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Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Coca-Cola Plus Won’t Make You Poop, Per Se

Coca-Cola Plus is a zero calorie soft drink recently given a “gold” label by the Japanese government which means the drink contains “health benefits” under Japan's Food of Specified Health Use (FOSHU), the first-ever such designation for a Coca-Cola product. 

It was introduced in February of 2017 by Coca-Cola Japan

The drink does contain dextrin, which is a dietary fiber.

While a dietary fiber such as dextrin can have a laxative effect, it’s not a laxative in the strict sense of the word.

In other words, it’s not going to make you poop.

Dextrin, and other dietary laxatives, can help sooth and calm one’s digestive systems.

While some far-reaching companies state that dextrin is a weight-solution that actually “eats” fat, it does no such thing. People began gobbling up dextrin like it was candy, and when people started evacuating their bowels with greater urgency and frequency. the consumer thought that was just the way stuff worked… and sure, their felt lighter.

Did you know that you actually way more after you fart? Gases within the body that are expelled during a fart, actually weigh less than air… so when you fart, you weigh more. Don’t worry, you don’t have to refrain from farting - though it is appreciated - the weight gain is not measurable, regardless of how much you may have eaten or drunk.

But, pooping will not make you thin.

For Coca-Cola Plus, a recent Wall Street Journal article published on January 7, 2018 called the beverage a laxative… which is simply incorrect.

While Coca-Cola Plus is available in Japan, it is not available in North America, and I doubt it is in Europe… you Aussies et al can let me know if you have it there.


In the meantime, I would be curious to know just how Coca-Cola Plus earned its “health benefit” certification.

Wait - I found out from Coca-Cola themselves:

The zero-calorie cola contains five grams of indigestible dextrin per 470-ml bottle.

The key word is "indigestible", which means it is difficult or impossible for the stomach to breakdown. Hence... poop.

Coca-Cola Japan is marketing Coca-Cola Plus, which apparently features the great Coca-Cola taste, to health- and taste-conscious consumers 40-years-of-age and older, as a beverage to enjoy with food.

Coca-Cola Japan says that drinking one Coca-Cola Plus per day with food will help suppress fat absorption and help moderate the levels of triglycerides in the blood after eating.

“Coca-Cola Plus is a sugar-free and calorie-free beverage with FOSHU functions and great Coca-Cola taste, so we hope people will drink it with meals,” says Dr. David Machiels, product development director, R&D, Coca-Cola Asia Pacific.

Anyhow, as with most things in life, too much of a good thing is bad for you. To be fair, Coca-Cola Japan is only recommending one drink of Coca-Cola Plus per day of its FOSHU beverage to achieve optimum results.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, January 15, 2018

Q2 Japan - YouTube Channel

The one thing I don't mind doing, is helping out a friend whenever I can.

My friend Matthew, whom I first met on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme back in 1990 - holy sh!t!, says he and his wife Takako have a couple of friends in Japan, one of whom is an ALT (assistant language teacher) currently living and working in Okayama (岡山) the capital city of Okayama-ken (Okayama Prefecture).

She was recently joined by her boyfriend, a Japanese/American who's profession is photographer.

Anyhow, the two of them have cooked up a YouTube Channel, and what the heck... since it is pretty cool, I love love, and Matthew and Takako are friends I would trust with my life, I have no trouble in promoting it here.

Check it out, when you have a few moments - lots of good short videos. They are quite informative and clean... heck... I even learned a few things!

It's called Q2 Japan, and you can find it at the link below:

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC7Z2oLjy_GABBfNCPukALxw

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Meet Private Snafu - WWII Propaganda Cartoons

Today I have for you a cartoon character created by Frank Capra... the legendary director who did that great Jimmy Stewart movie It's A Wonderful Life, from which I bastardized the title for this blog, because it's one of the greatest movies ever made!

And, if you think that's the only famous name I'm dropping here, prepare yourself. 

Anyhow, that character is none other than Private Snafu.

The Private Snafu black and white cartoons were created between 1943 and 1945 and were meant to provide a humorous way to instruct service personnel about security, proper sanitation habits, booby traps and other military subjects, and, of course to hep improve troop morale.

The cartoons use Private Snafu to show how doing all the wrong things can screw up the war for the Allied troops in the European and the Pacific theaters of WWII.

By the way... the name Snafu... is a military acronym which means: "Situation normal all fugged up".

Obviously I misspelled "fugged", but you get the idea. It is where the word snafu has it origins.

Scene From Episode 25: Operation Snafu, from December 22, 1945.
The voice of Private Snafu is quite obviously the same as Bugs Bunny, for those in the know, which means it was performed by the one and only Mel Blanc... and not his son Mel Blanc Jr., who was good, but you could always tell it wasn't his dad.

The cartoons were directed mostly by Chuck Jones, who amongst a score of writing, directing and producing Warner Brothers cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Porky Pig, the Coyote and Roadrunner, he also created the very famous Michigan J. Frog.

Yes... hello my baby!

Other directors include Fritz Freleng, Bob Clampett and Frank Tashlin  - who also did Warner Brothers cartoons - and Hugh Harman... who with Rudolph Ising helped found both Warner Brothers and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) animation studios. So... very good directors all.

The Private Snafu cartoons were mostly written by Ted Geisel... I know... famous right? Still not sure what I am talking about? Think of The Lorax, The Cat In The Hat, Green Eggs And Ham.. that's right Geisel is the real name of Dr. Seuss, who was very much a pro-American and during the war hated the Japanese for their attack on America, IE Pearl Harbor.

The Private Snafu cartoons are funny, and ultimately racist in their depiction of the Japanese (whenever they appear)... but keep an open mind and recall that this was during the height of WWII when Japan was still very much the enemy.

Walt Disney was given the first shot at producing the cartoons, but Leon Schlesinger (May 20, 1884 – December 25, 1949) under bid him by two-thirds. Schlesinger had founded the Leon Schlesinger Studios, which later became the Warner Bros. Cartoons... and he was a distant relative of the Warner Bros.

You know that Michigan J. Frog was/is the official mascot of the WB television network, right?


There were a total of 27 cartoons (though one was lost after the Master Copy was sent to the Army, and was never released, and is considered lost - it was called Secrets Of The Carribean), roughly four minutes apiece, produced, and what is interesting to note, is that the Private Snafu cartoons were an actual military secret, and classified as government documents.

Employees working on the cartoons had to be fingerprinted and given FBI clearance. And, when working on the cartoons, workers at the ink and paint department, for example, only had 10 cels at a time to work on to prevent them from determining the story content.

You can find the cartoons easily enough on the Internet these days, but allow me to present to you Private Snafu In The Aleutians:


Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Japanese Bride In America

What I have for you here today is an interesting mini movie made in 1952 called Japanese Bride In America, created by the US Army, about a young American soldier returning to Cleveland, Ohio a few years after WWII with his new, Japanese bride.

While I had thought about the difficulties of such an endeavor when I fell in love with Noboko, and again for my friend Matthew and his wife Takako, I felt that such issues as loneliness in Japan for when we first arrived in Japan with the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme would be offset by the fact that each was now two hearts beating as one.

And, while there is some truth to the fact that sometimes Japan can be 'racist' towards foreigners, I was also aware that both Canada and the U.s. can be racist as well... just not among our own particular families.

I had the pleasure of meeting Matthew's parents and sister when they came to visit Matthew. Salt of the Earth - all of them... and not surprising considering Matthew.

Noboko was not in the picture yet when my mom visited, but she did talk to her over the phone a few times... Noboko nervous as a newborn deer... but smiling all the while as my mom chatted with her. My mom knew how much Noboko meant to me, and there wasn't a racist bone in that woman's soul - she raised me right.

