This is Mr. Tomimatsu Ishikawa (2/28/1918 – 7/17/2013), WW2 veteran, fighter for soldier’s rights, and scuba diver. He served on a fleet oiler, the Irō, during the war and was one of the few survivors when she was sunk by an American air raid as part of Operation Desecrate One. In his later life, he advocated for the Japanese government to properly recognize and inter the remains of his comrades who had died aboard the Irō. On March 30, 2004, at the age of 86 years old, Mr. Ishikawa dove 90 feet to the ship’s wreck and performed a memorial ceremony for his friends. Partly, the reason for this dive was personal. He wanted to pay respect to his friends. The other reason for the dive was to generate media attention and broader awareness about the situation of the Irō.
The guide who helped him complete his mission was my friend Yoko Higashide. She was very close to Mr. Ishikawa and regarded him as a grandfather. Before her meeting Mr. Ishikawa, Yoko had limited knowledge about the shipwrecks of Palau. She had worked there as a dive guide for two years without knowing that there were any shipwrecks. It was only when she started working at Fish ‘n’ Fins, an international dive shop, that Yoko started to know about the WW2 history of Palau. Even as she would lead dives to the wrecks, she always felt bad to be diving on them. In her words, “It’s like we are playing at a graveyard”.
In the summer of 2007, I had the privilege to go diving in Palau. One of the dives I went on was the Irō. It was not the first time I had been there, but this time was different because my guide was Yoko. She explained to me about the ship’s history and told me Mr. Ishikawa’s story. I was inspired by his determination to return to the Irō, even though it was deep and he was 86 years old. I asked Yoko if she could help me write a letter in Japanese to Mr. Ishikawa. I wanted to let him know that I was an American who was moved by his mission to pay respect to his fallen comrades. You can see my letter to him at the bottom of this blog post. To my surprise, he wrote me back a long letter. Although I mailed him again in 2009, that was the end of our correspondence. For me, though, the one letter was enough. Our lives were connected from then on.
Now, when I dive on war wrecks I am reflective of the human suffering that led the ships to be where they are. So I do not consider wreck diving to be a leisurely activity like diving on a reef. It is a somber activity like visiting a graveyard or the site of an old battle. It is important to go there to remember our history. Regarding my experience of writing a letter to Mr. Ishikawa, I think it is a truly great thing that even though Japan and the USA fought bitterly within his lifetime, he still lived to see the day when Yoko and I could be friends and enjoy scuba diving together. I hope that I can always be a peaceful person and make him smile down from heaven.
Please read Mr. Ishikawa’s story by Yoko. It is the second link in the Related Media below.
This post will elaborate more on the world of Sies. We will look at some of the minor characters who figure into the story and provide a little background on them. First up is the Ergonoid Spearsman, a guardian of a nomadic group of people who shun all outsiders, happy and angry alike. Ergonoids are an aquatic people spending half their lives on land and half their lives in the sea. They make their temples at a depth of fifty meters which they free-dive to in order to observe their rituals. A master of the trident and other polearms, the Ergonoid Spearsman can easily dispatch a foe with his weapon on land and in water. On the spectrum of happy and angry, the Ergonoids are neutral. The Ergonoid Spearsman’s emoticon is B|.
Salazar the Lonely Hermit was once a happy lord whose lands consistently brought plentiful harvests. One day the Angries blighted his lands and Salazar lost his favorite flowers. Although the Happies restored his land to its original bountiful nature, Salazar still mourned his favorite flowers that were lost. Unable to become happy again, Salazar retreated into the mountains to mope in solitude. On moonlit nights, he emerges from his cave to cry soulfully while he watches the night sky. Salazar was designed by Ryan Herriman, one of the first Siesians. The emoticon of Salazar is u_u.
Dub Dub the Warrior of the Dance is an ally of the Happies. His power is such that he never tires of dancing, which he uses to lure his enemies into dance competitions that rage for days until they inevitably collapse of exhaustion. Dub Dub was once a vain practitioner of the dance, seeking only to advance his own reputation. Flambytoes showed him the error of his ways and from then on, Dub Dub has been an upright individual. His emoticon is naturally :P.
King Giffle the Sad Monarch is ruler of a large realm yet still he is constantly plagued by the belief that his countrymen secretly hate him. Living in fear of being disliked, he never makes any decrees nor does he arbitrate in any matters. Instead, King Giffle stays holed up in his castle, sulking and wondering why people hate him. In truth, his subjects do not hate him and think he is a considerate if ineffective king. In some aspects, King Giffle could be compared to Ukhed because of his brooding. The difference however is that Ukhed blames others for his predicament while King Giffle is always introspective. The emoticon of King Giffle is :<.
Wumbley the Captain of the Indifferent Pirates is not a seeker of adventure, though he likes such monikers. He leads his band of pirates from island to island with the constant promise of treasure and mischief-making. Every time the opportunity arises, however, Captain Wumbley decides to take a nap instead. Usually his men decide to go off without him, which Wumbley does not mind as much as he pretends to. Fiercely independent but without motivation, Captain Wumbley and his pirates could be considered allies of the Angries but they are far too undependable. His emoticon is :l.
