Okinawa and the Continuing US Military Presence

Tourist Shop Naha
Hand Slice Naha Shop
Tacky Shop Naha
Traditional Okinawa Lion And A Cat
Model Of Shuri Castle Ryukyu Days
Shuri Castle Detail Okinawa
Details Of The American Advance Okinawa
Generals Underground Room Okinawa
Destruction In The War Okinawa
Group Suicide Grenade Blast Marks Okinawa
Memorial War Dead Okinawa
Monument Himeyuri In Front Of Cave Entrance Okinawa
Himeyuri Cave Okinawa Where Schoolchildren Died
US Planes Kadena Air Base Okinawa
Whale Shark Crowd Aquarium Okinawa
Whale Aquarium Okinawa
Rays Aquarium Okinawa
Strange English Okinawa

Okinawa was originally an independent kingdom called Ryukyu. A very small island state, it bloomed because of its ideal location for trading, and its patronage of, and support from, Imperial China. It was absorbed into Japan by the late 19th century, even though its populace is culturally distinct from that of the rest of the country.

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New Years Eve and New Years Day in Tokyo

Queueing Before Midnight New Year Tokyo
Striking Bell Midhight Tokyo New Year
Torii Crowds New Year Tokyo
Sake Barrels Tokyo Shrine
Crowds New Year Tokyo
Kimono New Year Tokyo
Torii New Year Tokyo
Crowds Shrine New Year Tokyo
Queuing Shrine New Year Tokyo
Shrine New Year Tokyo
Selling Arrows Hamaya New Year Tokyo
Kimono Wishes New Year Tokyo
Tying Wishes New Year Tokyo
Wishes New Year Tokyo
Christian Sign New Year Tokyo
Lamp New Year Tokyo

New Year is known as oshogatsu and is the most important holiday in Japan. Although in recent years Xmas is celebrated, once Dec 25th has passed all Xmas decorations are taken down overnight, to be replaced by traditional ones made of bamboo and pine branches. All duties are supposed to be finished before the end of the year, bonenkai (“forgetting the year”) parties are common, and houses are cleaned even more spotlessly than usual.

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Loyalty and the 47 Ronin

47 Ronin Tokyo Standing
47 Ronin Tokyo Closeup
47 Ronin Tokyo Warriors Through Gate
47 Ronin Tokyo Head On Pole
47 Ronin Tokyo Banner
47 Ronin Tokyo Single File
47 Ronin Tokyo Graves
47 Ronin Tokyo Graves 2
47 Ronin Tokyo Asano Grave
47 Ronin Tokyo Asano Grave Name
47 Ronin Tokyo Oishi Nameplate
47 Ronin Tokyo Sengakuji Poster

The true story of the 47 Ronin (masterless samurai) is one of the most famous in Japan. It is a tale adapted into countless kabuki plays, bunraku puppet shows, woodblock prints, and later films and television shows. Fictionalized versions of the story are known as Chushingura, and continue to be very popular to this day. It is based on an incident that happened during Japan’s feudal era.

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The 44th Tokyo Motor Show

Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Big Sight
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Big Sight Saw
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Bmw
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Mercedes
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Mercedes Interior
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Concept Van 2
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Concept Van
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Honda Sports
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Car Concept
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Bubble Concept
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Car Interior
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Model F1
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 F1
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Sexy Sports
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Bikes
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Future Bike
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Slingshot
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Gull Wing
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Mitsubishi Car
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Mini Concept Car
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Shop Van
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Trike
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Wander Stand
Tokyo Motor Show 2015 Small Concept

This car show is held in Tokyo once every two years. In the most recent one, there were 42 world debuts of either improved models of existing cars like the Prius, or else concept cars, some very futuristic. Though many of the manufacturers represented at this show were Japanese, there was a strong showing by Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, Peugeot and many other foreign manufacturers.

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Climbing Mount Fuji: not a task for wimps

Mt.fuji Base Sign
Mt.fuji 5th Station
Mt.fuji Climbers
Mt.fuji Sign To Top
Mt.fuji Windbent Trees
Mt.fuji Sunbleachd Tree Roots
Mt.fuji Barriers Rockslide
Side Of Mt.fuji Green
Mt.fuji Cloud 6th Station
Mt.fuji Pole Flag
Mt.fuji Pole Stamps
Mt.fuji Stopover Shop
Mt.fuji Rocks On Building Roof
Mt.fuji Rocky Climbers
Mt.fuji Ascent Clouds
Mt.fuji Red Torii Rays
Mt.fuji Backpackers
Mt.fuji Red Earth Looking Down
Mt.fuji Silhouette Clouds
Mt.fuji Sign Partway Up
Mt.fuji Red Torii Gate
Mt.fuji Side Clouds
Mt.fuji Food Oxygen Sign
Mt.fuji Almost Top
Mt.fuji Summit Rock House
Mt.fuji Top Tony Smyth
Mt.fuji First Sunrise
Mt.fuji Sunrise
Mt.fuji Scenery
Mt.fuji Beginning Descent
Mt.fuji Zigzag Route Down
Mt.fuji Badge
Mt.fuji Sunburnt Hand
Mt.fuji Sunburned Tony Smyth

O snail
Climb Mount Fuji,
But slowly, slowly!

(Haiku by Kobayashi Issa)

There’s a well-known Japanese proverb that says, “A wise man will climb Mt Fuji once; a fool will climb Mt Fuji twice.” I have just returned from climbing Mount Fuji for the second time. Why did I do it again? Mainly to get photos for this website. Here’s the story; first a little background (the next two paragraphs below are taken direct from my book ‘Fukushima and the coming Tokyo earthquake: and what it will mean for a fragile world economy’). Buy it and learn lots, grasshopper.

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All photos and text copyright © Tony Smyth