Wednesday, May 25, 2005

Ichigaya? More like Kichigai-ya, aka Lions and Cambodians and Midgets, oh my!

This afternoon, I cruised up to Tokyo with one of my co-workers. We went to the Ministry of Defense in Ichigaya, the brain bug (I love that term) of the entire Japanese Self Defense Force (JSDF). My department does this thing a few times a month where we go up and teach some of the JSDF English. Now, most of you who know me know that teaching English conversation to Japanese people is one of the things I despise most in this world, but I thought it would break the monotony of the senile Japanese ppl I work with, and as the new guy I thought it might look good to "contribute" and be "Gung Ho" and not appear to be "lazy" and "sitting on my ass and just getting by." So we arrived and were greeted by a a Warrant Officer, and my co-worker mentioned that where we were was the very place that Yukio Mishima had killed himself by ritual suicide in 1970 (on national TV). For those of you don't know him, he looks like this:




He's a famous contemporary author. Was. Then he gutted himself. Like a fishy. Anyway, for those of you who wish to know more, click here to read the whole bizarre story. It's pretty interesting.

It was kinda cool to stand there and look at the building pictured above. Ichigaya is where the Imperial Army's HQ was during WWII, and I actually live and work at the formal Imperial Japanese Army Military Academy (basically, the WWII-era West Point). Sometimes I stop and think, "Wow, I'm standing on some serious historical ground. Some important shit went on right here." I get that feeling when I go to the East Coast of the USA a lot, walking around where farmers duked it out with red coats and whatnot, and I really felt it when I stood on the infamous sands of Iwo Jima.

I learned once that American Indians saw location kind've like us white-folk-who-speak-with-forked-tongue (and other modernized humans) now view time. We tend to "celebrate" things based on a date - anniversaries, births, deaths, etc.. Indians didn't have Casios (not to be mistaken for Casinos), so they remembered important events based on where they were. When they returned to the site of a birth, death, etc, that's when they celebrated or mourned whatever happened to've passed. Obviously, I live on a totally different paradigm (oh shit, there's that word again) and don't react in quite the same way a Plains Indian would, but I still feel a certain tingle when I'm on the same little piece of earth where something historically significant, bloody or not, happened.

Either way, it turns out that I didn't really do "English Conversation Practice" with a bunch of Japanese people with an English ability matched only by my dead parrot Zazoo (rest in peace, buddy), but it was more like an interpreter's clinic. I had a good time and can't wait to go back again. The topic of today was "When introducing yourself to whoever you're gonna be interpreting for, no one gives a shit what your hobbies are. Just say, 'Hi, my name is Hashimoto, and I'll be your interpreter today.'" They understood. We also discussed that while they are a lingusitic interface, more imporatantly, they are a cultural interface, and I dig that shit.

For an even more bizarre story than the aforementioned public ritual self-disembowlment, click here to read The Fucked Up Story of the Month, and you'll understand the second part of this post's subject. (Kichigai means crazy by the way. Literally "different spirit".) God bless those little bastards who so bravely gave their lives.

All for now--

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's weird cause I just watched a bunch of Hobbits battle it out with Orcs......kinda makes you think....or not...

~Greg

11:13 PM  
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