Silly Grins

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Less Than 15 Minutes....

Three years later two men obviously from somewhere else, were sitting in the corner:

Somewhere in Texas

"So why are we here, in this joint? I already told you, I don't want to go to Abilene."  

"It's okay. We're headed to Paris. Here comes our order."

"Wow, that sure looks like a burger from that Hawaiian burger joint."

"It ain't, but it does look goooood." 

"When you say that, you know who you remind me of? Wait a minute...  you see that? That old man over there... looks like he's crying."

*       *      *      *      * 

"We will kill all you prisoners right here anyway, whether you win the war or lose it."

"I didn't know who he was. In fact, I still don't remember him.” The slight man continued, "I'm at a loss for words… I just don't think a human being should be bad to another human being. It is what the Americans say. 'You don't kick anybody when they're down and out.'" 

"You know, one of the reasons I wanted him to come was that I wanted to tell him about something that happened… about the time there that I came within minutes of dying. I wanted to tell him that story... I told him. It wasn't easy. I kept breaking down. It took a while to tell it.”

“If he hadn't have done it, they probably would have shot him.”

"One of the things he did was bring us the news from outside…”

"You guys needn't be interested in when the war will be over, because you won't go back. You will stay here and work. I will go back to the States because I am an American citizen."
"He saved us from a lot of beatings."

"But it did not change my attitude toward Americans. I just thought, 'This is just … you can't help it whether you like it or not.”

"As I have been found guilty by the jury, I ask your honor for mercy."

"I liked him. He was good to us.”

"I am just surprised that anybody has remembered me.”

*   *   *  *  * 
By now, you may be slightly confused. That's okay. Just another minute. 

Let's step back and head over to a place known for that Aloha spirit. 

Just beautiful...

A number of people are already familiar with the Ni'ihau Incident form various sources. Each telling adds a little more for getting a clearer picture of what happened. 

Basically, things got bad on the island. And there was betrayal. It didn't have to happen that way. But it did. Apparently. 

Now, looking back up at the top photo, Google Maps tells us that's the street view of Dairy Queen in Eastland, Texas. 

The blue text has to do with a man by the name of Meiji. In some ways, he is similar to Shintani, an issei on Ni'ihau. 

The red text concerned a man called 'Metaball'. In some ways, he is similar to Mr. & Mrs. Harada , both nisei on Ni'ihau.

Apparently, Meiji and Meatball had a lot in common. And, at the same time, they didn't. 

You see, when they were both caught on the Japan side during the war, they both apparently went to work as interpreters/translators for survivors of the Death March, the POWs, working for the mines.

Meiji was nice. 

Meatball was not. 

My experience, living in Japan, has been fairly balanced in terms of the issei, nisei, and sansei I've come across, for better and for worse. The latter - meaning worse - I've come to understand, prefer that I go to Abilene

Like those conversations I keep having with myself, there's a damn good reason for trying to get to Paris. 

And stay the hell away from Crystal City. 




  1. A distand Kanahele' became a Hawaiian sovereignty crusader. The Hawaiians never trusted the Japanese and hold them on a rung just below the Haole's. That is bad considering the Haole's took their Aina and their Mana. The Japanese have been raping them ever since.

    If you watch the New Years specials about the Japanese talents trips to Hawaii and how they interact with the locals you can just barely see it...the loathing. The Local Japanese usually speak no Japanese and they gotta say it whenever a Nihonjin speaks Nihongo to them. They were farmers from the lowest rungs and worked the pineapple and sugarcane...the family back home are not rich and they have little in common with rich Japanese who visit and they both know it.

    The only ones I trust less than local japs are non local born Koreans ..THEY work like shit and can't take directions. Korean momma boys are worse than the Japanese as hard as THAT is to imagine...

    1. When I watched Bazooka (BSスカパー BAZOOKA!!! ハワイ), only the first few minutes, I could feel the warm air, almost smell the grass. A few people were caught up at the airport and weren't being let in... funny that.

      The trip starts out and they head over to a family of maybe 100 people, having a party in their yard. Ready to watch the game.

      And a fellow walks up, explains his tattoos, their meaning, his heritage, to the 'talent'... I don't think anyone was prepared for that. And I need to watch it again to see if it got translated.

  2. Groupthink can be quite dangerous. When I took social psychology we studied the Stanford Prison Experiment and of the observers only one protested due to moral issues. ONE.

    I would rather be that nail that stands out and have a clear conscience than go along with the general consensus. Especially when you don't know all the details, much like the American born Japanese on Ni'ihau were kind of out of the loop because of their remote location. They were manipulated.

    Mom always said to think before you act. That god gave me the gift to choose between right and wrong. All I have to do is give my choice a thought. Scary how many times I see adults who never learned to hone their critical thinking during formative years; still making heavy decision with the critical thinking skills of a child. Someone who needs a decision made for them... someone to copy.

    I guess it all comes down to choices. You either choose for yourself or let others do it for you. Ultimately you reap what you sow when it comes to choices you make or let others make for you.

    Also your Crystal City reference, I thought you meant the one near D.C. at first. Doh!

    1. Stanford and their experiments… that one shows how easily ‘we’ can be manipulated. Wait… no manipulation. There was a structure, roles were assigned, and then people were left to their own devices. Christ… I can’t remember all the details I read about that particular experiment.

      Ni’ihau, that ‘incident’, is something that didn’t mix with the flavor of how I’d been educated and conditioned to groupthink. Heck, before I was teenager, I remember one summer day standing in a park, taking part in a silent candlelight vigil commemorating the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Only later, after I’d actually come to Japan, did I start learning about those little secrets or memories that folks don’t review until before they know they are going to die.

      My first visit to the Nagasaki museum, I picked up a book written by a local. One of the chapters that had been translated into English mentioned how, before the war was over, the mayor of the city had to dissuade a local movement that was suggesting the revival of a Shinto rite (perhaps a form of ikenie?) that called for human sacrifice. Of course, they were wanting to use Koreans.

      About those POWs… from what I understand, Kawakita stepped up the plate and dished out generous servings of abuse, going above and beyond his functional duty, actually enjoying his power. Fujizawa, who I believe was working alongside Kawakita, actually tried to help protect the POWs by at least showing decency when he could.

      I do believe, as you, that it comes down to choices. That’s not to say that I don’t have any bad habits. But once I become aware of something, how does that saying go? Something like:

      Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
      The courage to change the things I can,
      And wisdom to know the difference.

    2. With the experiment there were still 'leaders' on the prisoner and guard side. And once a leader stepped up it was obvious that the sheep would follow. The followers let the leaders make the choices for them and just followed suit.

      I recently watched The Experiment, so I went back to the studies to compare and contrast Hollywood's take on a psych experiment.

      As far as Kawakita goes, some people go mad with power. You give a person an inch and they take a mile. They raise themselves above even their own better judgement because they are 'above' (the law, a person, a situation) whatever. Then there are people that try to be empathetic. They try to put themselves in another person's situation and try to act with civility. It seems Fujizawa kept in touch with his humanity during a hard time.

      Wisdom to know the difference... if only we could all get a little wiser as we age instead of stubborn it would be awesome.

    3. Haven't seen the 2010 remake, but saw the German one - Das Experiment. Also remember reading about the the actual experiment (online) after years of urban legend-like references in various conversations where alcohol may have been involved.

      My guess is that Kawakita was just 'paying it forward', maybe even relishing being on top in a "How do you like it now?" kind of way.

      I've actually had the creeping displeasure of working with people I grew to understand to be like him, despite their celebratory displays of friendly disposition.

      Even the most professedly liberal minds can let their well cultivated sense of victimhood bear quite peculiar fruit with which they intoxicate themselves. At least people appear to be enjoying their buzz.

      Detoxing can be rewarding.

      Maybe that's why I have more respect for decent folk who've somehow managed to get through hard times and maintain (or even find) their humanity. A few people even shine.

  3. How surreal it must have been for Fujizawa to come almost eighty years to that day at a Dairy Queen in Texas...

    1. Sounds like he was just trying to do the right thing in as much as he knew how. There are still a lot of unanswered questions around his life that may never be made public. So different from 'The Meatball'.

      Surreal days... you know you've put in some time on this planet when you've had a few of those.