Andrew’s world in Japan 2018/September

Artist & researcher based in KL since 2009, passionately exploring the creative process & connecting with other creative people.

Take Aways From History In The Present Day (Part 1)

Japan is famous for many things. People around the globe practice martial arts developed there. Karate, from Okinawa, Aikido and the renowned Sumo wrestling are a few examples. Alongside ramen, the cuisine known as sushi and its abundant variations have toured the globe. This is a nation of about 6,852 islands that stretch the Pacific Ocean. Nearly 20 million people visit Japan annually, and that number keeps growing. Generally a temperate climate, this archipelago sits where several continental and oceanic plates meet (or collide depending on who you talk to). Earthquakes are commonplace. Active volcanoes number 110. Japanese legend holds that the gods Izanagi and Izanami were tasked with forming the islands that are today called Japan. Quite possibly Japan’s most famous artwork is Hokusai’s 1832 ukiyo-e comeback print series entitled ‘Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji.’ These make up a general short list to consider. What ties any of this together? Well, Japan of course.

Although the majority of the populace resides in Tokyo or another of the major urban collection points, Japanese know the environment impacts their lives. To live among earthquakes, engineers designed buildings with base isolation that incorporate flexible ball bearing systems. This is an attempt to work with nature. The world recognizes the unique perspectives Japanese society contributes. Consider the word tsunami. It is in use around the world in many languages. Of Japan’s many islands, 111 are in the region of Okinawa, the “Rope In The Open Sea.” In 2009 I had the opportunity to spend a month in the subtropical island region.

Like many places considered part of modern-day Japan, Okinawa has an extensive and well-documented past. Historic environmental and human events have impacted the region. Urbanization has created cities that share common features with the rest of the country. Fortunately for those seeking experiences true to their roots, significant areas remain as they have for decades. With many unique historic places to visit, there is much to learn. A quick list includes Shuri and Nakagusuku Castles, a mausoleum for the former Ryukyu royal family Tamaudun, the Karate Kaikan complex, Tsuboya pottery district, war memorials, the modern amusement park Ocean Expo Park and possibly Japan’s finest aquarium, Churaumi.

Much of my visit was spent trailing my friend during deliveries for his family company and enjoying beach barbecues. I did manage to visit a few historically significant sites. Surely I must leave a few items unexperienced to have a reasonable excuse for another visit, right? A highlight was Churaumi Aquarium. At the time I looked on in wonder. I had visited aquariums before. Recently the value of these places has become visible. Over the past year, I’ve picked up a new hobby, aquariums and fishkeeping. Growing up near rivers and taking frequent trips to fish them never quite tuned me in to appreciate the wonderful aquatic nature. Today we hear ever-increasing reports pointing out dramatic climate swings, rising ocean levels and massive loss of all kinds of plant and animal species. Aquariums are living museums and galleries that help us to learn about and appreciate the incredible nature that is water-based.