Land of the Setting Sun

4/13/2007 - A New Opportunity

It took six readings of Dr. Blythe's email for the implications of what he wrote to really sink in. I couldn't remember a time when he wasn't messaging me incessantly about some new opportunity, whether it be a boring ass conference, or a small protest in the middle of downtown St. Louis. What exactly did he expect me to take pictures of at a conference? So I scanned the email absentmindedly until the word "Japan" flickered across the screen, and then I stopped.

Japan was arguably the world's biggest mistake. Ravaged by the events of World War Two after they'd bombed Pearl Harbor, they stood on the brink of total annihilation, with their children standing boldly on the front lines, manning turrets. Rather than give in to the west, they'd done the unspeakable, but that would not stop the United States from dropping the deadliest weapon in human history on them, twice. Japan grieved in silence over the loss of their civilians, but would not give in. A mere week and a half later, the United States returned having tested their weapon, but this time with an entire fleet of bomb dropping B-29 Superfortresses. Japan would become a smoking, radioactive hellscape within the next four days, ending World War Two.

As an anti-war advocate and photographer for Webster University's bi-monthly news feed, these facts came running back to me the instant I caught mention of Japan in Dr. Blythe's email. Naturally, I scrolled up and started again.

J. Sutton,

You're not going to believe what just came up. I was attending a conference today with Ogasawara Katsuo (by the way, I told you to show up, and this is exactly goddamn why) the guy we talked to last October about the expedition into Mongolia. Apparently the no-entry date into Japan expired last week, and while it's still incredibly irradiated, sections of it are no longer closed off completely to the public. One of his buddies' old homes is located in one of these zones, so they've been working on a new expedition. This might be the first time someone's actually set foot in the place in decades! I had to cash in a few favors with the guy, but it seems he's on board with what we're doing. I got us both a spot on his trip, six men, one tugboat. It'll take about two or three days to get there, but, we can't let this opportunity slip. We could be on the forefront of... scratch that... you could be on the forefront of new footage from Japan. They're flying out May 17th, so be ready.

Professor of Political History
Dr. Blythe

After I was done reading it the sixth time I was on my feet, gripping the back of my leather computer chair, trying not to get too excited. This wasn't the first time Dr. Blythe had gotten my hopes up. Not two months ago he had sent me a similar email about an "expedition" to Scotland, and I hadn't figured out it was a trip to the Smithsonian library until I was already halfway there on the Greyhound and had already endured several hours of his experimental bagpipe phase. And even more embarrassingly before that he had stirred up a frenzy over a trip to Nigeria, only to reveal to our entire team we were to meet Prince Masinga Mbeki once we got there. So I wasn't exactly keen on trusting him here, but I had met Ogasawara before, and he seemed like exactly the kind of crazy son-of-a-bitch to do something like this.

I logged out of my computer and set my mind at ease with a cup of honey vanilla chamomile tea. There had been footage of Japan before, sure. Aerial shots and offshore photo-shoots, but never something this personal. I went to sleep with pleasant thoughts swimming in my head; this next month was about to become the busiest of my life.

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