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Welcome to TokyoFreePress Monday, December 22 2014 @ 07:38 AM CST
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And Who Will Have the Last Laugh?



Gullible people who swallow anything they hear from an authoritative figure such as Alan Greenspan are now puzzled over how to interpret recent news stories that seem to indicate that the worst is over by now. It looks as though the global crisis has proved far more short-lived than initially expected. Maybe the former FED chairman just wanted to pull their leg when he exaggerated the enormity of the situation in September last year.

With stock prices seemingly bottoming out, analysts and investors are upbeat everywhere and with financial institutions quickly ridding their balance sheets of tons of toxic assets, they are foreseeing rosy pictures based on their hefty second-quarter results.

Budget deficits are still ballooning and jobless rates remain high all over the world, but never mind; these are side issues.

So, have the governments of the G-20 nations performed miracles? Or was it yet another cheap trick?

They call it a business cycle inherent to capitalism which is, like climatic changes, basically unavoidable, if can be alleviated to a certain degree. It's just that a handful of bandits in Wall Street aggravated the downtrend with their excessive greed. But I don't agree to this characterization of the downturn because in all likelihood this looks more like an artificial crisis than a cyclic one.

This perception naturally leads you to these questions:

■ who were shaken off in the course of the deepening of the crisis?
■ and who are poised to have the last laugh in anticipation of a handsome profit to be reaped from it.

Small wonder most journalists, pundits and professors agree to the greed theory because they always side with the real culprits whoever they actually are. This is the easiest and the most effective way to defend, or even boost their vested interests in the status quo. To that end, they always see a conflict where there is none.

Their pet subjects, therefore, are constant struggles between two different groups of people, such as the working class v. capitalists, producers v. consumers, whites v. colored, men v. women, creditors v. debtors, democracy v. autocracy, the West v. the East, the North v. the South, Wall Street v. Main Street, and so on and so forth. In fact, though, none of these abstract groups represents any specific people. This is no way to deal with multifaceted issues in the current world order which is in the process of a total disintegration today.

To me these struggles are too stereotypical and more or less imaginary. I see the real battleground somewhere else.

For one thing, last fall we were supposed to see every participant in the equity market panic-selling all the shares he had held. Although no one seems to have doubted that was true, that wasn't true. You can't sell if you don't find a buyer. And recent rebound in stock prices is an unmistakable sign that the ones, who sneaked into market using the "dollar-cost averaging method" or the like, have now started shifting to the selling side, if slowly and carefully, so individual investors can buy back at a "minimized" loss what used to be in their portfolios.

By the same token, banking business also takes two, like tango. You can't lend money so recklessly unless there are reckless borrowers at the other end. This is a commonsense matter, but our regulators have always portrayed the creditors as the victims. They have a good reason to distort the picture this way.

In the October 13 issue of TIME Magazine, Niall Ferguson pointed out that as of 2006, American households were indebted as much as 100% of nation's gross domestic product whereas back in 1980, their debts had only accounted for 20% of GDP. According to Ferguson, American banks and other financial institution were even deeper in debt. By 2007, their indebtedness had accumulated to 116% of GDP.

In April, U.S. president showed a transparent gesture by asking his friends in the 13 major credit card companies to refrain from "unfair" and "deceptive" practices with their debtors. Once again he failed to address the real issue indicated by the fact that millions of card holders are already "maxed out." for a different reason.

Actually tough disciplinary measures should have been imposed on the credit card users as well - and more importantly on their role model, president himself. His administration is habitually acting even sillier than its debt-ridden supporters. In the absence of this awareness, not a few independent analysts have been warning that they see a credit card crisis on the horizon if the current one triggered by the subprime woes may subside before long.

Just listen to Elizabeth Warren, Harvard law professor, talking in this YouTube video about America's Debt Epidemic. It is these sick people incapable of living within their means that elected Obama as their role model.

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Defiantly Committed to Fellow Countrymen



Hamlet: Do you see yonder cloud that's almost in shape of a camel?
Polonius: By the mass, and 'tis like a camel, indeed.
Hamlet: Methinks it is like a weasel.
Polonius: It is backed like a weasel.
Hamlet: Or like a whale?
Polonius: Very like a whale.

