Archive for the ‘nagasaki’ Tag

The Night Sky – Oh! How I’ve missed the stars



oh the curses of the world. beautiful.

oh the curses of the world. beautiful.



Random Observation/Comment #70: The city’s (of course, there is only one “the city”) light pollution had made my star gazing hobbies impossible to fulfill.  Osaka had a similar problem, but Nagasaki on top of a large mountain, was a little more forgiving.  Not a cloud in the sky – not a worry in the world.  I loved every second.  I only wish I had someone to hold from behind and kiss to share this perfect moment.

I remember a time when I used to know at least 20 constellations and each of their meanings.  Of course, this useless knowledge (well maybe useless except for impressing the opposite sex) was core dumped a long time ago to make room for useful stuff like, electrohydrodynamics, Navier-Stokes Equations, and Poisson distributions.  Fantastic.  My brain needs to learn to keep the good stuff.

The tram ride up to the mountain kept me mesmerized.  I looked down and saw Nagasaki as a giant creature.  It almost looked like an amoeba covered with lights devouring the landscape.  The small flickers from the trolleys and cars throughout the city kept catching my glance.  For some reason, every time I’m in these situations, I see myself looking from the top of the tower instead of seeing it through my own eyes.  Do you remember the camera pan in Titanic when Rose spreads her arms and stands at the front of the boat?  The camera circles around the entire boat while showing the 360-degree view of the world around her.  This was how I saw myself – completely free with an unreal view before my eyes. 

Screw taking pictures that probably won’t come out nice.  I walked around the roof of that building and just took my mental snapshots of the twinkles above and the twinkles below.  I thought a lot about a lot of things, as usual.  I don’t even know why I became so philosophical and psychological – I wasn’t even drinking.  My life felt so insignificant.  I couldn’t even grasp the simple concepts of time and space.  How far away was that light shining in the valley below? How far away is that burning gaseous sun in the dark night?  Just trying to picture a light-year given my current references is impossible. Trying to picture a nanometer blows my mind even more. 

As I thought about things that I normally didn’t give much second thought to, my eyes opened to an unexplainable connection.  Here I am.  Here’s the entire universe with its unbounded complexities.  I am a hiccup in time and a crumb in space.  If I stopped thinking here, I would have eventually become depressed.  Fortunately, I looked at the world that I can realistically observe.  What does it matter if I’m nothing to the universe?  I am something to those around me.  With that thought, I smiled at the sight before me.  I can’t wait to share.

After taking my hundreds of pictures on the mountain, the group went back to grab some “Chinese food” for dinner (it wasn’t Chinese at all).  I think they tried to make gawn chow ngow haw with ramen…  I don’t know what they were thinking.  The only thing that dinner did was made me miss my Mom’s home cooking (and provide beer).

After dinner, part of the group went to sing some karaoke.  We planned to stay for an hour but wound up staying 4 hours instead (this often happens).  Singing “Imagine” got it out of my system.  Mad K skills, son (It’s scary that I actually sometimes talk like that.  Damn you, James).


~See Lemons Admire the Night Sky


an ameoba devouring the land

an ameoba devouring the land

I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese – my hair says so.



She was perty.

She was perty.

Random Observation/Comment #69: Japanese people pride themselves in having crazy hair.  They always have long hair in the back so they can use a million hair products to make it stick up like anime characters.  You may try to have blonde hair, but the bleach will only make it a weird brown.  You’re not from California – deal with it.


After the a-bomb museum, half of the tour group went to Glover Garden to look at some old western-style houses on top of a small hill.  The garden didn’t have the beautiful blooming flowers I expected, but the overall design was incredible.  The city fit into the palm of my hand on that house’s porch.  Some people with money to waste on house decorations would buy a fountain for the front yard.  This house had a private pond that sat higher than the bridges.

Needless to say, the houses were quite nice.  I could definitely retire here with the beautiful view overlooking the harbor and the city. The houses had all been converted to hold plastic food and model ships instead of furniture and family portraits.  It was a tourist attraction and, of course, a great dating scene. 

Returning from the garden, RJ and I went to get crazy Japanese haircuts because I was looking like a bum, and RJ just wanted Japanese hair.  I really liked my hair in the front because I could do the swoosh hair pullback and pretend to be cool (the key word is pretend).  It reminded me of that high school look I had with the typical Asian split in the middle with lobster claws that clamped nicely on either side of my cheeks.  Back in the day, my hair was just too modern for its times.

Anyway, given the Japanese fluency of me and RJ combined, we would have probably left the salon with our heads shaved.  Fortunately, Yuka helped us translate.  It led to one of my favorite haircuts of all times.  Although, the normal haircut phases of looking terrible the first two weeks and then improving significantly for one week before the next haircut cycle begins did not apply for this cut.  It looked good for the first two weeks and then I already felt my hair needed a minor trim to add the Japanese-style back to it.

RJ’s hair became huge.  It looked like he was wearing a helmet.  My hair was long in the back, but short on one side with bangs and a weird spiking centroid.  It felt like the entire haircut was shifted 30 degrees to the right so the center is along the right-side parting line.  The bangs were also cut for the hair to droop over my forehead and a little over my eyes.  Overall, I was more than satisfied.  We tipped generously in a place that usually doesn’t accept tips.  In return, the hair stylists gave us an entire box of shampoo and conditioner samples. 

Tipping has been embedded into my common courtesy, but a cheaper way of living without tipping is easily adaptable.  Plus, it’s so much nicer when the service actually takes it as a huge compliment instead of a mandatory addition.  You really don’t need to bow that low.  I bowed to meet their humbleness, but they bowed lower to form some odd war of politeness.  I let him win.

~See Lemons enjoy his haircut


A view from the house. Screw Fountains.

A view from the house. Screw Fountains.

Nagasaki Memorial: “My G-d. What have we done?”

1000 cranes for a wish come true 


1000 cranes for a wish come true

Random Observation/Comment #68: I’ve never been given such a dirty look from an old man in my life.  He stared me down as if I were the one who pressed the button or even the one who made the decision.  A dark cloud hovered above me the entire day, and my shoulders slumped with my hands dug deep into my jeans pockets.  I shuffled around and tried to avoid eye contact; hiding in shame for a past I had no control of, and completely in disgrace to be descendents of such a blood-soaked history.

August 9, 1945 at 11:03AM the atomic bomb was dropped on Nagasaki in Japan.  I stood there a little more than half a century later to hear the leaves rustle and tears roll down cheeks in the full-minute of silence.  In the back of my mind throughout the entire day, the song “Imagine” by John Lennon was set on repeat.  Each word stuck in my mind and left my eyes stinging. 

Why?  I’ve studied my WWII history and know all the facts behind the issue, but still – Why?  How did we wind up in the situation to begin with?  Why must these conflicts be settled with the lives of the nations’ citizens and require the sacrifice of someone’s sons?  Does a person’s life pass as nothing more than a statistic to the government?  Is it okay if you’re removing the entire community from the face of the Earth in a blink of an eye?  There’s no one suffering except those unlucky enough to live with the disfigurements from the impact and radiation.

The walk through the museum was slow and emotionally difficult.  Every image seared into my eyes and made my stomach churn.  I jumped from perspective to perspective feeling a flood of emotions all at once.  How did this child’s life change with half his skin grafted to hide the burns?  What did his parents think (if they were still alive)? How was the photographer’s view of the world altered with every picture documented even deeper within his heart?  How is it affecting our lives today – is this knowledge of our past going to prevent such travesties in the future?  Why else would we study history if not to benefit from the lessons we gather from our past? 

I looked through all the recovered remains in the museum; they were completely melted and barely recognizable.  There were bottles fused together by the intense heat and recovered roof tiles with noticeable erosion from the shockwave.   I saw children walking through the museum’s passages trying to understand the significance of the event, but completely unable to fully grasp the concept of life-and-death, freedom-and-oppression, and love-and-hate.  High schoolers would take pictures in front of statues smiling with peace symbols posing for the camera.  Would you smile in front of a grave?  Sometimes a smile doesn’t capture the real emotions of the moment.  It’s a repeated camera pose that comes out generically beautiful by your own standards.  It wasn’t a day for smiling.  Even my generic pose that looks like I photoshopped the background doesn’t include a smile.  I gave my pondering face.

Since this day was a memorial, tourists and locals alike filled the streets.  Large groups gathered with the television stations and watched the ceremonies to commemorate the passed.  I stood there dazed with a level of sorrow, yet a glimmer of gratefulness for being alive and healthy.  Hopefully we can all be hippies and just hold hands in this world.  Live long and prosper (not in a factious way).  There was a large tower with a burning torch at the top representing something to do with world peace.  People were asked to make origami cranes and tape them onto the wall of the tower.  I wrote on the wing of the crane I made, “Imagine all the people, living life in peace. ~John Lennon.”

 There is a saying in Japanese history that if you make a thousand cranes, your wish will come true.  Throughout the museum were these chains of different colored cranes.  Schools have done art projects completely made of cranes to represent peace, flowers, or nature.  It was absolutely beautiful and took so much devotion. 

I left my crane and a little butterfly on the memorial site sending my wishes for peace.  Our world, sadly, does not support peace.  We’ll live on continuing this blind hatred until a larger threat requires the unity of all humanity (like in Independence Day).  Well, maybe if there’s no country, no nations, no boundaries, and no religion we’ll have a better chance.  I don’t ask for a Utopia – just a world without war – maybe to some people, they’re the same thing.  Hey, future generation: Don’t f@%# it up.

~See Lemons Imagine