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Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Bad Side Of The Moon

 Hi there... for all of you new readers out there, this blog alternates depending on my mood between true snippets of my life in Japan, real news stories about Japan, and weird observations I have about Japan. Often all mixed up together. I've been doing this for over two years now, and I've enjoyed every minute of creating Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife for you. Thank YOU for reading it. But... and I enjoy the word but, if you would help spread... the word, I guess is the word, to gather more sheep to the flock, I would appreciate it. Ego, you know.

Oh... one more thing... stories about ME, have a rock and roll song title for a title. Not all of these stories have me looking good. But, I am an honest man. At least I am now.

It's Tuesday, October 22, 1991 in the land of Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. Full disclosure - this is my life. I was born in London, England to Indian parents (dot, not the feather), and grew up in Canada - Toronto, specifically. There's nothing remotely Indian or English about me, except the color of my skin and a love of Monty Python and soccer (to play, not watch).

I'm an assistant English teacher (AET) on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme, and I teach at all seven junior high schools in this city, once per week, team-teaching with a Japanese teacher of English.  

This week, I'm at Chikasono Chu Gakko (Chikasono Junior High School)... a small, old school deep in the heart of some farming country here in Ohtawara. No surprise there. Ohtawara translates into Big-Rice Field-Field. Lots of fields of rice.

So I'm sitting at my desk in the teacher's office at Chikasono, when the Principal comes over to me and asks in English, no less: "Do you know 'chikan'?

It just so happens that last week I learned that 'chikan' means 'molester'. What the Hell would he ask me that?

Hmmm... it must be some other Japanese word that sounds the same but has a different meaning - a homonym.

I look him directly in the face, scrunch up an eye and an eyebrow and say, "Tabun (maybe)".

Kouchou-sensei (Principal) utters: "Peeping Tom-u."

"Ah yes! I know"... I probably shouldn't have smiled.

Still, he scurried away and talked to a few other teachers... each of whom slowly turned to look at me.

Christ... now what did I do? All I did was boink a university student in a classroom at Utsunomiya University. She was in her 20s (Junko!!!).

Ah... maybe I didn't do anything... the Japanese always seem fascinated that I seem to know what they are talking about. Hmm... I guess I do. I must be getting the hang of this Japan-living....

No more is said to me about 'chikan'. I'm curious, but am afraid that being too curious will kill this cat. I'll let it slide and hope someone - perhaps a Japanese English teacher - will soon bring up the point.

No one does. Then again, maybe this had something to do with me being in the men's room at this school last year. Back when a female student walked by the room that has no door and called out a friendly greeting to me. Perhaps I should have waved with a different hand. True story.

Back home, I race out to the Ohtawara video shop and rent two horror movies and watch until my eyes bleed.

Karen Irwin... a cute, bubbly redhead from North Bay, Ontario, Canada (and a high school AET on JET) calls again.

She yelled at me about something yesterday evening. I think she knew I was still sleeping with my ex, Ashley (also a high school AET). Karen likes me a lot and wants me for a boyfriend. I don't want a girlfriend, but I do want the sex. If I had a girlfriend, I would also lose the sex from Ashley... and Junko... and I wouldn't want to lose that.

Today, it's small talk.

After we hang-up, Ashley calls and says sorry for cracking my ribs with the chucked sake (Japanese fermented rice wine) shot glass.

I made that story up. The part about getting hurt. Ashley did hit me with the glass, but I'm Magnificientguy... I mean Superman! It just bounced of me. I lied to elicit sympathy. I can be so immature sometimes. Oh well. It worked.

Apparently Karen told her. I must have told her last night, but I was sooo tired I had no recollection of doing so. Damn. I'm such a dick. But will it get me laid?

Somewhere wondering what Tom was peeping at,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by April Wine - hey! I saw them in concert, too!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

For Goodness Sake

Sake - fermented Japanese rice wine has long been a favorite of mine. I'm actually having a glass now as I write this.

That first sip always tastes like water to me... that first and second glass do, too... and then it hits you like a ton of bricks.

Whack! That's either someone getting their butt spanked or my heading hitting the table. Just kidding about the latter. I've never met a bottle of sake I couldn't handle with aplomb and decadence... but it isn't going to make me pass out!


From my good friend Matthew Hall whom I first met in Japan back in 1990 on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, and still consider one of my closest confidants -- though even he doesn't know all (sorry bud!), comes this fantastic story from CNN International. It's all about sake and what you NEED to know to become better acquainted with my odd drinking habits and to also impress your friends, family and other Nihonjin (Japanese) who always seemed shocked when a gaijin (foreigner) knows more than or even as much as they do about anything Japanese.

Anyhow... here's my favorite tale involving myself and sake: YOPPORAI (DRUNKARD)

Here... read this article, and sake it to'em!: KANPAI! (CHEERS!)

Andrew Joseph
I also like the fact that the original writer of the article is named Brandi. It seems fitting.

Monday, November 28, 2011

Holiday In Cambodia

It's Monday, October 1991... here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. Hopefully the reader will excuse your humble writer (mostly humble) that I seem to be in a bit of a rut here in my 15th month month in the country. I team-teach English at seven junior high schools here in this modest city I call home.

I love Ohtawara-shi. That's not at question. It's probably because I feel so at home here that I feel as though I am in a bit of a rut. Aside from women-troubles (here in 1991 and 2011), work has become work... and I hate that feeling.

I'm at Chikasono Chu Gakko (Chikasono Junior High School) this week for four days. Friday is usually spent at the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) offices where I get caught up on paperwork for them, write letters, create short stories and create a monthly column for a JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) Programme newsletter for other English teachers here in Tochigi-ken and in a few others as well. It's A Wonderful Rife has become popular even if I don't feel that way about myself.

 Lo and behold... today at Chikasono, I actually did something at school! Usually I stand around around and do nothing... but today, I had a lot of interaction with the students. Although today, it was IN class and not outside of it... still it was a great  start to my
week.

Of course it may have been because the OBOE kyoikuinkai (the office) came by with the PTA to watch and review another class of mine. Hell, today we used a word game I created - and it went well. I feel needed!

At home I watch the rest of Psycho 3 that I had rented and the ride my bicycle out to night school that I teach on the side for the Ohtawara International Friendship Society. 

My adult students are getting better at speaking English, though they do sometimes forget the fundamental basics of English. That's okay... that's all a part of learning, and I find their enthusiasm catching.

I go to the video store and return my movie and rent another and crash watching it.

Karen Irwin, a woman on the JET Programme I like but seems to really like me calls and then yells at me about something.I'll be honest... I'm too tired and bored to note what she is yelling at me about and let her rant for a few minutes before I hang up.

Welcome to Ohtawara-shi, Andrew Joseph. This is your rife.

Somewhere wondering how deep a rice paddy actually is,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Dead Kennedys. Video below.



Sunday, November 27, 2011

Cleaning Up The Radioactive Contamination

I'm late today!

As such - being back-logged with homework from work and family commitments (just commit me now!), here's a piece from my alma mater, the Toronto Star newspaper that appeared a few days ago about how Japan is going to deal with the clean-up of the radioactive contamination that afflicted the northeast coast of the country following the Fukushima nuclear accident that nearly rivaled (or surpassed, depending on your point of view) the Chernobyl accident back in the 1980s.

Here's the story here: CLEAN-UP.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Hello Kitty Irks Blogger

Just a short one today!

Hello Kitty  - the Japanese marketing phenomenum - is everywhere.

Yes... at McDonalds, she is on a kids Happy Meal! Punchouts! Why would a cat with no mouth be interested in a Happy Meal?

Whatever... now... as for more absurdity... down below is my key chain for my SAAB 900S. It's a Pez dispenser.

Again... why would a cat with no mouth be offering me a treat like this? Sure I have to nearly rip it's head off to get at the sweet candy... but why didn't they put a mouth on that cat?! It irks me! Someone tell meow why!

