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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

New Strain Of Dengue Virus In Japan

Great. Yet another reason to hate mosquitoes.

According to the Japanese government, a new type of dengue virus was found in a man in Shizuoka-ken—a virus that has mutated enough to carry a different genetic sequence of the virus - different from the other Japanese people who had been infected with the virus back in August of 2014.

What does this mean? Well, it means that someone other than the person carrying the dengue virus that affected many people in Yoyogi Park in Tokyo has brought the virus back with them more recently.

The original virus to hit Japan was traced back to a man - and we're not saying a Japanese man - but it could be, who was in his 20s. He was identified on September 18, 2014 as the originator, having first developed symptoms back on September 10, 2014.

The man says he had visited Japan in early September, had mosquito saliva spit upon him before having been bitten on September 8th or 9th as he visited the eastern part of Tokyo.

Mosquitoes have a saliva on the end of their proboscis that softens up the skin a bit for easier entry to suck blood. It is actually the saliva that people are 'allergic' to that causes the swelling and itching. Would it surprise you to learn that it's the females of the species that is the blood-sucker? I am talking about mosquitoes only, of course.

However, if a mosquito is carrying virus, in this case the dengue virus, it's a simple matter of transference, as it enters the human blood stream.

Japan's Health Ministry says that three more people have been identified as infected with the dengue virus, for a total of 150 in Japan.

Up until this outbreak, no Dengue virus had been seen in Japan since 1945.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Natto Challenge - Japanese Nutcracker

Want to see a Japanese game show involving the losers getting their testicles smacked?

Sure you do.

Here, on YouTube is the GNT Kiki Series 23, which I have no idea what that means, except that perhaps it is the 23rd such food challenge, this one involving natto.

Not sure what natto is?

It's rotting, fermented soybeans that have a strong smell and taste that half the country of Japan refuses to eat.

Not only does it have this gross mucous-like stickiness to it, but it supposedly smells and tastes bad, and as such, the true test of any foreigner in Japan wanting to fit into Japanese culture would involve them eating natto.

It's true that you might be best served by hopping INTO a bathe BEFORE you eat natto, still rest assured that while I love to eat natto, there are other things I prefer to eat more.
Say hello to the natto champion - me. It might seem like it's the girl in the bathtub, but unless she's eating all that, it's still me... the international champion at any rate.

Yup, Not only could I eat natto, but I enjoyed it. I would ask for leftover packages of natto from the school lunches to take home with me so that I could have a free dinner a few days a week.

Natto... you open up the stick pack, dump in some soy sauce and some mustard. You can add some scallions and even a raw egg - all of which I did - and then add the goopy mess atop a field of white Japanese sticky rice.

Mmmmmm - oishi. Which means 'tasty'.

It's not... at least not really, but I dislike the Japanese thinking they were superior to me, the foreigner, just because I could not or would not eat natto. Screw that. I made sure I was the natto eating champion. I told them it was delicious and always asked for more.

Suck on your stereotypes. I'm breaking the mold.

Now... I may have had an advantage over many of you others who have tried and disliked natto. My nose, despite being a handsome thing on the middle of my face, does not take in odors very well. So... if it smelled, I never really noticed it. Taste? It was like hard cooked baked beans on the outside and soft mushy baked beans on the inside. Nothing to it.

Anyhow... back to the natto challenge.

I watched one of these shows involving mayonnaise and the same five hosts, and I can't imagine anyone having the wherewithal to be able to discern differences in mayonnaise, but they did.

So... I was curious to see how they could do with natto. I knew of only one brand back in Japan, and found the same brand here in Canada . And yeah, I have eaten it here when I didn't have to - sometimes just to freak out the restaurant owners.

Anyhow, the five hosts are blindfolded and get to taste natto and then unimpaired get to taste 15 varieties of natto to see if they can figure out which was the brand that they had originally tasted.

Failure to get the right answer provides an opportunity for two burly Japanese men wearing some sort of food vendor related costume to come out holding a thick straw cylinder, place it between the loser's legs and then smash it upwards into the natto sac, I mean testicles and then slide it back and forth in what can only be described as some sort of Japanese homo erotic humiliation punishment.

I know, I know... but it's funny.

The Japanese and these food games is quite bizarre... I recall that even back in the early 1990s roughly 50 percent of the television shows on were food-related, from cooking, to trivia to anime (cartoons) to challenges. One of the then-more weird one was the Second Taxi Drive Fish challenge, implying that there was another time where taxi drivers were challenged to determine if they could figure out what fish it was they were eating.

Strangely, that was far easier than this natto challenge.

Here's the video - and from the still image here, it takes a lotta balls to think this would be easy enough to eat:


Cheers,
Andrew 'nutty 4 natto' Joseph

Monday, September 29, 2014

September 28, 2014 Simpsons Couch Gag

Submitted for your approval is the Japanese relationship with the Simpsons television show from the September 28, 2014 couch gag, appearing ever so briefly during the montage where Homer apparently has a time machine that first takes him back to 1987 and then forward to a distant star date in the future.

There - for a split second is the above image of the Simpsons in Japanese. Beats me how the hell I spotted it and could quickly snap a photo from my TV, but there you have it.

The episode features someone dying and I won't spoil it for you by blabbing, suffice to say the character is usually voiced by my favorite Jewish comedian to copy.

Oy gevalt!

And, in case you also missed it, the Family Guy premiere before it featured an hour-long crossover between the Griffins and the Simpsons, and despite Comic Book Guy's protestations that it was the worst crossover ever, I beg to differ. Plenty of laughs. I especially loved the 'chicken fight'.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

U.S.-Japan Trade Talks Stumble


The latest round of trade talks between the United States and Japan ended without an agreement as market access for agricultural products including pork and beef remained a key stumbling block.