Roarlor the Hideous Swamp Creature lives in a swamp close to the high seas. Although he is a solitary creature, Roarlor is nonetheless a kind being and a friend of the Happies. He is also quite powerful, especially in the swamp where he camouflages with the green plant matter. On rare occasion, Roarlor will leave the swamp to help his allies. When he does, his appearance usually scares the denizens of the land of Sies. He has even caught Mooflor the Scary off-guard and scared him. As scaring people is never Roarlor’s intention, he mostly stays in the peace and comfort of his own swamp. Roarlor was designed Ryan Herriman. His emoticon is 87.
When in hell, your only salvation is to know you are an 饿鬼.
Maybe then you would not cling to the breaking string that climbs to distant heaven.
Through what unimaginable odds would you have to endure until every 饿鬼, patient as yourself, waited for hell to empty up that string?
And if the string broke for the last one, your only salvation is to know you are an 饿鬼.
My contemplation of the short story, the Spider’s Thread.
He ran into the cave…
And took out some matches.
He shared one with his friend.
They hold hands so they don’t have to get lost. A man was trying to get out to kill them.
They ran down the path…
And fell into a pit when his torch dropped.
When his torch fell to the bottom it hit the magic ground and turned into a monster.
The guy who was chasing them got eaten and the monster can’t walk anymore because they gave him poison to drink.
He accidentally touched the button by purpose and he got wine to drink.
A door was closed. Nobody gets the treasure forever because they forget the key.
He climbed a rope which leads up to a secret door in the ceiling. Now he’s got a way out!
The end of this great book.
Way back in high school, circa 2000, I created a character based on a commonly used emoticon in the chat room I frequented. The character was called Sies (pronounced ‘SEES’ as in ‘ she SEES you’, If you can’t tell already, his emoticon is :D (a big smile). There was something appealing about the simplicity of Sies, so I created more characters based on other emoticons. The characters were divided into two distinct groups, the Happies and the Angries. Minor characters were also developed, but by this time the trend was starting to die off. The rest of this post will discuss the various Happies and Angries.
Erty the Happy is happy like Sies but taken to such an extreme that it sometimes can be a problem. In his possession is the Happy Wand, an artifact that radiates pure joy. The Angries are constantly plotting ways to steal the wand and hide or destroy it. If not for the watchful eye of Pootems, such a dastardly deed would have already transpired. Erty’s happiness is best utilized rejuvenating the lands after they have been blighted by the Angries. In times of peace, his happiness can be a liability because it becomes over-abundant and out of control. The emoticon of Erty is also :D.
Pootems the Judgemental is the keeper of the sacred word that makes the enemies of the Happies cry. Although he is ranked among the Happies, Pootems is nonetheless very serious and judgmental. He is the judge and punisher of the Angries. Diminutive in stature, Pootems is nonetheless one of the most powerful beings in the realm in both strength and cleverness. For this reason, Pootems is the adviser of the Happies. Pootem’s emoticon is :o.
Flambytoes the Adventurous was originally a minor character and not part of the Happies. However, he became a very popular character due to his shape, emoticon, and nifty rocket feet. Thus Flambytoes came to be part of the Happies. Flambytoes is the fastest character. He is also the only character with the ability to fly and is often seen as a messenger of the Happies, conveying their messages to others and reporting back news of the realm. Of all the Happies, Flambytoes is the most faithful in his service to Sies. The emoticon of Flambytoes is ^_^.
Mooflor the Scary is small like Pootems and almost as powerful and clever. He might be considered the leader of the Angries due to his propensity to cause unhappiness. Mooflor’s favorite hobby is to hide along commonly-traveled roads and jump out to scare people as they pass by. When not scaring people, Mooflor plots mischief against the Happies, such as stealing Erty’s Happy Wand. His emoticon is >:€.
Ukhed the Angry is the largest being in the realm and also the most angry. Fortunately he is also quite lethargic and seldom acts on his anger. Instead Ukhed broods in his cave and curses others for behaving in ways that he feels are an affront to him. Ukhed is dim-witted and selfish, only doing things that he thinks will please himself. None of these things turn out to bring Ukhed much pleasure though and, in the end, he finds himself back in his cave blaming others because he is not happy. When Ukhed is motivated enough to join Mooflor’s cause, he can be a powerful ally and their mischief-making usually is successful for a time. Ukhed’s emoticon is >:[.
Borchax the Mysterious is the least seen and least understood of the characters. Some might count him among the Angries because of his inherent creepiness and love of dark places. Really though, Borchax is neither angry or happy because he is too mysterious to be pinned down. He is the manifestation of risk, gambling, chance, and the double-slit experiment. Borchax tends to show up when he is least expected and his appearance causes profound changes in any story, though always indirectly and never because of anything he has purposefully done. His emoticon is 8E.
I sit on the jagged limestone overlooking the Crimson Beach of Peleliu; what a paradise it is. But in my thoughts, I grow discontent. I realize that within the century, these waters were red with blood: Men died here for purposes greater than themselves; and perhaps the greatest purpose is within them, the struggle to survive. I look down upon the rocks and see dozens of crabs hopping around and chasing each other. I laugh for a second, but recognize the same purpose within them. A blacktip distracts me as it splashes around momentarily in the waves of the ebbing tide before it submerges beneath the waves again. For the moment, I see Myself and mind the great purpose. And in my heart, i am home.
Crabs have always reminded me of survival ever since I returned from Peleliu. So I wanted to tell a story of survival with the characters being crabs. The story I chose is none other than the Bhagavad-Gita. I will do no justice to the book. I will not even come close to representing it’s ideas. The only connection is the situation: survival, and hero’s doubt arising from that.