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Friday, December 30, 2011

Follow-up On Fukushima

Hi all...
The year 2011 has been a real bugger for the people of Japan - especially those on the north east coast.

Here's a piece my wife found on the Toronto Star newspaper website that gives some info on Fukushima and some of the effects from the nuclear disaster that hit following the earthquake and tsunami on March 11, 2011.

DAI-ICHI.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Christmas Meal In Japan

Okay... I've given a plug to Wendy's, McDonald's, Lotteria and Mosburger in the past 48 hours. Let's do another!

First - a shout out to 'mishenka' who kindly wrote in with the lead for this story.

Just because Japan isn't a Christian country doesn't mean it can't celebrate Christmas anyway it wants. Santa Claus, as everyone knows, delivers toys to all the good little boys and girls all over the world. I know because I watched him do it with my six-year-old son via the NORAD Santa Claus tracker on the Internet a few days ago - keep this link for next year: Ho Ho Ho.  

Food-wise, Japan eats chicken, rather than turkey. Because my wife does not care for turkey, I get screwed and have to have chicken. Despite my love of bacon and pork chops, I'm not a big ham eater. And goose? That's Canada's national bird! I think. It's actually the Common Loon, though that's not official, though somewhat appropriate, too. And why isn't it the Canada Goose? It's got the word 'Canada' in it? Common Loon, indeed!

But turkey? Have you ever tried to get a turkey in Japan? It's possible and super expensive (god... just wait a few weeks to read about what I did to get one - in a future blog entry about my life in Japan!). And besides... have you seen the Easy-Bake ovens in most Japanese homes? You'd never get a turkey inside one to cook it!

So... here comes the chicken. But who wants to cook a meal for a made-up holiday like Christmas in Japan anyway? Certainly not most Japanese women.

I say women, because really... men... cooking... at home? Uh-uh. That would mean a blurring of the sexes and their familial responsibilities. 

So what do Japanese families do? They get their chicken from KFC.

Yes... KFC. Kentucky Fried Chicken. The fast food restaurant with many somewhat handy locations throughout Japan.  

But... it's not just regular KFC chicken... no! It's a special Christmas bucket of chicken!

And it's popular too! There are line-ups out the door as families try to pick-up their Japanese Christmas dinner!

To circumvent the waiting on Christmas Day, KFC allows the pre-order of the special bucket as early as October.

Now that's serious.

Some of the bucket options include a commemorative plate even. In addition to the regular menu, KFC will also sell a whole roast chicken for the heart-stopping cost of ¥5,600 (~US/Cdn $73.75)

Belated Meri Kurisumasu (Merry Christmas) and happy eating!
Andrew Joseph
PS: To quote the immortal John Hannibal Smith of the A-Team TV show "I love it when a plan comes together" or in this case kismet. I had no idea when I wrote a blog a few days ago WHY I put in the stuff about me being a loud-mouth chicken in my blog about Japanese Christmas... but now it seems appropos: HERE's the evidence.  

Tsunami Survivors Share Experiences

Hi there...

Here's a story I saw in The Japan Times a few months ago, but didn't feel like posting until now. I'm not sure why!

Yanada Asaka, 15, and a high school student from Kamai-shi (Kamai City), Iwate-ken (Iwate Prefecture), ran as fast as she could toward a hill for two kilometers while also urging elementary school kids along when the massive tsunami wave(s) engulfed her hometown back on March 11, 2011.

As a survivor, Yanada participated in the Tohoku Future Leaders Summit held this past October 28-30, 2011 at the National Olympics Memorial Center in Tokyo.

The summit/camp was organized by the Global Fund for Education Assistance and supported by Japan's Cabinet office and the Ministry of Education, Cultures, Sports, Science and Technology. They have formed the Beyond Tomorrow project to support the young victims of the disaster who, despite great adversity, did not lose hope and continue to embrace a dream to give back to society in the future.   


Yamada believes that Japan's cities need to be rebuilt with well-thought out evacuation protocols and clear routes and signs as key aspects to reducing the impact of future calamities.

She says: "As a junior high school student, I could bear it, but I thought it was too much for seven to nine-year-olds to run for two kilometers (that quickly to get high enough to survive the tsunami)."

Yanada was one of 70 high school students from Miyagi-ken (Miyagi Prefecture), Iwate-ken and Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture)o take part in the program to discuss how to rebuild and revitalize their shattered hometowns.

Students were divided into 10 groups to prepare four-minute presentations on the final day, with some of them staying up until 3AM locked in a heated discussion.

Yanada's group, which was chosen by judges as the best among the 10 groups, proposed that more direction boards showing evacuation routes be erected, and they must be easy to understand for first-time visitors and foreigners.

Her group focused on preparing for evacuation because it may be impossible to relocate all houses and other structures to high ground from coastal areas, according to a male student. "When a tsunami comes, all we can do is evacuate," he says.

To be better prepared for a disaster, all quake-prone cities should hold emergency drills more often and should involve people of all ages.

Other groups made proposals on creating jobs in the Tohoku region, the area hit hardest by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami and later the lengthy evacuation order due to radiation concerns from an out-of-control nuclear reactor in Fukushima-ken. The plan calls for revitalizing the agricultural sector, providing emotional support for quake and tsunami survivors and sharing their experiences of the disaster on websites.

The proposals were presented to national strategy minister Furukawa Motohisa (surname first) in November, 2011, and while none of these ideas may ever see the light of day, Tsubouchi Minami (surname first), executive director of the Global Fund for Education Assistance, says she hoped the students will one day become leaders of Japan and put their ideas into action.

"We hope to support the students (from Tohoku) until the point they can take leadership roles and contribute to the country in a broader sense, not just for Tohoku's reconstruction," Tsubouchi says.

The Global Fund for Education Assistance is supported by young executives such as James Kondo, head of Twitter Japan, Iwase Daisuke (surname first), executive vice-president of Lifenet Insurance Co., and Oisix Inc. founder and chief executive officer Takashima Kohei (surname first). The fund provides full scholarships for 10 university students a year from the Tohoku region.

The emphasis is on nurturing young leaders because "we were concerned that there is a lack of young people who can take leadership roles in Japan in the first place," Tsubouchi says.

"But the students who were forced into an unimaginable situation are more likely to stand up for other people and take actions to make a difference," she adds.

The students were chosen from among 222 applicants between 15- and 18-years-old who survived the quake. Some lost family members in the disaster.

Abe Naho (surname first), 18, lost her mother in her hometown of Kesennuma-shi (Kesennuma City), in Miyagi-ken, one of the hardest-hit areas. Abe and her mother evacuated to a school on a hill, but the tsunami swallowed them up nonetheless as they tried to run from the sea.

"It was so dark in the muddy water that I couldn't see anything, and there was so much water pressure that I couldn't move my arms and legs," Abe explains. "I tried to bear it, but soon I couldn't breathe. I gave up hope of living while swallowing the muddy water."

However, she said, a miracle occurred. She was pushed to the surface by a car in the water. Unfortunately, the miracle didn't extend to her mother.

"I can't feel happy at all by the fact that only I survived," she says with regret. "If we had gone to a shopping center like my mother had suggested, we might have both survived. If we had run in a different direction, or if I could have been able to grab the hand of my mother who was only a meter away from me."

In the ensuing eight months, it has only been now that Abe has been able to talk with teenagers with similar experiences, explaining why the camp was a great opportunity for her to share her experience and discuss with other teens what they can do to rebuild Tohoku.

"There was no chance for me to talk about the disaster with high school students. So the best thing was that I met people who were in a similar situation and made friends with them," she states.

Abe said she is determined to contribute to the Tohoku reconstruction, especially after participating in the program. Her dream is to work at a hospital in Miyagi-ken as a clinical engineer after studying at a university in Tokyo and dedicate herself to helping others.

Meanwhile, Sugawara Sayaka (surname first), 15, says she appreciates the opportunity to learn what she should do to help rebuild the region. "Before the program, I didn't know what to do on my own even if I wanted to. I used to think, 'I'm only a high school student.'"

Sugawara, who survived the tsunami slamming into Ishinomaki-shi (Ishinomaki City), Miyagi-ken, says she wants to help people who have suffered a traumatic experience like she did.

"I want to discover a lot of things only I can do, and gain more than what I have lost in the disaster."

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Godzilla Haiku #3

Smash, hit, slam, bash, ping,
Crush, stomp, rip, tear, break, trash, scream,
I am Godzilla 


This was written by my good friend Mike Rogers, he of many fames, but also of the Marketing Japan blog.

Anyone else out there care to put their best talon forward?

Cheers, Mike!
Andrew Joseph

Godzilla Haiku #2

Alone I wander
Through the buildings of Tokyo
Looking for action.


By Andrew Joseph
Okay... so I like bad haiku. I also like Godzilla.
If you e-mail me, I will post YOURS, too. If you don't - expect more. Regardless, expect more. 

Wendy's New Premium Burger Venture

I don't know if Japan is lucky or not, but Wendy's fast food restaurants are returning to Japan with a vengeance!

After leaving the country in 2009, Wendy's returns to Japan with a $200-million (¥15.5-billion) investment featuring it's new signature premium burger, the $16 (¥1,250)  Foie Gras Rossini.

Featuring its traditional square burger patty, it is topped with foie gras and truffle butter. The Rossini refers to the French dish the Tournedos Rossini that consists of filet mignon and foie gras created for Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, who loved his food! 

The Premium Burger (its official title) and other new upscale meals will be sold initially in Tokyo’s Omotesando luxury shopping district, the first of 100 targeted stores that opened on December 27, 2011.

"We think the fast food market here is ready for something different," says chief executive officer of Wendy's Japan Ernest Higa at the opening on Tuesday.

Why does Japan get foie gras and not say Canada or the U.S.? The guessing is that Wendy's may be afraid of upsetting animal rights groups there, as more than a few States have banned the sale of foie gras. I guess the slaughter of cows is still okay - and I am not on a soapbox here, I'm just confused by the double standard.

Opening day for Wendy's in Japan 2011 - with mascots.
Leading fast food competitor in the Japanese market, McDonald's has long previously shown its ability to create a menu for local markets, with its Maharaja Mac made of lamb for India (that whole sacred cow religious thing!) and the Teriyaki Burger et al for Japan. I've had'em - yum!

Wendy's says it will eventually expand to about 700 restaurants in Japan, compared with about 3,300 for McDonald's.

Wendy's ended a 30-year run in Japan in 2009 after its partner Zensho Holdings declined to renew the agreement, saying it would focus on building its main Sukiya chain of beef-bowl restaurants.

"Our partner had a pretty significant business, which was their primary focus," Darrell Van Ligten, international division president of Wendy's says. "Given the size of the different businesses, Wendy's wasn't as much of a focus area as we would have liked it to be."

Notes Shiemura Kyoichiro (surname first), a senior analyst at Nomura Holdings Inc.: "This (Japan) is an aging society, which has more single people who just want a meal fast, but restaurants are too expensive, so fast food is the correct sector to be in."

Wendy's menu pits it against Japanese rivals including Mos Food Services' Mos Burger, in terms of taste, and Lotteria, which has a $22.50 (¥1,750) Matsuzaka beef burger, for premium items.

Shigemura says: "The competition is really stiff."

Not mention Japan's crappy economy... so we won't.

Wendy's Japan is a joint venture between Wendy's Co., which owns 49 per cent, and closely held Higa Industries Co., with 51 per cent.

While Wendy's does have a ways to go before reaching the same success level as the golden arches, this upscale Foie Gras Rossini burger does sound delicious - despite the hefty price tag.

Anyone tries one and feels like filing a report - let Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife know about it!

Bon appétit
Andrew Joseph

The Circus And Japan

Ukiyo-e print depicting 1864 first foreign circus visit to Japan.
The title alone conjures up also sorts of delicious thoughts - like what does Andrew have planned for us today - something saucy, perhaps... but no... this blog is an informative look at Japan's history of the big-top. Yes... the circus.

I admit that in the three years I lived in Japan, I never came across a real circus. Plenty of festivals and lots of shenanigans usually involving myself and some silly young woman who wanted to try out the rides, but for me, more often than not, such endeavors usually revolved around me paying for a Freak Show.

But enough about my life as a barker, let's look back... way back to the 19th century, when people in North America or Europe may only have seen a real Japanese person as part of a circus.

No... the Japanese were no more freaky then than they are now - which is to say they aren't freaky now - but the country did have a closed door policy regarding the input and output of its natives... and well... Japan is quite a ways away.   

So... when Japan's seclusion policy went up in smoke in 1868, the Japanese began to travel... actually they began traveling the world via the circus troupe.

19th century Japanese contortionists.
Perhaps it was due to the fact that in 1864 (four years before the fall of the Shogun and the seclusion policy), a circus troupe from the U.S.A. somehow managed to be allowed in to perform in Yokohama.

While gaijin (foreigner) still performed some trade with Japan, the vast majority of the country had never seen a foreigner before, and visited the circus with gusto. As well... seeing a woman ride a horse was quite the scene considering only warriors rode a horse (for the most part) - certainly not women.

Richard Risley, the leader of the foreign circus brought in a troupe of 10 artists and eight horses and performed bareback riding skills and other circus acts. While popular, it was really only limited to Yokohama. Still, Risley got a chance to see many of Japan's local acrobats, conjurers, contortionists, and more do their thing and was impressed with their skill, so much so that in 1866 he asked for permission and was granted it to take some performers with him to go on tour.

Billed in the US as The Japan Imperial Artistes' Company, it also visited Europe. Apparently this troupe was the first Japanese to gain permission with an extended overseas visa.

19th century Japanese poster advertising a circus - Mt. Fuji in background.
A popular attraction, several Japanese circus acts toured the world. World headlines were made after a female Japanese circus performer from one troupe had a child with a male Japanese performer from another troupe, giving birth for what the press happily determined was the first Japanese person ever to be born outside of Japan. That, of course, is open to argument.

But, perhaps more importantly, the first real foreign circus performers to enter Japan performed its first show on August 8, 1871 in Yokohama. The circus troupe was operated by Monsieur Soullier, 62, and he put on a spectacular show the likes of which Japan had never seen before. Later that year in December, the troupe obtained permission to perform at Tokyo's Yasakuni Shrine. It was here that the circus attracted many Japanese acrobatic performers and the like, including Torakichi Hayatake (surname first) who performed a grand feat of strength and balance, supporting a number of performers who were perched atop a pair of bamboo poles across his shoulders.

20th century: Royal Japanese Troupe
It is known that Japan's Emperor Meiji at the time, upon visiting the circus, was so impressed that he presented the ring-master with US $5,000(nearly ¥400,000) in gold.    

In 1887, an Italian circus led by a Mr. Chiarini were the first to bring wild beasts into the mix in Japan. By 1910, aeroplanes (archaic spelling of airplanes)were part of the show. This - 曲技 - is the Japanese kanji for acrobatic feats. If you copy and paste it as a Google search under images, you'll find photos of airplanes, lending credence that it might also have something to do with airplane acrobatics. Just a thought.   

As for Japanese circuses before all of this, in the Edo jidai (Edo period) of 1600 - 1868, it was there. acrobats and jugglers et al. Maybe no animals, but it still existed to entertain the masses.

I believe that the foreign circuses were more popular than the Japanese-style circuses in Japan because of the novelty of seeing foreigners. And, vice versa, Japanese circuses were as popular abroad simple because many people had never seen a real Japanese person before.

19th century Japanese fireman acrobats.
Apparently lots of the special techniques used by the Japanese performers originated in China and India - two places were Buddhism was prevalent at one time - and was brought to Japan mostly by Buddhist priests and ascetics where it was honed and refined Japanese style - whatever that means.

Did you know that Harry Houdini, perhaps the most famous magician and escape artist ever picked up a fundamental skill from a member of a Japanese troupe - San Kich Akimoto - working in a foreign circus in the 1890`s. It was this learned skill that allowed Houdini to swallow something (a key) and then regurgitate it up at will. It's what made Houdini the master escape artist - able to remove himself from any manner of handcuffs or lock that bound him.

Japanese juggling also brought with it the Awata style, that was quite influential for many of Europe's greatest circus performers. When the first Japanese troupe came to the West in 1870, Katsunoshin Awata (surname first) showed off his skill at performing traditional Japanese ball and stick play from which modern ball manipulation evolved.