- From Act III of Shakespeare's Hamlet

As I have written before, I wouldn't have joined the workforce as a "new grad" fifty years ago had it not been for a bit too optimistic assumption that as a corporate warrior, I would be able to make a positive difference to the community by actualizing my own self. Subsequently I remained fully committed to the things I was working on and the people I was working with until the end of my 46-year-long career mainly spent in the Japanese subsidiaries of foreign companies headquartered in the U.S., Switzerland and Germany.

In early years of my career with these foreign employers, I was torn apart in a situation that always required a dual loyalty. But over time I acquired a certain set of skills which enabled me to effectively deal with different business practices, governing laws and the underlying cultures without compromising on my own principles. I would call this skill set integrity.

When I was overseeing finance and administration at the Swiss company, my direct boss was a self-important macho married to a Japanese woman. With his massive body weighing over 250lb, the egomaniac expat looked like a sumo's grand champion but actually he was a former captain for a tank unit of the Swiss Army. He thought he had a special privilege to reign over us like a tyrant or a colonial governor because so many local employees had spoiled him for more than a quarter century since he first landed in the country which had yet to fully recover from the ashes of the war.

To make sure the supreme power he thought was bestowed on him wasn't a megalomaniac delusion, he always surrounded himself with sycophants. So it was a big misstep that he hired me as one of his righthand men in the early 1980s.
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Our Way of Living and Dying



Only dead fish go with the flow. (Sarah Palin, July 4)

Earlier this week the latest figures of average life expectancy were released. The statistics showed that Japanese women are enjoying the world's longest life span of 86.05 years while Japanese men ranked No. 4 only next to their counterparts in Iceland, Switzerland and Hong Kong. This leaves you wondering what the heck we cling to our empty life that long for.

Here's another citation from The Chrysanthemum and the Sword.. Actually it's a requotation because author Ruth Benedict was just quoting a wartime broadcast which was all too familiar to the Japanese people of my age or older.

After the air battles were over, the Japanese planes returned to their base in small formations of three or four. A Captain was in one of the first planes to return. After alighting from his plane, he stood on the ground and gazed into the sky through binoculars. As his men returned, he counted. He looked rather pale, but he was quite steady. After the last plane returned he made out a report and proceeded to Headquarters. At Headquarters he made his report to the Commanding Officer. As soon as he had finished his report, however, he suddenly dropped to the ground. The officer on the spot rushed to give assistance but alas! he was dead. On examining his body it was found that it was already cold, and he had a bullet wound in his chest, which had proved fatal. It is impossible for the body of a newly-dead person to be cold. Nevertheless the body of the dead captain was as cold as ice. The Captain must have been dead long before, and it was his spirit that made the report. Such a miraculous fact must have been achieved by the strict sense of responsibility that the dead Captain possessed.

Constantly misguided by the dictionary that wrongly defines 民主主義 (minshu-shugi) as democracy, 天皇 (tenno) under the postwar Constitution as a useless but harmless figurehead, and 変革 (henkaku) as change, those arrogant, intellectually lazy, surface-scratching, cherry-picking Japan experts in the U.S. tend to underestimate our supernatural power to flexibly cross the boundary back and forth between life and death, or our propensity to roam around the border so aimlessly and interminably. Benedict and her fellow countrymen have always said that:
■ wartime Japanese were so superstitious as to believe in the absurd propaganda such as this one,
■ but after the war defeat they came out much smarter.
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Digital Maoism and Six-Word Stories


Jaron Lanier

The phrase Digital Maoism (aka Online Collectivism) was coined by Jaron Lanier, an American computer scientist, composer, visual artist and author, in his May 2005 essay.

Four years later, a growing number of Netizens are becoming fascinated with a new literary format named six-word stories. The slogan there is, "Brevity is a virtue." The one who has led the way to the kiddy stuff since last year gives Ernest Hemingway credit for his inspiration. According to him, the shortest-ever story in the history of literature is the one written by the American Nobel laureate. It goes like this:

For sale: Baby Shoes, Never Worn.

This crap is supposed to be considered profound simply because it's Hemingway. But I suspect that the new breed of American Netizens owe Japanese haiku poets their literary movement more than they owe it to Hemingway.

As I explained in a TokyoFreePress story titled Seamless Transition from Haiku to Keitai, nothing illustrates the essence of Japanese culture better than their obsession with the myth of homogeneity. In literature, the same pathological trait has translated into the 17-syllable format since the 17th century. Without the delusive belief that all the community members shared the same set of word associations, they would never have thought a minimal number of words would be enough to have their messages get through to the receiving ends. This is how the haiku mentality has taken root in this climate.

The myth was invented in the early 8th century by a couple of successive emperors as a tool for pacifying the Japanese archipelago. Ever since their successors have taken advantage of the mental defect to the fullest by leveraging the same method. Even today the media keep implanting into their audience a logic circuit that always ensures a standardized response to a given stimulus.

To Japanese, it has always been true that "less is more." But before long we will be hearing them say, "Nothing is everything," because the typical distortion of Buddha's tenet is an inevitable consequence of the pursuit of brevity. This is where the world's most hive-minded people are destined.

It is also interesting to know that if you compose a good haiku (there are some,) you'll get a favorable review which is often hundred times longer than your piece, whereas if you choose to give a full-length elaboration on your thought, as I often do, the longest feedback you can expect from your audience is a 17-syllable-long review. Most typically it's as short as 12-syllables: nagasugite yomu-ki ga shinai, or I don't want to read such a wordy piece. It's against this backdrop that manga now accounts for more than 70% of all the printed publication in Japan. And as you may know, manga are much less wordy as compared to comics in the West. Sometimes they have no speech bubbles.

As Lanier feared four years ago, the same thing is happening in America. The country is now rapidly transforming itself from a diverse culture to a hive-minded society. Small wonder that the six-word format is flourishing in the Obama Nation.

Lanier's May 2005 essay discusses a lot about the pros and cons of the Wikipedian way of thinking, but actually Digital Maoism refers to the general attitude of a broader Internet population. So let me give you a different perspective on this trend here.

You are often asked, or ask yourself, these questions - whether you approve or disapprove of things such as:
.
Democracy as against autocracy
Republicans as against Democrats (in America)
Liberal Democratic Party as against Democratic Party of Japan (in Japan)
War as against peace
Multilateralism as against unilateralism
Resort to military option as against the "keep dancing at the U.N. ballroom" option
Same-sex marriages
Abortion
Free market system as against centrally controlled economy
Right to carry firearms
Proliferation as against the oligopoly of the nukes

The list of FAQs goes on and on. Actually it's as long as the hyper-extensive agenda of the sufferer of ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) in the White House.
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Hillary Clinton Should Stop Busybodying Us


Once upon a time we
saw this picture

Recently I stick around in the neighborhood of Yokohama China Town, where I live, because I'm physically too weak to take an excursion every time I eat out, I can't afford to have a meal any more decent than livestock feed, and now it wouldn't make any difference to my health whether or not I avoid oily, stinky Chinese food. That's why these days I have befriended many local Chinese. Since most of them are quite intelligent, I can learn from both mainlanders and Taiwanese much more than I can from my brain-dead compatriots.

Last night I had a talk with a Chinese student working in a nearby eatery. The guy majoring in business administration here told me that he remembers what it was like to see the Tiananmen tumult even though he was a preschool kid in 1989. At the end of our stand talking in Japanese, he concluded: "I think our policymakers are no different from their foreign counterparts. They all stink." I said, "That's why you are studying business administration rather than political science. Is that right?" "You bet," exclaimed the guy.

Actually, if you compare the two governments between China and the U.S., it's almost a toss-up, but in a way Beijing has outdone Washington in recent years. In China their memories of the June 4 massacre are fading away by now. On the contrary the Japanese have yet to get over the scar from WWII because the "umbilical cord" that has connected us to America since 1960 is still there. Now totally eroded, it has started festering all over. As a result our entire nation remains crippled.

