Daily Archives: 23 October 2005

Diary of a Kyoto Civilian at New Year, 1945

December 31, 1944, Sunday
End-of-the-Year Thoughts

At long last, today is the last day of 1944, and when the new day dawns, we’ll greet 1945, the Year of the Rooster. The enemy attacks are a daily affair, and there’s no New Year’s spirit. I got up at eight, but there were no sounds of tatami being beaten [in the traditional New Year’s housecleaning].

The crowing of the neighborhood roosters is pathetic, as though their lives were being sucked to the bone.

Toshie and Haruko [daughters] put on their clogs and cleaned the planks laid out over the mud. Up until two years ago, as a morning exercise, they polished the area between the Iroha [billiards parlor] signs with oil until it was smooth, but in no time, this area, which guests were once reluctant to walk on in their shoes, had become muddied and dirty. It was New Year’s Eve, and not a single cent was owed me, no loans had to be repaid, no end-of-the-year gift to be given, and nothing coming in. When I thought about this strange, unprecedented sort of New Year’s Eve, I simply accepted the fact that it felt good, and that was enough.

New Year’s Day
Impressions of a Sweet Potato New Year

Wartime conditions have come to prevail with extraordinary speed, and the weak have become food for the strong. How will we survive in this harried world? The new year promises to be one filled with problems.

It was unusual, but even the enemy planes seemed to have some humanity. On New Year’s Day alone, we’re not worrying about air raids over our heads. First of all, although it was a small matter, there was mazetakimi rice, some bamboo shoots, and sake. I’m seventy-six, and although I’m of no value for the honorable country, today I realized my humanity, and it felt like an old-style New Year’s.

It was a sweet potato New Year’s. Otsuru [eldest daughter] must not be surprised. She went to a place about a mile east of Shimokameyama in Mie Prefecture to buy fifteen or sixteen loads of sweet potatoes. What made this possible was the fact that the potatoes were black market goods. We’ve developed good relations with the farm families, and we came to buy sweet potatoes at one kan [about 8 lbs.] for three yen; even with the train fare included, one kan cost only three yen, eighty sen.

When we eat glutinous rice [mochi], we have to sacrifice one month’s worth of rice, and as a rice substitute, the honorable sweet potato is full of nourishment. Under the circumstances, while both [daughter] Toshie and I are in the house, it’s strange for us, rather than Otsuru, to be searching for, and eating, food.

SOURCE: Leaves from an Autumn of Emergencies: Selections from the Wartime Diaries of Ordinary Japanese, by Samuel Hideo Yamashita (U. Hawai‘i Press, 2005), pp. 108-109

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Game Called on Account of Fog

Game 1 of the Japan Series was called in the seventh inning on account of fog, but the Chiba Lotte Marines were given the win because they were ahead 10-1 at the time. The Japan Times reports:

The game was interrupted by fog in the seventh inning as umpires pulled players off the field after Benny Agbayani’s two-run homer.

Almost 40 minutes later, home plate umpire Minoru Nakamura called the game.

Lotte’s Tomoya Satozaki, Agbayani and Lee Seung Yeop all homered, and Saburo Omura doubled in a pair of runs for the victors….

“It was too bad we didn’t get to play nine innings,” Lotte manager Bobby Valentine said. “[Starting pitcher] Shimizu was fantastic.”

Lotte’s powerful offense had little trouble putting runs on the board, as the Marines reached base in every inning.

Starting with the bottom of the fifth, Lotte scored in three straight innings, taking control of the game.

Good for the Marines. And good for the White Sox in the World Series. I hope Game 2 in Chicago is not called on account of snow.

UPDATE: The Japan Times also explains the frustrations of trying to keep up with either Japanese or American baseball on Japanese broadcast channels. (Frustrations other than the broadcast-channel tendency to end coverage exactly on the half-hour, even if it’s a tie game in the 9th inning with the top of the order due up to bat.)

This is 2005, the 21st century, the age of cable and satellite and, if you are a baseball fan looking to see the games live, but you don’t have extra-terrestrial reception capability, it is going to get worse.

Probably, within a few years, fewer and fewer games will be telecast on the conventional channels, and more and more will be on cable or satellite.

But, to look at it from the opposite angle, it is going to get better. It has gotten better. A lot better.

Go back about 25 years, and all we got on TV throughout Japan were the Tokyo Giants games, home and road, picked up an hour into the game and usually cut off long before the final out was recorded.

Today, if you have the right systems, you can get all six Japan pro baseball games any day of the season, from the first pitch all the way through the hero interview, even if the game goes 12 innings or five hours.

We can also get two or three MLB games per day during the season, all the playoff games and the World Series, live and in English.

What more do you want?

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