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After reading an article in Salon's travel section I've been thinking of trips Japanese - although I was contemplating a European return this Fall, the story about the Tsukiji fish market in Tokyo is turning my sights back there. It's a traditional stop for the first morning in Tokyo, since the market opens at (what they call in the military) "oh-dark-hundred" and that's when the jet-lagged American traveler wakes up, but nothing else is open yet. Lots of interesting activity; stuff being moved around by these guys driving the small flat-bed machines pictured - here's the description of them from my travel journal, on December 5, 1992: I was most taken by the simple three-wheeled cargo vehicles in use there. The only dynamic component was the front drum - the top was combination steering wheel/throttle; the middle, motor; and the single driving wheel. This big drum pivoted (it also had a single headlight) and the driver stood on the platform, most of whose space was for cargo. At the market's fringes are early-opening shops and restaurants, and a few of the latter were grilling eel over charcoal fires, making a heaven-scent. Also there's a temple nearby which had nice automotive-style omamori - these are little round stickers with stylish designs and kanjii, which one affixes to their car to ward off danger and prevent collisions. I got a couple in Nikko, later - one's on my Toyota (almost faded away, now) and the other faces forward on my bicycle's frame head. Those at the Tsukiji temple were green, but their ¥1200 ($10) price seemed excessive, and they may not even carry that design anymore, but I want to go back and find out. After a day or two in Tokyo I'd use a rail pass to travel by bullet-train to Kyoto and then down along the coastline of the Izu peninsula.

According to Slate's breakdown of how traditional Left/Right political flavors are reacting (Hawk/Dove) to the "crisis," my shouldn't-be-involved stance and anti-conservative leanings make me an Old School Lefty. On the radio I heard somebody lament the now-common use of the term "ethnic cleansing" - the voice wanted the term clarified to "ethnic purging," since that's what really happens - "cleansing" is the bad guys' euphemism. Also, in the San Francisco Chronicle, an Islamic advocate wonders

Why ... the victims of the Serbian crackdown in Kosovo are always referred to as the victims of "ethnic" cleansing? "It's religious cleansing," [Abdussalam Chouia] said. "The Serbs (who are Orthodox Christian) are killing Kosovars because they are Muslim."

"When a Muslim commits a terrorist act, his faith is always mentioned. They're 'Muslim terrorists.' But people who bomb abortion clinics are not called 'Christian terrorists' and the IRA are not called 'Catholic terrorists,' he said. "Now that we're the victims, we're called 'ethnic Albanians,' not 'Muslims.'"

Reminds me of the Bosnian clarification Eno offered in his 1995 diary, A Year With Swollen Appendices. From his entry of August 3:
Incidentally, has it ever struck you as odd that you are always hearing about Muslim Bosnia, but never about Catholic Croatia or Orthodox Serbia? And did you know that, while there are bishops and priests and primates at the highest levels of both of these governments, there is not a mullah to be seen anywhere in the Bosnian government? Muslim Bosnia is a myth: the truth is that they are the only ones NOT fighting a fundamentalist religious war.

  pic du jour

Inside Tokyo fish market at Tsukiji
click to see my whole photo in true color

Apr 21
© 1999
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