Still... I was aware at just how difficult for anyone to come to another country and try and set-up a new life.

I had done it, as did Matthew. Sure we didn't know we might want to stay forever or even longer than one year, but both of us were prepared to do so if that's what it took.

My own parents left India after marriage and moved to England where I was born before settling in Canada, where I grew up, and aside from the three years in Japan (and England), where I have always lived.

While Noboko was too afraid to take that giant leap across the waters with me... or even to be with me, Matthew and Takako were not.

For them, at least, there was a huge element of time.

World War II had ended over 50 years previous... but for the Japanese bride in this movie, time was recent.

Race relations in Japan were still a bit sticky in the U.S. amongst Blacks and Whites, and heck, anyone not White, the movie purports to show that not everyone is angry or racist, and is actually more understanding than one might think.

As for this post WWII movie, you might wonder why Japanese women would be remotely interested in American military men... the men who helped defeat their country...

You could assume it was admiration for the soldiers who could defeat their God-like emperor and soldiers... but no.

Japan was handled very well by General Douglas MacArthur and the US Allied Forces who took over the day-to-day running of the country in the years immediately after the war.

Not only did the Allied Forces re-write Japan's Constitution - it's still in use today - but that Constitution didn't mire the country in stupidity like the League of Nations did to Germany after WWI, plunging the country into hyper inflation where it was cheaper wipe one's butt with a one million mark bill than to to purchase toilet paper.

No... America helped rebuild the Japanese economy, which allowed it to make reparation payments to other countries without going completely into debt.

As well, the new constitution gave rights to women in Japan... something they did not have before.

Some 60,000 American servicemen married Japanese women while in Japan... and all were promised that they could bring their wife and kids back to the U.S. free of charge.

When the United States of America Congress passed the War Brides Act of 1945, it allowed those GIs to bring the German or Italian families back... a number that was on top of existing immigration quotas.

However, because there still was some racism involved, the servicemen who married Japanese women were unable to bring their families back until the 1952 Immigration Act was passed.

It is estimated that of the 300,000 foreign war brides that entered the United States, some 50,000 of them were Japanese.

There might actually be double that number only because it is believed that another 50,000 American military men stayed in Japan, while a number of other marriages simply were not recognized by the United States or Japan.

This 1952 movie, was created as a means to try and soften the blow for Americans at home who might come across one of their own military men married to the former enemy, in this case, a Japanese woman.

Despite the dour look of the American mother-in-law below... let me put your mind at ease that she is only contemplating how to get her Japanese daughter-in-law to relax and become part of the family.

One of the more interesting things I noticed in the movie, was how the Japanese woman Miwako holds her pencil when she writes to her brother... so upright, as though it was a paint brush used in the Japanese calligraphy writing style known as shodō (書道).

Man... I wish they had something like this that Noboko's father could have seen. For those who have not read my life story contained within this blog, Noboko was unable to defy her father, choosing instead to let me go back to Canada alone.

I talk/write like that was a huge mistake... but really, it's just life, and while I look back at Japan through this blog, and sometimes wonder what my life would have been like, I have few regrets... zero about Japan.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Friday, January 12, 2018

Space Invaders Turns 40

It's perhaps one of the most iconic arcade video games ever - Space Invaders!

It was sold by gaming company Taito in Japan, but by Midway, a subsidiary of Bally in North America. 

Created by Nishikado Tomohiro 40 years ago, the game pits you against a host of alien creatures that march across and down your screen. You have have three cannon guns, and four buildings to act as a shield against you as they slowly march down... until... they land and game over.

I was one of those kids 40 years ago that would find quarters wherever I could and head over to the Plantation Bowlerama to play Space Invaders... considering myself lucky to get past the third or fourth board.

I wasn't very good, but it was there I learned the old quarter taped to a string trick that would  - by fishing - get me 99 credits - without losing the quarter.

I figured that if it was going to screw up my youth by causing me not to study and thus become a stupid writer, I wasn't going to give them my money.

I would play for hours and hours and never get any better than I got, and would then sell my credits to some other kid.

One of those kids, was a guy named Nick, who was a couple of years younger than me, who now has a kids in the same school as my son Hudson... but one year behind.

Anyhow... after the obligatory sales pitch from the advertising in the video below, you can see a news story from CBC News on Space Invaders celebrating 40 years of stolen youth and quarters.




Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Coming Of Age Day 2018

Here's an interesting photo from a Coming of Age day celebration in Yokohama from January 8, 2018.

The holiday is held annually on the second Monday of January to congratulate and encourage all those who have reached the age of majority (20 years old) over the past year, and to help them realize that they have become adults.

While the photo makes it seem like it's just for women, it is for the young men, too.

While the women look resplendent in their kimono, I wanted to point out how many of them are holding phones.

I count six, but I could assume many more are simply not being held high enough for us to see.

Who the hell are they calling?

Everyone they know is there... friends, family, boyfriends... why do they need their phones?

Tradition sure ain't what it used to be.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Sony's Robot Dog Aibo Is Back

For those of you with allergies to dogs, might I suggest the new and improved Aibo robot dog from Sony.

Originally available until 2006 when it was discontinued, Aibo is back as a cuter and smarter pooch.

Aibo has a camera in its nose, a microphone to pick up voice commands and can move 22 articulated parts of its body.

For comparison, click HERE to see what the old pooch looked like.

While it is only available in Japan right now, the approximately CD $1800 robot canine began shipping there on January 11, 2018.

For $1800, I could get a new dog or three... but then I'd have all that poop to scoop. So there are benefits to having a robot dog.

Plus.. there's no slobber.

It really is the Year of the Dog!

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Japanese Kayaker Spikes Rival With Steroid

Fortunately, this is just Japan on Japan stupidity.

Japanese kayaker Suzuki Yasuhiro (surname first), 32, has been banned from competition for eight years after it was revealed he spiked a drink of Japanese rival Komatsu Seiji (surname first), 25, with an anabolic steroid so he would fail a doping test.

The Japan Canoe Federation began investigating after Komatsu tested positive but denied ever taking drugs.

Perhaps the guilt got to him, but Suzuki then admitted to adding the steroid methandienone into his drink.

The incident is Japan’s first case of an athlete failing a doping test due to deliberate contamination, according to the Japan Anti-Doping Agency, which handed down the eight-year ban.

To me, eight-years is stupid. It should be for life.

While I understand that the chances of a now 32-year-old remaining competitive after an eight-year ban is slim, Japan's Anti-Doping Agency should not have even left open the chance of him returning.

I'm not going to stand on my ivory soapbox and say that taking steroids is bad. It is.

I took the steroid androstenedione years ago when trying to build my body up, and quit after I could feel my body vibrating in anger after a workout at the gym. 

For something as heinous as doping another person... this is a criminal offense anywhere outside of sport.

For those that don't know, steroids help remove the barrier that keeps back all of the testosterone in the body. Some steroids lower the wall more allowing more testosterone into the system. The more testosterone, the faster the body recovers after a workout, allowing one to train faster and more often.

It does not build muscle. You still have to workout to get whatever muscle-building benefits one is seeking.

Yeah... I was stupid. But I still would never have taken it if I was involved in any sport of competition, and I sure as heck wouldn't have tried to spike a competitor to remove him from a competition.

That's cheating at its worst, if there are differences. They should just have banned him for life.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Even Cats Hate Natto

Above is a funny photo I saw on Twitter from @ThatDanRyan, who posted that cats will lick their own butts, but won't eat natto. (see HERE for tweet)

The cat in his photo above merely sniffed around at the natto maki, a sushi made with natto as its central "tasty" ingredient. Natto, is of course, a rotting and fermented soybean that is left wet and covered in a damp cheesecloth until it becomes slimy and gooey and sticky and smelly and to half the Japanese population(including cats, it seems) and to all gaijin not name me. To those who hate natto, it is uneatable.

