Dokodemo Door!

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Was this guy for real? (Bonus: Barely-Related Okinawa tangent)

This was big news today in Japan and I doubt this has made the evening TV broadcasts where you live, but the U.S. State Department's head of the Japan Desk was fired in the past day.

Apparently, he'd made a number of unkind remarks about Okinawans at some kind of college talk. Well, I don't know about you, but if I had that kind of job I would probably feel as if I were under significant pressure to... not engage in such self-implicating jaw-music. In fact, if I had that kind of job, I'd rather think that I would feel as if someone was recording my public statements everyplace I went.

Incidentally, I was recently looking through my scuba-diving pics from Okinawa and this provides me with an excuse to post one....

I do have to say that going there was an interesting and unforgettable experience back a few years ago. In fact, that's when I rented a Nissan Fairlady Z to drive-around in at high speed. And, in case you don't know anything about cars, that was an extremely damn nice kind of convertible to tear-around in. Especially when you're screaming down the island's west coast so that wind can whip-through your hair amid sugarcane fields as far as the eye can see.

Yeah, that's right, I'm a wild guy! Whoo!

Anyway, among the big sights in Okinawa is Shuri-jo, the island's castle. This is a structure which is unique both historically and architecturally:

Shuri castle is the only castle in the world to use elements which are both Chinese and Japanese.

Even though it was devastated in the Battle of Okinawa and restored in 1992, it really is an amazing place to visit today. It's surrounded by walls and fortifications that show distinct Japanese influence, but on the inside, you see elements which show signs of feng shui and colors reminiscent of Ming and Qing dynasty governmental structures. It really is a hell of a hybrid to see up close. In fact, a dinner for a G8 summit was held in the dining room there back in the year 2000.

The islands of Okinawa were, for a while, the independent Ryūkyū Kingdom. The place was nominally-independent until its annexation by Japan in 1879. The Ryūkyū Kingdom was historically unique insofar that they had dual tributary relationships with both China and Satsuma, the southwesternmost daimyo of Japan... the modern prefecture of Kagoshima, in other words. But I'll be able to say more about that, after I've gone to Kagoshima in May...

...oh, wait! I've let the cat out of the bag.


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