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Thursday, February 28, 2013

I DO Believe In Humanity

Every once in a while when I start believe my own hype, my ego gets ahead of itself and then reality brings me crashing back down.

I already have three other blogs written and was going to post one of them now, but I think posting a blog that has nothing to do with Japan and everything to do with humanity takes precedence.

Sometimes, like recently I've contemplated stopping this blog and others and maybe find some other outlet. Then I give myself a shake and say, screw it. I'll do what I always do and plod on.

It is true that I become self-absorbed in my own minutiae thinking that woe is me and here's another effing curve ball thrown at me because yet again, I'm not getting my way. You think I would be used to it. The whole decade of the 1990s, I was like Ferris Bueller and could do no wrong. Before and since... ahhh, not so much.

And it pisses me off royally when I contemplate what I don't have or what I have failed to accomplish.

And then I here about some stupid news story which makes me realize what a complete and utter jackass I am.

Even though this story has nothing to do with Japan, I would like to share it with you in the hopes you will share it with others. Or just recall it when you feel down.

This is a story that transcends borders. It is a story about humanity, and how not everyone is a liar or a cheat or a dick or pick your own colorful term.

It's a story about a basketball team. Or maybe it's about the team's coach. Or maybe it's about the team's fans. Or maybe it's about the opposing team. Or maybe its about one person on that team. Or maybe it's all that and more.

It's about one simple basket. Two stinking points in a high school basketball game in which the outcome was not in doubt point-wise but was in doubt heart-wise.

 It's the story of Mitchell Marcus, 18, who is a developmentally-disabled student.

It's about his basketball team - the Coronado T-Birds from El Paso Texas - who knew Mitchell loved basketball so much they named him the General Manager.

It's about Mitchell never complaining and getting the players water bottles and towels during the practices and games.

It's about his coach and teammates agreeing to allow Mitchell to dress for their final game - not as General Manager - but as a bench player.

It's about the coach actually planning to not only get Mitchell into a game, but to keep him in the game until he scored a basket.

It's about not caring if they lost or if they won.

It's about the coach keeping his word and inserting Mitchell onto the floor with two minutes left in the game. 

It's about his teammates constantly feeding him the ball even though he would bobble passes or miss easy shots.

It's about not caring what the score was.

It's about the fans - other Coronado high school students cheering and groaning as Mitchell missed opportunity after opportunity - but not because the team needed the points.

It's about how with seconds left and Coronado not having possession of the ball, the opposing player called to Mitchell and inbounded the ball to him. On purpose. Giving the ball away to the opposition.

It's about Mitchell putting the ball up and in getting nothing but net.

It's about the team and the crowd jumping onto the basketball court to celebrate Mitchell's achievement.

It's about a happy mother.

It's about Mitchell being the happiest kid in the world for that moment.

But really, it's all about Jon Montanez who made the best turnover in the world in passing the ball to Mitchell - the most unselfish thing I have seen in a long, long time.

It's about Jon Montanez restoring my faith in humanity and making me feel happy and selfish all at the same time.

I watched the video below once about 30 minutes ago, and have been bawling my stupid eyes out while I write this.

It's beautiful.

And... if you are keeping score - shame on you - but Coronado won by 15 or something like that. I don't even know Jon Montanez's team name. Whatever.
 
Jon Montanez... you can play on any team of mine you want.

Thanks, man.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Japanese Kappa Spirit A Giant Salamander

Do you know what a Kappa is?

It's a Japanese water spirit that is supposed to be a child killer. A bogey man that parents used to use to frighten their children into obedience. The image above is a partial scene drawn by legendary ukiyo-e artist Hokusai.

Thirty-eight years ago, I used to scare the bejabbers out of my little brother telling him about these strange monsters called the Zimms that lived in our furnace room. 30 years later my brother Ben got his revenge on me by winning an Emmy for his part in writing the animated kids program Roly Poly Oly.

Stories. Stories made more real with every telling. That's how legends are born.

In Japan, originally via the power of oral history (and who doesn't like oral?), the tale of a river monster that took a child was born hundreds and hundreds of years ago.

This monster of the waters was known by many names, including: Kappa (河童 river child), or Kawatarō (河太郎 river boy) or Kawako (河伯 river earl), or Kawako (河子 river child), or Kawaranbe (河ランベ), or Gatarō (がたろう) or Enkō (猿猴).

 This is a Kappa drawings from mid-19th century Suiko juni-hin no zu 水虎十二品之図 (Illustrated Guide to 12 Types of Kappa).
 Source: National Diet Library (Tokyo).
While legend has it that the Kappa was an evil spirit, it would, if captured, offer to teach the captor medicines or offer with some menial farm work - but only if it would let it go when the chore was done. in fact, the Kappa is said to have brought the art of bone setting to man.

Although by the Edo-jidai (Edo period - 1603-1868), the Kappa was also regarded as a sometimes positive water spirit that could be befriended - you treat it right by providing gifts, and it would do the same.

Not surprisingly, the best monsters are those that are humanoid in appearance, and the Kappa is no exception.

Described as being the size of an eight-year-old child, the Kappa is supposed to have a large mouth that looks like a beak, scaly blue, orange or brown skin, fingers that grip - even claws on the end, webbed hands and feet. They are supposed to be able to swim like a fish and even smell like one. It is

While the beak is usually the key feature in all of the recent stories, mystically, a Kappa is supposed to have a bowl-shaped indent in its head that holds water... the source of its power. Having a full bowl of water in its head keeps it alive when it leaves the safety of the water. But, if the bowl spills the water out, the kappa may die.

(I actually first heard about the Kappa via a comic book that I will tell you about this week-end. It's brilliant.)

But more level-headed folks believe that the legend of the Kappa may hold its origins with a real creature.

I was recently watching a television show called River Monsters starring Jeremy Wade (I love this show and never miss an episode!), when he took on the legend of the Kappa. Wade's shows have him track down local legends to freshwater catch some of the rarest and largest fish on the planet.

In Japan, Wade found out that the Kappa may actually be a Hanzaki, a Japanese giant salamander.

Watch this clip of the show to see what the Hanzaki looks like:


How did a creature that may have owed its origin to a Japanese giant salamander morph into a human-like monster with a bowl of water in its head?

Purple monkey underpants.

Try this experiment: Whisper a sentence to one person and have them whisper to another and so and so until 30 people have become involved.

That sentence can only be whispered one time to each person. That sentence, after reaching the 30th person will more than likely bear little resemblance to the original sentence. Purple monkey underpants. A nonsensical invention of my own that I used to create a comic story in Strange Fun Comics which dictates how a misunderstanding by a monk scribe led to priest having to remain celibate for life, rather than celebrate life. The purple monkey thing was the title.


Anyhow, while the photo above comes from the website Arkive, it says that the Hanzaki is harmless... but others seem to disagree, as it does possess a good bite and has bitten humans prying too near its underwater home. Granted, the salamander in the River Monsters video is pretty pissed off at being unceremoniously ripped from its hiding hole.

