Search This Blog & Get A Rife

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Honda's New Jet Plane - Updated

Want more aviation? Read my new blog entitled Pioneers Of Aviation: HERE.

There's a news report coming out of Japan stating that the Honda Motor Co. is becoming a jet-setter.

Sure the car has always been a bit of a trendy high-society business, but now it is making jets.

While you shouldn't expect to be able to get the jet engine option for your Honda Accord, Honda has stated it will deliver its first aircraft in 2013 with plans to grab at least 1/4 of the world's market for small business jets thereafter - and it is all according to the company's long-time goal of taking to the skies.

Honda, Japan's No.3 car maker (behind Toyota and Nissan, respectively) and the world's biggest manufacturer of motorcycles and engines, is in the final stages of getting its $4.5 million (¥343,352,180) HondaJet certified.

Plans are afoot to take production of the jet plane up to 80 a year by the first half of 2013.

Diagram of HondaJet interior circa 2007.
Orders have been taking off for the seven-seater HondaJet since it began taking orders back in 2006—over 100 in three days!

Honda says its HondaJet will have, relative to the competition, a quieter engine, 20 per cent better fuel economy and operational costs of two-thirds or less.

Honda Aircraft Company CEO Fujino Michimasa.
In case you were concerned that since 2006 orders for the jet may have taken a nose-dive in light of the plummeting Japanese economy and the crash and burn after effects from the earthquake, tsunami and nuclear facility near meltdown—think again.

This plane's customers are global. And... consider that if your country is sucking the big one economically, there's a country out there reaping the benefits of your sucking. The same for companies and for individuals.

While Honda has not yet commented on an updated number of orders for the HondaJet, Fujino Michimasa (surname first) chief executive officer of Honda's North Carolina, U.S.-based subsidiary, Honda Aircraft Company, states that the company has held a backlog of about three years worth of orders taken through its nine dealerships in North America and Europe, with great interest from China, India, Brazil and the Middle East.

HondaJet cockpit
"I'm very optimistic about our prospects," explains Fujino at the Tokyo headquarters of Honda.  Fujino is actually the gentleman who began Honda's climb into aviation all the way back in 1986.

"We're doing with HondaJet what the Civic did to American cars from the 1960s. Our competitors are still producing with technology from the 1990s," he states, in reference to Textron Inc.'s Cessna and Brazil's Embraer SA , which now dominate the manufacture of the 200-a-year small business jet market.

The Honda Civic automobile has since its introduction in the U.S. in 1973 been one of the best-selling cars - period - known for its reliability, durability and mileage,. It was even one of the reasons for forcing gas-guzzling U.S. car manufacturers to rethink the way it made cars.

Seating behind the cockpit.
While Fujino has been spearheading the Honda rise in the plane market, the idea goes all the way back to Honda Soichiro (1906 - 1991) - the founder of Honda who back in 1917 was inspired by watching the flight of American pilot Art Smith demonstrate his bi-plane's aerodynamic abilities. Was he inspired? Honda also enjoyed hang-gliding, and ballooning until the age of 77, and maintained his pilot's license as well.   

Featuring a jet engine manufactured via a joint venture between Honda and General Electric Co., the HondaJet expects to have operational costs of about $1,000-$1,200 an hour, compared to the competition which has a best of $1,800.

The inexpensive cost of the HondaJet could, in fact, make traveling in a group of five or six cheaper and more efficient than flying commercially between small cities.

In anticipation of the HondaJet zooming down the runway and turning a profit by 2018, Fujino has said Honda Aircraft will add 300-350 factory staff to bring its total workforce to around 1,000 in the first half of 2013.

Rear seating of HondaJet.
Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife might state that for Honda, the sky is the limit... but something tells me that it might not be. Space... the final frontier... 

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph
And... thanks to the heady knowledge of one astute reader, I realize that the Honda Aircraft Company is located in North Carolina - the birth place of aviation, as the the Wright Brothers flew out of Kitty Hawk there! Cheers Anonymous for the smack to the back of my head and correcting my error!

Japanese Auto Parts Supplier Conspiracy

Japanese auto parts suppliers admit to price-fixing.
It's from the Los Angeles Times... read their report HERE.

Andrew Joseph


LEGO Gets Help From Japan


Did you know that LEGO - the iconic Danish building block toy manufacturer has been teaming up with Japan? I sort of did.

But this partnership goes beyond the usual "Hey, can you manufacture our parts for us in your country so that we can save on shipping but still charge the same amount of money?" relationship that exists worldwide.

LEGO is now working with Japan's CUUSOO System website, a subsidiary of the Japan-based Elephant Design to use LEGO customer ideas to create LEGO models.

Wow. I used the word LEGO three times in that sentence.

Customers are invited to submit ideas for a LEGO model, and any idea that gains 10,000 supporters could be chosen to become part of the product line.

Sugoi! (Great!) 

Aside from bragging rights of having YOUR idea become a LEGO model, those who have their idea chosen will also earn one per cent (1%) of the total net sales of the product.  

CUUSOO, which means either 'imagination' or 'wish' in Japanese depending on the context is a part of Elephant Design Co., Ltd., headquartered in Tokyo, Japan and was established in 1998. It has worked with open innovation and crowd sourcing for more than 10 years.

Via its CUUSOO website owned by CUUSOO System Co., Ltd., it has worked with the LEGO Group since 2008 on a Japanese website that has attracted hundreds of ideas and seen thousands of votes cast by a 20,000-strong community.

Known as an idea collection system, LEGO has released one model with another out shortly that are or will be sold in LEGO brand retail stores, as well as on the LEGO online shop... though I have to admit that it does vary by country, as I have yet to see it available in Canada - except through E-bay (Ka-ching! It's not cheap!). Personally, I think for the first product released, it was only in Japan.   

The first Japanese LEGO CUUSOO product was the Shinkai 6500 submersible (see photo above) that went on sale in Japan in February of 2011. Click HERE for information on the real sub.

The second Japanese LEGO CUUSOO product is the Hayabusa unmanned spacecraft that will be launched soon in the first quarter of 2012.

Hayabusa unmanned spacecraft

The real Hayabusa spacecraft was developed by the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) and actually landed on an asteroid to take samples before returning to Earth in 2010. Awesome! More information HERE.

“Our fans and consumers have proved time after time that they have great ideas that can lead to products,” says Paal Smith-Meyer, head of the LEGO New Business Group.

“We have worked with our consumers in the past and continue to do so, for example in the LEGO Architecture series, which we developed with an architect and LEGO fan. LEGO CUUSOO is an attempt to gather more great ideas while streamlining the way we innovate and become inspired.”

“We see this as an investment in the future rather than for immediate sales gain. We are moving from a local Japanese pilot to see if the model is sustainable. We were pleased with the initial results, but we need to see how it will perform on a global platform with global distribution,” he explains.

So... if you have an idea for a new LEGO model, why not try and get it made? No longer just limited to Japan, the world is now LEGO's oyster.

Visit LEGO CUUSOO and make your dreams a reality.

Andrew Joseph

Should I Stay Or Should I Go


It's Tuesday, November 21, 1991 and I'm at Kaneda Minami Chu Gakko (Kaneda South Junior High School) all this week.
Because of school exams, it's slow for me... I'm not needed, too much. So... what to do? I study Kanji (Chinese-style alphabet) and practice writing it and learning the definitions. I get another 50 under my belt to take me up to exactly 150 learned.
I have no idea how to utilize this stuff in a sentence, but at least it is learned, and the Nihonjin (Japanese) teachers around me seem impressed that I am finally trying to learn their language, rather than always trying to get people to speak mine - which is kind of my whole reason for being here, but I know what they mean.
I also think about home - Toronto, Canada.
Should I stay or go home?
I think I'm going to stay for a third year. It seems like a big thing to have to decide now - especially since I am only in month 16 - not even the half-way mark of my second year... but I do love it here.
The people. The culture. The atmosphere. The fact that I live on my own. Good friends. The women - oh, man... the women.
I might indeed be happier without women in my life, but my life would sure be a whole hell of a lot more boring. Besides... I think Japan has enough monks.
I write a letter to Doug (my taxi driver mentor back in Toronto) and to Kristine (my confidante and woman-friend for whom I would kill a yak for if it would make her fall in love with me) who lives 500 kilometers to the west of me in Shiga-ken.
To both, I describe my job and duties here - and strangely enough, it doesn't seem like much.
Maybe I previously had a higher opinion of my work and self (Uh... not if you re-read the diary!)
Anyhow... I get to go home early again. The phys-ed teacher - Takano-sensei - a young, handsome guy who also teaches kendo, gives me a ride home. His English is friggin' perfect! I'm totally surprised!
He only previously spoke to me in choppy sentences - and now I find out he's fluent?!
I go home and then ride out to Books Time to rent some videos.
Ashley, my ex-girlfriend and sometimes friend-with-benefits, comes over. She give me some onigiri (Japanese rice balls - kind of like a reverse bit of sushi), and we talk and watch TV until 11PM.
Suddenly I'm giving her a naked back massage - but at 12AM before anything goes too far she says she has to go home.
No problem - I'm used to not finishing what other's start - and besides... it's a Tuesday and we both have work tomorrow.
I ride with her the 25-minutes back to her place. She wants me to stay while her bath heats up, but now I'm tired and tell her I need to go home despite her wanting me to now spend the night.
I ask her if everything is okay... I mean... she never has come over on a Tuesday before... and her staying up past midnight on a weekday is unheard of! She's usually sleepy by 9PM! And why so friendly? And why didn't Andrew get a happy ending again? Yes, I'm leaving, but too much is 'off'.
I asked her if she was homesick or if there were family problems, but no... she said she was fine.
Crap.
There's is nothing worse than a woman who says she is fine.
But... I'm not feeling like I need to know how fine she is right now.

Somewhere staying but going,
Andrew Joseph
By the way... the onigiri above - cool how it is supposed to look like the Japanese flag, eh.
Today's blog title is by The Clash:

Monday, January 30, 2012

3D Porn? Why Wasn't I Informed?!

Okay, perhaps I am more upset about not knowing of the existence of 3D porno movies than I am of the fact that Tokyo cops have recently grabbed uncensored - and thus illegal - porno DVDs in an Internet sale crack down.

I know crackdown should be one word.

Anyhow... for that exciting news story, visit the Tokyo Reporter: HERE

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Baby Face Ninja

Here's a crappy quality video, but very funny, nonetheless, of a baby doing some cool Ninja moves.

VIDEO.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Miss Universe Japan 2012 Contestants

Because I love you all sincerely - really - and note how much all of you seem to like clicking on my Miss Universe entries
(I won't mention your fervor for my teenaged prostitute blogs, though), I thought I would share with you a link on the gorgeous young women who will be vying for the upcoming 2012 Miss Universe Japan title. Twenty-four of them! With pictures!

We're getting to the point in time in my life where seven of these women could indeed have been fathered by myself.

I don't know if that depresses me or energizes me. Actually, I think it energizes my depression. Regardless... have a look and see for yourself...

On looks alone (because we can not judge them on anything but a single photo apiece), who is your favorite?
Me? None of yer damn business.

Okay... I like  - for their smiles - Miss Miyagi, Miss Gunma, Miss Okinawa (B), and Miss Saitama, but for sheer elegance, I like Miss Hokkaido (B). But who knows? Maybe their talent is awful, or they have a voice like a cat stuck in an elevator, or they have a fashion malfunction during the actual event... like, when I look the photos of Miss Hokkaido (B), Takahashi Yuna, I can see the hint of her black undergarment peeking out at the top from under her lovely white dress. Sexy, yes. Not dressed perfectly, yup. Deduction. Fortunately she has months in which to find someone new to dress her properly.

But they are all gorgeous. I wouldn't kick any of their mothers out of bed for eating rice crackers. Yes... I said their mothers. I am old enough to be their dad, after all...

Ugh.

See the MUJ 2012 CONTESTANTS.

By clicking on the photos, it will open up and show you six photos of each, plus their name, height, date of birth and if you can read Japanese, a short bio. If not, may I suggest Google Translate for an estimation of the what the women have to say.     

The 2012 Miss Universe Japan pageant will take place on Sunday, April 1, 2012 at the Grand Cube Osaka. Be there or be square. Get it? It's because it's at the Cube. 

Cheers
Andrew Joseph 

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Godzilla Haiku #9


I am Godzilla!
When you hear me roar - cower!
You are my plaything.

By Andrew Joseph

LEGO: Japanese Feudal Village

Since it's obvious I like LEGO and Japan, I've recently begun combining both passions.

For nearly eight months, I have been building a few dioramas - vignettes, if you will - of my take on what life was like in Japan back in the Edo jidai - between 1603 - 1868.

It's a romantic time of samurai and ninja when few gaijin (foreigners) dared land upon its shores.

Of course, there's that view and then there's reality.

There must have been some civil warfare, death, destruction, natural disasters, murders, rapes and worse going on... but there was also just life. The life of a villager. I blame a recent viewing of the Seven Samurai (1954) movie (it actually takes place in 1587) by Kurosawa Akira (surname first) that of course inspired the western version known as The Magnificent Seven.

With the exception of one man with swords, and a burial mound fit for a samurai - just to remind everyone who has the power - I have kept things simple. 

Below is my depiction of life in a small village. My favorite aspect with in the images below is the yana... the lazy bamboo contraption used to catch fish on a running river just below the small waterfall. Lazy, yes. Brilliant? You better believe it.

But, as evidenced by the lemon tree in the scene... when life gives you lemons, you make lemonade.

I have no idea if there were lemons in Japan back then. But this is just my view and is not a historical recreation. Pretend they are yellow plums, if you like. Nawww... I just looked it up... there are Japanese kabosu - lemons!

Anyhow, this diorama is 15-1/8 inches wide by 15-1/8 inches long and at its tallest point - the samurai grave hill - it is 6.0 inches high. And... every single brick used to construct the village and the waterfall was purchased through the Toronto west LEGO store's pick-a-brick wall at Sherway Gardens. Thanks people for actually listening to my requests of getting in those hard-to-find  palisades (log) bricks I used to construct the buildings!  

I have also finished another miniature diorama to be shared with you all shortly, and am now working on one other... diorama. While a simple one to create, I need to wait a bit until I can get a few  more parts.

After that? Well... there is another larger diorama that is completed... but I am unsure if it really is. Every one of my other dioramas was finished months ago, and then I deconstructed it to make it a little better. Heck... even this below was done finished three months ago.

I'm scaring myself as now I think I want to try and link them all together some how. That will mean a few more linking scenes.

I am so screwed in the head sometimes. I start a project and have to see it through to completion. It's the complete opposite of my wife, or so I have discovered over the past few years. I've always finished projects previously, but now I think I am driven to do so even more. Hell... while some of the barrels contain blue LEGO to represent water, I used real uncooked rice grains in the rest. I suppose I should have placed covers on the barrels, but I wanted to show off to myself for being clever.

Of course... I actually love to create. It makes me feel happy.

Enjoy a peek into my happy brain... and have a glass of lemonade.



これで、LEGOの日本封建村を残している。
訪問してあなたに感謝します。
戻って来る


In case you were wondering, I used Google Translate to say:
You are now leaving the village in feudal Japan LEGO.
Visit, thank you.
Come back.

Hopefully it worked better when I translated from English to Japanese than it did to translate from Japanese to English. Still... the understood meaning is.

アンドリュージョセフ
Andrew Joseph

Ninja And Scrabble

Ninja are easy to define, but difficult to see coming. Photo: Andrew Joseph
God help me, but I thought this was all quite amusing.

Ninja and Scrabble... my favorite board game. Scrabble that is, not Ninja.

Although I should state for the record  - and under no duress at all - that I actually like Ninja... not that I have ever seen one or even believe they exist except as dust in the wind.

Although, I did date one. Shinobu... whose name translates into Ninja Girl. She, though very nice and pretty probably could not have played Scrabble to save her life.

But that's not what this is all about. This blog is all about the perils of playing Scrabble with a Ninja and just like in Star Wars, "Always let the Wookie win". Enjoy.

Ninja enjoy being the Ninja stars of Scrabble:

An underlying theme seems to be a decided lack of sportsmanship.

But still, the Ninja possesses an uncanny desire to win - at all costs.

It's a good bet that even should you win the game, you may lose.


Compiled by Andrew Joseph
My name is worth 28 Scrabble points, unaided.



Saturday, January 28, 2012

Stupid People

I am not Japanese.
I no longer live in Japan.
I am a Canadian living in Toronto, born in London, England from parents born in India. I know next to nothing of India, have never been there, don't speak the language and have only recently started eating the food in the past 12 years because my wife who is of Swiss-German ancestry likes it.
Canada, in case you were wondering, is considered a multi-ethnic country. People from all over the world come here because we have a high standard of living, excellent health coverage, excellent schools and are generally quite the safe country that doesn't go out of its way to try and rule the world with its ideologies. We also welcome people from other countries, and don't expect them to conform. At least nowadays. When I was a kid, it was expected... and really... I have always wanted to fit in and be liked by everyone, so no problem in being more Canadian than the Canadians for me! 
Japan... Japan is a homogeneous society. There are a lot of people from Japan living there... and slowly but surely, it is gaining a bit of multi-ethnicity. India is probably the same way, but honestly... I've never been there, so I can't say for sure.
England has long been a bastion of multi-ethnic personality, but judging by the racist taunts still to this day being screamed out at soccer matches, sometimes you have to wonder.
Canada, by the way, is not without its racism. It's just usually there without it bubbling to the surface as often as it does in other so-called civilized countries. Though recently some hockey players have been severely chastised for making racists comments to other non-white players.
No place is perfect.   
When I began writing my Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife blog, it was done so to show how naive I was about Japan... to poke fun at Japan while also poking fun at myself. This was in 1990... and I stopped in 1995 when the English magazine in Japan couldn't afford to pay me anymore.  
Nowadays, thanks to this blog, I still get to poke fun at myself and Japan, but I also get a forum to show off some creative work of my own and of a few other writers I respect. I also try to provide some current events with a bit of a personal viewpoint, and also offer my perspective on the wild and wacky ways of Japan.
I also like to write about history.
As a child I would pore over books about WWII and learn as much as could about the dark side of human nature - like the Nazis and the Japanese during this bloody war.
But... as young as I was (I first began reading up on this topic as an eight-year-old), I never hated anyone for their part in the past. I may have been horrified, but hate? No.
I guess my parents raised me well. And I listened.
Which brings me to my point.
I recently wrote a blog entry about Unit 731, a nasty Japanese medical unit that experimented on human beings. The people who did so were, in my opinion, less than human themselves, and will, if there is a God, have to answer to a higher being one day.
However, I wrote the piece not to vilify Japan or the Japanese people, but rather to inform my readers about a part of Japanese history that is not very well documented let alone discussed. Japan is indeed ashamed, but would rather it just go away from the media so no one has to talk or think about it again.
I think I did a pretty good bit of work on it. I took weeks to create the blog, trying to ensure I got the facts correct in order to bring whomever that reads it the correct facts, without me preaching to anyone.
And yet - a couple of days a go, I received a disturbing LOC (letter of comment) from a reader.
I read everyone's comments. Part of being an ego-maniac writer, I suppose. I'm not a great writer (or apparently a great ego maniac), but I enjoy telling a story and I think tell a story well.
Any way... the comment writer simply yells that—and I'm paraphrasing here—that the Japs are all dumb evil fugs and they should all die, and that I (me) am probably also a dumb Jap and that I should go and fug myself and die.
Okay... mister brave anonymous writer... but did you like the piece?
I know that many people write in as an anonymous person and that's cool.
But if you are going to make such inflammatory, racist comments, at least have the guts to tell us your real name.
What's the matter? Afraid people won't like you for your opinion? Dude (and you are obviously male), your opinion is your own, and is always correct - even if you aren't.
You are welcome to your opinion, ignorant though it may be to me, and I don't have to like it.
You are also entitled to not like what I wrote. But all I did was write about a point in time in history. In fact, if anything, I put the Japanese down.  
Mister Anonymous writer... you are an ignorant little man.
Grow up, stop raping your sister and move out of your parent's basement.
That's what I would like to say, as I am thinking about your poor sister here.
How is it that in the year 2012 we still have such hatred for one another? Poor parenting? Retardation of social skills? Ignorance of what year it is?
Dude... maybe you should also hate America? Didn't it steal land from the natives living there? Smallpox in blankets? Trail of Tears? There's plenty of examples. What about the interning of American and Canadian citizens in the US and Canada during WWII just because they happened to be of Japanese descent? They were citizens of their respective countries! Except for the Natives and Aboriginals, all Canadians and Americans ultimately came from somewhere else! And, if we go back even farther in history, the Natives and Aboriginals are also from somewhere else!    
What about the whole independence from under the British rule - you know, the US declaration of Independence? Were not all of the men and women for it traitors? Was it not treason? Doesn't the US hang people like that?

Dude... it's history.

Learn from it and make sure it doesn't happen again. You can hate the people involved in Unit 731, but don't condemn millions of Japanese people 80 years later for the ignorance and stupidity of others.

Grow up.

But really... you never said if you liked my article on Unit 731 or not.
Ahhhhh, it doesn't really matter, though.
If I was to judge you by your past history of opinions, it would be obvious that your opinion isn't even worth a wad of spit.

Somewhere on his horse high high horse, 
Andrew Joseph
PS: And Mike... I'm taking your advice - it begins here and with my last comment on the Japanese Teenaged Prostitution blog entry, currently ranked number one with a bullet as my most popular blog again this month.
PPS: Why are the haters coming out this week? I'm on nicotine withdrawl for two weeks and am not very pleased with the world right now. Seems like a good time to let my real effing voice out. 

How To Survive Women - Now With More Junko!

Hey! My blog on how to date Japanese women was recently picked up by a friend of mine, Mister Manfred Mann and posted to his How To Survive Women blog. I've known Manny since we were teenagers, and as such, I have been following his first foray into writing since he told a couple of weeks ago that I better or he was calling in a loan.

Conniving bastard that he is, he still should have told me about his blog earlier! It's great!

Anyhow, since I now read everything he writes (writers need their ego stroked every once in a while no matter what Mike or Charles says) - and since then, I've learned a lot about writing and women and even how to dress. It's a good blog and fun to read and all of you loyal readers should follow it - despite the adult warning for some of the blue language he uses, but I wish he would write more often - hint, hint!

I mean - penis sizes from around the world? Thank god I'm not Indian and am instead Canadian! Actually, if I was in India, I'd be a porn star. Ahhhh, but I digress.  

When Manny asked... sorry, Mister Manfred Mann asked if he could use my blog, I updated it for him with some additional pictures.

Now... for those of you who read about my life and crimes in Japan from 20 years ago - well... check out the first photo in this revised version for a peek at someone who looks a hell of a lot like Junko. I did a double-take when I saw her, because... well, despite being one hot babe, she looks like Junko, my sexy secret girlfriend of whom I have no photographs.

Read my blog on that site HERE.

Did I date beyond my means?

Yes, I smile knowingly.  

I still do.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Do You Want To Know A Secret?

It's Monday, November 25, 1991 and I'm visiting Kaneda Minami Chu Gakko (Kaneda South Junior High School) in beautiful Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

I'm an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme and have been living here in Japan for 16 months pretty much enjoying my time here.

It's the first time in my life to be away from home (in Toronto), and while I have going wild with the women and booze, I've also accepted a high level of responsibility here - going with the flow while making sure I don't completely embarrass myself or Canada or the JET Programme.

I'm an idiot sometimes, but I'm not stupid.

Mrs Yamamoto drives by at 7:30AM to drive me to school.

I really like this school. Quiet kids, but still fun and polite and seemingly intelligent bright-eyed kids who have taken a shine to me as much as I have taken a shine to them.

I have many friends here - strangely, all girls. It's nothing perverse, I can assure you. They just seem to either have a greater handle on English or are just unafraid to chat with me.

I teach them English and about Canada and they teach me Japanese and about Japanese things. This is what the whole experience of JET is truly about. Exchange and teaching.

Unfortunately, my workload is pretty slim this week as it is exam time. Oh well. It also means I don't get to see the kids as much to hang around with and chat. That sucks.

I'm asked to do some English reading for some practice tests during my three classes. I read a passage twice. Once slow, and once fast. The kids who have the English words in front of them are asked to write out a Japanese translation.

It's boring, to be frank, but I don't mind too much if it helps these kids hear real English.

My Japanese teachers of English are generally pretty fluent, but sometimes their accents are harsh and they don't always pronounce the words clearly or properly. There's also the incorrect way they pronounce the letter "L"... a letter that is non-existent in the Japanese language and is often pronounced as an "R".

Yes... this blog title does indeed poke fun at that, but truthfully, I'm not being racist or an idiot... the movie "It's A Wonderful Life" is my all-time favorite movie. You know... it's about a man who feels like his life is a waste of time and before he kills himself is shown what life would be like if had never been born. It brings hope... and whenever I am down, I think about it and smile and stop being a mope.
As well... for this blog - which I first came up with in 1990 when I wrote a monthly column for the Tochigi JET newsletter - the word rife is used for another reason.

Rife implies " a lot of" something.

I had often observed on Japanese articles, a lot of stupid, meaningless English writing - clothing, pens, book binders, etc. There would always be a useless word or two tossed in. In fact, Japan was rife with poor English.

It's why I am here in Japan (in 1991) ... to teach and exchange.

Get it?

I only mention this because some anonymous writer complained that my use of rife in this blog's title made me a complete effing idiot and thus made him smfh.

See? Teach and exchange.

Anyhow... back at school, since I have a lot of free time, I begin studying Kanji (the Chinese-style alphabet used by the Japanese). It's bloody tough, but I now know about 100 Kanji... how to write it properly, and what its definition is.

I'm unsure why, but I am driven home at 3PM - I think it's because the teachers are also doing a lot of the exam work and need to either prepare or need to mark the tests. It's cool. Home is fine.

I watch a couple of rented movies and then head out to my adult night school class. I have about 20 people there - beginners.

I'm not the best teacher - especially since I am teaching them by myself - but I do my best to explain things in simple English and simple Japanese - perhaps so they can be confused in two languages.

We just do some review work - I want to ensure they know the basics and can use them. And you know what... they might be slow, but they provide effort, and I am proud of every one of them!

After class, one of my female students gives me a couple of telephone cards from Kyoto. I have to go there one day soon.

All of the women from my class (17 out of the 20 students) try to drag me out to a coffee shop, but they all drove and I have my bicycle, and it's cold... so I beg off.

I do feel bad about it, but I tell them I will go next week, if they like.

Back home, I nuke a bag of popcorn that I don't have to share for once and watch a third movie for the day.

I go to bed at a respectable 12AM feeling like I actually matter. I haven't felt like that in a while, despite my recent woman exploits.

Somewhere teaching and exchanging,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by The Beatles, and is the first song where George Harrison got to sing lead. It was written primarily by John Lennon.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Blurry

It's still Sunday, November 24, 1991.

It's a good time to be here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

The woman I just slept with an hour ago is my ex-girlfriend. She doesn't seem to have a problem with me sleeping with other women as long as they aren't any other assistant English teachers or Japanese women she might know.

Of course they are, but she doesn't need to know that. Although... I am unsure if she knows about my secret girlfriend Junko who had just spent the night being a very naught kitty with me.

So... it beats me how I'm supposed to top the rest of the day, gentle reader... bear with me and let's find out together.

Ashley and I are on a train south from Nishinasuno-eki to Utsunomiya-eki, where we will change trains and head northwest toward Nikko-shi. It's all about a 1-1/2 hour trip that would only take maybe 30 minutes if we could only go west from Nishinasuno to Nikko... but we can't.

Japanese women are still chatting amicably with Ashley as they can probably smell the sex all over us, while no one talks to me... I'm perfectly fine with that. I've always been a kind of a loner who really needs his alone time, but is probably kind of needy the rest of the time. Hey... it's only pathetic if you don't realize it yourself.

It's a beautiful day out... a little nippy, but it's still nice enough to not need a full on winter coat. I'm content in my sweater and wind-breaker.

Arriving in Nikko, Ashley and I walk up the main street of Nikko to our store - Takamoto's. It's an antique shop we first stopped in over a year ago, and we seem to go back at least once every five or six weeks. I think we keep the owners in business.

Ashley buys a wooden statuette for herself that costs ¥40,000 (~Cdn/US $522.15), while I conveniently forget to write down the prices in my diary for a picture scroll from Takamoto's, and from other shops: three wooden monkeys (a version of THIS),  a noh mask and some x-rated sake (Japanese rice wine) cups (see image at the top!) for my little brother Ben who is seven years my junior.

My contact lenses begin to bother me. I have a scratched cornea and have been wearing an eye patch for about a week now. I have dick-all for depth perception.

Anyhow... Ashley and I have left Nikko and arrived back at Nishinasuno. After riding her back to her place, I ride my bicycle back to my apartment in Ohtawara.

  • It's now 6PM.
  • It's pitch black outside.
  • My contact lenses are bothering the hell out of me.
  • My eyes are watering.
  • I'm wearing a black eye patch.
  • I'm wearing black clothes.
  • I have a broken bike light.
  • The streets have no street lights.
  • It's freezing cold.
  • It's windy.
  • And there are assholes driving on the road.
  • Said assholes drive with their high beams on.
  • There are a lot of assholes.
Somehow I make it back home and peel off my contact lenses and put on my glasses.
Despite my apartment still smelling of apple blossoms, sex and latex, I have no desire to have anyone come and visit me secretly this evening.

Okay... I can't lie to you. I do wish Junko would come by. 

I sit and watch some television and some videos sent to me by my brother.

I call up Ashley and ask her is she wants to celebrate US Thanksgiving  on Thursday (the proper date) or to wait a day and do it on Friday. It's no big deal to me... I'm from Toronto, and our Canadian Thanksgiving is a month earlier.... which Ashley never gave a crap about. At least my buddy Matthew and Kristine called to wish me. Why am I sleeping with Ashley?

Anyhow... Ashley says we can wait a day. Next Friday. Cool.

I jokingly ask her if she wants me to cook her a lasagna again (like I did this past Friday) for her, but she seems to waffle...

If she were Japanese, she would be sucking air through her teeth.

Somewhere I have eyes but can not see,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is brought to you by Puddle of Mud:


Japanese Packaging #2

I like packaging.

I like dogs.

I sometimes even like packaging for dog products.

But this package from Japan leaves me dragging my butt across a carpet.

While it certainly leaves little to the imagination, I really do understand what its for despite not knowing how to read Japanese.

Perhaps it is because most of the package is in English or perhaps it's because of the awesome graphic image.

Poopy Picker... the one touch cleaner bag that promotes good manners good dog life.

I must say it, that this bag of dog poop bags inspired me to change my blogs description under the Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife header.

Thank-you Poopy Picker!

It's not only a good dog life, it's a wonderful rife.

I wonder if it comes in Rottweiler-size (I've owned four - three at the same time!), or god help me, Chocolate Lab-size  and not just toy Japanese dog size? My Lab, Buster, sure does eat a lot of things he shouldn't! And, by the cartoon visual on the package, it sure seems like I can see exactly what's in the bag and thus what Buster should not be eating.

Woof-woof!
Andrew Joseph 
Another blog HERE with some more cool Japanese packaging!

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Atmosphere Above Japan Got Hot Before Earthquake

Looking for an earthquake predictor?
There might be an APP for one that gives you more than a minutes warning thanks to scientists who have found some very interesting data from the days leading up to the March 11, 2011 9.0 Magnitude Tohoku earthquake that devastated the northeast coast of Japan.
While Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife is stating up front that this is preliminary data, Dimitar Ouzounov and other scientists at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland say that in the days leading up to the massive earthquake, the total electron content of the ionosphere increased dramatically over the epi-center, reaching a maximum three days before the quake struck.
They also noted that concurrent satellite viewing found a large increase in infrared emissions from above the epi-center, peaking in the hours just before the quake. That's what the photo image up here to the left represents.
Putting it all together, we know that the atmosphere over the earthquake's epicenter had heated up.  The image representing March 11, 2011 shows it at its hottest on March 10, 2011... (but no actual time stamp is offered) - some hours before the quake.
That's the key... it peaks... ands then goes down.
It all backs up a theory called the Lithosphere-Atmosphere-Ionosphere Coupling model which says that in the days leading up to an earthquake (we'll assume a large earthquake considering there are tiny earthquakes globally every day), the great stresses in a fault where it is about to break or give way, cause the release of large amounts of radon.
Mirror-image shot of nerdy writer and his cool shirt
Radon is a radioactive gas - number 86 on the Periodic Table of Elements - I love my shirt! The radioactive elements glow in the dark! - it is colorless, odorless, tasteless and is the only gas that is radioactive under normal conditions. It is considered a health hazard, and is the key factor in our daily background (ionizing) radiation exposure.
Back to the hard science. Apparently when the radon is released from the faults or during the process of a fault being under stress (I have also been known to release a gas while under stress), it ionizes the air above it.
What the hell does that mean?  Well, water molecules are attracted to ionized air. This causes a large scale condensation of water vapor - It rains. A lot.
But wait... there's more. the actual molecular process of water vapor condensation releases energy in the form of heat. It is this heat that causes the infrared emissions
Cool! Or rather, 'That's hot!' Ugh. I quoted Paris Hilton in a science article where I am trying to sound smart! Failure.
Says Ouzounov: "Our first results show that on March 8, 2011, a rapid increase of emitted infrared radiation was observed from the satellite data."
The infrared radiation emissions affect the ionosphere and its total electron content.
Is this a way to predict earthquakes in the future? Hopefully. Especially if the electron count gives you a three-day window to duck and cover or stand in a door frame or whatever it is you are supposed to do when an earthquake hits. 
It sure beats watching for changes in catfish activity (I think it's swimming - no wait... it's just floating there - treading water - no, it just ate something - no, it just spit it out... it's swimming again - it's the coming of the apocalypse!) or watching how animals suddenly go quiet moments before an earthquake hits. 
Read THIS blog of mine for the facts behind the catfish, and HERE for another on the earthquake APP.
You people think I make this stuff up, don't you? Nope.
Anyhow... in case you are wondering how the heck any one is able to do an electron count, just know that over the past few years, scientists have set up atmospheric monitoring stations in earthquake zones, and are using more than a few triangulating satellites to send back data regarding the state of the upper atmosphere and the ionosphere before and during an earthquake.
Hopefully the scientists are able to use the hot atmosphere data to better predict the locale of earthquakes. Can it predict smaller ones - probably, but I suppose it depends on the sensitivity of the equipment observing the data. 
The March 11, 2011 Tohoku earthquake was a 9.0 Magnitude one. It is the largest to have struck Japan in modern times, so gathering data from the next big earthquake could involve a very long waiting process. 

Files by Andrew Joseph
FYI: the data in this blog was first presented back in May of 2011, meaning scientists were actually pretty quick in analyzing the data, unlike certain blogs. Ahem.

Love Stinks

It's November 24, 1991 - a Sunday - a day of rest for those of the Christian-faith and, I suppose, atheists, Buddhists... hell... I'm sure there are more.... probably most people.... hmmm. Whatever! I didn't get to sleep at all last night thanks to Junko's snoring. Okay, it was more the slapping of skin and the grunting and squealing of pleasure at the top of her lungs even with me clamping a hand over her mouth to stop the neighbors from calling the police to investigate the gaijin murdering some poor young thing with his sadistic knife.
Okay... we were just having noisy, sloppy, wet and warm sex. I'm covered in it. So is Junko.
We're just lying there at around 8:30AM when something goes off in Junko (not me) and she snaps upright and says she has to leave soon because Ashley will be coming over.
How the hell does she know that? Does Junko have my phone bugged? Does she have Ashley bugged? What sort of evil genius am I banging three or four times an evening? Hopefully one who can barely walk.
Nope... she can not only walk, but she can jump, as she leaps from the bed and grabs her clothes from the carpet at the front door and gets dressed there. I get up and follow her and then stand there marveling at how sexy she looks getting dressed.
Guys...  you have probably never really paid attention to what a woman does when she's getting undressed as you are just lying there thinking: "Hurry the heck up!", but ... I encourage you to watch a woman get dressed sometime - even one in a rush - watch the jumping, the rhythmic gyrations, the shimmying, the bouncing... it's truly poetry in motion.
Junko is a poet  laureate and I have enjoyed reading between the lines.
Dressed, she leans in to kiss me good-bye. As her lips are about to touch mine, she slowly drops down to her knees while looking up into my eyes.
We don't have time for that, but she does a good job nonetheless.
It's 8:55AM when she stands up, reverts to a shy Japanese woman, bows, reverts to a clumsy Japanese porn star, bangs her head on my weenis, reverts to a shy Japanese woman, says sorry, stands up and covers her face with her hand and says "Good-bye An-dō-ryu-sensei."
That's me... the peaceful-leader-dragon-teacher.
The door closes, and I can hear her softly make her way down the spiral white painted concrete stairs beside my apartment.
I'm standing there naked and sighing inwardly when I hear foot steps tromping along the hallway to my front door.
Crap! It's Ashley! My ex-girlfriend with whom I am allowed to sleep with when she deems it necessary for herself - we're supposed to go shopping for antiques in Nikko today.
I am so tired... maybe I can make an excuse to not go... and if I can stay here by myself, I am sure Junko will use her spidey-sense and come flying back so that we can continue our marathon of degeneration. Marathon is a Greek town. I'm not tired enough to not do a marathon.
I run back into my bedroom as I hear Ashley insert her key into my lock. I slap on yesterday's underwear and walk out yawning to greet her.
As I lean in to give her a kiss, she pulls away suddenly.
"What's that smell all over you and all over the apartment?"
"What smell?" I ask honestly. I may have a large nose, but it's not known to be able to perceive much of anything. Regardless... it has its uses.
"Did you have some woman over?"
Crap! Need an excuse now, brain!! Hurry!
"Ummmmm..."
That's the best you have?! Crap! Doomed! Dooooooooomed!!!!
"So who was it? Some Japanese woman you picked up at the 4C?"
I nod quietly with my eyes darting from side to side looking for some sort of defensive weapon.
"Anyone I know?"
"No," I whimper as it is obvious no weapon is nearby.
"Good. As long as it's not another AET (assistant English teacher) or someone who knows me."
Wha - ? Is she kidding me? I'm pretty sure everyone I've boinked is either another AET or someone who knows her or both. Hooray for me. It's the problem with being a semi-famous gaijin in a small town. Big fish in a small town any day, baby.
"Everybody knows you, Ash."
"No," she corrects. "Everybody knows you, and thus people know of me."
She goes up on her toes to kiss me.
Okay... I'm up too... just not on my toes.
I think all of that sex in the air is contagious.
An hour later, a very dehydrated Andrew who is badly in need of a shower to wash off the sex scent of two women is happily riding with Ashley, first to the bank and then to the train station in Nishinasuno-machi.
It's weird (or not)... but the scent I have all over me seems to keep all of the guys away from us on the train... but is instantly recognizable by every single woman on the planet for some reason. It also made myself incredibly popular as some sort of sex god, and also made Ashley popular as the woman who made the sex god happy. Poor Junko lives on in anonymity.
For the first time ever, people begin talking to Ashley on the train while completely ignoring the contented me.
If this were a movie, it would fade to black with a locomotive entering a tunnel.
It's only 10:30AM. The day continues...

Somewhere I stink,
Andrew Joseph
Re: the image above... do you think 'polish the car' is an euphemism? You never know with writers! It's a panel taken from Marvel Comics' Teen-Age Romance #86 (March 1962 issue), written by Stan The Man Lee and what looks like art by Gene Colan and Vince Colletta.
Today's blog title is by the J. Geils Band:

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

KFC's Double Down Coming To Japan

Ahhhh... a meal fit for a Godzilla!

Pinch me. I think I have died and gone to cholesterol heaven.

Kentucky Fried Chicken, aka KFC, is hatching its infamous Double Down sandwich to Japan.

On February 2, 2012, the Double Down will begin clogging arteries with its delicious flavors and grease making it perhaps one of the most looked-forward to day since the invention of the weekend.

Okay, I exaggerate, but people are already looking forward to it - like Astellas Pharama who produce Lipitor (which I take) in Japan.

Unlike its fat American cousin, the Japanese Double Down will actually be known as the Chicken Fillet Double... perhaps because in Japanese, the term 'double down' implies something stinky about the economy. I made that up.

Despite the name change, don't worry, nothing else will change - except the price - which I assume will be higher in Japan. Suckers.

The sandwich will continue to be 540 calories of heart-stopping goodness made up of two deep-fried chicken fillets, melted cheese, bacon, and Colonel Harlund Sander's secret sauce. Bread is not required, thank-you very much.

Here's what's in the Colonel's Secret Sauce:
Soybean Oil, Water, Distilled Vinegar, Egg Yolk, Sugar, Salt, Modified Corn Starch, Paprika, Xanthan Gum, Monosodium Glutamate, Spice, Chicken Broth, Garlic Powder, Propylene Glycol Alginate, Potassium Sorbate, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Soy Sauce (Soybean, Wheat, Salt), Natural Flavor, Chicken Fat, Dehydrated Chicken and Hydrolyzed Corn Gluten.
Contains Egg, Wheat and Soy.

I think my cholesterol went up just writing about this.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph with a big tip of the cap to Caroline.

Japan Has Croc Problem


You'd think that Japan would have more important issues to tackle, but no... apparently they do not. The Trade Ministry of Japan has decided to take a bite out of the makers of Crocs. No... not mommy and daddy croicodiles, but rather the makers of those hideously ugly, but suppsedly extremely comfortable (thank you marketing department!) shoes. 
Known globally as one of the worst fashion trends in decades both from the point of view of safety and appearance, the Ministry has told Colorado, US-based Crocs, Inc. to redesign its shoes or face extinction in Japan.
Perhaps in an effort to replace the ugly house slippers worn by everyone in Japan, over 3.9 million pairs of Crocs were sold in Japan since their introduction back in 2002 (actually a few years later into the Japanese market).
But cheap, ugly, comfortable shoes apparently come at a price.
Some 65 complaints were made to the Ministry, with many about how the shoes would get stuck in escalators - many of which involved kids getting hurt.
This croc looks comfy.
As a result of this negative press involving kids getting hurt, a factory in Japan closed down meaning over 700 employees lost their jobs
Despite the controversy and the closing of one factory, in the last decade the sale of Crocs has surpassed its $1 billion mark for the 2011 calendar year, raising the value of the company’s stock by 6.3 per cent.
Oh... and in light of the Tohoku earthquake that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, you really have to hand it to the good folks at Croc, Inc., who donated 100,000 pairs of shoes to Japan.
Great. Now that they have lost their jobs, homes, family members, economy, they can at least have comfortable feet. Too bad these shoes have air holes in them and can't really keep one's feet warm in the cold... like what it was when the earthquake hit... 

By Andrew Joseph

Blue Suede Shoes

It's Saturday, November 23, 1991.

I'm an assistant English teacher on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme here in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

I currently do not have a girlfriend.
I have an ex-girlfriend whom I sleep with named Ashley (American). She probably wants a boyfriend but doesn't want me for a boyfriend.
I also have an ex-stalker whom I sleep with named Junko (Japanese), who has a boyfriend and doesn't want me for a boyfriend.
I also occasionally sleep with anything female in a skirt when neither is around - both Nihonjin (Japanese) or gaijin (foreigner).
All of this depresses me because I just want someone to love.
And yet... in the 16 months I have been here in Japan, aside from the woman crap, I enjoy my life here immensely.
Everyday in Japan is something new.
Unfortunately, everyday in Japan with the women in my life is not.
Ashley had spent the night last night. No... we did not have sex, though she did manage to get off... and was too tired for me. I hate that.
She woke up early - probably because she went to sleep in my very comfortable Queen-size rather than her thin futon at her place - so that she could leave at 9:30AM.
She says she wants to go home and clean her apartment. It probably needs it, but there is no way in hell I am removing myself from my warm blankies to see her off. Especially after last night's snub.
I sleep in until 11AM when I get up to answer the phone call from my good buddy Matthew. I finally get up - this time for sure - at 1:30PM when Kristine (half American and half Japanese) calls me to thank me for the Game Boy I sent her.
Now Kristine... I don't sleep with her... but we would sleep with each other if she wasn't 500 kilometers west of me in Shiga-shi, Shiga-ken. But... despite that being something we would both want, I can't see it going further. I mean... I do... but not from her. Damn, she's one fine woman.
So... I get up... I clean my apartment, do a load or two of laundry, read a book for a while and then watch some videos from back home in Toronto courtesy of my little brother Ben.   
At around 8PM after eating some left-over lasagna from last night that I made for Ashley, I call her up.
I remind her that since we two are going to Nikko tomorrow that only the Ohtawara Ashikaga bank will be open, not the one in her nearby town of Nishinasuno. Hey... I plan ahead and asked around about the banking situation.
So... to save time, I ask her if she wants to come over now and spend the night.
Of course, I had just woken her up and she is far too sleepy now.
No sooner than I hang the phone up in disgust, but I hear my doorbell ring.
Regular readers will know who it is, and won't be disappointed.
Yes... it's Junko, who as soon as the front door is closed has already dropped her clothes on the floor, and is kissing me while struggling to removing my pants.
Will it be something straight, exotic or mildly dangerous today? Hopefully all three.
But how does she know when I'm alone? Stalking me again? It doesn't bother me as much as it should.   
Somewhere I need a better belt,
Andrew Joseph
The photo above is me standing in front of the main entrance of my apartment complex in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. Despite the cool beard and nice suit, my shoes are so ugly that I wish I had a pair of blue suede shoes! It was more than likely taken by Ashley. Junko had an aversion to cameras, despite her fantastic looks.
Today's blog title is by Carl Perkins because the song's lyrics fit on so many multiple levels today - and hey! If the shoe fits... wear it!:

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Bambi Meets Godzilla

One of my all-time favorite cartoons is the black and white short entitled Bambi Meets Godzilla.

Made in 1969 by Marv Newland while at the Art Center College of Design in Los Angeles, California after Newland was left scrambling after the live-action film he was working for a month would not be completed in time for a school project - he had apparently missed a golden shot he needed.

