Thursday, September 20, 2007

My Article on Dark Roasted Blend

I just wanted to let everyone know that I have an article out on Dark Roasted Blend. If you've never checked them out before you should. They feature collections of pictures ranging from the weird to the wonderful. This can include collections of photos of cool advertisements to funny signs to pictures featuring the latest technology and a lot more. Some of my favorite collections are those related to the space shuttle and outer space. My article is on the great variety of Japanese vending machines that exist.

You'll also find articles like this one on there written by my friend Jason Heath. Jason has been mentioned here before. He is the author of the Double Bass Blog and the podcast Contrabass Conversations. Jason has a great style of writing and his pictorial article on Dark Roasted Blend is well worth looking into.

I want to thank Avi Abrams for contacting me and giving me the opportunity to join the team of writers at Dark Roasted Blend. I consider it quite an honor to be able to contribute content to one of my favorite blogs.

I hope all of you enjoy a dark roast as much as I do.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Work in Progress and Pictures of Mt. Fuji

I am planning some posts with more substance, honest I am. However, a three year old toddler, and a seven week old infant tend to take up a great deal of time and attention. My intention is to finish up on a story outline for what, I'm hoping, will eventually become a podcast novel for me. I'm trying to meld things I know from life here in the Midwest and my time in Japan and add an element of the fantastic to the results. I'll try to keep everyone updated on the progress, though it may be slow getting the ball rolling again.

In the meantime I hope you enjoy these two pictures of Mt. Fuji. I enjoy the way they focus on the elements of Japanese life in the foreground, allowing Fuji-san to stand back, keeping watch over his land.

Japanese fishing boats. I believe this is in Suruga Bay, to the west of the Izu Peninsula, though I'm not positive.

An open field in front of some Japanese dwellings. I'm not sure exactly what kind of field this is. No, not a rice paddy.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Japanese Pictures

Here are more wonderful pictures from Japan, though not necessarily of Japan, all taken by Tetsuya Tanaka.

Standing Buddha statues at a sculpture's workshop.

The town of Ajiro.

Paper lanterns on the side of a Matsuri float.


Japanese fishing boat.

Wind blowing past Fuji-san.

A Question of Loyalty

Here's another essay that I wrote during my college years. With the addition of Japanese material on this site I thought this would be a good one to include for everyone. I hope you enjoy it.

The United States of America possesses a short, yet rich history. This history also contains many dark episodes that our people would rather forget about. One such incident occurred after the Japanese Military attacked Pearl Harbor. This attack gave the citizens of the West Coast an excuse to show their racial prejudice openly.

The U.S. Government made a decision based on prejudice and fear of people of Japanese ancestry. On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. This government document “paved the way for a massive eviction and subsequent imprisonment of Japanese American” (Tateishi, xviii). This document was clearly an attack on the Japanese people, but America didn’t seem to realize it. People didn’t seem to mind that the document left people of German and Italian ancestry virtually untouched, save those who had been specifically singled out by the intelligence agencies as security risks.

The Nisei, second generation Japanese Americans, believed that they would receive fair treatment and be received as the citizens that they were. This was continually proved to be a false belief, despite their attempts to show the loyalty they had for their country. Even when approximately 33,000 Nisei served in the military during World War II, acts of racism occurred frequently. Despite the lack of faith that America showed for its Japanese American soldiers in the U.S. Army, these Nisei continued to perform to the best of their abilities to protect the land that they called home.

The Nisei involvement in the war began with the formation of the 100th Battalion in Hawaii. These men began as a part of the Hawaii National Guard, but were requested to remove themselves from active duty by the by the War Department. Hawaiian Commander Lieutenant General Delos Emmons wanted to keep this from happening. “He needed the manpower and had been impressed with the desire of many Hawaiian Nisei to prove their loyalty. After much discussion, Emmons recommended that a special Nisei Battalion be formed and removed to the mainland” (Personal Justice Denied, 256).

After the 100th Battalion finished their training they shipped out for North Africa and were immediately sent north to Italy to join in the combat. These men entered into a bloody campaign that slowly moved the Allies up the Italian peninsula. The 100th Battalion suffered several casualties as they refused to give up in their efforts for the Allies. Warren Fencl, who fought near the 100th said of it, “The only time they ever had a desertion was from the hospital to get back to the front” (Personal Justice Denied, 256).

