Shuri castle Seiden, royal seat for th eRyukyu Kingdom for 500 years.
We happened upon a festival while at Shuri Castle, it is called Hatagashira. The Hatagashira of Okinawa can be likened to the Mikoshi of
mainland Japan. A Mikoshi is a
portable Shinto shrine. Shinto followers believe that it serves as the
vehicle of a divine spirit in Japan at the time of a parade or
celebration. They are carried in a procession and hoisted up and downato a cahnt by the bearers. The Hayagashira does something similar and there are helper with y-sticks or ropes to make sure it doesn't topple over. They stop and proceede adn restart after lighting firecrackers to announce the next session. There were martial arts displays and I saw a wodden headed snapping dragon that you see during Chinese festivals-the Chinese influence is very apparent here.
I have been an admirer of John W. Dower since I read his 1999 masterpiece Embracing Defeat: Japan in the Wake of WWII, which incidentally won both a Pulitzer Prize and Naitonal Book Award. I went back and read War Without Mercy: Race and Power in the Pacific War (1986) as well. I've been meaning to read Cultures of War: Pearl Harbor/Hiroshima/9-11/Iraq (2010) since it came out and decided that it might be an appropriate read before visiting Nagasaki for the first time (which I recently did), which also gets mention in the book. Dower is an excellent researcher and does an excellent job of explaining how and why historical antecedents from WWII were ill applied to present times as well as the irony in using terms like "ground zero" and "Pearl Harbor." First and foremost I found his discussion of the mentality behind using the atomic bombs fascinating since I read several book about the topic a few years earlier for a term paper on the subject for a correspondence class. But all of his writing about Japan is top notch in my estimation--he uses primary and secondary sources effectively to back up his assertions (there are over 100 pages of notes alone). I would go as far to say that his analysis of the Bush administration's foray into war in Afghanistan and Iraq are equally top notch. Then again I thought it was pure folly from the beginning, but I see in the reviews at Amazon that neoconservatives do not exactly see it that way. He suggests that if the Bush administration went to war with Iraq because of suspected weapons of mass destruction they were idiotic and if they went to war to open up the middle east for capitalism they were criminal. I do not see how conservatives can see these policies as successes. Dower does a great job of explaining why this occupation could not work the same way that the occupations of Japan and Germany did. I think looking at the three sections and the subsequent chapter titles will give you an idea of the breath and scope of his analysis: Part I "Pearl Harbor As Code," 1. Infamy and the Cracked Mirror of History, 2. The Failure of Intelligence, 3. Failure of Imagination, 4. Innocence, Evil, and Amnesia, 5. War of Choice and Strategic Imbecilities, 6. "Pearl harbor" as Godsend, Part II: "Ground Zero 1945 and Ground Zero 2001," 7. "Hiroshima" as Code, 8. Air War and Terror Bombing in WWII, 9. "The Most Terrible Bomb in the History of the World," 10. The Irresistible Logic of Mass Destruction, 11. Sweetness, Beauty, and Idealistic Annihilation, 12. New Evils in the World: 1945/2001, Part III: "Wars and Occupations," 13. Occupied Japan and Occupied Iraq, 14. Convergence of a Sort: Law, Justice, and Transgression, 15. Nation Building and Market Fundamentalism, Epilogue: "Fools' Errands and Fools' Gold."