So, for those of you that don't know, I'm secretly a history nerd. I really like learning about the past and old things and I have to admit that 'Pawn Stars' and 'American Pickers' on the History Channel are among my favorite shows right now. Anyways, I found out within the past year or so that my next door neighbor was in the Navy during WWII and was stationed in Japan for a while after the war ended. When he began his service he was driving armored vehicle transports from ships off the coast of Europe to the beaches to unload, but at some point he was transferred to a military base in Texas (I think) to learn Japanese to prepare for what the United States thought was the 'impending occupation of Japan' and was shipped out shortly after that.
Within the past two years, he discovered that I had taken an interest in studying Japanese. Being an avid reader, he had an incredible collection of books about Japan (and China, Korea, Russia, India, Germany, and literally any other country you can think of), most of which covered topics like economics, politics, and some history and cultural studies. At one point he offered to have me come over and look through a huge stack of books on Japan and told me I could have whatever I wanted. A lot of the books covering economics and politics were from the 70's and earlier, so they were a little out of date, and although they're probably interesting reads to see what people were thinking of the issues back then and then to compare their thoughts to how things actually played out, I decided to pass on those. I did however come across some really cool old Japanese novels that he had picked up while living in Japan, as well as a cool phrase book from 1951. I gathered about ten of his books up, thanked him, and was on my way.
Sadly, my neighbor passed away recently, but my dad informed me soon after that he mentioned me in his will. He called me the "Japanese scholar" (haha...) and said that there were books and other materials relating to Japan that were more special to him that he didn't show me the first time around that I could now look through and have if I wanted them. So two days ago I went to go check them out and found some really cool stuff including this six volume set of Navy issued Japanese language learning text books and accompanying readers. My Japanese grandparents were forced out of their homes in California and moved to the internment camps during WWII, and because this had such a dramatic effect on that side of my family, I've always been fascinated with things haveing to do with the war. To find something like these text books from the early 1940's is really cool for that reason, but also because I've been studying Japanese for the past 3 years so it relates to two subjects that I'm really interested in.
Then, to add to the coolness of the day, my mom walked into my room with an old metal film reel box that was used to bring Japanese films from LA and San Francisco to the more suburban areas of California for the Japanese communities to watch. Apparently my grandpa on my Japanese side found it when a building was being demolished in the early 1960's, but we speculate that its origin is much older than that. If anyone can help me translate the writing on it, it would be greatly appreciated! I can read some of it, but there are some characters that I can't even find in a dictionary, but I could just be reading them wrong since I'm not that good at reading Japanese script!