Saturday, November 10, 2012

Shoutoku Taishi - things near by.

For those that are curious, I live out in the middle of nowhere.  It's really quite beautiful.  Today I went out biking and hiking.  These pictures are mostly from a mountain in Ono Chou, a town that is about an hour and a half bike ride from me.

 The  path is filled with ancient graves of Daimyo - land owners of the past(last picture)
 The nature is beautiful.  Now that it's fall, the leaves are starting to change colors.  The statue here is of Shoutoku Taishi, an emperor from around 600 AD, known especially for his Buddhist activities.  He has had a bit of a cult following over the centuries.
The woods are filled with these cool wood carvings. I'm pretty sure all the cool people hang out in the mountains.  I've seen skateboarders, shamisen players, and there are wood carvers too.  Nature is a truly awesome!

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Thoughts on the political opinion and life.

So, it's a few days before election day in the United States, and I haven't really said that much about politics in general, this election campaign.  It's strange how moving away can effect how we think about things -- I used to be an incredibly political being.  I still feel pretty strong in my opinions, but  those opinions seem less critical in my life since I live so far away from it now.

I'm not really interested in starting wars, or creating divides over political opinions and differences.  We think differently based on the way we were raised, and the experiences we have, all sorts of things.  And that's cool, as long as we maintain a basic respect for each other, that's what's important as human beings. I've met people from all over the world, and I know that we are all raised with different ideas.  If we don't share them, and find away away to live with them, we stand no chance of growing. 

For whatever it is worth, I want to say I do still think about this election, about any election, about politics in general.  Issues that affect the majority of people in the country, issues that affect the way we are treated and allowed to treat other people, what we as citizens are allowed to do, and what those as businesses, cops, etc are allowed that are different (which I really cannot understand how they have such special treatment), how we are allowed to treat the Earth, what we are allowed/made to eat, how the ideas of children are allowed/made to be influenced in school system, how important that education from the school system is made to be in our lives, and how much our lives are affected by the type of education we receive.  These are some of the things I think about.

I haven't talked much about my personal philosophies lately, but I just wanted to share a bit about the core of my self for once.

My personal motto has always been:  If it isn't hurting anyone else, why should it be a problem?   In terms of physical attacks, this is a given.  In regards to treatment dependent on race, gender, sexual orientation, this should be a given.  And when it comes to how words are used, it becomes a complicated battle with freedom of speech... but shouldn't we do our best to have a basic respect for each other as human beings?  I have seen people I love and respect, say that they would throw away old friends, based on their different beliefs.  People that I really couldn't imagine saying such a thing.  I guess since I am not in the US, I cannot feel the pain to such the extent that they are, but I cannot understand banning someone from existing in my life, just because of different views.

I say this from the core of who I am.  I have spent my whole life being battled by people who didn't like me for some reason or another.  Growing up in my neighborhood, in my school, there were just two other white kids, and I faced very heavy racism.  I faced derogatory statements about most aspects of my life.  About my race, about being poor, about being dirty, about being gay... even before I knew I was attracted to the same gender.  People made up anything they could to hurt me.

And they did hurt me.  I was a young child, and I hated this world.  I hated it so much, I didn't want to be a part of it, that bullying led me to be a very sad human being.  I left school, I couldn't focus on anything, the entire world unraveled in my mind.  I tried desperate things to get out of my life, but never succeeded, and felt like a failure in that too.  I felt like a weak human being, and I felt like I didn't deserve to live.

I was one of the lucky ones that managed to survive it.  I was one of the lucky ones that found a way to grow stronger.  It took a lot of things to reach the point where I could grow stronger.  As a young girl being bullied, I couldn't understand why I would be bullied, it felt unfair and cruel, and I couldn't cope with it.  It took losing my only family to death, and going homeless, not knowing what future I had, to realize how much I wanted to live.

