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OUT OF THE TUNNEL ….

“The train came out of the long tunnel into the snow country. The earth lay white under the night sky.” Kawabata, transl. Seidensticker (英語の後に日本語が続きます。) A nice and sunny day in Kanto. Typical late autumn weather. I was on my way to Joetsu by car on the Kanetsu Expressway. Beautiful colours of the changing leaves in …

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Chiang Kai-Shek and Japan — his military and social experiences in Takada (Joetsu)

(英語の後に日本語が続きます。) It is well-known that Chiang Kai-Shek -- the later Chairman of the Nationalist Government of China (1943-1948), and President of the Republic of China (Taiwan) -- as a young man wished to pursue a career in the military. Less well known is the fact that he spent a number of his formative years studying …

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THEODOR VON LERCH – The spy who introduced skiing to Japan and made Niseko famous

(英語の後に日本語が続きます。) On a snowy day in January, 1911, the command “Mettre ski” sounded across the slopes of Mount Kanaya. Eleven selected officers from the 58th regiment of the Imperial Japanese Army put on their skis. A little awkward at first but more easily and quickly over the next few days, and weeks. The Austrian Major …

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The COWRA BREAKOUT

(英語の後に日本語が続きます。) War time events in Australia and Japan brought about an otherwise unlikely connection between Joetsu and Cowra, NSW, Australia. In 2003, the mayors of Cowra and Joetsu signed a Peace and Friendship Agreement. I have described the Naoetsu side of the relationship in “The Naoetsu POW Camp”, and development of the relations between the …

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The PEACE MEMORIAL PARK – Naoetsu

Statues of Peace and Friendship (英語の後に日本語が続きます。) Tokyo POW Camp #4 branch, Naoetsu could have easily turned into “the camp that never was” – a fate suffered by almost all of the POW camps located in Japan -- had it not been for the initiative of a small group of Naoetsu citizens who conducted their efforts …

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GANGI-DORI of TAKADA

Google identifies Gangi as the most beautiful village in Italy. Wikipedia does a little better and identifies gangi   (雁木) as an opening in shogi, named after the covered sidewalks (雁木造) that connect buildings in Japan’s Snow Country. (英語の後に日本が続きます。) Gangi are extended eaves of houses to allow passage sheltered from the snow in winter. During the …

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THE GREAT TEMPLES OF MINAMIUONUMA – Untoan

A beautiful weekday in summer. Other than two women who were leaving just when I arrived at Untoan, there was no one around except some young monks cleaning the garden and a lady collecting entrance fees. Untoan, and the other great temples of Minamiuonuma (including for instance Saifuku-ji) are all located within 10 to 15 …

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THE TAKADA INTERSECTION of the Hokurikudo and the Hokkoku-kaido

Across the street from a Seven-11 in Takada and around the corner from the Ogawa Kimono Shop is a small shrine and some stone markers. It is the Oiwake intersection of Higashi-hondori. This shrine and the markers are all that reminds us of what historically was an important intersection of major roads in Joetsu. The …

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THE HISTORY OF HISOKA MAEJIMA– and why he should be voted “most notable” person from Joetsu.

At a recent visit to my local post office, all staff, including manager Tanaka, were wearing red T-shirts with an inscription to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Japan postal system. A system that was created shortly after the Meiji restoration (1868), during that remarkable period in which Japan had concluded that it was preferable to …

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