*to Hanlon's razor: Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Kumamoto Women!

This blog is not a travelogue.  However, I have just spent four days in Kyushu during Golden Week.  The native-wife, hybrid-baby, and native-mother-in-law and I, travelled together to Nagasaki, Kumamoto and Aso-san (picture).  All of the travel was uneventful, apart from the hybrid-baby ruining everyone's sleep on the last night, so that I fell asleep in the airport lounge.  Hybrids are rarer, though hardly unknown, that far from the capital: he got more amaerareta than one baby needs.  Rather than a travelogue, I'll give you a few impressions.  I'll let you do your own Googling for information.  Take more than the four days we did, if you go.

Nagasaki reminded the native-wife and I of Lisbon, but this has nothing to do with the history of the Portuguese in Kyushu.  It runs up the hills that line the valley where downtown is, much like Lisbon among its hills.  I would not want a fixed gear in either city.  It is not as charming as Lisbon, and much of the blame can be put on a certain American demonstration to Stalin.

Thermonuclear explosions have a way of destroying the people and the edifices of a city.  As I had heard, the Peace Museum in Nagasaki is superior to the one in Hiroshima.  Mind you, there is a sixteen year separation in my maturity between my '95 visit to Hiroshima's and to Nagasaki's.  Not a few Gaijin have been put off by the victim-cant of the Hiroshima museum.  This wasn't the feeling I got from Nagasaki's.  It wasn't that there was more detailing of Japan's atrocities in Asia, or less about the suffering in Nagasaki, but the message I took was that these weapons caused this suffering to individual humans: not humans of a particular nationality.  When we think of individual humans, we cannot commit mass atrocity: whether Nagasaki, Nanjing, Dresden, Iraq or Afghanistan...  It is not lost on me that America is the only state to nuke two cities, and that the only proven way to avoid American invasion is to have your own nukes; and it should not be lost on you.

We also saw Glover Gardens, the 'One-Legged Torii',  the Dejima Museum, Chinatown, and other odds and ends.  Only Chinatown is worth a miss.  I would have liked to go to Gunkanjima, but the tour would waste a day, and take you to the less interesting (safer) parts.

Kumamoto is not a city that looks like it has much going for it, in the guides I'd read.  For one, I am not interested in concrete reconstructions of castles, and had never entered one, assuming it would be another Ministry of Construction boondoggle.  I was surprised by the castle, and would recommend it.  The grounds and walls are massive, as it was one of the three biggest in Japan: Edo, Osaka and Kumamoto.  Too bad all three made great targets for the Yanks.

We also saw the house that Lafcadio Hearn lived in, and the Hosokawa Gyobutei, which were much like preserved houses and gardens anywhere in Japan, but not a waste of time.  I hope Hearn was short, as I cracked my head in front of the laughing staff members, who did apologize. 

We rather enjoyed Kumamoto.  It is not run down, unlike most other provincial cities, and has a lively nightlife (not that we got to enjoy it).  But the views!  If I had been an AET in Kumamoto...  I do not know if it is because there is more Yayoi/Korean blood in Kyushu than the Emishi/Ainu blood brought from Tohoku to Tokyo during the Genroku era, but the young Kumamoto women are long legged (in Japan!), fair skinned and gorgeous.  My wife is no slouch, but I had to keep watch on myself that I was not leering in other directions, much.

Aso-san reminded me I hate Toronto drivers.  When the roads are narrow and winding, and there is no way to pass, people in Yorkshire and Japan don't drive like dicks.  Why do Torontonians?  Oh, because they are witless narcissists.

Aso is less about the mountains in the centre of the caldera, than the fact that the caldera is huge, green, and has thousands of people living in it.  Very worth a visit, but be sure you have a car, or better a motorbike.  A bicycle would be a lot of work, but I did see one dude climbing against a headwind on a track bike.

On the flight back the love-in between the comely ANA flight attendants and our baby proved both that the employment rights of homely women have been better protected in N.America, and my boy is as 面食い as me.


  1. "I do not know if it is because there is more Yayoi/Korean blood in Kyushu than the Emishi/Ainu blood brought from Tohoku to Tokyo during the Genroku era . . ."

    Might have been the case if you'd been visiting 200 years ago. However, as in LA, almost no one who has lived in Tokyo in the last 100 years is actually from there . . . (or so goes the saying we have in the U.S. about LA).

    Tokyo has always attracted the Japanese equivalent of the best and brightest. I would say, it's just some random subjectivity on your part. Furthermore, the farther southwest you get in Japan, the more the SE Asian genetic stock has supposedly influenced the historic population as well.

  2. I was somewhat 'tongue in cheek' about the Yayoi/Jomon bifurcation. The truth is far more complicated as you know; and more to be found in DNA sampling than my subjective tastes, as you say. Even DNA sampling has its limitations. In any case, the Japanese are no more one people than British Islanders are, and better for it, despite the pontifications of Japan-otaku and nihonjinron 'experts'. There are outliers in the gene pool: Chinese envoys and trade; Korean from Japan's several invasions; Polynesian castaways; Russian, Dutch, Portuguese and other European from before, during (Dejima, Nagasaki had Japanese 'courtesans') and after Japan's isolation.

    'There is no accounting for taste', but I still stand by my opinion that the leggiest beauty I have seen in Japan is in Kumamoto.

  3. Ya. It's fun to make a certain kind of Japanese squirm by telling them that the first empress was probably from Korea.