Deep in the Heart of Summer.

Gee 1.3

I met Gechiya-san (his nom du cartoon) at a crafts market near Kyoto University in March of 2007.  I bought a few of his post cards.  He also puts his close-to-self-portrait images on T-shirts, hats, wrist bands and the like.  I wish he’d really “pitch” his work to Cartoon Network.  He could be “the new thing”.

Tomorrow morning I’m posting I’ve just posted a new story:  “Canadians Do Kobe”.  It involves an old friend, a long night or two in Kobe, sake, more sake, dancing shrimp.  That sort of thing.  It’s R-rated, sort of.

Hanko_Newton

July 16, 1945.

The site was called “Trinity”

At 5:29:45 am Mountain War Time on July 16, 1945, the world’s first atomic bomb exploded one hundred feet over a portion of the southern New Mexico desert known as the Jornada del Muerto – the Journey of the Dead Man. On seeing the fireball and mushroom cloud, J. Robert Oppenheimer recalled a passage from the Bhagavad-Gita: “I am become death the destroyer of worlds.” Trinity Test Director, Harvard Physicist Kenneth Bainbridge, had a less ethereal reaction, saying, “Now we are all sons of bitches.”

http://www.lanl.gov/history/atomicbomb/trinity.shtml

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Three weeks later, at 8:15 a.m. on August 6, 1945, the bomb called “Little Boy”, the first of two atomic bombs dropped on Japanese cities within a 72 hours, detonated about 2,000 feet above Hiroshima. . .

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum.  May 16.1945.

Middle School Student at Hiroshima Peace Park Museum. May 16, 2008.

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In May of 2008 I and Dr. John van Sant (Professor of Japanese History) lead a group 9 UAB students to Japan for a 10-day culture and history trip.  Besides Kyoto, Osaka, Nara and Himeji, we visited Hiroshima for a couple of days.  I believe all of the students were moved by their time in Hiroshima.  It was only my second visit.  I was glad to see that the Museum had been updated dramatically since I first went there in the spring of 1991:  it included extensive information about Japan’s road to war and imperial dreams, which were all but missing in the earlier incarnation of the Museum that I had seen.  Nevertheless, to see all the children there and to know . . .

As any American who’s visited Hiroshima will tell you, there is simply no city with kinder, more gentle-souled people than Hiroshima.  The warmth (or even nonchalance) with which they treat Americans is beyond humbling.

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"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome).  Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved.  May 16, 2008.

"Gembaku Dohmu" (Atomic Bomb Dome). Almost directly beneath the atomic bomb's blast epicenter. It's been preserved. May 16, 2008.

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Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene.  Gembaku Dohmu just to the right.  Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

Contemporary Hiroshima Street Scene. Gembaku Dohmu just to the right. Baseball stadium just out of frame to the left (for the Hiroshima Carp). May 16, 2008.

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Teacher and students on field trip.  Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph.  May 16, 2008.

Teacher and students on field trip. Hiroshima Peace Park. Where they're sitting is within the area of devastation visible in the top photograph. May 16, 2008.

True Stories. Also, Trip Info.

Several people have emailed me and, yes, with one exception, these stories are true (or as true as I can remember them).  I plan on posting about 1 or 2 a week.  They’ll cover things such as hot springs, trains, country auctions, unspoken apologies, quirky inn owners, “syphon coffee”, nitrous oxide, (the?) one that got away, neighborhood eateries, karaoke, police boxes, Noh plays at sunset, my Japanese family, Kyoto side streets, and, of course, Lucky Cat Boppers.

Noodles.

Noodles.

Additional trip information for all (including costs and deadlines) will go up within the next couple of days, too.

R Newton

New story up. Also, possible Fall trip to Kyoto.

This story (click on Page Link above for “Story… ‘Enlightenmen'”) is the first of several I plan to publish here.  Am working on a book that will be a compendium of adventures and experiences arising from 25 years of visiting and sometimes living in Japan.

Regarding the Spring 2010 Trips.  Please note Itineraries are now up.  Within the next week or 10 days I’ll be posting sign-up deadlines and other “nuts and bolts” information.  Also, a few people have inquired about a Fall 2009 trip to Kyoto.  That IS do-able and, if we bring it off, will follow the same, 1-week itinerary as the Kyoto Sojourn trip slated for April 2010.  However, sign-up and deposits will have to be done by the end of July (as in within the next 3 weeks).  Email me for details…

R

2 SPRING ’10 TRIPS: Itineraries Up!

Detailed iteneraries for our “Cherry Blossom” and “Kyoto Sojourn” trips to post this-coming weeked, June 20-21.  Please check back.  We will also announce sign-up and deposit deadlines this weekend.  Please email   letsbengoshi@yahoo.com  for more information on pricing and policies.

Also, if you have a Japan-related link you would like me to include in our Links List (see left side of page), please email me with the link and a little background on your company or organization!

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto. May 2008.

Fushimi Inari, Kyoto. May 2008.

LetsJapan Announces 2 Spring ’10 Trips to Japan

LetsJapan announces it will offer two guided tours of Japan in the Spring of 2010!

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NOTE:  Cherry Blossom Spring has been put off ’til 2011.  “Kyoto Sojourn” remains “on” for April 2010.  See below or click on the Kyoto Sojourn link in the preceding sentence or at the top of this page.

 

Cherry Blossom Spring  (coming in Spring 2011)

Our “Cherry Blossom Spring” trip will run from March 29-April 11, with 13 days and12 nights savoring the glories of Cherry Blossom time in Kyoto, Himeji, Nara and along the Sea of Japan.  The trip will be limited to 9 guests, departure from Birmingham, Alabama.

We are scheduled to spend 2 nights at a traditional inn in Kinosaki

We are scheduled to spend 2 nights at a traditional inn in Kinosaki

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Kyoto Sojourn

The “Kyoto Sojourn” trip will run from April 14-22, with 8 days and 7 nights in Japan’s ancient, wondrous capitol, Kyoto.  Day trips to Osaka and Nara and nearby hot springs will be included.  Kyoto Sojourn will be limited to 9 guests, departure from Birmingham, Alabama.

Stone Buddha at Kurodani Temple, Kyoto.  A favorite place of mine.

Stone Buddha at Kurodani Temple, Kyoto. A favorite place of mine.

For either/both trip itineraries or questions please contact:  letsjapan@yahoo.com