Wednesday marked Independence Day in the U.S., and since Anime Expo was kind enough to end before the holiday this year, I found myself with a rare opportunity to show Yasu — the Japanese J-List employee who keeps our site stocked with quality manga and artbooks as well as random plush toys — what a real Fourth of July was like. We took in a parade in Julian, a pleasant little town in the mountains above San Diego, and Yasu was amazed to see the number of people who had turned out, waving flags and singing patriotic songs. For various reasons including embarrassment over their nationalistic past, the Japanese have little opportunity to show off love of their country, and there are no holidays like the Fourth of July, Veteran’s Day or Memorial Day to celebrate national heroes. The closest thing to Arlington National Cemetery in Japan is Yasukuni Shrine, where the souls of Japan’s soldiers are interred, but the place is constantly embroiled in controversy because several wartime criminals are also interred there. Later Yasu went to see fireworks and was on hand to witness the embarrassing glitch that caused 18 minutes worth of rockets to be shot off in 18 seconds, which was an event he won’t soon forget.
We had a memorable 4th!