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Sunday, March 31, 2013

Listening To English And Talking Japanese - Everybody Learns

A little less conversation, a little more action,
All this aggravation ain't satisfactionin' me
A little more bite and a little less bark
A little less fight and a little more spark.

Those are the opening four lines from the old Elvis Presley song A Little Less Conversation.  I love that song.

Anyhow, after a bit of how's it going with a friend recently, our conversation turned to what things were like for me a as foreigner in Japan - probably something I do whenever I can.

One thing I noted was that often whenever I tried to go out to a bar by myself, I would always be swamped by Japanese people - mena dn women - who wanted to practice their English on me.

I'm sure this is something that happens to a lot of foreigners in Japan - and it can be a bit annoying when sometimes you just want to be alone - or you wish that instead of a Japanese man chatting you up, it was that hot Japanese woman. Of course, I am speaking hypothetically as a lesbian woman.  I actually, I am a male lesbian. I like women.

But enough of this gay banter, let's get back to the topic. What is it? I have no idea, but let's find out!

Okay... so yes, going out for a drink by one's self in japan often lends itself to Japanese folks trying to get a free English lesson.

It happened to me maybe five or six times before I finally figured it out.

You see, while I was indeed in Japan to teach English and to do some internationalization - usually with some women who really wanted to know my bad English, I realized that I was losing out on valuable opportunities to learn Japanese.

How the hell was I to get any practice speaking and learning Japanese if everyone always wanted to speak English with me?

Ha! I couldn't keep a straight face typing that out! Okay... Japanese people spent a lot of time speaking Japanese with me, and I often responded back in English.

But what if the reverse was true. Often, I did have Japanese people speak English to me - so why couldn't I practice my Japanese on them? So I did.

There is no gaijin law that says that when Japanese people speak English to you, that you can't speak Japanese in reply. The thing is - we all want to learn each other's language!

So, I finally got the hang of things and when someone talked to me in English, I would do my best to reply in my crappy Japanese. At first, it threw the Japanese, as the extent of my Japanese revolved around me asking how much that sashi was... but soon I learned. They began to teach me Japanese as I conversed with them, and they got in some valuable English-speaking with a real-live English listener. 
    
I did this for a while towards the end of my three year stay in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken, Japan.

I have no idea how effective it was, but I think we each learned something.

Mostly that I, after three years of living in Japan, had little Japanese-language ability.

The point however, is that I tried. They corrected me. They tried and I corrected them. We all learned. It was a different way of teaching, but it seemed to work.

Oh - and happy birthday to my good friend Robert Jones here in Toronto, who never went to Japan, but visited often with his 67 letters. He helped keep me sane. I know, I know... it's hard to call me sane after reading this blog, but these past few years of blog writing and marriage have taken their toll.
 
Cheers
Andrew Joseph 

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Part 13 - The Second Visit To Japan By Commodore Perry

Here is Part 13 of our (my) look at the way Japan - US relations were forged.

At this juncture, the Commodore Perry-led Japan Expedition is making its second official visit. Prior to the Perry trek, there was another mission I had hints about, but failed to adequately present here - patience... I'll do a Japan Expedition - Part 0 soon enough.

My pal Vinny has been ably abetting me in my hobby of knowledge. It's my only outlet for power these days, and I'll be damned if I shrug away a chance to learn something old or new.

Vinny has been pointing me farther and farther into the depths of gleaning data from Early American Newspapers via www.readex.com. You know about it, now go and check it out! You never know what arcane knowledge you might find to enable you to become King/Queen of your own private castle.

The following story was originally presented in the June 17, 1854 edition of the London Times... okay... actually, this may not be correct. This is actually taken from one of the Hartford, Connecticut newspapers, which actually borrowed the news from the London Times. I would assume that if a Yankee newspaper is borrowing from a Brit paper, that June 17 date (which is on the U.S. paper), may actually owe its origins some 20 days plus earlier.

However, again, the news still had to travel from the Far East to London... it was still to early for wireless telegraph, and even for such a distance for electrical telegraph... that meant that the following news from the Far East had to first travel to London and then the additional 20 days to the US. That means that the following article may first have seen the light of day in late May of 1854.

And all this because someone didn't present the actual newspaper in Hartford that re-printed this story.

Hey... the www.readex.com site is awesome... it's not perfect, though. Pretty close, however.

Party 1-13 can be read here, and are a selection of article during this era that provide us with a better glimpse into just what was going on in negotiations between Japan and the U.S. and just what the whole Commodore Perry Japan Expedition was really about.

Part 1 - Alexandria Gazette, September 13, 1852
Part 2 - Plattsburgh Republican, November 20, 1852
Part 3 - Charleston Courier, November 22, 1852
Part 4 - Weekly Herald, January 1, 1853
Part 5 - Alta California, May 16, 1853
Part 6 - Daily National Intelligencer, November 3, 1853
Part 7 - President Fillmore's Letter To Japan, November 13, 1852
Part 8 - List Of Presents From The US To Japan, July 14, 1853
Part 9 - National Aegis, November 9, 1853
Part 10 - Daily Democratic State Journal, December 7, 1853
Part 11 - Sandusky Register, April 6, 1854  
Part 12 - Sandusky Register, April 15, 1854

Anyhow... the extreme details present in a previous letter presented here are not forthcoming in this particular one, but it does offer some nice insight and a personal warning to American businesses looking to exploit the 'weak' Japanese.


Here we go:

THE AMERICANS IN JAPAN.
We take from the London Times, the following letter, dated,
               UNITED STATES STEAM-FRIGATE SUSQUEHANNA
               Off Yokohama, Bay of Jeddo, March 24 [my note: 1854]
You know that we sailed from Hong Kong on the 14th of January last. On the 21st we arrived at Napakiang, Loochoo; on the 7th of February we sailed for Japan, and on Sunday the 13th, we anchored within about twenty-five miles of Jeddo, where no foreign vessel had ever anchored before.
After a good deal of diplomacy on the part of the Americans, we told them we did not like the place appointed for the negotiations [Ed. Note - I believe it was Nagasaki, far, far, far to the west!], and would go nearer to Jeddo. They assented as gracefully as children go to bed before the time, and we proceeded to Yokohama, of which village, within ten miles of the Imperial city, we anchored. It was well for the Imperial diplomats that they lost no time in agreeing to meet us here, for the boats which had been surveying returned in the afternoon, and reported that the ships could go very near to Jeddo, which they know and dreaded. We had, however, passed our word to negotiate there, and we made a new era in Eastern diplomacy by keeping it. They immediately constructed houses and ample accommodation on the beach, and on the 8th of March the Commodore landed in state to receive the answer to the President's letter. on the 17th he landed again, and made the definite arrangements of a treaty. Yes, Americans, your navy has made a treaty with the exclusive, mysterious Japanese, and Yankee whalers can now pursue their gigantic game in these well filled seas without the fear of a hostile shore upon their lee, and may put into Matsuma and other ports to refit and refresh in confidence. The treaty was concluded on the 23rd, and the Princes were to dine with the Commodore on board on the 27th. We sail to-day, being dispatched by orders from Washington, to be placed at the disposal of Mr. McLane, our new commissioner. I do not know the particulars of the treaty, but it was modelled after that with China. We are to have as much coal as we want at some port which we will select and all hands are to be treated with hospitality who may land upon their shores.
As for an advantages to be immediately derived from commerce with these people, I am doubtful on that point: we saw no evidence of any wants or of any superfluities, but who can anticipate the wants which commerce can make necessaries, and the unknown which she can call into existence! But, if our first adventurers come here under the impression the Japanese are ignorant because they are inexperienced in commerce, they will find themselves mistaken, for not even the Chinamen understand the art of making things appear to the greatest advantage with more skill than the Japanese. The presents of fruits and sweetmeats were so arranged in the boxes as to appear of thrice the real quantity, and everything is so contrived as to be over-estimated by all but the closest observer.
On the 1st of March Captain Buchanan gave Yzaimanm [sic] the Governor of Uraga, and nine of his suite a dinner on board this ship, the first foreign dinner perhaps, ever given in Japan. They enjoyed themselves in perfect confidence, and relished our food and liquors with the taste of gourmands.
They may never have tasted turkey before, and asked permission to take portions of it and of other things on shore to show their friends, which they did, wrapping them up in paper, very much like Chinese paper, leaves of which constituted their pocket handkerchiefs. The intuitively accommodated themselves to our customs, especially that of emptying their glasses; and used the knives and forks with nearly as much dexterity as perseverance. They returned thanks for our toasts and reciprocated them with more than tact of an alderman: as for example Capt. Buchanan gave - "May the kind feelings which so happily subsist between our Japanese friends and ourselves prevail throughout both countries." Governor Yzaiman [sic] promptly replied with thanks for the sentiment and assurances of its reciprocy, and hopes that American and Japanese would soon be enabled to visit each other's countries.
Capt. Adams proposed "The health of the Emperor, and a long and happy reign." Governor Yzaiman immediately replied that he appreciated the compliment to his Emperor; and filling all the glasses himself, drank the "Health of the President, and a happy Administration."
Lieutenant Doer [sic], with a few happy remarks, proposed "The health of Governor Yzaiman [sic]," at which he blushed; but, with admirable presence of mind, proposed "The health of Commodore Perry, and all the officers of the squadron."
All this passed of course, through the interpreters, and each toast was drank in our manner, with all the honors; the huzzas appeared to divert them very much, and they joined in with great glee.
Lieutenant Brown sang a song, which they answered with a verse or two of a Japanese song. I trust the difference of taste did not make our song sound in their ears as their song did in ours, for it was more like the roaring of lions with bad colds than anything else I can compare it to.
One of our marines died, and they allowed us to bury him on shore, in a romantic spot, near one of their own cemeteries, with the three volleys, and the funeral service by the chaplain.
What a difference between what people expected and what our guns have realized for us! It was absurd to attempt to treat with these people without a force at command sufficient to answer, by silence alone, and all their provarications to gain time, which appears to be of no value to them.
They were to have dined with the Commodore on board the Powhattan--I mean the Princes who negotiated the treaty--on Monday, the 27th, and no doubt had a glorious time of it.
We laid down a circular railroad, and the beautiful miniature locomotive and car went around with great velocity and regularity, to the admiration of the Japanese, many of whom made several circuits in the car.
We also set up a mile of magnetic telegraph, which succeeded in spelling out Japanese sounds, from one end to the other, of course making them see that it could be done, but they evidently did not comprehend nor fully believe it.


A very interesting letter from yet another crew member of The Japan Expedition.

I do find it interesting that this gentleman suggest the Japanese are sharp businessmen, but equally interesting that he didn't think the Japanese had anything the Americans might want to purchase for resale back home. Ahh, how times change, eh? Artwork via ukiyo-e (low-level poster art, essentially), pottery, fine silks... are things that come to mind from myself.Regardless, the Americans and Japanese did find many things to trade, of course.

The next installment will have another view on this second meeting, though I also reserve the right to write about something else.

I have to buzz of the my son's grandma's place tomorrow for Easter presents and to return her car - always nice to have a second car when she's away on vacation.

Of course, the added trip means less time for me to research and write, as I am sure I'll be watching a hockey game when I get back.

You folks don't think I just sit here all day and write, do you? Sometimes I sit elsewhere. 

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Friday, March 29, 2013

Roland DG Corp. Opens New Creative Center

I must admit that when I first saw this, I thought it was the Roland keyboard manufacturer, and that it was cool that they were sending me this press release at work -  but no... this is about Roland DG Corporation, the world's leading manufacturer of wide-format inkjet printers and 3D devices.

Roland DG has officially opened its newly renovated Tokyo-based sales office and Creative Center as part of an effort to strengthen its domestic sales and services structure.


With sales offices located around the world, the company provides a comprehensive customer support system comprised of Creative Center, Academy and Care to contribute to the stabilization and development of customers' businesses.

Creative Centers have a rich, creative showcase of application samples to inspire the imagination, and invite customers to experience the potential of its products. By creating an environment where customers can easily share ideas and consult with Roland DG about their businesses, the company can continue to offer them new business ideas as well as solutions that can transform those ideas into reality.

Academy offers worldwide customers seminars and workshops designed to help them utilize our equipment and software to their maximum potential and acquire the skills they need for their businesses.

Care provides a broad range of customer services and support including maintenance and troubleshooting to ensure no issue stops them from getting work done.

The renovation of the Tokyo sales office and fully remodeled Tokyo Creative Center is the company's biggest project to date in Japan. Visitors can not only come and be inspired by works made with its  products by users and designers from around the world, but they can also get hands on experience.

There are design contests where they can print to a wide variety of items, workshops to practice wrapping, and endless solutions to help our customers shift their business from idea to reality.

The new location in Hamamatsu-cho in the Minato ward of Tokyo is also very convenient for customers to access. There, we can reach more customers with tips streamline their business processes, proposals to create high added value, and as per our slogan: "Inspire the Enjoyment of Creativity."

Anyhow, for more information visit www.rolanddg.com.

The Japan Expedition: Full Naval Complement - Part 12

Here's some data on the Commodore Perry-led Japan Expedition, as originally presented in the April 15, 1854 edition of the Sandusky Register (published as the Daily Commercial Register) of Sandusky, Ohio, USA.

Thanks again to Vinny in helping me discover wonderful resources like this at www.readex.com, which is a resource for Early American newspapers.

Here are links to the earlier newspaper articles I have plumbed:
Part 1 - Alexandria Gazette, September 13, 1852
Part 2 - Plattsburgh Republican, November 20, 1852
Part 3 - Charleston Courier, November 22, 1852
Part 4 - Weekly Herald, January 1, 1853
Part 5 - Alta California, May 16, 1853
Part 6 - Daily National Intelligencer, November 3, 1853
Part 7 - President Fillmore's Letter To Japan, November 13, 1852
Part 8 - List Of Presents From The US To Japan, July 14, 1853
Part 9 - National Aegis, November 9, 1853
Part 10 - Daily Democratic State Journal, December 7, 1853
Part 11 - Sandusky Register, April 6, 1854 

For your information, the Loo-choo mentioned below (also seen spelled as Lew-Chew, Loo-Chew and probably a lot more!), is actually Okinawa, which was a separate country back then… a country with an obvious Chinese-sounding name.

Here's the article:

American Japan Fleet
The United States' squadron, under Commodore Perry, says the China Mail of the 11th January, is under immediate orders for Loo-choo and Japan. A portion of the sailing vessels had already sailed. The total fleet consists of the following -

                      Vessels                 Commanders           Men    Guns
Steamer         Mississippi             Com. Perry             375      10
     "               Powhattan              Capt. McCluney      270       9
     "               Susquehana           Capt. Buchanan      350       9
     "               Queen (tender,)       Lieut. Taylor            30    -
Frigate           Macedonia              Capt. Abbott           450      36
Sloop             Plymouth                Capt. Kelly             200      20
     "               Saratoga                 Capt. Walker          200      20
     "               Vandalla                 Capt. Pope              220      20
Storeship        Supply                   Lieut. Sinclair          50         6
     "                Southampton          Lieut Boyle             60         6
     "                Lexington               Lieut. Clossen         50         6
                                                                                 ------    -----
                      Total….. 11 vessels                              2,255    142
The officers of the vessels at Hong Kong had given several entertainments, and are very highly spoken of by the China Mail.
The Overland Friend of China, of the 11th January, says:
Admiral Pillow's twenty-one gun salute, with the stars and stripes at the main, on the occasion of Commodore Perry's departure with his squadron on Saturday last for japan, was in excellent taste. It was one of those occasions when a national salute possessed all the appearance of a gruff old father belching out a blessing on his well-intentioned son, and wishing him in his enterprise—God Speed!


So... this newspaper article indicates the full compliment of vessels, men and weaponry (canons), that the U.S. took with them for its second visit to China and Japan.

While too early for future US President Teddy Roosevelt, walk softly and carry a big stick, indeed.

I am unsure if this show of strength was meant to impress China and Japan to show that the upstart US nation was indeed a global force, or if it was to intimidate them a bit - give them a treaty or face the consequences.

I don't believe it to be the later - if it was, the US surely underestimated the actual strength of each country, and while I am sure a certain amount of arrogance is part of the young nation's DNA, I don't believe a war would have started over such a matter.

But who knows? Perhaps further information will come from other newspaper articles. I haven't read ahead (or behind, as the case may be).

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Japan Expedition - Part 11


This short piece is from the April 6, 1854 edition of the Sandusky Register, published as the Daily Commercial Register from out of Sandusky, Ohio in the U.S.

As usual, I received some help from Vinny in finding this journalistic masterpiece that was plumbed from the vast repository of Early American Newspapers at www.readex.com.

To be honest, it's not as eye-opening a piece as we have come to see from other accounts of the Commodore Perry Japan Expedition to open up a trade partnership with Japan, but it does help one get a better grasp of what the American people were being told.


The Japan Expedition
Washington, April 3
The Evening Star says that Com. Perry was long since notified to return home after visiting the Emperor of Japan, and it is understood he will leave but one steamer and two sloops of war in the Chinese Sea and return by way of San Francisco.



This tiny extract of news is important in that it shows that while the United States had indeed accomplished its goal of delivering a letter from then-President Fillmore to the Emperor of Japan, it wasn't quite ready to vacate the area near Japan, providing an American presence in an area that is a hotbed of political animosity in 2013, as China and Japan argue over a few islands, that are only valuable as it presents a wider boundary to keep China out… whereas China wants to get closer to not only see what Japan is up to, but to see what the US is up to with is armed forces at Okinawa.

It is interesting to note that Okinawa, back in the 1850s, was know as Lew Chew (or Loo Choo or several other spelling variations). I don't know about you, but it certainly had a more Chinese sounding name back then.


It's just a little bit of history repeating.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph
PS: check out the Propellerheads HERE… one of my favorite all-time songs.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Japan Expedition: Description Of Events & People - Part 10

Sorry for the delay in completing this look at The Japan expedition.

Welcome to my review of The Japan Expedition via old newspaper articles pointed my way via Vinny, who sent me this information via the Newsbank/Readex database of Early American Newspapers (www.readex.com). Vinny also provided me with extra help in editing my typing and helping with words I could not properly read. Thanks, buddy!

This is Part 10 - taken from the December 7, 1853 edition of the Daily Democratic State Journal published in Sacramento, California. and every part can be read on its own. However, should you wish a complete education on U.S. Manifest Destiny taking strides across the Pacific Ocean, you can get your schooling here, and there are a few more articles to go.

Part 1 - Alexandria Gazette, September 13, 1852
Part 2 - Plattsburgh Republican, November 20, 1852
Part 3 - Charleston Courier, November 22, 1852
Part 4 - Weekly Herald, January 1, 1853
Part 5 - Alta California, May 16, 1853
Part 6 - Daily National Intelligencer, November 3, 1853
Part 7 - President Fillmore's Letter To Japan, November 13, 1852
Part 8 - List Of Presents From The US To Japan, July 14, 1853
Part 9 - National Aegis, November 9, 1853

This article, Part 10, is a spectacular and invaluable resource for anyone wanting a better look and feel as to what went on during the lead-up to Commodore Perry's meeting with high-ranking Japanese officials during his first visit to convince the Japanese why they should open up trade relations with the U.S.

This is a letter written by Bayard Taylor (that's him in the photo above), who was part of the expedition - and he provides a wonderful look at what Japan was like in the 1850s - granted through the eyes of a gaijin - but, I can't say enough wonderful things about how much I learned from reading THIS article - this letter.

In 1853, Bayard Taylor received an appointment as master's mate in the United States Navy in order to travel to Japan with Commodore Perry on the U.S.S. Mississippi.

Background

The Japan Expedition was the United State's attempt to open up isolationist Japan back in the 1850s for a number of reasons.
  • To provide a place where it could purchase wood and coal for its ships traveling throughout Asia;
  • Provide a safe haven for shipwrecked sailors and the cargo, as in the past Japan simply claimed all lost cargo and did not go out of its way to rescue crew for any nation other than its own. And, I'm being polite there;
  • To provide economic benefits for itself by trading with Japan;
  • And, as we have seen through various newspaper articles - possibly converting the Japanese to the ways of Christianity - though I should point out that that was never an official decree of U.S. President Millard Fillmore or of his intrepid ambassador Commodore Perry, a naval man so extraordinary that the U.S. created the post of Commodore just for him (as he deserved further accolades after already being named an admiral).
There are other reason, of course, but these are the main ones.

At this time, we are going to look at the December 7, 1853 article contained within the Daily Democratic State Journal published in Sacramento, California.

At this time, Perry has returned home from Japan after presenting a letter to the Emperor of Japan with America's requests - backed up with an impressive set of weaponry aboard a small naval armada meant to impress, if not scare the Japanese.

Also, U.S. President Fillmore is no longer in office, having been replaced by President Franklin Pierce, who isn't as convinced of the necessity of The Japan Expedition.

As you may or may not know, I can not simply photo copy the article and present it, but can indeed retype it - which is what I have done. My eyes are bleeding from trying to read the faint copies, but I think I have faithfully presented exactly what was written in the original 1853 article, including misspellings, archaic spellings, and old style names. For the record, the country of Lew Chew (also Loo Choo, and various other spelling variations), is Okinawa, then a separate country, and one to whom the U.S. has JUST set up a trade agreement with in 1853. Sort of.Yedo is Edo, now known as Tokyo. To the untrained ear, Edo as pronounced by the Japanese, would certainly sound like Yedo.

I am not italicizing any copy in the article, and present the bolds and CAPS as seen by myself in the article. The same with paragraph creation.

Here we go - the following is what was first presented Daily Democratic State Journal, and I dare say that few people alive today have had the opportunity to learn from this, you lucky, lucky people:

Japan--Commodore Perry's Visit
As everything connected with this almost unknown country and people cannot, in the present state of our relations towards them, fail to be interesting, we publish the following account of our reception of our squadron, from the pen of Bayard Taylor, the Oriental correspondent of the N.Y. Tribune.

The Shores of the Sagami are exceedingly picturesque and beautiful. They rise in abrupt bluffs, two hundred feet in height, gashed with narrow dells of the brightest verdure, which slope steeply down into the water, while the country behind rises in undulating hills, displaying a charming alternation of groves and cultivated fields. In the distance rose mountain ranges, receding behind each other until the vapor hid their farthest summits. The eastern coast, belonging to the province of Awa, now came in sight of us, for we were entering the narrowest part of the bay, leading to the upper Bay of Yedo. The distance from shore to shore here varies from five to eight miles, but afterward expands to twelve or fifteen.
We kept directly up the Bay, and in half an hour after doubling Cape Sagami saw before us a bold promontory making out from the western coast, at the entrance of the Upper Bay. Within it was the Bight of Uraga, and we could plainly see the town of the same name at the head of it. The Plymouth and Saratoga [Ed. note: ships in Perry's expedition] were cast-off, and we advanced slowly, sounding as we went, until we had advanced more than a mile beyond the point reached by the Columbus and the Morrison [Ed. note: two boats that were part of a previous U.S. incursion into Japan]. We were about a mile and a half from the promontory, when two discharges of cannon were heard from a battery at the extremity and immediately afterwards a light ball of smoke in the air showed that a shell had been thrown up. An order was immediately given to let go the anchor, but as the lead still showed twenty-five fathoms, the steamer's head was put towards the shore, and in a few minutes the anchor was dropped.

NEGOTIATIONS--THE EXPRESS OF YEDO--Another shell was fired, after we came to anchor, and four of five boats filled with Japanese, approached us. The rowers, who were all tall athletic men--naked save a cloth around the loins--shouted lustily as they sculled with all their strength towards us. The boats were of unpainted wood, very sharp in the bows, carrying their greatest breadth of beam well aft, and were propelled with great rapidity. The resemblance of their model to that of the yacht America struck everybody on board. In the stern of each was a small flag, with three horizontal stripes, the central one black and the others white. In each were several persons, who by their dress and the two swords stuck in their belts, appeared to be men of authority.
The First boat came alongside, and one of the two-sworded individuals made signs for the gangway to be let down. This was refused, but Mr. Wells Williams, the interpreter, and Mr. Portman, the Commodore's Clerk, who is a native of Holland, went to the ship's side to state that nobody would be received on board, except the first in rank at Uraga. The conversation was carried on principally in Dutch, which the Interpreter spoke very well. He asked at once if we were not Americans, and by his manner of asking, and showed that our coming had been anticipated. He was told that the Commodore of the Squadron was an officer of very high rank in the United States and could only communicate with the first rank on shore. After a long parley, the Vice-Governor of Uraga, who was in the boat, was allowed to come on board with the Interpreter, and confer with Lieut. Contee, the Flag Lieutenant. The Japanese official, a fiery little fellow, was much exasperated at being kept waiting, but soon moderated his tone. He was told that we came as friend upon a peaceable mission; that we should not go to Nangasaki [Ed. Note - I am sure this should be Nagasaki], as he proposed, and that it was insulting to our President and his special minister to propose it.--He was told, moreover, that the Japanese must not communicate with any other vessel than the flag ship, and that no boats must approach us during the night. An attempt to surround us with a cordon of boats, as in the case of the Columbus and Vincentes, would lead to very serious consequences. They had with them an official notice written in French, Dutch and English, and intended as a general warning to all foreign vessels, directing them to go no further, to remain out at sea, and send word ashore why they came and what they wanted. This Lieut. Contee declined to see or acknowledge in any way. The same notice was taken to the Plymouth by another boat, but it was ordered off.
Commodore Perry had evidently made up his mind from the first, not to submit to the surveillance of boats. The dignified and decided stand he took produced an immediate impression upon the Japanese. They were convinced that he was in earnest, and that all the tricks and delays with which they are in the habit of wheedling foreign visitors, would be used in vain. Several boats having followed the first one, and begun to collect around us, the Vice-Governor was told that if they did not return at once, they would be fired into. One of them went to the Mississippi, and after being repulsed from the gangway, pulled forward, when some of the crew tried to climb on board. A company of boarders was immediately called away, and the bristling array of pikes and cutlasses over the vessel's side caused the Japanese to retreat in great bustle. Thenceforth all the Japanese boats gave us a wide berth, and during the whole of our stay, none approached us except those containing the officials who were concerned to the negotiations. I may here remark that our presence did not seem to disturb in the least the coasting trade which finds its focus in Yedo. Without counting the hundreds of small boats and fishing smacks, between sixty and seventy large junks daily passed up and down the Bay, on their way to and from Yedo.
The Japanese boatmen were tall, handsomely formed men, with vigorous and symmetrical bodies, and a hardy manly expression of countenance. As the air grew fresher, toward evening, they put on a sort of loose gown, with wide hanging sleeves. As the crew of each boat were all attired alike, the dress appeared to be a uniform, denoting they were in Government service. The most of them had blue gowns with white stripes on their sleeves, meeting on the shoulder, so as to form a triangular junction, and a crest, or coat of arms upon the back. Others had gowns of red and white stripes, with a large lozenge upon the back. Some wore upon their heads a cap made of bamboo splints, resembling a broad, shallow basin, inverted, but the greater part had their heads bare, the top and crown shaved, and the hair from the back and sides brought up and fastened on a small knot, through which a short metal pin was thrust. The officers wore light and beautifully lackered hats to protect them from the sun, with a gilded coat-of-arms upon the front part, in most of the boats I noticed a tall spear, with a lackered sheath for the hed, resembling a number or characters referring to the rank of the officer of board.
After dark, watch-fires began to blaze along the shore, both from the beach and from the summits of the hills, chiefly on the western side of the bay. At the same time we heard at regular intervals, the sound of a deep-toned bell. It had a very sweet, rich tone, and from the distinctness with which its long reverberations reached us, must have been of a large size. A double night-watch was established during our stay, an no officers except the purser and surgeons were exempt from serving. But the nights were quiet and peaceful, and it never fell to any lot to report a suspicious appearance of any kind.
The next morning, Yezemon [sic], the Governor of Uraga, and the highest authority on shore, came off, attended by two interpreters who gave their names as Tatsonoske and Tokshiuro. he was received by commanders Buchannan and Adams and Lieut. Contee. He was a noble of the second rank. His robe was of the richest silken tissue, embroidered with gold and silver in a pattern resembling peacock feathers. The object of his coming, I believe, was to declare his inability to act, not having the requisite authority without instructions from Yedo.At any rate, it was understood than an express would be sent to the capital immediately, and the Commodore gave him until Tuesday noon to have the answer ready. Sunday noon passed over without any visit, but on Monday there was an informal one.
From Tuesday until Wednesday noon, Yezaimon came off three times, remaining from two to three hours each time. the result of all these conferences was that the Emperor had specially appointed one of the Chief Counsellors of the Empire to proceed to Uraga and receive from Commodore Perry the letter of the President of the United States, which the Commodore was allowed to land and deliver on shore. The prompt and unlooked for concession astonished us all, and I am convinced it was owing entirely to the decided stand the Commodore took during the early negotiations. We had obtained in four days, without subjecting ourselves to a single observance of Japanese law, what the Russian Embassy under Rexanoff failed to accomplish in six months, after a degrading subservience to ridiculous demands. From what I know of the negotiations, I must say that they were admirably conducted. The Japanese officials were treated in such a polite and friendly manner as to win their good will, while not a single point to which we attached any importance was yielded. There was a mixture of firmness, dignity and fearlessness on our side, against which their artful and dissimulating policy was powerless. To this, and our material strength, I attribute the fact of our reception having been so different from that of other embassies, as almost to make is doubt the truth of the accounts we have read.

HOW THE JAPANESE RECEIVED THE PRESIDENT'S LETTER--Yezaimon and the interpreters preceded us, in order to show us the way. The distance from the jetty to the door of the building was so short that little opportunity was given me for noticing minutely the appearance of the Japanese, or the order of their array. The building into which the Commodore and suite were ushered was small and appeared to have been erected in haste. The timbers were of pine wood and numbered, as if they had been brought from some other place. The first apartment, which was about forty feet square, was of canvas, with an awning of the same, of a white ground with the Imperial arms emblazoned on it in places. The floor was covered with white cotton cloth, with a pathway of red felt, or some similar substance, leading across the room to a raised inner apartment, which was wholly carpeted with it. This apartment, the front of which was entirely open, so that it corresponded precisely to the divan in Turkish houses, was hung with fine cloth, containing the imperial arms, in white, on a ground of violet. On the right hand was a row of arm chairs, sufficient in number for the Commodore and his staff, while on the opposite side sat the Prince who had been appointed to receive the President's letter, with another officer of similar rank. Their names were given by the interpreter as: Toda Idzu-no-Kami," Toda Prince of Idzu; and "Ido Iawami-no Kami," Ido, Prince of Iwami. The Prince of Idzu was a man of about fifty, with mild regular features, an ample brow, and an intelligent, reflective expression. He was dressed with great richness, in heavy robes of silken tissue, wrought into elaborate ornaments with gold and silver thread. The Prince of Iawmi [sic] was at least fifteen years older, and dressed with nearly equal splendor. His face was wrinkled with age, and exhibited neither the intelligence nor the benignity of his associates. They both rose and bowed gravely as the Commodore entered, but immediately resumed their seats and remained as silent and passive as statues during the interview.
At the head of the room was a large scarlet-lackered box, with brazen feet, beside which Yezaimon and the interpreter Takaonoske, knelt. The latter then asked whether the letters were ready to be delivered stating that the Prince was ready to receive them. The boxes were brought in, opened, so that the writing and the heavy gold seals were displayed and placed upon the scarlet chest. The Prince of Iwami then handed to the interpreter, who give it to the Commodore, an official receipt, in Japanese, and at the same time the interpreter added a Dutch translation. The Commodore remarked that he would set sail in a few days for Loo Choo and Canton, and if the Japanese government wished to send any dispatches to those places, he would be happy to take them. Without making any direct reply, the interpreter asked, "When will you come again?" The Commodore answered, "As I suppose it will take some time to deliberate upon the letter of the President, I shall not wait now, but will return in a few months to receive the answer."
He also spoke of the revolution in China, and the interpreter asked the cause of it without translating the communication to the Prince. He then inquired when the ships would return again, to which the Commodore replied that they would probably be there in April of May. "All four of them?" he asked. "All of them," answered the Commodore, "and probably more. This is but a portion of the squadron." No further conversation took place. The letters having been formally delivered and received, the Commodore took his leave, while the two Princes, who had fulfilled to the letter their instructions not to speak, rose and remained standing until he had retired from their presence.

There you go... pretty interesting, isn't it?

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Japanese Teen Dismembers Own Mother

Here's a nice gory tale from the news...

Apparently a Japanese teen, 19, killed his mom and (to paraphrase Pink Floyd), cut her into little pieces - 15 actually, with kitchen knives.

At his arrest on March 14, 2013, he told Kawasaki police he didn't like his mom and simply wanted to know more about dissection. He apparently kept the body parts in the bathtub, filled it with water, and then placed the parts into plastic bags.

I'm not an expert in cutting up a body, but even using kitchen knives, that is going to take some time and a whole lot of effort. This was an episode.

You can't do something like that and be sane! It will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Anyhow, as a 19-year-old, he is still considered a minor in Japan. The alleged murder took place two weeks prior to his arrest, and was only discovered after a relative came for a visit.

Andrew Joseph

Monday, March 25, 2013

I Mistakenly Like AKB48

I am so screwed. I think I like AKB48, the all-sexy girl Japanese singing group with the interchangeable parts.... but not the way you think, despite the photo above. I think I like them for their music. 

For those of you who need to know, AKB48, is a J-Pop group with 88 members (yes - 88!) who range in age from 13 to their mid-20s when the crystal in the pal starts flashing red and it's time to visit the Carousel - certainly no one hits 30.

The bad thing about having so many members is that if you go and see their show, you never know who you are getting! (Please let it be the legal ones!)  

Anyhow... I was watching the animated movie Wreck-it Ralph with my son on Saturday. I hadn't seen it before, and heard the reviews were fair to middling.

First off - as a 40-something male who played video games at the arcade from their infancy and continued to play them at home as of seven hours ago (as of this writing), Wreck-it Ralph is a great movie, full of references to classic video games that used to make 'find quarters in pocket' until I learned the old quarter on a string trick.

The movie contains cameos from such games as: Q*bert, Dig-Dug (love-it!), Burger Time (That chef kept getting killed by a pickle!), Rootbeer Tapper (boring!), Super Mario Bros., Duck Hunt (that's where I learned to shoot with a gun) (It's also the closest I've come to using a real gun), Sonic The Hedgehog, Street Fighter II, Satan's Hollow (I would STILL play this game!!! - love the intro music - Wagner's Flight of the Valkries - still my favorite classical piece!), Pacman (did I really buy the Buckner & Garcia Pacman Fever record album - yes, but mostly for the Pac-Man cheat sheet record cover!), Frogger, Metal Gear (I saw the exclamation point!) and Joust (I loves my ostrich!).

And the movie itself was quite enteratining. It's what Tron II could have been like!  

Anyhow, it did have one disturbing thing... a song called Sugar Rush... that had me tapping my foot and singing along... and the... the end credits.... ohhhhh crap! AKB48. Damn.

At least I can honestly say that I wasn't in on it for the pre-pubescent-looking girls... but the music?

Geez... which is worse?!

These girls look like they are 14 - all done up to look cute et al... but how old are they really? I don't know... but it disturbed me... almost as much as having the Scotch Tape from 3M give way from holding the string to my quarter while I jiggled it up and downto click the credit counter to 98 - desperately wanting that 99th and last credit.

(The only time I ever needed 99 credits was trying to play the horrible Donkey Kong III featuring Luigi and Mario as plumbers in a sewer system. I don't think there was actually a gorilla in the whole thing... and now that I have looked it up, the game was actually called Mario Bros. - that game sucked. Sucked donkeys. Sucked donkey kongs. I can't believe it was so popular that they created the whole Super Mario Bros. world.)

Anyhow... I can't believe I like the song Sugar Rush. You will too. It has been determined. You shall be assimilated.


And... for the record... there has ever ben one video game that ever gave me the creeps: Conker's Bad Fur Day... a Nintendo 64 game for adults... everytime I came up to a part where I had to kill zombie squirrels... watching them teeter around... I visibly got the chills and couln't concentrate enough to get by the board... for days I tried and finally gave up, never finishing the game... a first for me with a finishing type adventure game.

Have you watched the video yet?  S-U-G-A-R, jump into your racing car. Say Sugar Rush! Sugar Rush! (Hey!)

 AAAggghh! It won't get out of my brain! It's turning me into a zombie squirrel! Who stole my nuts?!

Somewhere on a sugar rush,
Andrew Joseph
PS - the age joke regarding the Carousel is from Logan's Run

Ask Caroline

Cute name, eh?

And a red-head, too? At least in the photo above.

Meet Caroline Pover, a British woman who has lived in Japan since 1996. She was forever being asked questions about her life, her culture, opinions and experiences.

Go figure, eh? Why am I saying 'eh' a lot?

As such, being a foreign woman living in Japan and teaching English, she thought it would be prudent to put pen to paper, so to speak, and created the 'Ask Caroline' series of books to answer the questions.

The first series contains questions ask of her by real Japanese women (as opposed to men pretending to be women, I suppose), wanting to know all about life, love, work (number three on the list), sex, marriage and motherhood.

So she did. She has provided serious answers, and some light-hearted ones, and seems to have done well for herself with her frank and caring writings.

It's something I aspire to, but get to do here for free. If you read between the lines in my blogs, you might learn something.

Caroline isn't so secretive, and offers many tips to women on behaving in a globally sophisticated manner.

Sophistication! That's where I am screwing up. Fug!

She offers a perfect resource for women, and dare I say it men who are providing advice to Japanese women (oh gods could I have used her book!).

The above image shows a Japanese-language edition published in 2010, but I do know there is an English-language edition. It sounds like a great read! Caroline - if you read this, this guy would sure love it if you could send him a complimentary copy to read!

The last woman to give him a book knew I was complimentary!

Here are some of the questions Caroline provides some answers to:
  • Why are foreigners interested in Japan?
  • Do foreign women like trying to wear kimono?
  • What do you think about living with parents as an adult?
  • Why do Western women have male friends?
  • Who usually pays on a date?
  • Do you have sex on a first date?
  • What kind of underwear do you wear?
  • Why do you try to be sexy, whereas we want to be cute?
  • Do you stop work after getting married?
  • Why do Western mothers try to keep their independence?
It's all very interesting isn't it?

My own flippant answers to the above questions are:

- It's alien and therefore exotic. I wasn't interested in Japan until I got there. I needed a job;
- Yes
- It's hellish
- I have no freaking clue.... but I had many Japanese female friends who would pick my brain looking for clues on their own relationships
- Men. Unless they are cheap. Dump them;
- It depends on whether or not you want a second date. Leave a man wanting more. I can't believe I wrote that;
- Something practical. But, if on a first to third date, something unpractical and sexy (man thinking).
- I believe Japanese women cater to the thinking of Japanese men, who prefer cute to sexy.
- No-women believe they need to work to prove equality. A foreign man would like to never work.
- No clue.

See, Caroline? We men could use your book, too!!!

For those of you interested in purchasing a copy of her book(s), here's a link to Amazon: HERE.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Comic Book Artist Wanted

Here's something not really related to Japan. I am looking for an artist.

A comic book artist, to be specific. Someone who can do pencils and inks for a 3-page black and white comic published globally. At this time, I'm thinking we could ALSO use a letterer, but first things first.  

This is for a book called Creepy Kofy Movie Time, and is for issue #3.

It is also for a script I created for the book, which should be a bit of an on-going adventure published every couple of months. In my story, I think we are looking at about 18 panels - maximum.

Here's the thing, though... we  - as in the publisher can not pay the creators at this time, and are instead hoping some new person with aspirations of creating a portfolio for eventual professional work, will seek this opportunity.

The story and the comic is a horror anthology - hence the title word 'Creepy'.

The script is written in the classic DC Comics style... where I offer scene descriptions of each panel and then the dialogue.

My 3-pager revolves around a creature in the style of, but wholly dissimilar to the Creature From The Black Lagoon, but for copyright purposes, I have created a new look for it, not to mention a whole new plot that takes over (in style) after the movie - with new characters.

So... you must be able to draw a bipedal creature, humans (victims et al) and jungle and underwater scenes.

Payment - again, no money, but you will get several copies of the book for your portfolio.

Keep in mind that no publisher, be it DC, Marvel or whomever will pay any talented artist without seeing if they can put together a story and make it seamless.

This is your opportunity.

If you think you have what it takes, please send along a link and a note to me. I will take a look, and confer with my editor and publisher if we think you are on the right track with what we have in mind.

Having been to many a comic book convention and sat in Artist's Alley, I have seen a lot of very good artists.  Not to mention the fact that I also have my own reference library of some 37,000 comic books and know what I like, and what makes an artist more effective than others.

While I would love to have the next Frank Frzaetta, Hal Foster, Carl Barks, Neal Adams, Jim Starlin, Mike Grell, of Mark Silverstri work on my stuff, those guys are the best of the best, in my opinion, and are ideals for anyone to aspire too.

And just because you are a great artist, it doesn't mean you are a great writer. Neal Adams comes to mind here. And, by that same token, I, as a writer have a ways to go in my craft as a writer too.

Keep in mind that I already have some 25 comic book stories published, but all have been self-published. This is my first opportunity whereby another company has actually sought me out to create work for them.

I'm looking to see if there is anyone out there who wants to reach the next level together.

For those of you interested, Creepy Kofy Movie Time was featured in Self Publisher! Magazine #62 with
Mel Smith (the publisher of the award-winning Gumby Comics) and Fruupp, one of the monsters from the editorial bullpen, being interviewed. For a free downloadable issue visit: www.selfpubmag.com.

And... for the record, until Gumby creator Art Clokey's recent passing, I had two stories completed for a Free Comic Book Day comic.. but all that went belly-up owing to licensing agreements being voided. Too bad... that Gumby book was awesome, with fantastic writing from my buddy Bob Burden (who's character, the Flaming Carrot and the Mystery Men - a decent movie!) and art by Rick Geary for Wildcard Ink.

I really think my work on those two unpublished Gumby stories were the best I had ever done for a comic, and would love for them both to see the light of clay day someday.  


Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Weird Japanese Commercials & My Night Out With The Boys

Okay... I have to admit that the four beers I had at the hockey game tonight and the subsequent visit to the men's adult entertainment club have left me tired - not drunk - just tired.

It's 1AM now, and a couple of hours ago while I sat in a puddle of cheap perfume staring at these young women, all I could think of, was "I wonder if I screwed your mother?"

Twenty years ago, after arriving back in Toronto after three years in Japan, my confidence level regarding women had gone through the proverbial roof, and I was dating exotic dancers (and the Feature dancers), not to mention waitresses at strip clubs.

Perhaps some of what I was going through had to do with the fact that I had just left Noboko behind - our relationship doomed because she was too afraid to come here for a visit because she knew it would upset her father... so I said screw all that - we broke up, and I went out and screwed all that.

Sad but true - though I am impressed that again, while I gave my phone number to these women - they called me eight out of 10 times. The best was a waitress at a strip club. Holy crap. These women see all manner or depravity and grossness that a man can barf up at these places - and after a couple of visits, soon we were in the back of her car during an unauthorized break.

This went on every time I came back. I didn't know she was married. Strangely enough, even when I found it, it didn't bother me - and in fact I felt better because now I knew WHY our relationship was purely physical and not emotional.

A guy could get used to that...

My time with Noboko left me an emotional wreck - so it was nice not to have to think with my heart or brain.

And yet - 20 years later - all I can do is think with my heart and brain.

Thanks for listening to my ramble.