Here... take a look at an 1892 Ringling Brothers Route Book to see for yourself how many Japanese folk had joined up, like: Little San the contortionist, the top spinners Ando Hama Kichi, Miss Okee and her ladder of swords; Miss Oume who did a rope act: BIG TOP

It's too bad that the Japanese circus arts have diminished over the years turning more Euopean or American. However, traditional acrobatics in Japan can be found at the New Year`s Dezome-shiki firemen festivals (see below), and apparently at the Tsukumai festival in Ryugasaki, Ibaraki.


Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Fears Unfounded Regarding Ear-less Bunny

The truth about the ear-less rabbit found in Fukushima-ken near the damaged Dai-ichi nuclear facility last summer. I published that story HERE.

As usual... Mike Rogers in his fantastic blog: Marketing Japan, has already written about it.

I was going to do a short eared piece today to discuss my views on the way people panic, but Mike has done a very good job of it himself.

Briefly... rabbits missing ears or missing a foot or a person for that matter are just a part of life on this planet. Sometimes a creature or person or plant is born different. Sometimes mitigating factors like bad radiation or other caustic chemicals can be the cause, but sometimes it's just Mother Nature and genetics making a mistake.

Finding a single rabbit without ears is one thing - but finding a whole colony of rabbits and or all of the young rabbits born this summer missing ears or other parts - then I would say there was a problem.

Regardless... please give Mike's column a read. WHAT?   

My apologies for fear-mongering. It wasn't completely my intent. I was posting my rebuttal of the last blog this morning (my time).  

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Earless Bunny Sparks Mutation Fears in Japan

Here's an old story you may not have seen from the Huffington Post back on June 9, 2011.

It's all about what the title suggests.

BUNNY

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm working on a few longer articles for you - so please forgive the quick and easy post here.


Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Japanese Christmas

Someone has already beaten me to the punch in creating a decent bit of information on Christmas in Japan.

So... giving it two tongues up, let's take a look see together. 

It's written by someone living in Ibaraki-ken (Ibaraki Prefecture), just west of Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) where I lived. Cool. It's long, though like myself he thinks it's a short piece! Ahhh, writers. Never know when to stop writing. Like I could have many lines ago, but I go on and on and on and on and on.

TSUKU BLOG.

Cheers
Andrew Foghorn Leghorn Joseph
I'm a writer, boy! A creator of witticisms, that is. 
Also... just because I'm feeling extra giving... here's a Foghorn Leghorn cartoon - a cool Warner Brother's short that explains, I say, explains why I'm a Rhode Island Red - not what this has to do with Christmas, of course. Pay attention when I'm talking to you and quit your yapping while I'm interrupting. Course... I did, I say I did have a chicken for Christmas dinner.  

Santa Doll Christmas Tree

Despite Japan being mostly a country that is not Christian but follows a Buddhist philosophy, it sure has caved in to following the commercialism that is Santa Claus.

While should be noted that that Santa Claus et al is not merely a Christian belief, and Santa does indeed deliver toys and coal to all of the good and bad (respectively) boys and girls all over the world with the help of some over-worked elves and some reindeer that either can fly all on their own due to genetic manipulation, a magic harness or some magical pixie dust stolen from Tinkerbell in Never Never Land, Japan does do Christmas.

There wasn't too much of the Christmas commercialism visible to myself back when I lived in Japan in 1990-1993--I think it was something us gaijin (foreigners) seemed more likely to care about, but in recent years it is a big deal.

Actually, in another blog to be posted shortly, I tell you all about the legend of Japan and Christmas. At least what I can dig up... now I have to do some research!         

In the mean time, please amuse yourselves by checking out the wonderful photo up above on the left.

Tokyo, Japan in December is full of quaint and over-the-top Christmas decorations. We'll assume it's not for the gaijin and is instead for the Nihonjin (Japanese). Big companies sponsor extravagant light displays, elevator music is Christmassy, shops sell reindeer costumes for pets and decorated Christmas trees are sitting upon every street corner.
 
The tree up above is made up of tiny, little Santa Claus dolls and is located in Toyko Midtown. The Santa dolls are made up of various sizes and styles and watch you to make sure you have been a good little boy or girl.

They are taking notes.

Files by Andrew Joseph

Super Free

Come, let us sing in all accord
And with raptures ring the air
To praise the honored name aloud of our Alma Mater dear!
Waseda, Waseda, Waseda.


The song above is actually the anthem of Waseda University in Tokyo, a very prestigious university founded in 1882, where more than a few of its graduates have gone on to become the country's Prime Minister including Koizumi Junichiro and Emperor Akihito.

Ir's probably why it was a tremendous shock when back on June 9, 2003, one student was arrested as being the leader of 13 other students who were part of an elitist rape gang who raped an estimated 500 women, though officially only three charges were laid. Later still, some 12 more women came forward alleging they had also been raped by members of the Super Free.

Calling themselves Super Free - yes, in English - it wasn't just rapes... it was a plethora of gang rapes that were organized by this 'club'. Established in 1982 as a social club, it was incorporated as Super Free Yūgen Gaisha (Limited) (有限会社スーパーフリー).

Wada Shinchirō (surname first) (和田 真一郎, Wada Shin'ichirō) was born July 30, 1974 in Kawasaki-shi (Kawasaki City), Kanagawa-ken (Kanagawa Prefecture) entered the school.

Super Free was a highly successful inter-university rave event club, to the point that it was incorporated, and had five branches throughout Japan (including the University of Tokyo and Keio University—the three most prestigious universities in Japan), 30+ employees and an actual office in the party district of Roppongi in Tokyo. The club organized parties and social gatherings at various public night-clubs within Roppongi

The Super Free club members would, at the entrance, hand out special VIP cards to pretty university co-eds.

Attended by up to 2,000 people, the club members would scan the crowd for potential victims (plural), try and make friends with them and ply them with copious amounts of alcohol—a special cocktail called 'spiritus' manufactured by  Super Free.

Once the victims were long drunk and incapable of offering up much resistance, the club members would lure them to an abandoned room and then rape her... one club member after another.

Wada was arrested along with the other members of Super Free after gang-raping an intoxicated 18-year-old co-ed on April 27, 2003 on the landing of a building in Tokyo's Roppongi district during a party that followed a dance event organized by the group.

The victim was then taken later that night to the Toshima Ward residence-office of Super Free head Wada and then gang-raped again.

At the time of Wada's arrest on June 9, 2003 (now a graduate and employed at a cable communications company), he and his 13 other Super Free members all went down for gang rape.

He said he considered the gang rape as a means to creating 'solidarity amongst the members' and that "those who do not participate in gang rapes are not members."

After Wada became the Super Free leader in 1995, he established a hierarchy that classified members as 'first string', 'reserves' and 'boys', with each level required to sell a quota of tickets to the Super Free parties.

Wada is believed to have made more than ¥10 million (~Cdn/US $130,000) a year from ticket sales.

Members of the club began to assume they would rape women whenever they organized a party and would even hold meetings to discuss rape tactics, including who would serve as lookouts, and allocating roles among members to separate targets from friends.

Super Free members frequently took photos of their victims with the threat to publicize the photos if victims went to police.

Wada was indicted for three counts of rape and on November 2, 2004 was sentenced to 14 years in prison by the Tokyo District Court... which means he'll be out soon enough.

Two others sentenced at  the same time as Wada include Sekimoto Yuki, 23, who was sentenced to 32 months and his brother Takahiro, 20, who got 27 months. At the time of their arrest, Yuki was a part-time worker and Takahiro was a student at Tokyo Denki University.

Judge Nakatani chastised Wada, then 30-years-of-age at the time: "You abused women as targets of your sexual desire, committing dirty and cruel crimes."

Although he appealed his sentence, the Tokyo High Court rejected it on June 2, 2005, with the Supreme Court of Japan agreeing on November 1, 2005.

After their arrest of Super Free, a statute for the prosecution of gang rape was established under the Criminal Code of Japan. In January 2006, three students in Kyoto University were arrested for gang rape under this penal code.


Needless to say, the Super Free club was dissolved on June 23, 2003.

Andrew Joseph

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Mistress For Christmas

Merry Christmas! I hope everyone has a safe and wonderful holiday - and for those of you who do not celebrate Christmas  - Happy Hannukah, Krazy Kwanza (on the 26th!) or Superb Sunday to the rest!

As you know - oh regular readers of the blog - It's 1991 and November 12 - at least that was my last entry. Hardly a festive event.

So... let's skip ahead to December 24, 1991 of this year. It's a side bar and shouldn't spoil the fun to be found ahead in the next month and a half.

I'm in Singapore with my very good friend James 'Jimmy Jive' Dalton. I'm pretty sure he didn't give himself that nickname - and even if he did, it suits him to a 'T'.

Singapore is a very beautiful city-state with many beautiful people. Good shopping, clean streets and I have great company... but looking at all of these gorgeous women makes me think of one in particular.

No... strangely enough, not Ashley - my ex-girlfriend who I still sleep with occasionally - just not lately. Not Karen - who would sleep with me if I wanted a girlfriend. Not Noboko (whom I haven't met yet). No... it's my secret girlfriend, Junko.

Yup... my thoughts linger to her and I wonder just what she is up to right now. Is she thinking of me? Probably. That's just the way she is. Is she having a good time doing what she is doing? I think so. At least I hope so.

Do I wish I was with her here - right now - out in the open where people could actually see us - sure!

But... she is there in Japan... and I am far away in Singapore.

Junko... the crazy stalker university student... who seems to love me - or at least loves being with me - just not outside my bedroom - she drives me crazy.

Wait!

Do I smell apple blossoms??!

I look around the city and have James staring at me like I've gone mad... like I'm suddenly paranoid.

No... she couldn't be here. That would be crazy. Besides... I don't think she is crazy... just nuts about me or something. Okay.... any woman who would drop out of school for me - might be a little nuts - especially after only knowing me for a week... but where is that apple blossom smell coming from? It's her shampoo!

... only it's on a pretty little Singaporean woman (I think it's a woman!) who walks past me swiveling her hips.

No... Junko is safe in Japan.

Although... I'm sure she is here with me. After all... I am carrying a pair of her panties with me.

Yeah... I am a freak. But I'm your freak.

Somewhere Ho-ho-hoing,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by AC/DC - just because.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Sanyo No More - Updated

The removal of the Sanyo Electric Co. logo its headquarters in Moriguchi-shi (Moriguchi City), Osaka-ken (Osaka Prefecture), Japan marks the end of an era.

In anticipation of a reorganization by parent company Panasonic Corporation, all Sanyo logos of the appliance maker will be replaced by Panasonic logos.

Sanyo, after financial troubles, was purchased by Panasonic back in 2009.

The building for Sanyo's headquarters was completed in 1999, and the three-meters tall x nine meters high logo was installed that year on the outside of the 10th floor.

This past week, local residents watched as a crane slowly removed the logo one letter at a time. 

"I will miss it, but both Sanyo and Panasonic are local Osaka companies. I hope the group will be united and do its best," exclaims a a local resident.

Panasonic, based in Kadoma-shi (Kadoma City), Osaka-ken, bought up all Sanyo and Panasonic Electric Works Co. shares in April 2011, and plans to start using the Panasonic brand for their entire product range.

I just did a check on Sanyo's Wikipedia site, it has nothing updated recently, but it does say that : By April 2012, parent company Panasonic plans to terminate the Sanyo brand, however it will remain on some of the products where the Sanyo brand still holds value to consumers.

According to the Panasonic site, the Sanyo brand will be phased out. 

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

How to Date Japanese Women

How to date Japanese women? Geez... it's like they are a different species from whatever type of woman you have around you in your country. Or at least, that is what people think.

But, I suppose you want to know how, which is why you are here... and I have, in my day, done a lot of 'dating' of Japanese women.

In keeping up with things, I have updated this blog a wee bit, as of May 2016. I will state, that a lot of you are certainly vocal in your opinion on things, have asked many interesting question, while other like to troll around anonymously and further demonstrate via racism and stupidity why the human race continues to have wars and murders - ignorance.

That's not what we are about here on this blog.

As mentioned, while I was in Japan, I dated a lot of Japanese women. In most instances, I was asked out—no effort required.

How did I manage that? 

There is a trick, you see. Ah... but read on. perhaps you will learn something.

Looking within the Internet, there are many sites that purport to help you meet real Japanese women. That's all well and good if you are willing to spend a few bucks, and if it works for you, coolio.

But here... let me break down a few free bits of information I found on-line, and then provide you with a sure-fire way of getting a real Japanese woman. Uh-uh. No skipping ahead. I will know.

I found a survey asking Japanese women between the ages of 20-40 how they rated a man on a first date—or any date for that matter.

First off: there are 40-year-old single Japanese women??!! Who knew?! I figured their parents and Japanese societal pressures would have them all married off before they became old maids at the age of 28!!

I should point out here, that Japanese people in general are no longer seeing the benefits of marriage, let alone dating or even having sex with a spouse or significant other. 

There's a current feeling of moral meh-ness that exists in Japan nowadays... but mostly among the Japanese... there's still a healthy contingent of horny gaijin/foreigners out there who are doing their damndest to try and get Japan up and horny again.

Japan is currently in a negative birthrate spiral... and with little to zero immigration, Japan's population is getting older, and older, not to mention fewer and fewer.

Anyhow... sexual boredom aside, lets instead look at the people who might still want to have sex or date... because as gloomy as a negative birthrate seems, there are still a lot of Japanese men and women who are interested in dating, sex and procreation. 

So... a survey of 20-40-year-old Japanese women rating a man on a date:  

These women were provided with a multiple choice question on what was important to them on a date. Here are the results:
1. Driving  - 64.8 percent

2. Deciding the type of date - 55.6 percent

3. Seeing her home - 48.8 percent

4. Deciding where to dine - 42.6 percent

5. Paying for the meal - 38.3 percent
If you want a successful date, you as the man, not only do you need to choose what you are going to do on a date (decide for both of you), pick her up in your white car (that bicycle won't cut it), pay for the meal and everything you do, drive her home (don't have her take a bus, train or cab)—or in other words, there is no such thing as a woman who is 'free for the evening'. The way to succeed according to these women surveyed is to: drive, pay and drop.
Drive. Pay. And Drop. Easy to remember... and it sure sounds a heck of a lot like what men used to do in the old days of forever when they were trying to woo a woman. Before cars, assume a horse and carriage, or even just walking up and escorting them to and fro. I have no problem with this. It's old-fashioned, sure... but Japan is a bit old-fashioned sometimes. Your author is old-fashioned, but doesn't mind if a woman wants to pay her own way either. I'd rather pay, however, especially on a first date. Allow me to pay for the hotel, rather than expect us to fog up my white car.

Japanese men were also asked the same questions—but surprise, surprise, Japanese men—some 65.3 percent of them—wanted the woman to decided what the date should consist of (walk, movie, drinks, etcetera). while 56.5 percent also thought it would be nice if the woman would also decide where they should eat.... that way, if they go where they want to go, she's happy and the guy will be too. Few men chose any of the other answers implying they were good with driving et al.

The Japanese man answer, while on the surface seems smart, shows a distinct lack of confidence, according to my friend Mister Manfred Mann, a noted global sexsmith and former blogger who got bored after achieving two million hits in two years of writing. Bastard. It took me six years to get there...

Anyhow, MMM says that the results show that a woman wants the man to chose, while the man would like the woman to choose - uh, guys... who holds all the cards in dating? Usually the woman. She doesn't have to go out with you again - even if you ask. Guys... listen to what the women want.    

But this only tells you what to do on a date with a real Japanese woman. Not how to meet one or go out on a date with one.

According to Francis K. Githinji, an on-line dating expert (how the hell does one become an expert and have the balls to call oneself an expert?! - I should ask Mister Manfred Mann about that. I'm pretty sure he only went to the school of hard knockers), the first thing one needs to do is to figure out WHERE you can meet real Japanese women.

He notes that you can meet a Japanese girl at a nomikai (a party attended by friends or co workers)—a place to meet new friends or dates. He says a nomikai can take place at an izakaya (a bar or a cafe).

If you are not Japanese (like the expert, sexsmith or author) you probably have never attended such parties and, they may not be known to you anyway. More often than not, nomakai are for the Japanese only.
 
Truth is, the Japanese men don't want you there spoiling their chances of meeting a real Japanese woman.
Aside from teaching English at a night school (why do you think young Japanese women want to learn English? It's to meet people and make new friends, and if he's cute, then maybe something more), or at a bar, Githinji says the best way to meet women is on-lie... I mean on-line. He says you need special preparation if you want your relationship with a real Japanese woman go anywhere.

But, screw the Internet... let's look at what we can do in the real world.

First off, many Japanese women will not admit to having a boyfriend unless specifically asked.

Githinji says that Japanese women (he actually uses the term 'girls' - sorry dude, you don't want a girl—you want a woman!) have, for us foreigners, an exciting mystery in their eyes which makes them irresistible.

"Their culture is one of the most exciting in the world and, you have a lot to gain when you date a Japanese girl. Apart from placing a lot of value on family life, Japanese girls are brought up to show respect in service and humility. Therefore, when dating a Japanese girl, you need to step up and know what to do. First, there is a notion that these girls want to be treated differently. You do not have to furnish your act with traditional ways of winning her. This is because you are dealing with a modern girl who is in touch with her roots and culture. Therefore, you do not have to impress her with extra ordinary displays; she is good feeling like the rest of the human kind. A Japanese girl appreciates courtesy from a man."

That is B.S., as well as correct.

Rule number one when dating a woman—any woman—is that they are people. It doesn't matter if they are Japanese, Romanian, Canadian - whatever... the point is, people are people, and if most women—regardless of ethnic make-up—want to be swept off their feet.

They want romance. Passion. Physical and sexual attraction. Pheromones. They want what they want.
There is nothing so different between a Japanese woman and a woman situated anywhere else in the world. Even if you are in some place in the world where being a great hunter or a fisherman is key, is it really so different from having a good job and being a provider? No. It's all about perspective.

Still... there are some nuances with Japanese women, which has more to do with Japanese society than anything else.

Whether you are with a single woman or married woman or your male Japanese buddies, it is imperative that when at a bar or party you take the time to notice when their glass is getting low. On a date, you need to be the type of man who reacts quickly to that glass. It helps build confidence - that you are paying attention to her needs. So... pay attention to her. Don't just be trying to snake your arm up her dress - it's not staying there unless you REALLY pay attention to HER and her NEEDS.

Language. It helps if you can speak a few words in her language, as it shows you are willing to make a commitment to her here in Japan. It's the rare foreigner indeed who will spend his life in Japan, but the woman doesn't need to realize that right now. It's simply showing you care enough about the person to learn some of their native tongue.

I didn't know much Japanese—even after three years in Japan—but I did know some. I could carry on simple conversations... but after asking about the weather or how they were, I was pretty much bereft of Japanese language skills. But... the fact that I made an effort, knew how to smile, act helpless (it was NO act), seemed to bring out the mothering instincts in all the Japanese women I came across (and I came across a lot).

In a so-called male dominated world—Japan—having a man... a gaijin man... needing help and not expecting it like the Japanese men tended to do (not all, but most)—well... I, and other gaijin men  was an exciting change of pace.

Still... trying to speak Japanese is key. Doing so with a sense of humor also helps.         

Hell, when I dated a Russian woman, I learned how to say about 10 key phrases. It was okay, she spoke English, but again, a little effort goes a long way. It was the same for the German chick, the Norwegian, Swiss, French, Polish, Ukrainian, Lithuanian... hell... I've driven my panzer through more of eastern Europe than Hitler did.

Githinji says you should: "Get to know more about her; this will enable you know exactly what she likes and dislikes. You will not have to speculate anymore. To get her attention, show her funny pictures in your cell phone. The pictures can be of your pet or yourself. Offer to send her your pictures from her phone. This will make the mood light as you move on to make a special connection. The key is to be the bigger man who is thoughtful and full of initiative. With these pointers, you should be in a position to get any girl and most importantly, a Japanese girl."

Pretty effin' basic, huh? Seriously... aside from the filling of the glass routine, it was simply doing everything one might do to impress a woman from Spain, Thailand or Australia. Common courtesy.

I still don't have a cellphone, and even if I did, I wouldn't bother trying to impress a woman with stupid photos from it.

No... I would try and impress a woman with my manner of talk, with the subject of my talk, and ability to discern if my talk is something she would be interested in continuing with me.

"Hey, how about that Japanese baseball game last night?"

If you hear crickets, you can be sure she's not interested in talking sports with you, or doesn't like baseball. Or, she's not all that into you.

If she says "What happened?" in that game, she's a keeper. Don't screw things up.


Anna Santos also put out some tips on how a western man can date a Japanese woman. She doesn't sound Japanese, but who am I to judge. :)-

She correctly notes that Japanese dating culture must be looked into when you are considering a date with a real Japanese woman. Research is important—which is what I'm doing here for you with this whole freaking blog these past six years.

Says Santos: "To date someone means there is a note for making efforts on knowing each other and establishing the person you want to be known by your date and vice versa. By knowing each other, part of their culture always come on top which can either be amazing or disgusting. Dating can eliminate or maximize differences of two persons. When two persons of extremely opposite background meet, is there any chance that they will start a relationship? The answer must be found starting from the date itself."

Crappy English aside, she makes a point. She talks about the Asian belief (a key part of the Japanese dating culture) on the strong bond between families and the values that the families keep. "Japanese have high respect for elders and parents. They value above all, the concerns of their beloved family members. Hence, one can expect that a date with Japanese women can sometimes be held at their home to make time for conversation with the parents and siblings. The families' comments can have a big influence on any relationship."

Ye cats! A first date at the parent's house? Run away! Run away! Maybe after you've had a few dates—but never the first. This is the 21st century... and even though we are talking about Japan, your first date should be about you and her.

You don't need to impress her and her family on the same awkward, scary first date! Chances are very good that during the first date (alone), you will be asked about your family. She'll judge you on your responses regarding the love shared by you and your family. Got a lousy family? Fine—mention it, but talk to her about how you wish things were different and describe HOW you might make it different. Don't be surprised if she tries to convince you to make it better. That's neither here nor there... you can do as she asks or not. This is still the first date.

Punctuality is a major factor in dating in Japan. Regular readers have read about how one person leaves my place and then my secret girlfriend would magically show up at my doorstep. Punctual. As well, I recall a typhoon sweeping across the western part of Japan... a massive sucker. Trains were delayed by five or 10 minutes. The next day the train company put in a full page ad in the national newspapers (English ones, too) apologizing for the fact that there was a delay. Typhoon or not, be punctual on your date.

Seriously... why are you late? The trains all run on time... no... it's you NOT caring enough about the woman to be on time.

It sounds strange to a man, but to a Japanese woman—this is important. Noboko used to nod at me with a grim look as I would meet her someplace at the correct agreed upon time... that she was surprised that I, a stupid gaijin, could tell time. Noboko, despite her short stature and hot, good looks, could have a temper—I love a bit of spice... it keeps me in check... but like any spice, too much and I'm not eating it.

Guys... the reverse does NOT hold true. Okay, it might for Japanese women - again, everyone likes to be on time, but for most all other cultures, a man may indeed have to wait for a woman, and when she finally does appear, he should act like it was no big deal. 

It isn't a big deal... unless she was off boffing some other guy... anyhow... don't be late, and for god's sake don't text her telling her you are on your way—unless she asked you to.

Santos notes that the manner of dress is important, too. "As seen on television, Japanese people have a very astonishing yet unique clothing fashion. Some men can dress like women, wearing long jackets that can look like skirts yet they look very distinguished and very fashionable. Dress to impress but do not overdo it. Exaggeration is another thing. As the culture of clothing design in Japan has recently come to unparalleled heights, there is always the median eye of the common person to judge whether the clothing combination you have is in or out."

As an assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme, I felt as though I was an ambassador for my country (Canada) to Japan. Yeah, I'm still going to try and get laid, but there's nothing wrong with sounding and acting and dressing well to achieve that moist pursuit.

Dress for success.

