Crocodile Tears

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彼岸花 Equinox flowers, also known as spider lilies, are my favorite flower. They are associated with death as they are said to grow along the river of death. They always bloom within a few days of the autumn equinox.


The haunted aftermath of disaster in Japan.


Cities around Japan hosted a festival today dedicated to making babies cry.

Each year at the annual Nakizumo (“crying baby sumo”) festival, parents hand over their kimono-clad toddlers to student sumo wrestlers who hold them in a small arena and attempt to make them cry.

PHOTOS: Japan: Nakizumo festival celebrates crying babies

Photos by AFP/Getty Images

One of the many interesting things I got to see in Japan was a laughing rite in Hofu.  Men sit in a house (spectators watch from outside) eating and drinking for several hours, then offer their laughter.  The laughs are very unlike normal spontaneous laughter, but not exactly creepy either.  Made me think of birds and frogs.  The event is far more serious than you might expect and has been going on for centuries.


Japan Earthquake, 2 Years Later: Before and After
[Image: Mike Clarke, Toru Yamanaka, Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images]


Japan Earthquake, 2 Years Later: Before and After

[Image: Mike Clarke, Toru Yamanaka, Toshifumi Kitamura/AFP/Getty Images]


In 2008 photographer Shiho Fukada read a story in the New York Times about a town in Japan that was filled with destitute old men. Having grown up in a prosperous Japan, she says couldn’t stop thinking about them.

She traveled to the Kamagasaki district of Osaka to document the collapse of the labor market, including the old and sick day laborers who had been abandoned by an economy they had given their lives to.

That essay sparked a four-part photo series documenting people who have made hard choices in the wake of Japan’s declining economy. Over the next few years, Fukada sought out people who were struggling, although they still tried to maintain a brave face.

“[Japanese] people suffer in private, in their homes, so I thought it was a really important story to tell, Fukada says.

Hard Times In Japan: ‘Home’ Might Be An Internet Cafe

Photo Credit: Shiho Fukada



Winter Illuminations at Nabana no Sato, a botanical garden on the island of Nagashima in Japan. 

photography from MYMODERNMET

We’re walking off into the sunset for today. Be back in the morning. - Nell








I find it hard to believe that Japan is on this list at all. Japan does have a military (the SDF: Self Defense Force) but in all reality, America wrote their constitution after WWII and it denies Japan the right to a military.

However, if the source really is the IISS, I can only assume that Koizumi’s pump up of the SDF starting back in 2002 never quit.

BTW, little-known fact: you know how Japan got all the money together to support America the first time in Iraq? They slapped a 100 Yen tax on every pack of cigarettes. Japan’s smokers carried the country’s financial support.

The US quickly decided “no military” shouldn’t mean much beyond a name change in light of the Cold War and Japan’s useful position relative certain other countries.  Rearming began in the 1950s.  By the ’80s they were sixth in the world in terms of expenditures.


Japanese woodblock fashion prints from 1887, because I know how much you guys love this stuff.

(via renfields--moved)


From Defense News:

BEIJING - Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Gemba asked China’s Premier Wen Jiabao to agree to set up a “crisis management mechanism” aiming to avoid conflict over disputed waters, reports said Nov. 23.

China and Japan have often had strained relations, particularly over claims to East China Sea gas fields and disputed islands known as the Senkaku in Japanese and the Diaoyu in Chinese.

Gemba - on a one-day visit to Beijing - also called for the resumption of negotiations towards a treaty on a joint gas development project in the East China Sea, Kyodo News agency reported, quoting the Japanese foreign ministry.

His talks with Wen were also to lay the ground for a visit by Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihiko Noda to China later this year.

In his meeting with Gemba, Wen said Japan and China should work together to boost development in East Asia, the official Xinhua news agency said.

“The just-concluded East Asia Summit has demonstrated a strong trend of forging solidarity, development and cooperation within the region,” Wen said, referring to the weekend meeting on the Indonesian island of Bali.

Gamba later met his Chinese counterpart Yang Jiechi, who told him Beijing would “seriously consider” further easing restrictions on food imports from Japan imposed after an earthquake and tsunami triggered the country’s nuclear crisis in March, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported. Gamba was then due to return to Tokyo.

The crisis management mechanism has been described by Japanese media as a regular dialogue scheme that will involve the two countries’ foreign and defense ministries, fisheries and energy agencies, and coastguards.

Japan has long expressed concern over China’s growing assertiveness and widening naval reach in the Pacific and over what it calls the “opaqueness” of Beijing’s military budget.

A major crisis erupted between the two countries in September 2010 when Japan arrested a Chinese trawler captain near the disputed islands. China issued protests and scrapped meetings and cultural events in a diplomatic offensive that continued after Japan freed the captain, while nationalist sentiment sparked demonstrations in both countries.

Japan, meanwhile, has bitterly complained that China may have started drilling for gas in an offshore energy field in the disputed waters.