A House Worthy of the Name
November 23, 2010 4:45 PM   Subscribe

The Royal House I knew I had seen one of the pictures before somewhere before, and understood instantly what the surrounding pictures all had in common. A familiar symbol caught my eye, glinting gold. It was the mark of the Imperial House of Japan.
posted by KokuRyu (13 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
In pre-WWII Japan, the Emperor was still revered as a living deity and to look upon him was thought of as an immense privilege. Distribution of the Imperial Family Portraits was not compulsory and schools had to petition to the Ministry in order to receive one, which was usually granted on grounds of academic excellence. Because the official portraits were on loan from the Imperial Household Ministry, protecting the picture from harm was deemed of utmost importance. Having the picture lost or damaged, even from natural disasters like fires or earthquakes, was seen as such a serious failure of duty that there were incidents of school officials committing suicide in an act of repentance.
posted by KokuRyu at 4:46 PM on November 23, 2010

It was also said that looking at the Emperor directly in the eyes would result in punishment of blindness . . .

I'm just about struck blind by the jughandle ears on that princeling at the bottom. And a couple of the princesses have very odd facial shapes -- I wonder if they were retouched.

This house seems so vividly and recently lived it that this looks less like urban exploration than B&E, but regardless, I was compelled to read. If something went snap behind me in that house, I think I would never stop screaming.
posted by Countess Elena at 4:56 PM on November 23, 2010

It looks like the setting is about one season away from doing real damage to the contents. Given all the structural compromises, holes in the roof and crumpled sections of buildings, and the strong possibility that someone far less sensitive than he is may be the next to find it, the best thing he could do at this point would be to document it as noninvasively has he can and then waste very little time in in notifying a suitable historical institution to decide how to preserve it and/or its contents while they're still in good shape.
posted by George_Spiggott at 5:10 PM on November 23, 2010

Immediately after Hiroshima was bombed, one of the few remaining buildings standing in the blast zone was burning and about to collapse. The bomb victims rushed into the building, rescued the portrait of the Emperor, and carried it across the city for safekeeping--even while their fellow survivors lay sprawled on the ground (mostly beyond hope, in this case).

This story was passed around in the following days, with a deep pride in how the locals put their country first even in the chaos of that tragic day. When Japan surrendered, many of the survivors cried out in desperation, as the cause they had been struggling for had all been in vain.
posted by shii at 5:16 PM on November 23, 2010

A most excellent site, thanks for posting it KokuRyu.
posted by unliteral at 5:31 PM on November 23, 2010

Extraordinary. His struggle with what to publish is in some ways the most moving aspect of the piece.
posted by ottereroticist at 6:25 PM on November 23, 2010

notifying a suitable historical institution

That's something that I'm not sure would really work. There's not a lot of interest in cultural preservation, especially when it comes to buildings and houses. Temples and shrines are well kept largely because they have the money to do it. Other than that, old things in Japan are largely unrevered. I can definitely see the value in having some of the things in that house rescued, but for whatever reason, preservation is just not something that's really caught on here.

I could be completely wrong, but in the time I've been here, the things I've read about restoration of old houses and the like have almost always been lead by foreigners living in Japan, rather than Japanese people taking the lead.
posted by Ghidorah at 6:38 PM on November 23, 2010

I would love to know more about haikyo. Where should I start?
posted by padraigin at 6:46 PM on November 23, 2010

The mother of all haikyo blogs.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:54 PM on November 23, 2010 [5 favorites]

After seeing that picture of the royal family I am convinced that the Crooning Child of legend is in some way related to them. Also, I can imagine those children in the picture having similar vocal stylings.
posted by white_devil at 7:10 PM on November 23, 2010 [2 favorites]

It's amazing how much stuff got left there. It's like someone moved out, but left their property behind, and then the world forgot about that house, and nature proceeded to partially trash it.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 7:57 PM on November 23, 2010

The despised American Colonialist Army - may its Generals be judged harshly in the courts of the Juo, the ten infernal Kings of the netherworld! - attempted deicide by forcing the Emperor to renounce his godliness. Yet this invasion on the heavenly realm by their accursed government was clearly unconstitutional, under America's own "separate of church and State" rules.

And I, for one, will never cease woshipping the Lord of the Chrysanthemum throne, a manifest god in whose blessed form the property of kami nature is perfectly revealed! How I tremble at his awesome and infinite power!

I'm not Japanese, of course - and actually I pretty much just joined this dead religion. But I am a HIPSTER, ladies and gentlemen, and reviving, post-ironically, forgotten fashions of dubious taste - and sneering at those who cannot comprehend them - is how I get my jollies.

And I'm wearing SUSPENDERS and a SLAYER T-SHIRT! HA HA HA! You can't stop me!

All praise be to you, God-Emperor of Japan!
posted by the quidnunc kid at 2:10 AM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]

This is incredibly fascinating stuff. I always loved abandoned houses. I couldn't imagine stumbling into one and finding such a treasure trove of historical goodness. Thanks so much for sharing this!
posted by Marisa Stole the Precious Thing at 5:05 AM on November 24, 2010

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