Osaka – Shitennō-ji

I just didn’t take as many photos back then, I guess. Go to a temple, take only two shots? I’ve talked about how this can be a good thing. But when I don’t remember all that much about the visit, I guess it can also be a bad thing.

About an hour’s walk from Sumiyoshi-taisha is Shitennō-ji, another very old temple with a long history. It’s beyond my memory, but this is an excellent summary.

Shitennō-ji is said to be the oldest Buddhist temple in Japan but sadly all the buildings date from a 1960’s rebuild. Still worth a short visit.

a different flavor of coup

I feel quite comfortable in saying that if you’re a country’s leader, but guilty of genocide, that it’s not actually a coup if you get yourself overthrown. Aung San Suu Kyi rightly lost her darling status years ago. So she doesn’t merit the coup term if a bunch of folks put her back into house arrest with a bunch of tanks in the driveway. Her own people have suffered much worse, by the millions.

Plus, Burma isn’t a real democracy. Sure, there are now two full sets of elections in the past, but the Army never really gave up full power. The Army always maintained the interior and exterior security ministries, and rigged the game so the legislature was always at least minority controlled by them. So is a really a coup when the Army never actually gave up power? I suppose so, I guess, if you go by the dictionary.

But it doesn’t mean we have to care. Or do anything about it. Swapping Suu Kyi with an Army goon general is just swapping one form of evil from another. They deserve each other. Burma’s people don’t.

Osaka – Sumiyoshi Taisha

If you’re in Osaka, you kind of just have to. Osaka’s most famous shrine, seat of all Japan’s Sumiyoshi shrines, and the subject of many legends, Sumiyoshi Taisha is said to have been originally built in 211. Founded by Empress Jingu it’s a shrine to the sea, dedicated to the Sumiyoshi Sanjin or the sea’s three gods. Back then, the shrine was right against the sea itself whereas today it’s somewhat inland.

The appropriately, galactically famous Sorihashi Bridge, one of the most beautiful and quintessential of Japan’s taiko bashi or drum bridges. This is one of my most favorite shots of all time, it was done with my old bad camera, and has its flaws but I still dig it.

The shrine’s west entrance, looking from west to east, with the gate up front, and the bridge in the background.

One of the rarest things I ever saw in Japan, a legit memorial for World War II. The shrine being dedicated to the sea, this of course makes sense. This was tucked away in a corner area and I kind of stumbled into it. I sadly don’t read Japanese in any form anymore, but this is a heavy cruiser. I don’t know the ship name or class, but the painting is an older version of the ship, I think, since the heavy cruiser has only two forward turrets instead of the later installed three.

The secondary temple.

If I’ve got my bearings right, this is the north side of the trio of the three main sanctuary structures. I always love the candid shots I get of just ordinary people happening along their daily lives, unaware or uncaring that this weird dude is taking very serious (bad amateur) photography.

New Zealand, from the top rope!

I’m often so grateful that when I first began my travel adventures the smartphone didn’t exist. I had an old school flip phone where texting was a downright marvel. Social media was a term that didn’t exist. I had my own camera (originally a very crappy one) that I used to take my shots. Essentially most, but not every travel post I’ve ever done on this blog was travel I did without a flat screen smartphone.

I wonder what beginning your travel adventures nowadays does to a young man or woman who starts out their journey, probably has a smartphone, has various social media accounts, and doesn’t carry a separate camera. I shudder to think about it. But I think the answer is this, this is from a Twitter user named Lukas Stefanko in 2018, with the caption, “The social media queue”

This is in New Zealand, and this photo makes me want to burn every smartphone and social media account on the planet. [unintelligible snickering] Yes, yes, my Guests would like me to remind you that I am in fact a degenerate, crazy, loser, blog author.

Well, New Zealand is sick of it. New Zealand has a long history of being a tourist favorite, or over favorite. There have been talks in New Zealand for years to impose some kind of tourist fee, or restrictions on visitors in certain areas because they feel so buried by the mass of humanity. But this will never happen because so much of New Zealand’s economy is tied to tourism.

But they put out this video, from the top rope, and it’s professionally shot, funny, and has a super cool message:

I like how @0:50 he gets grabby with these two actors (who are portraying total losers). But it’d be great with me if he went further, and was whacking them with a truncheon like some 1880’s drunken bobby.

Messages like this delivered with humor are awesome, @1:28 where he takes a tumble I was totally cracking up.

Anyways, have a look at the video, heed its message. Indeed, some of the best travel experiences I ever had were where I deliberately made myself never take one photo, either with my good camera, or my smartphone if I had one.

Enjoy your day!

Ōsaka-jō – and why building expensive castles usually doesn’t work

So you want to build a castle. You’re a powerful man but you have a boss. And his castle is awesome. So you want to build one that’s even better than his. So your tower is taller, you throw some gold leaf on there, and you probably think you’ve done an awesome thing.

Problem is, your boss dies, and you’re left hanging with this big, huge, expensive castle while your enemy instead has a massive killing machine of a mobile field army. Oh, and sorry, fixed defenses are generally of only limited value during a long running military conflict. Just ask China how well the Great Wall was at keeping out those dastardly Mongols.

Ōsaka-jō was built from 1583-1597 by Toyotomi Hideyoshi who wanted to mirror the digs of his boss (at the time, everybody’s boss) in Oda Nobunaga. But then Oda died. And soon the son in Toyotomi Hideyori gets Ōsaka-jō.

Then one day in 1600 this ordinary, average, nondescript guy named Tokugawa Ieyasu wins arguably one of the devastating and decisive battles in military history at Sekigahara. Toyotomi loses badly, but it takes Tokugawa until 1615 to acquire enough balance of power to finally settle the score. Tokugawa’s army of several hundred thousand men overpowers Ōsaka-jō, burns it to the ground, Toyotomi dies by his own hand, and Japan’s history is essentially written for the next two hundred years.

Tokugawa rebuilds the castle, because of course. In the subsequent centuries it does what a lot of wooden buildings do throughout history, it burns repeatedly. Gets rebuilt. Then burns again. Then the castle is rebuilt with public contributions. Then during the Boshin War it’s taken and burned again. Then it’s rebuilt, but this time as an arsenal. And so the the Americans carpet bomb the place into oblivion in August 1945.

Only in the late 1990’s is the castle itself restored. But in typical Japanese fashion, it’s done in concrete and not wood. Every time, it still gives me a lack of understanding chuckle at the lack of authenticity and reverence the Japanese have for historical sites and buildings. Nothing quite like the calm, religious experience of a glorious temple, when you can buy hello kitty right inside the door from one of my merchant stalls.

This was a neat visit, it’s cool to look at and the ground themselves are beautiful more as a garden or a park. The tower is interesting, but it feels stale and not real. Probably because it’s concrete and not real. It’s not one of my favorite Japan locations, by far, but it’s worth a short trip if you’re in town.

And also, if you have a Bond style villain demi-god level of power in your future somewhere, don’t build a castle or a god-like evil lair. Building expensive castles usually doesn’t work, see Ōsaka-jō. Or Bond will blow up your lair. Focus on mobile field armies or goons instead.

the Dutch are rioting, wait, uh, what?

So the Dutch are tearing up their streets over covid restrictions. Because apparently there are still people on the planet who don’t get this virus thing, I guess it’s only been around a year, so there’s probably a few folks who’re still coming back from Cohaagen’s latest Mars tourist shot.

That the Dutch are rioting is like saying the French are pouring out their wine into the Seine in protest against [insert any topic here]. It’s the French who like to tear up their streets at the drop of a hat, not the bicycle, pot smoking, polite Dutch. I mean, the Dutch did riot and butcher their prime minister in the streets once. But that was like over three hundred years ago.

You know sooner or later every interest group in the Western world is going to realize that if you want something, violent riots are the way to do it. The police will stop them, eventually, but with the police on such a tight leash they’re never going to be able to totally control mass groups of people organized via social media. Rioters have the clear advantage, maybe as never before.

All those street riots in America this year, plus the Capitol, plus the French yellow jackets, and I guess now the freaking Dutch. I’m not sure what else to say other than, get used to this. If they desire, a crowd can take over a city now, for a short while. Whenever they want.

Well, at least they didn’t skin somebody alive this time.

adventure game please

So it got put out this week that Bethesda (a Death Star in its own right which recently got swallowed by the even bigger Death Star of Microsoft) has tasked MachineGames to make a new Indiana Jones game.

This could either go either way. If MachineGames can recreate their brilliance of the first three Wolfenstein games this will go great. Or, they could create a piece of garbage like their last game in Youngblood and mortgage any remaining relevance they have in the gaming community.

The last Indiana Jones game of any relevance was 28 freaking years ago with Atlantis. This was a game of its time, and when you go back and look at it, even though you enjoyed it as a kid, it now appears bat shit crazy, silly, and stupid. But at least it was fun.

Wolfenstein was a game where MachineGames could be brooding, dark, and awesome. I hope the Indiana Jones game is both good, and is an adventure game. Something lighthearted and fun, just like what made the movies special.

The coat hanger scene from Raiders quickly comes to mind. Where the evil Nazi guy barges in on Marion and that piece of shit Belloq. Nazi goon’s got a metal bar and they both think this stooge is about to mess them up, but it turns out it’s just a coat hanger. Here’s the video:

What a fun scene. It still makes me smirk, and I’ve seen that scene exactly 147 times.

This is the kind of feeling I’m looking for in the Indiana Jones game. May they not screw this up. Adventure game please.

everybody died today

The news is a funny thing. Lots going on in the world, but especially people dying. I think today I saw the following people have commuted to Valhalla:

– Sigfried or Roy, I can’t remember which one, but I think this means both are now getting mauled by tigers in Valhalla as drunk mead swilling goons laugh at them

– Some Survivor contestant, which means one of like 3,487 people because for some reason that stupid show still exists

– Some actress that at least a few people have heard of that was on some show or movie I’ve never seen

I think that makes it about 1/5 of the news articles on the front pages of the news I read. I didn’t click on these articles, but there they were, in my face. And I wouldn’t say I read trash news or gossip or celebrity sites. I’ve got my beef with the media, but it’s not like I’m reading TMZ.

I’m not wishing for people to go, and it sucks when anybody dies. Well, unless you’re Hilter, Stalin, a card carrying member of Al Qaeda or ISIS, or if you love & religious profess Crossfit. But it doesn’t mean you deserve front page news when you check out to the next realm.

I mean when like Sean Connery checked out, that’s front page news. Same with Leonard Nimoy. Otherwise, back page please, let check out time come quietly for most.

words do in fact matter

A common theme on this degenerate blog for the past four years has been not what Trump does, but what covering Trump has done to the media. Trump has always had a clock running, and now it expires in two weeks. But those who cover him will still be here. And Trump has driven them insane. They’ve mortgaged their credibility to get one man, one guy, who’s soon to be gone.

The last few days the word “coup” has appeared in just about every publication I read. The idea is that Trump will attempt a coup in the next two weeks to stay in office. Do these folks really understand what they’re writing? Words do in fact matter.

According to my bookcase dictionary, a coup is:

“a sudden, violent, and illegal seizure of power from a government”

Note the word: violent.

So when somebody writes coup, to me that means they think Trump is going to put the 82nd Airborne Division on the DC streets within the next two weeks and have them shoot people in the face. Really? Do they really, actually believe that? Because if they do, they’re literally bat shit crazy, insane.

Or, they’re using an explosive, irresponsible word to describe the back and forth of politics in our current toxic political climate. A political climate that isn’t going to get any better just because Biden drops his suitcase onto the White House bedroom floor.

They even got a bunch of former Defense Secretaries (most of whom are total losers) to sign a letter asking Trump not to do this “coup” thing. Do all these former Defense Secretaries think so little of the armed forces that they once led, that America’s armed forces are idiotic automatons who will do whatever Trump says without regard to their oath and honor? I guess the answer is yes. I guess?

Gee wiz, I wonder what’s going to happen to all these people when Trump’s gone and they have to live in the real world again. And not a world where they have a crayon drawing of Trump on the bathroom wall where he has devil horns they drew. I think they’ll have like a withdrawal, like they’re coming off some drug. Getting hooked on meth would have been wiser the last four years.