Graves of the 47 Ronin

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I visited Sengakuji after a late night and too many bottles of Shochu in Nishiogikubo.  I went drinking with a Japanese friend and it was a great experience although I do not remember much of it.  He was dressed in traditional Japanese clothing and the street he took me to was lined with small, seemingly Edo-era restaurants.  Each one only seated between 8 – 15 people and we started drinking early.  He always added a drink called “Hoppy” to his Shochu and I was confused at first when he told me it didn’t contain any alcohol.  He let me know that after World War II the capacity to produce beer was much reduced yet people still wanted that beer taste.  Hoppy could be easily produced and when added to Shochu it gave a beer flavor.

Koma Shrine 高麗神社

Koma Shrine

http://goo.gl/maps/qw0V1

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I learned that this was a Korean shrine but nobody could explain the history behind it.

Yes, ok, it is a Korean shrine but what is a Korean shrine doing in Japan?  Is there a large Korean community nearby?

To find the answer I had to do a simple Google search and found the answer – not in Wikipedia since there doesn’t seem to be an entry – on the Japan visitor website which had this nice summary.

Sunrise in Saitama

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おはようございます!

The beautiful, ancient rice field is now in harvest season.  I felt grateful to be able to catch this sunrise as the only sliver of clear sky is just on the horizon and the space between the hill and tree only amounts to about a month of visibility.  To think that my wife’s family has lived in this same area for over 300 years makes me reflect on the brevity of our short lives and the shadows of history beneath our feet.  I would like to stand in this spot, and indeed every spot in the whole world since the beginning of time, to watch empires rise and fall, as well as the rice grow from seed to harvest throughout the generations.

A rice field haiku

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The ancient rice field
Saturated by gray clouds
Of US warplanes above

Just walked through this beautiful landscape and was struck by the contrast of its timeless serenity and the roaring of the ceaseless American warplanes flying overhead towards Yokosuka. It is a melancholy feeling indeed and brought forth an unsolicited haiku.

Update 9.25.2015

I wanted to add more to this post.  All day long military planes and helicopters are flying over Saitama which I assume are on their way to Yokosuka airbase.  It is a strange thing to see your country’s (empire’s) aircraft flying over a sovereign nation.  It has been this way since the end of World War II so the locals no longer seem to notice it.