During the time that the 100th Battalion was earning over 900 Purple Hearts, the 442nd Regimental Combat Team had been formed and trained back home. The 442nd landed at Naples and immediately moved north to meet up with the 100th, who had engaged in heavy fighting on their way to Rome. At this time the 100th officially became a part of the 442nd.

The 442nd definitely showed their ability to serve their country during World War II. And with this they also showed their loyalty for the United States. During seven major campaigns, the 442nd took 9,486 casualties. They were one of the war’s most highly decorated regiment combat teams. The 442nd received seven Presidential Distinguished Unit Citations and earned 18,143 individual decorations—including one Congressional Medal of Honor, 47 Distinguished Service Crosses, 350 Silver Stars, 810 Bronze Stars and more than 3,600 Purple Hearts.

On July 27, 1944, Lieutenant General Mark W. Clark, Commander of the Fifth Army, awarded the 100th Battalion a Presidential Citation and commended the other units for their performances, saying:

You are always thinking of your country before yourselves. You have never complained through your long periods in the line. You have written a brilliant chapter in the history of the fighting men in America. You are always ready to close with the enemy, and you have always defeated him. The 34th Division is proud of you, the Fifth Army is proud of you, and the whole of the United States is proud of you (Personal Justice Denied, 257).

But the whole of the United States was not proud of the accomplishments of the 100th Battalion or the 442nd Regiment Combat Team. In fact, the participation of Japanese Americans in the U.S. Military was enough to drive some peoples’ prejudice to the point of rage. This racial hatred drove people to act terribly towards Japanese Americans they saw in soldiers uniforms. “In the little town of McGehee, a Nisei soldier was attacked and yelled at. “You dirty Jap!” Such an assault on a U.S. soldier reverberated throughout the internment camps” (Tsukamoto and Pinkerton, 153). There are also much more violent stories of outbursts against U.S. soldiers. “Private Louis Furushiro was shot at when he stopped at a cafĂ© for coffee. His assailant was a 72-year-old man who had two sons in the service. He fired at him from just ten feet away; Louis dodged just in time and escaped with only powder burns on his face” (Tsukamoto and Pinkerton, 153). One of the most well known stories of discrimination against Nisei soldiers is the story of United States Senator, then Captain, Daniel Inouye. “Captain Inouye had lost his arm in combat. In San Francisco, on his way to Hawaii, Inouye went to a barbershop. He was in uniform, medals and empty sleeve pinned to his chest. The barber refused to cut his hair. ‘We don’t serve Japs here,’ he said” (Levine, 128).

Of course, American citizens were not the only ones that looked down upon those Nisei that chose to serve the United States in the military. There were several groups of Japanese in the camps that frowned on all those that would serve a country that locked them up like this. One woman, Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston, that experienced life in the camps recalls how her father showed support for the United States, and how he wouldn’t back down on his view, no matter what the others thought about him. He was even willing to fight for his opinion. She told of how several men in the mess hall one early morning started whispering inu (dog) about her father. One man had jumped up and made the accusation aloud. “Papa went for him. Now, outside in the dirt, Pap had him by the throat and would have strangled him, but some other men pulled them apart. I had never seen him so livid, yelling and out of his head with rage” (Houston and Houston, 76). Later that evening, her family huddled in their cabin from a dust storm, Jeanne heard her father singing the Japanese national anthem. Unlike other anthems, this was not a martial song, or a victory song, but rather a poem. It is a poem that goes back to the ninth century, and can be read as a personal credo for endurance,

Kimi ga yo wa chiyoni

yachiyoni sa-za-re i-shi no i-wa-o to

na-ri-te ko-ke no musu made.

May thy peaceful reign last long.

May it last for thousands of years,

Until this tiny stone will grow

Into a massive rock, and the moss

Will cover it deep and thick

(Houston and Houston, 78).

