søndag den 22. juli 2007

Sunday Nov. 19 - Ultranationalists At The Shrine

The Controversial Shrine, More Photos and More Interviews

Sunday Nov. 19

The hotel is all quiet, the weather humid and cold, probably a foretaste of what it’ll be like to come back to Denmark. Japan Times still writes about North Korean nuclear bombs, and now also about a Patriot 3 missile shield around Tokyo. While in the more entertaining part of the paper there’s a bit about a restaurant in Arizona offering cigarettes and an 8,000 calorie ‘quadruple bypass burger’. Extra services include waitresses dressed up as nurses, to roll you out to your car in a wheelchair.

Then it is time for indoors sightseeing. I, Jay and a guy from Singapore – Lau - go to see the (in)famous Shinto shrine, where the former prime minister carefully managed to piss off the neighbouring countries by repeatedly visiting it. Some convicted war criminals are buried there as well, but hey, why care about what the neighbours think? To the local ultra-nationalists this place has quite a symbolic importance, and while there we see two of these idiots, dressed up as WW2 soldiers, march back and forth, one armed with a rifle and the other with a resounding trumpet.

The museum next door is very professionally set up, and with untypically faultless English texts as well. It is, on the other hand, a very revisionist version of Japanese history being told here – a bit like if Nazis had been in charge of the Danish resistance movement’s museum in Denmark. What infamous ‘Rape of Nanking’? Never heard of it. I barely have time to get a closer look at the real warplanes and a large number of exquisite ship models in wood, metal and even brass, before we practically get kicked out, to the melody of ‘Ould Lang Syne’.

Out in the rain again, across town to the electronic district, which is where the other two want to go, up in a bar for a game of pool, down into the subway where the homeless are lined up for something to eat and eventually shelter for the night, and then a quick ride back to Tepui Bar. Both Jay and Lau are curious and smart people, apparently with a lot of knowledge about Japan and the rest of the world, and the histories of their respective countries. At some point I ask Lau, if the things he tells me about Singapore are some he could express in public back home. “Oh, I’d disappear tomorrow!”, is the cheerful answer.

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