Japan’s Economy Minister Amari Akira (surname first) and U.S. Trade Representative Michael Froman met for two days in Washington this week for bilateral negotiations as part of the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership agreement that involves 12 countries.

The U.S. National Pork Producers Council said the proposed agreement should not create a precedent that shelters agriculture from competition and noted the U.S. pork industry has benefited greatly from prior trade pacts.

The pork group issued a lengthy statement calling for the talks to continue without Japan until it is ready to make progress.

U.S. pork exports have quadrupled since 2000 as a result, the group noted.

“The TPP could result in even greater gains for U.S. pork, but Japan is the key,” it said.

After failing to make progress, both sides will consider next steps following consultations in both capitals,” the U.S. Trade Representative’s office said.

Japan wants tariffs allowed on rice, wheat, beef, pork, sugar and dairy products, according to media reports.

Washington had hoped to achieve a deal before year-end.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, September 28, 2014

30 Hikers Dead On Volcano

Thirty hikers are dead after a suddenly quiet volcano in Japan erupted sending a gas and ash cloud down upon them and others.

Mount Ontake in Takayama, Gigu-ken is Japan's second highest volcano - suddenly erupted on Saturday, September 27, 2014, apparently no rumbling until it happened.  It was its first major eruption in 35 years.

Check out the CNN video coverage HERE.

Andrew Joseph

Radio Baka - Japan's Rock and Roll Radio Station

Better late than never, I suppose.

I have always called myself a suburban punk - at least when I was younger. I had always been a rock and roll music lover, getting my first public singing experience in London when I was just three-years-old.

It's true.

With hundreds of people in rapt attendance awaiting the Word, I blasted out the lyrical lyrics to The Beatles Yellow Submarine, a song sung by Ringo Starr.

I received a standing ovation.

I was, of course, in church and my very embarrassed father deftly picked me up from the pew and carried me out down the nave (middle path) and out the double doors to the street - continuing the ballad at the top of my powerful lungs.I still have that booming voice, though perhaps a tremulous bit deeper.

From what I was told, people stood and applauded. Either for my singing skill - even then better than Ringo Starr, or because I was leaving allowing the priest to continue telling everyone they were all going to hell if they listened to that heathen rock and roll music.

It was the 60s, and I don't really remember doing that - so I guess I was really there.

Anyhow... later on after we moved to Toronto (hopefully not of embarrassment caused by my impromptu concert), I discovered my parent's record collection (which I still have - and grew, of course)... and was, of course a Beatles fan. My first name is John, by the way. Andrew is from Prince Andrew, who had been born just before myself. My hairstyle was the standard Beatles mop-cut - at least from the age of hell....since I was born.

One of those records was the 45RPM version of Revolution... that was the hard-core electric version of the Beatles song with the screaming guitars... I had only heard the wimpy version on the self-titled album, or what everyone calls the White Album. Anyhow, I listened, and I was hooked. Loud and proud.

I quickly got into the psychedelic music, like the head-stuff such as the Chocolate Watch Band, 13th Floor Elevators, Strawberry Alarm Clock and the Chambers Brothers who didn't have a cool name, but their album version of Time Has Come Today still blows my mind. Sadly they did that one great album (really one great song) and then concentrated on Gospel music.

Nothing wrong with Gospel music, after all that's where I got my start, according to John (also the first name of my dad - so I guess I wasn't named after John Lennon). I think that's all correct... I got WORD regarding  the Gospel information some 30 years ago from the guys at the Vinyl Museum in Toronto.

It was while wandering through the record stacks, one of the guys at the Vinyl Museum suggested I might like to try the MC5, a pseudo punk group from the 1960s. Kick out the Jams ??!! Are you effing kidding me? Wow!

I quickly drifted over from psychedelic to hard rock (Led Zeppelin) and then to Punk because I loved the energy.

I suppose by the time I left for Japan in 1990, I had all the Ramones, Sex Pistols, Teenage Head, Forgotten Rebels and Dead Kennedys songs memorized.

And yet I looked like the squeakiest cleanest guy out there. A suburban punk who could talk the talk, loved the music but dressed in jeans and a t-shirt without having to get anything pierced or safety-pinned or tattooed.

By that time I had loved all aspects of rock music, including heavy blues rock, and was introduced to grunge rock quite early by my then teenaged brother, Ben, who sent me some Nirvana in 1991.

There is nothing like culture shock being realized when one is cranking up the music listening to Smells Like Teen Spirit and jumping up and down on one's... futon? WTF? That was one of those... "oh god, I'm in Japan" moments.

But... in Japan, aside from me lending a Japanese science teacher a double album of Rush music (Chronicles, I think) that I bought in Japan, I never saw or heard any Japanese rock and roll. At least it wasn't real rock 'n roll.

Everything that I heard was glam rock with guys wearing too much make-up, like Japanese group Buck-Tick, but it was enjoyable. Hey man, it was all I had. It seemed to impress my junior high school students... then again, so did my deft use of chopsticks.

But where on the radio could I listen to some rock and roll?

Now it's 2014 and I tend to listen to more sports radio and comedy on the dial than rock...

And then my friend and fellow blogger... and DJ, Mike Rogers... a Japanese-American, who is an eclectic mix of the best of both worlds, informed me of his radio show.

WTF?! Mike... what the fug took so long?! I mean I knew he did some DJ-ing, but I never really understood for whom.

He has a radio show WTF? What The Friday? and broadcast through Radiobaka. Baka, of course, is the Japanese word for 'stupid'.

This was the radio station I needed back in 1990-1993 to get me through the lonely nights when I didn't have some sweaty escapade with a woman, which in retrospect was probably more often than I recall.