Anyhow... here's some facts:
  • lives to about 80 years of age - a captive one live for 52 years; 
  • 5-feet (1.524 meters) long;
  • 50 pounds (22.7 kilograms);
  • long muscular body;
  • has hands and fingers;
  • has rows of hidden teeth inside its mouth;
  • eats fish, but will swallow it whole, where the fish is alive inside it until its gastric juices kill it;
  • nocturnal;
  • lives in cool, clear streams; 
  • when threatened it releases a milky substance that smells like pepper;
  • also known as the giant pepper fish (Ōsanshōuo (オオサンショウウオ/大山椒魚)
  • poor eyesight;
  • has sensory cells along body that help it hunt and sense prey; 
  • lays eggs under water - two eggs sacs each containing about 70 eggs at a time;
  • 2nd-largest salamander in world after Chinese Giant Salamander at 1.8 meters (6-feet);
  • survivor from the Upper Jurassic age of 140 million years ago.
According to a story from Japan, about 400 years ago in Asahigawa Asahi River at a placed called Ryuto-ga-fuchi (Dragon's Head Abyss) locals say there was a giant Giant Salamander that was 11 meters (36 feet) in length with a body diameter of about 5.5 meters (18 feet).

Now that's a monster! Of course, when it comes to tales from fishermen, size should always be taken with a grain of salt.

But... if you don't believe me about the teeth, check out the photo below of a hand that was bitten by a Hanzaki.

So... do the legends of the Japanese Kappa water spirit owes it origins to the Hanzaki Japanese giant salamander? We'll never know, of course, unless someone invents a WayBack Machine... but it seems as good a place to start as any.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Admission Fee For Mt. Fuji - About Bloody Time

According to a news report out of the Japan Times, the governors of Yamanashi and Shizuoka prefectures say they are contemplating charging an admission fee to visit Mount Fuji in a bid to finance environmental efforts on the iconic mountain.

Yamanashi Governor Yokouchi Shomei  (surname first) says Yamanashi and Shizuoka, whose borders are straddled by Japan's highest mountain, will jointly determine how much to charge and when to commence a fee-based system. An admission fee might be introduced on a trial basis at an early date, he added.

All I can say is - what, you weren't doing so before?

I live in Canada, and everything that can be charged for is being charged for here. What the hell is Japan doing not charging for admission to Mt. Fuji?

People want to see it. People want to climb it. It's part of Japan's park's programs, why the hell aren't prefectures making some money from this? Seriously.

Yes, I am aghast at some of the crap I have to pay for, but while it's true that Mt. Fuji is one of Japan's national treasures, let's not be stupid here.

People are always going to want to see Mt. Fuji, so why not profit from it. And if it's not profit, then at least use the financial remuneration to pay for the upkeep in and around the area.

Hell... want to see Niagara Falls? First you get the privilege of paying for parking.Then you can pay to get some food. Pay to get a ticket to have access to the grounds outside to view the two sets of Falls (Niagara and the American). You can still pay to take a boat ride in the gorge beneath Niagara Falls. Pay to visit the tunnels under and beside the waters. Pay for more food. Pay for souvenirs. And, let's not forget the cost of gas to get to and from Niagara Falls - which for me in Toronto is 100 km there and another 100 km back.

I only have a family of three, but a day trip to see Niagara Falls can easily cost me a $200.

So what if tourist to Mt. Fuji now have to pay a few yen to see it. It's so freaking huge, you don't actually have to get up close to it to see it.

When I lived in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan, I was a 3 o4 hour shinkansen train ride away. I could also (supposedly) be able to see Mt. Fuji from my town. I never did in three years, but then again, I wasn't always looking... and when I tried, it was raining, cloudy, snowy or misty or foggy. But I was far a away. You could still be 30 minutes away by car and see Mt. Fuji if you don't want to pay the admission price.

But even then - so what? It's a tourist attraction, so you pay for it.

I have no idea why it's news - except for the stupidity of these prefectures not having already been charging viewing rates for these past 10 decades.

I have no idea why the media isn't reporting that.

By the way, I never saw Mt. Fuji in three years, and yet I still feel like I had a fulfilling life in Japan. My friend Michael who lived in Tokyo for five never even saw Kyoto, a place I visited maybe four times and still never saw it all. He also never visited Mt. Fuji. Talking with him this morning before I saw this story, we both agree that we still saw a lot of Japan. For him it was a money issue. For me it was crap luck.

How often can one travel past Mt. Fuji in a shinkansen bullet train and have it obscured by cloud. I'm still not convinced of its existence.

I guess you can always pays yer money and takes yer chances.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Monday, February 25, 2013

Star Trek: The Japanese Time

I have often considered myself to be something of a 'weirdness magnet'.

Whether it's meeting some hot chick who's gone to the same somewhat obscure rock concert as me 20+ years ago, or someone who can quote bits of a book at me that I happen to know, or even someone who knows someone I know.

For example... when I was six and my brother not yet born, my family adopted a second Cocker Spaniel dog named Tippy, after it was found that the family we got him from had a one-year-old allergic to dogs. At that time, we lived in a house in Etobicoke right across from the Islington subway train station - a few kilometers away from where I live now. Anyhow, years later when my brother was in Grade 7, he discovered that one of his good friends - well... his family used to own Tippy, who had passed away a couple of years earlier.

Or, how about my mother-in-law being very good friends with the mother of someone I knew back in high school.

Or how about the father of one of my son's friends just so happening to be a kid who used to follow myself and my buddy Rob around, hanging out at the local variety store watching us play Donkey Kong on a stand-up video arcade machine by using the old quarter on the string trick to rack up 99 credits... and making him wait for an hour before we would give him the remaining 80+ credits. He recognized me, which is cool considering we may have last seen each other some 33 years earlier. He said it was the voice.

Like I said... a weirdness magnet.

Now... since we are all here on this site, you obviously know I must have some sort of fetish for Japan to be writing about some place I haven't seen in a donkey's age. To be honest... it was always just a way to expose some of my comedic Wonderful Rife stories to the public, figuring I would 'publish' 88 stories and be done with the whole Japan thing. That's why I started.

But Japan never quite let its death grip on me, as I found it a cool way to stay in touch with my friend Matthew down in the U.S., who lived in the same town as me in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan. Really... it's why I continued.

Now... even though I sometimes think I want to stop writing about Japan, Japan still keeps slapping in the face like an old girlfriend telling me I can't dump her after she's been my whore for so long. I always had a thing for whores.

Now... I don't really mean to call Japan a whore in strictest sense of the definition, but I have slept over a lot.

Anyhow... for the past four weeks or so, I have been watching re-runs of the original Star Trek television series. I thought I was a fan, but it became obvious to me, that upon watching each episode, I had very little knowledge of what each episode was actually about.

And so, watching all of these old episodes in high-definition - episodes that have been digitally altered to give them a more modern feel for the external shots - it's like watching them all for the first time ever.

I watch these episodes on the Canadian television station Space, and record them on my PVR so that I don't have to skip off work to see them.

Watching an episode called The Naked Time (a totally misleading title, for my sexually depraved mind), whereby the crew went nuts and lost inhibition, I saw some graffiti on the wall. See the photo up above - it says quite boldly in English "Love Mankind", with Mr. Spock staring at it quite logically.

But what the hell is the Japanese subtitle doing under it? There has never been a subtitle before, and why Japanese? It could have been any one of hundreds of language sub-titles... so why Japanese?

Like I said... I'm a weirdness magnet.

Sometimes I think that maybe I see her (Japan) where Japan does not exist... and that I only think I am seeing all of these weird interconnections (I have the same weirdness surrounding the number '47')... and that despite shooting a photo of it, it only exists in my mind.

But... apparently, despite normal paranoia's - like who sent me that link to a LEGO story - I am pretty normal. And that's what scares me the most.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Iwo Jima Statue Unsold At Auction

A famous Iwo Jima original monument was unsold at a recent New York auction, after it failed to reach the minimum bid pre-set by the owner, who was looking at a $1.8 million sale price.

That story can be found at the Huffington Post HERE.

For a more detailed look at the statue - including the statue's history - I wrote one up a few weeks ago, and can be perused HENCE.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph   

US To Add Early Warning Missile Defense Near Kyoto

New from Washington indicates that the U.S. will install an early warning radar system to help protect Japan against missile threats - particularly from North Korea.

Plans call for it to be placed on a coastal base near Kyoto.

Full story from the the Hindu Business Line, of all places. HERE.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Chinese Readership At All-Time High

I don't know how or why, but I've started getting readers in China.

Several months ago, one of my work wives went to China for a one week visit to see her family, that because of work visas ended up being one month.

Being a good work wife, she wanted to read this blog while there in China - only to find it blocked at ever turn.  My blog was banned in China.

Cool, I thought. It's great to be part of someone's conspiracy, but truth be told, I was disappointed. Not just for my work wife, but because I was loosing out on over 1 billion readers.

And now... just for a lark, I noticed that I suddenly had two readers from China over the past two hours. Whoops, it's 1AM as I write this... it's now one reader from China over the past two hours.

I hope nothing happened.

Still... it's nice to see. I actually don't have a problem with any country or persons from anywhere. Love and do what you will has always been my motto (since I was 14, anyways). I have no idea why I recall ages and dates et al, but can't recall what I had for dinner on Friday.

Anyhow... welcome you readers from China. Yes, China good, Japan bad.

Just kidding.

Regardless of the story, I do try to present a reasonably fair take on things regardless of what animal, vegetable or mineral is involved.

Now... if I could just figure out why the hell, one month later, this stupid blog is shrinking in daily hits. Heck, even another blog I write under an alias isn't immune. I had been average over 2,200 daily hits until Friday - and on that day I dropped under 1,000. It's back up again, but what the hell?! I had just posted three stories in two days - something I never do there, tending to space things out to average seven stories a month, as I focus my energies on the every dwindling supply of readers about all things Japan.

Oh yeah... China... I just did a story or two on the current relationship inroads between themselves and Japan. D'uh. That explains the rush of Chinese readers to an English-language blog about Japan.

It does and it doesn't.

Okay... enough of this whining about blog numbers. When I started, I would have been thrilled to have 1000 readers a month. You guys give me that and more every day now. Thanks for feeding my ego. It needed a diet anyway

I'm building a LEGO diorama for my son involving killer robots from outer space attacking a museum. I think I'll add ninja.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

How Water Can Be Really Good For You

After seeing the image above, I was tempted to rename this blog: Water, water everywhere but not a drop to drink. The Rime of the Ancient Mariner (by Samuel Coleridge) is my favorite poem after seeing it exploited in a Donald Duck comic book back when I was eight-years-old. Anyhow... the pic is of the Romania Water Polo team doing something water polo-related. I hope. I know. I'm weird.

Let's take a look at something best described as pseudoscience.

I don't particularly believe in it, because it's a bit to air-fairy for me. I prefer it when all of science agrees on something, even if I've never seen it, like atoms and Africa.

Scientists all over the world seem to know that atoms and Africa exist even though I have seen neither.

Anyhow, I'm unsure when my father became so holistic in his beliefs, considering he was the one who grounded me in science, but he wants to believe, and by that same token, I want o believe in ghosts and extra-terrestrials (beings from another planet - but not Africans, because scientists tell me they are from Africa, which they assure me does indeed exist), so I thought I would at least present the following work of a Japanese scientist named Emoto Masaru (surname first).  

First, I'll present the experiment with photographic evidence, and then a bit of a bio on Emoto-san.

Here's what was sent to me:

Can water be affected by our words? Dr. Masaru Emoto, a Japanese scientist, believes so. And he has proof. 
Dr. Emoto took water droplets, exposed them to various words, music, and environments, and froze them for three hours. He then examined the crystal formations under a dark field microscope. And he took photographs.

The results were totally mind-blowing. Here’s a photo of ordinary water without any prayer spoken over it. The molecular structure is in disarray. 

The photo below is water after the prayer was said. It’s simply breathtaking. (I now have a great respect for praying before meals! More on this later.)


Dr. Emoto also exposed water to Heavy Metal music. Here’s how it looks like. Looks sad if you ask me. 

Here’s water exposed to classical music and folk dance music.. Looks much better, right?


Next, Dr. Emoto stuck a piece of paper with these words: “You make me sick. I will kill you.” Here’s how the frozen water droplets looks like under the microscope… 


Below is how water looked like with the words “Love” over it. The difference is amazing.



This is Polluted water… 

This is water from Lourdes, France . Utterly beautiful, right?


Wait A Minute—
Aren’t You Made Up Of Water?
Yes! 72% of your body is made up of water.
Imagine how your words affect your own body.
When you say, “I’m a failure,” or “I’m hopeless,” or “I won’t get well,” imagine how these words weaken your health.
Make a choice to say the best words out there. Say often, “I’m wonderful,” and “I’m beautiful,” and “I’m God’s child,” and “God has a great plan for my life!”
It’s not only water.
Dr. Emoto also experimented with cooked rice.
He placed one cup of cooked rice in two airtight jars. On one jar, he wrote, “I love you,” and on the other, “You fool.” Everyday for 30 days, Dr. Emoto would say these words to each jar of rice.
After 30 days, the “I love you” rice was still white. But the “You fool” rice was so rotten, it was black. How can you explain this?


Just as a side note: When I was a child, my mother taught me to pray before meals. Now I realize it wasn’t just a nice thing to do. When I pray over my meal, I know a material transformation takes place in the molecular level of the food that I pray for. Dethrone the lies in your mind.
Say, “I’m beautiful.” Say, “I’m a wonderful person.” Say, “I have a great future.” say " I’m strong. I’m blessed.”
Use your words to create your desired reality.


Now... I admit the concept is nice... especially since we humans and other animals on the planet are made up of a large amount of water - which is good except I may actually be made up of a large amount of Coca-Cola and French Fries. Possibly, the fries are actually worms, but I've not seen them so I don't believe in their existence.

But, I think what the good doctor is trying to say here - regardless of the way it is presented, is that by being positive and treating the world with love, the world would be a better place.

It's a good thought, but I am unsure just why the hell he is picking on heavy metal music. And yet, I have heard, but can not confirm that plants when treated with background noise of classical versus heavy metal music, the classically trained plants grow faster and larger.  

Now... knowing that my classically trained uncle - who was a globally recognized conductor of the New Delhi Symphony died rudely from Myasthenia gravis (an autoimmune neuromuscular disease leading to fluctuating muscle weakness and fatigability) and also possibly aided by alcohol ingestion of a considerable amount on a daily basis, he seemed to have a live fast, die young mentality - the same as what the uninspired assume all heavy metal participants delve in.  

I guess we'll have to wait and see, but despite my uncle's global renown, I'm pretty sure he wasn't as financially well off as some heavy metal musicians. Of course, perhaps my uncle needed to say more nice things about himself, rather than kill himself with negative vibes, man.  

As for Emoto Masaru (江本 勝)... let's have a look, shall we: 
Born in Yokohama, Japan on July 22, 1943, Emoto is an author and entrepreneur (Ed. Note: and I'm a semi-pro sexsmith, but that's another blog) who claims that the human mind can effect the molecular structure of water. 

Okay... that much is obvious. He says that the power of positive thoughts and prayer can affect the chemical composition of water to turn bad water good.

By that same token, considering human beings are mostly water, I wonder if he proposes that good people could be made bad and bad people good depending on the power of a third-party mind source.

I've always gone with the theory that 'wishing doesn't make it so', but what the fug do I know? I have seven years post-secondary education and I make less money today than I did 10 years ago when I only had myself to take care of. 

Twelve years ago, I owned a condo, a car, a job, hair half-way down my back, worked out six times a week and had a 30-inch waist with a 48-inch chest, and was dating a stripper or three. My biggest concern was deciding if I wanted fries or poutine with that.


Now... I live in my father's house with my wife and son with no car to MY name as I support the family through good times and bad times. I still have my hair - thank god! But, I also have the zipper on my pants down right now so that the blood flow to my legs isn't cut off from my stomach pressing forward. 

Crap!

Do you think somebody has put a hex on me? Emoto-san!!! I'll double whatever that person is paying you!

Don't you all see? There is no other reason for me to be so unlucky. Although some might say that gaining a middle-aged spread comes with being middle-aged - and married - and not having time to date strippers or go to the gym. Or even the fact that I used to choose fries AND poutine 12 years ago and all of that has caught up with me.   

There's always a way to manipulate things to any result you care to promote, though I dare say I did not present a very good description of my self for any available strippers out there. 

Okay... back to Emoto. He graduated from Yokohama Municipal University (I've never heard of it, and didn't believe it existed, but apparently Wikipedia says it does, so I guess I have to believe it. Wikipedia notes such notable alumni as: singer Hirai Ken, novelist Seishu Hase, and Sekino Yoshiharu and explorer. It does not mention Emoto, so now I wonder if he did go there!).

Emoto graduated from this public university with a degree in International Relations (I have one of those - just not a degree).

Now... here's where it get's - use your own adjective. Is that a person, place or thing? Fug. Add your own descriptive term here. I choose - 'fishy'... Oh crap... hang on, I have to go feed my fishy.

Okay... after establishing his I.H.M. Corporation in Tokyo in 1986, he received certification as a Doctor of Alternative Medicine from the Indian Board of Alternative Medicines in India back in 1992. 

Why did it have to be India? Okay, so... Dr. Bombay, I mean Dr. Emoto  - who is currently the head of the I.H.M. General Research Institute, Inc., the President of I.H.M., Inc. and the chief representative of I.H.M's HADO Fellowship

Y'know... on LinkedIn, I described myself as the chief executive officer of Japan- It's A Wonderful Rife, because when you 'own' an idea, it's very easy to start tossing around titles. Soon, I shall be Commodore of Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife, and shall write under the pen name of Charles Dodgson and offer a woman a piece of cake that says 'eat me' to see if she wants to get inside my head.

A few years ago, I was going to print out cards as a ghostbuster - and then one year later there are all of these ghost buster shows on TV. I was just doing it as a lark. I've never seen a ghost or wanted to search for ghosts, but I thought it would be interesting to have it on a 'business card'. Emoto is making me thing I should have set up that church that eats strippers and worships poutine. Strike that. Reverse it.

Between 1992 and 1999, Emoto went to the U.S. and heard about this whole positive thinking and prayer thing and water. I have heard that Christians 2000 years ago prefer drinking wine over water. Anyways, we can all thank someone with some gnarly powers and beliefs for teaching the great and powerful Oz, I mean Emmoto all about channeling positive energy into my water.   


In 1999 he began publish his Messages from Water works, containing stuff like you see above. 

Needless to say, legitimate scientists the world over have poo-pooed Emote's work, calling it pseudoscience (aha!), and criticize him and his work, because rather than publish legitimately his findings, Emote just kind of throws it out there to the public, who seem to believe that everything one finds on the Internet is real. 

Did you know that YOU can set up your own Wikipedia page on say - evil scientists. There's one on mad scientists, and after self-publishing a couple of comic magazines called Evil Scientist Quarterly I was going to set up a 'real' page on evil scientists. Then I got bored and decided I needed to focus on manic-depression. Not my own, of course. 

I know, I can see many of you shaking your head at that. Now you are wondering how I am able to see you. I'll let you in on a little secret. 

It's a trick.

I use the sonic reverberations of the sonic space echo and simply use a crystal glass filled with water to scry all my readers. Really. 

Anyhow, Emoto is also criticized because his claims of long-distance water-cleansing goes against all the known rules of physics, which we have pretty much got a handle on these past 12 decades or so. 

Ahh, Emoto-san... I'm in your head, man. I know where you are coming from and I know where you are going. 

I'm telling ya - I want to believe, but where's the proof, man? Where's the televisions shows solving the dirty water issues in Boston as polluted by all the Troggs, man!?

Man... I need some poutine. (I meant to write 'stripper'),
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, February 23, 2013

There's No Ham In Hamburger!

With all of the crap hitting the fan with news that there is horsemeat in hamburgers, I thought I would share the following jokes.

While Japan is currently immune to this 'problem', it should be pointed out that since Japan does, on occasion, enjoy its horsemeat - like some in French Canada do, and everywhere else around the world - via basashi.

Basashi is essentially thin strips of raw horsemeat eaten ala sashimi.

Personally, I love sashimi - bits of raw fish meat with some soy sauce to dip it into. I have also eaten basashi, and was not that impressed, despite Japan's claims of it being a delicacy, and an expensive one at that.

Tesco, in the U.K. (United Kingdom) is one of those places that has been accused of having horsemeat in its hamburgers. To this, the Brits have said "Neigh. We don't want that!". In fact, it is said that the Tesco 'all-beef hamburger' contained up to 30 per cent horsemeat.

That's deceiving. It should be 100 per cent ham. Or whatever the hell is in hamburger. Cow? Really? Why is it not a cowburger? Oh, because the hamburger is supposed to be from Hamburg, Germany.

The German's, of course, are quite famous for their sausages, which contain all manner of creature great and small. And, while tasty, I can only hope it doesn't contain any soylent green.

Regardless... the Brits are a bit angry about having ingested something that still might have marks where the joking was whipping it.

In response - never piss of a Brit, because they will sting you with some of the best humor on the planet.
Here now is a small sampling of that biting humor: 

  • “I'm so hungry I could eat a horse." - I guess Tesco just listened
  • Anyone want a burger from Tesco? Yay or neigh?
  • Not entirely sure how Tesco are going to get over this hurdle.
  • Waitress in Tesco asked if I wanted anything on my Burger. So I had a £5 each way! (I don't get it! - I might have said 'Hold the jockey!')
  • I had some burgers from Tesco for my tea last night and I still have a bit between my teeth.
  • A woman has been taken into hospital after eating horse meat burgers from Tesco. Her condition is said to be stable.
  • Tesco are now testing all their vegetarian burgers for traces of unicorn.
  • I've just checked the Tesco burgers in my freezer...AND THEY'RE OFF!
  • Tesco now forced to deny presence of Zebra in burgers, as shoppers confuse barcodes for serving suggestions.
  • I said to the missus “These Tesco burgers have given me terrible trots”.
  • To beef or not to beef, that is equestrian.
  • A cow walks into a bar. Barman says 'Why the long face?'. The Cow says 'Illegal ingredients, coming over here stealing our jobs!'
  • I hear the smaller version of those Tesco burgers make great horse d'oeuvres.
Okay... let's not pick on Tesco anymore - talk about flogging a dead horse.
Cheers
Andrew Joseph  

China and Japan Discuss North Korea's Missile Program

With news that the U.S. President Barack Obama has pledged to stand with Japan to maintain the security of the Asia-Pacific area against North Korea aggression comes word that China has also agreed to stand with Japan to staunch the North Koreans.

Holy crap!

