Monday, February 14, 2005

The last stop on the trip took us skiing. Yes, I went skiing in the same range of mountains that the 1999 Olympics took place in! It was very beautiful. Posted by Hello

No one knows how many died in the tunnels, as all evidence was destroyed when Japan surrendered. Accounts say from 300-1000 people died digging these tunnels, and of those only four names are known. Now these tunnels are a small tourist attraction, not well pubicized by the prefecture, and hard to get to. However, they have been taken as a project by the local high school to keep them up and to remember what happened. Posted by Hello

During WWII Japan invaded almost all of Asia, and ruled with an iron fist, equivallent in many ways to Hitler's rule over Europe. They were brutal to their fellow Asians, raping the land and people for all they were worth. Their terrible rule is still remembered today throughout Asia, and is the primary cause for continued uneasy relations between Japan and Asia. One of the smaller, but no less terrible examples are these tunnels. They were not dug by Japanese workers but rather by Koreans forced to move to Japan and work as forced labors in these tunnels. Without the necessary equipment or resources, and on a very short time schedule, as Japan was facing defeat after defeat in the Pacific, they were forced to dig these tunnels. Many died from explosions and cave-ins, as well as malnutrion, suicide, or execution.  Posted by Hello

The next place on the trip was Matsuhiro, the home of the underground WWII Imperial headquarters. Matsuhiro is a valley surrounded by very steep mountains with no landmarks easily seen from the air. This made it a perfect site for the construction of the emergency headquarters for the Imperial family, the Army headquarters, Japan Brocasting Station, the military communtications headquarters, among others. The tunnels themselves are interconnected with mulitiple entrances throughout the valley. They were never finished due to the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and Japan's surrender. Posted by Hello

Among the females their is no strong hierarchy but each female is constantly aware of her family including children, nephews, and nieces. In a fight she will intervene on the behalf of her family unless one of the boss males are involved. Posted by Hello

Love the Onsen! Posted by Hello

The snow monkey group that we visited included approximately 200 individuals. The group itself has a complex hierarchy, especially among the males. The monkey sitting on the rock is the #2 boss monkey. We didn't get to see the #1 boss monkey as he has been staying deeper in the mountains. Posted by Hello

The monkeys spend the sping, summer, and autumn deep in the park, coming down the mountain in the winter to find food and spend time in the natural hot spings. Posted by Hello

The second stop on the trip was to visit the Japanese Macaque and Jigokudani National Park. It was the best part of the trip. At the National Park the monkeys are used to humans so we could get very close to them. While we were there the monkeys would run by less then a foot away.  Posted by Hello

Matsumoto Castle is one of the four castles in Japan designated as a national treasure. Built in mid-1500 the castle today looks much like it did in 1630 when the last addition was finished. The castle is truly a defensive structure, not meant for living. As such it contains no true living quarters, except for the samuri and the lord who defended it.  Posted by Hello

The Mountains, The Monkeys, and Me

Hello Everyone!

It is time for another travel Blog! Aren't you excited? Of course you are!

Last weekend found Alyssa travelling deep into the Japanese Alps to Nagano Prefecture, the site of the 1999 Winter Olympics and winter home to the famous Japanese Snow Monkeys! I also visited Matsumoto Castle, one of Japans four most important castles, and the Imperial WWII emergency underground headquarters, which were not finished before Japan surrendered.

So without further ado, lets bring on the pictures!