So... here's WTF? What the Friday from September 26, 2014, in Tokyo, Japan, which I found someplace.

http://www.radiobaka.net/761_WTF_09_26.mp3

It's a five-hour radio show filled with witty batter I only half understand, and music that is an eclectic (there's that word again) mix of 50s-80s-all the way up to new stuff of foot-tapping music, including punk! Heck, I even heard The Beatles, Ramones and Jerry Lee Lewis... the original punk.

The show's listeners are about 98 per cent Japanese speakers... and yet... there is also English news and more? WTF?!

Mike says that the English news et al is there because the station license was granted after the Great Kobe Earthquake of January 17, 1995, mostly because there were no stations broadcasting in English telling English speakers to kiss their ass goodbye. True story.

Of course, nowadays there's the Internet... but it's probably always a good idea to have a portable battery-operated radio around just in case...

The radio station - 76.1 FM - has its shows on-line at www.radiobaka.net. I'm listening to Mike's broadcast as I write this. Great show. Apparently he writes most of the script himself.

And I'm thinking... this is scripted? Who knew? But it is.

It's a pity it is also his last Friday broadcast. WTF, Mike?

But fret not... the show is moving to a new day starting again on October 5, 2014 at 8AM - 11AM...

Even though that's early in the morning on a Sunday in Japan, for me in Canada, that is better late than never.

Kanpai,
Andrew "The Gospel Singer" Joseph
PS: In case you haven't guessed, that's a photo of me - three and under - back when I was in London, England. You can tell that my hair did not care for the 'part' it played in this photo.
And that's the end of tonight's show. See you tomorrow.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Japanese Women: No Tits, No Ass, No Interest?

Boobs.

Now that I have you attention...

So… the blog appears to have hit a rough patch these past two days, with declining attendance, which is fine… I expected a hangover after such the spectacular bunch of blogs I had recently created, culminating with the resolution of the great Japanese Aviation Postcard Mystery of 1913 - HERE.

Okay, who's kidding whom.

This blog's main core of visitors is those Google-ing for information on Japanese teenager hookers or what Japanese women sound like in bed, or secret clues provided by myself on 'how to date Japanese women'.

I am quite familiar with the latter two topics - personally - and merely had to go on word of mouth from other media sources re: Japanese teenage hookers.

Still - 106,000 hits for the hookers; 97,000 for the dating advice and 41,000 for the sound bites… and these aren't the top hit makers on this blog… the one on Japanese boob size is big, too - so to speak.

I have, back in Canada, actually had a girlfriend who had been a high-class escort and I must admit to feeling good about that… I was the 'normal guy' that she liked enough to be with for free. And I mean 'free'. She had made a lot of money by the time she met me, so I was her kept man… never even had to buy dinner, though I offered every time.

I must have had something going for me back then, even if I was often the flavor of the month, as my friend Kevin once described me hopping in and out of relationships.

I still don't know how I came out of it (no pun intended. Much.) unscathed physically. No bets on 'emotionally', though I feel good about most things in life.

Boobs...

We Now Join This Blog All Ready In Progress
So... the headline… the topic is inspired by my new friend John Box - and more on him in an upcoming blog - who also enjoyed the wiles of women while in Japan…

Now, I'm not speaking any further for JB at this time, but back in the day (of me as a skirt-chaser - when did that end? Not yet?), there was a saying amongst the gaijin (foreign) men in Japan that while incredibly sexist, many chose to follow:

"No tits, no ass - no interest."

Not me.

When it came to dating, I actually did have to like the woman chasing me… and yes, by my second-year in Japan, I really did have Japanese women chasing me as much as I chased women of whatever nationality.

It just so happens that I prefer a little bit of meat on the bone, so to speak.

The modern day (?) adage refers to the stereotype that Japanese women are generally flat-chested, and can have flat butts and thus should be considered unappealing for 'dating'.

I, myself, used to 'dream' of the ideal woman as being a Japanese redhead with big tits.

In both instances, I would prefer natural… neeeeever been a big fan of the fake boobs regardless of the natural cup size. Yes, Andrew prefers some honesty in a relationship.

I should note, however, that implants are a necessity for some people just for symmetry. I understand and accept this as proper… but for the rest? Be happy with what you have.

Honesty in a relationship? Sure. It would be nice. Fake eyelashes, lip color, fingernail palettes, perfumes to cover up your real pheromone scent… it goes on, but you get the picture.
A real Japanese Barbie doll.

I'm not saying zero make-up, but minimal is always better in my book. Even to cover up a fish hook scar to an eyebrow. It adds character. Nothing wrong with character.

I prefer women who like who they are. Damn rare thing in my book, though.

As for the redheaded Japanese woman - okay… I knew it would have to be a dye job, or whatever… but like I said… or rather I am saying here for the first time… my preference was all tongue-in-cheek. Just not my cheek.

But what cheek! Wot-wot!

Anyhow, two out of three ain't bad.

In reality, however, I didn't discriminate.Having said that, there is a 'look' that I prefer.

You'd never know that looking at my dating history, though. No tits. Big tits. Average size tits. Short, tall, small, big, pick a nationality or religion... key for me was a nice set of legs, a bit of butt you could get a good grip onto, and god help me... first and foremost they had to be as smart or smarter than me.

Despite being a smart ass, I do consider myself smart. I'm not scientist smart even though I have a political science degree... but she should be considered literate - IE can read a book, can recommend a book, or best yet, give me a book that she thinks I might enjoy.

Hmmm... perhaps I described my ideal woman for a relationship rather than a bit of 'hide the bishop'. I'm pretty open about the latter.

Doctor, I Need An Anecdote
When I arrived in Japan nearly 26 years-of-age, I was still a virgin. So perhaps because of the difficulty I had experienced in Canada in being considered attractive enough for someone to spend a quality 10-minutes with (sorry I left out an additional zero there), I was never one to disqualify anyone based on the size of their chest or butt.