I always wore to work (school) dress shoes, pants and shirts and always wore a tie, exchanging dress coats for sweaters when the weather turned frigid. When I grew my hair long, I always wore a hair band colored to match my coat or my shirt.

It sounds stupid... but in Japan—especially in its schools—the men don't dress very well. Suits for a while, and then track suits afterwards... I didn't have to change into a track suit, so I looked good in a suit and tie, all the time.

When I grew a beard, I made sure I trimmed it every day... the point was to look kempt. Wan to stand out? Dress well, and groom yourself properly and tidily.

Here's another point Santos examined: work reputation. "If you really want a Japanese girl, make sure that you have a good title and a good working background because this will be totally checked by her. After all, an industrious man is always preferred by girls of every race because it ensures security and wealth."

For your almost humble writer, being a foreigner in Japan is a cause enough for excitement among the locals. As is going over on a business exchange. Bartending versus teaching English... tough one. The bartenders I met were all handsome blokes from New Zealand and Australia - but they were there to screw and make money. Teachers like myself - those that were trying - were there to soak up some culture, make a few bucks and hopefully find love. Oh yeah - and to screw the brains out of the local population. Let's be honest here.

Being a popular teacher with a great sense of humor and getting involved in the local community? Jackpot!

Sex trade, bartending, teaching... maybe some sort of business exchange involving technology or automation... that's pretty much it...

Although I was a teacher in Japan, I had quite my job as a newspaper reporter with the Toronto Star... quitting to come to Japan... wow, Andrew, you must really have wanted to go to Japan. Yeah. Sure. No, I didn't. But after arriving, I didn't want to leave.

But... being a newspaper reporter - at least back then - it was a big deal to the Japanese.

To Noboko, she initially saw me as a slickster, and probably wondered if I lied about being a newspaper man.

Other women enjoyed the newspaper man title as well as the fact that I appeared slick. I wasn't aware that I was slick, but I probably had become slick over the course of three years in Japan. If I wasn't aware, does that make me slick?

But there was dating... and then there was trying to date Noboko. With her... it was different. If you are reading this blog, I'll assume you are looking for your own version of Noboko.  

She (Santos) also acknowledges that learning the Japanese language is important. Personally, I did not even try to date a Japanese woman until I felt confident enough in the language so that I could communicate - even at a grade 1 level. Look - chances are pretty good they already know some English, so together you can muddle around and enjoy each other's company.

Here's some advice I found on another site. To me, it's all pretty general, and can be applied to any culture in the world...I have amended it. 
  • Pick a nice restaurant. D'uh. Ask a few questions beforehand and find out what types of foods she likes. You may assume that Japanese women like Japanese foods - true, but the Japanese young adults of today are more open-minded when it comes to trying new and different cuisines, like French and other European cooking—which to me doesn't sound all that adventurous, but whatever. The site says that Japanese girls (women) love clean, light, aesthetic dishes, so you need to get more info related to her before you lock onto which restaurant you want to take her to.
  • Spent some money to dress yourself up. Most Japanese women like to dress up and groom themselves a particular way. In the same way, they will expect their date to also dress up properly - respect can beget nookie.
  • Act like a gentleman. (Don't use the term 'nookie'.) Something like opening a car door; moving the seat out for her at a table; hold a door open anywhere... treating her well shows you really care about her. Not only for Japanese women, though - but for all women.... and for god's sake hold a door open for everybody, regardless of sex or age.
  • Take your time. Japanese women do not like to rush into anything physical. Don’t pressure her, especially on the first date. Do not make your first date a rush, as Japanese women do not like to be rushed - or any woman for that matter. Did I repeat myself? I tend to rush when I write.
  • Understand the cultural heritage of Japan. You can try to ask some questions about her family and how she grew up and what her happiest childhood memory is. Despite the over-worked father who is never around, the amount of school work and the harried mother, the family unit is extremely important to Japanese society.
  • Communication can always be a problem when dating Japanese women, but it can be overcome. Teach her new phrases and words in your language - and she'll do the same for you. Ask her what she knows about knows about your country and how she feels about it. In this way, you can teach her more about you and your culture.
That thing about first date sex pressure? Well, for the women who asked me out, there was no pressure, except in my pants. And not for long. We all knew what the date was for.

Not Noboko... I asked her out. I did not pressure her at all. I didn't even try for a goodnight kiss... and to be honest... I can't recall right now if she gave me one or if I had to wait for the next date.

I acted the gentleman. I cooked dinner for her. She came, surprisingly, to my apartment, but the point is... despite all the warning signs going of in her head telling her to have a date in public, she was more afraid of what the public would say about her being with me, than what I could possibly do to her. And I still did nothing... because I knew all that aforehand...

I had been chasing her for weeks.... I knew she liked me enough to finally accept my offer of dinner - she could have said no...

So... why jump the gun (Noboko was the gun)? I could wait. But... I did tell her that I would like to see her again.  That I would like to buy her dinner.

So at least that was out there.


 So... have you noticed a pattern here on how to date Japanese women? Yes... aside from learning a bit about the language and social customs... you should learn about the likes and dislikes of her and take the lead when it comes to arranging where and when to date. And then treat her with respect. All pretty simple and basic stuff.

To be honest, if you aren't doing this stuff already in Japan or whatever country you are in, you aren't dating a woman very well.

You want my advice on how to get a real Japanese woman - or any woman for that matter? Take an interest in her. Much like when you are buying a car or a new television, you do some research. It's called asking questions and taking an interest.

You also have to ask one out. But how do you know you won't get rejected?

Guys... the first time I met Noboko Kikuchi (surname last, this one time), I was smitten by that kitten. Gorgeous creature. She was smart - an English teacher at Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School) and spoke English as well as I did. I found out her name from another teacher and went over to introduce myself. That done, I went back to my desk and composed a haiku poem for her, walked back to her desk and gave it to her.

To say that she was less than impressed (at least visually) would be a complete under-statement. Somethings, and especially some women, are worth waiting for. That doesn't means sitting on your ass hoping she will call you. It means using everything you have - a sparkling personality, sense of humor, intelligence, charm, good looks, all of the above or only one of the above... or whatever it is that you think is special about you (and please don't say your penis... every man has one... save that for later) and quietly show it off.

For myself, I was lucky that all of the students at this school knew she was pretty and knew I really liked her (probably that drool and wolf eye I have) - so they would constantly talk me up to her even when I wasn't there. Hmmm. I guess I owe them a Coke. Why did they do that for me? Because I had shown them that I was more than just a gaijin (foreigner)... that I was somebody worth getting to know.

She eventually came around - mostly because she realized that if these children loved me enough to stick their neck out, perhaps there was more to me than simply being a slick hustler. That's what she thought I was.

Turns out, I was pretty brash, but a 'diamond in the rough' (her words) and was still pretty nice. I knew I had her when I invited her to my place for dinner and cooked it for her, talked to her nicely, showed her a good time and talked mostly about her. I bet she was really surprised that I made no move whatsoever on her. But... that one kiss she gave me moved the continents closer. That's when I asked if she would like to go out for dinner sometime. She smiled and said she had my phone number.

Cool huh? I never gave her my phone number. She must have asked someone.

Oh... and I didn't have a car. But that's okay. There's nothing wrong with being driven on a date. Women have put up with it for eons.

There's one last thing... as a gaijin/foreigner male seeking to date a Japanese woman - regardless of the situation... I knew how to flirt, and I could flirt anytime and anywhere... the point being I didn't have to be as concerned about Japanese social situations as the Japanese did—I'm just a stupid gaijin.   
It has its advantages.

For example... I used to flirt with Noboko in her English classrooms... there would be an exchange of glances, hushed whispers in English... a light touch of my hand to her clothed upper sleeve, a smirk... the students noticed... the girls did, I'm sure, but as long as Noboko didn't care, neither did I.

The point is... I cared when she cared. To be fair, she also cared about what I cared about, but in the grand scheme of dating et al, she held all the cards—especially that ace in the hole. yes, I was being 'dirty'.   

Anyhow... You too can date a real Japanese woman (or any woman for that matter). Be cool. Be yourself. Don't be in a rush and learn about each other. Respect her and she will respect you.