On the eve of the 20th anniversary of the incident, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton reportedly touched on her pet subject, calling on the Beijing government to release all those still imprisoned in connection with the protests, stop harassing those who took part and begin a dialogue with the victims' families. In response, Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang said Clinton's remarks amounted to "crudely meddling in Chinese domestic affairs."

Gang was right. Clinton has no moral authority to give the Chinese her annual lecture on human rights.
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Comparing Truman's Genocide against Hitler's Holocaust

This is to follow up my previous post entitled An Unprecedented Way of Genocide Abetted by the Reputable Anthropologist from a different perspective.



Some of you will say the Holocaust and Truman's version of genocide are not really comparable. Some others may think the Holocaust was more brutal because its victims by far outnumbered the Japanese civilians incinerated in the last days of the war.

I agree that a superficial comparison between the two war crimes does not make a lot of sense. Yet I am inclined to juxtapose them because what I witnessed from 1944 through 1945 was the single most important event in my 73-year life.

Unlike Holocaust survivors or descendants of its victims, not a single Japanese has called atrocities ordered by Harry S. Truman an act of genocide. Even A-bomb survivors and their offspring always stop short of calling the unforgivable crime by that name. There are two reasons for their forgivingness.

Reason 1: The Japanese don't understand that one crime you committed against your enemy does not offset against another committed against you by another enemy. As Ruth Benedict pointed out, they have no moral absolutes. So they always relativize things. Japan's Communist Party is no exception.

In his April 5 speech, Obama said, "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon (sic) the United States has a moral responsibility to act,". His remarks were well-received here. On April 28 Kazuo Shii, president of the JCP, sent a letter to Obama to express his gratitude for his "initiative."

Earlier this week, Shii received a reply letter, signed by an Undersecretary of State on behalf of the U.S. President, which said Obama was pleased to know the JCP shares with him the same enthusiasm for a nuclear-free world. Shii looked really exhilarated because this is the first letter the U.S. government has ever sent to the communist party. Maybe Obama doesn't know JCP's "enthusiasm" was first ignited by the Soviet Union. JCP-led Japan Council against Atomic and Hydrogen Bombs used to be in favor of nuclear tests conducted by the USSR.

It's regrettable that either president has no brains to understand there's nothing wrong with just possessing or even using the nuke. As is true with conventional weaponry, the real problem always lies with when and where to use it, and to what end. It's all the more tragic because the JCP is the only party that has not officially approved the Imperial Institution and the U.S.-Japanese security treaty. Shii was in a position to have told Obama that the U.S. has a moral responsibility not for using the bombs, but for not using them in Tokyo to decapitate Japan. But he didn't.
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An unprecedented way of genocide abetted by an anthropologist well-versed in the Japanese culture


Tokyo air-raids 1944-1945



Top: The genocide guidebook disguised as an anthropological work
Bottom: Its author Ruth Benedict

I read this book in Japanese translation when I was 13 years of age. Our teacher at the social studies classes was a son of Kazuo Aoki, former minister in charge of the Great East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere in Tojo's junta. He told us to peruse it because we would find our own selves exquisitely described in the reading assignment. As he had promised, I found a lot of stereotypical characterization of "Tanaka San, the Japanese 'anybody'," as Benedict put it, but didn't find myself or my father at all there. I concluded that The Chrysanthemum and the Sword is an anthropological rubbish.

Sixty years later, however, I somehow felt an urge to revisit the same crap because these days things on both sides of the Pacific seem to be unfolding as if people are still suffering the aftereffects from overdose of a toxic agent administered by the author. In recent years it's increasingly evident that people of my generation, and our children and grandchildren alike, feel deep inside that something has remained unsettled and that it's long overdue by now.

As for the U.S., Obama's silver tongue is on a roll more than ever. On April 5 at the Hradcany Square in Prague, Czech Republic, he announced a bold plan to negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia by the end of this year. As usual he tried to get around the most sticking points involved in the issue he was talking about.

With the exception of START I signed by Ronald Reagan and Mikhail Gorbachev, any arms reduction deal has not been effectively implemented to date for various reasons. And more importantly, the hypocritical and unrealistic anti-nuke frameworks such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and the multilateral talks over the nuclear programs of Iran and North Korea have long proved dysfunctional.

To gloss over the real issue, Obama said: "As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act." The empty incantation, of course, heartened equally empty-headed Japanese people, especially the mayors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. It's appalling to know these learning-disabled people still think we can undo what we've done in the past. If we could, still we shouldn't - because it's looking away from the ever-changing reality.

In Japan, the approval rating of the coalition government between the Liberal Democratic Party and Komei-to (the party backed by the legitimized cult Soka-Gakkai) has inched up since March thanks to the revelation of the wrongdoing of Ichiro Ozawa, head of the Democratic Party of Japan, although his collusive relations with the construction company is nothing but a sideline business for the crook who has milked Japan's Defense Ministry in the last four decades.

On May 11 Ozawa finally announced to step down as DPJ head to take responsibility for the irregularities he would never admit to. You won't understand his queer logic, if there is any logic at all, until after you read Ruth Benedict's book. This is a typical way a bandit takes responsibility in this country. On Saturday, Yukio Hatoyama, one of Ozawa's henchmen, was "elected" to succeed him as the party head.

As a result, by this fall we will see a general election for the House of Representatives fought between the LDP headed by the grandson of Shigeru Yoshida and the DPJ now headed by the grandson of Ichiro Hatoyama. Yoshida always bragged about his "friendship" with Douglas MacArthur, but in fact, he was one of those who gave the general an indelible impression that all Japanese adults were 12 years old. Ichiro Hatoyama was the first prime minister under the 1955 System. As you already know, the political system known by that name is a trap artfully set up by MacArthur against the Japanese people.

This is an unmistakable sign that this nation has been going around in circles for the last 64 years amid the sea change you've seen everywhere else.

All this indicates that the unviable Japan is really invincible now. This country can't even collapse on its own, let alone change. That's why I made up my mind to part ways with 1.3K yen to purchase The Chrysanthemum and the Sword in its 2005 paperback edition from Mariner Books. I just wanted to have a fresh look into the collusive relations between the two peoples. · read more (2,135 words)
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Politically Correct Ways to Deal with Swine Flu



This is to provide my audience with some tips on how to deal with Swine Flu in the wake of the announcement by the WHO that it raised the alert level to the second highest Phase 5.

Rule 1: It was quite OK to call the disease caused by the H5N1 virus Avian Flu. Don't ask me why. Also it was permissible to call Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy mad cow disease, thanks to the maturity and torelance shown by Hindus. But make no mistake; it's wrong to call the new pestilence Swine Flu. If you break the rule, that will prompt Muslims to slaughter hundreds of innocent piggies, as Egyptians actually did a couple of weeks ago. Instead of putting the undue blame on these pious Arabic people, you should strictly observe this rule. This is the only way to keep peace. By the way, the correct way to refer to the disease is H1N1 Influenza Type A.

Rule 2: Be courageous enough to expose yourself to those people, such as Mexicans, who are likely to bring you H1N1 viruses. If you are American and dare to insist to close the borders with Mexico, you will be labeled a racist. If you are Japanese, don't refuse personal contact with Americans just because they are most exposed to the viruses coming from the south of the border. Always bear in mind that you are obliged to reciprocate their favor of protecting your country against possible attacks from neighboring rogue nations at the cost of American lives.

Rule 3: Wash your hands every nook and cranny every time you came home. If you don't know how to wash your hands, watch Japanese TV. Around the clock every newscaster is repeatedly telling you the procedure you have to go through in the bathroom very precisely. They invariably say you shouldn't be through with the hand-cleansing ritual at least until 15 seconds elapse. But when taking into account the pathological obsession of the Japanese with cleanliness on the outside, I think 12 seconds are enough for foreigners. If you are Japanese and break the rule, the consequence can be graver than just infected with H1N1. You will be considered to have contracted more serious disease by the name of Anti-Conformism. Most probably you will be detained in an isolation ward. As a matter of practice it will be like you are deprived of your nationality.