I figured (back then) that if it was really important to the woman, I could always buy them some implants. That was obviously before I started dating a few exotic dancers in Toronto - when I learned not to like the consistency of the implants as much as the look and feel of the natural materials.

Pretentious? Moi?

So… are the Japanese women small-chested? Relative to whom, is the main question… but sure.

But without much searching one can easily spot a Japanese woman with big boobs who has a svelte build. It's just not as common as it might be in say… Canada.

That whole butt thing… yeah… that's true as well, more often than not, but it is hardly a stereotype written in stone.

To both stereotypes—stereotypes exist for a reason - because there is an element of truth to them—I say who cares?


If you are just out to have sex in Japan, you don't care about anything but yourself, and that's fine.

If you are out to have a relationship, then you shouldn't even care what nationality the person is… and thus shouldn't care about physical characteristics such as size.

Hey, the most beautiful, intelligent and sexy woman in the world may be blind and not speak your language… but I know I'd be interested in communicating with her. Her being blind can only help me. But, if she's a right royal bunt, then what's the point?

There are other reasons why people have sex in Japan, but I'll leave that to people with better experience in such matters.

Depends What You Are After
Every single guy - almost - going to Japan who likes women - as soon as they arrive they have their head on a swivel, ogling every Japanese woman that appears to be breathing in their general vicinity.

And yet… what about the foreign women arriving in Japan?

Sure every single Japanese male who likes women is ogling after them trying to chat them up, but women from outside of Japan - particularly western women - have heard the rumors of Japanese men being misogynist, chauvinistic pigs.

I'm unsure if this is a stereotype or not. I know they are, then again, surely not EVERY single man. That would be crazy. (Reminder to self to write about how Japan is Crazy.)


Regardless, armed with that knowledge, foreign women are often reluctant to enter into a romantic relationship with Japanese men. I said "often". I never said "never" (plenty of Japanese men are fine upstanding folk with an understanding of equality amongst the sexes. I don't know of any, but I'm reasonably sure they exist).

So… think about it… let's use the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme as an example.

This past August, hundreds and hundreds of foreigners arrived in Japan, all strangers in a strange land but everything is exciting… but now it's now eight weeks later, and people are beginning to feel a little bit lonely.

Who is dating the foreigner women? Hell, who is dating the Japanese women? You must be able to communicate with each other, right? Can't do that…

I'm just saying there is a whole market segment awaiting to be wowed by someone's branding strategy.

Office Hot
Have you guys ever heard the term "office hot"?

It's a phenomenon that rears its ugly head after you work in an office for any length of time.

Basically, people that would be considered a 5 or a 6 on a 10-scale of attractiveness at a night club now look like an 8 or a 9 while trying to photocopy things via a fax machine at their work cubicle. That's work hot.
She doesn't work in your office.
Yes, yes… sexist. But don't shoot the messenger. Everyone does this.

Do You Know What I Want, What I Really, Really Want?
I'm just saying that if you give people a chance, you might actually find you like them.

I'm not saying I'm 'all that' or 'god's gift to women'. I got by with okay looks, and plenty of smarts, charm and wit. Women are probably less shallow than men when it comes to dating. Maybe not in Toronto, though. I've scraped my knees knowing how shallow it can be.

Judge not lest you be judged. Yeah… it works both ways.

Anyhow… this blog was just a cheap attempt to elicit a few more readers by using the word 'boobs' a few times.

Sometimes you do what you gotta do.

Kanpai,
Andrew "Boob" Joseph

Friday, September 26, 2014

Nintendo Turns 125

Did you know that Nintendo turned 125-years-old on September 23, 2014?

To celebrate, I have found this adorable photo of Kelly Brook's cleavage, er, I mean of Kelly Brook holding her giant cupcakes... uh, screw it... I just wanted to show the photo. It has nothing to do with Nintendo, except that we can now all join in on the celebrations by staring long and hard... stupid Auto Correct, by looking at Kelly's photo and wishing we could have a piece... of that nice, round... dammit, this is harder than I thought... forget it, I just realized what I wrote.

See? Even I'm excited... for Nintendo.

Congratulations Nintendo! You don't look a day over 40! Kelly is 34. Her age, boy-chick.

Of course, it's not like Nintendo has been producing video games its entire existence, but it has always been involved in the gameing industry.

You can read a bit more of the company history HERE.

Old Nintendo headquarters nameplate in Kyoto before it went electric. Taken on May 1, 2006, by Eckhard Pecher.
Nintendo hopefully presented special gold coins to all of its employees to celebrate. Although, come to think of it, if they did, you'd be paying $300 or more for every video game cartridge (what year is this?) in an effort to make up any financial short-comings.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

What Becomes A Semi-Legend Most

In my last blog, I wrote about the Japanese television show GTO, a comedy about a rebel Japanese teacher.

It got me thinking about myself as a foreigner teaching in Japan between 1990-1993, and how I suppose I must have been a bit of a rebel.

Yet, at the same time, I was pretty straight... a toe-the-line kindda guy... the rebel who would toe the line.

By the way... that's me - the kid, my dad on the right, and my dog Tin-Tin, a blue roan English cocker spaniel. She was the best present I ever got. I believe my tee-shirt reads: "The Moon Is Made Of Canadian Cheese." At least that's what I heard. The photo may be from either 1969 or 1970. I'll go with the summer of 1970 - after Apollo 11 and the moon landing.

Tin-Tin, by the way, is pronounced as 'chin-chin' in Japanese... which means penis.    
 
Okay... back to 2014 for a moment.

Let's start off with one of my favorite non-bands: If you are looking for theme music to listen to while reading this, may I suggest Clint Eastwood by Gorrilaz.