Several Americans could not bring themselves to understand that the Japanese American 442nd Regiment Combat Team was one of the driving forces that allowed the Allies to win the war. Some would say they even shortened the war by at least two years. How could a group of people, who’s families were still locked away in camps back home, fight so effectively and relentlessly for a country that didn’t know if it could trust them? One soldier, Tom Kawaguchi, from the 442nd gave some of the credit to his ancestry. “I think the Japanese culture really came into play, all the things that we were taught as kids—honesty, integrity, honor, and haji, ‘not bringing shame on the family’” (Tateishi, 182). These cultural teachings brought a great sense of unity to the 442nd. They were constantly looking out for each other and worrying about their fellow soldiers. They knew that if they were hit they’d never be left out there.

There was a great deal of opposition to the Nisei involvement in the war. But along with this could be found a lot of support for these young men who fought valiantly and accomplished incredible feats for their country. One soldier, Mitsuo Usui, experienced both rejection and acceptance through the same experience, which was one common to what many returning veterans would face. Mitsuo had boarded a bus. A lady sitting in the front of the bus saw him and cursed him for being Japanese. Mitsuo was a proud soldier returning from the war, decked in his new uniform and new paratrooper boots, all his campaign medals and awards proudly displayed on his chest. When the lady made her remark the bus driver pulled the bus over and asked her to either apologize to the American soldier of get off of his bus. She simply got off the bus. Mitsuo relates his response, “Embarrassed by the situation, I turned around to thank the bus driver. He said that’s okay, buddy, everything is going to be okay from now on out. Encouraged by his comment, I thanked him and as I was turning away, I noticed a discharge pin on his lapel” (Personal Justice Denied, 260).

Another person who appreciated the Nisei soldiers was Yanina Cywinska. She was a Polish Catholic who was being held in a Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, Germany, with her family because her father was helping Jews escape the Nazis. This camp was liberated by the 552nd Field Artillery Battalion, part of the 442nd Regiment Combat Team. At the time of the camps liberation she was blindfolded by the Germans and expected to be shot. As she recalls,

Next thing I knew, a little Japanese man pulled off my blindfold. I said, ‘Go ahead and shoot, get it over with.’

But he said to me, ‘You are free. We are Americans.’ I started to touch him, cry and hug. To this day, if anyone says the word ‘Jap,’ I become a vicious woman. I adore Japanese people for giving me the chance to live (Levine, 127).

Due to their great accomplishments, Japanese American soldiers even received recognition from the government. One person who commented on the contributions they gave to the war effort was General Joseph Stilwell, who commanded Nisei troops in the Pacific. “They bought an awful hunk of America with their blood…. You’re damn right those Nisei boys have a place in the American heart, now and forever. We cannot allow a single injustice to be done to the Nisei without defeating the purposes for which we fought” (Levine, 118). When the troops of the 442nd Regiment Combat Team returned to the United States, they went first to Washington, D.C. President Harry Truman presented the regiment with a special Presidential Unit Citation. He also stated his gratitude for their efforts. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate the privilege of being able to show you how much the United States thinks of what you have done…. You fought not only the enemy, but you fought prejudice…and you won” (Stein, 44).

The Nisei soldiers of the United States Army did indeed fight prejudice as they battled the enemy overseas. And in many respects they did win against prejudice. But despite the victories of these small battles against prejudice, they continued to meet with racial animosity from many Americans. In many places the struggle still goes on for recognition as an American citizen, fully deserving of every right provided by the U.S. Constitution. But until our government and populace can put to rest their fears based on racial prejudice these people will continue to struggle for the place in American society that is rightly theirs.


Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Personal Justice Denied. United States of America: Civil Liberties Public Education Fund and University of Washington Press, 1997.

Houston, Jeanne Wakatsuki, and James D. Houston. Farewell to Manzanar. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1973.

Levine, Ellen. A Fence Away From Freedom. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1995.

Kawaguchi, Tom. And Justice For All. Ed. John Tateishi. New York: Random House, 1984.

Stein, R. Conrad. World At War, Nisei Regiment. Chicago: Regensteiner Publishing Enterprises, Inc., 1985.

Tateishi, John, ed. And Justice For All. New York: Random House, 1984.

Tsukamoto, Mary, and Elizabeth Pinkerton. We The People, a Story of Internment in America. United States of America: Laguna Publishers, 1988.