There's a lot of details here I could tell you.  What it's like losing someone at 18.. the world expects you are ready to take care of yourself, so you don't get any assistance.  What it's like, not knowing where you'll be the next week.. I was lucky enough to have temporary places to be, but my main base was very isolating.
What it's like losing the strongest influence in your life.  Nothing has affected me more than this.  It changed me to want to be the girl that could over come things.  I did it because I couldn't be the girl that just died in the shadow of my father.  I saw what an amazing human being he was, and felt more respect than ever.  I wanted to become the best human being I could, I wanted to make sure that he would never be forgotten.  I wanted to grow stronger, and try harder than I ever had before.
It took so much pain, and so much change to reach that point.  Much more than should be necessary for any child, any human being to have to deal with.  For this reason, I believe we really need to respect each other as human beings.
In the end, I refuse to run away from being the odd one out.  I learned a new language, I moved to a new country, I live as a minority, and I influence young children in my life to respect foreigners.  I do the best I can to help out, and even if sometimes I don't feel like I'm doing enough, I do the best I can to try and be a part of things.  I believe that it can be so easy for us to accept one another, so why don't we?  That doesn't mean we have to be best friends, but it does mean, that we can accept that we are different.  Not just in appearance, but I mean also in ideas. 

Perhaps I trailed off there, I don't know.  What I really wanted to say, is why respect is so important to me.  Why I'm not willing to reject anyone that is willing to accept me.   Why I don't believe that being different should mean that we can't get along... because sometimes we are different, and there is just no helping it, it should be a beautiful thing, not something that leads to pain, sadness, and death.

What does this have to do with politics?  Maybe nothing, maybe everything, more likely, just something.  I can't say that I don't worry about the United States if Romney were to become president.  I've seen him lie, and I don't expect a fair election.  I can't believe he's even plausible for a presidential candidate at this point.  I honestly hope and believe with all my heart that Obama will win, and that his existence helps to change things in a good direction. But even if for whatever reason you have, you like Romney, I understand it's based on our different experiences.  Just know that I'm not hear to hate you or say that you're wrong.  I'm not here to insult you, even if I can't understand everything about you.  And in return for that, I hope that you can respect me too, as a fellow human being, as a fellow living creature, even if that is all that we share in common.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A day in Hong Kong, a prelude in Osaka.

I tend to believe that everyone comes here for just the pictures.  How interesting are words anymore, when there are pictures to describe the journey?  These pictures consist of one single day in Hong Kong.  The first few are actually still in Japan.  I'll leave some words along the way.

A train ride to the airport in Osaka.
Osaka city.

A book for the journey.  Isaac Asimov - Robot Dreams.  I'm still in the midst of reading it, but good tales are here.  Celes and I took turns reading stories to each other.  One time read to self, one time read aloud.  Books are super fun this way! 

Portland kids!  We met them on the train headed to Osaka, they were headed to Kobe.

I remember this statue from when I lived in Osaka.

Osaka at it's best!

Hong Kong money! Makes you feel rich.
Taken from the window in the hallway of the hostel we stayed in.  Very closed in buildings.  Tsim Sha Sui Hong Kong, from the Apple Hostel.  It's a pretty dangerous feeling neighborhood, so I recommend only treading here if you are brave.

Bamboo scaffolding.  Nature at work in the city.

Construction is of course rampant in Hong Kong.
When I travel to a new country, I love to have a picnic when I get there.  Go to a supermarket, and just pick up whatever I have never seen before.  Hong Kong however, is a diverse and modern city, so without a friend there, I think it's hard to know what's really "Hong Kong food"  I hear the street venders have some good Hong Kong styled Chinese food, but they don't often speak English.

Dragon fruit!

2012, 15 years of 'independence' (from the British) for Hong Kong!  Now they are a part of China.

As we were stopped at the park posted above, this jovial fellow stopped us on the street to teach us every thing he possibly could about the surrounding area, especially the government buildings.. he is after all a government worker^^

A monument for the dead.

Picture of Utopia? 

Utopia?  Honestly I don't like cities that much.

Ficus tree!! My favourite.

Rambutan fruit, they can be found all around Southeast Asia and are super tasty.  To eat: squeeze until it pops open.

An attempt at eating real Hong Kong food.  The workers couldn't speak English, so we just pointed to some dishes that had fish kanji..  魚 .  Turned out pretty well..  Not the best food in the world though.

Lama Island, at its' best.  Truly a place worth checking out in Hong Kong.

The hall way to our hostel, early morning, deserted.

This is the lady at the airport.  On our first day traveling, I lost my bank card, leaving us in a crisis situation.  My bank was unable to get me a new card, despite its' branch even existing in the city I was in.  Definitely time to move away from Citibank.  We explained the situation, and after a half an hour of trying everything we could, she was able to help us board the plain with just a single rule bent.