The other half - the eastern and north half of Japan know that natto, while still a smelly mess, is very good for you. Though I suppose one could just eat regular soy beans.

For my version of how natto was created (all tongue in cheek), click HERE to read and be amused by the story of Ralph Tochigi, a story written back in June of 2010. It's my buddy Rob's mother's favorite story, so you know it's good.

Her favorite is either that one or my "The Letters From The Corinthians To Paul." (Hey, if he was writing to the Corinthians, one must expect they were writing back. I assumed so and made up a story... wanna see it? One day soon. I did write it in Japan, so maybe that counts.)

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, January 8, 2018

Datsun 240Z - In LEGO

My very first girlfriend was Bryndis--she said her name was Icelandic for "child of war" (you know nothing, Andrew Joseph), whose family had a thing for collecting old Datsun 240Z and 260Z cars.... a car now in 2017 known as a 370Z.

There... in the field of their rural home about 200 kilometers east of Toronto, they had many of th cars just sitting there in the grass awaiting their chance at restoration - which her father did in his spare time.

I found this image above on Pintrest, HERE, a LEGO creation built from scratch by _Tiler.

The car, known initially as the Nissan S30, was first introduced in Japan as the Nissan Fairlady Z, and in North American markets as the Datsun 240Z.

The company name of Nissan Motors, Ltd. was deemed back then to be too difficult for North American audiences to wrap their tongue around, and so they created the friendlier "Datsun" moniker for a number of decades before eventually switching to "Nissan" in and around 1980... I'm guessing at that date only because my dad bought a Nissan Stanza in 1981.

The 240Z was the first-generation of the Z GT two-seat sport coupes, and was one of the most successful sport cars ever produced... though I recall from Bryndis (you know nothing, Andrew Joseph) that the cars did suffer from poor heating and electrical... things you don't need in Canada where it's a bit cooler on average than Japan.

The car was designed by Nissan's Sports Car Styling Studio head Matsuo Yoshihiko (surname first), and resembled the Porsche cars of that era. 

While the LEGO model is nice, if it was to be a replica(r) of the 1969 model, the exterior side mirrors should be placed waaaaay up on the front sides. Ugh... imagine trying to peek at those? At least one did not have to turn one's head, unlike the car and Bryndis which turned quite a few.

Kanpai,
Andrew "still knows nothing" Joseph

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Life After Sumo

Whew! What an exhausting day Saturday was. Up for the boy's hockey game (a loss, but he played well). Out to watch the minor league Toronto Marlies play an AHL (American Hockey League) game, and back home to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs squeeze out a shoot-out win in the NHL (National Hockey League).

Here in Canada, both lacrosse and hockey are its national sport. Over in Japan, its national sport is sumo...

Sumo (相撲) means "striking one another" and is a contact wrestling match between two rikishi (wrestler) where they try and force the opponent out of the round clay ring known as a dohyō or into touching causing the opponent to touch the ground with anything other than the soles of his feet.

Hippo's (kaba) doing ballet. Yes, sumo wrestlers are big boys, yet the moves they perform in the ring can be powerful bestial strokes of hand slapping faces, to gracefully leaping over the charging opponent, or catching them and tossing them in a judo throw... a battle that lasts no more than 10 seconds usually.

I'm no sumo expert, but when I lived in Japan, I followed the sport as religiously as the Japanese, and tried to learn as much as I could.

One thing I learned after my family came to Canada (from India via England), was that if you want to fit in, you better know the local sport.

As you can see, some 50 years after arriving in Canada, I love my hockey, and I dare say I know the sport better than 99% of Canadians... at least as far as being an arm-chair coach. I can't skate very well, and never played hockey in a league as a kid (I did piano, accordion, soccer and judo - 'cause if you're going to get beat up, you better know how to defend yourself).

I never sumo while in Japan. None of the junior high schools I taught at in Ohtawara-shi Tochigi-ken had a sumo club... if they had, I would have participated at least once.

I wonder why none of the schools had a sumo club team? Probably because it's not the healthiest sport. 

Regardless, with a national sumo tournament available every two months, I learned as much about the sport from the JTEs (Japanese teachers of English) and other Japanese teachers. I didn't have the luxury of the Internet, or books or magazines available to me in English... I just had the old-fashioned method of having to communicate with my person with the people around me.

I learned about the levels and tiers of sumo. I learned about how they lived and trained... and was amazed.

While there was no minimum height to be a sumo, there was a minimum height... it was just unwritten until 1994 after I had left, that a wrestler must be at least 1.73m (5'-8"). Surprisingly, there is no weight minimum.

On average, a sumo wrestler is about 1.83m (6'0") tall, and 148 kgs (~326lbs). Before I started shrinking, I was a shade under that height, and a scant 80kg (176lbs). And yeah... I know judo... and while I was in shape, I sure as hell lacked the power that sumo wrestlers gained after years of training at their beya (stable).

I knew that every day these wrestlers would eat massive meals  called chanko nabe (or just plain old chanko), which was a mishmash of whatever the hell food ingredients they could put into a stew pot.

They were encouraged to eat as much as possible to put on much needed weight, as they did exercises to help them gain flexibility, quickness, strength and yes, under all that fat, muscle mass.

Don't think these guys are just great big tubs of goo, because under that mass is a lot of muscle. And heart disease... but that's another story.

Along with the chanko, the wrestlers were encouraged to drink beer... lots of it. I was a heavy drinker and could outdrink every one I met... but I never met a sumo wrestler.

Thankfully, I didn't have to drink everyday, nor did I want to.

I recall hearing that sumo wrestlers, in order to harden the skin and muscle in their hands, would slap a wooden post (like a telephone pole) for hours at a time, thrusting out one hand and then the other - (push) slap! (push) slap!

It's why, off the start of a match, as an opponent ran at another, he could be felled by a mere slap to the face, because that hand was as hard as cement.

My favorite wrestlers at that time were Konishiki (the heaviest sumo wrestler ever at 287kg/633lbs), Akebono (the tallest wrestler ever at 2.03m (6'-8") and Musashimaru, a man I thought so perfectly square, that he might actually be a yokozuna (grand champion) one day. I was right about the wrestler Musashimaru (1.92m/6'-3.5", 235kg/518lb), as he became the second-ever yokozuna, after Akebono.

I also met Musashimaru... you can read about that HERE.

See... 25 years after leaving Japan, I recall their names and how to spell them. And yes, even after I left Japan, I continued to follow them... with some help from my bud, Matthew, who was also a fan of sumo, who went and saw a sumo tournament, who went and got me some sumo souvenirs, and I should mention, was also instrumental in teaching me about sumo thanks to his amazing ability to speak and translate Japanese - heck, it was way above my non-existent skill level.

What all three of Akebono, Musashimaru and Konishiki had in common, were that they were all foreigners performing a Japanese sport that seemed to dislike foreigners. At least the Japanese fans I learned from seemed to think that way, as none of them cared for my foreign trio, all preferring instead the brothers Wakanohana and Takanohana - who were very good rikishi, and both of whom rose to the rank of yokozuna.

Konishiki could have also, but along with having to win a certain number of victories over a few tournaments, he had to be voted in... and while he was good, he was always deemed not great enough.

Konishiki was one of those men for whom I wondered just what the hell does a 600+lb man do when sumo is no longer an option.

He was so big, I heard rumors that he could not reach around to wipe his butt, and lower level rikishi in his beya were tasked with that infamous duty. Yes, I said "duty".

I learned he got married to a tiny Japanese woman, got his Japanese citizenship, and then opened up his own sumo training beya... so good for him...

I also wondered whatever happened to the many young men who were never able to achieve their dream of being a yokozuna, or other high ranking o-zumo wrestler...

