Readers' Submissions

Changes In Seasons – Changes in Reasons

  • Written by Ishiro
  • September 24th, 2013
  • 8 min read

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It is almost 14 years since I began my close association with Thai people and their culture – and I have no regrets whatsoever toward any of the experiences I have had while in The Kingdom or absent in my homeland. All my memories are of
good times – although quite often perplexing – but there is nothing I would change. Still, as I wrote in another submission quite recently, there are many changes occurring in Thailand – some not so good for foreigners – but mostly better for
Thai people – and I'm happy to see that. The time has come, I believe, for me to move on to other things while I still have the ability to do so.

Becoming engrossed in one particular culture gives certain gratifying results – yet that practice, for me, denies other desires that lie deep beneath the surface and cannot be ignored as they grow more powerful with each passing year. I admire
people like Pattaya Gary and Caveman, who spread themselves between other areas than Thailand while still retaining a strong connection to the places in Thailand that they have come to know well. Unlike those two gentlemen and others, I had no
desire to look elsewhere since Thailand fulfilled all of the needs for me. Sure, at first it was the basic urges for sexual gratification and variations on a theme – and I do like Thai beer – but one goes past that – and my interests diverged
into other areas that provided more substantial stimulation to a searching intellect. There are only so many themes possible before boredom sets in and you look for something more.

This coming December will be the last time I will likely visit The Kingdom – not because I have become disenchanted with Thailand – it has more to do with something that I have wanted to do for a very long time but always placed Thailand
at the top of my priorities to the detriment of my inner needs. I love Japan, even though I have not been there in this life – but I know I must go there to see the things that are important to me – and have been so for most of my life. Accordingly,
I have asked my travel consultant to frame up an itinerary for late 2014, so I can do this before it is too late.

The way I see it, this will be a pilgrimage of homage and respect for something I have always seen as a terrible act perpetrated against the Japanese people of Hiroshima on 6th August, 1945 – and again at Nagasaki on 9th August 1945. At that
time, I was only 17 months' old and my father was a US Serviceman, specialising in heavy weapons and based in northern Australia. He died in service when I was 6 months old – before I ever knew him – but his legacy to me was American citizenship
– something that was both a blessing and a curse. Sure, the blessing was that it gave me the freedom to live in America and to be educated free of charge and to have a university education, if I so chose – but the curse was that I have always
felt a deep shame that my "other homeland" was the perpetrator of what I regard as a terrible crime against humanity. In some strange way I have always felt responsible because of my heritage.

There will be some who will argue that the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki were justified as revenge for the attack by the The Imperial Japanese Carrier Fleet that was comprised of six aircraft carriers – Akagi, Kaga, Soryu, Hiryu, Shokaku
and Zuikaku – against Pearl Harbor on 7th December, 1941. Was it a successful mission? All I know is the comment made by the head of the task force. After abandoning the third attack wave and withdrawing the carrier fleet from the zone, Commanding
Admiral Nagumo remarked "I fear that all we have accomplished is to have awakened a terrible, sleeping giant". The reality is that it was an act of desperation by the Japanese, resulting from sanctions imposed against them. The Japanese
were fast running out of oil and rubber – the main reason why they moved against Malaya and Burma – and ordinary Japanese people in The Homeland were gradually starving to death – many resorting to adding grass clippings to what meagre rations
they were able to find. Some will also argue that the use of nuclear weapons was justified to end the Pacific/Coral Sea conflict that had taken so many lives. Yes, it ended that war by Japanese surrender – but at what legacy and cost of the lives
of so many innocent people – not to mention those who had to live out the rest of their lives with terrible disfigurement and haunting memories that remained with them until death?

I have pored over so many jpg images of the aftermath of those attacks and listened to the verbal accounts of the survivors – but I still cannot find the words to describe the feelings I hold. Contempt, horror, anger – none of these are sufficient
descriptions. Sorrow is all I can think of for a description – but that seems inadequate.

The analysts will never agree on the rights or wrongs on each side – there are always two sides to an argument.

Malaysian actor Michelle Yeoh is probably my favourite film personality for her amazing performances in "Crouching Tiger – Hidden Dragon" and in "Memoirs Of A Geisha" – playing the character of Mameha, the retired but
legendary Geisha who took Sayuri (played by Chinese actor Ziyi Zhang) as her mentor and guided her to success. I love this film and I just have to see the five Hanamachi districts of Kyoto (gokagai) to try to soak up the feelings of what life
must have been like in those times of the 'thirties and 'forties. Of course, in the film, the Hanamachi of the period was a purpose-built film set created in US – where most of the shots were taken. It is such a well-crafted film, sensitively-directed
by Rob Marshall, that makes you feel you are really there in that period. All the characters ring true – and the overall feeling is intensified as the reality strikes home of the impending changes about to occur when the American occupation began.
Something uniquely wonderful was lost, probably forever. Yes, The Geisha still exist in many regions of Japan – but the time-frame is gone, along with the prevailing conditions of the period.

The haunting musical score, by John Williams, weaves mood throughout the film, alternating between "Sayuri's Theme", "The Chairman's Theme" and "The Garden Meeting" – along with 15 other tracks that
complement the mood of each scene and accentuating the admiration and growing love between young Chiyo (Sayuri) and The Chairman (played by Japanese actor Ken Watanabe). Water is a significant symbol also tying together Chiyo's basic irresistible
character into the script. Suzuka Ohgo played the child version of Chiyo, before Chiyo was portrayed by Ziyi Zhang when she was given the Geisha name of Sayuri as an adult. Both Chiyo (aged 9) and Satsu (her elder Sister) Sakamoto were sold by
their Father (with deep regret, to obtain money for his dying wife) into one of the Geisha Houses in Kyoto – but Satsu was rejected as not attractive enough and was sold again to the owner of a Pleasure House for prostitution.

Fortunately, Kyoto was declared off-limits for attack by America as they wished to preserve the cultural aspects of the city. During a few days there in Kyoto, I hope to find some remnants remaining of architectural styles, from that period,
down some small back-alleys so that I can take some photos. Maybe nothing is left – but I hope so.

I must visit Hiroshima. Much will have changed – still I need to be touched by the imprints left behind and pay respects to the dead – and this is why I do not want a conducted tour. I need to take as much time as necessary there and to travel
to the nearby Itsukushima Island and visit the great Shinto Shrine. Nearby, is the great Torii gate, sitting in the shallows on the edge of The inland Sea – and I will sit for quite a few hours as sunset approaches, looking out across the water
– lost in thoughts of times gone by – imagining as it must have been way back then.

That is all I want to do – I'm not interested in Tokyo or any aspect of the sex industry in Japan. Arrival and departure through Osaka will do me just fine. This will be a totally-cultural experience in trying to relive a time and by
trying to understand the people who lived in that time but are now gone.

It will be very difficult to leave Thailand for the last time – particularly saying goodbye to someone whom I care for very much in BKK. Even leaving her to go back to my homeland is difficult, knowing that I will be back again to be with
her – but to know I will not go back again to her will be a crushing experience that I hope I can survive. All I can do is place my trust in a higher power – and give up what I have always done by wanting to be in charge of my own destiny.