Monday, 14 February 2011

Japan Quintessential: A Holiday Guide

As you may gather as you wander down the page, it might become apparent that my intended title, was shall we say, somewhat different to the present one, and a tad more direct, but the one chosen is better fit for purpose. Of that I shall write a few words later.

There is an article halfway down the page that may be of interest. The text at the end is only bot fodder and should be ignored. Usual rules apply, all pics are in the public domain and free for non-commercial use. There are some pretty big images among them, if you want something inbetween page size and monster but don't have the software to reduce them without loss, feel free to email me and I shall oblige you. For easier viewing, right click, open in new tab, some might require a second click.

ETA 23/02/2011

Since watching the Whale Wars series that featured the Ady Gill and me picking up the anti-whaling banner in earnest, a recent event I must add, I have missed all of the goings on between Pete Bethune and Sea Shepherd Org. Whereas I'm disinclined to comment on that particular tin of worms, nothing that has happened post event, changes or diminishes the courage and fortitude shown by Pete Bethune on the night he bordered Shonan Maru.

Regarding the other aspect of supposed transgressions, that of disrespecting the Japanese People, that I am afraid, is a non-starter here. My own personal views, as you cannot fail to notice, are reflected
unapologetically throughout the pages of this blog. Respect is earned, not ordered.

New relationships between whales and humans

Mxxxxxx Sxxxxx
2nd grade
Aoba Junior High School in Ishinomaki City

A number of years ago, Ayukawa, a port town near Ishinomaki, throve as a whaling base.

In former years, there was coexistence between whales and the Japanese people. But the days with whales have now become a past memory. Will the scene of a port town coexisting with whales no longer come back?

My father works on a whale research mothership. He has been doing this job since I was in the sixth grade of elementary school. He spends many days on the whaling ship--at times two months at home and at other times at least two weeks. He goes to Hiroshima to board the whaling mothership bound for the Antarctic. He engages in the research on the ecology of whales living in the oceans.

In the past, whales were exposed to the risk of extinction because of over-exploitation by humans. What we did not know about whale ecology before and how they are recovering has now been made clearer. It seems that research has advanced to the point of showing the state of whale stocks for which catches by humans will present no problem.

But my father’s research vessel was attacked by the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, an organization claiming to protect whales. Frankly, I was shocked when I heard about this news from my mother. Luckily, my father was not injured but his fellow crew members were wounded on their faces by the attack. I also heard that this was not the first time they assaulted the research vessels. Previously, they scratched the sides of the research ships or threw some objects at them.

Why do they engage in such activities? I felt this question arising in my heart, almost a feeling of anger.

Organizations such as Sea Shepherd and Greenpeace are opposed to catching whales. They are trying to save whales which had been subjected to over-exploitation and driven to the risk of extinction in the past. And they believe that whales should not be killed because they are the same living creatures as human beings. This is what anti-whaling people have in mind. I think it is good for them to think that they want to save whales. But, at the same time, I have a question whether it is right to kill animals other than whales. Whales are not the only animals living on this earth. We humans and other creatures on this earth take the lives of other living things in order to live. If this should be stopped, then no living creature can survive on this earth.

All living things, including humans, have to take other lives in order to survive. This is a condition that no one can avoid. I think that accepting this assumption and avoiding taking the lives of other creatures more than is necessary means coexistence in respect for the lives of each other.

Thinking this way, I cannot understand what anti-whaling groups are really trying to protect. I wonder what they actually want to do because the issue of whales cannot be solved by violence.

We, living things, are supporting each other--sometimes by using other lives. If we really understand this, we may not have confrontation over whales, and whaling in a good sense can be started again.

My father is researching whale ecology somewhere in the Antarctic today.

His research is to build up a new relationship between whales and humans, by respecting each other's lives. It is my hope that, as in former days in Japan, boats carrying whales will return to the port and bring back vitality to the port town of Ishinomaki through whales.

(This essay won the President Prize of the Ishinomaki Chamber of Commerce and Industry in the Painting and Essay Contests to mark the Whale Forum 2007.)

Not saying a word.

Source, paste into browser exchange hyphen for dot.

I'm not terribly sure how well, "Watch it Sunshine!" works in Spanish, but I hope it works better than "Get out of the earth!"

Japan is situated in northeastern Asia between the North Pacific and the Sea of Japan. The area of Japan is 377,873 square kilometers, nearly equivalent to Germany and Switzerland combined or slightly smaller than California. Japan consists of four major islands, surrounded by more than 4,000 smaller islands.
Japan's topographical features include coastlines with varied scenery, towering mountains, which are very often volcanic and twisted valleys that invite visitors into the mysterious world of nature.