Here's how I was a rebellious gaijin rebel and how I was a toe-the-line kind of guy.

  • I was a rebel: the ponytail, later the earring... the big smiles.. the gaijin.
  • Toe-the-line: the suit... took having the kids learn seriously.
  • Rebel: would joke with students and tech them the bad words.
  • Toe-the line: wore long sleeve shirts after Labor Day.
  • Rebel: would help the students clean the school.Toe-the-line: had indoor and outdoor shoes.
  • Rebel: Sometimes didn't shave when I went to work.
  • Toe-the-line: Always bowed and said good morning to the principal and vice-principal first.
  • Rebel: Never spoke Japanese to other teachers even though I could.
  • Toe-the-line: I won't lie to you - I can't speak Japanese.
  • Rebel: Never participated in any teacher's meetings often falling asleep snoring loudly.
  • Toe-the line: Studied Japanese when I wasn't sleeping in those teacher's meetings.
  • Rebel: Drooled.
  • Toe the line: would have seven cups of green tea in the morning.
  • Rebel: I didn't have to pee.
  • Toe-the-line: Took my role as a role model seriously.
  • Rebel: taught the kids bad words between classes.
  • Toe-the-line: Used chopsticks as well as the Japanese.
  • Rebel: Learned Japanese bad words from students between classes.
  • Toe-the-line: Ate lunch every day with a class.
  • Rebel: Would try to make students laugh while drinking milk to have it spray out their nose.
  • Toe-the-line: Would help them clean up and apologize to them.
  • Rebel: Would do it again when next they drank more milk.
  • Toe-the-line: Played with the students at lunch time every time I was asked.
  • Rebel: Secretly enjoyed the students giving me a neck massage in the teacher's office between classes.
  • Toe-the-line: Made English classes fun.
  • Rebel: Made English classes fun.
  • Toe-the-line: Stuck around after school and did club activities - all of them.
  • Rebel: except I never did an English club!
  • Toe-the-line: Always said good night to the principal and vice-principal.
  • Rebel: Never worked late and left before the Japanese bosses. Always.
  • Toe-the-line: Never faked an illness.
  • Rebel: Thought about it.
  • Toe-the-line: Never visited an adult or after-hours club.
  • Rebel: Got blasted at local bar.
  • Toe-the-line: Never got so drunk I said something stupid.
  • Rebel: Maybe just once when I broke into a section of a hotel and awoke in a diorama of a Japanese forest - still not sure how I popped the lock.
  • Toe-the-line: Learned Japanese.
  • Rebel: Learned enough Japanese to get my face slapped nine out of 10 times - but that tenth time, it was always magic.
  • Toe-the-line: Went and visited all over Japan.
  • Rebel: Never brought back omiyage (presents) for the bosses.
  • Toe-the-line: Kept my apartment clean.
  • Rebel: Never wore the toilet slippers.
  • Toe-the-line: Invited bosses for dinner every once in a while.
  • Rebel: Destroyed my tatami mats because I didn't roll up my futon in the morning.
  • Toe-the-line: Ate Japanese food and used chopsticks.
  • Rebel: Would sometimes stick my chopsticks upright in the rice (something only done at a funeral).
  • Toe-the-line: Convinced bosses to get me a bug spray to kill the spiders on my balcony by noting that despite the fact that the Buddha will one day be reincarnated as a spider, he would never bother coming back to an unbeliever's place - or a gaijin's. I got my spider spray.
  • Rebel: Slept with over 30 women in three years.
  • Toe-the-line: But in 17 months of that time I had a girlfriend and never stepped out on them.
  • Rebel: Didn't care who I slept with.
  • Toe-the-line: Wore a condom.
  • Rebel: Sometimes slept with two women in a night.
  • Toe-the-line: Not usually at the same time.
  • Rebel: Didn't care what anyone thought of me.
  • Toe-the-line: Secretly cared what everyone thought of me.
Anyhow... that's just the tip of the iceberg... and all are represented as blogs unto themselves - usually in articles that appear to have a title that might be a rock and roll song.

If you know your music, you might have a chance to know - for better or for worse.

Because 25 years have almost passed y since I first set foot in Japan, I don't make any excuses for who I was.

The me of now is probably a more stable person, though I doubt I smile as much as I used to. I'd like to smile as much as I used to.

The old me wanted to be a writer, and initially created a column entitled It's A Wonderful Rife for the Tochigi-ken monthly newsletter.

The current-me... he writes all day at work, and when he wants to relax at home he writes this blog or another blog or another one under an alias. If he's not writing, he is reading or watching sports or going through one of his many collections wondering if he dare sell it to patch a leaky roof. Decisions, decisions.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Rebel With A GTO

Vincent sent me a link to a Japanese live-action television program called GTO - which is not about the old American muscle car of the 60s and 70s (the Gran Turismo Omologato - the omologato being a made up word, I think.)

Instead it is about Great Teacher Onizuka.

It was originally a Japanese shōnen manga written and illustrated by Fujisawa Tohru (surname first). It was originally serialized in Weekly Shōnen Magazine from May 1997 to April 2002. The story focuses on 22-year-old ex-bōsōzoku member Eikichi Onizuka, who becomes a teacher at a private middle school, Holy Forest Academy, in Tokyo, Japan.

The first TV series was 12-episodes running from July to September 1998; a live-action from 1999; and a three-episode anime (cartoon) television series from June 1999 to September 2000. There appears to have been another series in 2012 - it too a drama... but the one I love, is the new one from 2014... a comedy!

The other series all appear to be a drama... with heavy crap going on.

Onizuka Eikichi (surname first) is a bad boy student, who, when he grows up comes back to his old high school to teach. Hmm... it sounds like the plot to the old American TV series: Welcome Back Kotter.

Here's part 1 of the very first episode. If you are looking for more episodes, make sure it's from 2014.

My pal Vincent sent me a link to this 2014 show, but really, two days later the link no longer worked and all the full episodes appear to have been deleted from YouTube. Buggers.

Heck, Onizuka's name translates to  鬼 (oni) = devil and 塚(tsuka/zuka) = mound/tumulus - so you know he's trouble.

As far as bad boys go, he seems pretty wimpy, but that adds to his likeability. The point is, however, is that he is not your conventional teacher in Japan... and that makes him stick out like a nail that needs to be hammered down.

I know what that is like. Even as a foreigner in Japan, I wasn't your typical foreigner. Being of Indian descent (dot not the feather), and considering myself as Canadian as any Canadian out there, I didn't fit the stereotype of your typical white American foreign teacher - and that's fine. The Japanese and the rest of the gaijin community never held it against me as much as some people in Canada did. True dat.

But that's not a complaint. I'm just saying that to me, the Japanese seemed more accepting of me and of who I was then anyone else had at that point in time in my life. But, the same patience offered t myself and other foreigners does not extend to the Japanese themselves.

I should point out that I'm not one to play the race card or scream racism at every misstep. My friends never treated me as a gaijin, and for the most part, despite being a foreigner in a foreign land - Japan - I was treated pretty damn well.

As for GTO and myself... I never quite met a Japanese teacher like him in my three years. I think two of us teaching a class would have been fun, but complete anarchy.

Now, while I never decided to become a teacher until I was 39-years-old (couldn't get in to teacher's college), I was certainly still a virgin at 22 - much as GTO was purported to be in the earlier versions of the TV and manga series. At 25, in fact, I was a virgin until just after two weeks in Japan.

Why do you think I have such fond memories of the place?

 Japan was Disney Land for horny sorta adults.

I was never an ex-gang-member, unless you count the Five Terrors, my cadre of friends who tormented the white middle-class areas of Etobicoke, now a part of Toronto.We never had a gang name - that's how cool we were.

As nine-year-olds (some of us, and younger), we would wake up during the summer months and disappear from our homes by 9AM and come home by 6PM… after riding our bikes some 20-kilometers each way to downtown Toronto. No one knew where we were, but we'd go and do all the rebel stuff like shop-lifting or swiping chrome air caps from cars and putting them on our bikes. In between we'd read comic books, eat Lolas, drink Fresca and climb trees. You know… rebel stuff.

In Japan as a junior high school assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme living in Ohtawara-shi, Tochigi-ken between 1990-1993 I was a bit of an enigma.

I was a bit like GTO… a rebel with a cause. The cause being to get laid. Not with my students, of course, but with any female of legal drinking age.

What's the legal drinking age in Japan? Twenty?! As a 26-year-old, I did screw a 34 and 44-year-old, but aside from all the 20-somethings, I did spend an evening with an 18-year-old, but she worked as a ... I have no idea what her job was, but she was a high school graduate living in Tokyo. She might have been a hostess or a porn star.

For the record, I dumped her for a Japanese English teacher I met the very next day. That would be Noboko, or a spelling variation there of. 

Crap! Forget that drinking age thing! How about I was just trying to get laid with any female adult - but Japanese and or foreigner. I wasn't picky. I just wanted sex.

I'm much more picky nowadays… I have to respect you at least in the brains and looks department if I am even going to want to be your friend, let alone have sex with you. Yeah, I'm talking to you!

I have no idea who I'm talking to or even what I'm talking about. Why don't you grunt me your name?

Anyhow... enough of that, come back tomorrow and I'll describe myself as both rebel and a toe-the line dude.

In the mean time, go and watch GTO. I'm not going to Judge your humor.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

1900s Japanese Postcard

Yesterday's blog actually took me longer to write, than it did to solve the mystery. Read about that awesome journey HERE

I'm probably too proud of that accomplishment, but I had a good day on Tuesday and only swore four times at work and only almost-died once driving to and from work on the highway. So win-win.

Monday was also a day I was in contact with to authors - Mary Adams Urashima whom I mentioned in the aviation postcard mystery and who thanked me for the mention of her book Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach. They other is the author of a book I am reading - self-published... and I am trying to hook him up with some publisher friends of mine at Stone Bridge Press. So... I'm happy, but tired. I'll provide a book review in a couple of days of the self-published book. Hush-hush for now.

One day, someone is going to ask to publish a book of mine or will ask if they can work with me to create a movie on my life in Japan. I wish - LOL!

Anyhow... I was working on something based on yet another e-mail from Vince, but I am feeling a bit tired and don't think I can do it justice at this time.

Instead, allow me to offer up a cool 1900s postcard featuring some Japanese women in kimono - hand-tinted.

Are these women geisha? I don't think so. I think they are just in standard old-fashioned white-face make-up - but man! those are beautiful kimono!

If you feel this is a bit of a let-down after yesterday's blog, trust me... I agree.

Still, let me recharge my batteries, and we'll be off on something fun and interesting tomorrow after I come back from a work road trip early in the morn.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Great Japanese Aviation Postcard Mystery

I really love solving mysteries. I'm not very good at solving them via books - a credit to the writers, but I'm a curiouser and curiouser kindda guy.

I like to know something about everything and if possible know everything about some things. I'd like to know everything about every thing, but I know that's not possible.

Why else would I create a blog about Japan, one about aviation (I don't fly and have a thing about heights) or about relationships - see Pioneers of Aviation HERE.

Anyhow, this past Saturday my friend Vinnie in Boston was out at a book fair, and was chatting with a dealer who had some interesting postcards. Vinnie happened to mention myself and my blog Pioneers of Aviation, and lo and behold the dealer had actually heard of me and it, and was a reader!

Yay!

The dealer showed Vinnie the postcard above, which if you note the bottom of the card, is covered in Japanese writing.

