Boats and Yokosuka, California

The one thing I really wanted to see in Tokyo was the Daigo Fukuryu Maru (Lucky Dragon Number Five), a fishing boat that was covered in fallout from the (unexpectedly) large 1954 Castle Bravo atomic weapons test. For an artifact from the event that supposedly inspired Gozilla, it was shocking to find myself alone in the exhibition hall. I felt very happy (and a bit smug) sitting under the cherry blossoms in the adjacent park afterwards since I was still in Tokyo yet I was able to hear my own thoughts.

The next day I took a train to Yokosuka in order to see the Japanese battleship Mikasa. Even though it has been cemented in place for a hundred years (thanks to the Treaty of Portsmouth), it was still impressive to see. The Mikasa contains fascinating features like an armored bridge and guns in the captain’s quarters since it was designed for much closer combat than modern battleships. Imagine my surprise on such a storied ship at finding the entire lowest deck devoted to an anime – you can’t escape it here!

Yokosuka was slightly disconcerting since the part of the city I was in, by the American naval base, was a lot like home. Everything from the left-hand drive American muscle cars to the signs in English to even the guy at 7-Eleven saying ‘I don’t know what that is, but give me one of those!’ (I’d judge him but I didn’t know what that was in that display case either…) After spending almost two weeks in places where I had to make an make an effort to use my (extremely limited) Japanese, Tokyo and Yokosuka turned out to be islands where common tasks,such as ordering food, were much easier if I just spoke English.


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