According to Japanese-language NHK media reports, Japan's Foreign Ministry's Asian and Oceanian Affairs Bureau chief, Sugiyama Shinsuke (surname first) met with China's special envoy for Korean Peninsula affairs, Wu Dawei, in Beijing, China this past Wednesday, February 20, 2013.

During the discussion both had concerns regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons program, and discussed what steps should be taken after North Korea's most recent (and third) nuclear missile test.

All I can say is - any dialogue Japan has with China regarding anything these days is a step in the proper direction after these two countries have been arguing vociferously over a bunch of islands each claims sovereignty over - the Senkaku Islands.

Of course, a day later on February 21, Japan President Abe Shinzo (surname first) commented at how China's nationalistic school system promotes an anti-Japanese sentiment as part of that country's social control.

One step forward, two steps back.

Perhaps Japan's President Abe should leave the diplomacy talk to the diplomats.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Friday, February 22, 2013

Obama and Abe Stand Firm Against North Korea

With Japan's President Abe Shinzo (surname first) visiting Washington, he and U.S. President Barack Obama have agreed that the security alliance between the two countries need be strong because of aggression shown by North Korea in Asia-Pacific region.

BBC News story available for your reading pleasure HERE.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Perry Expedition Letters Offered For Sale

I have personally visited the website of Baxley Stamps many times in the past. It seems to be quite the reputable source of wondrous items lost and found.

In this case, I was seeking - without much success - a copy/image of the actual receipt Commodore Perry received in 1853 from the envoys of the Emperor of Japan avowing their reception of a letter written by U.S. President Fillmore.

(Perry wanted official proof to bring back with him to show he had performed his duty of delivering the warm wishes of his country's president to the leader of Japan.) 

Now... while I have presented a newspaper article (by retyping it myself) that ran a letter from a crew member aboard the Japan Expedition, it seems that full blown letters of that self-same trip to the Orient are actually quite few in number.

Either few crew members wrote home of their trip to China, Singapore and Japan, or, as I am more inclined to suppose, many letters simply did not survive the ravages of good housekeeping, but poor archiving.

Having once held a position as a Records Officer Level 2 when I was summer student between the ages of 14-16, involved in microfiche-ing gold mine maps owned by the Ontario Government, and arranging for the transfer of sensitive Ministry of Housing documents - I know how important it is to maintain an archive of records, whether for legal or historical reasons.

It's why I used to research comic book and Big Little Books lore, for fear that one day such data could be lost.       

As such, in the case of correspondence between ship members of The Japan expedition and home, the fact that so few examples of letters are known to still exist is a shame.

Whatever. Baxley Stamps has quite a few Perry correspondence letters available for purchase - I believe they are still available. But rather than simply just take a photo of the envelope, this company provides some decent detailed information without showing the exact letter contents - and, despite not liking that, I do agree with them, of course.

Click HERE to see that fantastic website and the letters from people aboard Commodore Perry's Japan Expedition.   

Cheers
Andrew Joseph
http://www.baxleystamps.com/litho/perry_correspond/ten_letters.shtml

I Read A Book - Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima

I have been reading - for some time now - an advance copy of Persona: A Biography of Yukio Mishima written by Naoki Inose, and translated by Hioaki Sato. I actually finished the book a few days ago. 

My slowness in reading it was not due to the writer or the book, but more to do with the fact that I spend a lot of my time writing until the wee hours. As such, I would read the book at lunch whilst shoveling sushi down my throat.

Persona is kind of stuff at the beginning, I must admit, but after I got used to the names and the style (after about 20 pages), I found it flowing, and an enjoyable book.

And that is saying something - as I am not usually one for biographies. I don't mind watching them on TV, because I enjoy the visual stimulation - but reading about someone - ugh. I prefer history, non-modern detective novels, comedy, futuristic, fantasy and sci-fi... 

And yet... there was something about this biography book which made me continue reading. And, when I was done... I actually enjoyed it. I would even recommend it.   

Here's is the press release of the book sent to me by Stone Bridge Press

The 858 hardcover has been out for sale since November of 2012 for $39.95 US or $43.99 Cdn. I'll take the U.S. price, please. It is distributed by Consortium.

More than 40 years after his shocking death in 1970, Yukio Mishima remains one of Japan's most widely read and controversial authors. A three-time nominee for the Nobel Prize in Literature, Mishima was a brilliant writer and intellectual whose relentless obsession with beauty, purity, and patriotism ended in spectacular ritual suicide.

Persona is the first full biography of Mishima to appear in English in nearly four decades. It traces his trajectory from a sickly boy to a hard-bodied student of the martial arts. In detail, it examines his family life, the war years, and his emergence, then fame, as a writer and advocate for traditional values.

Using interviews, social and psychological analysis, and close readings of his novels and essays, author Naoki Inose and translator/adapter Hiroaki Sato have produced a monumental work that covers much new ground and offers easy access to primary source material never before presented to an English-language audience.

 Naoki Inose is governor of Tokyo. He has written biographies of writers Kan Kikuchi and Osamu Dazai. 

Hiroaki Sato is a prize-winning translator of Japanese poetry. He is translator of Mishima's novel, Silk and Insight, and his dramas, My Friend Hitler and Other Plays.
 

I know I plugged this book back in September of last year, but at least this time I have read it.  

Thanks for the chance to read a PDF of it Stone Bridge Press.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

The Perry Expedition - Part 9

Okay… It's 1853… Commodore Perry has delivered a letter from then-U.S. President Fillmore to the Emperor of Japan - or at least ensured that his envoys received it, having made the Japanese present him with an official receipt.



Published in the Worcester, Massachusetts-based National Aegis newspaper on November 9, 1853, let's get historical:

The Japan Expedition
The New York Tribune of last Saturday contains a long and interesting account of the arrival of the Japan Expedition on the coast, and interview of Commodore Perry with the Princes of Jedo, and the delivery of the communication from the President of the United States to the Government of Japan.
It was understood that the President's letter was favorably received, and it is expected that the result will be the opining of the way for further negotiations in trade and commerce, and official intercourse between that country and this.
The Commodore left the letter with the Prince of Idza an Prince of Iwami, and told them he would retune in a few months to get the reply—giving them time to deliberate upon the proposals—and then proceed to explore the Bay of Jedo.
The Americans were warned off when they first appeared in the Bay, and the Japanese in great numbers put off from the shore in boats, to intercept the exploring boats of the Americans, but were driven back when the Steamers moved towards them.
There seemed to be a disposition on the part of the Japanese to prevent the Americans making any survey, and they probably acted under authority.
The coolness, courage and straight-forward conduct of the American officers and men, intimidated the natives, and the survey was finally allowed to proceed without molestation.
Commodore Perry stopt in that vicinity as long as he wished, and then left for Loo Choo, a cluster of islands far South of Jedo and near the Eastern Sea.



So... after delivering the letter - perhaps the most famous mailman in American history, Perry told the Emperor of Japan that he would soon leave the country, but would return next Spring to await the official answer from the Emperor as to whether or not Japan would open its doors to trade with the U.S.

Jedo, sometimes spelled Yedo, is in fact 'Edo', now known as Tokyo, the capital of Japan.

Stopt is a great way to spell 'stopped'.

Loo Choo, sometimes spelt Lew Chew, is Okinawa.

I admit not much is going on in this op/ed piece, but it does provide a nice synopsis - and does acknowledge that:
a) the Japanese didn't want anyone coming into their land uninvited;  
b) the U.S. didn't care, and bullied their way forward as part of their ongoing Manifest Destiny;
c) the U.S. did not cave to Japanese intimidation, and instead, gave back better than they received, bullying the Japanese until they could be allow to map the sea and land areas.
d) and that bullying is apparently all right if it is done by a stronger entity over another weaker entity if you believe your cause is just.

With Manifest Destiny, the United States developed a sense of entitlement.

I understand this.

For years, I was picked on and bullied. So too was the U.S. by Great Britain.

Then I grew a pair along with a 12 inches in height, carried a large pocket knife and started acting the big shot, making sure everyone knew that I was crazy and would gladly provide a little payback if you didn't give me what I want.

The U.S., in an effort to legitimize itself as not only a new country, but as a world power, sought to make inroads in Asia where other countries fared horribly… and marched into Japan with a load of weapons, swaggering about that they were crazy enough to use them if they didn't get what they wanted.

False bravado? I don't think so… but luckily in both cases, no one dared call the other's bluff. Who knows what the result would have been?

Thanks, as always to Vinny who sent me this information via the Newsbank/Readex database of Early American Newspapers (www.readex.com).

Cheers
Andrew Joseph





 

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Perverts Я Us - Japanese Girls Rent Own Body For Ads

To be fair, I have certainly seen a lot of people rent out their body for ad space.

All one has to do is check out a boxing event, or an MMA event. To be honest, what's the difference between having an ad for PornHub on your back versus having an ad placed all over your shirt or other clothing. For that, check out NASCAR, European soccer and hockey - anyone wearing a T-shirt with a Nike swoosh or logo for some other brand.

But, in Japan… it's about product placement.

The next big thing to come out of Japan involves sexy, young Japanese women walk around with an advertising sticker placed appropriately on an exposed portion of their supple leg… above the sock, and below the skirt.

People will look - which is why I am writing about this.

And, when you have looked, you have proved that they marketing method works.

Everyone knows that sex sells. One of the first pieces I ever wrote was a column for my college newspaper back in 1989. My lead: Sex! Sex! Sex! (Followed by: "Now that I have your attention… ")

Needless to say, that comedy column receives some great reviews with people  I'd never seen before at school coming up to me to tell me they liked my writing.

Knowing the answer, I asked anyways: What made you read my piece?

To a man, they all answered that my opening line written in caps and bolded certainly caught their attention.

I asked them if they read any other other articles in the newspaper, and nearly to a man they said no.

Give the people what they want! While that's an old Kinks song from the 80s - O'Jays, too. - but certainly an adage far older than that! Maybe.

In Japan, as in any other country, getting people to look at an ad is important. Of course, the ad must be done in a manner appropriate to one's brand.

Would Toshiba or Toyota utilize a marketing plan like this—-unlikely. They know the medium doesn't quite fit the image they wish to convey.

But a lot of companies probably would.


The brainchild of Absolute Territory PR (絶対領域), the company says that the number of women renting out a bit of space is increasing daily. 

Absolute Territory PR takes its name from the Japanese phrase 'zettai ryouiki koukoku' (absolute territory).

Sounds interesting - but then you see how pervy it all is when you realize that the Japanese phrase is slang for 'the exposed bit of leg between a knee high sock and a skirt.'

Some people feel that this exposed bit of skin is drop dead sexy—sexier even than a bit of cleavage.

I will agree with this only because it is still a relatively new phenomenon… cleavage has been shown off for centuries… the mysteries of the leg - that's still a recent thing, sociologically speaking.

Heck… even if you look at cleavage (insert joke here), the concept of seeing exposed bottom boob seems to be more titillating than cleavage-exposed inside boob or top boobs pressed together.

Yes... I apparently have put some thought into this topic.

According to Absolute Territory PR, it only hires women over 18 who are willing to wear the stickers for a minimum of eight hours a day.

As well, they are expected to update their personal social media pages with pictures of their thigh-high ad over the course of the day - but only after they have over 20 social media followers.

Followers? I'm going to say stocking stalkers.

Will this be a success? Well, truth be told, it has a chance.

My issue is for the walking billboards, if you know what I mean about issue.

In this case - take a look at any of the advertisement stickers in the attached photos. Now, after you have realized you can't see up their skirt,  can you actually read the advertisement?

Just how close do you have to get to read it?

Pretty damn close.

Safety now becomes the issue.

Japan has long had boundary issues. Whether it's keeping people out of their country, or wanting and thus grabbing whatever and whomever they want - often in a sexual assault kind of way.

We can all laugh at the silly way this ad campaign is being processed, but when you stand back and take a good hard look, unless the product being hawked is for a sex-industry-related product (including pharmaceuticals) just what sort o clientele are you trying to entice.

"Uh, yeah… mum, like I saw your ad on Kimiko-chan over at the corner of unnamed-street and what-street-sign avenue, and like I just had to come over. Twice. And then I thought… yes, I do want a bowl of ramen noodles. And a bit of pram please… know what I mean? Nudge-nudge-wink-wink."

Seriously. Yes, sex sells. Everyone recalls the sexy Dorito's girl doing the splits while catching a chip in her mouth at the laundromat (HERE), or the Godaddy.com commercials (montage HERE).

But, you better believe there's also a lot of negative flack (as opposed to positive flack) that goes with these popular ads.

But to me, walking around in a short skirt is one thing, walking around in a skirt and needing to have people stare at your legs to see an advertisement is a whole new level of skankiness - and I don't mind skanky.

But this just seems like its going to invite trouble for these young women trying to earn an 'honest buck.' 

Man… I think I'm getting old… and I'm using the word 'but' too much to start a sentence.

Thanks to MH for the lead!

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

A Discussion Of Religion Between Commodore Perry and The Emperor of Japan

When the U.S. ventured to Japan to try and convince the Asian nation to loosen its isolationist policy and make nice-nice with the Americans, there was also an underlying thought that perhaps the Yanks should also bring along their gift of Christianity to the heathen Japanese who worshiped such crap things as nature.

My friend Matthew wondered aloud if perhaps during such intercourse whether or not the true meaning of Christianity could have been lost in translation.

Now... because my real name is John Andrew Matthew Stephen Joseph, and I was born and raised a Roman Catholic - the one true religion, especially where Christianity is concerned (You do recall that the Protestants didn't like what the one true Christian Church was saying and so formed their own splinter group) - I thought I would take a crack at showing how a conversation between, say Commodore Perry and the Emperor of Japan might have gone had they sat down together and sucked back some U.S. whiskey and cherry cordials.

And, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I do not believe my religion is better than your religion, except if it is, and that all of what I am saying in this particular blog is for entertainment purposes only. And I mean no disrespect except where disrespect is intended.


Perry: So... your lordship... have you heard about the teachings of Jesus Christ?

Emperor: Please Admiral, call me The One True God and Emperor of Japan.

Perry: (Here we go again). I told you... I'm a Commodore... a made-up position given to me because there is nothing higher than an Admiral in the U.S. naval profession.

Emperor: So... you are like a God, then?

Perry: Yes... only much better paid.

Emperor: Me, too!

Perry: I'll drink to that!

Emperor: Kanpai!

Perry: Chin-chin!

Emperor: (speeeew!) No, Perry-san. Don't say chin-chin as a toast! It is disrespectful to Japanese!

Perry: Really? I am sorry. What does chin-chin mean?

Emperor: Penis.

Perry: Really, your highness, I said I was sorry.

Emperor: No, Como-san, chin-chin means 'penis'... you know... what we have between our legs.

Perry: I'm sorry.You mean the meat and two veg minus the veg?

Emperor: Cock.

Perry: Now you are being insulting.

Emperor: Yes. To your health and my small chin-chin.

Perry: You, too, huh? I blame God for that.

Emperor: Really? I can blame your God, too?

Perry: Sure. We have a pretty cool God, you know.

Emperor: Just one, right? We have plenty of Gods. Anytime something goes wrong, we blame that God.

Perry: Hmm... so you don't have to burden a single god with all of the crapola that goes on, eh?

Emperor: Correct. Are you sure you are not Canadian?

Perry: No. I have never seen an igloo and don't own a dog sled.

Emperor: Pity. So you don't play ski?

Perry: Uh, no (slugging back more whiskey). So... let me tell you about our God...

Emperor: ... So what does your God look like?

Perry: Well... he's a White male, I can tell you that much, but generally he doesn't look like much.

Emperor: Are you sure you are trying to convince me your Christianity is better than Shintoism? Or Tao... or Buddhism - which isn't a religion but is more of a philosophy?

Perry: Buddhism isn't a religion? Anyhow... (more imbibing)... we believe in The Father, The Son and the Holy Spirit.

Emperor: So... you have more than one God?

Perry: No! Of course not! That would be stupid. The Father represents God (Jehovah), the Son is his prophet and son Jesus Christ, and The Holy Spirit is... I have no idea what it is, but it's pretty freaking powerful, let me tell ya.

Emperor: It sure sounds like three Gods.

Perry: No... these three individuals are actually the same being... a Holy Trinity.

Emperor: Uh-huh. Have some more whiskey, Perry-san. So... Christianity... what are some of the symbols of Christianity?

Perry: Well... there's the fish symbol...

Emperor: Is it because your Jesus fellow was a fisherman?

Perry: Uh... no. I think he was a Sheppard. I know his father was a carpenter. Oh... and we also worship his mother, the Virgin Mary.

Emperor: Is she a God?

Perry: No...

Emperor: Then why do you worship her? Isn't that against one of the Commandments - look, this isn't my first time at the Christianity Ball, okay...

Perry: Well... we worship her with respect because she gave birth to Jesus, our savior and still maintained she was a Virgin.

Emperor: Oh yeah.... I see... and didn't her husband the carpenter think this a little... strange?

Perry: Well, yeah, but she said an angel said she would be the vessel for the son of God.

Emperor: And the carpenter fellow said, okay?

Perry: Of course! If you can't trust a Virgin, who can you trust?

Emperor: I'll drink to that! Chin-chin! So... Jesus wasn't a fisherman? Was Jehovah or the Holy Spirit?

Perry: No, I don't believe so.

Emperor: So what's with the whole fish as a symbol for Christianity? (Nodding his head) Was it because he was born during the Age of Pisces?

Perry: I have no idea of what you speak. But it sounds good to me! ... (glug-glug)... no waitaminute... I think the fish is a symbol because he once turned water into wine and bread into fish because people were hungry.

Emperor: Couldn't the people have just eaten the bread and drunk the water? (sip)

Perry: The water was salty and there wasn't enough bread.

Emperor: So couldn't Jesus have just done a God trick and removed the salt and conjured up more bread?

Perry: The Jews wanted wine.

Emperor: So... your God is Jewish?

Perry: No! 'merican!

Emperor: Is Jewish wine good?

Perry: I don't believe it is, sir. Not at all. It's never been on anyone's menu at any restaurant I have ever visited... and I have traveled to a lot of freaking countries, sir.

Emperor: So the fish symbol... whatever... anything else?

Perry: (Oh crap)... The cross...?

Emperor: Oh yes... the cross... you know we once crucified some of you fellows a couple of hundred years ago. Christians. Such a lot of screaming. (sip)

Perry: ... (gulp-gulp-gulp)... the cross is a symbol of Jesus Christ knowing he was going to be betrayed by one of his followers, arrested and crucified on the cross.

Emperor: So he knew it was coming? And he didn't do anything about it? Like having his follower killed for being a traitor?

Perry: ...

Emperor: Why did he allow himself to be trapped?

Perry: So he could die for our sins.

Emperor: What sins? You weren't even born yet. Perry... what... did you doooooo?

Perry: Christ.. I... I think I just broke a Commandment.

Emperor: So... a symbol of your God is the Son of God hanging on a cross. Kinky... So... who was it that killed Jesus?

Perry: The Romans! They were evil bastards!

Emperor: Are they the mortal enemy of Christians, then?

Perry: Uh, no... The Romans are not the enemy of Christians... they became a part of Italy and Italy has named its capital city after the Romans--Rome--and the center of the Roman Catholic religion is in Vatican City... in Italy.

Emperor: So... the folks who killed the Son of God... or God himself... or is it 'itself'... whatever... it was the Romans?

Perry: Yes...

Emperor: And the Romans are now Italians, yes?

Perry: Yes...

Emperor: And the center of your religion is situated within the country of Italy, right?

Perry: Yes...

Emperor: And now your religion is this Roman Catholic one... named after the same people who killed your God?

Perry: Yes... but we're not Roman Catholics!

Emperor: Oh no?

Perry: No... we Americans are Protestants.

Emperor: What the hell are you talking about now?

Perry: Well, a while back some folks didn't care for the way the Roman Catholic Church was preaching about God et al, and so they broke away and formed their own religion. Basically... gulp-gulp-gulp-gulp-gulp.

Emperor: Really... are you sure you wouldn't rather pray to a rock?

Perry: Don't mind if I do, Emperor, old buddy. Don't mind if I do.

Emperor: Perry-san... I like the way you think. Perhaps your country and my country can do business after all.

Perry: Really?

Emperor: Nawwww! Jodan! (joke!)

Perry: Really? A joke.

Emperor: Tabun (maybe). Let us drink some more and discuss why my gods are better than your gods.

Perry: Okay...

Emperor: Chin-chin!

Perry: Balls.


And there you have it - 50 minutes of typing with no idea what I was going to type. If there is a God or a Rock out there - thank you for not smiting me with a lightning bolt or sic-ing a Golem on me.

I can only hope that the topic of religion was not brought up by the sailor boys visiting Japan alongside Admiral - that's Commodore! - Perry. Best to leave that sort of thing to people who know religion better.

And Matthew... thanks for being the Bud Abbot to my Lou Costello and feeding me a line/topic inadvertently.
 
And to all those who feel flummoxed... relax... have some whiskey and a cherry cordial. It's just a jodan.

Chin-chin
Andrew Joseph
By the way... that photo above... that's: Tokyo Cathedral (St. Mary's Cathedral). Photo by Tange Kenzo.
PS: I guess Perry might say to the Emperor in 2013 after quoting from Herman Melville's Moby Dick (Or Khan Noonian Singh from Star Trek II: "To the last, I grapple with thee; From Hell's heart, I stab at thee."

Gifts From The US To Japan - The Japan Expedition - Part 8

Just because I feel like being a completest without doing a complete book, here's a list of gifts that Commodore Perry took with him to Japan. That's what's going on in the image above!

Now... it doesn't mean he gave them all away... some might have gone to the Emperor and envoys... others may have gone to the Princes... some to the leaders at Lew Chew (Okinawa)... and some he just may have brought home feeling no one was deemed worthy to receive them.

Part of the reason for bringing them - aside from them actually being presents, of course - was to show off western ingenuity.

Here's the list.

1 box of arms, containing:;
5 Hall's rifles;
3 Maynard's muskets;
12 cavalry swords;
6 artillery swords;
1 carbine;
20 army pistols;
2 carbine, cartridge box and belts, containing 120 cartridges;
10 Hall's rifles;
11 cavalry swords;
1 carbine, cartridge box & belts, and 60 cartridges;
60 ball cartridges;
1 box books, Emperor;
1 box dressing-cases, Emperor;
1 box perfumery, 2 packages, Emperor;
1 barrel whiskey, Emperor;
1 cask wine, Emperor;
1 box distribution;
1 box containing 11 pistols, for distribution;
1 box perfumery, for distribution;
A quantity of cherry cordials, distribution;
A quantity of cherry cordials, Emperor;
A number of baskets champagne, Emperor;
A number of baskets champagne, commissioners;
1 box chinaware, commissioners;
A quantity of maraschino, commissioners;
1 telescope, Emperor;
Boxes of tea, Emperor;
1 box of tea, commissioners;
2 telegraph instruments;
3 Francis's life-boats;
1 locomotive & tender, passenger car and rails complete;
4 volumes Audubon Birds of America;
3 volumes Audubon Quadrupeds;
several clocks;
10 ship's beakers, containing 100 gallons whiskey;
8 baskets Irish potatoes;
3 stoves;
Boxes standard United States Balances;
Boxes standard United States bushels;
Boxes standard United States gallon measures;
Boxes standard United States yards;
1 box coast charts;
4 bundles telegraph wires;
1 box gutta percha wires;
4 boxes batteries;
1 box machine paper;
1 box zinc plates;
1 box insulators;
1 box connecting apparatus;
1 box machine weights;
1 box acid;
1 box seed;
Large quantity of agricultural implements

The presents to the Emperor of Japan are kind of cool - especially the tea. It wasn't green!
I bet the cherry cordials went down well, as did the whiskey! Hey! Is that why the Japanese love whiskey now - because it was good enough for the Emperor to drink?

The telescope is a neat present too... I bet it was made of brass - probably an alloy the Japanese had not invented yet.

Showing off the steam engine must have been something too. Yes... here's something we ride around in. No... we don't need a rickshaw drive... just an engineer, a coal man, and a ticket taker.

I think showing off some of these impressive elements may have shown the Emperor and Japan just what they were missing out on by not opening up their borders. Unlike the armaments and cannons on board, these items showed a positive reason to do business with the U.S.


Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Letter from U.S. President Fillmore To Japan - The Japan Expedition Part 7

Continuing our look at the two trips of Commodore Perry and his Black Ships to Japan to open up relations between that country and  his United States, Perry was indeed successful, after he provided a letter to the Emperor of Japan on July 14, 1853. 

The letter from President Fillmore was enclosed within a rosewood box trimmed with gold.

For your edification, Millard Fillmore (see photo above) was the 13th President of the United States of America, and he was in office from July 9, 1850 - March 4, 1853.

That's right... by the time the letter was actually delivered into Japan's hands, Fillmore was out of office and President Franklin Pierce was in. 

Still... what exactly did that letter from Fillmore say?

Here is U.S. President Filmore's letter to the Emperor of Japan actually dated November 13, 1852. The time difference is simply the amount of time passing between Commodore Perry receiving the letter from the office of the President plus the time it took to sail to Japan:   


MILLARD FILLMORE,
President of the United States of America
to his Imperial Majesty,
THE EMPEROR OF JAPAN Great and Good Friend!

I send you this public letter by Commodore Matthew C. Perry, an officer of the highest rank in the navy of the United States, and commander of the squadron now visiting Your imperial majesty's dominions.

I have directed Commodore Perry to assure your imperial majesty that I entertain the kindest feelings toward your majesty's person and government, and that I have no other object in sending him to Japan but to propose to your imperial majesty that the United States and Japan should live in friendship and have commercial intercourse with each other.

The Constitution and laws of the United States forbid all interference with the religious or political concerns of other nations. I have particularly charged Commodore Perry to abstain from every act which could possibly disturb the tranquility of your imperial majesty's dominions.

The United States of America reach from ocean to ocean, and our Territory of Oregon and State of California lie directly opposite to the dominions of your imperial majesty. Our steamships can go from California to Japan in eighteen days.

Our great State of California produces about sixty millions of dollars in gold every year, besides silver, quicksilver, precious stones, and many other valuable articles. Japan is also a rich and fertile country, and produces many very valuable articles. Your imperial majesty's subjects are skilled in many of the arts. I am desirous that our two countries should trade with each other, for the benefit both of Japan and the United States.

We know that the ancient laws of your imperial majesty's government do not allow of foreign trade, except with the Chinese and the Dutch; but as the state of the world changes and new governments are formed, it seems to be wise, from time to time, to make new laws. There was a time when the ancient laws of your imperial majesty's government were first made.

About the same time America, which is sometimes called the New World, was first discovered and settled by the Europeans. For a long time there were but a few people, and they were poor. They have now become quite numerous; their commerce is very extensive; and they think that if your imperial majesty were so far to change the ancient laws as to allow a free trade between the two countries it would be extremely beneficial to both.

If your imperial majesty is not satisfied that it would be safe altogether to abrogate the ancient laws which forbid foreign trade, they might be suspended for five or ten years, so as to try the experiment. If it does not prove as beneficial as was hoped, the ancient laws can be restored. The United States often limit their treaties with foreign States to a few years, and then renew them or not, as they please.

I have directed Commodore Perry to mention another thing to your imperial majesty. Many of our ships pass every year from California to China; and great numbers of our people pursue the whale fishery near the shores of Japan. It sometimes happens, in stormy weather, that one of our ships is wrecked on your imperial majesty's shores. In all such cases we ask, and expect, that our unfortunate people should be treated with kindness, and that their property should be protected, till we can send a vessel and bring them away. We are very much in earnest in this.

Commodore Perry is also directed by me to represent to your imperial majesty that we understand there is a great abundance of coal and provisions in the Empire of Japan. Our steamships, in crossing the great ocean, burn a great deal of coal, and it is not convenient to bring it all the way from America. We wish that our steamships and other vessels should be allowed to stop in Japan and supply themselves with coal, provisions, and water. They will pay for them in money, or anything else your imperial majesty's subjects may prefer; and we request your imperial majesty to appoint a convenient port, in the southern part of the Empire, where our vessels may stop for this purpose. We are very desirous of this.

These are the only objects for which I have sent Commodore Perry, with a powerful squadron, to pay a visit to your imperial majesty's renowned city of Yedo: friendship, commerce, a supply of coal and provisions, and protection for our shipwrecked people.

We have directed Commodore Perry to beg your imperial majesty's acceptance of a few presents. They are of no great value in themselves; but some of them may serve as specimens of the articles manufactured in the United States, and they are intended as tokens of our sincere and respectful friendship.

May the Almighty have your imperial majesty in His great and holy keeping! In witness whereof, I have caused the great seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed, and have subscribed the same with my name, at the city of Washington, in America, the seat of my government, on the thirteenth day of the month of November, in the year one thousand eight hundred and fifty-two.

(Seal applied Here)

Your good friend,

MILLARD FILLMORE, President


Interesting... after successfully delivering the letter to Japanese officials, Commodore Perry revealed that he would leave Japan and return early next year for an answer to President Fillmore's demands/wishes.

The Japanese provided him with a receipt for the letters (there was also a missive from Perry himself) - and the Japanese suggested the U.S. fleet should leave Japan quickly.

Not one to take orders from anyone but his superiors, Perry stayed on in the Tokyo Bay for an additional three days after the conference - to let them know he would only leave when he wanted to leave.

In that time, he traveled to within 10 miles of Edo (now Tokyo) and performed hydrographic surveys of the water.

After a bit more two or three more newspaper articles of the day, I shall present Japan's official response to the President's letter.

I wonder what will happen? 

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph