A TRIP TO FUOKU, JAPAN (April 26 through 28th)

From Incheon International airport to Fuoku, Japan, it took only one and half-hours. Traveling the region of Fuoku by bus gave me an opportunity to look carefully at the countryside of Japan. The Island is surrounded by less than 1,000 feet of mountains over mountains, valleys between mountains have sprawls of traditional Japanese tile houses without any high rise buildings, maybe due to frequent volcano eruption. We drove about 2 hours from East to West looking over bamboo gardens here and there, orchards, bonsai evergreen trees in every house, special Japanese Pine trees along the highways. Each valley of bamboo trees and Pine trees make villages rich with oxygen and negative ion air, which they generate to provide an unpolluted air. Cornfield, barley and rice paddy farmland seemed to make farmers busy and lead a healthy life with fresh air. It is amazing all farmland has built good irrigation facilities to prevent from flooding in rainy season and protecting their farmland. The dark gray tile of houses is ordered by law to match well with green bamboo and pine Tree Mountain. Each farm house has a tractor to cultivate farm land and enable the Japanese farmer to lead an independent and self sustaining life. High humidity surely is helpful to grow farm crops well, but needs salt to prevent the crops from decaying and has taught farmers to develop high tech preservation systems. There is no church, no hospital, no garbage on the farmland and street, and no motel between villages. The reason why there is no church is because they do not believe in God, why there is no hospital is because they do not need doctors until they are very sick and because they have good preventive care for their health. They are not open in sexual matters as in America and thus have no demand for love motel. No garbage means Japanese people are very frugal and saving oriented. They are very conscious not to be wasteful in food and sanitation conscious and clean in their every behavior. Passing through tunnels of the mountain is compared to traveling in Korea from Seoul to Wonju and Youngwol. Fuoku is said to have the size of land of South Korea excluding Choongcheong Do and has a population of 1.2 million. They say Japanese ancestors several hundred years ago planted those bamboo and pine trees to prevent flooding and each 40 foot tall pine tree today is valued and sold at a price between $8,000-$12,000, guaranteeing life time income to make a good living without working for younger generations to come, at least 300 years from now on. How visionary and smart they were to take care of their future generations and their country several hundred years ago?



The seven story black gray tile Kumamoto Castle we visited was built in the year 1607 right after the war called Imjin Battle with Choseon to symbolize the spirit of Japanese Samurai (small guns and sharp knife to attack)  & strong military power against Choseon, and later became the battlefield of the West-South Civil War between the royal family and the general public. The castle was also a commemoration for the victory over the war with Ming Dynasty, China, threatening Choseon with small artillery guns  to allow its land to be used as a battlefield to attack China. In the process of war, Japan, led by Poonsinsoo Gil, destroyed Kyungbok palace in Seoul. In an attempt to expand its military power over Korea and China, Japan invaded Korea with 100,000 soldiers, but an superior Admiral Yi of Choseon smashed out more than 130 vessels with the only 12 vessels led by his iron-clad turtle ship. The turtle ship he invented was a wonder ship and surprised the world. The British Admiral Nelson highly admired  Admiral Yi’s superior leadership. The Kumamoto castle became a history of Japanese West-South Civil War and paved the way for Japan’s modernization from the Samurai style military attack to a peace loving nation.  After Poonsinsoo Gil, Tokuyamaiyamutsu transformed the Samurai spirit into a new modern politics that enhances War into peace. Tokyugawayatuki promoted cultural ties with Choseon. The American Movie “Last Samurai,” starring actor Tom Cruise, well depicts the tradition of the Samurai and the beginning of new Japanese culture from the construction of this castle. Each tile interestingly was engraved with a cherry flower.

Kumamoto castle is surrounded by modern style buildings below the Kumbong Mountain in front of the Castle, and headed toward Nagasaki port, where U.S dropped atomic bomb to stop the invasion by Japan during World War II. It is more known in the history of Japan as where the Seinon Civil War (1877) took place and the Satsuma rebellion led by Takamori Saigo Kagoshima against Mejo government brought the western spirit of equality to this castle.




Our tour moved to the Yufuin Art village, surrounded by mountains and traditional Japanese tile houses. It is compared to Insa Dong village in Seoul. There are many gift shops, art galleries, cafes, restaurants, craft shops, etc.




We were guided to Gamado Hell, where a 75-100 degree sulphur clay sprout sprang. In the old days people, without being aware of this danger, walked and sank down in that hot sprout and went into hell. Because of this, it is called Gamato Hell. They demonstrated that a cigarette butt blown into the sulphur sprout catches fire immediately. It was a good experience to have a sulphur hot spring bath inside the building and outside for half an hour to release all the mental and physical pressures accumulated in the body.




Right after the WWII, about 1 million Japanese left in Korea and China wanted to return to Japan after Japan surrendered to American occupiers. More than 300,000 Korean and Chinese wanted to return to their mother countries. Exchange of POWs was conducted at this port of Hakado. It is interesting to see the photo of the famed scientist Einstein and his second wife on the wall of the tower, harboring suspicion that he might have been killed by the Japanese on the ground that his atomic bomb caused Japan to surrender.

It is a memorable place crossing the human history of victory and defeat of war.

In front of the tower bay looks forward the direction of Korea and China.









Three day touring over the Fuoku gave a good opportunity to understand more of the Japanese lifestyle and culture. The way they live in this ageless century, with their strong preventive health care to avoid getting sick, in a sense, keeps away medical doctor and hospital. To live healthy and happy, fresh water, fresh air, and appropriate dieting are

Well educated among retired people, seeking 2nd job to prove that they are still alive regardless of their past occupation, position, or level of education. The way they value laboring, as an essential part of enjoying longevity, can be a valuable lesson to us, who will inevitably get older. Their motto that no overeating, no pollution, no overworking, and appropriate laboring serves a secret for a good and healthy life. From this philosophy Japan today became a country where people enjoy longevity with good health. This is a good lesson and wisdom in life we must follow.



Dr. Hubert Hojae Lee

.President of Korean American Foundation USA

. Commissioner of Human Rights, Orange County, NY

. Member of the Republican Presidential Task Force

.VP of Korean War Veterans Association Chapter 202, Orange County.