Hagi: Revolution

For the Ocean Day 3-day holiday, I traveled to Hagi with another ALT from Aizu-Wakamatsu who casually enjoys history, much like I do. Being from such a historic place, we wanted to see the other side of the civil war.

I admit that I  felt a bit like a traitor going to Hagi, but what good is it being one-sided?

At first glance, Hagi is just another castle town, very much like Aizu-Wakamatsu. The tourist attractions featured a castle town, a museum, and a shrine property that housed a small school that educated the revolutionaries of Japan. Their teacher was Yoshida Shouin from the samurai class who wanted to go abroad on the American black ships and learn about the west because he was so impressed by the ship technology. Unfortunately, he was denied passage, was captured upon his return, placed under house arrest.

While under house arrest and imprisonment, Shouin taught the local inmates and samurai, and inspired them to look abroad in order to catch up with the rest of the world, for the sake of the country. He saw the need to teach any willing people, regardless of their social standing or income, as long as they were determined to use their education for change.

I think that was the biggest impact I got out of Hagi. An entire shogunate government was overthrown by an educated and determined group (and using the name of the Emperor) who started a revolution, marking the end of feudalism. But it started a war, and it hurt a lot of people. They probably were considered terrorists by the previous government, but since they won, they got to write history, so they are heroes and revolutionaries.

It really makes me think about the Vietnam War. In a sense, Aizu is a much more fitting place for me to be than Hagi, as all those who left Vietnam didn’t believe the country should be governed by Communism, which was led by China and Russia at the time. But even Communism was a revolution that wanted to educate everyone, regardless of class or income.

And then it made me think how the world seems like it’s about to have a revolution. Or maybe we’re in the middle of one now. With the Internet, everyone seems to be making their own revolutions.

Probably best that I should just focus on mine!

My dad was pretty political prior to coming to America. After he was forced to escape to save his own life, the immigrant experience humbled him and frustrated him. Once he got to a place where he felt stable, he wanted to keep it that way. So when I got involved with queer issues, I’m sure that not only did it go against his beliefs, he was also afraid I was being used by those who wanted political gain. He didn’t want me being played a fool for someone else’s agenda because even though they may win, there will always be changes in power.

Makes you want to be a recluse, doesn’t it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *