JAPAN: Weeping for the Dead Warriors

Ah, this wilderness of summer grasses. Here, too, slumbered yesteryear's warriors to dream.

—Basho, a 17th century Japanese

troubadour

The summer grasses are especially lush where it is always summertime: Guadalcanal, Bougainville, Tinian, Luzon, Iwo Jima—World War II battle sites where hundreds of thousands of Japanese soldiers died in a losing cause. But rather than rely on troubadours to describe the battlegrounds, many Japanese are making the grim journey to these islands in the sun. Not incidentally they have spawned a lucrative sideline for Japan's booming tourist industry—senseki jumpai, or battlefield pilgrimages.

The Japanese, of course, are not alone in paying homage to...

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