Vertical climb, looking back through the oval window as the 777 jet engine spins and strains, heading East into the Orient of the Middle Kingdom. Below on the coat tails of the setting sun, Nippon immersed by water, neatly organized, modern mature civilization mixed with rice paddies in methodical rectangular blocks abundant throughout the waterways as too was the western luxury of lush green golf courses and the clear vulnerability to the winds of oceans that roll with impunity onto its edges.
A chain of islands, apart from the middle kingdom as of Great Britain from Europe. A nation protected by the seas, self developed, and western industrialized far ahead of its brethren to the East. As the U.S. Navy broke its virgin waters with gunboat diplomacy led by Commodore Perry in the mid 1800s to encourage a far east ally in stopping Russia and opening the Asia trade route, Japan took note and so did Puccini in the great opera Madam Butterfly. The heights of the opium trade across the sea into the only western opening of the Great Wall of Civilization in Pearl Delta to Canton that brought riches beyond riches to Queen Victoria and On Britania left Japan ignored by the great power during this speculative time.
This little island chain led two spectacular defeats of Russia, the first for a eastern power to defeat a modern day western power with a modern day Navy and a much more massive land Army over Mancheria and its westward expansion to halt Russia encouraged by President Teddy Rosevelt and a pacified proud Korea who President Rosevelt also promised to protect but turned benevolent when he sided with Russia after its defeat to Japan, there by giving Korea to Japan to rule and run for the next 40 years. Thereby setting the stage for the internal Russian Revolution that soon followed and the Japanese thirst for expansive power leading to and through WW II.
Crossing the Sea of Japan this early evening with far distant shimmering lights of ship traffic below looking like stars in the deep blue, brings the current alignments into bearing as like a hundred or so years ago, U.S. entrance and exit to the Middle Kingdom goes through Japan, as does mine does today on the Orient Express .