So... he had a month to create this film... that he drew in his room... that was rented to him by Adriana Caselotti, who did the voice of Snow White in the classic 1937 Disney flick Snow White & The Seven Dwarfs.

It's not the best animation in the world, but comedy-wise, it is one of the best. It does feature the Call To The Dairy Cows from the William Tell Overture by Rossini, as well as the final piano chord from The Beatles' Day In The Life.

Say what you like - the cartoon has provenance!
 
I recall watching it on the all-night show on Channel 47 (yes, that number again) in Toronto, when it was introduced by Chuck the Security Guard and Ryerson The Camera Man at around 2AM back in 1980 or so.

I laughed so hard that I woke the whole house up.

I hope you will, too! And when the whole house is up, have them watch it with you!

Oh... and Newland moved to Toronto in 1970 and stayed in Canada. 

Skroooooonnnnnkkkkk!!!
Andrew Joseph

History Of The Japanese Automobile

I never had a car while I lived in Japan, though I often wished I did - especially after I was hit twice by cars while riding my bicycle - within a few weeks of each other, within a few months of arriving in Japan.
My family has owned a Nissan Stanza, and I have owned a Madza 323 and a Toyota Camry wagon - all of which were fine dependable cars. My father has another Camry wagon, and I eventually moved on to a Mazda Tribute. So... I like Japanese cars. I've also had many fine American cars, though my recent experience with the Swedish SAAB left me less than impressed. As of 2015, I'm driving a Mazda 6 - which totally is zoom-zoom.

I like my Japanese cars.

Regardless... let's look at Japan and the automobile.  

There are a few things one needs to know about Japanese cars nowadays.... Number 1: white is the most popular color. Not only is it easier to see at night, but it also represents purity which is something all Japanese men strive for while they cheat on their wives with a mistress. Hey... ya gotta start somewhere.
Number 2: the Japanese word for car is kuruma ((車). Now... a brief history lesson in Japanese language. The car was invented ... well... depending on what one believes, in 1860 in France, but I'm betting the Japanese did not see one until much, much later.   
I could be wrong, but if the automobile is a foreign invention - IE not a Japanese one - then the word created to describe it should have been a katakana alphabet word. Not kanji,which was used for words to describe amongst other things, things that are Japanese.
Whatever.
Let's take a look at the automobile in Japan... a brief history of it just to get your going hmmm. 
In Japan, the first inventors of a Japanese automobile were guys working in bicycle repair shops or at bicycle manufacturing shops... you know... those 1,000s of little bicycle repair shops that dot every single city, town, village and hamlet of Japan.
Why not... in the USA, bicycle manufacturers the Wright brothers were trying to create an aeroplane (archaic spelling of airplane) from their bike shop.

Panhard et Levassor
First Cars in Japan:
In 1898, the Panhard et Levassor from France was the first car shipped to Japan. 

Locomobile
The first automobile dealer in Japan was the Locomobile Company of America Agency, specializing in the import and sales of America's Locomobile steam cars. In 1901, this agency set up a sales showroom in Tokyo which gave Japan its first look at the automobile... and it liked it.
 
The Locomobile had a sandwiched leaf spring-style suspension, a steel chassis, wooden body and over 300 connecting pipes making up its boiler for a two-cylinder engine that was driven by steam pressure.
1902 to 1913
Takuri
The first automobile made in Japan was done so in 1902 by 21-year-old Uchiyama Komanosuke (surname first) in Ginza, Tokyo after Yoshida Shintaro (surname first), a manager at Sorinshokai Bicycle, had brought back a gasoline engine from the United States. Uchiyama was working for the Sorinshokai dealership when he created this car, designing and manufacturing a chassis and body himself. 

Uchiyama then built the first entirely Japanese-made gas-powered car in 1907 known as the Takuri.

1904 Yamaba Omnibus
Also in 1907, Hatsudoki Seizo Co. was established (in 1951 it was renamed the Daihatsu Motor Car Co., Ltd.).  

1905 Yoshida Omnibus
Strangely enough, someone built a bus before the car. In 1904, Yamaba Torao (surname first) of Okayama-shi built the first Japanese-made bus - the Yamaba Omnibus powered by a steam engine - that could hold 10 passengers. This may have been Japan's first "car".

In 1905, the Yoshida Omnibus debuted - a gas engine vehicle. This may have indeed been Japan's first gas-powered vehicle. 

In 1911, Kaishinsha Motorcar Works (later to evolve into Nissan Motors) was established in Tokyo under the guidance of Hashimoto Masujiro (surname first).

1914 to 1917
After its experience in the Russo-Japanese War (1904-1905), the Japanese army became interested in the automobile importing in 1907 military trucks from Germany and France. In May 1911, it produced its first domestic military truck at the Osaka Artillery Factory under the orders of the Military Agency.

1919 Mitsubishi Model A
In 1914, Kaishinsha Motor Works began importing, assembling and selling British cars while also manufactured seven all-Japanese cars called the Dattogo (or DAT, for short) featuring a two-cylinder, ten horsepower engine.

In 1917, the Mitsubishi Zosen (Mitsubishi Shipbuilding) Co., Ltd. was established and over the next four years until 1921, it built the Model A, Japan's first series-production vehicle. Hand-built, the seven-seat sedan was based on the Fiat A3-3 (or Fiat Tipo 3) design... but it was more expensive than rival manufacturers and was discontinued after only 22 models were built.

1918-1929
In March 1918, the Military Vehicle Subsidy Law was enacted whereby the military granted subsidies to car manufacturers to produce automobiles to be used by civilians during peaceful times and converted to military use in times of war. This was in effect Japan's first automobile industry policy.
Wolseley A-9

In 1918, Isuzu formed two years earlier, joined with British manufacturer Wolseley Motor Company and by 1922 the first Isuzu Wolseley model A-9 car is domestically produced.

Between 1920-1925, Gorham/Lila's auto production was established, and is only important as it was many years later merged into Datsun - the company that would become Nissan.

The Great Kanto Earthquake of September 1, 1923, created an urgent need for motor vehicles to service the inhabitants of the devastated capital. As a temporary measure until Tokyo's transportation network could be fully restored, 800 Ford Model T truck chassis were immediately imported and converted to what were known as the Entaro bus that would serve the city's transport system for a long time thereafter.
Entaro Bus

In 1924, the Otomo Japanese car was built by Toyokawa Junya (surname first) until 1927 at the Hakuyosha Ironworks in Tokyo. Otomo offered an air-cooled 944 cc four-cylinder light car, available as two- or four-seat touring car saloon (sedan) or as a van. This was joined in 1926 by a water-cooled 24 hp (horsepower) model.

Both the Gorham/Lila and Otomo companies were at this time the only two Japanese car manufacturers - though Gorham was financed by US aircraft engineer William R. Gorham (hence the non-Japanese-sounding company name).

The fall-out from the Great Kanto Earthquake was that the Ford Motor Company saw Japan as a lucrative market and set up a subsidiary in 1925 called the Ford Motors Japan, and then set up a production plant was set up in Yokohama. Model T cars were produced General Motors established operations in Osaka in 1927 and began selling Japan Chevrolets, while Chrysler set up Kyoritsu Motors.

Ford and GM showed Japan the importance of mass production technology, quality control of subcontracting parts manufacturers, and how to establish a national sales network.

Between 1925 and 1936, these three US automakers Japanese subsidiaries manufactured 208,967 vehicles, compared to the domestic Japanese producers who built only 12,127 vehicles.

1930 to 1945
American car manufacturers had begun building cars in Japan for the Japanese market and were, by 1930, producing nearly 20,000 units per year. Japanese domestic manufacturers were producing fewer than 500 units. By 1935, industrialization was well underway in Japan with as many as 16 companies producing cars.

1931 Mazdago
In 1936, the Japanese government passed the Automobile Manufacturing Industries Act, which was designed to break the American car monopoly in Japan and promote the domestic auto industry (while of course, reducing the competition from the foreigners). Companies formed under this act included Toyota and Datsun.

It should be noted that by the time Japan became involved in the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945), vehicle production had shifted to trucks - for the military. 

By 1939, the foreign manufacturers had been forced out of Japan.

Ohta OD 1937
1931 saw Mazda build the Mazdago - a three-wheeled open truck that looked like a motorcycle with an open truck bed. Steered via handlebars and powered by an air-cooled one-cylinder engine/transmission combo unit, it was built by Mazda and sold by Mistusubishi. It was considered to be the first auto-rickshaw.

Toyota AA 1936
Other note-worth data includes Ohta Jidosha Seizosho Co., Ltd. of Tokyo beginning auto production in 1934 through 1957. The company was established in 1922, and produced cars from 1934 beginning with the Ohta Model OS powered by a 736 cc 4-cylinder engine. In 1957 it was acquired by the Kurogane truck company and ceased auto production.

In 1936, Toyota released its first car - the Toyota AA.

In 1937, Tokyo Gas & Electric merged its car division with Automobile Industry Co., Ltd. and Kyodo Kokusan K.K., to form Tokyo Automobile Industry Co., Ltd. By 1941, the company changed its name to Diesel Motor Industry Co., Ltd., which would eventually become Isuzu Motors Limited.
1946-1954
1946 Tama electric car.
World War II brought the requirement that Japanese zaibatsu, or industrial conglomerates, disband.

However, Fuji Precision Industries (later the Prince Motor Company) built the Tama in 1946 - an electric car! Despite its clunky look, it still looks a damn side better than most electric cars out on the road today in 2012. The car was created because after the war there was a shortage of gasoline. As such, the electric car was an important introduction. The Tama was used in Japan primarily as a taxi until 1950. It could drive for 65 kilometers on a single charge using its 65 volt motor. It used a lead-acid 40 volt battery - but a speed demon it was not, having a top speed of only 35 kilometers per hour.

1955 to 1965

The Japanese government saw the importance of restarting the domestic car market and took steps to stimulate innovation.
Prince Motor Company started up in 1952  and would become integrated into Nissan by 1966. Hino Motors began auto production in 1953 before merging with Toyota in 1967.
1963 Honda S500

Subaru released its first car, the Subaru P-1 in 1954. In 1955, Suzuki began production of the 360cc Suzlite. Mitsubishi introduced its Mitsubishi 500, a small, fuel-efficient 500cc cheaply-priced car. 1960 saw the introduction by Toyo Kogyo, who would eventually become Mazda, of a 360cc coupe. Toyota's 700cc couple was introduced in 1961. All of these cars were the result of a government program urging car makers to produce small, highly fuel-efficient vehicles at an affordable price for the domestic market.
In 1963, Honda released its first car, the Honda S500 - which looks awesome!

1965 to 1975
Rotary Engine
The Japanese Automotive Manufacturer's Association (JAMA) was established in 1967. JAMA was formed to help auto manufacturers deal with changes in Japan's economy, such as liberalized automotive imports, that resulted from Japan's entry into the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT). Japan's auto manufacturers realized they would need more automation in automobile production and began using advanced digital manufacturing technologies and robotics in the early 1970s. Management structures were changed to match newer manufacturing technologies and techniques.

Between the mid-1960s and mid-1970s, Japanese car purchasing exploded. In 1962, 14 per cent of households owned cars. By 1975 it had increased to more than 50 percent. This influx of cash allowed Japanese car manufacturers to innovate in areas of manufacturing technology and engine design, resulting in the development of the rotary engine by Toyo Kogyo.

1975 to 1985
1982 Honda Accord
The global oil crisis of 1973 created a demand for more fuel-efficient cars. With American car manufacturers having focused for years on high-power, large engines, Japan was in a good position, with its lineup of smaller engines designed for fuel efficiency, to enter many global markets, especially the U.S. Because Japanese cars were already small and light, they were one of the first to use innovative materials, such as plastics and high tension steel sheeting, to further reduce weight.

In 1981, the Voluntary Export Restraints limited Japanese car exports to the U.S. to a mere 1.68 million cars a year. However, while it was done so that more people would buy American, what it did instead was force Japan to become even more competitive with its American cousins. The Japanese continued to make better, safer, more fuel-efficient vehicles that also looked good and were inexpensive to purchase.    


In 1982 the Honda Accord became the first Japanese automobile manufactured in the U.S.

In 1984 Toyota opened NUMMI (New United Motor Manufacturing Inc.) in Fremont, California, the first joint venture automobile manufacturing plant in the U.S. with its partner General Motors.

In 1983, Jumpin' John Goldsmith releases his widely popular song: You're Still Not Safe In A Japanese Car. Nice try, America.

1985 to present By 1985, Japanese automakers had been established as world-class operations.

Innovations in manufacturing systems, management systems, and automotive materials were at levels that wouldn't be matched by other nations until the mid-1990s. Japanese manufacturers focused on product improvement, including technological innovations. One area of focus was making cars recyclable. By 1985, 75 percent of a Japanese car, by weight, could be recycled. Japanese manufacturers also focused on safety improvements. Japan began manufacturing cars in local markets, such as the United States, as a response to protectionist sentiments. By the mid-1990s, Japanese manufacturers had entered the luxury car markets with high-end co-brands, such as Acura and Lexus, being produced to compete with European manufacturers like BMW and Mercedes-Benz.
Here's a list of some important auto makers and their entries: 
  • 1986 - Acura is launched in the US by Honda
  • 1988 - Daihatsu enters the US making it the first time all nine Japanese manufacturers are present
  • 1989 - Lexus is launched in the US by Toyota
  • 1989 - Infiniti is launched in the US by Nissan
  • 1989 - United Australian Automobile Industries (UAAI) founded in Australia as a joint venture between Toyota and Aussie's Holden
  • 1996 - UAAI joint venture dissolved
  • 2003 - Scion is launched by Toyota
  • 2008 - Toyota surpasses General Motors to become the world's largest car manufacturer
  • 2010 - 2009–2010 Toyota vehicle recalls
  • 2011 - Tohoku earthquake affects production of Japanese auto manufacturers and parts.
Passenger cars

Manufacturer 2007 2008 2009
Toyota 3,849,353  3,631,146  2,277,426
Honda 1,288,577 1,230,621 729,804
Nissan 982,870 1,095,661 702,071
Suzuki 1,061,767 1,059,456 691,435
Mazda 952,290 1,038,725 627,517
Daihatsu 648,289 641,322 507,638
Mitsubishi 758,038 770,667 320,690
Subaru 403,428 460,515 318,714
Other 25 30 0
Total 9,944,637 9,928,143 6,175,295

Trucks
Manufacturer 2007 2008 2009
Toyota 291,008 271,544 163,092
Suzuki 156,530 158,779 135,724
Daihatsu 138,312 151,935 121,291
Isuzu 236,619 250,692 104,387
Nissan 188,788 189,005 100,507
Mitsubishi 88,045 83,276 56,895
Hino 101,909 101,037 55,295
Subaru 72,422 64,401 46,098
Mitsubishi Fuso 131,055 115,573 44,462
Honda 43,268 33,760 24,803
Mazda 43,221 39,965 22,119
Nissan Diesel 44,398 45,983 16,738
Other 2,445 2,449 489
Total 1,538,020  1,508,399  891,900

Buses
Manufacturer 2007  2008 2009
Toyota 85,776  109,698   63,178
Mitsubishi Fuso 10,225   10,611   4,619
Nissan 7,422    8,416   4,130
Hino 4,984    5,179   4,044
Isuzu 3,668     3,221   1,804
Nissan Diesel 1,595    1,977   1,479
Total 113,670   139,102   79,254

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph
Thank you Wikipedia for the charts and the last two three yearly data dumps. The later bits of information were well researched... but I had to do a fair amount of research in all of the other earlier stuff because I suppose I love pioneer history.