There is only one official language spoken in Japan, which is of course Japanese. However, many Japanese are able to understand English to a certain extent since English is the foreign language that everyone must learn as part of compulsory education.

Even if you don't understand Japanese, you can still certainly enjoy Japan. But if you know a few everyday Japanese phrases then it will make your trip even more memorable. A few words make a big difference.

Japan's population is over 126 million. Most Japanese reside in densely populated urban areas. Japan's capital city is Tokyo. The population of the Tokyo Metropolitan Area including the city, some of its suburbs and the surrounding area is approximately 12 million.

One of the major attractions of traveling throughout Japan is trying different local cuisines in every town you visit. While sushi is in fact a large part of Japanese heritage, myriad flavors from all around the world have contributed to Japan's robust foodie culture, attracting more and more culinary figures worldwide to try the new eastern hot spot. It should therefore come as no surprise that Tokyo is ranked the number one food city by Food and Wine magazine, not to mention the fact that Tokyo has more stars in the prestigious Michelin Guidebook than any other city in the world. From noodles to sashimi to gourmet French cuisine, Japan has the food to satisfy the most discerning of palettes, as well as the strictest of budgets.

Boiled “une” (whale ventral grooves) and “mizuna” (a green vegetable) with a little salt and whale meat sashimi with a lot of grated ginger are two of the regular menus at my home. In Kokura, Kita-Kyushu, western Japan, where I live, whales are popular food. Although I sometimes sigh over the high prices of whale meat after the commercial whaling moratorium was enforced, it is still readily available at stores. In my neighborhood, there are many fish shops that deal in whale meat. In the Tanga Market in downtown Kokura, there are two stores specializing in whale meat. Up until quite recently, there were whale-specialized stores in every market in Kita-Kyushu, and they were thriving. Why are there so many people who like whale meat in northern Kyushu?

The highly stylized theater of Noh exudes the world of yugen, a deeply aesthetic value based on a profound and refined beauty that goes beyond words and concrete shapes. Its origin is in religious ritual and it has a long history of 700 years. Though the actor, dressed in traditional Japanese costume, either wears a mask to hide the expression on his face or performs without expression, his dance is lyrical and graceful.


  1. Here is something to make you think...

    Greenpeace uses the most environmentally friendly alternatives whenever possible, however, taking on what is absolutely not a legitimate business in an ocean on the bottom of the world means compromises must be made for the greater good.

    Anyone who calls Japan's "scientific" whaling programme a "legitimate business" has no place in a serious discussion of this issue. What legitimate business has to dishonourably hide behind junk "science"? What legitimate business operates in an internationally recognised whale sanctuary, or in a world heritage listed site?

    If more people knew how corrupt this programme is, how it is subsidised by billions of yen annually to keep it afloat so a few bureaucrats, businessmen and crew can enrich themselves, how the whales it catches are riddled with cancers which are cut off before the meat is shipped to market, how so much of the meat is dumped overboard because they routinely catch far too many whales each day to process, and how vast quantities of this meat is dumped into warehouses where it sits unsold for years before it is enventually disposed of because no one wants it... if this was more widely known - particularly to Japanese taxpayers - then this industry would dissolve overnight.

  2. More food for thought...
    The government is pushing whale meat onto school children whenever it can, not because it is a valuable source of protein, but because it is the only way it can get rid of the vast quantities of meat it has piling up in warehouses.

    The Japanese by large no longer eat whale meat, and the number that still do is dropping every year. The meat from the controversial Southern Ocean hunt sits mouldering in warehouses because it cannot be sold or even given away most of the time, and this problem is exacerbated every time the factor ships return.

    Much less cruel to whale? Is it much less cruel to shoot a huge mammal with an explosive tipped harpoon, drag it kicking and screaming onto the back of a ship then slaughter it? I'm not saying farming cows of pig is not cruel, but this is not as simple as doing the math.

    As for fin whales, they sure do produce a lot of meat. But they are also highly endangered, and extremely important to ocean biodiversity.

    Whale meat is also only low-cost because the industry is massively subsidised by the Japanese government. If it were forced to support itself, then it would die overnight because there is no real demand for what it produces. The government would be far better putting its money into supporting a sustainable fishing industry and ensuring Japan can keep eating fish into the future.

  3. I think to get a better understanding of all this, would be to take a day off and read up what's going on regarding all baksheesh and corruption. Which I think, I shall endeavour to do tomorrow, and without getting sidetracked, if that is at all possible. Because if what you say is true, and I recall reading something along those lines two or three years ago, then something's afoot.