Well, my friend Julien alerted me to this wonderful mini documentary that should have been at least an hour long, but is instead only four minutes, about life after sumo for two former rikishi.

It's not exactly eye-opening for me... I know what it's like to have come close to my dream in a sport, and then realize that you sure as hell aren't good enough... and I see that and know that from watching the young men and women playing hockey (me as a fan keeping tabs on certain players). Sure there's lots of success, but there's even more who fail.

So... in sumo, what becomes a semi-legend most? Let's take a look:

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: What becomes a semi-legend most? is a comedy album by Joan Rivers in 1983... I believe I saw her on that tour, with friends Nigel and Rob.
PPS: Photo at top is by me, at a promotional sumo tour in 1993 in Ohtawara-shi. One poor rikishi is seen wrestling with five kid sumo wrestlers... which was how I figured a retired wrestler might be able to make some extra coin on the side, or after he retired. 

Saturday, January 6, 2018

The Last Tsukuji Fish Market New Year's Auction


Well... January 5, 2018 marks the last new year auction at the Tsukuji Fish Market  - though the market is open a while longer with other auctions going on throughout the remaining time it is open.

After opening in 1935, the Tokyo-based, world's largest fish market known as Tsukuji is closing its doors on the site and moving to a new one in Toyosu, a former gas plant, in October of 2018.

Proving that change is inevitable in Japan, the self-proclaimed sushi king Kimura Kiyoshi (surname first), a gentleman who owns a sushi chain, and who usually proves he is over charging his customers, this year did NOT have the highest bid for a bluefin tuna... a highly prized fish that is on the threatened species list.

Back in 2013, Kimura made waves when he paid US1.8 million for a bluefin, out-dueling a rival from Hong Kong. Last year, he spent US$600,000 for a 212 kilogram (467.38 pounds) bluefin... hmm, maybe he's running out of money...

Because this year, Kimura wasn't the top bidder, as some anonymous bidder paid 36.5 million yen (US$322,851) for a 400 kilogram (881.849 pound) tuna caught off the coast of northern Aomori-ken.

Hmm... is it just me, or did the price for tuna drop dramatically this year over last?

The fish market offers about 480 different types of seafood on a daily basis worth 1.5 billion yen/US$13.57 million. It also offers vendors selling 270 types of fruits and vegetables.

As for this being the last time we'll ever report on the Tsukuji Fish Market, I wonder how long we'll be able to report on the bluefin tuna.

Kanpai,
Andrew Joseph
PS: In the photo above taken by Toru Hanai for Reuters, people pose with some of the huge bluefin tuna auctioned off at Tsukuji on January 5, 2018... the middle fish is a whopping 405 kilograms (892.872 pounds).
PPS: Thank-you, Vinnie!

Friday, January 5, 2018

Black Face Comedian Has Twitter Screaming

Okay, maybe the headline is a tad misleading, but a New Year's eve television show in Japan showed yet another comedian donning black face paint to portray himself as a Black person, which has everybody screaming racism.

In this case, the comedian was Hamada Masatoshi (above and on the left), who performed a filmed skit of him on a Japanese train on the show - a prank show called Gaki no Tsukai.

While yes, Black Face comedy is racist, I'm unsure if visually this one was.

Usually a Black Face is someone done up to exaggerate stereotypical features of Blacks... to paint the lips in such a way as to exaggerate them - implying that Blacks have huge lips, or big afros or have a bone stuck through their hair...

In this case, the character is meant to represent Eddie Murphy, and it is done without gross-exaggeration. The clothing seems good. The hair isn't over the top.

All is done is adding "color" to make the pale Japanese comedian look like the Black character of Axel Foley from Beverly Hills Cop.

Still...

I'm not going to lie, the Black Face comedy is about the lowest form of comedy there is. It is racist.

Having said that, I have heard many famous and popular comedians use race as the basis of their comedy, including Canadian (family from India) comedian Russell Peters... and to be honest, his stuff makes me cringe... even when he is making fun of other Indians.

For me, it's like - is that all you can do... make us laugh at racial stereotypes? 

I don't know the gist of the Japanese comedy skit (other than it was a Beverly Hills Cop rip), but while the whole skit was done to make fun of Black people on the train by gauging the reactions of the Japanese, the make-up done on this case was to make the Japanese comedian look as realistic as possible without demeaning Blacks as a physical stereotype.

The skit does make Blacks look "silly", but I do not think the make-up goes over to the extreme.

Perhaps what they could have done, was actually get one of their "talento" who is Black to perform the skit, rather than have a Japanese comedian don black face paint to pretend to be Black.

If that's what the hub-bub is about, then fine... naughty Japan... but if it was the way that Blacks were physically portrayed (via make-up) then, the Japanese didn't make them look bad... they only made them look bad in the skit through actions.

But yeah... they should have got a Black actor. That would have removed any chance of racial stigma.

It's like a Black person can call another person a "nigger", but no one else should, because then it's racist. For those that use that term, it's a way for Blacks to reclaim the word. For homosexuals, calling each other a "Fag" also removes the stigma of the term.

I'm not sure I agree with the way the words are being reclaimed, but I'm not doing the reclaiming and don't use the words anyhow. I do use them here, but not as part of a racist diatribe.

I should note that the Japanese skit did not use the word(s) either.

The skit involved a Beverley Hills Cop farce... which also underlies Japan's lack of performing current comedy... holy crap... that movie was 34 years ago! Surely they could have made light of a more recent comedy that people might actually know.

I haven't watched that movie in 30 years because... in my mind it has a due date of expiration... unlike say Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Miss Congeniality, A Knight's Tale, The Wizard of Oz, etc. I'm watching A Knight's Tale now (along with the first Kung Fu Panda - I have ecliptic tastes).

Yes... they should have got a Black actor who speaks Japanese... there are plenty of them, I am sure.

Just the act of donning Black face paint, however, is what has upset the non-Japanese... as the Japanese themselves do not appear to find anything wrong with their actions.

Japan has long had a sad history of depicting Black performers by donning black face paint... a comedic style that has gone the way of the dodo since Al Jolson and Eddie Cantor donned the face paint, with Jolson making a career out of it doing such hit minstrel songs as Mammy. I even have a 4-record set of 78s of Al Jolson. The music was good, but the stage show was ugly in my then 1970s mind. I found the record collection in my White father-in-laws place. He was a bit of a racist, but he treated me fine enough - perhaps because I had assimilated and knew more about hockey than he did.



Holy crap... he's wearing white gloves... like Mickey Mouse... he... you don't think that Mickey Mouse is in Black Face do you? No... he's a Black mouse wearing white gloves... but still... add a pair of mouse ears to Jolson...

Inki and the Minah Bird - from Warner Brothers. The cartoons are cute, but dammit that's one racist depiction of Blacks. Still... different era. It's why Jolson, Inki et al aren't part of today's popular culture in North America... heck anywhere.


Back in the 1930s and 1940s, cartoons made light of Blacks with their rendition of Inki, the pygmy warrior, and with Coal Black and the Sebben Dwarves (1943). Coal Black - one of those cartoons forever  banned from television is actually a swinging cartoon full of excellent music, but the stereotype of Coal Black, and the way Blacks were supposed to say the word "seven" is too much for modern television audiences - even in the 1950s. There's even a racist comment in there to the Japanese. The short rendition (no pun intended) of the Black dwarfs singing We're In The Army Now is actuyally quite a poignant statement on the allowance of Blacks in the US military.
Racist in depiction, but dammit the music was great! You can find copies on line by Googling the title.
There's also a cartoon called "You're A Sap. Mr. Jap", a Popeye cartoon that is also banned. Apparently the White North American folk running television back in the 1950s didn't want that racist stuff on TV.

Yes, I have a collection of Black Americana (such as a ViewMaster reel of Little Black Sambo), a bank giveaway of a "piggy bank" statuette showing a Black kid eating a watermelon... all very uncomfortable scenes, but hopefully all part of the past. 

As such, if North American audiences learned that nearly 70 years ago, why haven't Japanese audiences?

Japan regularly uses blonde wigs and large noses when depicting White gaijin, and donning Black Face and an afro for depicting Blacks. Comedy... sure... but when the rest of the world looks upon it and says its distasteful... then it should stop.

I don't think the Japanese are being racist (on purpose), but surely by 2018... they have to realize that the constant negative backlash for performing such stunts is a backlash for a reason.

Let's hope no one in Japan bothers to continue this form of unfunny comedy.

On a side note, it recently came to light that a London, Ontario, Canada police officer Const. Katrina Aarts had her face painted in blackface and dressed up in tribal costume 11 years ago - before she was a police officer.

We're talking 11 years ago, and someone who was going to be a cop... but still... it was 11 years ago. You can read that as sarcasm and pity, or anger that it was still done, regardless of how long ago it was done in the 21st century.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Count Nogi Maresuke

What we have here is a Japan issued first-day cover stamp (May 10, 1937) of Count Nogi Maresuke (surname first, 乃木 希典), born December 25, 1848 in Edo-shi (now Tokyo), dying September 13, 1912 in Tokyo.

I saw the image on an e-mail sent to me from a ephemera dealer down in New Zealand... I figured it would make for an easy blog to write... but dammit, or yay, no such luck.

Despite the typed message on the envelope, Nogi (surname) was not a General.

He was a lieutenant general...

He was, however, a Count. ah-ah-ah. All you Sesame Street fans will appreciate that... all one-two-three-ah-ah-ah of you.

Nogi is considered to be a hero of the Japanese people for his bravery shown in battle.

However, Nogi is also a No One.

Count Nogi Maresuke
Born the son of a samurai in the Chōfu clan from Chōshū (now known as Yamaguchi Prefecture), he was given the name of Mujin, which means "no one" in some bizarre effort to prevent evil spirits from coming to harm him.

When he turned 18, he was given the new name of Nogi Bunzō... so I'm unsure just where the given name of Maresuke came from. Just wait.

I'm going to skip the in-depth stuff here, because I'd just be copying everything from Wikipedia and other sources, and I don't see the point, ne?

Okay... here's something cool... when Nogi was born, his actual birth date was November 11, 1849... but that was by the old Japanese calendar based on the luni-solar system... with the modern calendar, it becomes Christmas, December 25.

For added learning, you can read my multi epic series of blogs on time-calendars-automatons-robots-and nuclear reactors starting HERE, and then looking in October of 2012 for the other articles with a # in the title. I didn't intend for it to be related, but it turned out it needed to be related.

Back to No One.

In November of 1869, he enlisted in the Fushimi Goshin Heisha (Fushimi Loyal Guard Barrack) to be trained in the French-style for the domain military.

By 1871, he was made a major in the then-new Imperial Japanese Army, and it is believed that around now, he changed his name to Nogi Maresuke... after his father.

In 1876, Nogi was given command of the 1st Infantry Regiment.

Because of his work during the Satsuma Rebellion (a revolt of disaffected samurai against the new imperial government in 1877), he was promoted to lieutenant colonel.

Even still, on April 22, 1877, during a battle he lost the 14th Infantry Regiment’s regimental banner to the enemy, which was considered to be the property of the Emperor.

Losing the regimental banner is considered to be a big disgrace, and plays a part much later on.

The man must have had connections, because despite the disgrace, in 1896 he was named the third Japanese Governor-General of Taiwan until February 1898. He actually moved his family to Taiwan during this period.

After his mother died there of malaria, Nogi attempted to make significant improvements to the country's healthcare infrastructure.

He had a much more significant role during the Russian-Japanese War of 1904–05, as commander of the forces which captured Port Arthur (in China) from the Russians in a single day of combat.... which tells you enough about Nogi's skills or 19th century Russian ineptitude.

General Nogi is seated in the center next to Russian general Anatoly Stessel after Russian forces surrendered at Port Arthur on January 2, 1905. I don't know which side looks more depressed.. the Russians for losing or the Japanese because the war is over.
Still, because Nogi felt that he had sacrificed too many of his soldiers under him--56,000--Nogi asked the Emperor for permission to commit seppuku (切腹), a ritualistic suicide involving cutting open his belly while his second cuts his head off.

The Emperor refused.

Anyhow, thanks to his ability to take Port Arthur, when the war ended, he was named a Count, and he was given the Order of the Golden Kite, 1st class.

Now, technically, Nogi is an aristocrat.

Between 1908-1912, Nogi was the headmaster of the Gakushūin (学習院) or Peers School (Gakushūin School Corporation), which was a school set up to educate the children of Japanese nobility.

At that school, Nogi was apparently a mentor to a young Hirohito, and was the most important influence on the life of the future emperor of Japan. You know... the Japanese Emperor who ruled Japan from December 25, 1926 through his death on January 7, 1989... the guy who ruled the country during Japan's most war-like international phase... Imperial Japan.

Where did Hirohito ever get such wild ideas... oh yeah... Nogi... that's where.

Because Nogi felt such guilt over the huge loss of life suffered under his command in the war with Russia, he spent a large portion of his personal money on hospitals for wounded soldiers and on memorial monuments erected around the country in commemoration of those killed during that war.

He even got the Japanese government to erect a Russian-style memorial monument in Port Arthur to the Russian dead of that campaign.

What a guy. All's fair in love and war... and Nogi sure did love his war.

Still... you know what's weird? Nogi is the guy who brought the Boys Scouts to Japan.

In 1911 after going along with Prince Yorihito's attendance of King George V of Great Britain, he met Boy Scout founder General Robert Baden-Powell. 

But nothing else mattered to Nogi, but suicide, after his master Emperor Meiji died on July 30, 1912.

Along with not wanting to outlive his master (junshi) - which was his Emperor Meiji, when the Emperor died, Nogi committed suicide on the day of his funeral, more than one month after the Emperor actually died, by the way... which is pretty stupid considering he already outlived the Emperor.

Nogi was one of those military guys who oozed that whole death before dishonor stuff that the Bushido samurai code (the way of the warrior) insisted on. And this was even though the Emperor Meiji had essentially disbanded the samurai class after he came to power.

That, by the way, was one of the reasons why the Emperor refused to allow Nogi to commit suicide after the Port Arthur victory.

That attempt, which included a loss of too many of his soldiers, along with the shame he felt in losing his regimental banner back in 1877 was why he felt comfortable in committing suicide after his master (Emperor died).

It all sounds quite idealistic, but it is, I am sorry to say, a waste. I just don't get that whole fervor of giving one's life for one's Emperor... but perhaps if I recall that back then (before the end of WWII), the Emperor was considered to be akin to God.

I suppose that killing oneself for the Emperor is a way for the warrior to achieve martyrdom, and to show the ultimate respect to one's God-like Emperor.

Anyhow, Nogi's seppuku suicide in 1912 helped re-popularize the samurai tradition that had been all but eliminated 40 years previous.

By the way, Nogi's wife also committed suicide alongside her husband... but no one seems to think she was a brave warrior.

Actually, according to samurai tradition, he (the samurai and not the samurai's wife) was supposed to FOLLOW the master after death... but truly that code only existed if the master was to die during a battle... or if the samurai had failed to protect him during an attack.

This was just a guy who died at the age of 60... sortta, kindda old age, which had nothing to do with an enemy killing him.

As such, Nogi's suicide was all bullcrap... it really wasn't him following Japanese bushido... it was Nogi following his own version of bushido.

Okay... that's it for now... I just wanted to show off the pretty 1st Day stamp cover. Still, after learning all this, I woudn't have given him his own stamp. But I guess back then, May 10, 1937... Japan was looking for as many hawkish heroes it could dig up for its Imperial Japan-loving populace.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Gimme 12 more hours

Hi folks... nothing to write home about right now... on Wednesday, yet another day off, I spent time at work unpacking (and stuck in traffic), doing work for work, writing a book report with my son, and doing some back-breaking shoveling of frozen, plowed snow on a hockey rink for a community project... and I'm relaxing and trying to warn up by watching the second Avengers movie.

I know... warm-up... for my friends in Pennsylvania and the Boston area... I know that sounds hollow considering the beating you guys have had and are about to have via the weather.

Still... I have nothing to write about at this time, but after I wake up tomorrow, do some work for work, I'll get right on to writing a blog for January 4. Promise.

Though if anyone has a simple topic or video they want to share...

See you soon... even though this particular blog will self-destruct in 12 hours.

Cheers,
Andrew Joseph

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Japanese Funk By Hitomi Tohyama

I found this cool "funk" song by Japanese singer Tohyama Hitomi, and her 1983 song Wanna Kiss...

The unorthodox English spelling of Hitomi "Penny" Tôyama (aka 当山ひとみ) aside, she was born on December 28, 1957, in Okinawa-ken, Japan.

Her first album was in 1981 with the Columbia Records Japan release of Just Call Me Penny, two 1982 albums: On The Radio, and Heart Full of L.A Mind, 1983’s Next Door, and セクシィ・ロボット? Sexy Robot in 1983 that spawned the song Wanna Kiss.

In 1985 she released Human Voice and Five Pennys, Hello Me in 1986, followed by One Scene, and Lady Ballad in 1987. Both Imagination, and Watch Out! (気をつけろ) in 1988, After 5:00 Story in 1989, and her last full-length album, 1992’s 胸さわぎ.

And that, is pretty much all I could find out about her, save that CDs of her work were re-released in 2009. I assume she was fairly popular, what with Columbia Records Japan releasing so many albums.

Her musical style is soul/funk... and I have to admit I, despite being a suburban punk, really like funk.

Actually, I first came across the video about a year ago, and when I heard it, I wandered down the Internet rabbit hole searching for Japanese funk that I might have a listen to and write about... and while I found plenty to listen to, I didn't feel like writing about it.

Yesterday's Man with 21 Faces, and today's blog is me doing a little pre-Spring cleaning of my blog's draft section... getting rid and posting articles I started months and months ago.

I think I only stopped writing about this one because I couldn't find enough information. Now, it's 2018, and I'll just apologize for not finding more information, and instead ask you to have a listen to some decent funk.

For me, however, I'm not much into funk singing, but instead like to be swayed by the music sans singing. I like singing (not me personally), but just not for this musical genre.

Whatever... the music is funky!


Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

The Mystery Man With 21 Faces - Updated


“To moms throughout Japan:
In autumn, when appetites are strong, sweets are really delicious. When you think sweets—no matter what you say—it’s Morinaga. We’ve added some special flavor. The flavor of potassium cyanide is a little bitter.It won’t cause tooth decay, so buy the sweets for your kids. We’ve attached a notice on these bitter sweets that they contain poison. We’ve put twenty boxes in stores from Hakata to Tokyo.”

This is how one of Japan's greatest crimes went... and remains unsolved... a man or group of 21 people who terrorized Japan's candy industry and its citizens back in the early 1980s.

I actually recall this one - reading about it in local North American newspapers.

The Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō (かい人21面相)... aka the Mystery Man with 21 Faces, or the Monster with 21 Faces.

The name Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō was the name of a villain in a detective book by Hirai Tarō (surname first, 平井 太郎) who was born October 21, 1894– July 28, 1965... though he was better known through his writer's pseudonym of Edogawa Ranpo (江戸川 乱歩)... which was a neat Japanese way of pronouncing Edgar Allan Poe. Hirai's detective novels involved the lead Kogoro Akechi, who in later books played the leader of a group of boy detectives known as the "Boy Detectives Club"(少年探偵団, Shōnen tantei dan).

But... in real life Osaka of 1984, Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō, it began with a violent kidnapping of the president of Ezaki Glico - a Japanese company that had/has its hands in all-things food-related such as Pocky, Glico caramels and other treats.

On March 18, 1984, Ezaki Katsuhisa (surname first), 42, of Osaka came home and jumped into his ofuro (Japanese bath), soaking for a few minutes... when, at 9PM, two armed and hooded men came in and dragged him from the bath.

The men had first broken into the house next door where his mother lived and tied her up. They correctly figured she would have keys to her son's house, which they used to "break-in".

Even before Ezaki came home and jumped in the bath, the two men had tied up wife and daughter and cut the phone lines in the house. The wife, figuring that all they wanted was money, offered them some - but it was rejected.

Right there... the money offer was rejected. If this was going to be a kidnapping, then why not take the money and run?

But no... the two men seemed to have bigger plans afoot.

Dragging Ezaki from the bath, and showing him the toed up wife and daughter, they had him put on a coat and ski mask, and then drove him away to a unused warehouse.

OR (because there are always a mash-up of facts) ... Ezaki was hiding in the bathroom with two of his children after hearing the men break in and tie up his wife and daughter... and only after threatening to kill them did Ezaki calm down enough for them to drag him out, and then take him away to the warehouse.

Why not take the wife or the daughter or the other two kids? Take two kids... the guy screws around, you have a lot of leverage! Sigh.

Why take the guy who controls the money?! Stupid, stupid, stupid!!!

The next day as Osaka police found a ransom note in a nearby phone booth demanding 1-billion yen (US$4.3 million in 1984), as well as 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of gold bullion.

Seriously... you can get the money... but 220 pounds of gold? That's not something people just have lying around. Granted, we are talking about 1984 when I'm pretty sure my dad made the mistake of purchasing an ounce of silver at $49... so I guess people do have precocious metal lying around.

For Japan, it was a strange crime, as kidnappings were, generally speaking a western-type of crime. In Japan, when major crimes had been committed, it was the yakuza (the mob) doing business against one of their own, one of another yakuza gang, or simply punishing someone who had owed them money or someone who had refused to pay them... and those were just crimes of physical violence - and not kidnapping.

On March 20, 1984 - two days after Ezaki had been taken, and the police no where close to solving the crime, he escaped his kidnappers in the warehouse located in Ibaraki City in Osaka-prefecture.

While the population had been stunned over the kidnapping, everyone assumed that with Ezaki returned, that would be it.

But it certainly wasn't for Ezaki and his candy empire.

For whatever reason, Ezaki seemed to have pissed off someone quite badly.

Next up were two (2) fires set to cars in parking lots of a couple of Glico candy plants, that is believed to have been done by an arsonist(s).

Next came a phone call to the company where a man told them that for the equivalent of US$1.3 million, Glico could end this "harassment", telling them to drop off the money at a specific barbecue restaurant.

Then a young man was kidnapped while he sat in a parked car with a friend - pulling him out and taking him away.

These kidnappers told the Osaka man that he was going to collect the $1.3 million for them at a designated barbecue restaurant.

The police were notified of the ransom, and met the man collecting the money, arresting him... but letting him go after his friend told them who he was and what had happened to him.

And yes, no money has of yet actually changed hands.

Probably ticked off, the people harassing Glico decide to take things a lot farther and send letters to various Osaka news media telling them that they have placed cyanide soda-laced packs of Glico candy on store shelves, and that soon enough they would begin placing the same on store shelves all over Japan.

The first letter was sent on May 10, 1984.

Police did find a shop video of a man wearing a Yomiuri Giants baseball cap placing Glico chocolates on a store shelf by a security camera. That's him below. Glasses, too...


Japanese police are on the look-out for an Asian male, approximately 5'6"-5'-20" with black hair, brown eyes (just a guess), and glasses, wearing, apparently, a Yomiuri Giants baseball cap... the New York Yankees of Japanese baseball. Hell... I live in Toronto and have a Yankees cap (a 1927 replica cap), but still... in Japan, the Giants are very well respected... the only saving grace here, is that the suspect in the photo is NOT wearing a Navy Blue Pinstriped suit. This is 1984... there are probably only three or four men dressed like this!
While no cyandide-laced candy packs were ever discovered, the threat had the desired impact.

Companies began removing all Glico products from their shelves... and soon enough sales of Glico products around Japan began to drop...

Faced with a near 50 percent drop in sales in May, Glico announced it would be laying off some 1,000 workers.

So... if what we were dealing with were some disgruntled ex-Glico employees who simply wanted to punish Glico, the whole plan was a success.

But, causing other regular Joe Suzuki people to be laid off - the whole plan was now a miserable failure.

On top of the loss of sales, at least four other candy manufacturers who performed third-party manufacture on behalf of Glico, whose whole livelihood was based on its production of Glico products, they stopped operations entirely.

But, on the plus side, Glico, who only one year ago was a $540-million company, would this year drop to only being a $310-million company.

Still, the letters continued in to the news media re: Glico... who did eventually cut some 450 people from its production lines.

The letters, written in hiragana, and with an Osaka dialect said:
“Dear dumb police officers. Don't tell a lie. All crimes begin with a lie as we say in Japan. Don't you know that?”
 
Osaka Police look to see if the Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō actually did leave a tampered candy pack.
Another said:
“Why don't you keep it to yourself? You seem to be at a loss. So why not let us help you? We'll give you a clue. We entered the factory by the front gate. The typewriter we used is PAN-writer. The plastic container used was a piece of street garbage. (signed) Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō"

On June 26, the Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō issued a message proclaiming its forgiveness of Glico, and subsequent harassment of the company ceased.

Why?

We can only assume that either the harassers seemed to believe they had caused enough trouble to Glico and were now moving on to another company that might actually pay the ransom... or perhaps that Glico paid a "harassment fee" to make it all go away.

Next up, Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō began its extortion campaign on another candy manufacturer, Morinaga, as well as food companies Marudai Ham and House Foods Corporation.
 
Police did get close to the suspected mastermind of the "Monster with 21 Faces", however.

On June 28, just days after agreeing to stop harassing Marudai in exchange for 50 million yen (about US$210,000), Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō arranged for a Marudai employee to toss the ransom money onto a local train heading toward Kyoto when a white flag was displayed.

An undercover officer disguised as a Marudai employee followed the instructions and saw someone watching him on the train... a man he later described as large, well-built, wearing sunglasses, his hair cut short and permed, with "eyes like those of a fox."

The white flag was not shown, however, so both the policeman and the "Fox-Eyed Man" (キツネ目の男, kitsune-me no otoko) got off at Kyoto station. As the policeman sat on a bench, he noticed that that same man was watching him.

The policeman later got back onto a train and headed back towards Osaka, noticing that the fox-eyed man did the same, but in a different passenger car. The police man got off at Takatsuki station, while another officer continued to tail the fox-eyed man, but unfortunately lost him.

Late in October of 1984, a letter addressed to "Moms of the Nation" and signed by Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō the, was sent to news agencies around Osaka saying that 20 packs of  stated that 20 packs of
Morinaga candy had been laced with deadly sodium cyanide.

Police searched shops from Tokyo to western Japan and found over a dozen lethal packages of Morinaga Choco Balls and Angel Pie before anyone was poisoned. These packages had labels, such as "Danger: Contains Toxins", put on them. More tampered confections were found in February 1985, making a total of 21 lethal candy products.

On November 14, after the Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō tried to blackmail/extort the House Food Corporation of 100 million yen (about US$410,000), the police once again attempted to catch him picking up the money.

They tailed a delivery van dropping off the van that was supposed to drop the money in a can under a white piece of cloth. But, when the delivery van reached the drop point, the white cloth was there but the can was missing.

As a result, the investigative team was ordered to withdraw, believing that the drop was an evaluation by Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō of police response.

However, an hour earlier, a patrol car from the local Shiga prefecture police had spotted a station wagon with its engine running and its headlights off. The station wagon was also sitting less than 50 meters from a white cloth suspended from a fence. Unaware of the secret ransom drop, the police officer drove up to the station wagon and shone his flashlight on the driver, revealing a thin-cheeked man in his forties, wearing a golf cap over his eyes and, more telling, a wireless receiver with headphones. Surprised by the policeman, the driver sped off, with the police car following in pursuit until the station wagon lost him.


The station wagon was later found abandoned near the Kusatsu Station - a stolen car from Nagaokakyo in Kyoto prefecture. Inside the car was a radio transceiver that had been eavesdropping in on radio communications between the police officers of six prefectures, including Osaka, Kyoto, and Kobe, the prefectures of the drop point. Also recovered was a vacuum cleaner, although no evidence could be traced back to Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō.

Following the blackmail campaign on House Foods, Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō tried its hand at Fujiya in December 1984.

In January of 1985, police released the facial composite of the "Fox-Eyed Man" to the public.

Months later in August of 1985, failing to capture Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō, Shiga Prefecture Police Superintendent Yamamoto killed himself by self-immolation.

Five days after the death of Yamamoto, on August 12, 1985, the "Monster with 21 Faces" sent its last message to the media:
Yamamoto of Shiga Prefecture Police died. How stupid of him! We've got no friends or secret hiding place in Shiga. It's Yoshino or Shikata who should have died. What have they been doing for as long as one year and five months? Don't let bad guys like us get away with it. There are many more fools who want to copy us. No-career Yamamoto died like a man. So we decided to give our condolence. We decided to forget about torturing food-making companies. If anyone blackmails any of the food-making companies, it's not us but someone copying us. We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life. Monster with 21 Faces.
After releasing the composite, police thought they had their man, Miyazaki Manabu, who back in 1976 had supported a local union against Glico, who had back then been dumping starches and other industrial waste into the local river and drainage system.

Miyazaki was also suspected to have been involved with the resignation of a union leader over accounting irregularities when Glico Ham and Glico Nutritional Foods merged.

Add in the fact that Miyazaki's dad was the boss of a local yakuza group, plus his resemblance to the description... well, police thought they had their man... except he had alibis for all the times he was supposedly seen.

He was cleared.

Police have thought that the crimes had been perpetrated by various yakuza gangs... but that's probably because if there's a crime going on in Japan, they believe it is always the yakuza. That's not to say they are wrong, but no evidence points to them being right.

As of this date, the  person or persons known as Kaijin Nijūichi Mensō have never been apprehended.

Then again... there's no evidence that aside from tampering with the candy, no one ever got sick or killed, and no one made any money on the kidnapping or made any money from the extortion... that the public is aware of.

Again, why did the harassment of Glico suddenly stop? 

In June 1995, the statute of limitations ran out on the assault and kidnapping of Ezaki, followed by the elapse of the statute of limitations in February 2000 on the charge of attempted murder for the poisoned food products.

Banzai,
Andrew Joseph

Monday, January 1, 2018

Fukushima Fireworks 2018

Below is a link that shows of the fireworks at Fukushima. Despite the numerous blog articles I have recently put out on the Fukushima nuclear disaster, the link is just one to welcome in the new year, courtesy of the government of Fukushima-shi, Fukushima-ken.

Click HERE

https://twitter.com/gt_fukushima/status/947484869529034753?t=1&cn=ZmxleGlibGVfcmVjc18y&refsrc=email&iid=980f2f05f93440a9a12923abe46d4091&fl=4&uid=376860215&nid=244+272699400
If that doesn't work, try the written out link above... copy and paste.

Banzai!
Andrew Joseph

2018 - The Year Of The Dog

Happy 2018!

The year 2018 is the Year of the Dog (Inu) for those of you who are interested in the Japanese zodiac (Jūnishi, 十二支).

The Japanese zodiac (based on the Chinese zodiac), is divided into 12 repeating units, with each of the 12 years named after an animal based an animal, with only the Dragon being a mythical creature. I think.

I am a Dragon, and I think I am real, therefore I am (don't wake the Red King, though).

My name in Japanese is phonetically in katakana: An-doh-ryu (Andrew), which translates (using kanji I specifically picked for myself) to: "Peaceful-Leader-Dragon".

I gave myself an extra long "dooooh", rather than the typical "doh", just to get that "leader" kanji.  

My surname of Joseph (Jo-se-fu) further translates to: "Help-World-Walk."

Idealistic, to be sure... but between 1990-1993 when I lived in Japan, I was living the life of Riley... I was Ferris Bueller... I was one lucky sonbeeyatch who was forever farting rainbows.

I was invincible. I was the Dragon. I was also a Scorpio... I still am the Dragon and a Scorpio, but I've learned I am no longer invincible - which sucks, because you only learn that with age.

I don't know why, but the concept of a zodiac fascinates me. Does it mean that every 12th person is just like me? I guess... if you think of it in those terms... if so, the world would be a much better, if not ego maniacal place, and I'd probably hate a lot more people.

Here's something about Dragons (me):

Dragons like to embrace challenges and take risks. Jobs that allow them to test themselves are good choices. Some good careers include: journalist, teacher, inventor, manager, computer analyst, lawyer, engineer, architect, broker, and sales person.

I've been a journalist, a teacher, and a sales person. I was going to be a lawyer and even aced my LSAT (law entrance exam), but thought I might actually find it boring (what with all the long hours)--besides, my university marks sucked enough where I wasn't going to get in anyway; and really dig architecture even though I don't know why... well... I suppose because it's a good career choice for a dragon.

Oh... and East is supposed to be a very lucky direction for me... and considering that's where Japan is (relative to to Toronto), I'd have to agree.

Still... it's kind of fun, when you learn about each sign and what it represents... and when you apply it to yourself, you tend to see yourself as being a fit for the description... at least I do.

It doesn't mean it's right... just that it's right for me. People see what they want to see, I suppose. It's like how we can stare at a pattern in the stucco ceiling, and see faces or objects... MY wife is also a Dragon, but only a Sagitarius, and she has not followed any of the career paths I did or those best suited for a Dragon... which may also explain why she's looking for a job now. Or not. 

Anyhow... to me, it's fun... and like most things, I want to believe.

For all you Dog lovers out there, 2018 is your year... if you were born in: 2006, 1982, 1970, 1958, 1946, 1934, 1922, and 1910. I suppose the 1910 year is no longer an option for anyone on this planet... which is kind of sad, when you think about it.

Still... rather than be too much of a downer, everyone of us has a bit of someone who was born or lived in 1910, inside of us. So blame them.
This is a photo of me (left), Tin-Tin, and my dad around six decades (!!) ago. The shirt I'm wearing features the Peanuts dog Snoopy claiming that the "Moon is made of Canadian Cheese". My son saw the photo, and was surprised that that was me, realizing we do look similar (or did)... while I developed my father's good taste in wearing sunglasses whenever I go outside.

For those of you who are Dogs (and aren't we all, just a little bit), you are supposed to have all of the fine qualities of human nature.

You possess a sense of loyalty and duty, are extremely honest, and are always willing to to do their best in any relationship with other people.

You Dog people are also supposed to inspire confidence in others, and are particularly adept at keeping secrets... which if you think about it, perfectly describes a real dog... canine, that is.

Nothing wrong with that. Did you know that my last dog... a chocolate lab named Buster Brown, would sometimes eat his own poo? I would force feed him Listerine breath strips. Never had that problem with any of the other dogs I had... three cocker spaniels (two American and one English blue roan) and four medium-size rottweilers.

The past four-plus years or so I have been without a dog... the longest period in my life... my wife wants another dog... but I am enjoying having a backyard where I can play catch with my son without stepping in that "missed" pile of poop. I also don't think we can afford one... and yes, I am not the little fru-fru type of dog owner. Nothing wrong with those dogs... they just aren't my style.

Then again... I'm on my third cat since I started writing this blog in 2009. Sigh.

Type of Dog Year of Birth Characteristics
Wood Dog 1934, 1994 Sincere, reliable, considerate, understanding, and patient;
Fire Dog 1946, 2006 Intelligent, hardworking, and sincere;
Earth Dog 1958, 2018 Communicative, serious, and responsible in work;
Gold Dog 1910, 1970 Conservative, desirable, cautious, and always ready to help others;
Water Dog 1922, 1982 Brave and self-centered, even seemingly selfish; well-versed in dealing with financial issues;


The Luckiest Things for Dogs

  • Lucky numbers: 3, 4, 9, and numbers containing them (like 34 and 49);
  • Lucky days: the 7th and 28th of every lunar month;
  • Lucky colors: red, green, and purple;
  • Lucky flowers: rose, cymbidium orchids (the photo above - I love these flowers!);
  • Lucky directions: east, south, and northeast;
  • Lucky months: the 6th, 10th, and 12th lunar months;

Unlucky Things for Dogs

  • Unlucky colors: blue, white, gold;
  • Unlucky numbers: 1, 6, and 7;
  • Unlucky direction: southeast;
  • Unlucky months: the 5th and 8th lunar months;
And, because I am sure you are all curious, the other jūnishi"years", in order of appearance, are:
  • Boar (Inoshishi): born 2019, 2007, 1983, 1971, 1959, 1947, 1935, 1923;
  • Rat (Nexumi): born 2020, 2008, 1996, 1984, 1972, 1960, 1948, 1936, 1924;
  • Ox (Ushi): born 2021, 2009, 1997, 1985, 1973, 1961, 1949, 1937, 1925;
  • Tiger (Tora): born 2022, 2010, 998, 1986, 1974, 1962, 1950, 1938, 1926;
  • Rabbit (Usagi): born 2023, 2011,1999, 1987, 1975, 1963, 1951, 1939, 1927;
  • Dragon (Tatsu): born 2024, 2012, 2000, 1988, 1976, 1964, 1952, 1940, 1928;
  • Snake (Hebi): born 2025, 2013, 2001, 1989, 1977, 1965, 1953, 1941, 1929;
  • Horse (Uma): born 2026, 2014, 2002, 1990, 1978, 1966, 1954, 1942, 1930;
  • Sheep (Hitsju): born 2027, 2015, 2003, 1991, 1979, 1967, 1955, 1943, 1931;
  • Monkey (Saru): born 2028, 2016, 2004, 1992, 1980, 1968, 1956, 1944, 1932;
  • Rooster (Tori): born 2029, 2017, 2005, 1981, 1969, 1957, 1945, 1933;
  • Dog (Inu): born: 2030, (and as above).
For all of you people born in The Year Of The Dog - enjoy your year!

For the rest of us, Happy Festivus.

Woof... you know what I mean,
Andrew Joseph
PS: I'm writing this two weeks before it is published, so hopefully this isn't one of those "ghost" blogs from beyond the grave. No... I'm not dying or anything... despite the cryptic sounding writing I did above... but fair warning, because who the heck knows. I hope it's a happy 2018 for all of us!
PPS: The photo of the dog at the top was my dog, Buster, a pretty nice Chocolate Labrador.