Rule 4: Don't fail to wear a mask whenever you go out. Here, too, you can count on Japanese newscasters for invaluable tips. They boldly assume that all the TV viewers know how to put on a mask. Yet they think it's expecting too much from the neotenized viewers to assume they are good at undoing it as well. So they quickly add this to their instructions: "When you are back home and removing the mask, never touch other parts of the mask than straps, because its surface can be contaminated by H1N1." Maybe you just have to cross your fingers that straps are not contaminated. There is one thing that even attentive instructors seldom mention; the mask can also serve as a gag that prevents you from transmitting to others another deadly virus named the truth. That is why many Japanese wear a mask throughout the year.
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REPORTERS WITHOUT BORDERS Should Wake Up or Break Up

Reporters without Boarders (or Reporters sans Frontieres) was founded in 1985 in Montpellier, France. Ever since the self-proclaimed press freedom watchdog, now based in Paris, has kept a watchful eye on the mainstream and web-based media worldwide.

In the past RSF earned a good reputation for its relatively unbiased way of providing comparative data about how far reporters of each country were allowed to exercise press freedom. But in recent years RSF has been increasingly discrediting itself.

Let's take a look at the press freedom ranking RSF publishes every year. The following list shows how G-8 countries and China fared in comparison with other countries in 2004 and 2008:

Country Ranking
2004
Ranking
2008
No. of Countries/Regions on the List 167 173
Canada 18 13
China 162 167
France 19 35
Germany 11 20
Italy 39 44
Japan 42 29
Russia 140 141
United Kingdom 30 23
United States (American Territory) 22 36
United States (Extra-territorial, incl. Iraq) 108 119


Anyone in his right mind will have difficulty understanding how RSF came up with its "Press Freedom Indices" when press freedom is something that you can't readily quantify - unless you are prejudiced against some regimes and in favor of some others.

In fact the press freedom watchdog relies primarily on the statistical figures available to it, such as:how many journalists and bloggers were killed, arrested, physically assaulted, threatened and how many media outlets and websites were censored, blocked, shut down and suspended. That means that RSF has to use arbitrary criteria when it comes to nations where such an overt suppression of free press is not commonplace.

Looking at the apparently politicized ranking, you certainly feel like recollecting what happened in these nine countries between 2004 and 2008.

France sank to No. 35 presumably because the pro-American Nicolas Sarkozy became the 23rd President of the French Republic in May 2007. No other event would explain France's sharp descent.
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Phantom Parade to Commemorate the 150th Anniversary of the Opening of Yokohama Port


Left: Hotel New Grand where Douglas MacArthur
checked in on August 30, 1945 to prepare himself for
the September 2 surrender ceremony aboard the USS
Missouri
Center: The Second Perry loved New Grand so much
that the hotel survived repeated airraids. By the same
token, the compassionate general acquitted the Emp-
eror of his heinous crime of claiming 3-million Japanese
lives for the absurd cause of preserving the imperial
institution
Right: You don't have to be a good physiognomist to
tell Yokohama Mayor Hiroshi Nakada is a moron who
doesn't understand there was nothing to celebrate in
the forced ratification of the Convention of Kanagawa
150 years ago

I am a Tokyo native and stayed in the capital city for almost 60 years until the burst of the bubble economy somehow brought me to Yokohama, the port city my political blog TokyoFreePress is currently based in. The reason I decided to settle down here was because I thought if someday the modern history of this nation is to be rewritten strictly based on facts, Yokohama should be the right place to witness the milestone. As the emperor-retained historians totally fabricated Japan's ancient history in the early-8th century, this municipality has deliberately taken part in the falsification of the nation's modern history since the 1850s.

On Sunday afternoon, I was sitting at my computer when I heard an exhilarating tune played by a marching band passing by the nearby Yamashita-Koen seaside park. This year the City Hall had been planning to jazz up, more than ever, the annual International Costume Parade to make it the centerpiece of the 150th Anniversary of the opening-up of the port after more than 200 years of sakoku (the seclusion policy.) I knew something to party about has yet to come. But whenever I hear a duple-meter music such as this one, I get a compulsive sensation that makes me act like a Hamelin kid lured by the Pied Piper. The weather was fine, and I was relatively in good shape. So I hit the streets carrying my digital camera with me.



· read more (159 words)