Sunday, November 19, 2006
An old house in Japan.. I think this was in Nagaoka, although it might be Niigata. One of those two, definitely Niigata prefecture. I lived in Nagaoka for a year...
I'm (always) trying to organize all my crap, going through old papers and photographs, but I keep getting sidetracked on the content... and wanting to scan things onto the internet. The recent Markel Building post is compelling me to post more examples of interesting architecture.
Isn't this a cool old house? Most of wooden Nagaoka was burned down during WWII, but this looks to pre-date the war. Here is another view, it's almost under the Shinkansen tracks. Nagaoka now holds - on the anniversary of it's firebombing - the biggest and most beautiful hanabi matsuri (fireworks festival) in Japan, on the banks of the Shinanogawa. So pretty... great memory.
I met the most interesting old man in Nagaoka. He was in his 90's, spoke excellent English, and kept a cluttered third-floor office full of amazing things. He learned English in the States, before the war (he travelled all over America)... and after the war began he was assigned to run a prison labor camp, I think in Malaysia. He told me about how hard the prisoners had to work and that every morning he would assemble everyone in the yard for exercise, and give a motivational speech, in Malay. He told me that he would thank them for their hard work and suffering, not having enough to eat, but that after the war was over and they won, everything would be great... "but we didn't win".
Then.. HE became a prisoner. There were so many Japanese spread out over so much of Asia that the best and quickest way to isolate them was to round them up and keep them on various uninhabited small islands. He said they had no clothes, food, medicine, or shelter and that many many men died on the island. I asked him what he ate and he said that they would stamp on snakes and eat them. Their feet were so calloused they were like clubs.
Okay, this is not so much about art. I did this same thing yesterday talking about Press, but didn't like seeing all that on my ART blog, so I moved most of that biographical text to the comments. Maybe I should start an Interesting Old Man blog... it would include Fred, Paris, Haigh Jamgochian, Charles Ware, Press.
Okay! Ladies also! I can't leave out Mildred Greenberg!!!!!