Episode 10 - Busan - Tokyo (March 21 - Apr 11, 13)
About Korean sentimentalities, underground street artists and Japanese and Korean martial arts. We visit atom bomb memorials and Zen Buddhists and drink Japanese tea dressed in monks’ robes.
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Thursday, March 21, 2013
The big container harbour and trade centre of Asia: Busan. It was once a bridge head and South Korea’s last stronghold to regain its original territory with a lot of aid from the US-Americans and the UN.
We find that the Koreans are very open-hearted people with an excellent cuisine and a penchant for sentimental moments. During one incident, an older Korean man came up to us on the beach, glanced over the ocean and sang his own interpretation of the Casablanca evergreen “As time goes by” for us. One must probably wait forever for a moment like that on the beach of the German Baltic Sea.
Friday, March 22, 2013
We meet (underground) artists of Busan. Among them is Kay2, who prefers to be called “street artist”, graffiti artist, or “writer", as it is called in the trade. He tells us of the possibilities that the country offers its young people, but also of the constraints and the narrow-mindedness of the political leaders. Thus, all countries somehow seem to have their similarities. But he also tells us of a movement that has found its home in Busan, which focuses on other values rather than earning money.
Sunday, March 24, 2013
In the morning, we head straight to the cemetery for the Fallen during the Korean War, which is a United Nations memorial. Apart from a countless number of volunteers, we meet the military ballet, which raises the flag of the UN in accurate exercises every morning. A ceremony carried out from the soldiers with the utmost precision, they guard the last resting place. The director of the UN memorial tells us how important this place is for the many visitors and the bereaved as a memorial of the scars of that war. Also as a reminder of the constant threat of the North, that has been the topic of many conversations. The war between brothers is sadly a current topic at the moment. We leave Busan and board for the ferry heading to Japan.
Monday, March 25, 2013
The first thing we do after arriving in Fukuoka, Japan, is going through customs. Our last border clearance, and, as usual, it takes more time than expected. While some of us wait in the arrival hall, our drivers, Gregor and Ingo, must declare the equipment, register the busses and have their drivers’ permit be officially translated. No wonder that people say that Japan has the most similarity to Germany. With a half`s day delay we head towards Hagi. The little border town was spared during the war and is the Samurai capitol, located on the Western coast of Japan.
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
The houses of downtown Hagi are maintained almost faithfully. In the alleys between the curved rooftops, we meet two full-time Samurai. It is their duty not only to startle tourists and to bring the traditions closer to those coming from afar, but to be chivalrous role models for the school children and the citizens. Koike-San, the senior Samurai, tells the unsuspecting secondary school pupils to cite the Samurai code. They faithfully obey, as was to be expected.