Good luck in your endeavors.

by Andrew Joseph
PS: Should you be looking for some advice on how to be a man around women, might I suggest you check out my friend Mister Manfred Mann's blog: How To Survive Women. If you aren't careful, you might learn something.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Godzilla Haiku

Let's file this one under something I should have created years ago. But someone beat me to it.

I love Haiku.

Haiku are three-line poems with the first line having five syllables, the second line containing seven syllables, and the third having five syllables.

It brings a tear to my eye. Just one tear and one eye.

HAIKU

What the hell... here's one I just came up with 47 seconds ago.

What did I step on?
Something is soft and squishy...
I must wipe my foot.

And another...

Radioactive
My morning breath is deadly.
I will kill Rodan.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Addendum

Someone pointed out that in the very last blog, I did not mention Junko... my secret girlfriend and ex-stalker that I'm sleeping with... like, WTF Andrew?! You last wrote that she had just come over... and then the next blog dealing with the next morning... nothing.

So... it's still Tuesday, November 12, 1991. Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. I found this addendum folded up and placed in my diary on the next page. How could I have forgotten about this event?

It's true. Junko wasn't actually there at my apartment when I woke up. Wholly unlike herself when she was stalking me and dropping out of university to devote herself to me, stalking me some more, not letting me sleep because we had to have sex, more stalking, some stockings, more stalking... well, this was a refreshing change of pace.

We still haven't been anywhere together as a couple outside of my apartment. I'm unsure if she's ashamed of me or just likes her secret boyfriend, or if she's just plain nuts - whatever. She let me sleep after using me for a couple of hours (and vice versa), and Junko being Junko means I have to used to her disappearing like Batman when the day breaks.

Cripes... does that make me Catwoman? Me-ow!

There was no note. No message scrawled in lipstick on my bathroom mirror. No extra toothbrush on the sink. Not even evidence of a glass of orange juice being drunk.

If it wasn't for that smell of apple blossoms in the air - and an idiotic grin on my face along with some chaffing - I might suspect that I was going crazy and had imagined her being there.

But... when I get dressed in the morning after a shower, I go to another room where I keep my clothes. I pull out the underwear drawer and see that she has taken all of my underwear...

... and replaced them with a single pair of her own that I recognize from the night before.

Somewhere going commando,
Andrew Joseph

Centerfield

Today the first day where I have a solution to my scratched cornea eye problem that was diagnosed yesterday.

It's Tuesday, November 12, 1991 here in Ohrawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. I'm an assistant English teacher teaching at the seven junior high schools here in the city.

This week, I'm at Wakausa Chu Gakko (Wakausa Junior High School), an affluent school, but not that you could tell. The kids are generally bright, scrubbed and well-behaved.

I, however, am not.

Tomura-sensei (Tomura teacher) the lone Christian I know here, is the head English teacher at the school. He has always reminded me of Mr. Sulu, George Takei, of Star Trek fame. He picks me up at my place at 7:35AM as school starts at 8AM in this country.

I can tell that he's more than a little surprised at my glasses and pony-tail, but true to Japanese form, he says nothing until I quickly explain what is going on. There is no explanation for the pony-tail, except that I wanted to grow my hair. I have about a three-inch long pony tail now. Mullet head.

The kids all over the school are shocked too... but mostly over my pony tail, as they call me Shimura Ken (I suppose it's short for Kenichi) after the famous and very funny comedian I like to watch on television here.

I do my best to amuse them all by saying his catch-phrase: "Daijobu-da"... a kind of rural way of saying "No problem".

I survive my four classes today doing the same joke over and over again until I am sure it is no longer funny.

Still, one boy tells me that Nara Sports shop that sells sports clothing nearby at the TBC building, is also now selling Japanese baseball cards - a first.

I get a ride home early not thanks to this school always seemingly having teacher's meetings, but rather because I have a headache - probably due to my glasses.

At home I switch to my contact lenses - scratched cornea be damned - get some money from the local bank's ATM, go to the local video store (okay, every thing I do is local), and then head over to Nara Sports (Yes, it's in English!) and buy a carton of baseball cards.

I love collecting baseball cards. I have no idea who most of the players are, but it doesn't matter. The names are written in English on the front, but the back with the stats is all Japanese. Fortunately, except for the bio's I can easily figure everything else out.

I then go to the shops to buy some contact lens saline solution, pick up a dry-cleaned sweater and then some ready-made food I only need heat in my convection/microwave oven.

This is the life.

At home, I watch the videos and put in my eye medicine (into my scratched cornea eye) every two hours... after switching to glasses again. It feels a lot better.

I then clean up the apartment, iron my clothes for tomorrow and go to bed at 11:20, reading Clive Barker's Books of Blood. Gory, original, but hardly a horror book to me.

Oh yeah... I open up all 36 packs of baseball cards (no gum, dammitt! in keeping up with the current North American trend), and put them all in order, separating the duplicates for possible trade or gifts to students tomorrow.

Oh... I also got a birthday card in the mail from Karen Irwin and one from my friend Naoko who is currently visiting China.

Yeah, a boring day... but it's not. You know what I mean? No one calls, and no one comes over. It's quiet without the need for any introspection.

Somewhere daijobu-da,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by John Fogerty, formerly the lead singer of CCR (Credence Clearwater Revival)

Thursday, December 22, 2011

One Hundred Thousand Hits

Thank-you all very much!

Some time on Monday, December 19 - Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife broke the 100,000 mark for hits since I started tabulating them with an app back in July of 2010.

That's pretty good, I think, considering one year ago this blog received 2007 hits for the month of December 2010 and only 794 hits for the month of July of 2010.

Since that time, I've tried to pour a few more hours of my life daily into this blog and have watched the number of hits rise and rise.

There was an aberration back in September of 2011 when readers from around the world  - 20,292 of them, in fact - went crazy and visited this blog looking for information on Japan's Miss Universe contestants. I had mistakenly thought  it was me spending a lot of time watching the 2011 Miss Universe event and blogging about it live, but no - that one hardly got any hits at all. It was readers clicking on an older blog - which if you look below under my Popular Posts to the lower right, you will see that it is the hits leader.

Other popular blogs from this year include book reviews on classic Japanese novels, a movie review on Battle Royale, a cult classic Japanese flick available in English subtitles in which a class of junior high school kids are pitted against each other on an island - forced to kill each other until only one is left standing.  

The men's 2011 Club World Cup blog article has been pretty popular, too, but with its conclusion I expect it to become a bit stagnant.

That means the ever-popular Japanese Schoolgirl Prostitutes blog has a chance to go down as the highest tapped article on this blog. It's okay. It's a good article to read. 

Surprisingly enough, I really thought a blog I wrote on Japan's Serial Killers - a very detailed look into their history and depravity - and perhaps the most comprehensive listing of its kind on this topic you are likely to fin on the net! - would do better. It did well, but it needs more readers. It's why I mention things like this from time to time - to give you all a chance to get more learned.

Back when I first got on the Internet back in 1993 (actually, I've been on-line since late 1979!), there was a lot of crap out there. Anybody who had an opinion (like myself) could say whatever they wanted about whatever they wanted.

Unfortuantely, a lot of it was just misinformation - un-like this blog.

Yes, I present my autobiography of my life in Japan. yes it was peaches and cream, but it was also a very trying time. In my blog entries I present what I hope is a fair representation of myself - both good, bad and idiotic - to say that while life is rough, it is what you make of it. Currently, my 1991 self is going through a tough time of self-doubt, paranoia (non-clinical), depression (non-clinical)... but he sees that the people around him actually do care and help show him the way.

No journey can ever be undertaken without some help from great friends, acquaintances, secret girlfriends and more... I hope you will all continue to read and know that I will continue to provide daily updates to this blog - both autobiographical, serious news, stupid news, and present proper insight and factual information about all things Japanese.

And don't worry... there's nothing wrong with learning about things - even serial killers of teenaged prostitutes, though this blog does not recommend becoming one or utilizing the services offered.

Cheers!
Andrew Joseph

Matchbox

Today, Monday, November 11, 1991 is an office day for me here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. As a junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme I work four days a week at one of the seven schools in the city and one day at the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) office writing up a report that takes me 10 minutes on average to do.

Like usual, I do very little that is constructive at the office. Check that - usually I write letters to family and friends back home in Toronto whom I haven't seen in 15 months, or I write short stories... but since I quit my post as the editor of the Tatami Times AET Tochigi newsletter last week, I don't feel like it.

As well... my left eye hurts like a motherf***er. It's been bothering me for days and days, and to say that it hasn't affected my demeanor would be doing the pain an injustice.

I hint to Hanazaki-san (one of my two bosses at the OBOE, and who speaks better English than Kanemaru-san), that my eye is bothering the heck out of me.

He says okay, and says we'll go have it looked at... but first he wants to show me the itinerary for the Mid-Year Block Conference for JET AETs. He then tells me I have to babysit (his exact words) Van Granger, who arrived in Japan this past summer. Great. Mister Personality.

No one baby-sat me last year! Did they? No! I went down early, screwed a female AET(Christine) in the shower of a men's sports change-room, came in the next morning and made a speech about how to teach a class. I was high on pheromones, beer, vodka and sake (Japanese rice wine) so I have no idea to this day what speech I made up on the spot. It was apparently funny and well-received - or so I was told.

While I haven't been asked to give a speech this year, I was recently asked to take over as the leader of Tochigi-ken JET - which I turned down as I didn't see how it was going to get me laid more often.

In hindsight, I haven't been getting laid all that much more without the honor... and I could have used it on a resume to get this gig 20 years later writing about Japan. So... less work, more time to  mope about not getting laid, and future Andrew has a different story to tell rather than one about JET politics. And yes... I do have a degree in Political Science, but that doesn't mean I want to play politics. Doctor, perhaps.

Hanazaki-san and I then go to Mr. Inoue's shop for an eye exam. I am, of course, very worried that I don't know enough Japanese letters to be able to pass a literacy test let alone an eye test.

Uh... is it 'ba-ka-ga-ji-n'?*(see below)

Luckily, the test Inoue-san's nurse give me involves me pointing out which way the letter E is pointing: up, down, left or right. It always points right. Right?

Apparently I don't concentrate very hard with my right eye at all. Yeah... but that's not the problem. What about the pain in my left eye?

So I finally tell the nurse: "Itai (pain)" and point to my left eye.

She understands and says in perfect English: "Just one moment An-do-ryu-sensei. I'll just go tell the doctor."

And then she winks at me.

Christ. Not another one? Well... I suppose I could squeeze her in tonight between 9 and 11PM.

The doctor comes back with the nurse... doesn't look at my eye, but instructs her (in English!!) to take out An-do-ryu-sensei's contact lenses.

Now... I'm not a doctor, though I have been one in a bar, but I know I could have taken my own contacts out a lot faster than this nurse who spent about 60 seconds prodding at my eye to peel out my lens.

So... long story short... apparently I have a scratch on my left cornea.

No kidding! Probably caused by the nurse's talon. That's it! She's not getting any Andrew!

Anyhow... I'm told (in English) not to wear my contacts for a few days - only glasses. Aaaaaaggghh! Are you kidding me? I wear these glasses of mine, and I'm not getting laid ever again - hot to trot talon-ted nurse or not!

I get some eye drops and pain killers and employ both.

I go home and, since I have an adult night school class to teach tonight, I keep my contacts in.

Mrs. Ohno gives me some flowers for my birthday last Friday, and Mrs. Narita gives me a telephone card. Sweet people!

I go home, wrench out my contact lenses and with no one around to ridicule me, I put on my Coke bottles glasses.

I'm about to watch a Japanese porno cartoon I rented earlier that evening (my first ever), when the doorbell rings.

I peer through the eyehole at the front door. Crap.

It's Junko. My secret girlfriend, who has a boyfriend, but enjoys stepping out with me for some bedroom fun. So far.. she's the best stalker ever. So far. I guy can hope, right?

I don't want to let her see me with my glasses on!

I let her in... she immediately grabs my face in her hands, kisses me and asks (in her usual perfect English), how the scratch on my eye is.

I would ask her how the hell she knows I have a scratch on my eye - but it's Junko. She seems to know everything about me.

I don't even ask why she's here on a Monday away Utsunomiya University, when I know she has school tomorrow, too.

She jumps on me and knocks me backwards, with the back of my head hitting a wall. 

Right now... I know it's better to just shut up and enjoy the double vision. 

Somewhere wondering why everyone is speaking English today,
Andrew Joseph

*ba-ka-ga-i-ji-n is really baka gaijin = stupid foreigner.
Today's blog title is from The Beatles, and was used because, if you listen to the words, you can tell I am, god help me, Junko's puppy dog.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Corporal Punishment In Japanese Schools

I'm going to post a blog written by a friend of mine that I have never physically met, named Peter Able. He writes the informative Living and Teaching in Japan blog.

I know some of you aren't as keen to read blogs not written by me, but this particular blog of Peter's that I am going to link to bears a read. I even posted a comment under it, as you can read about the frustration us teachers in Japan often felt.

Read this, or else!: LIVING AND TEACHING IN JAPAN

Poor Peter... it sounds like he was teaching by himself, and not with a Japanese teacher of English.

Read it and then come back here. Or read this and then go there... but read both.

A little clarification is in order as well, regarding my comment below his blog. I was at Kaneda Kita Chu Gakko (Kaneda North Junior High School) that seems like it is full of juvenile delinquents. Of course it wasn't, but it had far more than it's fair share of kids who were not interested in learning or listening and were robbing the opportunity from kids that DID want to learn.

I was between classes, and the hallway was filled with students in grades 7 through 9.

I'm no longer sure if I was already having a bad day, but this one Grade 9, 15-year-old kid who was taller and heavier than me (true) walked up to me and tried to kick me in the nuts. I was 27 at the time, and even now at 47 years of age, I won't take that crap from anyone who should know better. And he did. It was meant to hurt and to make himself look like the BMOC (Big Man on Campus).

These kids know lots of martial arts - learn them at school club. I'm unsure if he was a judo student or kendo or in the glee club (unlikely), but he didn't kick me in the exact right place. So while I was hurt, I was able to quickly get furious rather than lie on the ground puking in a squeaky voice.

As he walked away laughing with his gang of friends, I quickly turned after him and put him in a choke hold and leaned back. I purposely put my body sideways up into the flat of his back so that if he tried to kick me, he'd get nothing but the side of my leg.

I screamed at him using all of the Japanese swear words I know - which was apparently a hell of a lot and held him for about 15 seconds until he stopped struggling, and then tossed him aside - but not hard enough for him to fall.

He turned and looked at me with fear in his eyes, dropped to his knees and prostrated himself bowing in apology.

I let him do that for 10 seconds while the shock of what I had done washed over me. I felt sick.

But when I glanced around, I saw several students smile at me and give me the thumb's up I had taught them.

Their bully was dead. Long live the gaijin.

I helped the bully up... we bowed to each other, and he apologizes - in ENGLISH!!! - to me. We shook hands, he turned and walked away. His friends came running up beside him chattering, but he said nothing.

Other students crowded around me like I was a demi-god.

Now all I wanted to do was run away somewhere and puke.

But I couldn't. I had three classes to teach.

That kid was in my 2nd class. He looked at me from his desk, bowed his head. I bowed back. We both smiled, and the whole class exhaled. He pulled out his English New Horizon's text book and calmly awaited the arrival of the Japanese teacher of English who would be teaching with me. We all had a great class, and the kid, to his credit, volunteered a few answers.

A month later when I returned to that school, he came up to me and offered me some baseball cards as a gift, I bowed, said thank-you, accepted them, and he left to go to a classroom.

One of the English teachers came up to me with the school's principal beside him. The principal began talking to me in English. The English teacher translated to me explaining that my treatment of the student - that boy - helped change the culture of the school. The boy was now studying hard and was doing well.

The boy also had a stern talking to by various teachers, and I was told that his parents were informed of everything... no one had asked me. Not even the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) for whom I work. But... everyone knew. I suppose the others students told.

I still feel like crap 20 years later. The only satisfaction I get is the hope that that kid made more correct decisions and has made something good with his life.

Did I do the right thing? No. But, do the ends justify the means? In this case, I hope so.

Somewhere puking,
Andrew Joseph