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Friday, February 28, 2014

The Suicide Forest Of Japan

If you kill yourself in a forest, does anyone hear you?

Probably not, which is why Japan's Aokigahara (青木ヶ原) is known as the Suicide Forest.

The 35-square-kilometer (14-square-mile) forest is situated about 62.5 kilometers (100 miles) west of Tokyo at the northwest base of Mount Fuji in Japan.

Locals also call the place Jukai (Sea of Trees) because - well, you can figure that out.

The place is quite popular with tourists because of a pair of caves: the Ice Cave and the Wind Cave, which leads me to believe that they need someone more imagination to name things. Ask me. Or a 10-year-old.  

Anyhow, these trees in the forest actually block out the wind… and because there's a near-absence of any wildlife, the forest is known for being exceptionally quiet.

Which is what you want, when you are going to kill yourself… peace and quiet… and no one around to tell you that your life is worth living… no… there at at the Aokigahara Forest… you can be all by yourself… completely one with nature… one with the universe…. and in my mind realize how great it is to be a part of it.

Don't kill yourself. If you have suicidal thoughts, please talk to someone. Now. You would be surprised by how much people really do care about you.

But… the Japanese people really do seem to love their suicide. They have romanticized it with the upper-class samurai traditions of Bushido (the Way of the Warrior) via hara-kari and seppuku - calling it a ritualistic suicide involving disemboweling. (Death before dishonor is a US Marine's motto borrowed from Bushido, in case you wanted to know.)

What rot. In the case of the samurai, it's not about honor… it's about a failure to go on with one's life and to do good in it. The samurai were breed to realize that failure is death. Death before capture by an enemy or death because I failed my master.

All I can say is that if a samurai has failed in his duty (IE let his master die), rather than kill himself, he could still bring honor to himself by making it his life's work to say… I don't know, helping people. Help the orphans? Make umbrellas?

Oh... and in Japan, hara-kiri is a spoken term and seppuku a written term for the same act. It has nothing to do with a Chicago Cubs baseball announcer.
Please refrain from killing yourself in our forest... there are other places where you can do that.
Anyhow… the Aokigahara forest has historically been associated with suicides and creepy things.

Some believe that suicides became popular in the forest thanks to the actions contained within the 1960 novel Kuroi Jukai (Black Sea of Trees) by Matsumoto Seichō (surname first) where a couple killed themselves. I think I read it.

Perhaps another reason for the continued rate of suicide in this forest is the fact that in 1993, The Complete Manual Of Suicides by Tsurukumi Wataru (surname first) was published noting that the Aokigahara forest was a good place to kill oneself owing to its tranquility, lack of animals or people.

Look... while I am the type of guy who is curious enough to want to read this book - I've read Mein Kampf, the Quran, The Holy Bible, The Anarchist's Cookbook, The Prince, The Art of War, and Alice's Adventure's In Wonderland (how that get in this list?) - and I've not wanted to take over the world, so I'm pretty sure I could handle a manual on suicide... but come on! I swear! Everyone who buys that book should be monitored to make sure they don't do anything to themselves.

Look… I'm glad the Japanese like to read, but maybe you should read a happy book instead and try and be happy.Go watch a marathon of Pokemon or something.

But… let's not blame books or the morose Japanese people of 1960 who were only 15 years removed from having their country essentially changed forever at the conclusion of WWII (and they have no one to blame but themselves).

Matsumoto actually chose the suicide location for his novel because the history of suicide in Aokigahara predates the novel's publication, and the place has long been associated with death.

Say what?

Apparently, there's a rural legend (it's not really urban, out in the forest), that people used to regularly perform ubasute.

Ubasute is the supposedly-true-but-there's-no-proof-of-it action whereby the old or the sick are taken out to some remote or desolate place and are left there to die.

As such… because people were supposed to have died horribly of starvation, dehydration, wolves… whatever… the Aokigahara Forest is supposed to be rife with Yūrei (angry spirits) of those left to die.

It's supposed to have happened in the 18th century - which is pretty vague, I realize.

Now… if this seems impossible for someone to do—the Japanese respect the elderly and make sure they are looked after—let's look a scenario.
Sure... from this view it looks like a nice place... 
You guys know of Hansel & Gretel, right? The tale that begins with an eastern European family too poor to look after their kids so the parents dump them in the woods… why was that used in a fairy tale? Because these things did occur. Not often, mind you. But it happened. (Though I'm sure no one was found by a witch living in  gingerbread house.) People do that crap nowadays (around the world) dumping unwanted dogs and cats out in the country.
... but in the forest, it's actually ugly and creepy.
It's probably the same in Japan… one person went and got rid of a sick or elderly relative - and presto! - instant legend… especially when that story travels around the country. It's always going to become bastardized.

Anyhow… Aokigahara Forest… despite the demons swirling about, the Sea of Trees has become a popular place to kill oneself… with such numbers as:
  • 73 in 1998;
  • 68 in 1999;
  • 59 in 2000;
  • 59 in 2001;
  • 78 in 2002
  • 105  in 2003;
  • 108 in 2004;
  • 247 attempts and 54 successes (?!) in 2010.
You get the idea... 

The Aokigahara forest is actually the second most-popular place to die in the world (after jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge in California).

Geez… maybe you don't want to go for a walk in the woods! There's nothing to see here!

Apparently the suicide rates tend to rise during the month of March, at the end of the fiscal business year…

Maybe there needs to be a guard at the entrance to the place - refusing to allow entrance to anyone wearing a pin-striped business suit.

"Excuse me… are you done with that tree? No? Let me know when you are. I like your navy blue suit. Can I have it?"

Apparently the most popular forms of suicide at Aokigahara Forest are: hanging and drug overdose.
Not sure if this is real or not - but would this be how you would want to die? Look at the mess you've made.
In recent years, the local government has stopped publicizing the numbers in an attempt to downplay Aokigahara's association with suicide. In fact, it became so heart-wrenching for the forestry people that they put up numerous signs in Japanese and English, urging people to reconsider their actions and to not feed the nonexistent bears.

Okay… maybe just signs urging people to not kill themselves… Give me a break. It's such a heavy topic, I just wanted to lighten up the article.

But… why aren't there many animals there? You'd figure with all those people killing themselves, animals would have a field day snacking on the bodies!

Hmmm… could it be the angry demons spirits scaring away the animals? Every show on television dealing with the occult says that animals are very attuned to the spirit world. TV would never lie to us… would it? I do know wolves were hunted to extinction in Japan.

Anyhow… because this forest is situated at the base of Mt. Fuji - an active volcano - quite naturally the forest floor consists of volcanic rock… good luck digging your own grave.

Since 1970 police and volunteers conduct annual treks into the forest to search for bodies.

Be very, very quite. I'm hunting bodies. hu-hu-hu-hu-hu-hu.

And yet… there are still a lot of tourists willing to brave the haunted demon forest filled with suicide deaths in hopes of looking in a cave or two. These tourists are also pigs. By that I mean they tend to leave an inordinate amount of litter about… which boggles my mind. If you people love nature so much why are you fugging it up?
Messy... messy...
Still… as with most things… the farther you get away from the entrance, the more pristine it is in the interior. Except for the corpses, of course.

Let that be a lesson to you kiddies. Whenever you go into a strange forest to do some spelunking, make sure you watch your step and avoid the demon spirits - and by all means, please don't interrupt the suicidal. Unless you have a conscience.

Only YOU can prevent suicides.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph
Again… if you are depressed enough to have suicidal thoughts - please talk to someone about those thoughts. Despite me making light about a place that is so chic that people are dying to get in, suicide should not be a viable option. Get some help for yourself.Seriously... if you knew how screwed up MY life was, you'd wonder how I could go on or even smile and enjoy myself. But I do. It's called hope. Never give up on hope.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Japanese Automakers In Canada Want Canada-Korea Free Trade Agreement

JAMA Canada (Japan Automobile Manufacturers Association Canada), the association representing Japanese automakers in Canada, has issued a statement in support the Government of Canada's efforts to complete a free trade deal with the Republic of Korea - an important first step towards securing and strengthening economic partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region.

"Free and open trade with priority markets in Asia, most notably Korea and Japan, is vital to Canada's national interest to be globally competitive, create jobs and increase prosperity," says Jerry Chenkin, Chairman of JAMA Canada and President and chief executive officer of Honda Canada. "The successful conclusion of a trade agreement with Korea would also allow Canada to direct its full resources towards the swift completion of the economic partnership agreement with Japan.

"The successful negotiation of a free trade agreement with Korea would complement and supplement the Canada-EU CETA agreement-in-principle announced last fall as well as the free trade agreement currently being negotiated with Japan," he continues

"JAMA Canada and its members support the government's ongoing efforts to ensure that Canadian consumers have full, fair and free access to vehicles made in North America, Europe, Korea and Japan."

See? Canada wants to play nice-nice with Korea (we should assume South Korea only at the this time) so that it can actually lie in bed and spoon with Japan. Canada likes Japan. We's a mean mamma-JAMA.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph 

U.S. Baseball All-Stars Tour Japan In 1934

For ANYONE out there who is a baseball fan and a especially a baseball fan of historical quirky and interesting facts and stories, let me recommend this blog: https://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/

I could spend hours and hours rummaging through it. And I did.

So… let me just say… that I have taken two articles from that site that describe the 1934 visit by a team of baseball all-stars from the various American teams to play in Japan - mostly against a roving band of Japanese all-stars - other times against various armed forces personnel (like in Hawaii).

The photos, however, are not from that blog.

I still say you should go and check it out… and in fact, I'm going to link to each article HERE and HERE… but because I also know that many of you readers dislike having to bounce around to other sites less cookies or spyware bag you - I'm pretty sure neither are part of the equation at Misc. Baseball

The real reason I'm not re-writing these articles in my own words is that there's nothing too re-write. The articles are perfect and perfectly enjoyable.

Again… go and check out https://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/ yourself.

That's one hot-looking Japanese woman Babe Ruth is shaking hands with.
You should read THIS article that I prepared that shows the problems that arose for the organizer of the American baseball all-star team in Japan - let's just say it involves a katana sword and nasty slash to someone's neck.

In the mean time, from that site, here here is an article published on February 8, 2011 entitled:

Babe Ruth’s Visit to Japan in 1934
Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, and Connie Mack headlined the roster of 15 stars who visited Japan in November 1934 to display their baseball skills. They, and Ruth especially, apparently made a big impression, because Japanese troops famously yelled Ruth’s name in jest when they fought U.S. soldiers in World War II. Here, from the Japan Times, are some reports on how the U.S. and Japan teams fared in their much less consequential mid-Depression battles:

Friday, Nov. 2

The most formidable team of the world’s best baseball players to arrive in Japan disembarked from the palatial Canadian Pacific white-hulled liner, Empress of Japan, at Yokohama at 10 a.m. today for a series of games in the Empire, its first being against the Tokyo Club Sunday afternoon at the Meiji Shrine stadium.
Leading this aggregation of 15 aces of the American major leagues, including the one and only George Herman ( Babe) Ruth , the Sultan of Swat, and Don Gehrig of the New York Yankees, was no less a person than Mr. Cornelius McGillicuddy, better known as Connie Mack, manager of the Athletics who has been actively connected with baseball for 51 years.
The visitors were given a great welcome. No sooner had the yellow quarantine flag been lowered than Ruth and the other players were stormed with requests for autographs.
“How many home runs are you going to hit in Japan ,” Ruth was asked.
“I don’t know, but I am going to try to knock out as many as I can,” he said.
 

Monday, Nov. 5

Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig and Jimmie Foxx did not find the slow balls of three pitchers to their liking and failed to crash out homers, but the 56,000 or more baseball fans that packed the Meiji Shrine stadium Sunday sat back amazed all afternoon at the tremendous strength of Connie Mack’s American all-stars. The Tokyo Club nine, comprised of leading ex-university players, were slaughtered by 17 to 1.
With people standing in line for their tickets since Saturday night, every seat in the huge stadium was taken by noon Sunday, two hours before the game.
 

Saturday, Nov. 17
Babe Ruth has become quite the social lion of Tokyo. Together with other members of the American baseball team in Tokyo, he has been tea-ed, lunched, dined and danced, as never before.
It was a bright moment for several bellhops and girls of the Imperial Hotel when the baseball hero autographed his photograph for them the other day while having his shoes shined in its barber shop, and a Tokyo woman will always remember the time she had her hair bobbed — she sat in the next chair to the Babe.
 

Sunday, Nov. 18

The southpaw offerings of Lefty Hamazaki proved to be of no mystery to the portside sluggers of Connie Mack’s All-American professional baseball team and the latter routed the All- Japan nine by a 15 to 6 score Saturday afternoon at the Meiji Shrine stadium. It was the visitors’ final appearance in Tokyo (before they depart for matches in Omiya, Sendai, Nagoya and Osaka, then leave for Shanghai on Dec. 2).
Babe Ruth once again led the batting attack with two home runs. One of them came in the eighth inning with the bags loaded. He showed his aptitude to hit any kind of pitching by taking a healthy cut at Hamazaki’s slow teaser for a mighty drive into the right-field bleachers.
Wayne Graczyk, writer of the Times’ Baseball Bulletin, added that this “was the series when schoolboy phenom Eiji Sawamura struck out four big league superstars. Sawamura, after whom Japan’s version of the Cy Young Award was named, fanned Ruth, Gehrig, Jimmy Foxx and Charlie Gehringer in a game in Shizuoka.
“He lost 1-0 on a homer by Gehrig but went on to fame briefly with the Giants until his career was cut short when he was called into service prior to the start of the Second World War. He was subsequently killed in action.
“Sawamura’s performance on that November day helped persuade Shoriki to work toward forming Japan’s first pro team one month after that major league tour ended.
“That team is still known as the Tokyo Yomiuri Giants.”


Fully autographed photo of the 1934 US baseball all-stars and the Japanese all-stars. 
Next up is another cool article whereby Ruth in 1944 remembers his time 10 years earlier in Japan on the all-star baseball tour. 
Promo poster for the 1934 touring US all-star baseball event in Japan.
Keep in mind that the U.S., in 1944, is at war with Japan.  The story below was published in Misc. Baseball on July 14, 2009:

Babe Ruth on “the Japs” in World War II
On March 18, 1944, the New Yorker, after hearing that the Japanese troops were yelling “to hell with Babe Ruth” as an insult when fighting against the American troops, paid a visit to the Babe at his apartment on Riverside Drive in upper Manhattan. He remembered a postseason trip to Japan in 1934 and said: “Sort of thing you’d expect from the itty-bittys [referring to the insult]. I figured at the time that they were acting awful friendly. Why, we arrive at Yokohama and there’s one million of the little fellows lined up, bowing and cheering and carrying American flags in one hand and Jap flags in the other. We take the train to Tokio and there’s another million standing around near the station, all too damned polite. . . . They were lovely to us, just lovely.”
The Babe said this about their ability to learn baseball tips: “They listen a lot, and then put two and two together.” He said this about the ’34 tour:  “I knocked out thirteen home runs, but I never saw a Jap hit one over the fence. A bat is about as big as a Jap, and the fact is, the itty-bittys can’t hit.”
And this about the Japanese fans: “They’re wild men in the stands. . . . They don’t know the difference between good plays and bad ones, so they yell at everything.”
And this about playing before Japanese royalty: “Wasn’t a game we played, but some royal uncle or nephew wasn’t sitting out there under the canopy, so everybody lined up and saluted the duck, while a cannon went off and a siren blew to let the neighborhood know the game was starting. Hell of a way to play ball.”

Babe Ruth (the big white guy) posing with some Japanese kids from Hiroshima.Say what you will, Babe was a good sport putting up with the constant attention everywhere he went.  
That's all for now. What a great baseball blog: Misc. Baseball.

Babe Ruth certainly looks happy to be in Japan in 1934.
Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Official Godzilla (2014) Movie Trailer

Here's the official Godzilla (2014) movie trailer.

Enjoy.

Awesome, eh? Now wait a few months for the movie to come out.

You can also watch the trailer again to further whet your appetite.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph 

Exclusive Bar Sues Website Over Unwanted Publicity

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Do you know that old saying that "there's no such thing as bad publicity" - don't you believe it!

A Japanese bar in Osaka is suing a food website—Tabélog—because the article written on it has destroyed its anonymity. It certainly wasn't about a bad review - that was quite positive.

The bar is one that thrives on not being known. The outside of it lacks any signage stating what it is or what it does, and it appears not to even have a name… but relies solely on word of mouth as one of those places that only the cool Japanese people know about.

"Have you heard about the X bar?"
"Nope."
"Me either! It must be great!"

Apparently the bar says that the website - which published a review of the facility including photos - is ruining it's reputation for coolness. Okay... it never mentioned 'coolness' - just that being written up was ruining its reputation. The coolness factor was implied.

That's how you know it's cool. It doesn't need to say it is cool, it just is.

I've never been cool, which makes me cool, right? No? Crap.

The bar wants to be a place known as one that no has heard about and even better, no one is sure where it is.