Vinnie was able to, with an agreeable dealer, to get me the image, and the reverse, too - below, to ask me if I knew anything about this particular Japanese postcard.   


Damn... Well... Vinnie knows that I love to solve mysteries more than the mystery itself. He figured I would somehow be able to resolve it in about three days, though he didn't tell me that immediately.

Here's how I solved the mystery - well... most of it, anyways. I want to state up front that it's not so much about tooting my own horn, but rather more about the fact that I learned something new and I want to share it with you - that's what I like about solving mysteries... the sharing.

The first thing I looked at were the postmarks, to see if I could figure out a date. I didn't even see the main one upside down on the reverse for about 20 minutes... still, it says: Osaka, Japan, 18, 12 (December) 13 (1913).

The stamps themselves, they are Japanese stamps, the red one for 3 Sen and two 1/2 Sen stamps... sen being an old unit of Japanese currency.

Not having any ability in reading Japanese - at least not 20 years removed from living in Japan - I thought I would contact Takako, the wife of my friend Matthew, but unfortunately, the only e-mail address I had for her was an old one, so I just said, nertz and contacted my good buddy Mike Rogers.

I've never met Mike, an American of 50% Japanese descent now married and living in Japan since his teenaged years... Mike is an ex-punk musician of minor renown, though I have heard his music (I am a fan of the musical stylings) and thought it pretty damn awesome.

Mike now works in Japan as a radio DJ, TV talent, rock and roll show organizer, business guru and father and husband. He also puts out - when he has a chance the very well written Marketing Japan blog, which was my inspiration to write about Japan everyday.

Again, despite never having met the man, I respect him tremendously because like myself, we don't mind writing about ourselves and the past and being honest about it. I know, I know, we should get a room. But I just wanted to get you to go to his blog(s) and give it a read. He can be an opinionated SOB, but so what? That's what blogging is. It's biographical logs - our view with our writing style on whatever the hell we want to talk about. Mike is more dangerous than me, which is why I always read his stuff. Me? I think I'm just trying to create an Internet library that is more correct - factually - than what is generally available to you, the reader... my own Encyclopedia Japonica.

So... Mike, while fluent in English and Japanese could have translated it himself and given me an answer, he instead asked his wife, a former Japanese media broadcaster, for the official translation.

She noted that the Japanese writing was in an old style that made translating it difficult for her, a 21st century Japanese person, to read.

Still, that writing at the base of the card front reads from right to left: "The last 5 minutes of flight by Mr. Takeshi to Fukakusa (in sky over Yahata)."

Mike, like myself, was a stamp collector, and notes that the postcard was posted in Wakayama.... it says it was post marked on Jan. 2, 1914. The Osaka stamp says December 12, 1913.

Mike asked me to dwell on how that could be possible because the lady (? - I suppose they could read the name) who apparently sent the postcard wrote: Jan. 1 1914.

Whew... thanks, Mr & Mrs Rogers! That's a great start, right?!

My initial thoughts on the date fiasco was that perhaps the postcard was initially mailed in December from Osaka, and stamped, and then stamped again as it traveled to a port in Wakayama for its delivery to Kansas City, Missouri in the US of A.

It might make sense - BUT, despite the way too cool and steady handwriting, I think it was written by two different writers. The biggest piece of evidence on that, is the letter "y" on the main address, and the way it is presented in the 'message' on the left side. A looping Y versus a straight non-looping Y. Plus, the left writing appears more slanted than the other.

So... two writers on a postcard? Perhaps. It's pretty nice handwriting for someone who is Japanese and for whom English is not a first language... so perhaps the address was written by one person, and a translated message of New Year's greetings by another person.

Now... what about the postmark on the stamp? I had wondered if the postmarks on the stamps were written using the Japanese calender, referring to the year of the reign of the current Emperor.

In 1913, it was Year 2 of Emperor Taisho. The Year 2 is on the left of the post mark on the stamps. In fact, reading Japanese style from right to left, we can read the postmark as 17*12*2 - 17th of December (12), year Taisho 2... or December 17, 1913.

That makes sense now... the postcard was sent from Osaka on December 12, 1913, it traveled to Wakayama for transport to the U.S. via ship on December 17, 1913.

While the New Year's greeting suggests it was written on January 1, 1914, it is in fact a greeting FOR January 1, 1914, and was written on or prior to December 12, 1913.

That is a fact, my dear Watson.

Now, with my deerstalker hat placed firmly upon my head, I thought I'd do the easy job, which would be to find out more about Mister Takeshi, the pilot of the plane on the front, which would help me determine the type of plane being flown and when.

There is no reference for a Mister Takeshi in any Japanese historical reference - at least not as a pre-WWI pilot... and trust me... if he was important enough to warrant a postcard image in pre-1914 Japan, then there should be some mention of him in Japanese historical archives, right?

Frustrated for 10 minutes of fruitless searching, I looked for spelling variations of Takeshi's name.

Wouldn't you know it! Meet Takeishi Koha (surname first). There's an "I" in the name!

Takeishi Koha - a handsome devil. Photo via the National Diet Library, Japan.
I was able to determine that Takeishi Koha was born in Ibaraki-ken on October 20,1884, and died on May 4, 1913.

Back in 1912, while attending the preparatory course at the Utah State University in the U.S., he became interested in aircraft, entered an aviation school and learned to pilot a plane.

That aviation school was run by the very famous Glenn Curtiss, who not only taught students how to fly HIS plane, but would sell them HIS plane(s) as well.

Here's the 1912 class of fliers below, with Takeishi on the far right. You can see the guy standing beside and behind him has his arm on his shoulder in a gesture of camaraderie and friendship. You'll note Ms. Julia Clark - a woman - in the photo... only important because of the era and thus her gender!
Curtiss Flying School, Class of 1912 at North Island, San Diego (L-R): 1. Floyd E. Barlow; 2. John G. Kaminski; 3. Floyd Smith; 4. W.A. (or W.B) Davis; 5. Roy B. Russell; 6. Mohan M. Singh; 7. John Lansing (Lanny) Callan; 8. Julia Clark;
9. George Milton Dunlap; 10. Kono Takeshi. Photo from the Callan (see #7) Collection of the Curtiss Museum.
Of the group at the flying school, we have Mohan Singh, known as the only Hindu aviator from India; Julia Clark, the "Bird Girl" was third woman to receive her pilot's license; John Kaminski, who called himself the world's youngest pilot; Milt Dunlap helped with the design of the OX engine, an early V-8 American liquid-cooled aircraft engine built by Curtiss.

By the way, Bird Girl Julia Clark died one month after graduating while flying her plane.

A book source (Glenn H. Curtiss, Aviation Pioneer - by Charles R. Mitchell, Kirk W. House) says that our boy Takeishi was a Lieutenant... and that he was posted INTO the flying school by the Imperial Japanese Navy.

A classmate of Takeishi, one Lt. Nakajima Chikuhei (中島 知久平) - surname first, was the founder of Japan's first airplane factory, the Nakajima Aircraft Company (中島飛行機株式会社 - Nakajima Hikōki Kabushiki Gaisha) in 1917.

Airplanes manufactured by Nakajima were used to battle aircraft manufactured by Curtiss during WWII.

Everything relating to Takeishi being a Japanese Navy shill - I'm not sure about. It is possible that he was sent over to study at university by the Japanese Navy, however.

So... let's look at the life and death of young Takeishi.

First off, I should note that Takeishi was the third Japanese person to earn a pilot's license... and while a big deal for Japan, it was also a great source of pride for the Japanese folks living and working in the U.S.

According to another book source (Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach - by Mary Adams Urashima), Takeishi, in order to earn some extra cash as a student at Utah State University, would travel down to California to work at the nearby celery farms at Wintersberg and Smeltzer, both part of present day Huntington Beach, California.

Along with being a student, Takeishi worked at the Rokki Jiho (Rocky Mountains Times), a Utah-based Japanese-language newspaper.

So... Flying School. The class was a then $500 for weeks of training, but Curtiss did allow his students to apply that tuition against the cost of a purchase of one of his aeroplanes... which I have determined to be a Curtiss D pusher bi-plane - the propeller is mounted behind the pilot to push the plane rather than 'pull' it.

The flying class would use a Curtiss trainer plane known as a Lizzy, and then a bi-plane. The passing grade was provided when the student performed five consecutive figure eights around two pylons set 1,000 feet apart and then to land accurately within 50-feet of a pre-determined mark.

Once graduated, how the hell did a poor Japanese university kid making a few bucks at a celery farm earn enough money to purchase a Curtiss aeroplane, which would cost about $4,000 in 1912... or about $90,000 in today's money?

How indeed. As a pilot, Takeishi was a hero to the Japanese laborers in America, who had worked with him on the farm(s).

To propel that hero worship, the Japanese in the area got together and invested $25 each - which must have been an enormous sum to produce workers back then - in an aviation company to be called the Smeltzer Flying Company.

Not motivated by profit, it was a chance for everyone to get together and help out Takeishi by purchasing an aeroplane for him - maintaining that hero worship for the Japanese-Americans!

So... a plane was purchased... and I can only assume it is the same one in the image on the postcard.

Which plane is that? Well... it has to be a Curtiss (and not a Wright Brothers plane), because Takeishi was getting a deal on the whole tuition thing, so a quick perusal of Curtiss aeroplanes from before 1914 - and presto! We have the Curtiss D biplane.

At least that's what it looks like. Though this photo above has the header, while the image in the postcard lacks it.

Anyhow, because Takeishi was the THIRD Japanese pilot, and was making name for himself doing some exhibition flying in the U.S., plans were made in Japan to host its first-ever aviation show in 1913 in the city of Osaka.

Transport of Takeishi and his plane was again taken up by the Japanese-American workers - and by May of 1913, Takeishi was back in Japan.

Depending on whom you want to believe - the Historic Wintersburg in Huntington Beach author quoting the NY Times (could have been an error) or the Japanese Diet website, but Takeishi died on May 2 (NY Times) or May 4 (Diet), 1913.

This is where the postcard's writing may take over - maybe:

"The last 5 minutes of flight by Mr. Takeshi to Fukakusa (in sky over Yahata)."

Yahata is now part of Kitakyushu (since 1963). Fukakusa is the Fukakusa Parade Grounds in Kyoto.

Takeishi had already performed a flight in a new plane - a white monoplane (single-wing like what we have nowadays - called the Shira-Hato (White Dove) flying from Osaka to Kyoto, and was returning.

Apparently while trying to land, the plane crashed and he fractured his skull, dying.

Since he loved flying so much, his coffin, according to the November 1913 Popular Mechanics issue, was adorned with pieces of the plane's broken propeller, carried by 12 pall-bearers and Takeishi's brother Dr. Takeishi Joyu (surname first). It is said that he later sent money back to the workers who had invested in his brother, to pay them for they faith in the late pilot, which smacks with wonderful honor.

Takeishi is supposed to be the first civilian aviation death in Japan, but I am unsure if that is correct or not.

And so... the postcard appears to be a memorial card of Takeishi's last flight... a Japanese aviation pioneer, sure, but a pioneer of aviation plain and simple.

While this article will also be cross-published in my Pioneers of Aviation blog, I invite you all to please visit that blog, where I play detective quite often to try and bring the most honest facts on a fascinating hosts of aviation-related topics.

Whew... I need something easy for the next blog.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph