in which 20 U.S. soldiers a day die by suicide, or the massive injuries and casualties of veterans and civilians alike, and Trump’s U.S.-led coalitions have now killed more civilians in Syria than Russia or ISIS combined!

Americans have been sipping their lattes, mindlessly motoring about and shopping at Wal-Mart as if nothing else exists outside their world, unlike wars of the past where everybody was involved. But a country that does not learn from history is doomed to repeat it. So war it will get, and unbelievable suffering it will know. For the United States, as its ally Japan in this nonsense of nuclear holocaust-wannabes, have a tendency to keep the truths about war from its citizens by sanitizing and revising it in efforts to promote it.

This was evident when I went to the Osaka International Peace Center last March on my second trip to Japan. I stumbled upon it while touring Osaka Castle Park. It doesn’t pop up in a lot of tourist info or books I bought. Considering my family’s war history with Japan, that my father was a child survivor of a Japanese concentration camp on Java, my grandfather died a POW in Japan, and my great uncle survived the Death March of Bataan, it is quite ironic that I would come to live in Japan. I wrote about it before when I was there for Pearl Harbor Day last December. My father even died the day I moved to Japan on June 24, 2017. And here I am, living in Japan on the 72nd anniversary of the Atomic Bomb dropping on Hiroshima.

Osaka International Peace Center with timeline of Japan and events.

Osaka International Peace Center with timeline of Japan and events.

My father could be conflicted about it all, saying the morning I went to the Peace Center when I spoke to him by phone, “Tell the people of Japan I love them.” And then when I last time I visited him in Boulder, Colorado his traumatized soul still sadly lamented, “They killed my father.” My daughter, who spent a year in the DeLand High School JFROTC and who attended the veteran’s funeral with honors of my father-in-law two years ago asked for my father’s veteran’s hat that hung by the door of his home. She understands war because of them.

I didn’t realize it was Hiroshima Day this August, 6 when I took a nap that afternoon after touring in the sweltering heat a few Shinto shrines near our apartment in the Shinmachi, Osaka district. Now I understood some of the elder people’s gazes there at us. While watching the fireworks from the 35th floor the night before, an old woman joined me. Perhaps I picked up her quiet observation of me as an American. I brought a fan out to her in the searing evening humid heat, and she thanked me. I noticed that my Japanese chiropractor’s shop, always open, was also closed. How could I forget! How can ANYONE forget anything about the horrors of war! But they DO! Because their politicians want them to.

Osaka International Peace Center showing bombs dropped by U.S. forces during World War II on civilians.

Osaka International Peace Center showing bombs dropped by U.S. forces during World War II on civilians.

I popped up in bed that afternoon. The bombing was something enshrined in our minds and hearts as a child, my mother fiercely telling everybody, even to our embarrassment as children, “Do you know what day it is?” she’d say to the cashier or clerk in 1975 Boulder. “It’s Hiroshima Nagasaki Day. The day we bombed the Japanese to win the war!” And we kids would cringe as people looked at us unsure of anything, as candle light vigils for the victims went on in town.

Of course I understand now that my mother was traumatized too by the war, as all wars do to people – destroy children, families and society. Her brother, my Uncle Charlie, was fighting in the Pacific and may not have come home had the bombs not been dropped. My mother would go on to say that I would have not been been born had the bombs not been dropped. For my father would had died in the camp.

Osaka International Peace Center men and women dressed for war.

Osaka International Peace Center men and women dressed for war.

I understand the bravery of U.S. soldiers who gave their lives for their country. I have been to the USS Arizona Memorial in Honolulu; my mother was sure to take me there. My husband’s father fought in the war and was with the Occupational forces of Japan, as was my late-father in law from my late husband. I salute their service, bravery and sacrifice. I knew how bad war is.

But I remember last March when I toured the Peace Center that I wanted to understand all sides of the story. Because history can teach so much – otherwise we are doomed to repeat it. And I want to understand the Japanese and learn all I can learn. I’m a trained journalist to think critically. Taught to get both sides of the story and spot fake news or sense something is missing. I am trained as a yogi too to seek the truth – no matter how painful it may be –  for truth, satya, sets us free.

At the Peace Center I asked for special permission to take pictures, something I was surprised you had to ask to do.  The paperwork at the special office where a guard took me back to receive a special badge to wear asked the reason I wanted to take pictures. “I want to learn about the people of Japan and spread peace. I want to work for peace,” I wrote.

This is what I saw: I saw displays about the incendiary bombs that the United States dropped on the wooden houses of the people of Osaka in February 26, 1945, to the early morning of the next day. There were also bomb raids on March 13, 14, June 6, 7, 15, 26, July 10, 24, and August 14, the last day of the war.  The Shinmachi neighborhood I now live in was burned to ash. I had no idea.

I heard their stories of survivors. How it became a U.S. war tactic to intentionally target civilians.  It wasn’t a war crime to target civilians yet back then like it is now, although the U.S. with Saudi Arabia has been bombing civilians in Yemen and there will be consequences when history catches up with it.

During the bombing of Osaka on August 14, 1945, a one-ton bomb directly struck the Katamachi Line platform at Kyobashi Station and killed 700 to 800 evacuees. Kyobashi was one of the last sites to be bombed in Japan during World War II, followed only by the bombing of Akita, later the same day. Kyobashi is also two stops before Morinomiya station where I got off to visit the center and Osaka Castle Park.

One of the displays at the center asked, “Can you imagine the fear of this woman and her child hiding under a mattress for the air raids?” I was overwhelmed with sadness and compassion for them as I thought, “YES! I CAN!”  I heard as a child all the stories from my father of the Japanese bombings of Java, Dutch East Indies when his family took shelter under mattresses or in car dug outs or dodged the bullets in the streets from Japanese Zeros.

Along with my father’s pain, I also I felt such compassion for the people of Japan, people caught up in wars that politicians, not people, begin. At the Peace Center I learned about the Japanese rise of militarism and industrialism, how pictures of Osaka castle was surrounded by munitions buildings, not the beautiful, peaceful plum-tree-filled park it is today.

Sydney Solis war letter Peace, for the children

My letter at Osaka International Peace Center, Peace, for the children

I wrote a long letter that I put into the comments box at the end to say, “I’m sorry we dropped the atomic bomb. I’m sorry Japan committed terrible war crimes. We just all must work for peace now.” But as I was leaving, I did notice one thing, as my critical mind knows how to see both sides of the story and ask questions, and of course because I am educated about history via direct knowledge from my mother and father (and reading and researching a ton.)

That Japan had omitted its own war crime history, its own atrocities. For all of its excellent displays and understanding the role of industrialism in the rise of militarism, those crimes I knew well from primary sources. So where were they? Why were they not shown?

Now I think my country committed terrible war crimes on the people of Japan, dropping the bomb on them and targeting civilians, and here we condemn Syria for its crimes! And what we have been doing with torture, Guantanamo Bay, invading Iraq preemptively based on lies and more lately does not make me very proud to be an American. It makes me ashamed.

But I still love my country. I love it so much that peace is so important. So important that we understand our own roles in war, so that war can never be repeated again. That no American, no Japanese, no Syrian, no Iraqi, no North Korean, not one more person or child be afflicted by war. And understanding history, education, is at the heart of peace.

After researching what I saw, I now understand why they didn’t want just anybody to take pictures. The museum, opened in 1991….. Has been sanitized by a recent surge in nationalism under Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, removing exhibits on Japanese wartime aggression. One blogger did post pictures of the prior exhibit and still has some online.

Ensuring a Peaceful Future

Ensuring a Peaceful Future

Laura Hein writes in The Asian-Pacific Journal: In order to explain why the city was attacked so many times, the planners agreed on an exhibit that portrayed Japan as not only the victim but also the aggressor: it showed that while the air-raids and the atomic bombs caused tremendous suffering, the war was the result of Japan’s assaults in Asia. The exhibit also explained that Osaka Castle Park, in the heart of the city, was used as a munitions factory during the war. While this information was absolutely accurate, mention of it acknowledged that Osaka had been a military as well as a civilian target, potentially justifying the American bombardment. In other words, the museum was established by local residents, many of whom had contributed to smaller exhibits since the 1970s, in order to institutionalize “collective remembrance,” built around testimony of local suffering due to the policies of both the U.S. and Japanese governments. These Osaka residents also wanted to incorporate remembrance of Asian suffering inflicted by the wartime Japanese into the museum’s narrative. The fundamental message was that war should always be avoided. 

In 1996, Japanese conservative nationalist groups, went on a counter-offensive, Hein continues. These groups, such as the Liberal View of History Study Group (Jiyushugi shikan kenkyukai), led by Fujioka Nobukatsu, had earlier attacked middle-school textbooks as “self-flagellating” and sought not only to end Japanese criticism of Japan’s wars in the 1930s and 1940s but also to change public opinion in favor of future rearmament.

Peace, for the children Sydney Solis Osaka International Peace Center

Peace education area for children who wrote on a peace tree. Peace, for the children Osaka International Peace Center

In an article in The Japan Times, Jeff Kensington writesOn a visit there several years ago, I was pleasantly surprised by a museum that unflinchingly presented both what Japan endured and what it inflicted during the 1930s and ’40s. It seemed an encouraging reproach to the Smithsonian museum, which in 1995 tried to mount an exhibition that complicated the atomic bomb narrative in an effort to give voice to scholars who questioned the wisdom and necessity of former President Harry Truman’s decision to drop them. The curator’s inspiring vision could not survive the political gauntlet, showing an America that was overly eager, half a century on, to stifle criticism.

In Osaka there has been a similar retreat from discomforting truths as the harsh aspects of Japanese imperialism have been tossed onto the garbage heap of history. Visitors no longer confront colonial rule in Korea, the Nanking Massacre, invasion of the Asian continent, aggression in Southeast Asia or the mistreatment of Allied prisoners of war. This sanitized peace museum now features more about the U.S. bombing raids on Osaka and a short video that exonerates Japan from allegations of aggression. At least pulling the aggression exhibits will save teachers the heartburn of explaining things that are no longer covered in Japan’s new textbooks.

The old exhibits were progressive. They depicted Japanese wartime aggression and forced visitors to reconcile this history with the museum’s other main narrative: the air raids that destroyed Osaka in 1945. The new exhibits, by contrast, largely elide Japan’s war with China and Asia and center on the devastation of the Osaka air raids. They are conservative in the sense of avoiding any categorization of Japan’s wars as “aggressive” though recognizing the existence of some “aggressive acts” (namely atrocities). Japanese nationalists – defined as those who present an affirmative narrative of Japan’s wars and deny by omission Japanese war crimes (most notably the Nanjing atrocity of 1937) – led the attack on Peace Osaka’s old exhibits and their influence and rhetoric are also evident in the new exhibits on occasions. The ideological change goes beyond removing graphic exhibits of Japanese atrocities. The entire lexicon of the museum has been aligned with archetypal conservative rhetoric. This ideological “conversion” is far more significant than any cosmetic “renewal” in the appearance of the museum.

I realized that the U.S., too, underwent some sanitization of war history of the same magnitude and for the same reasons. As a Smithsonian Institution’s National Air and Space Museum exhibit of the original Enola Gay “The Last Act: The Atomic Bomb and the End of World War II,” which was to feature photographs and oral histories of the destruction, was cancelled in 1995 “as possibly the greatest tragedy to befall the public presentation of history in many years….the lost opportunity to educate a vast audience about a defining moment in history… abandoned… for political reasons,” writes Richard H. Kohn of the Smithsonian Institution Archives.

The exhibition’s primary goal was to encourage the public to re-examine the bombings in view of the political and military factors which led to the decision to use the bombs, actions which brought suffering to Japanese civilians and have long-term implications.

There was concern how veterans would react to such a possibly contentious presentation, stated that it would probably be impossible to make veterans feel good at the same time as the public was being encouraged to think about the consequences of the bombing but that the museum could do both scholarship and commemoration

Robert K. Musil, director of policy and programs for the organization, said that “merely showing a plane does nothing” to advance the historical significance of Hiroshima.

“When you go to the museum of record of the United States, you expect the full story,” Musil said. “But having history interpreted by political passion and by congressional investigation is the worst way to do history.”

War history and its effects on civilians are important. Without information about how it affects civilians, suffering on huge scale such as World War II will happen again. We must do everything to prevent it. Truth and education do this. Recently Japan and the U.S. are banging the drums of war, nuclear arsenal for Japan included. On this anniversary of Hiroshima, its Mayor Kazumi Matsui higlighted the fact that the U.S. and Japan refused to sign a U.N. treaty on nuclear arms that 122 other nations signed.

Abe has been trying to change Japan’s Constitution from pacifist, something that has been in place since enacted by American Occupiers in 1947 and is enormously popular with the Japanese people who want peace. Japan has even redacted information about the role of its Self Defence Forces, who were duped into fighting in South Sudan instead of being there for “engineering,” as they were told.  A 50-year-old Japanese mother, going by the name of “Peace Child” remembers war, so she is protesting. Saying that the Japanese government has infringed on her Constitutional “right to peace.”

“The worst thing for me would be to see my son die,” the woman said. “I will continue saying ‘no’ as a mother.” If only U.S. citizens could all say “NO WAR!” and ask for a right to Peace and have it enshrined in the U.S. Constitution as it is in the Japanese.

During the campaign this summer, Mr. Abe and other Liberal Democrats kept mostly quiet about their revisionist ambitions, which led opposition party leaders and some news media critics to accuse them of a hidden agenda.

Yeah! Like starting a war alongside Trump! It was planned all along.  Because soldiers don’t fight for freedom. They fight for oil and corporations! In an era when U.S. President Trump and his former Exxon Oil CEO turned Secretary of State Rex Tillerson won’t rule out nuclear weapons, they approve of human rights abusers like Bahrain while attacking Syria.

Exxon Mobile has close connections with Qatar’s national oil company, and has joined with Doha to build a liquefied natural gas terminal on the Persian Gulf coast that is designed for importing gas and possibly for exporting it as well. As a result, the company had a strong interest in keeping the shipping lanes in the region open — for which cooperation with Bahrain is key.

Japan’s Abe has been even inculcating kindergarteners with prewar material.  Members of Abe’s Cabinet voiced their approval for using the prewar Imperial Rescript on Education as a teaching material, drawing criticism that the government is trying to bring back antiquated values.  The Imperial Rescript of Education has recently drawn public attention after Osaka kindergarten operator Moritomo Gakuen, which is at the heart of a political scandal, was found to have been making its pupils memorize it.

TV footage surfaced online over the past few days showing kindergartners participating in a sports festival at Tsukamoto, lined up, standing at attention, and shouting a nationalist chant that said: “Japanese adults should make sure South Korea and China repent over treating Japan as a villain,” and “refrain from teaching lies in history textbooks.”

“Go, go Prime Minister Abe! We’re happy you passed security legislation at the Diet!” the children chanted.

Since the end of World War II, Japanese academics have renounced military research based on the bitter lessons of the war, in which Japanese scientists contributed, both directly and indirectly, to the ravages of war at home and abroad. But remember, they have been planning for a while this war the U.S. and Japan want.

Recently, however, these peaceful principles have been severely violated under the “proactive peace” policy of the hawkish Abe administration. For example, although the export of arms and related technologies had long been strictly restricted, Abe removed this ban in 2014. The Japanese government and various industries have been promoting military-academia joint research for the production of dual-use technologies. As of 2014, over 20 joint research projects had been initiated since the early 2000s between the Ministry of Defense and academia.

President Woodrow Wilson’s nominal idealism proved to be deadly during World War I. Americans should ponder the lessons of his fateful course. It’s time for U.S. presidents to work hard for peace rather than take what has become the far easier path to war. Because ultimately it is the veterans, civilians and children, like my father and his family and all veterans discarded and left  homeless in the U.S., will suffer.

Those who remember war do not stop voicing the need for peace. Scores of Okinawans continue to gather daily at the entrance to the Yanbaru forest to block the construction work of a new U.S. base on Okinawa that is destroying coral beds, chanting, “We want to protect the nature of our hometown,” and “Stop cutting down the trees.”

Nearly all in their 60s or 70s, they travel to Takae on foot or by other means on a journey that often takes two to three hours, even within Okinawa. Fujimoto believes the protests represent locals’ silent cries against war.

“Their protests show the height of their resentment,” he said. Especially since three U.S. marines died recently in the controversial Osprey that is plagued with safety problems. And sailors were likely “not paying attention” when the USS Fitzgerald rammed a Filipino cargo ship earlier this year, embroiled in pedophilia stings as well as trying to board civilian flights with live ammunition. 

Ultimately, a new book called “Japanese Reflections on World War II” is a clear picture of how the tragedy and suffering of war affects ordinary people and their perceptions. Anyone who has a loved one who has died or suffered in the U.S.’s recent wars know that war is hell. It has bankrupted this country and destroyed its liberties and values it once stood for.

Trump is clearly insane, a Mad King, even wanting to fight the suffering of opioid use with more police, rather than medical solutions that the commission report recommended! He is clearly not working for the American people, but the pharmaceutical military industrial complex and the Goldman Swamp of Government Sachs.  He is sick and insane and must be stopped! And only Russia and Israel are supporting Trump these days because of his dangerous policies, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

And as the dollar erodes under Trump’s erratic behavior and people turn to the Yen or physical gold for safe haven, the U.S. continues to become isolated and a risk. “There is some erosion in the relative stability of the United States in light of this administration’s inconsistency on global affairs,” said Mr. Posen of the Peterson Institute. “The U.S. is at relatively more risk than we thought in the past.”

But it’s not too late. Make your voice for peace heard today, because with the U.S.’s huge fleet and presence in South-East Asia, things are not looking good. Your son or daughter is next in line to die, and not for country, but for ego, banks, corporations and oil. Let’s make peace today. All you have to do is say, “Hell NO! We won’t go!” 

Japanese symbols for peace

Japanese symbols for peace

“All the war-propaganda, all the screaming and lies and hatred, comes invariably from people who are not fighting.” – George Orwell

“All propaganda has to be popular and has to accommodate itself to the comprehension of the least intelligent of those of whom it seeks to reach.” – Adolf Hitler

“Never think that war, no matter how necessary, nor how justified, is not a crime.” –  Ernest Hemingway

“If everyone demanded peace instead of another television set, then there’d be peace.” – John Lennon

NOTE: This blog post was originally published in the Orlando Sentinel’s Hype-Orlando on August 9, 2017. It is ceasing publication and I am republishing it here. Today I had hanami at Osaka Castle Park with several wonderful Japanese women, and we had a lively and passionate discussion about peace. So we work for peace! Join us!

The High-Quality of Life in Japan is Vastly Different from A Declining United States

Osaka bicycle Marilyn Monroe

A man rides his bicycle in Osaka. Everybody can get around easily, rich or poor! Compare that to the U.S. where only the rich can get around!

The freedom I experience in Japan with its high-quality of life makes me realize how cheated my fellow citizens are as the United States slips into decline and chaos under President Donald Trump. 

The mere fact that I can get on my bike and ride around Osaka and get anywhere I want quickly, rain or shine, is amazing. In the USA, you have to be wealthy enough to own a car and pay tribute to the oil companies to function. I would be killed on my bike if I rode it back home in Florida, as it has one of the highest pedestrian death rates in the United States! Even the Volusia County, Florida Sheriff was hit by a car while riding his bike!

Food in Japan is served in stunning aesthetic style, small portions and delicious! Few fat people in Japan!

Food in Japan is served in stunning aesthetic style, small portions and delicious! Few fat people in Japan!

It’s such a pleasure to ride a bike in camaraderie with thousands of other Japanese people on the charming streets where few cars go. Japanese embrace the weather and can be seen in business suits riding a bike in fashionable Kita-Ku, holding an umbrella with one hand against the rain.

I’ve seen them in the sweltering heat of summer too, fully clothed and arms swathed in long gloves to protect them from the ultra-violet rays.   In Florida, people don’t even go out or know how to turn off the air conditioning. It keeps Japanese people some of the healthiest and least obese in the world! Poor Americans get fatter by the day or are addicts hooked on opiates and legal meth called Adderall! 

Then there’s the universal health care. We can go to whichever doctor we want! I’ve written about the amazing health care I received here. In the U.S., I would be just stuffed full of opiates for my back pain, like they did my father who died of sepsis last year. Instead I’ve been going to an amazing chiropractor and he has healed me!

The values of compassion, kindness and unity are the glue of Japanese culture. No wonder everybody nice, the country clean.

The values of compassion, kindness and unity are the glue of Japanese culture. No wonder everybody is so nice, the country clean and peaceful!

Trains in Japan are so efficient. Although the increase in tourism without supporting the infrastructure plagues Japan right now, as my poor hubby couldn’t even get on the subway this morning it was so packed.

He will be riding his bike to work soon! But I can get anywhere easy, efficiently and cheaply. In Florida, SunRail is wonderful, but it doesn’t even run on weekends!

When I would go to Orlando, I couldn’t get back to to DeLand because the train didn’t run enough! You know it was built to fail and oil companies want you to drive, not be able to get around without bloodshed in the Middle East or supporting a fake economy of artificial needs! Poor Amtrak is all but dead and unreliable!

Cozy, intimate streets and restaurants await you in Japan! So fun to ride my bike everywhere and explore!

Cozy, intimate streets and restaurants await you in Japan! So fun to ride my bike everywhere and explore!

Instead of a depressing, blighted suburban hell hole that so much of the U.S. has become, I marvel at Japan’s charming neighborhoods and intimate streets where people walk, socialize, eat, live their lives, not live for corporations to extract profit!

 

You get the sense that Japan was built for people, not for corporations like the U.S, is.

Restaurants are like eating in a friend’s home, cozy, intimate, and delicious! A contrast to the big concept restaurants in the U.S., which delicious as they are, can lack the aesthetics and connection Japan is so adept at.

Japan is beautiful and quiet! Serene! Here at the Katsuoji Shrine in Minoo, Japan

Japan is stunningly beautiful and quiet! Serene! Here at the Katsuoji Shrine in Minoo, Japan

And then there is the quiet of Japan. On my recent home leave in Florida, the obnoxious music blasting from cars permeates the air along with car exhaust.

Now that Trump rolled back car emission standards, air pollution is about to get worse! I guess he likes India or China! People don’t blab on their cell phones.

Walk through Osaka Station in the morning and you will see thousands of people crossing each other without uttering a word!

Stunning aesthetics in Japan! Life is for the here and now! Not the afterlife! Enjoy it! Macha tea from the Silver Pavillion in Kyoto. Japan travel

Stunning aesthetics in Japan! Life is for the here and now! Not the afterlife! Enjoy it! Macha tea from the Silver Pavillion in Kyoto.

Horn honking is rare. Contrast that to New York City’s Grand Central Station! No wonder everybody is going nuts in the U.S.! Quiet goes a long way!

Everything beautiful and amazing in Japan! Lanterns in Temma, Osaka, Japan

Everything beautiful and amazing in Japan! Lanterns in Temma, Osaka, Japan

Japan is also remarkably clean. Yes, I have seen homeless and graffiti and plenty of disposable trash as Japanese adapt Western consumeristic practices and start to walk and eat more like many mindless Americans do. But it is still way cleaner. It’s built into Japanese mythology.

Artwork, remarkable aesthetics and beautiful architecture is everywhere in Japan. Even the manholes in Japan are gorgeous! In the U.S., the dullest of buildings shuts down the mind and soul as Americans reach for their antidepressants. Just read James Howard Kunstler’s EyeSore of the Month to take your pick! 

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In Japan, life is in the details, such as this bird on the Benzaiten Buddhist Temple in Tokyo.

A friend told me why everything in Japan is so stunning, from every cup of tea with its richness of clay to the frothy green matcha and delicate mochi.

It’s because the Japanese believe that life is here and now. It’s in this blazing, miraculous moment. It’s not in some afterlife everybody has to die to reach! 

Festivals and culture anchor Japan. I’ve been to everything from Tenjin Matsuri in Osaka to Kitano Odori in Kyoto. Every day I discover new rituals, festivals, traditional artwork and more than enriches the soul and is not about consuming and having but BEING. The Japanese philosophy is about living in harmony with nature, not destroying it! There is no original sin nonsense to control people with – everybody is born good! Now that is a functional mythology!

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Beauty in Japan reigns, rather than ugly suburban blight in the United States, a country made for cars and oil companies, not people!

Another thing is I feel so safe living in Japan. No gun insanity like the USA, in which I feel terrible every day my daughter finishes her high school there. Trump wants to send the National Guard to the border, but they are needed more at high schools as prom night is coming up! In Japan, nobody steals. Little kids get around by themselves on bikes and walking. Picking up kids after school with a car is thought of as bizarre! The youngest of kids can get home independently and without fear by themselves!

People don't steal in Japan. You can buy from a vending machine everything from cigarettes to alcohol. People just don't abuse the system.

People don’t steal in Japan. You can buy from a vending machine everything from cigarettes to alcohol. People just don’t abuse the system. Aesthetics reign, even on this vending machine in Tokyo!

A record amount of cash was turned in when Japanese citizens found it! Honesty a wonderful value. I have forgotten my I-Phone on my bike, which I use to navigate, several times.

It’s always there when I return! People leave interesting objects, plants and decor outside their doors. Nobody would even think of stealing it! In the U.S., things would be smashed or stolen in an instant!

Other little things are nice, like kawaii – everything cute! Animals and cuteness reign. Men get to embrace a different masculinity that allows a feminine side, not the bizarre toxic hyper-masculinity cult American men are trapped with.

Everything cute and kawaii in Japan! A great reverence for animals and nature is behind it all. Unlike the West, which seeks to destroy and conquer nature, Japan harmonizes with it! Makes a big difference in quality of life!

Everything cute and kawaii in Japan! A great reverence for animals and nature is behind it all. Unlike the West, which seeks to destroy and conquer nature, Japan harmonizes with it! Makes a big difference in quality of life!

People, even the wealthy, are environmental and hang their laundry to dry outside rather than use a dryer. Desserts are not overly sweet, and food portions are small-sized in gorgeous little dishes.

Food is about tasting rather than scarfing down as much as possible. Our apartment is filled with built-in bookshelves and cabinets. No need to buy or move furniture! More fake economy Americans have to submit to!

Finally, I love Japanese bidets and toilets! Seats are heated!  Even public restrooms are equipped with clean, wonderful bidets! What is with Americans not using bidets?!?!?! It’s a basic necessity! Going back to the US recently, it was downright barbaric! Maybe we now know where the term “brown-nose” came from! The US! Or likely it’s just the sexually frustrated and prude Americans who don’t want women to wash?

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Japan isn’t perfect, but I will take it! Here in Osaka!

I easily find life in Japan utopian, but no doubt Japanese people have a hard time despite their quality of life. Suicide rates are high, as is alcoholism, and it has a declining birth rate.

People must conform to the group. A high school girl sued her school because they forced her to dye her naturally brown hair black!

And last week women couldn’t even enter a Sumo ring to administer first aid to a mayor who was having a stroke, and women are forced to be a little too kawaii to their detriment.  

Prime Minister Abe made thinking about a crime, a crime! And he stepped up the surveillance state big time. Worst of all, cigarette smoking is allowed in restaurants! VERY strange indeed for a county who is all about thinking of others and the group! Obviously the American cigarette lobby has its tentacles far reaching here!

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If you love nature, culture, kindness, come live in Japan! Here in Nara, Japan during the fall.

But I love living in Japan. In a year we can apply for permanent residency. The way the US is looking wanting to build a wall on the border to Mexico, you may just want to get out too before it’s too late and you still have a chance! US looking more like East Berlin as it was all too much!

One thing for sure, Asia is rising. I predict Japan will go along with China, including joining its new Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank, AIIB, it once if figures out the U.S. is no longer credible under Psycho Trump, having imposed steel tariffs on it. Nuts! Plus, China just announced oil futures linked to its gold-backed Yuan, which will eventually replace the backed-by-nothing, printed-from-thin-air-paper-petro-dollar as the reserve currency. The U.S. dollar lost 10 percent of its value last year, but gold held its value.

SimplyHDR29819423What does that tell you? The U.S. is in serious decline under Trump. And a higher-quality of life resides outside of it. 

Japan has open-immigration, mind you, everything from unskilled labor to high-tech, highly skilled workers getting fast-tracked for permanent residency. 

Look me up when you arrive!

 

 

Spiritual Rebirth Among the Cherry Blossoms in Japan

SakuraHiranoIt’s remarkable to live in a country such as Japan that has a living mythological tradition that supports the spiritual needs of its people.

Instead of a dubious afterlife, the focus on the miracle and awe of the here and now revealed through nature is in every mindful cup of tea, every pathway and house, every art form.

To participate in the annual Sakura, or cherry blossom viewing in Spring, is sublime and a powerful exercise in spiritual renewal.

My second Sakura season has been splendid indeed, including hanami at Osaka Castle Park in Osaka with my husband and his co-workers among the thousands of festive picknickers. It’s a powerful collective event to celebrate nature together, this shared ritual and experience of the nature that is us glues people together with a common identity.

Tennoji Park Sakura Osaka, Japan

Sakura at Tennoji Park in Osaka. Japan was made for people.

And the fleeting period that the plum and cherry blossoms are around reminds us of the fleeting time of life as well. To watch buds bloom then fade, their petals floating to the ground, reminding me that my body one day too will sink back into the earth, returning to its source.

Sakura at Namba Yasaka Shrine in Osaka.

Sakura at Namba Yasaka Shrine in Osaka.

And without fear, as nature assures me there is no death, just as every three days a sliver appears in the sky after a new moon. Reminding me all I have is now, so I’d better get going, let go of old baggage, and step into eternity.

Hirano Shrine, Kyoto, Japan sakura

Hirano Shrine, Kyoto, Japan

Such was my experience viewing Sakura everywhere, even in Kyoto yesterday, starting at Hirano Shrine to be littered with snowing petals blown from the trees, baptizing all with their pink grace. Then to a traditional music and a play put on by Maiko and Geisha at Kitano Odori. This annual event is akin to North Americans seeing the Nutcracker every Christmas.

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Kitano Odori tea service in Kyoto

Spectacular costumes, a whimsical tale, three generations of Geisha and Maiko on stage dancing or playing shamisen and singing. The power of the feminine infused everyone who witnessed its mesmerizing beauty in the theatre, then released back into the world energized and balanced.

All female cast of Geisha and Maiko performing during Kitano Odori in Kyoto. From the souvenir booklet

All female cast of Geisha and Maiko performing during Kitano Odori in Kyoto. From the souvenir booklet

I used to have a hard time letting go. It was a long year of adjustment to Japan and myriad other details in my life, including being an empty-nester, saying goodbye to my father who died the day I moved to Japan, and rediscovering myself. After this experience in Japan with Sakura, I feel reborn. I recently cut my hair as a rebirth and letting go. This powerful alignment with nature had a magical effect on my psyche to let go of the past and find my center in the here and now again.

All female cast of Geisha and Maiko performing during Kitano Odori in Kyoto. From the souvenir booklet

All female cast of Geisha and Maiko performing during Kitano Odori in Kyoto. From the souvenir booklet

There is still some blossoms left! The Osaka Mint opens its famous pathway April 11. I’ve been invited to two more hanami at Osaka Castle Park.It’s chilly today in Osaka, but you can’t wait, they will be gone! Time to go outside!!!

Onward!

Kitano Odori Stage, Kyoto, Japan

Kitano Odori Stage

 

Maiko exiting back stage door after Kitano Odori performance. Kyoto, Japan

Maiko exiting back stage door after Kitano Odori performance.

 

Find Your Treasure of Stuff or Faith at Shitennō-ji Buddhist Temple Sale in Osaka, Japan

Every 21 and 22nd of the month, there’s a fabulous temple sale at Shitennō-ji Buddhist Temple in Osaka, Japan. A combination of rummage sale and pilgrimage of faith and healing, you will find your treasure either way! Who pays retail and double tax?!?!? Not me!!!

1-11-18 Shitennoji
Tennoji-ku
Osaka
543-0051
Tel: 06 06771 0066

Free, however, there is an admission charge for the Gokuraku-jodo Garden and the Treasure House.

From Tennoji Station on the Midosuji Line, Tanimachi Line and JR Osaka Loop Line or in less time from the Shitennoji-mae-Yuhigaoka Station on the Tanimachi Line of the Osaka subway network 

Who Needs Paris When You Have Colombo Cornershop Books and Coffee in Osaka

Colombo cornershop books Osaka

Colombo Cornershop books in Osaka, fresh coffee and vintage books! Heaven!

Quaint, eclectic and bohemian can’t quite describe my second home in Osaka at Colombo Cornershop books and coffee, but it’s worth to keep trying to find the right word every time I visit.  In Shinshaibashi across from the Nanba shrine, Colombo sits on the corner and calls out Paris every time I walk by to do my favorite activity – browse for books and have a cup of coffee.

Some people like shopping at fancy department stores. Well I find that a bore and way to easy to just buy something off the rack. Hunting through second-hand stores like Colombo is quite the treasure hunt. Because true value is in finding the unusual. Plus, just the ambiance of cozy vintage over every shoulder in this tiny shop makes you feel a flashback to Paris in the 20s – a real authentic place infused with the soul of art.

Colombo Books Osaka

The owner, Takahiro, keeps a large supply of used and vintage foreign language books and magazines in English, German, French and Spanish in addition to Japanese. I spotted a book published by City Lights in San Francisco the other day.

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Existentialismbooks

Out on the street corner, I’ve picked up on occasion some great old books with titles on existentialism, philosophy, poetry, and some favorite authors’ works, like George Orwell, Virginia Wolff and Isak Dineson.

Recently I got a beautiful book in Japanese on plants and animal paintings of the Edo period.

catColomboTakahiro also sells art books. There’s everything from vintage photography books to a pocket book of Takahiro’s cats called Family Ties. 

Osaka Poet and Musician Jerry Gordon with his book of poems, Ghosts, at Colombo Books and Coffee in Shinshaibashi, Osaka, Japan.

Osaka Poet and Musician Jerry Gordon with his book of poems, Ghosts,

There’s also  local Poet Jerry Gordan’s book Ghosts. It’s a best-seller there, as an Australian woman beat me to his last copy, so he met me at the shop for a cup of coffee and an autographed copy of his hand-stitched and custom lithographed book of poems.

Colombo Cornershop Bookstore Osaka

Steve browsed the outside books and found a great old book on vintage postcards of diners.

There are other things for sale besides books and coffee, like socks, buttons, tiny things. And then some things aren’t for sale. I found a cool old zine but had to put it back when I was informed it wasn’t for sale –  just decoration, so you will need to ask to make sure if you can buy something!

 Best part about it is to hang out and see who is there. I met Jerry’s friend John who was having a cup of coffee and hanging out at the shop. Every time I drop by I meet somebody new, and learn a little bit more Japanese, as well as get some great books! It’s a great way to meet people and catch up on all things Osaka regarding arts, music books and more.

A real person runs Colombo Cornershop books, not a corporation!

                    Real poetry is to lead a beautiful life.
                    To live poetry is better than to write it.
― Bashō Matsuo

Colombo Cornershop books Osaka, Japan

For Health and Longevity, Turn to the Traditional Japanese Diet

There are few fat people in Japan.  Most Japanese ride a bike and walk, rain or shine, and walk up and down many subway steps. Also the Japanese diet is one of the healthiest in the world, resulting in the lowest rates of obesity amongst men and women. People who stuck to Japanese dietary recommendations of eating mostly fish, soy, rice and vegetables and a minimal amount of dairy and fruit had a reduced risk of dying early from heart disease or stroke, according to a recently study by the British Medical Journal.

miso soup Osaka, Japan

Miso soup with green onions a great breakfast start.

During my stay in Japan I have enjoyed getting to know, eat and start cooking with many of the healthy and delicious traditional Japanese foods that lend well to our vegan/vegetarian lifestyle.

Miso, fermented soy soup and seaweed and even salad made of vitamin and fiber-packed cabbage and daikon radish covered with goma, sesame dressing, or irodori gobou made from burdock and lotus root, are what’s for breakfast rather than fattening syrup drenched waffles or cream cheese covered bagels. 

For lunch and dinner there is an inexorable array of soy products such as tofu and natto, or adzuki beans as well as noodles and vegetables cooked in dark sesame oil, mirin and soy sauce. I also drink lots of antioxidant-packed green tea, soy milk as well as amasake.

Over the past 150 years, however, the Japanese diet has become a blend of traditional Japanese with Chinese and Western foods, which gradually found their way into the Japanese diet since the Meiji Period (1868–1912) and in force after World War II. The results added a more balanced diet with oils and protein, but there is also a downside to the Western diet’s influence in Japan.

irodori gobou

Irodori gobou, made from lotus root and burdock, another health breakfast alternative.

Upon his arrival in Japan, Supreme Commander of the Allied Powers in Japan General Douglas MacArthur is said to have remarked, “I came to replace the Japanese diet of rice, vegetables, fish and miso with bread, butter, milk and ham.”

Wheat products, especially in the Japanese school lunch program, was increased. Meat eating also increased, as meat eating was considered taboo.

In April of the year 675 A.D., the Emperor Tenmu prohibited the killing and the eating of meat throughout Japan, and Christian missionaries in 1549 found that the people believed that drinking milk was basically the same as drinking blood, according to Researcher Zenjiro Watanabe.  Christians influenced the reintroduction of slaughtering animals and meat eating in Japan by the Edo era between 1603 and 1868. 

Daikon radish in grocery store, Osaka, Japan

Daikon radish in grocery store, Osaka, Japan

Although Europeans and Americans have gradually come to appreciate the benefits of a rice and fish diet, unfortunately the Western diet has lead to increasing obesity rates in Japan as well as lower life expectancy rates. While Japan’s obesity rate is 3.6%, the U.S. has a stunning epidemic of obesity – 40%! 

Japan in 2015 had held for three straight years the longest life expectancy in the world. Japanese women still hold this title of the longest life expectancy in the world at 86.8 years, but in 2017, Japan men’s life expectancy slipped to fifth place with life expectancy at 80.5 years. The United States doesn’t even rank in the top 20, coming in at 50th with 78.37 years.  

Diabetes is also on the rise, especially among Japanese men, due to more sedentary lifestyle, increased fat intake and obesity. Everywhere I look there is more and more junk food filling grocery stores due to globalization, and the sweet smell of baked goods from refined flour as well as fast-food and soft drinks are many of the carbohydrate culprits invading the healthy Japanese diet these days. Too much fats from meat and dairy are other culprits, as most Asians are lactose intolerant anyways, meat is proven to cause cancer, and dairy has its own host of illness related to its consumption.

Adzuki bean salad

My original recipe of adzuki bean salad with cabbage, daikon radish, carrot, ginger, green onions and goma dressing.

I will take the Japanese diet, thank you! With our vegetarian/vegan twist. Because the Japanese diet, Watanabe wrote, which contains mostly vegetables, rice and fish, was first recognized as generally superior to Western diets by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries of Japan in 1980 based on:

1: The 2,500-calorie diet of Japan in the 1980s provided the optimum nutritional balance, while the 3,200-calorie diet of Western nations was simply too much.

2: The Westernization of the Japanese diet following World War II reduced the excess carbohydrates and eliminated the deficiency in fats to provide the optimum nutritional balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat.

3: While the proteins found in Western diets are primarily animal proteins, the ideal nutritional balance of the Japanese diet is maintained with proteins derived from fish and vegetables.

May you be inspired to eat more like the traditional Japanese for health and more! I will be publishing detailed accounts of some of these Japanese foods I love so much as well as my original recipes I’ve created from them in future posts! Stay tuned!