It thrives on the fact that those who dare to enter the nondescript building, that those would-be customers must first be known customers and then, and only then, will their doorbell ringing allow them entrance. Well, actually, it's only then that staff unlock a big iron door to allow them entrance.

Dare I hope that the entrance door is 'green'? Like in that old Gene Vincent song (Green Door)? Or perhaps it could be like The Rolling Stones song... I see a red door and I want to paint it black! Or maybe it's like the rock group The Doors: There is the know and the unknown, and in between are the doors.... which was how the group got their name... from an Aldous Huxley book The Doors of Perception. Of course (?), Huxley took that from a William Blake poem (I love William Blake's art!) from his famous work The Marriage of Heaven and Hell: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: infinite."

Of course, none of that is neither here nor there. I'm just showing off - which I suppose confirms that I am not cool. Apparently being smart is not cool. Or maybe the showing off part isn't. Who cares? Now we all know more stuff than we did before, right? Except me. I already knew this. Ego! Thy name is Andrew Joseph!

Of course, I think this whole restaurant concept is stupid. Mostly because I wasn't deemed cool enough to know about it.

Why do I think the whole anonymity thing is stupid? Well... at the very beginning, when the restaurant/bar first opened up for business, no one knew anything about the place and no one was a customer, ergo (and I use that word correctly), following the bar's line of logic, no one should ever have been allowed in.

'Speak when you're spoken to!' the Queen sharply interrupted her.
'But if everybody obeyed that rule,' said Alice, who was always ready for a little argument, 'and if you only spoke when you were spoken to, and the other person always waited for you to begin, you see nobody would ever say anything, so that—'
'Ridiculous!' cried the Queen. 'Why, don't you see, child—' here she broke off with a frown, and, after thinking for a minute, suddenly changed the subject of the conversation.

See… stupid. That's from Alice's Adventures In Wonderland. Even Alice, a fictitious little girl knew how stupid it was.

Anyhow, the bar with no name (by the way… in those Clint Eastwood movies: The Man With No Name trilogy… Eastwood's character was nicknamed 'Blondie'… ergo, he has a name) asked the Tabélog website to take down the bar/restaurant review and photos of the establishment.

Hey… ask all you like… but freedom of expression, baby.

Anyhow… the operators of the Tabélog website, which claims to have around 53 million users a month, refused the request, arguing that the review is covered by the right to freedom of expression. See?

Fifty-three million users a month?

According to the US website - www.tabelog.us - the parent company is www.Kakaku.com, founded in 2005 in Tokyo. Tabélog is the premier restaurant review site in Japan with more than 40 million users monthly. The New York website launched in March, 2013. Maybe there's an extra 15-million viewers of the NY site to get up to 53-million?

The website is written by foodies who provide self-important data to people who need to be told by someone else if a place is good to eat.

You can tell I am not high on reviewers. I would prefer that people make up their own mind rather than have someone tell them how to think.

And I've even written book reviews... which makes my statement hypocritical. Make up your own mind!

Tabélog comes from the Japanese word "taberu", which means "to eat", and then bastardizes it with the word 'blog'.

If you want to sound like you are Japanese, you would pronounce it "ta-bay-raw-gu".

“It was a way to differentiate the establishment. Our stagecraft as a secret hideaway was designed to appeal to visitors’ imaginations,” the bar operators told the Osaka District Court in a hearing Wednesday, according to the Asahi Shimbun newspaper. I suppose it was actually done in Japanese, and what you see is a rough translation into English.

The Tabélog information “took away the elements of surprise and fun and undermined our operational strategy,” they said, demanding the website take down the post and asking for 3.3 million yen in damages, the Asahi reported. That's about $32,277.92 in U.S. dollars.

That's a pretty weenie amount. 

Now… here's the thing… the actual review of the bar with no name was first posted back in 2012.

But… the bar with no name's owners only noticed it was up there during the summer of 2013.

One year later. Fifty-three million users a month.

So… was there a huge upswing in clientele?

There couldn't have been… why? Apparently they bar still needs to know you first before letting you in.

Also, they are only suing for $32,277.92

The case is on-going… and now, because of the legal action, the place is now in the news - the mainstream news - and now the cat is really out of the bag! They just created more publicity for themselves! Horrors! Not more customers!

I understand the restaurant/bar owners' concerns. Truthfully, they should have been moving the location of their place every few months to keep up with (non-)appearances. In my opinion, that would have made the place ultra-cool.

Anyhow… it's safe to say that Japan is unlike Canada.. where bars that serve food and restaurants all have to pass a regular health inspection, with the results of the inspection displayed prominently in the front of the establishment so people outside can see it. Really.

The name of the facility would also be on the notice. I guess it is safe to say that there are no such food safety concerns in Japan?

Of course... there's also the health safety aspect... you know... the fact that the place is locked down with only an iron door to let patrons in and out... good luck in case there's a fire!!!!

Aw... don't worry... no one smokes in Japan and no one is careless with their matches or cigarettes - there's no way the place would ever catch fire...

but don't worry if it ever does...

"Help! Fire! Please send a fire truck to... 
"To where, sir?"
"I'm sorry... I can not tell you. It's a biiiiiig secret."
"Really, sir?"
"It doesn't matter. We couldn't possibly let you enter the place anyway."

Anyhow, should you wish to read another blog on some really weird Japanese restaurants who don't mind the publicity, click HERE.

By the way... suing a website over publicity? That's soooooo not cool.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Japan-born American Marathon Runner Toshiko Kishimoto Dies

Here's an interesting story, pointed my way by Vinny. It's essentially an obituary for a Japanese woman who seemed to have a remarkable life simply because she enjoyed running away... no... just running...

Toshiko d’Elia nee Kishimoto was a child survivor of WWII who cam,e to the U.S., and only at the age of 44 did she take up the sport of long-distance running.

It sounds boring... but her story isn't. Trust me on that.

To read her life story in the New York Times, click HERE.

Cheers
Andrew Joseph

Japanese Baseball And Ultra-nationalism In The 1930s


Here's a very interesting baseball true story written in the October 20, 1955 edition of the Nippon Times newspaper, written by F.N. Mike for his column Times at Bat. It actually examines a baseball incident from 20 years before that!

The photo above is:
the all-star U.S. baseball players visiting Japan in 1934, and features (from left): organizer Shoriki Matsutaro (surname first); U.S. Ambassador to Japan Joseph Grew, manager Connie Mack of the Philadelphia A's, and New York Yankee great Babe Ruth. I'll offer up some actual information on this tour shortly.

The newspaper article below is a fascinating look back at the early days of professional baseball in Japan, as well as the political state of the country.

I did have to adjust some of the grammar from its original article to make it understandable. Although it appears as though F.N. Mike might be a decent baseball insider, he's clearly not the best writer. Neither am I, but it appears as though at least today, that I am a better writer than him.


Times at Bat
Baseball's greatest bunch of players ever assembled, Ruth and company, had just departed Japan, in early November of 1934. And into the office of the man who had staked his all--his newspaper the Yomiuri included, in bringing the team for a goodwill tour--stomped three men.
The men declared themselves representatives of the "War God Society," one of the mushrooming ultranationalist groups. Producing a scroll they read hima "Death to Traitors" warning and then left.
He paid no attention to it. He had received many threats like it.
Three months later an assassin tried to chop his head off with a deadly Japanese sword.
For his love of baseball, Matsutaro Shoriki nearly paid with his life.
You'll find this episode in the stirring life of Shoriki in a biography published in July and now in its fifth printing.
***
But the "Father of Professional Baseball in Japan" personally told me about it, over a private luncheon last week at his beautiful Japanese garden house in his Nippon Television network compounds in Kojimachi.
Now 70, the first Japanese to venture into commercial TV, among his many accomplishments, told it with a smile and with relish. His executive assistant Hidetoshi Shibata had perhaps heard it before but he listened enraptured with me.
"What did the three read you, Mr. Shoriki?" I asked.
"First," he began enumerating the three counts of indictment, "you desecrated the Meiji Shrine, by letting the American all-stars play in teh shrine ballpart.
"Second... you carried an article derogatory to the institution of the Emperor in your paper.
"Third... you're associating with the Heasrt interest, a rabid anti-Japanese organization."
It was a cost, raw morning Feb. 22, 1935 and Shoriki had just alighted from his car to enter his newspaper office.
"Suddenly," he said, "I felt a sharp pain. I turned around and there was a man holding a bloody Japanese sword.
"I shouted at him... made an attempt to get at him. But the swordsman took to his heels. It was hurting badly no. I felt around for the wound, and one of my fingers went deep inside the cut.
***
"Blood was spurting out... down my collar and to the cuff. I pressed my overcoat hard over the wound to stench the flow of blood. And then I headed for the dispensary. On the way I met the printing shop foreman and with his help managed to gain the second floor. I collapsed there then."
It was not until two in the afternoon that Shoriki regained consciousness. In the meantime, he had been given several blood transfusions and the doctor in charge had all but given up hopes for his reviving. He was unmoved in the company dispensary for a week, hovering between life and death. Then he was taken to the St. Luke's Hospital where he remained 50 days more, until he was well enough again to go to a native-district hot-spring for a final recuperative period before plunging into the hectic activity that characterizes his career.


Whoa... what a story... you can really see the anti-foreigner intensity amongst some of the Japanese people here in 1935. This was at a time when it was attacking other Asian nations in aggression, and six years before the country embarked on its infamous attack on the US Pear Harbor base in Hawaii plunging it and the US headlong into WWII.

Desecrating the Meiji Shrine because foreign ball players dared to play there? Wow oh wow.

So... who is Matsutaro Shoriki (正力 松太郎 Shōriki Matsutarō)? 



Born on April 11, 1885 (d. October 9, 1969), Shoriki was a Japanese journalist and media mogul who owned the Yomiuri Shimbun (Yomiuri Newspaper), and was indeed known as the father of Japanese professional baseball. He also founded Japan's first commercial television station - the Nippon Television Network Corporation, later elected to Japan's House of Representatives, appointed to the House of Peers and was one of the most successful judo masters ever, reaching the extremely rare rank of 10th Dan. Basically, he was a smart, tough man who was also extremely good in business.

He was classified as a "Class A" war criminal after WWII, but was released in 1947 when it was determined that the charges against him were trumped up and were of an "ideological and political nature."

As for the description of his attack by ultra-nationalists in 1935 - that did happen, as they were pissed off that he would allow American all-stars to play at Jingu Stadium at the revered Meiji Shrine in 1934. Shoriki ended up with a 16-inch long scar from the neck wound suffered during that assassination attempt.

You should know that during this era traveling all-star Japanese baseball teams had gone belly-up, but the team that he had play against the US all-stars... they eventually became the Yomiuri (Tokyo) Giants... basically the New York Yankees of Japanese baseball—the storied franchise of Japan.

Shōriki became Nippon Professional Baseball's (NPB) first commissioner in 1949, and yet one year later in 1950 he helped re-organize the league turning it into its current two-league structure and the establishment of the Japan Series.

The one baseball goal he failed to achieve, was establishing a true world series with the Japanese champions playing against the American baseball champs.

He was inducted into the Japanese Baseball Hall of Fame in 1959. The Matsutaro Shoriki Award is given annually to the person who contributes the most to Japanese baseball.

The position of Chair of the Department of Asia, Oceania, and Africa at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston is also named after Shōriki.

Now... I can't substantiate the following, but I'll lay it out anyway. Apparently Shoriki was a shill for the CIA (the United States Central Intelligence Agency).

According to Arima Tetsuo (surname first), a professor specializing in media studies at Waseda University in Tokyo, Shoriki acted as an agent under the codenames of "podam" and "pojacpot-1" for the CIA in order to establish a pro-US nationwide commercial television network - Shoriki's NTV.

He was also asked to introduce nuclear power generating plants using U.S. technology across Japan.

These claims are based on de-classified documents stored in the NARA in Washington, DC. NARA is the National Archives and Records Administration, which is an independent U.S. agency that preserves and documents government and historical records.

So... say what you will, Shoriki did, indeed become the chairman of the newly-created Atomic Energy Commission of Japan (原子力委員会, Genshiryokuiinkai) in 1956 - its purpose is to ensure that nuclear research and usage is conducted safely and for peaceful purposes only.

And there you go... an innocuous little article in the sports section of a 1955 newspaper offers up a cool story about a near-beheading, the origins of Japanese baseball, the origins of Japan's first commercial television station, the origins of nuclear power in Japan and even war crimes and the CIA interfering in another country's politics—which is strange because the CIA doesn't usually do stuff like that.

Snorttt-ha-ha!

Sorry... I couldn't keep a straight face after writing that.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, February 24, 2014

Ramen Noodle Stunt Eating


Because I recently took the crap out of Japanese women - and not in that fun we're having sweaty sex type of way - I thought I should see just what the actual appeal was for at least one of their desires.

During a recent survey, Japanese women were asked what they would like to do if they could be a man for a day. Click HERE.

One of the more popular responses was apparently: Enter a food-eating contest, which as you know involves eating as much of something in either the shortest period of time or within a set amount of time.

So… to see why some Japanese women found the allure of stuffing one's male face with as much food as possible interesting, I did a quick search of the internet - not spending more than 47 seconds searching for proof, while actually searching for something for work and accidentally coming across this poor concept of a blog article.

Anyhow… I found the following video on YOUTUBE, whereby a dude named Matt Stonie sucks back 11-pounds (5.09 kilograms) of cooked Instant Ramen noodles - which is the equivalent of 12 packs - in 10 minutes time.

What's the best part? He's a skinny ass dude who is a competitive eater yet weighs slightly less than my left leg.



Now… it doesn't appear as though the ramen noodles are steaming hot… which was why I present a second video of some other guy taking part in the Shin Sen Gumi Ramen Championship in Los Angeles, California back in 2012.

This guy isn't skinny - then again, neither is he obese. You can watch him choke down 14 steaming hot bowls of fresh ramen - and after winning, you can see him show-off and chug a beer. The kid beside him is sooooo skinny that I think he just came in off the streets to get a free hot meal.


This is why I never use public toilets to take a crap. You never know who used it before you.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

What Would Japanese Women Do If They Could Be A Man For A Day?

Japanese women say the strangest things sometimes.

I'm going to re-print a bit of an article written by Philip Kendall for JapanToday and published on February 20, 2014. Actually, I'm just going to print the answers and then comment fiercely about them. Because that's a lot more fun.

It's a story that took a My Navi Woman survey asking Japanese women:

"What would you like to do if you were a man for 24 hours?"   

  • “I’d go in on the male side of the public baths.”
Honey.. there's just more pee on the floor. But if this is just a ploy to see more male wieners let me just say: "All of these men… they were swimming! It was cold… there may have been shrinkage… " It doesn't matter if it's a hot bath. It can still shrink.
  • “Try shaving my beard.”
She has a beard that needs shaving? Or… does she mean… down there?
Or perhaps she means she would like to know what it feels like to shave one's face. It sucks. It's like shaving your legs… only everyday… and with a razor that isn't dull, with four blades… and everyday you press that shaver (avenue an electric one) up against your jugular and press hard until you cry, compose yourself and then get ready for work. What? I can't be the only one?
  • “I’d stand in front of a mirror totally naked and just look at myself.”
This is known as lean muscle and is not as impressive as bulk muscle, in my opinion.
You can't just do that! You have to flex! You have to do the full range of body-building poses: a) Single arm bicep flex; b) Double biceps flex; c) the left arm with fingers pointing stretched up and out to the side with the right arm cocked with fingers poised over the right shoulder with fingers pointing with the head turned to the left and looking up along the arm as you wonder why you are not Flash Gordon killing monsters up in space; d) and the Hulk full body pose, making sure to also pull the neck muscles up. The good news, is that if you pull a muscle doing this - you have pulled a muscle! You can't pull a fat!
  • “Pee standing up.”
Pee standing up? It shows how little women (not the book!) in Japan know about men. Pee standing up? You always have to worry about splash-back at the urinal or even at a toilet bowl. Hell... guys don't even know where their pee stream is going - at least for that initial moment it first leaves you! - and what the heck - three streams??!! How the hell does that happen? Now you have pee splatter on your pants so you spend the next 10 minutes trying to raise your crotch up as high as possible to get the heat from the washroom's hand-dryer… and then you realize that this freak show never works before some other guy walks in and you have to immediately stop and pretend you are just finished drying your hands, so you have to walk out of the men's room with your hand covering the wet spots in a nonchalant manner that is anything but nonchalant. You should remember to carry something in, tucked under your arm - like a small binder or a magazine - so that you can exit the facilities carrying it nonchalantly atop the splatter marks.
Anyhow... if you are at a urinal, it is perfectly acceptable to walk up to it, spit, then pee and, if you need to, go ahead and fart while peeing.
  • “I’d go to the swimming pool! I think if I were a guy, I wouldn’t feel even a bit embarrassed about not wearing a shirt.”
Many men DO feel embarrassed about not wearing a shirt at a swimming pool or out in public. Non-Japanese men can have hairy backs, while any man can have a physique they are not proud off… but do you know what gets a guy over that insecurity at the swimming pool? It's the thought of all of those hot Japanese babes wearing bikini's! So… women… if you were a guy… that's what you should be thinking of… which, since we men know you are really a woman, it makes us horny.
  • “Take part in an eating contest.”
What woman gave this answer?! That was the best you could come up with if you were a guy?! How many men do you know that have actually partaken in an eating contest? Every guy likes to think he could wolf down 69 hotdogs or eat that 100-ounce steak, but for the average guy… six hotdogs might be enough… and eating a 100-ounce steak is a sure-fire way to experience that heart attack you so obviously want. Really, though… every guy thinks - at least in the back of his head - that he would like to take part in an eating contest, but truthfully we don't really want to do it because we know it would end badly.
  • “Sprint at fast as I could.”
Was this because of the eating contest?
Seriously… I'm pretty sure women can also sprint as fast as they can.
Oh… you mean sprint as fast as a man can? Sweetie… take a look at the men around you. The only time they sprint is if there is someone giving away free beer or tentacle porn DVDs. And what will this sprinting get you anyways? One hundred meters closer to the 200-meter race finish line?
  • “I’d want to try having sex as a man.”
Yes… all you can do is try. Having sex as a man? That means less crying but more begging. You know, half the time the woman is going to reach down and slide your penis inside because she's tired of you missing the hole or trying to put it in the 'wrong' hole. But let's run through the basic instructions (sigh). Insert Tab A into Slot B. Repeat as necessary. Five or six times ought to do it. Now roll over and get some sleep. It doesn't matter if it's 10AM… you are done for the day.
  • “Wear a pair of boxers. I’ve always wondered what they felt like to wear.”
You mean like Frazier and Ali? If you mean underwear, WTF is wrong with you? I'm pretty sure that you could always just slip on a pair. You can even go to a men's clothing store an purchase a pair of boxers and no one would bat an eye… but… if a guy walks into a women's lingerie shop and asks for pair of panties with a 38-inch waist, suddenly he's the pervert.
But… what the heck is with the boxer's? Are Japanese fashionista's so out of it that boxers are the cool thing? Do people still wear boxers? I do the combination boxer-briefs. Support and comfort... plus, if you have the leg muscles, they look great. I look great.
  • “Change a lightbulb.”
This woman had a brilliant idea to use her head as a lightbulb.
What the hell is stopping you from doing this as a woman? Are you afraid men will look up your skirt? They will, so wear pants! Even if you do decide this is how you wish to spend your day as a man - changing lightbulbs - just know that while you are up a ladder 'as a man', every guy walking by will pretend to shake it and then you two can share a laugh. But… just know that there is always ONE asshole who will actual shake the ladder and laugh as he walks away while you are screaming in pain on the ground.
There are also lightbulbs in table lamps. You could change a lightbulb there if you wanted. But… come to think of it…. while my wife has purchased lightbulbs, I have NEVER seen her change one. I've seen her sit in the dark reading with a flashlight and then act surprised when I try to turn on the lights only to find the bulb is burned out. She doesn't really want to change a lightbulb. Apparently that's a man's job. It brings us no great joy to our day.
  • “Carry something heavy.”
They are called testicles.
You know… men don't really want to carry anything heavy, either. But perhaps this is a Japanese female thing, because I have seen women at the gym who could bench-press a moose. I live in Canada, so this happens more often than most people realize.
Now… I've seen women shovel heavy wet snow (here in Canada), but for a guy… while he feels smug sitting inside while his woman is out shoveling snow… he feels emasculated when another man comes over to help your woman… guys don't do that to other guys. Let the woman shovel. It will make her proud you consider an equal.
  • “Go on a date with a girl.”
Man: Psst.... I'm not really a man. Woman: I know. No man would dress that well on purpose.
They are called lesbians. Or bisexuals. And remember… you only have 24 hours. You have to try and get a girl (women are waaaaaay better, and more legal) to agree to go out with you… "Yes, today! No… we have to go out today!" and then… don't forget your money. Saying it's in your purse at home is a sure-fire way to not get laid as a guy. Buy her dinner, hold the doors open, get her drinks, take her dancing, pay for everything, ensure she gets home safely and get a kiss on the cheek, because she's not that kind of girl. Actually she is. You're just not that kind of guy. She already has a boyfriend for sex. One to go dancing. One to be seen with office workers. One she will marry. And one who will buy her presents. That last guy? That's you.
  • “Hit on girls. I’d have way more confidence.”
Sure. More confidence. Hey guys!!!! Bwa-ha-ha-ha! Most guys lack confidence. It kills us to hit on girls. The one's who do hit on girls easily are called players (or play-yahs). Players only love you when they're playing. That's all you need to know. Just like when a hooker tells you that you are the biggest and best lover she's ever had.
  • “Put on a necktie and go to work at a company.”
First you need to get a job. Being a woman in Japan, you probably don't have a job. Oh you do… so what's stopping you from wearing a tie? Let me tell you… a woman wearing a tie can be very sexy.
But… what I think is hilarious is that you - a woman - think that men have better fashion options than women. We don't. In Japan, you have a suit and tie… in such colors as navy blue, grey or silver, and black. All come with or without pinstripes.
  • “Enjoy wearing guys’ clothes.”
Again… if not for the suit… you guys can ear a skirt, a dress, a blouse, a shirt, belt, no belt, a purse, handbag, hair bands, stockings, panties, no underwear, a bra, camisole… perfume, make-up… oh wait… you mean you want to enjoy the fact that men's clothing is a simple affair. It is. I'll give you that.
I, as a guy, frequently wear a t-shirt and jeans when not at work. But… my wife wears a t-shirt and blue jeans, and so does my girlfriend… and so does my mistress. Ain't no big thrill.
  • “Become pals with my boyfriend, then find out what he really thinks about me.”
Oh… I get it… because you think that guys talk about their wife or girlfriend to their male buddies. No we don't. The wife or girlfriend is not mentioned except perhaps after a cursory question: "Things okay?" A response is grunted with an added nod or a shake of the head. Nothing more is said.
Between two guys, talk will focus on other women, sports, whose turn it is to buy another round of alcohol, who farted that time, and does anyone have any more money for a lap dance?
If a guy starts to pry into another guy's girlfriend situation (IE, you, the woman who has changed into a man for 24 hours), that guy will think there is something wrong and will immediately guess that you are 1) trying to hit on his girlfriend 2) are gay, because why else would you be asking such feminine questions, and 3) are a woman who has magically been turned into a man for 24 hours. Yeah… we've seen that type of stuff before.

That's it for the responses and my response to the responses.

Because I am a guy - a man's man, which doesn't sound as butch as I thought would - I didn't stop to think before rattling off my responses. That's one of the keys to being a man. Open mouth, say crap, and don't think about it again. Other guys won't bring up your crap - unless it was funny… and a woman will bring it up six weeks later when her pent up anger is suddenly released and the guy will wonder what the hell he said that made this happen. No… we don't know. We never know. We say a lot of dumb things, but that's because they are funny or because we are dumb or because we are devo. (Question: Are we not men? Answer: We are Devo!)

So… since Japanese women got asked such a stupid question and generally responded with some stupid answers, it begs the question:

What would a Japanese man do if he were a woman for 24 hours?

This is just me thinking outside (or rather, inside) the box. I did not have to do a survey to get any responses. As explained above, I just spew out what I'm thinking. Just because.

I'm guessing most 'new women' would:
  • feel themselves up;
  • get naked;
  • see how much of anything they could stuff up their vagina;
  • try to come up with a cute name for their vagina;
  • engage in some sort of tentacle porn;
  • get a mani-pedi;
  • spend a few hours trying to figure out how to pee;
  • spend hours being felt up by other men (that would happen - not that they would want it to happen);
  • spend many hours making tea and serving it to the male office employees while trying to fend off the men from feeling you up;
  • more tentacle porn - and how difficult is it to buy a live octopus in Japan, anyway?;
  • have a car accident in your incredibly small sub-compact pastel colored car with the offensive girl-name;
  • wonder just how other women put on pantyhose?;
  • wonder what it would feel like to have a penis inside you - just wondering, you wouldn't want to actually do it (Homo ja nai - I'm not gay);
  • maybe try a squid instead of an octopus?;
  • read a real book and not a manga (comic books) for four hours;
  • watch Downton Abbey;
  • actually understand why it is a great television show;
  • spend two hours wondering why no one has served you dinner;
  • realize you are now a woman and have to cook your own damn food;
  • is there such a thing as too much tentacle porn - let's find out;
  • go out and buy a small dog and not feel emasculated;
  • masturbate furiously and try not to be too disappointed when you don't squirt or even orgasm;
  • wonder if you look fat in that dress;
  • kiss another woman and make her feel your boobs (As a man in a woman's body, you know that women do this all the time when they know men aren't around. That's what happens in the porno movies, after all;
  • oh god… there's so many things to do - but not enough hours to do them…. and why does my vagina smell like an aquarium? Do I have a rash? Do I still have time for more tentacle porn?
There are a few other things that a woman might think a guy would want to experience as a woman, but:

No… why the hell would I want to wear high heels? You are always bitching about how much your feet hurt and how rough your skin is that you have to take a potato peeler out and skin off layers of dead skin from your horrible little feet… no thanks.

Wear a thong? Butt floss? No thanks. High heels and thongs… men like to look at women wearing them, but we don't really want to know what it feels like! Most men, anyway.

Pay the bills, go shopping and not actually buy anything except for a few items that you have to hide within the reduced food allowance? No thanks - boring!

Pick up my drunk husband at the local bar - again? No thanks. Been there. Actually… that's true… except it was you picking me up. It's the same thing, right?

By the way... I thought I would scour the Internet and grab a photo of a Japanese woman dressed as a man - but I could not find one. There were plenty of photos of Japanese men dressed up as women, though.;

Okay... that's enough for now... I think I could do a book or a whole blog on this.

Cheers,
Andrew "Sucker Marks" Joseph

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Japanese Fairy Tales: The Bamboo-cutter And The Moon-child

Here's another epic tale taken from the 1908 book Japanese Fairy Tales and translated by Ozaki Yei Theodora (surname first).

The stories are all based on original Japanese stories (and even Chinese stories), but some liberties were taken when Ozaki translated them to English.

This is, admittedly, a long tale but one that is quite enjoyable.

The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter (竹取物語 Taketori Monogatari) is also known as Princess Kaguya (かぐや姫 Kaguya Hime) and is a 10th-century Japanese folktale that is not only considered the oldest extant Japanese narrative but also an early example of proto-science fiction.

Yes... science-fiction. Come on Caroline... you'll enjoy it!

The image above is: Taketori no Okina takes Kaguya-hime to his home and was drawn by Hiromichi Tosa (surname first) around 1600AD.

I must admit that I have longed to take some of these fairy tales I have previously presented here and  fracture them by adding my own twists at the end. Not so this one.

I wonder, though... has anyone thought to modernize these and westernize them? Sure... go ahead... you can do it when you tell the story to your kid(s).

I think you'll enjoy it. Oh... and by the way... the word 'crape'... I'm pretty sure it should be 'crepe'.

The Bamboo-cutter And The Moon-child
Long, long ago, there lived an old bamboo wood-cutter. He was very poor and sad also, for no child had Heaven sent to cheer his old age, and in his heart there was no hope of rest from work till he died and was laid in the quiet grave. Every morning he went forth into the woods and hills wherever the bamboo reared its lithe green plumes against the sky. When he had made his choice, he would cut down these feathers of the forest, and splitting them lengthwise, or cutting them into joints, would carry the bamboo wood home and make it into various articles for the household, and he and his old wife gained a small livelihood by selling them.

One morning as usual he had gone out to his work, and having found a nice clump of bamboos, had set to work to cut some of them down. Suddenly the green grove of bamboos was flooded with a bright soft light, as if the full moon had risen over the spot. Looking round in astonishment, he saw that the brilliance was streaming from one bamboo. The old man, full of wonder, dropped his ax and went towards the light. On nearer approach he saw that this soft splendor came from a hollow in the green bamboo stem, and still more wonderful to behold, in the midst of the brilliance stood a tiny human being, only three inches in height, and exquisitely beautiful in appearance.

"You must be sent to be my child, for I find you here among the bamboos where lies my daily work," said the old man, and taking the little creature in his hand he took it home to his wife to bring up. The tiny girl was so exceedingly beautiful and so small, that the old woman put her into a basket to safeguard her from the least possibility of being hurt in any way.
The old couple were now very happy, for it had been a lifelong regret that they hado children of their own, and with joy they now expended all the love of their old age on the little child who had come to them in so marvelous a manner.

From this time on, the old man often found gold in the notches of the bamboos when he hewed them down and cut them up; not only gold, but precious stones also, so that by degrees he became rich. He built himself a fine house, and was no longer known as the poor bamboo woodcutter, but as a wealthy man.

Three months passed quickly away, and in that time the bamboo child had, wonderful to say, become a full-grown girl, so her foster-parents did up her hair and dressed her in beautiful kimonos. She was of such wondrous beauty that they placed her behind the screens like a princess, and allowed no one to see her, waiting upon her themselves. It seemed as if she were made of light, for the house was filled with a soft shining, so that even in the dark of night it was like daytime. Her presence seemed to have a benign influence on those there. Whenever the old man felt sad, he had only to look upon his foster-daughter and his sorrow vanished, and he became as happy as when he was a youth.

At last the day came for the naming of their new-found child, so the old couple called in a celebrated name-giver, and he gave her the name of Princess Moonlight, because her body gave forth so much soft bright light that she might have been a daughter of the Moon God.

For three days the festival was kept up with song and dance and music. All the friends and relations of the old couple were present, and great was their enjoyment of the festivities held to celebrate the naming of Princess Moonlight. Everyone who saw her declared that there never had been seen any one so lovely; all the beauties throughout the length and breadth of the land would grow pale beside her, so they said. The fame of the Princess's loveliness spread far and wide, and many were the suitors who desired to win her hand, or even so much as to see her.

Suitors from far and near posted themselves outside the house, and made little holes in the fence, in the hope of catching a glimpse of the Princess as she went from one room to the other along the veranda. They stayed there day and night, sacrificing even their sleep for a chance of seeing her, but all in vain. Then they approached the house, and tried to speak to the old man and his wife or some of the servants, but not even this was granted them.

Still, in spite of all this disappointment they stayed on day after day, and night after night, and counted it as nothing, so great was their desire to see the Princess.

At last, however, most of the men, seeing how hopeless their quest was, lost heart and hope both, and returned to their homes. All except five Knights, whose ardor and determination, instead of waning, seemed to wax greater with obstacles. These five men even went without their meals, and took snatches of whatever they could get brought to them, so that they might always stand outside the dwelling. They stood there in all weathers, in sunshine and in rain.

Sometimes they wrote letters to the Princess, but no answer was vouchsafed to them. Then when letters failed to draw any reply, they wrote poems to her telling her of the hopeless love which kept them from sleep, from food, from rest, and even from their homes. Still Princes Moonlight gave no sign of having received their verses.

In this hopeless state the winter passed. The snow and frost and the cold winds gradually gave place to the gentle warmth of spring. Then the summer came, and the sun burned white and scorching in the heavens above and on the earth beneath, and still these faithful Knights kept watch and waited. At the end of these long months they called out to the old bamboo-cutter and entreated him to have some mercy upon them and to show them the Princess, but he answered only that as he was not her real father he could not insist on her obeying him against her wishes.

The five Knights on receiving this stern answer returned to their several homes, and pondered over the best means of touching the proud Princess's heart, even so much as to grant them a hearing. They took their rosaries in hand and knelt before their household shrines, and burned precious incense, praying to Buddha to give them their heart's desire. Thus several days passed, but even so they could not rest in their homes.

So again they set out for the bamboo-cutter's house. This time the old man came out to see them, and they asked him to let them know if it was the Princess's resolution never to see any man whatsoever, and they implored him to speak for them and to tell her the greatness of their love, and how long they had waited through the cold of winter and the heat of summer, sleepless and roofless through all weathers, without food and without rest, in the ardent hope of winning her, and they were willing to consider this long vigil as pleasure if she would but give them one chance of pleading their cause with her.

The old man lent a willing ear to their tale of love, for in his inmost heart he felt sorry for these faithful suitors and would have liked to see his lovely foster-daughter married to one of them. So he went in to Princess Moonlight and said reverently:
"Although you have always seemed to me to be a heavenly being, yet I have had the trouble of bringing you up as my own child and you have been glad of the protection of my roof. Will you refuse to do as I wish?"

Then Princess Moonlight replied that there was nothing she would not do for him, that she honored and loved him as her own father, and that as for herself she could not remember the time before she came to earth.

The old man listened with great joy as she spoke these dutiful words. Then he told her how anxious he was to see her safely and happily married before he died.

"I am an old man, over seventy years of age, and my end may come any time now. It is necessary and right that you should see these five suitors and choose one of them."
"Oh, why," said the Princess in distress, "must I do this? I have no wish to marry now."
"I found you," answered the old man, "many years ago, when you were a little creature three inches high, in the midst of a great white light. The light streamed from the bamboo in which you were hid and led me to you. So I have always thought that you were more than mortal woman. While I am alive it is right for you to remain as you are if you wish to do so, but some day I shall cease to be and who will take care of you then? Therefore I pray you to meet these five brave men one at a time and make up your mind to marry one of them!"

Then the Princess answered that she felt sure that she was not as beautiful as perhaps report made her out to be, and that even if she consented to marry any one of them, not really knowing her before, his heart might change afterwards. So as she did not feel sure of them, even though her father told her they were worthy Knights, she did not feel it wise to see them.

"All you say is very reasonable," said the old man, "but what kind of men will you consent to see? I do not call these five men who have waited on you for months, light-hearted. They have stood outside this house through the winter and the summer, often denying themselves food and sleep so that they may win you. What more can you demand?"

Then Princess Moonlight said she must make further trial of their love before she would grant their request to interview her. The five warriors were to prove their love by each bringing her from distant countries something that she desired to possess.

That same evening the suitors arrived and began to play their flutes in turn, and to sing their self-composed songs telling of their great and tireless love. The bamboo-cutter went out to them and offered them his sympathy for all they had endured and all the patience they had shown in their desire to win his foster-daughter. Then he gave them her message, that she would consent to marry whosoever was successful in bringing her what she wanted. This was to test them.

The five all accepted the trial, and thought it an excellent plan, for it would prevent jealousy between them.

Princess Moonlight then sent word to the First Knight that she requested him to bring her the stone bowl which had belonged to Buddha in India.

The Second Knight was asked to go to the Mountain of Horai, said to be situated in the Eastern Sea, and to bring her a branch of the wonderful tree that grew on its summit. The roots of this tree were of silver, the trunk of gold, and the branches bore as fruit white jewels.

The Third Knight was told to go to China and search for the fire-rat and to bring her its skin.

The Fourth Knight was told to search for the dragon that carried on its head the stone radiating five colors and to bring the stone to her.

The Fifth Knight was to find the swallow which carried a shell in its stomach and to bring the shell to her.

The old man thought these very hard tasks and hesitated to carry the messages, but the Princess would make no other conditions. So her commands were issued word for word to the five men who, when they heard what was required of them, were all disheartened and disgusted at what seemed to them the impossibility of the tasks given them and returned to their own homes in despair.

But after a time, when they thought of the Princess, the love in their hearts revived for her, and they resolved to make an attempt to get what she desired of them.

The First Knight sent word to the Princess that he was starting out that day on the quest of Buddha's bowl, and he hoped soon to bring it to her. But he had not the courage to go all the way to India, for in those days traveling was very difficult and full of danger, so he went to one of the temples in Kyoto and took a stone bowl from the altar there, paying the priest a large sum of money for it. He then wrapped it in a cloth of gold and, waiting quietly for three years, returned and carried it to the old man.

Princess Moonlight wondered that the Knight should have returned so soon. She took the bowl from its gold wrapping, expecting it to make the room full of light, but it did not shine at all, so she knew that it was a sham thing and not the true bowl of Buddha. She returned it at once and refused to see him. The Knight threw the bowl away and returned to his home in despair. He gave up now all hopes of ever winning the Princess.

The Second Knight told his parents that he needed change of air for his health, for he was ashamed to tell them that love for the Princess Moonlight was the real cause of his leaving them. He then left his home, at the same time sending word to the Princess that he was setting out for Mount Horai in the hope of getting her a branch of the gold and silver tree which she so much wished to have. He only allowed his servants to accompany him half-way, and then sent them back. He reached the seashore and embarked on a small ship, and after sailing away for three days he landed and employed several carpenters to build him a house contrived in such a way that no one could get access to it. He then shut himself up with six skilled jewelers, and endeavored to make such a gold and silver branch as he thought would satisfy the Princess as having come from the wonderful tree growing on Mount Horai. Every one whom he had asked declared that Mount Horai belonged to the land of fable and not to fact.

When the branch was finished, he took his journey home and tried to make himself look as if he were wearied and worn out with travel. He put the jeweled branch into a lacquer box and carried it to the bamboo-cutter, begging him to present it to the Princess.

The old man was quite deceived by the travel-stained appearance of the Knight, and thought that he had only just returned from his long journey with the branch. So he tried to persuade the Princess to consent to see the man. But she remained silent and looked very sad. The old man began to take out the branch and praised it as a wonderful treasure to be found nowhere in the whole land. Then he spoke of the Knight, how handsome and how brave he was to have undertaken a journey to so remote a place as the Mount of Horai.

Princess Moonlight took the branch in her hand and looked at it carefully. She then told her foster-parent that she knew it was impossible for the man to have obtained a branch from the gold and silver tree growing on Mount Horai so quickly or so easily, and she was sorry to say she believed it artificial.

The old man then went out to the expectant Knight, who had now approached the house, and asked where he had found the branch. Then the man did not scruple to make up a long story.

"Two years ago I took a ship and started in search of Mount Horai. After going before the wind for some time I reached the far Eastern Sea. Then a great storm arose and I was tossed about for many days, losing all count of the points of the compass, and finally we were blown ashore on an unknown island. Here I found the place inhabited by demons who at one time threatened to kill and eat me. However, I managed to make friends with these horrible creatures, and they helped me and my sailors to repair the boat, and I set sail again. Our food gave out, and we suffered much from sickness on board. At last, on the five-hundredth day from the day of starting, I saw far off on the horizon what looked like the peak of a mountain. On nearer approach, this proved to be an island, in the center of which rose a high mountain. I landed, and after wandering about for two or three days, I saw a shining being coming towards me on the beach, holding in his hands a golden bowl. I went up to him and asked him if I had, by good chance, found the island of Mount Horai, and he answered:"
"'Yes, this is Mount Horai!'"

"With much difficulty I climbed to the summit, here stood the golden tree growing with silver roots in the ground. The wonders of that strange land are many, and if I began to tell you about them I could never stop. In spite of my wish to stay there long, on breaking off the branch I hurried back. With utmost speed it has taken me four hundred days to get back, and, as you see, my clothes are still damp from exposure on the long sea voyage. I have not even waited to change my raiment, so anxious was I to bring the branch to the Princess quickly."

Just at this moment the six jewelers, who had been employed on the making of the branch, but not yet paid by the Knight, arrived at the house and sent in a petition to the Princess to be paid for their labor. They said that they had worked for over a thousand days making the branch of gold, with its silver twigs and its jeweled fruit, that was now presented to her by the Knight, but as yet they had received nothing in payment. So this Knight's deception was thus found out, and the Princess, glad of an escape from one more importunate suitor, was only too pleased to send back the branch. She called in the workmen and had them paid liberally, and they went away happy. But on the way home they were overtaken by the disappointed man, who beat them till they were nearly dead, for letting out the secret, and they barely escaped with their lives. The Knight then returned home, raging in his heart; and in despair of ever winning the Princess gave up society and retired to a solitary life among the mountains.

Now the Third Knight had a friend in China, so he wrote to him to get the skin of the fire-rat. The virtue of any part of this animal was that no fire could harm it. He promised his friend any amount of money he liked to ask if only he could get him the desired article. As soon as the news came that the ship on which his friend had sailed home had come into port, he rode seven days on horseback to meet him. He handed his friend a large sum of money, and received the fire-rat's skin. When he reached home he put it carefully in a box and sent it in to the Princess while he waited outside for her answer.

The bamboo-cutter took the box from the Knight and, as usual, carried it in to her and tried to coax her to see the Knight at once, but Princess Moonlight refused, saying that she must first put the skin to test by putting it into the fire. If it were the real thing it would not burn. So she took off the crape wrapper and opened the box, and then threw the skin into the fire. The skin crackled and burnt up at once, and the Princess knew that this man also had not fulfilled his word. So the Third Knight failed also.

Now the Fourth Knight was no more enterprising than the rest. Instead of starting out on the quest of the dragon bearing on its head the five-color-radiating jewel, he called all his servants together and gave them the order to seek for it far and wide in Japan and in China, and he strictly forbade any of them to return till they had found it.

His numerous retainers and servants started out in different directions, with no intention, however, of obeying what they considered an impossible order. They simply took a holiday, went to pleasant country places together, and grumbled at their master's unreasonableness.

The Knight meanwhile, thinking that his retainers could not fail to find the jewel, repaired to his house, and fitted it up beautifully for the reception of the Princess, he felt so sure of winning her.

One year passed away in weary waiting, and still his men did not return with the dragon-jewel. The Knight became desperate. He could wait no longer, so taking with him only two men he hired a ship and commanded the captain to go in search of the dragon; the captain and the sailors refused to undertake what they said was an absurd search, but the Knight compelled them at last to put out to sea.

When they had been but a few days out they encountered a great storm which lasted so long that, by the time its fury abated, the Knight had determined to give up the hunt of the dragon. They were at last blown on shore, for navigation was primitive in those days. Worn out with his travels and anxiety, the fourth suitor gave himself up to rest. He had caught a very heavy cold, and had to go to bed with a swollen face.
The governor of the place, hearing of his plight, sent messengers with a letter inviting him to his house. While he was there thinking over all his troubles, his love for the Princess turned to anger, and he blamed her for all the hardships he had undergone. He thought that it was quite probable she had wished to kill him so that she might be rid of him, and in order to carry out her wish had sent him upon his impossible quest.
At this point all the servants he had sent out to find the jewel came to see him, and were surprised to find praise instead of displeasure awaiting them. Their master told them that he was heartily sick of adventure, and said that he never intended to go near the Princess's house again in the future.
Like all the rest, the Fifth Knight failed in his quest—he could not find the swallow's shell.
By this time the fame of Princess Moonlight's beauty had reached the ears of the Emperor, and he sent one of the Court ladies to see if she were really as lovely as report said; if so he would summon her to the Palace and make her one of the ladies-in-waiting.
When the Court lady arrived, in spite of her father's entreaties, Princess Moonlight refused to see her. The Imperial messenger insisted, saying it was the Emperor's order. Then Princess Moonlight told the old man that if she was forced to go to the Palace in obedience to the Emperor's order, she would vanish from the earth.
When the Emperor was told of her persistence in refusing to obey his summons, and that if pressed to obey she would disappear altogether from sight, he determined to go and see her. So he planned to go on a hunting excursion in the neighborhood of the bamboo-cutter's house, and see the Princess himself. He sent word to the old man of his intention, and he received consent to the scheme. The next day the Emperor set out with his retinue, which he soon managed to outride. He found the bamboo-cutter's house and dismounted. He then entered the house and went straight to where the Princess was sitting with her attendant maidens.
Never had he seen any one so wonderfully beautiful, and he could not but look at her, for she was more lovely than any human being as she shone in her own soft radiance. When Princess Moonlight became aware that a stranger was looking at her she tried to escape from the room, but the Emperor caught her and begged her to listen to what he had to say. Her only answer was to hide her face in her sleeves.
The Emperor fell deeply in love with her, and begged her to come to the Court, where he would give her a position of honor and everything she could wish for. He was about to send for one of the Imperial palanquins to take her back with him at once, saying that her grace and beauty should adorn a Court, and not be hidden in a bamboo-cutter's cottage.
But the Princess stopped him. She said that if she were forced to go to the Palace she would turn at once into a shadow, and even as she spoke she began to lose her form. Her figure faded from his sight while he looked.
The Emperor then promised to leave her free if only she would resume her former shape, which she did.
It was now time for him to return, for his retinue would be wondering what had happened to their Royal master when they missed him for so long. So he bade her good-by, and left the house with a sad heart. Princess Moonlight was for him the most beautiful woman in the world; all others were dark beside her, and he thought of her night and day. His Majesty now spent much of his time in writing poems, telling her of his love and devotion, and sent them to her, and though she refused to see him again she answered with many verses of her own composing, which told him gently and kindly that she could never marry any one on this earth. These little songs always gave him pleasure.
At this time her foster-parents noticed that night after night the Princess would sit on her balcony and gaze for hours at the moon, in a spirit of the deepest dejection, ending always in a burst of tears. One night the old man found her thus weeping as if her heart were broken, and he besought her to tell him the reason of her sorrow.
With many tears she told him that he had guessed rightly when he supposed her not to belong to this world—that she had in truth come from the moon, and that her time on earth would soon be over. On the fifteenth day of that very month of August her friends from the moon would come to fetch her, and she would have to return. Her parents were both there, but having spent a lifetime on the earth she had forgotten them, and also the moon-world to which she belonged. It made her weep, she said, to think of leaving her kind foster-parents, and the home where she had been happy for so long.
When her attendants heard this they were very sad, and could not eat or drink for sadness at the thought that the Princess was so soon to leave them.
The Emperor, as soon as the news was carried to him, sent messengers to the house to find out if the report were true or not.
The old bamboo-cutter went out to meet the Imperial messengers. The last few days of sorrow had told upon the old man; he had aged greatly, and looked much more than his seventy years. Weeping bitterly, he told them that the report was only too true, but he intended, however, to make prisoners of the envoys from the moon, and to do all he could to prevent the Princess from being carried back.
The men returned and told His Majesty all that had passed. On the fifteenth day of that month the Emperor sent a guard of two thousand warriors to watch the house. One thousand stationed themselves on the roof, another thousand kept watch round all the entrances of the house. All were well trained archers, with bows and arrows. The bamboo-cutter and his wife hid Princess Moonlight in an inner room.
The old man gave orders that no one was to sleep that night, all in the house were to keep a strict watch, and be ready to protect the Princess. With these precautions, and the help of the Emperor's men-at-arms, he hoped to withstand the moon-messengers, but the Princess told him that all these measures to keep her would be useless, and that when her people came for her nothing whatever could prevent them from carrying out their purpose. Even the Emperors men would be powerless. Then she added with tears that she was very, very sorry to leave him and his wife, whom she had learned to love as her parents, that if she could do as she liked she would stay with them in their old age, and try to make some return for all the love and kindness they had showered upon her during all her earthly life.
The night wore on! The yellow harvest moon rose high in the heavens, flooding the world asleep with her golden light. Silence reigned over the pine and the bamboo forests, and on the roof where the thousand men-at-arms waited.
Then the night grew gray towards the dawn and all hoped that the danger was over—that Princess Moonlight would not have to leave them after all. Then suddenly the watchers saw a cloud form round the moon—and while they looked this cloud began to roll earthwards. Nearer and nearer it came, and every one saw with dismay that its course lay towards the house.
In a short time the sky was entirely obscured, till at last the cloud lay over the dwelling only ten feet off the ground. In the midst of the cloud there stood a flying chariot, and in the chariot a band of luminous beings. One amongst them who looked like a king and appeared to be the chief stepped out of the chariot, and, poised in air, called to the old man to come out.
"The time has come," he said, "for Princess Moonlight to return to the moon from whence she came. She committed a grave fault, and as a punishment was sent to live down here for a time. We know what good care you have taken of the Princess, and we have rewarded you for this and have sent you wealth and prosperity. We put the gold in the bamboos for you to find."
"I have brought up this Princess for twenty years and never once has she done a wrong thing, therefore the lady you are seeking cannot be this one," said the old man. "I pray you to look elsewhere."
Then the messenger called aloud, saying:
"Princess Moonlight, come out from this lowly dwelling. Rest not here another moment."
At these words the screens of the Princess's room slid open of their own accord, revealing the Princess shining in her own radiance, bright and wonderful and full of beauty.
The messenger led her forth and placed her in the chariot. She looked back, and saw with pity the deep sorrow of the old man. She spoke to him many comforting words, and told him that it was not her will to leave him and that he must always think of her when looking at the moon.
The bamboo-cutter implored to be allowed to accompany her, but this was not allowed. The Princess took off her embroidered outer garment and gave it to him as a keepsake.
One of the moon beings in the chariot held a wonderful coat of wings, another had a phial full of the Elixir of Life which was given the Princess to drink. She swallowed a little and was about to give the rest to the old man, but she was prevented from doing so.
The robe of wings was about to be put upon her shoulders, but she said:
"Wait a little. I must not forget my good friend the Emperor. I must write him once more to say good-by while still in this human form."
In spite of the impatience of the messengers and charioteers she kept them waiting while she wrote. She placed the phial of the Elixir of Life with the letter, and, giving them to the old man, she asked him to deliver them to the Emperor.
Then the chariot began to roll heavenwards towards the moon, and as they all gazed with tearful eyes at the receding Princess, the dawn broke, and in the rosy light of day the moon-chariot and all in it were lost amongst the fleecy clouds that were now wafted across the sky on the wings of the morning wind.
Princess Moonlight's letter was carried to the Palace. His Majesty was afraid to touch the Elixir of Life, so he sent it with the letter to the top of the most sacred mountain in the land. Mount Fuji, and there the Royal emissaries burnt it on the summit at sunrise. So to this day people say there is smoke to be seen rising from the top of Mount Fuji to the clouds.

The End
Andrew Joseph