HERE. Go and check out some wild and wooly Japanese commercials that are wholly unrelated to my evening.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Japanese Women - What's It All About, Gaijin?

I've had a few questions thrown my way regarding dating Japanese women. I'm not an expert, but I do play a tarento (talent) on terebi (television).

Okay, I don't play a TV talent on Japanese television. They prefer their gaijin to act stupid and have superior Japanese-language skills. I have one of those attributes.

And... as for dating women... my opinions may be dated (time-wise).

One reader asked me if Japanese women were looking for a 'bad boy'.

I think that just like anywhere on this planet, women don't mind dating a bad boy, but they usually don't want to marry them. Guys need to adapt to the situation. I did. Though I still wouldn't mind being a bad boy.

I was also asked re: bad boy, whether or not it might be the fact that I am a gaijin (foreigner/outsider) and since I am not privy to all of Japan's social customs, whether or not Japanese women might find my rude behavior kind of 'interesting' by being bad without being threatening?

Good question...but, No... I don't think the social mistakes thing is a major factor in being a bad boy or as something a woman would LOOK for. It might be a turn on when it happens - but I really doubt that.

As for a helpless gaijin routine, that was me, as many women tried to help me, because I appeared non-threatening.

But... I never played on that.

If I was lost while traveling in Japan (often), regardless of sex, I would ask the first person I saw who was better dressed than the usual rank and file, hoping THEY spoke English, or had the patience for my Grade 1 Japanese skills. While some women like mothering, I think Japanese women (and women in general) want someone to 'look after them' - to be strong, without having to 'look after them'.

So... no.... I don't think women look for a bad boy who won't take off his shoes at a restaurant. I think they might seek out a bad boy who drives too fast, tells dirty jokes... maybe acts more forward than most. But again, I think that is only for short-term gain.

Just as a real man wants a real woman - nothing fake - I firmly believe that a real woman wants a real man. Someone who can treat them nice, tell them they are pretty, someone to hold. someone to talk too, someone to make them happy and smile. And... when the sh!t hits the fan, is there to help solve the problem. And... while book smarts are a plus, sometimes I think it's a negative... you need a bit of both. What man or woman wants to be around someone who isn't as smart as them? That's settling and unsettling at the same time, if you know what I mean.

Another question wondered what element of the interaction and perception gets her past konnichiwa (hello) and 'how's the weather' to 'how much noise do you make?' (I think they mean 'sex'.)

My answer is simply: eye-contact. I may have a voice that could melt butter at the north pole, but what does that mean in Japan or Canad, if no one understands what I am saying?

See that photo above? If the first thing you looked at wasn't her eyes - you already blew your chance.

The eyes have it. This is the level of interaction that people forget about. People think it's what you say or what you look like, but really, it can be the subtle things that can alter perception and open the doors.

There is the known and the unknown, and in-between are the doors. Sorry, I just wanted to say that line ever since I read it 23 years ago.

This kind of goes for any woman, but I think the ability to look without staring is important, as is the ability to look and see, rather than simply looking.

One of greatest gifts is my ability to quickly analyze a situation and see just who got their hair done since I last saw them, how nice is that tie? didn't you wear that same shirt yesterday? Didn't you have an eyebrow ring? Oooh, that top really brings out your eyes.

And, I can do that in seconds and can say anything while being honest. It's probably why I was a decent newspaper reporter and card player. There's always a joker in the deck!

Obviously I wouldn't mention the same clothes as yesterday routine unless it was to a male friend. To a woman? She may have slept over at someone else's place, and they don't want to broadcast that fact.

Anyhow... eye-contact.

More than anything, if you can smile with your eyes, you immediately put a woman at ease - regardless of ethnicity.

I also think smiling (as a gaijin) is a big thing in Japan. People are so serious when they first meet in Japan, that smiling breaks down cultural, social and sexual barriers.

Doing simple things like this - while adhering to Japanese social customs - is a big plus. By that, I mean bowing et al.

If you notice you are going to be introduced a Japanese woman... look at her and smile - even a slight bump in the eyebrows - that lets her (subconsciously or consciously) know that you have noticed her.

Then, when you have the formal introduction... you do the bowing and saying of the usual correct Japanese things... and when that is done... make eye contact, again.

They will look away.. and that's fine... linger a second longer and look away, too. But go back five seconds later... let her catch you. Smile. (No teeth!) And don't forget to have eyes that sparkle.

They will often ask the stupidest question (all women): what are you looking at?

Now... depending on HOW that is asked... you can pull your line:
Romantic: I was just looking at all the beautiful decorations in the room and see that you outshine them all.
Nice guy: You. I love your smile.
Idjit. Nice tits.

The trick to be a good gaijin in Japan, is to be able to speak Japanese while smiling - no teeth - just smiling. Get the eyes crinkling... .

Because you are a foreigner... when you aren't looking, everyone will be looking at you. If you see a woman you like, and there are kids/students around - use the kids to your advantage... especially jr. and sr. high kids.

Girls will pick up on any attention you pay to another member of the opposite sex. They are your allies, if THEY (the girls) like you, and will start to tease the adult female... and ask if she likes you.

I have seen it a hundred times... Okay... maybe seven or eight times.

My god... those kids really went to bat for me with Noboko... and changed her opinion of me after a week of their badgering.

When I met Noboko (or rather, when she met me), I was slicker than an ex-girlfriend (sorry, that just slipped out). Noboko did not like me then, because her initial feelings were that she thought I was a player. I wasn't, but I looked the part, being a Metrosexual a decade or more before the term was created.

The students (boys and girls) actually asked me if I thought she was pretty, and if I liked her. I said yes... she's verrrrry pretty... that verrrrry word got them thinking. They began to play matchmaker FOR me, while I just went about my business of complimenting her hair or clothes, or how great a teacher I thought she was, or how well the kids responded to her...

In school... the job compliment thing is far better. Outside of work, the personal attention to detail works better.

If you mix up the two... you send the wrong signal. If you are at a social gathering and talk work (even if it is a work gathering) - the opportunity can be blown.

That's all for now. Now that you have found her, go out and get her. Oh... and remember to let her into your heart, and then you can start to make it better. Yeah.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Friday, March 22, 2013

Why Japanese Women Like Gaijin Men

When I recently wrote about why gajin (foreign) men like Japanese women, I chastised people for having such a narrow-minded focus.

Like who you like, of course, but don't do so because of race because it is... well, racist.

While this article opened up a wee bit of a debate, I did receive a string of letters from a gentleman named Aiden who presented some wonderful thoughts and wondered if I would care to sound off on the opposite: Why do Japanese women like gaijin men?

They do. They must. It doesn't matter how much foreign men adore Japanese women if those women do not reciprocate.

Anyhow, whilst twitching my own penis, I already had one answer, as Japanese women assume every single foreigner must be bigger in the equipment department than his Japanese counterpart.

Maybe. But, to be fair... we can go to any country in the world, and you will probably find some guy who has a penis larger than whatever your national average is.

HERE - see my buddy's (Mister Manfred Mann) adult website (How To Survive Women) and a very popular ADULT blog that displays global penis sizes and has garnered some 68,000 hits on this one bit of writing alone. If this were a You Tube video, people might be impressed.

Anyhow, Aidan had some interesting thoughts, and I'm going to reprint a portion of his e-mails to me:


When I was in Japan for my college studies back then on an exchange program, I noticed many of the Japanese women I dated or were dating my peers in the exchange program merely dated us because they say us as "exotic" and because we were "gaijin" instead of us as a person.

Of course, when you find the right woman, she will start to see pass the "gaijin" allure you have and start loving you as a person, but every now and then with an argument she'll pull up the gaijin card, asking me if it was because I was not Japanese that I thought that way, and whoever thinks Japanese women are always submissive has never -ever- been in an argument with one. Never before had I witness polite speech as a way of ridiculing or intent on harm. When we were alone and private, she called me by my first name but when we get into an argument, she starts calling me by my last name with a -san suffix and with an extremely poisonous passive aggressive debate.

However, now that fiesty woman is now my wife and now, at the age of 26, our 3 year anniversary is coming and we are now expecting our first child to be born within the next 3 months.

However, this "gaijin" appeal doesn't apply to just the girl you're dating, because eventually as you go along she'll start seeing you as a person, but to her friends and family.

Her family was nervewrecking, when I met her parents, her older sister, and her younger brother, it felt like a gaijin interrogation. They asked me about how I grew up, my family morals, what I believed in, and most importantly my job and family income (I had nothing to be ashamed, I was pulling in good money at my age with a good education background, but dam* I felt cornered).

It was even nerve wrecking when I answered all of their questions and they just looked at me with uninteresting eyes with responses such as:

そうだね
(souda ne) - Is that right

ほんと
(honto) - Really


This usually happens when you try to appeal to the girl's family in any country, but when it comes with a gaijin feeling to it, you feel the pressure much more.


However it turned out well and thankfully her parents were happy to accept me and eventually even her siblings warmed up to me and when we got married, her father, surprisingly gave me a hug telling me that never would he thought his daughter would marry a gaijin (which disappointed me at first because I thought he still thought of me with a gaijin appeal than me as a person) but I would take care of his daughter better than any men that can be found in Japan, which I was really honored and happy to hear.

Some of my peers weren't so lucky when they tried to marry their girlfriends and got shot down by the girl's parents and the relationship ended because of the mere reason of being a "gaijin". I was lucky that my girlfriend (now wife)'s parents were accepting of me, despite the pressure I felt from them and even though she talks to her parents and siblings with Skype, when they see me or talk to me, their faces have a big smile, the same smile they used among each other to signify a close family member, which makes me feel warm seeing how far we've come to terms with each other.

However, if you plan to go to japan and date a local girl there, be mindful to not look at them as exotic, but having to remind yourself that they will look at YOU as exotic. It feels like a double standard however it's best you do the right thing, even if the whole society does not view you for who you are.

Well - thank-you, Aiden. I could pretty much end this blog right there, but ego prevents me from doing so.

Hey... at least her parents eventually accepted you.

As most of you are aware, I am a brown-skinned Canadian, born in England of parents from India. I know... whoppity-do. I am tall, wide, stupid in math, and have a voice that can melt buttered popcorn (so I am told) and am good in English. I am also a huge nerd and play all brass, woodwinds and keyboard musical instruments, but have the skill and knowledge of more than one martial art and am crazy enough to use it. I also have better than average skills in soccer and baseball, and while I'll never be considered a professional athlete, I'm not going to embarrass myself in front of my kid.

I bring all of this to your attention to show that I have a lot going for me. Back in 1990-1993, I also had a 14-inch long ponytail, a French-cut beard, wore suits to work and was one of the first men to wear teal - especially in Japan. I also had an earring, and liked to flash a bit of bling wearing my black star sapphire ring with five diamonds on an 18-carat gold ring. I also had at least three gold chains on, two watches (one per wrist), a hairy chest covered up far too often for my liking and a sense of humour that is supposedly humourous. Who the hell knows.

Having been a qualified piano and clarinet teacher, coached soccer for eight years, been the first community college student to get into the Toronto Star newspaper Summer Internship Program - the world was my freaking oyster.

I thought - for the first time in my life - that I was hot sh!t. Of course... by the time I got to Japan at the age of 25, I was still a virgin. So, hot or not, I still had that problem filling me with self-doubt every time I looked at a woman.

But... a few weeks into Japan - it was over. By the end of my first year, It was over maybe 10 times - and by that, I mean with 5 different women... by the end of the second year, I was up to 18 women, and by the time I left Japan after my third year - 28 women.

While I initially was afraid to talk to Japanese women because I simply couldn't dig the lingo, I soon got over that hump.

The question of whether or not I like Japanese women is irrelevant. I like women. I don't care where they are from. I know what I like when I see it... and that goes for women too - not that I am calling them 'it'.

While I had indeed slept with some 28 women in three years, and dated maybe close to 40, and could have had a few more notches in the old bed post, I had a steady girlfriend (pretty much) for a year, and another for six months plus.

I did okay considering my fair to middling looks... and yet,of all those opportunities, only once did I ask a woman out.

Every other time... I was asked out by the women. Both gaijin and Japanese women.

Japan was/is totally unlike anything I had known in Canada, and I bet most guys would say that those types of odds are nothing like what they have in their country.

So... forget about whether or not gaijin (foreign) men adore Japanese women - it actually takes two to tango (three to form a conga line, and one to do the twist). Rather, the point is that even if foreign guys want to date a Japanese woman, they don't have to go out with you unless they themselves want to go out with you.

Do Japanese woman want to go out with foreign men? Judging by the number of foreign guys who have a Japanese woman on their arm while strolling around the country, one would have to offer a resounding 'YES!'

But why do Japanese women want to go out with us dumb foreign guys?

Believe it or don't, I actually had quite a few female Japanese friends with whom I did not sleep with - but probably would have if I thought I could.

We talked about dating - and about dating foreign men - and about the things foreign men did/do that drove them crazy.

Truth be told, there was little difference between foreign men and Japanese men in regards to how they drove the Japanese women crazy. Sometimes... a guy can be - regardless of upbringing, or country of birth, or economic standing, or religion - a complete dick.

Regardless... why would a Japanese woman want to go out with a foreign guy - especially when foreigners are called 'gaijin'... which despite me saying it means 'foreigner', actually means 'outsider'. There is a difference, of course, but I don't believe the Japanese utilize the word very often to mean a derogatory term.

Why Japanese Women Will Date A Gaijin: 

1) Exotic. Gaijin men aren't the only ones who want an exotic piece of arm candy... Japanese women do too. Sometimes, especially the young ones, just want to say that they have dated/screwed a foreigner. I had a lot of dates and one-night stands because of that. I knew that going in to these dates, and that was fine. It was flattering to be considered someone's prize. And yes... this is what Aiden said.

2) Size: I hate going on about it - because not all Japanese have a tiny penis, and not all foreigners have a large one. In fact, if you look at the How To Survive Women blog, and look up Indian men, they are at the low end of the stick. I'm not. If I went to India, I could have ruled the sub-continent porno industry with my King Cobra, even though I'm just your better-than-average Canadian. While not every woman believes that bigger is better (that's what they tell you. They lie.), they would prefer bigger if you had it. With a foreign man - that is a greater possibility than with a Japanese man. Whatever. That's according to averages... and for every smaller-than-average guy, there's a larger-than-average guy to create the average.

3) Chauvinism: Japanese men are perceived to be sexist bastards. I observed it while I lived in Japan. It might even be true now (it is). But, after more and more foreign men enter the meet/meat market in Japan, Japanese women are discovering that foreign men may actually be less chauvinistic. (Pretty much all men are chauvinistic in one way shape or form, I'm sorry to say.) (I'm just being a realist - even about myself.) Not every foreign guy is great, but many of us - myself, Matthew and Jeff, for example - had no problem in going out of our way to make our women the center of our universe. And not just when we thought people were watching us. All the time. That probably changes a bit as you get married and have to live with'em, but that's what happens in damn near every marriage/relationship. Familiarity breeds contempt. And children.

4) A Way Out: Dating a gaijin can lead to a different way of life for the Japanese woman. A chance to travel. A chance to eat different foods. A chance to not be so 'Japanese'. A chance to expand who they are as a person. The gaijin mate provides that opportunity.

5) You Make Me Feel Like A Natural Woman. Yes... I do think that non-Japanese men treat women differently than Japanese men. I have no proof of that, though. Just a gut feeling. Maybe no worse, or no better, but things are different. Maybe it's a willingness to express ourselves better - to show our vulnerabilities. Maybe it's more of a take-charge attitude. Maybe it's because we treat them more as equals than as 'women'. Maybe. Not all men do that, regardless of where they are from. But I did/do.

6) Daddy Issues: Maybe it's just me, but I haven't met a woman yet who didn't have daddy issues of some kind. Maybe it's just me (again), but most of the women  I dated - their parents, and especially their daddy would not have approved of me. Especially in Japan.... where it was obvious that I was just going to be a passing ship in the night... that I was just the usual gaijin man who wanted to screw Japanese women. All bull crap of course (for me). For the right woman, I would still be in Japan. Noboko had her chance (much later story - one that still hurts - I always seem to find women who can do that to me - accidentally or not). So... it is my belief, that, in some cases, a Japanese woman may go out with a bad boy (gaijin or not) just to make their daddy squirm. Did I do that to Noboko's dad? He was the boss of all the Junior High School Teachers in Tochigi-ken (my prefecture). It was an important position (so I am told). Despite me being one of the more popular AETs on the JET Programme (my ego maniacal opinion after being told so by a few high ranking Japanese Programme officials), I am afraid that my out-going personality (I created that after arriving in Japan - or I simply came out of my shell), wild sense of humor and perpetual grin may have seemed to many a Japanese suit as though I was an ass-clown. Perhaps. Perhaps not. Maybe I was just happy. Noboko was afraid to tell her dear old dad that we were dating, and asked that we keep our relationship as secret as possible. Sure. There's a double standard in Japan, though. Women who date gaijin men MUST be having sex before marriage - ergo, and I use that word correctly (maybe), she must be a slut. Now... we were sleeping together, but she wanted to keep the sex out of the public's knowledge and just have us appear to be friends. She lived with her parents after moving back to this area to teach at one of my schools... but she may have been correct about image. Her father could indeed have lost the all-important "FACE" amongst his colleagues if it was discovered that his beautiful daughter was dating a stupid gaijin AET (assistant English teacher) who was only here for a few more months before his third and final (at the time) contract was up and he would have to go back to Canada. I saw her point. But... I also think she did not give her father the benefit of a doubt - that maybe he cared more for her happiness than his prestigious job. That was naive thinking on my part. The Japanese male job trumps all. Even love. That sucks. So... she did have Daddy Issues... but in this case, it wasn't to get back at him. Or was it? Maybe she did want the world to find out... because one Sunday afternoon, when we traveled to another city (Utsunomiya) to see a movie, some of our students saw us holding hands while walking down the street. Unsurprisingly, the next school day... we were the talk of the school. The jig was up. A day later, her father found out. To be honest, my own OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) Office knew (they asked if she and I were dating after seeing the way we looked at each other at some teacher event - and I would not lie to these people - so I told them the truth but begged them not to tell - they did NOT). Later that night she called me in a panic because her father was royally pissed at her. I asked her what she wanted to do... she asked if she could come over and spend the night. Aha! So she did want to piss him off! There's more... but that will be revealed once I pick up where my diary left off again. Soon...

7) Could it be love? Yes, sometimes a woman wants to go out with a man because she either likes him, really likes him, or loves him. Do I think that Noboko used me for any of the above? No. It might have looked like it, but I know we were in love... but it probably did help (and hinder) things, that I was a gaijin.

Anyhow, for better or for worse... that's my view on why Japanese women like gaijin men. I could be completely wrong, completely right or somewhere in between.

Thoughts?

Cheers
Andrew Joseph
PS: The beautiful Japanese woman above is Uchiyama Rina, a Japanese actress born the day before my birthday in 1981...

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Ride The Smooth Silver Bullet Train

Here is an interesting view of the Shinkansen (bullet train) N700 Series that has been on Japanese rails since 2007.

It was built by: Hitachi, Kawasaki Heavy Industries, Kinki Sharyo and Nippon Sharyo.

That's it in the photo above. Kind of an ugly bastard, but looks aren't everything when you want a fast, smooth ride capable of hitting 299kilometers per hour.

How smooth?

Well, on March 12, 2013, a rider placed a portable speed measuring device on the inside window and a large plastic bottle cap of tea beside it.

Watch the video to see what happens.

Pretty frickin' smooth, eh?

If you've ever taken a ride on a North American train you know that you feel every little clickety-clack right up into your kidneys!

This N700 Series train is awesome. I'd like to try the same experiment but full of sochu (Japanese rice wine). No... no a cup of it, I meant me full of the delicious drink. Let's be real, eh. 

Cheers  
Andrew Joseph
The photo above is from Wikipedia, and was taken byMitsuki-2368. The caption reads:
JR Central N700 Series shinkansen set Z28 on the Sanyo Shinkansen line between Okayama-eki (Okayama station) and Aioi-eki (Aioi station).
日本語: JR東海 N700系電車 Z28編成 山陽新幹線(岡山 - 相生).
 
 http://tokyodesu.com/2013/03/13/video-shinkansen-spill-tea-in-cap/

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

A Japanese Joke - Sort Of

As regular readers know, I spent three years in Japan as a JET (Japanese Exchange & Teaching) Programme participant teaching junior high school English with various JTEs (Japanese teachers of English) in Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawara), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture).

At the (then) seven junior high schools in the city I visited one school per week, I had many adventures and exciting times with the students and teachers. I may not have been the greatest teacher in the classical sense, but I do think I succeeded in making English classes more fun for the kids... and even for the teachers.

The greatest obstacle for myself was communicating my needs in Japanese, as I had zero Japanese language skills upon arrival. As well... I actually knew NOTHING about the country before arriving, except that there were geisha, ninja and samurai (not really), and that the Japanese men all wore business suits and glasses and had no sense of humour (they are actually quite funny), and that the Japanese women were docile and beautiful (not that docile, really). In my defence, this was in the days before the Inter-web thingy and I was still sure I was going to convince myself not to go, owing to fear of new adventures.

I tried and tried to learn as much of the social customs as possible to try and fit in as best as possible to make my stay comfortable - and I did. Mostly because I fully embraced the concept of new adventures, trying every thing I could get my hands on - including beautiful Japanese women.

That was quite the accomplishment for the guy back in Toronto who couldn't get a woman to even want to go out for a free meal with him. How sad does a person have to be when a woman looks at you and say, 'No, I don't even want to spend enough time with you to get a free dinner and drink out of the next two hours."

But, Japan - it gave me confidence. I started doing things I would never have done back in Canada - like having women ask me out or eating foods I have cooked myself.

I was becoming a grown-up, but more importantly, I was becoming comfortable with Japan. Or maybe the growing up part was more important. Can it be both of them?

But... eventually I knew I had achieved the next level of becoming Japanese or grown up, when, with my girlfriend Junko, when we were having sex, I made her origami three times.

Cheers
Andrew 'still immature' Joseph 
The original joke was two lines long... but like in sex, one needs to do some foreplay to come to a proper conclusion.


Any Cock'll Do

Here's an article from the Toronto Star newspaper (HERE and copied below) written by my first-year journalism teacher Curtis Rush, who convinced me in the second term not to drop out of Humber College's journalism school when I was completely despondent over the lack of skill being shown our school newspaper's editors.

He told me to hang on, get to the second-year when I would be one of the editors on the school paper then called The Coven, and make the changes necessary to elevate the newspaper to a new level.

One year later, my classmates and I had done that - ensuring every campus of Humber was well represented with news (okay, at least the Lakeshore Campus - as I was trying to date the women's athletic director there, the beautiful blue-eyed and extremely sexy Connie Ryan - to no real avail, but at least I she and I became friends, and showed me I could date beautiful women). We also took to editing like a rooster takes to crowing at daybreak and made that paper one of the best school newspapers in Canada. Guys like Kevin Paterson, Mike Kirkey, and my current boss (?!) George Guidoni - we all did great work. Yeah, it's strange to me, too, but GG is a great egg. 

As well, thanks to the efforts of our newspaper, plus one during a teacher's strike - the Ad Hoc (my punny play on words for the Humber Hawks school nickname), I was invited to take part in the very exclusive Toronto Star Summer Internship Program, which I helped play off in to being accepted into the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

And, since I got to Japan and then created this blog, for better or worse, every time I write something here, it's because of Curtis.

Now... here's what Curtis Rush wrote:


Roosters use internal clock to decide when to crow: Study

Anybody who has been awakened by a rooster’s crowing knows the fowl like to perform their “cock-a-doodle-do” at daybreak.

However, what accounts for the fact that roosters also crow at different times of the day?

Researchers from Nagoya University in Japan wanted to find out if crowing was under the influence of an internal clock or was simply caused by external stimuli.

After assessing roosters under various conditions, the researchers concluded that they are governed by an internal clock, triggering their crows in the pre-dawn hours.

Study author Takashi Yoshimura reported that, while roosters crow at different times of the day and under varying light conditions, their crowing is most predominant at the first light of day.

“Although external stimuli such as light and crowing by other individuals also induce roosters’ crowing, the magnitude of this induction is also regulated by the circadian clock,” Yoshimura wrote.

Audio and video recordings were used to study three groups of four roosters that were placed in light- and sound-tight rooms.

Crowing was observed about two hours before the onset of light, which is called anticipatory predawn crowing.

Under round-the-clock dim light conditions, crowing was also observed about two hours before daybreak. The crowing “gradually damped out,” Yoshimura stated.

And in constant light conditions, crowing was observed most strongly at daybreak.

“These results clearly indicated the involvement of a circadian clock in anticipatory predawn crowing,” the study author reported.

Although it was noted that roosters also respond to external stimuli such as light or the sound of other roosters crowing, the crowing was “significantly higher” during the early part of the day.

That indicated that the roosters’ internal clocks take precedence over external cues, the study found.

“Our observations prove that the rooster breaks the dawn every morning as a function of his circadian clock,” Yoshimura said.

The findings are just the start of research into roosters’ crowing, which isn’t learned like the songbirds or human speech, the researchers say.

“We still do not know why a dog says ‘bow-wow’ and a cat says ‘meow’,” Yoshimura wrote.

The research was reported on March 18 in Current Biology.
-------------------------------------

Nicely done, Curtis, however, as an aside, in Japan, a cat is thought to say 'nyaa' and a dog 'wan-wan'. So, what the heck is Yoshimura actually saying? Or did he thoughtfully translate those words to English, for the article. In Japan, they say a rooster's crow is 'koke kokko'. Regardless, they still crow when the sun comes up - Day Light Saving's Time be damned.

I loved teaching the students at my junior high schools in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken Japan the different sounds. Of course, being a half-way decent mimic, I can make the real sounds, and can assure you that even us so-called native English speakers have stupid words that do not sound like onomatopeia (the naming of a thing or action by a vocal imitation of the sound associated with it like 'buzz' or 'hiss'. I would then bark deeply like any of the three rottweilers I owned at the time, freaking out the kids who wondered just what the hell was wrong with their gaijin (foreigner) Canadian sensei (teacher).

A strange talent to have, but this puppy can be an animal. Just don't wake me up at daybreak. Stupid rooster.

And - look at that. A blog about Japanese scientists, birds and me.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph