28 January 2009

japan, day nine

home stretch here, folks.

morning in the capsule hostel, surveying the damage.  most of the other guests had already gone, home to their wives and families.

we spent the next four hours wandering around tokyo, searching for a place to stay for the night.  one hostel after another in asakusa was booked up, or, even worse, had only one bed available.  we finally travelled deep into the heart of the city to find a room.

with what little afternoon we had left, we decided to visit the Yasakuni Shrine, Tokyo's own controversial war memorial.  i was excited.  first, the giant gate to the shrine, made out of steel and not the usual wood.  after a walk through a street market, and a quick stop at the temple proper, we found the Yushukan, the japanese war museum.

the museum did not disappoint.  after a few rooms of ancient samurai swords and armor, it was on to the real meat: revisionist WWII history:  germany had no choice but to start the war after suffering such disgrace after WWI.  japan fought in nanking with honor, then left its people alone.  america forced japan into war WWII by cutting off their oil supplies.  

i don't really blame them.  they weren't evil and hell-bent on genocide, they were just hell-bent on empire.  weren't britain, and spain, and the netherlands, and the french, et. al.?  after sealing themselves off from the rest of the world for some hundred years, it was the americans that sailed to japan and demanded they open their borders for trade.  with the americans came their guns, and with the guns came a devastating power struggle that opened the way for the power-hungry.

and never forget: samurai hearts.

it was cool to see this zero up close and personal.  but the last part of the museum, a few rooms covered floor to ceiling with pictures of dead soldiers, really nearly moved me to tears.

after that sobering trip, we went back to our new hostel to rest up and meet with a handful of austrialians we had met in kyoto.  we went to dinner with them, after having had dinner on our own, then went to a club that one of their local tokyo friends had recommended.  which sucked. 

so we went to another neighborhood, and found another club, this one, a little off the beaten path.  things were slow at first, but after a little gin and tonic, things started to pick up, and ultimately, we danced all night with some local folks.  it was a great last night in town.

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