Certifiably yours,
Andrew Joseph
Yes... my key chain has turned gray... it needs a cleaning.... stupid cat. I love Hello Kitty. Don't tell her though. She seems to like it when I play the idiot.
PS... that's my dog, Buster, in the pic.


Friday, November 25, 2011

LEGO: Ninja Sneak Attack

Regular readers of this blog know I enjoy LEGO. Yes, it's because my soon-to-be six-year-old-son likes it and I didn't want to be left out... but I decided a few months ago to mix my love of Japan and new-found love of LEGO together.

The following montage of photos is my Ninja Sneak Attack On A Samurai. It's the first of four dioramas I am working on. I've finished another, but I may take it apart and rebuild it after having more ideas flood my tiny egg-shell mind. The other three dioramas are actually a lot bigger than this one. Heck... lots of trees in the others, too.

After this, over the next few months, I will hopefully reveal a feudal Japanese hamlet scene; a castle scene (that's the one I may rebuild); and a tranquil forest scene - but is it really tranquil? I've learned to add surprises to the scene... to give it action... or life.

Hopefully you like what I've done via the photos below. It is my first attempt, so I know there's room for improvement. I was also hindered by an inability to get LEGO parts I really wanted - even from my local LEGO shop and various shops on E-bay! Still... one does the best with one's limited parts, skill and finances.

Enjoy!



Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin)

You might think I am taking the easy way out - merely to keep my streak alive of having posted at least one blog since the beginning of February. You might be right. But sometimes... in one's life... nothing happened. It sucks when one can say that while living in a strange and alien (but wonderful) land like Japan.. and even worse when I know I am burnt out here in Toronto from work and life... but here's today's blog... exactly as I wrote it 20 years ago:

It's Sunday, October 20, 1991.
I am bored. I feel like I'm in a severe rut. yeah, I'm having a lot of sex with women I barely know and with others I thought I knew... but right now - today - I'm by myself. No one calls. No kids drop by unannounced. Nothing. I sit here in my three-bedroom apartment and stare at my fish wondering what it would be like to be one of those big dumb goldfish.

Perhaps to amuse myself and perhaps just to be seen to make sure I exist today, I go to the local Ohtawara video shop and rent three movies. No one looks at me funny. No one says hi. Weird.

But when I get home and am about to pop in a movie into the VCR - Matthew comes over. That big dumb galoot! I love him! I do exist!

We watch one of my all time favourite black comedy flicks: Heathers, before he skedaddles - probably to go visit his girlfriend Takako. But still... thank you, Matthew.

I then watch Awakenings and half of Psycho 3 before I turn in early at midnight.

Somewhere I exist,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by the exciting Sly & The Family Stone. Video below!
 PS: Happy Thanksgiving USA! And a special thanks for giving to Matthew. Sly's got a family - just like Matthew was to me! I mean IS to me!
PPS: You know... I had no idea this blog entry was going to work out when I began it.
PPPS: Weird stuff begins to rear its red head tomorrow.    

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Drumming Up Business in Toronto

The Nagata Shachu drumming group - from Toronto - has just concluded its 13th performance in its hometown, performing at the Toronto Harbourfront Centre on November 18-20, 2011.

Nagata Shachu (formerly the Kiyoshi Nagata Ensemble), based in Toronto, Canada, has enthralled audiences with its mesmerizing and heart-pounding performances of the Japanese drum (taiko) since its formation in 1998. The ensemble has toured widely throughout Canada, the US and Italy performing in theaters, concert halls, and major music festivals.

While rooted in the folk drumming traditions of Japan, the group's principal aim is to rejuvenate this ancient art form by producing innovative and exciting music that seeks to create a new voice for the taiko. Taking its name from founder Nagata Kiyoshi (surname first), and shachu (an old term for a performing troupe), Nagata Shachu has become renowned for its exacting, straightforward yet physically demanding performances as well as for its diverse repertoire. Their playing is the combination of unbounded spirit with the highest levels of musicianship and discipline. The result is an unforgettable experience that is both powerful in expression and heartfelt in its sincerity.

Nagata Shachu has the unique distinction of having sponsorship from four major Japanese drum manufacturers. Since 1999, the ensemble has rehearsed in its own fully equipped and dedicated taiko studio.


This year's performance was called Hana- in support of a new DVD. Hana can mean flower or magnificence in Japanese - depending on which Kanji letter is used. In Noh theater, hana is flower, but used to describe the creating and sharing of beauty through performance. By doing this, the performer will achieve rarified relationship with the audience - apparently similar to the way one cultivates a flower.

I didn't really create all that. That was said by troupe founder and artistic director Nagata.

Wish I had the few dollars to spare, but from what I have heard, it was a great show. Basically, I just wanted to say, should the opportunity present itself where you have the chance to see this troupe or one like it - go. Do not hesitate. Spoil yourself.

Me... this blog thingie doesn't pay enough.

Regardless... here's a video to show you what we/I missed this time:


Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Jungle Love

It's Saturday, October 19, 1991. Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

I'm not sure why Junko is here with me, but for a marathon bout of eight hours of pure unadulterated sex, I really don't give a crap.

But now that I've had some juice to replenish myself for yet another round of jungle love with my little sex monkey, I do wonder - briefly - what happened to her boyfriend. Ah... screw it. I have much more devious things in mind for Junko.

By 3PM, Junko has had enough and wobbles out of my apartment and down to her car - hopefully to go back to Utsunomiya-shi and her studies there at the university. I know we'll see each other again.

Don't get me wrong... the sex is fantastic... it's like a three-way with the two Thai chicks from earlier this year... but there's only Junko. Now that's enthusiasm. Though... I did suggest half-jokingly that she bring a girlfriend next time she shows up.

It's Junko. She probably will. She's not jealous, as long as she's a part of my fun.

With Junko physically gone, and the smell of apple blossoms and sex permeating the air, I think about Ashley. She's my ex. A couple of days ago, I acted the ass and she pitched a shot glass at my ribs. It hurt like a mother, but there was no real damage done.

But she doesn't know that.

Andrew's revenge:

I decide I will tell Ashley that I was in the hospital last night after I awoke at 2AM in a lot of pain. After X-Rays, I find out I have a cracked bone in my chest from where the sake glass hit me.

Yes, it's all a lie, but screw her... she still hit me with a sake glass. I'm after pity.

It's really easy to be a prick to your ex  - even one you still sleep with occasionally - when you know you have a hot babe like Junko champing at the bit to be with you. Not sure when I'll tell Ashley or even how, though. 

I clean up the apartment and find a pair of Junko's panties perched behind my aquarium. I tuck it into my jean's front pocket and head out to the local video store here in Ohtawara-shi and rent three movies, that honestly I have no interest in watching.

I phone my friend Kevin back in Toronto and chat with him for a half-hour. Despite him being one of my closest friends, I don't tell him what I am doing to Ashley or what I am doing with Junko. Hell... even I don't know what I am doing.

I sleepwalk through the movies thinking about Junko, and making my body think I have a cracked bone in my chest. Did you know that if you believe something hard enough, you can fake anything?

Somewhere being a vindictive bastard - and loving it,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is sung by The Steve Miller Band. Video is below with lyrics!
PS: Yes, I know reading this 20-years later, and presenting it here for the world to see does not paint myself in a very positive light - except for the stuff with Junko... but I'm a Scorpio male born in the Year of the Dragon. I don't take crap from anyone. Plus... you'll notice under the blog's title, it does say I am an idiot.

Monday, November 21, 2011

No Rest For The Wicked

It's October 18, 1991... Friday.
I've spent the last evening drinking heavily in Nikko at a hotel with a whole bunch of AETs (assistant English teachers). I just turned 27 10 days ago, I'm living in Japan now for about 16 months. I am enjoying myself here... but I still find myself rife with women troubles.
Yeah, I just got laid yesterday by Junko, a fantastic Japanese woman who has fallen head over heels in love/lust with me - and took to stalking me... is it just men who are apt to sleep with their stalker? I know I did - twice yesterday... at her University in Utsunomiya-shi (Utsunomiya City)... got caught whilst entwined, and carried on.
I left her to go back to her boyfriend, while I traveled on with the rest of the AETs here in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) who are part of the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme, to visit Nikko-shi (Nikko City) for a science/nature tour.
What I discovered is that I am a complete animal... a predator, if you will, constantly hunting women. Or perhaps just a single woman. I don't know. I only know that what I have, is not exactly what I want. I'm not even sure if what I am after is what I need.
Last night I made out with Karen, and got into a fight with Ashley... no, you are not mistaken... hardly the names of Japanese women.
I know, I know... who the hell goes to Japan to bang gaijin (foreign) chicks. No one. However, that's why it was easy for me to have my cake and eat it too... all the foreigners are busy chasing Japanese tail... and no one is around to chase the foreign tail.
Did I mention I was a virgin before I arrived here? To be honest... any tail would do... just as long as it's tail.
Regardless... After getting a fine sleep of 4-1/2 hours, I'm bright-eyed and bushy tailed... which translates into barely alive, for those who know what it means to drink a lot.
I'm down eating breakfast at 8AM... it's a beautiful day, and hardly looks like it's going to rain at all... I am known as the ame otoko (rain man), afterall.
First things first... I spot Ashley and march over to her.. kneel down beside her while she eats with a couple of other female AETs, and loudly proclaim how sorry I am for being a complete and utter jerk last night.
Hopefully, me making an ass of myself in front of these people here will show her how sorry I am.
She smiles and says it's okay... so I walk off and finish my breakfast with the boys. The JET Programme is very clique-ish... but me... I prefer talking to anyone who can stomach having a good time without being snotty about it.
As such, after breakfast I head out with great buddies Matthew and Jeff Seaman and visit Ryu-zu (Dragon Head) Falls. That's it in the photo above. Pretty damn, cool eh?
We then take a local bus down to Chuzenji-ko (Lake Chuzenji)... probably only something Matthew could figure out for us.... and watched a 15-minute promotional video on the nature of Nikko.
Have you ever seen a video for school made in the 1950s... complete with poor voice-over acting and crappy cinematography? That was this... only in Japanese.
What a waste of a science trip. Perhaps a guided nature tour would have been better?
Matthew and I leave Jeff to go back home (he's to the south, and we to the north-east), stopping back off at Utsunomiya to watch a movie at the theater... FX2.
I swear I smell apple blossoms in the air.
Junko!
I look around, but don't see her!
Damn minx... she must be here spying on me... or am I going crazy? Maybe.
But then I remember I'm carrying around a pair of her panties in my jeans. Don't ask. But it does feel sexy... in a dirty sex kind of way. But... I'm pretty sure that despite having her panties, that smell of apple blossoms was from her shampoo... not her underwear!
I glance around again... but if she's here... I can't see her. 
Matthew and I take a train home and ride back to our local video store in Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawara).
I rent Child's Play 2 and watch it for an hour when I hear a soft knock at the door.
It's Junko.
I open up the door and help her off with her coat, shirt and pants, while she does the same for me. It's going to be a long day tomorrow, what with the no sleep and all.
Somewhere loving the dragon's head falls,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by: Godsmack. Video down below. Lyrics HERE.
PS: An-do-ryu, as I write my name in Japanese kanji means: Peaceful-leader-dragon. 

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Menstruation and why women can't...

That title is something, isn't it?

Menstruation and why women can't be... what?

Here's two things women are forbidden to do in Japan: be sumo wrestlers, and sushi chefs.

That whole bleeding thing that women do every few weeks disrupts the Japanese traditional views on purity.

Hunh. Who knew?

I used to watch Iron Chef (Japanese version) and go to sushi restaurants, and always used to wonder why I never saw any female Japanese sushi chefs... who knew it was because they menstruate? I thought it was just some old boy's club that sort of prevented women from the profession. Like being a professional engineer here in Canada and the U.S.... old boy's club from about 30 years ago. Or being a doctor 100 years ago... nursing was fine... but a doctor? Better leave that to the men, dear...  Or being in the armed forces... I'll save you, lady!

Who knew that Japan was sexist?

Of course Japan is sexist. It was when I lived there in the early 90s, and while I am sure there has been some progress since I left, I was always sure that chauvinism was still going to exist in Japan for many a year long after I left.

But blaming it on menstruation? Men-struation... wow. At least there's a proper dignified reason that I am now aware of. That's sarcasm, by the way. It's so difficult to write sarcasm and ensure that everyone reading knows you are being sarcastic...  

Here's a comment from the son of Ono Jiro, a sushi master who owns a three-star Michelin restaurant in Tokyo's Ginza district. His menu starts at Cdn/US $300 and only gets higher. The son's name is Ono Yoshikazu.

So... Mr. Ono-san... why aren't there any female sushi craftsmen (aka shokunin)?

Says Ono-san: "The reason is because women menstruate. To be a professional means to have a steady taste in your food, but because of the menstrual cycle women have an imbalance in their taste, and that’s why women can’t be sushi chefs."

And this is coming from the son one of the world's best sushi masters, an 86-year-old who also happens to be the subject of “Jiro Dreams of Sushi,” a documentary by American director David Gelb that recently premiered at the Berlinale this week. This son, is the man who will take up the mantle of one of the world's greatest sushi restaurant's, whose family name carries great weight in the world of sushi

Ono adds: "I have no children and am also not married. In Japan, work is regarded as the first thing…It might be different somewhere outside Japan where family comes first, but in Japanese tradition work comes first …There’s nothing you can do about it if you can’t see your family because you’re working and you have to trust that when the children grow up they do understand why their father was away. Because my father was trying so hard and working so hard…that’s why our restaurant exists."


Gods... work over family. I'm sure his father must have agreed... let me come home, knock up the wife, get a son, my job at home is done, now I can spend all of my time at my restaurant honing my craft. Sarcasm....

Personally, Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife believes that the menstruation reason is merely a handy excuse for remaining chauvinistic... Because Japan likes to pattern itself on being proper and dignified and following traditional values from the ancient past - back when life was so much better, it makes sense that these institutions remain the bastions of a society looking to remain a world power.

Japan... get your head out of your ass... women are fully capable of being sushi chefs... and doing it with style, verve and aplomb... as well as if not better than any male chef. While they will get their ass handed to them by their male sumo counterparts, there should be nothing to bar them from competing in the sport... but there is... as sumo wrestlers purify the clay ring with salt before battling... but a woman who could bleed from her vagina at any moment... well... it must truly frighten these men who will have no idea how to clean the ring afterwards.

Every time I think Japan is hot stuff, I am reminded that it still has a ways to go... to grow up.

Andrew Joseph

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Cafe Fur Cats

Is this only in Japan? Probably. Though I bet someone in the USA starts one up soon.

Pussy lovers of world, unite!

Uh, scratch that... pussy cat lovers of the world, unite!

Because there's nothing a cat like more than going out with its owner for a coffee and a light snack, someone has created a new place to yowl... several of them in fact: The cat cafe.

Cat lovers can now spend time relaxing amongst their purr pals curled up beside them as they enjoy a steaming cup of joe... coffee, that is.

To be fair, the first cat cafe actually clawed in back in 1998 - in Taiwan. We here at Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife love pussy... cats but still we wonder if alcohol and a drunken bet may have been involved in the opening of the Taiwanese business.

But who knew? This has been a successful type of business, as a cat cafe opened up its pet doors in Osaka back in 2004.

Okay... it was kit-sch back then... but it really has caught on like a cat sitting on my chest sucking my breath. There are now 39 cat cafes in Tokyo alone. Thirty-nine. Just let that one sink in for a moment. Thirty-nine.

So... why start up a business like this? Well, according to Hanada Norimasa (surname first), for those renting an apartment in Japan, cats are not allowed. If you purchase a condominium - one for a family - then they are... otherwise, no pets. So... what is a young, single, lonely, pet-loving person to do? 

"This means that young, single-dwelling workers in their 20s and 30s can’t even think about getting any pets, despite the fact that they’re stressed out and are seeking comfort and companionship of some kind,” explains Hanada.

Handa knows what he is talking about, and decided to do a good deed and pull in a few yen as well. His Cat's Store (猫の店 Neko no Mise) in Tokyo is one of the most famous cat cafe's in all of Japan.

His (Hanada's) café offers 14 cats to the visitors (along with a selection of Japanese manga (comic) books, as well as standard cafe fare of tables, chairs, couches and scratching posts... though we are not sure about the scratching posts.

We are assuming that the cost of any food and drink is extra, but just to hang out at the cafe, the visitor is charged ~Cdn/US $1.50 for every 10 minutes, up to $21.50 for a three-hour period. It really is an indoor cat rental.

There are also niche cat cafe's for the discerning cat-lover likely to strut right by with their tale in the air at a common tabby white cat cafe, cat-ering to a  Black (cats) Only; Fat (cats); rare breeds or cats that were strays...

This blog has always found Russian Blues sexy...

As with any business, a cat cafe owner needs to get a business license and then obey all the rules and regulations regarding Japan's Animal Treatment/Protection Law. As well, cafe owners must ensure cleanliness... perhaps no open litter boxes... and have to ensure that the cats are not bothered by excessive attention, or are cool with kids. They must also be allowed their sleep time.

Really? You must allow a cat its sleep time? I have a cat... during the day, my cat sleeps about 21.47 hours a day! It's only awake at night to bite my toes while I sleep or to sit on my aforementioned chest to suck my breath and kill me.

Regardless, a cat cafe must also seek to promote cat awareness issues, such as abandoned and stray cats.

Your humble author applauds this cat-scratch fever initiative. I, unfortunately, while I do have a cat... it adopted me after I got married... I am allergic... especially to the real long-haired ones. A shaved pussy cat, however... I have no problem with that.

I'm unsure if I would pay to sit with a cat, however... I mean... you could just go behind the dumpster at a sushi restaurant and play with the cats there for free.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Solution For Auto Sector Hit Hard By Taxes

There are only two thing sure in life: death and taxes.


Unfortunately for Japan, taxes may spell a death-knell for its auto industry. It's why the auto industry is trying to do something about it. 

Presidents of Japan’s major automakers--Toyota Motor Corporation, Nissan Motor Company and the Honda Motor Company--have gathered 4,300,000 signatures via petition in an effort to end what they call high taxes on cars that threaten to hollow out manufacturing and wipe out jobs.

The plea from these auto heads, as well as from auto unions and car dealers is a rare show of unified force, and is based on the country's continuing struggles following the March 11, 2011 double disasters, a high Yen and sluggish car sales.

“This goes beyond the problem of a hollowing out of the economy. The industry could be destroyed,” explains Toyota President Toyoda Akio (surname first). “Once jobs are lost overseas, it is impossible to recover them.”

Officials want to retain manufacturing in Japan to keep technological development going and protect jobs.

But, the odds stacked against them due to a highly complex system of car taxation that is at least twice of the taxes in Germany and the United Kingdom and 49 times higher than the U.S rates. And, you can combine that with the high Japanese yen that has caused overseas sales to plummet. 

The auto sector feels that by reducing the rate of taxes on new cares, domestic sales in Japan could rise by some 920,000 vehicles.

Japan’s annual sales of new autos have shrunk to about 4.25 million vehicles, falling from a peak 7.8 million vehicles in 1990.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nipple in Japanese

Here - check out this blog!
Living and Teaching in Japan
It offers a word for the day in today's blog - nipple.

In the Japanese defense, I wonder if perhaps the word doesn't actually derive from a body part, but rather from a device, like on a baby bottle. Nawwwww.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph 

Manners in Japan - Part 2

Would you like a tip? 

Did you know that when in Japan, when you eat a soup (mmmm, ramen! Soba!!!), or other types of liquid food, it is perfectly acceptable to lift the bowl to your lips and slurp it down?

Yes it is!

In fact, slurping loudly and proudly shows everyone within earshot that you have a great appetite and that you are paying your compliments to the chef.

So ya better slurp your soup if you enjoy it, or you'll offend someone or constantly have your dining partners worried you aren't enjoying your repast!

Now, in Japan, when you order a soup (or pretty much any meal), the utensils you get/and or use, are chopsticks. How the hell does one use chopsticks to eat soup?

Well, worry not, oh gaijin (foreigner) world traveler. Take a look at the soup bowl... there's a small, thick porcelain spoon, too.

You use the chopsticks to pick up the more solid ingredients, and use the spoon to dredge up some liquid. And don't forget to slurp.

For the gaijin, this is going to take some conscious effort. You need to think about slurping with every mouthful - you don't have to do this with drinks!

You should slurp up noodles... to do this, channel your inner child, lean about six inches from the face of the bowl, lift the noodles to your mouth, and inhale making sure you make a loud slurping sound.

It's not like being a kid and eating spaghetti. YOU, as an adult don't really want to get anything all over your clothes. That's why I suggest you lean over the bowl. You don't really just inhale the food through a small hole in your mouth. To create the slurp, you need a slightly larger hole in the mouth so that the noodles can slide in wet, and you can get more air into your maw.

Anyhow... I'm sure YOU can figure out how to slurp... but it does take some doing. I know many gaijin who try to do it, but really, the slurping noise is down right embarrassing - and by that, I mean it is lame.

When you are done your meal, you should say: "Gochisosama deshita" or the short form of: "gochisosama."

Basically, it means: Thank-you for a great meal. It is said to obviously give thanks to your meal.

It can be said directly to the meals' host, to the restaurant workers as you leave, but is generally spoken out loud to no one and everyone as you finish eating. Thanks god for the grub.

Oh! And here's one I never realized until a few weeks ago! before you leave a finished meal, you should replace any covers on bowls or pots. It's for no other reason than to show a modicum of respect to the person cleaning your table, as you don't want anything to slosh around and hit the flooring.

And, just in case you are wondering what sort of tip to leave a server or a taxi driver - don't! It is not considered polite to offer a tip in Japan. Apparently, it is an undignified way for anyone salaried to earn extra money.

Click HERE to read an old blog I wrote on this subject.

by Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

American Propaganda Cartoons Vs Japan

The first thing you have to understand is that Japan bombed Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941.

Hawaii at the time was not a U.S. state. It was a protectorate, much like Puerto Rico, Guam, Saipan, U.S. Virgin Islands, American Samoa and the Northern Mariana Islands. I've been to Saipan, of all places. Nice place!

In 1893, a group of American expatriates and sugar planters supported by a division of U.S. Marines deposed The Kingdom of Hawaii's Queen Liliuokalani, the last reigning monarch of Hawaii. One year later, the Republic of Hawaii was established as a U.S. protectorate with Hawaiian-born Sanford B. Dole as president.

And... just so you know, Dole's cousin, once-removed was James Dole who arrived in Hawaii in 1899 and established the Hawaiian Pineapple Company on the island of Oahu which later became the Dole Food Company (everyone heard of Dole pineapples?).

Statehood for Hawaii was proposed in 1937 and was shot down by the U.S. Congress, citing it's distance from the US mainland and the fact that it had a mixed and diverse population... which sounds like they meant it wasn't White enough.
 
But what really made the U.S. mad was the fact that Japan bombed the crap out of a US military base. If that was an act of war, nothing was.

So... with the U.S. really ticked off at Japan in 1941 (by the way... just what was the U.S. doing to help fight the Nazi's in WWII, a war that officially began in September of 1939?), the propaganda machine was started up.

I'm not going to bore you with tales of Japanese internship camps in this blog today, rather let's take a look at the American animation industry, and how it attempted to enlighten the youth of the day into believing Japan consisted of some really stupid bastards. I'm not saying the U.S. was correct in that statement, and I'm not saying they weren't, but let's watch some cartoons--none of which you will ever see on television.

  • We'll start with the classic Warner Brother's cartoon from 1944 starring Bugs Bunny, in Bugs Bunny Nips The Nips. Nips, is a racial slur denoting the Japanese, as Nippon is Japanese for Japan. As well, I should clarify that this particular cartoon was not part of the official Censored Eleven cartoons that were banned from public television syndication in 1968.... so it may have made its way onto television in your neighborhood.. though I recall seeing and knowing about it as a kid. In this cartoon, Bugs is castaway on a Pacific island that he finds is crawling with Japanese soldiers... he then single-handedly defeats the enemy.

  • Let's now look at Tokio Jokio, another Warner Brother's cartoon made in 1943. This one is pure propaganda, done in the form of a US news reel that purports to show how Japan is running its war, and how everyone is definitely incompetent, so cheer up, we'll kick their ass soon. It's actually a funny cartoon if one removes the stereotypes and instead concentrates on the gags themselves. It is about Japan, despite the picture below which makes it look like its about Nazi Germany.

One of the more vicious cartoon characters to partake in the bash Japan propaganda during the war was Popeye The Sailor Man... perhaps not too surprising considering he's a sailor, and a lot of seamen lost their lives in the attack on the naval base at Pearl Harbor. 
  • Here's Popeye The Sailor Man in the classic 1942 short: You're A Sap Mr. Jap, as released by Paramount Pictures, produced by Famous Studios. In it, Popeye single-handily defeats the crew of a Japanese battleship.

  • Popeye's at it again, in the 1942 short: Scrap The Japs, in which the squinty-eyed sailor with the muscle problems (wrong muscles are overly large) defeats a Japanese scrap repair ship.

  • Last up for Popeye was his epic Seeing' Red, White & Blue, made in 1943, in which Popeye is in charge of the military draft, and arch-nemesis Bluto has just been drafted... after a lot of monkeying around they happen to break up a Japanese plot actually being plotted on American soil. 


  • A cartoon character and cartoon I had never heard about was Cap'n Cub. In this 1945 cartoon the Japanese are portrayed as monkeys - perhaps a tip of the hat and a spit in the face to the Japanese wartime cartoons of the 1930s in which the monkeys in the Japanese propaganda cartoons represented the Chinese. The Yanks are led by a cute character named Cap'n Cub... but in all cartoons I've ever seen when nations are involved, bears are the Soviets. Whatever. This cartoon starts off all cute but turns kind of nasty near the end. 

  •  Let's now take a look at Superman... rocketed to Earth as a baby from the dying planet Krypton, DC Comics' Superman became the superheroic ideal for America... despite Nazi Germany trying to create their own supermen. Superman (first appeared in Action Comics #1), as you all know was created by an American, (writer Jerry Siegel)  and a Canadian (Joe Shuster). Shuster, born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, supposedly came up with the concept of a hero from another planet with super powers. Just so you know, in the early decades of Superman's existence, his alter ego Clark Kent worked as a reporter for the The Daily Star... with Shuster channeling the Toronto Star newspaper for reference. Just so you all know, your humble author Andrew Joseph was a reporter for the Toronto Star (along with alumnus Ernest Hemingway). DC Comics, by the way, actually stands for Detective Comics Comics... from the Department of Redundancy Department.... Detective Comics #27 was where Batman made his first appearance. In this first flick called Japoteurs starring Superman as drawn by Famous Studios back in 1942, the Japanese are the bad guys, with Supes stopping spies from stealing a bomber plane and taking it back to Tokyo. excluding Disney, the art on these cartoons is fantastic - perhaps only second to the black and white Popeye cartoons of the 1930s, and not surpassed until Who Framed Roger Rabbit? some 50 years later. Enjoy.


  • Here's one more from Superman in 1942 called The Eleventh Hour, when our hero becomes a saboteur in Japan at the Yokohama Navy Shipyard. Hey, while the US and Japan were at war, the Superman cartoons are not racist, and are merely a sensible sign of the times. plot-wise, these Superman cartoon are a bit thin, but they are still an enjoyable view.

There may be more... but this was all I was able to find at the moment. Anyone with more information on American propaganda mainstream cartoon against the Japanese, feel free to contact me and teach me.

By the way... for all fans of cartoons, let me direct you to the excellent book Of Mice and Magic: A History of American Animation by Leonard  Maltin (the movie reviewer of Entertainment Tonight fame). This one has a ton of history, and is my cartoon bible. Buy it!

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Bart Imitates Life

Robot seal from The Simpson, Nov. 6, 2011.
Life imitates art, to be sure.

But sometimes art imitates life. Or, in this case, Bart imitates life.

On the November 6, 2011 episode of The Simpson's entitled "Replaceable You", Bart Simpson and brainiac pal Martin Prince create a special project for the school's Science Fair. A robot in the form of a baby seal, as they correctly noted, no one can ever look at one with out going "Awwwww".

They win the Science Fair, of course, but what is cool is that at the Retirement Home where Bart's grandfather Abe Simpson resides, their robot seal pup is an instant hit, bringing emotional relief to depressed senior citizens... making them happy. 

Now... let's look back at an August 2, 2011 Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife article: HERE.

Real robot seal. Awwwwwww.
In this story, Japan is using a cuddly robotic seal pups to aid with the emotionally distraught senior citizens who have lost loved ones after the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that hit the northeast coast of Japan. It brings them emotional relief, making them happy.

Art imitating life.Life imitating art.

It's nice when it works out for the best. Good Simpson's episode, too.

By Andrew Joseph

Monday, November 14, 2011

Manners in Japan - Part 1

Did you know it's consider to be impolite to order a large bottle of booze or even a soft drink in a restaurant and keep it all to yourself?

Yup. You are expected to pour some for your friends around the table... and not just with one hand - with two. You get it right to the top.

You have to pour some for your friends FIRST.

You should also never pour for yourself. Bad show. You, after pouring for them should place the bottle doen near one of your friends so that they can pour for you, to fill your glass.


Yes, it can be a pain in the ass for a gaijin (foreigner) who likes to keep track of how much he/she is drinking, but it is considered to be polite.

Let;s face it... should you feel you have had enough, it is all right to not finish that topped up glass... but at least you let them do you the honor of filling your glass.

You could also place your hand atop your glass to indicate you have had enough... but I would simply indicate that you would like a very little bit... doing the finger thing showing how much.

A real friend will understand. 

by Andrew Joseph

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Look At Destroyed Nuclear Reactor

Here's an article I came across from The Globe And Mail newspaper here in Canada.

It offers up a wonderful look inside the Fukushima nuclear reactor, Dai-ichi.

Check it out: HERE.

Andrew Joseph

Robot Cure For Sleep Apnea?

Now that's a good sleep! But he shouldn't be on his back. Is he dead?
As a guy who suffered horribly from sleep apnea for about eight years... all I can say is that this sounds like an interesting invention.

Sleep apnea: when your airway collapse and you aren't able to get air in and out of you when you sleep.

I used to have an episode on average of every 44 seconds, often stopping breathing for up to 20 seconds at a time. I have no idea how I was able to function. If I even did.

In fact, I know I killed brain cells. It was so bad, that I was afraid to go to sleep for fear of dying. My body used to sweat adrenaline - a sour milk sweat on the sheets - as my brain would panic... essentially screaming at my body to take a freaking gasp of breath. Basically, with an episode every 44 seconds, my brain would get less than that of sleep at a time before being called back in to action to make me breathe.

I didn't really get a decent sleep - never really achieved REM - in years.

I still have it... but it is perfectly controlled by a C-PAP (Continuous Positive Airway Pressure) machine. I wear a face mask at night and have air go into my mouth to help keep the airwaves open.
 
And so... let me introduce to you, a new invention from Japan called the Jukusui-kun (Deep Sleep) robotic pillow-device that comes in the form of a polar bear.

According to a story, I found, there are over 2-million sleep apnea suffers in Japan. 

Doctor Kabe is the creator of the Jukusui-kun.

Basically, the sleeper is supposed to wear a cute-looking oxygen monitor device attached to the hand. This device sends readings of the amount of oxygen in the blood (I was getting 64% oxygen, when a normal sleeper should be getting around 94%!) to a computer terminal (of a sorts) that runs a software program monitoring the sleepers vital statistics already programmed in.

Wireless, to help foster a good night's sleep for the sleeper to not have them worry about pulling anything out, Doctor Kabe uses the natural conductive powers of a human body in conjunction with a conductive metal sheet under the bed's sheet over.  

In the polar bear pillow, there is a microphone that measures the decibel level of the snoring (a very common side effect of the sleep apnea victim... or just the heavy snorer.

Should the monitors detect a decrease in the levels of oxygen in the snorer's blood stream, it triggers the hand of the polar bear-pillow to move towards the snore's face to gently brush/tickle it to make them move from their back (that's when snoring is at its worst and when sleep apnea is also in full mode), to make the sleeper move onto their side. 

Here's a video of the device in action.

Now... as a person who does have sleep apnea - and knows now the power of a good night's sleep, I think this Jukusui-kun shows great promise, but let me just state that people who are always tired need to first get a sleep study done. If you are simply a snorer - with no sleep apnea - then perhaps this device is for you.

But, should the sleep study show you have sleep apnea, do not screw around. Get a C-PAP device and save your life. The C-PAP device does take some getting used to. I panicked the first time I tried it, as it felt like the machine was trying to breathe for me. I did not go back for eight years and suffered terribly for it.... as did my wife, family and friends who watched me self-destruct before their eyes.

The Jukusui-kun seems like a great invention... but what if you are the type of person who keeps rolling over onto your back? You will keep getting interrupted sleep from the polar bear arm, you will still have the sleep apnea affecting you, and you will still snore... this machine treats the symptoms and offers a band-aid for sleep apnea sufferers.

A C-PAP machine will, or rather, can stop you from snoring, and it will allow you to have an uninterrupted sleep. I only get between 4 and 6 hours of sleep at night (my choice), but it's a good 4-6 hours of sleep at night. I function very well, thank-you. 

Have a good night's sleep,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Police Still Search For Tsunami Victims

It's not about doing their duty anymore... it's more about doing the right thing for their friends, family, neighbours and community.

It's about doing what they know they would want, if they were in the same boat. They wan to provide a measure of dignity and respect.

They want to provide closure.

Friday, November 11, 2011 is Rememberance Day here in Canada... a solemn day when we reflect and honour the dead who bravely fought for the freedom of others. It's also the eight-month anniversary of the day a tsunami spawned by a massive earthquake nearly wiped out the entire northeast coast of Japan.

A tsunami of varying heights... perhaps as high as 75-feet. Try and find an accurate height. Evidence is conflicting, though a Wikipedia entry suggest that Miyako-shi (Miyako City) in Iwate-ken (Iwate Prefecture) was as high as 133-feet (40.5 meters). Regardless... the tsunami, however, that claimed just under 20,000 lives.

Think of the pain of losing a loved one. Now imagine how much pain you could feel if an entire town was killed. It boggles the imagination. You and I can't even begin to guess what that feels like.

Now, with winter just around the corner, and the temperatures in the northeast section of Japan dropping everyday, police in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) Iwate-ken and Miyagi-ken (Miyagi Prefecture) continue the search for those missing and presumed dead, for no other reason than to return the bodies to their families.
 

Even now, some 1,800 police officers from other prefectures have been sent to the disaster areas to help local police continue the search for the missing, as well as to help with other day-to-day police duties.

And, despite the length of time, bodies are still being uncovered... they hope.  

The March 11 disaster claimed the lives of 802 people in Otsuchicho, Iwate-ken, but along with the confirmed dead, there are still 520 people missing.

October was the first month since March 11, 2011 in which no autopsies of disaster victims were conducted in Iwate-ken.

"My daughter, who was born in January, doesn't really remember me," explains assistant police inspector Kojima Takuya (surname first) (36-years-old) on his 10th search for bodies. "That's nothing, though, when we think of the feelings of survivors trying to find the remains of their loved ones."

Dropping temperatures in the sea also are hindering search efforts. On November 8, 2011, 20 Miyagi-ken police officers searched the Kirigasaki district of Onagawacho, with five officers taking a chartered fishing boat to search an area about 50 meters off the coast. They placed a camera mounted to a robot into the waters.

"It's frustrating," states assistant police inspector Sato Kei (45) and group leader. "But we won't give up. We'll keep searching."

As of November 11, 2011, about 5,400 police officers in Iwate, Fukushima and Miyagi were either searching for bodies or continuing to do tsunami-damaged-related duties, like directing traffic where the traffic lights had been washed away.

According to the National Police Agency, the search for the missing continues primarily along coastal areas, but the four bodies discovered so far this month were found in the ocean by such people as fishermen, not the police.
However, despite finding bodies, identifying them is proving to be a difficult task, despite DNA analysis, as some 800 bodies still remain unidentified.

Files by Andrew Joseph

Friday, November 11, 2011

Teachers Quitting Due To Stress

Despite old Andrew's trials and tribulations teaching English at seven junior high schools in Japan between 1990-1993 in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan, he never noticed a great shift in the Japanese teachers coming and going from one year to the next.

Sure there were retirements, maternity leaves et al, but teachers sucked it up and seemed to be at their particular school for life.

But nowadays, Japan's fame as a country where a person has a job for life is going out the window--especially in the field of education.
 
According to a survey conducted by the Japan Ministry of Education, the number of first-year teachers who left their job for health reasons has increased twenty-fold over the past 10 years, citing more often than not emotional issues.

A total of 25,743 Japanese public school teachers who began working in fiscal 2010 were polled, with 101 voluntarily leaving the job within a year for "health" reasons, mainly depression and stress, compared with five in fiscal 2000.

Holy pandemic, Batman!


Apparently some 91 of the 101 teachers who quit in 2010 said they were suffering emotional issues such as depression.

"We believe they suffered from a gap between reality and what they imagined before they start working... Some were believed to have trouble dealing with difficult parents. Some may have suffered from human relationships at their workplaces," says education ministry official Izumino Masashi (surname first) to the The Japan Times on November 9, 2011.

Beginning in 2009, the Education Ministry began investigating the mental health of teachers who quit within a year. In the first survey, 83 of 86 who quit did so because psychological issues.

Of the 91 teachers who quit for psychological issues in 2010, 29 came from Tokyo--the highest--while Chiba-ken (Chiba Prefecture) and Aichi-ken (Aichi Prefecture) were the next highest with six and five respectively.

With a great void in qualified teachers,Tokyo's metropolitan government began in 2010 to recruit retired teachers to help the first-year teachers at the elementary school levels.


Stress has been an issue not only among new teachers but the older guard as well.

In 2009, some 8,627 teachers took a leave of absence for health reasons, with 63.3 per cent (5,458) of them doing so for psychological reasons.

Compare this: only 0.24 teachers in total took a leave of absence in 2000, while the number increased to 0.60 in 2009.

The Japan Ministry of Education lays the blame at the so-called monster parents, who make unreasonable demands, and an increasingly digitized society as some of the reasons behind teachers' increasing stress.

"There are multiple reasons behind (the rise)... One difficulty is guiding students in the digitized world. The Internet is becoming a place where bullying takes place, and (today's) children communicate more through email... To avoid falling behind the children, teachers have been attempting to learn IT technology. But for some, it is very difficult," says Izumino.

However, while pointing a finger at the first-year teachers for not being able to handle the rigors of teaching, the 2009 survey noted that 74.1 percent of all teachers who took a leave of absence due to mental illness were over 40-years-old.

