There is a park at the centre of the ancient Japanese capital of Nara. Home to over 1,200 species of sika deer, it was once believed that these deer were considered sacred due to a visit from one of the four gods of Kasuga Shrine, Takenomikazuchi-no-mikoto.
A popular tourist attraction, the deer have learned from the many visitors to this once sacred park that in order to request food, they must bow their heads. This polite act is often rewarded with a Shika-senbei, or a deer cracker.
It’s little things like this that keep a smile on my face.
Americans don’t really know anything about other countries. We’re very, very ignorant. We were totally ignorant about Vietnam. We had actually fired most of the experts at the State Department who knew something about that region as part of the McCarthy purges in the ’40s and early ’50s. We know nothing about the countries we invade.
What do we know about the Vietnamese people? Larry Heinemann, who wrote Paco’s Story, which won the National Book Award, a Vietnam veteran, tells a great story that I love. And he says that he was interviewing somebody from the—a professor at the University of Hanoi. And he says that he asked him, what did you do during the war? And he said, first I went to Beijing and I learned English. Then I went to the University of Moscow and I read American literature. Then I went back to Hanoi, and they sent me out to the Ho Chi Minh trail, where I educated the troops there on the Ho Chi Minh trail about American literature. And they were reading Hemingway, Whitman, Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Jack London. You know, they carried these books in their backpack. They were studying American literature, the Vietnamese troops. And then he turns to Larry Heinemann and he says, and what Vietnamese author did you American troops read? And Heinemann says, I laughed so hard that the beer started to squirt out my nose.
You know, Americans are ignorant. You know. And that to me captures it. That story captures a lot. And so we go into these situations blind. We think that somehow maybe we can impose order. And at times we do. But we impose order at the—you know, what we sacrifice there is social justice in those countries.
chan kwok hung (in photos almost reminiscent of a norman rockwell painting) documents the life of buddhist monks in myanmar and china.