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Date: Sun, 29 Sep 2002 12:10:21 EDT
#133 Richard Keech
Return to Tokyo 9-29-02
#133 Newsletter September 29, 2002
by Richard Keech Sep 25 2002
I'm off on a new trip report. Looks like its going to be a long one. So, I'll send it to you in chapters. It covers the return to Japan that Kay and I made in 1980. I can tell its going to take up some space.
In my first chapter I can't quite get off the dock into the ship that that will take us to Japan. So, with that explanation, here's the first chapter. It was a fun trip. Particularly because thruout the trip we traveled and ate like Japanese.
WE RETURN TO JAPAN
"Dad, are you sure about this?" That's my Navy Lieutenant son talking. Kay and I are standing in a long line waiting to board an inter-island Japanese passenger liner.
They're lowering the gang plank now. "Dad, I haven't seen any one but Okinawans and Japanese anywhere on the dock," (and it's packed with people). Steven and his family. Sue and Naomi, have come down to the dock to see us off. Our ship is docked in the port of Naha, Okinawa at the moment.
We will sail for Japan tonight. The year is 1980 and we have used the arrival of a new grandchild as an excuse to make an extended visit to the orient. A chance to show Kay some of the places she's heard me talk about for so many years. Places where I once fought as a Marine. Places where I spent some three and a half years as a Prisoner of War, a guest of the Emperor. We've made our sons pleasant, but small two bedroom home in Okinawa as our base.
Following approved visiting-relative guidelines we have tried to limit our time with them to no more than three days. That's three days at a time. After the first three days we flew to the Philippines to revisit the country I fought for during WW2. Back now, from that wonderful tour, we have enjoyed another three days being doting grandparents. Now we are on our way to Japan.
I spent two and a half years of the war in the Philippines. The last year I spent in Japan. I want to share with Kay some of the scenes I remember from that period of my life, too. The gang plank is down now. In true Japanese fashion the crowd on the dock moves en-masse, pushing and shoving, toward its one narrow gate.
This is the way all subways are filled in Japan. (Such a strange twist to the normally courteous Japanese way of dealing with interpersonal relationships.) We pick up our "carry-on luggage" (Soft bags with carrying straps) and forcibly interject ourselves into the gang plank crowd.
We shall miss Okinawa. Mainly because we hardly saw it. We spent most of our time on the island on the Military Base where my son is stationed. Actually, for a Southern Californian a very pleasant place to be. You feel like you are home.
There's an interesting explanation for this; You see, we have been living on a classic overseas American Military Base. Its a giant. Something like a Midwest township in size. (six miles by six miles) It's there to make sure that overseas American troops live like Americans.
Seabees built it, as they have built dozens of others. They blasted, tore up, bulldozed and graded away what was once a foreign tropical landscape, then rebuilt it as a replicate of Southern California.
Having grown up in Southern California I feel quite at home. The thing is we haven't traveled half way around the world for this. When we want to see Southern California again we'll go home.
TO BE CONTINUED NEXT WEEK
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