Files by Andrew Joseph

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Sex Gorilla

It's still Thursday, Octobeer 17, 1991, Yes... I spelled the month correctly.
I've just finished my date with my ex-stalker Junko - twice and now have to leave her behind (ha-ha) and get on a bus that will take me and the other Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) AETs (assistant English teachers) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme from Utsunomiya University up to Nikko-shi (City of Nikko) where we will learn a bit about the environment of the area.
It will be interesting, but my mind is now heavily tuned in on sex.
I have her panties stuck in my shirt breast pocket and pull it out every now and again to wipe my brow with it. I don't think anyone notices - dammit!
It's just after lunch as we pile onto the coach bus... and true to form for me - the ame otoko (rain man) - it begins to rain, as it always does whenever I travel in this country.
But I don't mind. I just got laid (twice) (yes, I have mentioned it twice... but I think it bears repeating) in a classroom at the school while everyone else was listening to boring old speeches about how to survive in Japan.
I'm pretty sure I have it figured out.
I'm sitting beside Stephanie Chan, a cute Chinese-Canadian girl from Montreal whom I really like... but she is interested in another guy. Come on, Stephanie... smell the apple blossoms from Junko's hair on my chest!
We check into our hotel near the Ryu-zu (Dragon head Falls), partake in an onsen (hot communal bath with some other male AETs), go for dinner and drink heavily. At least I know I did.
I open a ton of bottles with my teeth (a gift), and then steal everyone else's bottles of beer (with permission) and proceed to tie on one of the best or worst drunks of my 26-year-old life.
Excited - depressed, I have no idea.  I just feel the need for speed.
After the get-together, Ashley stops by my room. Ash is my ex-girlfriend here, a very attractive 23-year-old from Augusta, Georgia in the US of A. Apparently she and I meshed together perfectly sexually (it's good to be good at something, even if it is only sex), and while she has agreed with herself that I am always around her (she came to my place 5x a week for dinner, for months), and that she needed her space away from me.
Hey... what baby wants, baby gets.
Me? I'm pining for her fjords. I have no idea what that means, but I keep hoping that our current friends-with-benefits status will morph back into boyfriend/girlfriend status.
I can still smell Junko on me... probably because I keep wiping her panties all over my face... even when I see Ashley at the door.
Ash has brought over a 1/2 shot of sake (Japanese fermented rice wine) for me. I down it feeling no pain. I want more but she won't give me any more from the bottle she has. Ash and I boinked for months and months. She knows a half a shot of sake isn't going to do squat for me. I once drank 47 glasses in a contest and then went dancing. One guy passed out at around eight glasses, another in the late teens. The other gent, Arikawa-san and I battled each other to a draw. He, by the way, went to a meeting afterwards.
Achieving hero status with myself, Arikawa-san did have a hangover the next day, while I was fine... except for that damage to my liver and self-respect.

So... what's Ashley's freaking problem? Why come to my room with half (HALF!) a shot of sake?    

Here's where your old pal Andrew gets effing stupid. I apologize to the reader, but it needs to be written here if I am to at least pretend I am an honest person.

I grab hold of her arm and tell her I'm not letting go until she gives me more.
She won't.
Finally squirming free from my alcohol-fueled grasp, she moves a few feet away and throws the shot glass at me, hitting me in the ribs.
All I can think is "Bitch!"
She walks off and slams the door to my room... at least she tries to... but the door is spring-loaded and won't allow itself to be slammed. The effect is quite amusing to me causing me to laugh as she storms off. I have no idea where she went. I just don't care.
I'm drunk and I'm horny. A lot of both.
I amble off to go and find Karen, a bubbly redhead from North Bay, Ontario, Canada who arrived a few months ago (Ash and I arrived 15 months earlier). Karen really likes me and glommed onto my mother who had come over for a visit from Toronto three months ago.
My mom really liked Karen, too, and disliked Ashley. Karen was bubbly, Ashley was quiet.
Anyhow.. Karen sucking up to my mom to perhaps get to me (my opinion) put me on my guard. Karen wants a boyfriend, and I just want to sleep with her. I only recently began chasing Japanese women (one has to learn how to talk the talk first... and to be honest, 15 months ago, Ashley helped me lose my virginity). I already have a sex friend in Ashley, why would I want to lose that with a girlfriend... can't I have two sex friends? Or more if I can get back in with Junko?
Man... I'm going to need my mom to send me more condoms. My dad would never do that.
I convince Karen that she should get rid of her wedding ring from her finger. She was actually engaged to be married when her fiance died a few years ago. Poor kid. But she needs to move on. Physician heal thyself, right?
Still... how convincing am I? I smiled at a girl this morning and had sex twice; drank half a friggin' brewery and got a glass thrown at me by my sex friend; and convinced another to take off her wedding ring and then kiss for a bit.
Holy crap! Two outta three ain't bad! Ashley was always a tough nut to crack... unlike my ribs. Owtch.
Karen wants to have sex with me - and says as much - but is still afraid... as she knows (I think) that I am Mr. Right Now rather than Mr. Right.
Still, she likes me... perhaps too much.
Despite kissing in public, no one seems to notice I smell like Junko - dammit!
How am I able to still be excited... you know... down there? I must be jacked up on goofballs or something.
Kamikoa-san... the Japanese dude responsible for Tochigi-ken JETs wants to talk with me. 
He's a very, very nice man, but a lousy judge of character... I mean, I'm completely toast and he wants a private one-on-one meeting.
Crap! It just hits me 47 seconds later! Maybe I'm in trouble!
Kamioka-san and I chat for over 1-1/2 hours about my life in Japan and what I think about this beautiful country, and how people are treating me, and what is my favourite drink (sake, for god's sake!).
We also talk about about Susan St. Cyr, the recently elected Tochigi-ken JET leader, who has apparently also just left the programme and the country. Wow... did I know that?
Kamioka-san asks me to please take over as the Tochigi-ken JET leader.
You could have knocked me over with a feather.
Really.
I am so drunk. I drank a lot of friggin' beer. It has to be Kirin Lager.
So... I did what any irresponsible, drunk, horny guy who just assaulted a woman (and was duly assaulted back, with good reason) did... I bowed, thanked him profusely and humbly turned him down.
I tell him I am too busy as the editor/photocopier of the prefectural newsletter, The Tatami Times.
I'm a journalist by trade, and obviously, if you are reading this, you know I like writing.
But... truthfully, and I don't tell Kamioka-san this... I can't see how being the exalted leader of Tochigi-ken was going to get me laid.
In fact, doing JET business with other nerdy JET people (since arriving in Japan, I'm no longer a freaking nerd!), was going to cut into my sex gorilla act. For crying out loud! I was nearly 26-years-old before I found a woman who would sleep with me. I'm now over double digits in different women, and now someone wants me to be more responsible because everybody loves me. Except Ashley. And maybe Stephanie. There's probably a few more.
I've been a wallflower all my life. I've only recently come out my shell. I have no idea how to act, and often finding myself simply reacting to situations.
I'm the right guy at the wrong time.
At least that's how I look at. Ego? Oh yeah... the me of 1991 was one egotistical pair of testosterone driven testicles. While realizing I wasn't quite god's gift to women... I was okay-looking, but blessed with a very large... sense of humour and charm, I now realized I could get any woman I darn near wanted... only it had to be on my terms now.
I wonder if the JET leader got any money for this gig?
No! I need my freedom to sleep around.
While I am so fu-reaking blown away by the honour - Kamioka-san was surprised I turned him down, noting they didn't have another option... as they had heard I always did anything I was asked.
True... but I've been suffering a lot of burnout from shy Shoko, nasty Ashley dumping me, than agreeing to sleep with me every now and then, to being stalked by the nasty, sexy Junko... I just want... I have no idea what I want, but leading Tochigi JET is not it at this very drunken moment.
Yes... dear reader... despite hearing myself slosh around with booze as I move... I kept damn fine accurate notes. It's a blessing that I never get hang-overs, and always remember what I have done... except for those few times with Matthew and once with James Dalton and once with Jim... and then that time with that cute Aussie chick... and that other time with the English woman... hmm... I need to either drink less or take better notes.
(Actually... in 2011... you should see me trying to read my drunken 1991 scrawls!)
So... since we don't have a leader, Jeanne has quit as interim leader (okay, I did know about Susan quitting!), and I'm too horny to lead... I have no idea what will happen to Tochigi JET.
I leave the meeting room with Kamioka-san, bow and stumble off to talk with a man. I find CIR (Coordinator for International Relations) Kevin Blackburn... a guy who looks like the biggest freaking nerd you've ever seen, but is in fact, not... him being one of the nicest, funniest people I've yet met. He's just what I need to hang around with. He and I drink beer and sake until 2AM.
I have to sleep in my contact lenses, because I have no idea where my eyes are. I just can't see them.

Somewhere wiping my face,
Andrew ook-ook Joseph
Today's blog title is by Canadian group National Velvet. Betcha thought I was going to do Meatloaf's Two Outta Three (Ain't Bad)!
I always wanted to sleep with Maria Del Mar the lead singer.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Schoolgirl Fined For Phoning And Cycling

I'm unsure if the following story is a good thing or a bad thing. 

Back on July 3, 2011, a 15-year-old high school girl became the first person in Japan to be fined for using a cell phone while operating a bicycle.

This is good on a couple of levels: she  can now concentrate all of her attention on looking where she is going and can better watch out for Japan's wacky drivers who tend to be more interested in bowing to the driver of every car they pass rather than the actual rules of the road.

Regardless... the unnamed girl (she is 15!) was given a ticket under a Kanagawa Prefectural government ordinance that began on May 1, 2011 that makes it illegal for cyclists to engage in dangerous activities while riding, like using  a cell phone or listening to music through headphones (how can you hear emergency vehicles or cars honking at you as you swerve all over the road while trying to keep the beat to Shonen Knife - an awesome band - you just can't!).

A police officer using a megaphone ordered the schoolgirl four times to stop looking at her phone as she rode through the streets of Hiratsuka-shi (Hiratsuka City) in Kanegawa-ken (Kanegawa Prefecture), but she ignored him (perhaps she also had headphones on), so he stopped her and gave the teen a ticket.

The girl faces a fine of up to ¥50,000 yen (~ Cdn/US $650), pretty much admitted complete ignorance of the new law when she told police: “I thought I’d be all right if I was only riding a bicycle.”

Bakayaro! (Stupid idiot!) That's the crux of the law! Dangerous stuff on a bicycle.

On the downside, it also means that had this law been in effect back when I was still living in Japan, and had I been living in Kanegawa-ken, I could have been fined for doing wheelies, carrying excessive amounts of gaijin groceries, doubling my girlfriend, having sex with my girlfriend... yes, it is possible to have sex on a bicycle... but owing to the intense amount of pumping involved, it does tire one out.

Oh... and look at the photo above... does riding a bicycle with an umbrella look dangerous? Aside from the possibility it slightly obscures ones vision, or that the wind could destabilize you, your humble author (the world's most humble author) was schmucked by a car while he used an umbrella to keep the typhoon from soaking him more than he was already soaked.

While I did know the 100-kilometer-an-hour winds could take the umbrella away from me and toss me into a rice field in Oz, I never had a problem with it (he's so big and strong). I was hit because a Japanese driver in a white car decided his car had the right-of-way at a three-way stop - regardless if the bicycle rider had already stopped and was more than half-way across the street. Idiot.  While I went over his hood and lay unmoving (on purpose) on the puddle-filled road, I waited about 30 seconds while he slowly looked for an umbrella in his car before venturing to see if he had killed the local gaijin (foreigner) in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken.

Unfortunately, he didn't.

So... Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife is now sure of its opinion, and applauds the new law that saves lives so the bicycle rider can better protect themselves from the bad drivers of Japan.
   

Files by Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Who Are You

It's still Thursday, October 17, 1991 and I've already had a great day.

How many other people can say they've just spent an enjoyable morning having sex with their stalker? Twice? In a university classroom? Being caught by a female professor? Who let us continue?

The only way it could have been better was if the professor had joined us for a menage a gaijin.

And to think, I was was tense today thinking about what sort of psycho I was going to meet at Utsunomiya University.... where my stalker goes to school.

It's not easy being me, but right now if feels damn good to be me.

Do you know what made my sexcapades even better? It was knowing that my ex-girlfriend was maybe 50-feet away in an auditorium being bored from listening to speeches about how foreigners (gaijin) can survive living in Japan while on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Progarmme.

One said we should have fun - that was the professor who walked in on Junko on myself. Hey... at least she wasn't a hypocrite!

I don't have a girlfriend at the moment, despite me being joined at the hip by one of the most gorgeous creatures I have ever seen. Junko is 22, slender, curvy, has a rack you could hand a coat on (two coats, actually), long suckable legs, and a small, round butt. Her dark chocolate eyes sparkled as I looked up at her from the desk, and aside from the apple blossoms scent of her shampoo and conditioner, all could smell was sex.

So, no... I wasn't in love. This was pure animalistic sex. I could have fallen for her - quite easily in fact. The problem was she became very possessive and jealous very quickly... even though she was only visiting my hometown of Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City) for a week to learn some teaching techniques from an English teacher or four over at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School)... so much so that she wanted to drop out of university, move in with me and keep me well fed on apple blossoms and sex.

Not a bad life, to be sure... but after a week of knowing each other? What was worse was that I hadn't slept in a week thanks to her/our appetite for monkey sex.  She wouldn't leave me alone. She followed me everywhere, hiding in the background... but no matter what, she couldn't hide the sweet, sweet scent of her haircare products.

People I know had to become involved to take her away from me and get her some help. She seems fine now.... we can talk... we've now seen each other outside of our original first meeting at school and my apartment... and the sex is still as awesome as ever... perhaps she and I could get back together and actually be a couple?

I better see how she is in a day or two, to make sure she isn't still pining for me in any other way but a healthy way.

We get dressed - though she decides to wear my underwear telling me I should wear hers. Is she kidding me? I can get one of my thighs through her waistband! She laughs, pulls a pair of jeans up over my underwear, helps me pull her underwear off my leg - now that was sexy - and then helps me put my pants and shirt back on... stuffing her underwear into my dress shirt pocket.

She asks me what I'm doing for the rest of the day, and when I tell her I have to go to Nikko-shi (city of Nikko) for a JET meeting after this, she pouts lightly in disappointment just to let me know she knows what we are both going to miss later this afternoon.
    
She says: "That's okay, An-do-ryu-san," in a sing-song voice that could melt both polar ice caps at the same time. "I should go back to class."

Oh ho! I thought! She's better! I can maybe start to actually date this woman! This woman who will one day be my wife and the mother of my children! Yesssss! Oh god yes!

I really did think that. I'm thinking that now here in 2011 as I type this out.

So I asked her if she wanted to get together maybe this weekend? She could come up to Ohtawara or I could come down to Utsunomiya?

She said: "I want to, but I have to do some things at my boyfriend's father's house."

Ohhhh-kayyyyyy...

So... she's perfectly willing to have sex on/with me despite having a boyfriend... but isn't willing to drop him to spend a weekend with me.

Hmmm, it sounds like she's over me enough not to start stalking me, but not over me enough to give up on the wild and wet stuff.

So... what do I do?

I admit to feeling kind of jealous of this boyfriend of hers... but not jealous enough to feel sorry she just cheated on him for me.

But... and I can't believe I am writing this... I can't do this to her boyfriend. I had no idea she had a boyfriend when she and I began beating out chests and swinging on vines.

I need to back off.

But... will she?

Somewhere this blog took place in 47 seconds - in the mind of
Andrew Joseph
This blog's title is by The Who. Video below...
PS: The day will continue in tomorrow's blog. Please don't let it be anti-climactic!
Since I've already lived it, let me tell you I don't think it is. Tune in tomorrow for more stuff involving my junk, I mean Junko.
PPS: Today, November 8 is my birthday. Lucky number 47. Whoopee.