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Saturday, April 30, 2011

Six Kids Killed In Crane Truck Accident

On April 18, 2011, six elementary school students were killed after being struck by a crane truck in Kanuma-shi (City of Kanuma), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), local police said. 

The truck's driver, 26-year-old Masato Shibata, was arrested at the scene.

According to eyewitnesses, Shibata's crane truck crossed the center line, ran over a single barrier pole and then ran into a group of 20 to 30 children on their way to
Kitaoshihara Sho Gakko (Kitaoshihara Elementary School), killing five boys and a girl.

The accident occurred 170 metres (558 feet) from the school. One of the eyewitnesses was the school's principal, Kurasawa Toshio (surname first), who said: "The truck ran into the row of children at the speed it would normally run on roads."

Witnesses say Shibata was hunched over the steering wheel as if he was hugging it when his vehicle hit the children and then traveled several metres (10 feet) more before smashing into a house before stopping at a nearby vacant lot.

Shibata later admitted he was dozing off when his truck rammed into them, though the police are trying to confirm his confession and are searching his home and workplace given that the accident occurred only 10 minutes after he started out from his workplace.

Police have learned that Shibata was driving the truck at about 40 kilometers per hour and did not slow down before the accident, the sources said.

The children were walking along a designated pedestrian walkway on National Highway Route 293 when the they were struck at around 7:45AM. The two lane-road is nine metres (29.5 feet) wide and does not a separating guard rail between it and the walking lane.

The six children were identified as Mika Sekiguchi, 9, Keita Shimozuma, 9, Taiga Ihara, 9, Kyoya Hoshino, 10, Takuma Omori, 11, and Manato Kumano, 11.

The Kanuma Board Of Education is providing counseling to treat the children who witnessed the accident.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph
By the way... a blog on my life will not appear as the next blog entry - instead a special one will appear on the tsunami aftermath. It will be short - but hopefully one you will find very interesting. I'll be back to two a day (plus) after this short disruption of my schedule.   


It's Sunday, June 30, 1991.
I'm up at noon. I feel refreshed after last night's drinking. Has it really been a week without sex? I don't even have to ask that question because I know it has been. I've been counting the minutes. I'm going a little batty from the lack of inactivity.
I do what I usually do when I'm antsy... I clean my apartment. I even venture out to the north balcony (my place has two balconies - the other faces west) that faces the Nasu mountains and gingerly sweep all of the spiders from up off the roof.
I absolutely detest spiders... and these buggers are huge. Visit my old blog HERE to see what I'm talking about.
I hardly ever go out to the north balcony - and only use it to dry clothes but must always bring them in by sundown when the spiders descend from their sleeping perch. What's weird is that they don't seem to make any webs. At least I don't see any in the morning... and with over 60 of these big fat buggers, my place would look like the typical haunted house within minutes!
I move over to the western balcony and sit atop the railing - perched precariously on the edge three stories up - to catch a few of the suns warming rays for 30 minutes.
Matthew comes over and we watch the movie Twins. When he goes home, I shower and get ready for our trip to Oyama-shi (City of Oyama) this evening and the Canadian Embassy tomorrow and Canada's birthday party.
Matthew comes over again at 6:30PM and we leave for the train station - not by bus or taxi or bicycle, but rather by car as his girlfriend Takako drives us, picking us up at 6:55PM.
There's no train until 7:19PM, though which means we reach Oyama-shi at 8:50PM.  It really is like clockwork in Japan. I believe back in September last year, one of the trains was late by three minutes - and that was due to a F5 typhoon (hurricane) smashing the tracks. Three minutes. Japan Rail actually apologized for it in the newspaper the next day. Toronto could sure take a lesson from Japan here.
Matthew and I go out for dinner at CoCo's until 9:30PM and then head over to MariAnn's place - she's a fellow AET (assistant English teacher) like us on the Japan Exchange & Teaching (JET) Programme. MariAnn is a cute Japanese-Canadian girl - I believe her name is Hironaka... but she's all Canadian inside!
At her fairly large place - it's not quite as large as mine, but it is nicer, I think - we meet Gael Heald - another AET I have always found attractive.
The four of us go out karaoke singing (I believe karaoke means drunken revelry with off-key crooning) until 12:30AM.
Matthew & I always have fun wherever we go - which is why I think people like us. We bump and grind to the Village People's Y.M.C.A. (my gosh, but those are gay lyrics!... I hear that everyone in that group was gay - except for the policeman!).
We all have a great time dancing and singing our heads off.
Back at MariAnn's place we chat until about 2AM before crashing.

Oh... I'm pretty sure I saw Junko over at CoCo's today down in Oyama-shi. She was trying not to be seen - you know that classic scene where people quickly pick up a  menu to hide themselves and not draw attention? Well, her men was upside down.
I knew she was there before I even saw her. I could smell her - it was totally feral. And her hair still smells like apple blossoms.  

Somewhere wondering if I should have said hello,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by the Village People, of course: YOUNGMAN.
PS: Junko is a woman I slept with for an entire week two weeks ago... it was fierce and exciting. We knew it was only going to be a one week date, as she had to go back to university (I think it was in Utsunomiya-shi, the capital city of Tochigi-ken). Junko stalked me once... and I think she's doing it again... if she ever stopped.
PPS: I chose to keep Junko my dirty little secret and refrained from telling Matthew or Gael or MariAnn what was going on, because  quite frankly, aside from not knowing what was going on myself, I wanted to see to what lengths Junko would go through - especially now that I know she's behind me.
PPPS: I guess I know who's been calling me for the past week and being quiet on the other end when I answer the phone. Oh cripes! Is this going to end badly or am I going to have sex first and then have it end badly? Please let it be the latter.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Cartoon In Poor Taste Upsets Japan

Perhaps the headline is a bit misleading... a cartoon didn't upset Japan - it upset a lot of people who aren't Japanese, too.

On April 21, 2011, The International Herald Tribune published the cartoon (seen at the left or above depending on your web browser).

(Blog Note: It's wrong on so many levels. Not only is it offensive to Japan, but also to ugly little old apple vendors. I don't know if you noticed... but Snow White is asking the Evil Queen who is dressed up as an ugly old woman a question that implies that it's NOT the apple that has her worried, but that perhaps the ugliness of the woman was caused by nuclear radiation IF she was from Japan. If it was meant that Snow White was asking about the apple - then the cartoon was written wrong - and should have asked 'Is this apple from Japan?' It's still a poor social commentary, however.)

The New York Times, which owns the International Herald Tribune said on April 25 in it's Editor's Note section that the cartoon "was offensive to the Japanese and others" and that "its selection was a lapse in judgment, which we regret."

The Japanese Consulate General in New York lodged a protest Thursday with the New York Times for publishing the cartoon, saying it may stir up unfounded anxieties over the safety of food from Japan.


Somewhere on an soapbox,
Andrew Joseph
PS: You realize that the Japanese Consulate General missed the poor joke... it really isn't about the apple - it's about radiation disfiguring a person! That's the way it was written!

Car Crashes into Tochigi Police Station

On April 27, 2011, a man drove his car into a police station in Oyama-shi (Oyama City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture) - but died hours later during questioning.

Okunuki Takafumi (surname first), 32, was shirtless and screaming as he drove his car (probably white) through the g;ass front door of the police station at 1:25PM. While the automatic front doors at the station's entrance were badly damaged, police said only a 77-year-old man was hurt with a cut finger from falling glass. 

Tochigi Police quickly arrested Okunuki at the scene,  and were questioning him when he collapsed into consciousness. Okunuki was taken to hospital and pronounced dead at 5:35PM.

While an autopsy will be performed to determine the exact cause of death, Tochigi police are adamant that there were no irregularities or problems during their questioning of Okukini and that at no time was he ever put at risk.

Andrew Joseph
(Blog Note: Now... I'm not an expert, but I do I play one in this blog, but I'm guessing that if some shirtless guy is screaming ('Banzai' or 'Tora-tora-tora' perhaps?) and drives into a police station in the middle of the day... I'm guessing there is something wrong.
Even if we were to discount any possible mental anguish suffered by Okunuki caused by some chemical imbalance, grief, drug or alcohol, the guy did drive through a building. Perhaps he hit his head on the steering wheel. It's possible he had a hidden injury... he should still have been taken to a hospital as a precaution.
Now... another factor to consider... if I'm a police officer and someone may have shown disdain for my job and my building - I'm going to be quite angry. Is it possible that someone bounced his head off a table once or twice? Could he have been given any stomach punches with the old-telephone book in the way to avoid bruising. Could the police have roughed him up despite saying they didn't do anything?  Sure. We're not naive enough to think that's not a possibility.
Isn't Japan the 'polite' country? Yes. But this was an assault on a police station. No police officer anywhere likes being attacked - if that's what it was. Perhaps in whatever state the victim was, it caused him to lose control and plow into a police station by accident.
It's possible he lost control while trying to remove his shirt. He could have been screaming as he plowed into the building. Who hasn't done that?
Does anyone think there will be any follow-up data on this one? Nope. Unless we find out Okunuki's anguish is caused by something to do with the tsunami, earthquake or the radiation fallout.
PS: Banzai = Japanese war cry meaning: 10,000 years. Bonsai  = tree dwarfing through bondage.
 You can read about my exploits with tree bondage HERE.
PPS: Tora-tora-tora = attack-attack-attack! It actually means 'tiger' a code name for the torpedo attack on Pearl Harbor.

Slow Ride

It's Saturday, June 29, 1991.
I'm up at 7:30AM. It looks kind of cool outside, but I say screw it and wear shorts anyway.
Myself, Kanemaru-san (one of my two bosses from the OBOE (Ohtawara Board Of Educaction), his wife (name - no idea) and his youngest son, Tomohiro (who is skipping school - in Japan, kids go to school for a half day on Saturdays) go for a car ride to the west... to Nikko-shi (City of Nikko) in Japan. I've been living in Japan for 11 months now - and I love it despite the language, cultural barriers... but the friendliness of its inhabitants and good gaijin (foreigner) friends like Matthew, Jeff, Kristine and Ashley (my ex-girlfriend) make it a wonderful place to be. Most of the time. I have my ups and downs, but the ups far outweigh the downs - like 100 to 1.
Rather than drive to Nikko proper - the temple town, we drive up to the mountainous area.
As we approach a long bridge spanning two mountains, I see a hoist over the bridge going down into the chasm. I just know instantly that its there to pick up a dead body from the canyon below.
We don't stop, though despite our curiosity... we leave the morbid curiosity to the 20 cars that have stopped along the bridge to see the corpse. It means we have less traffic on the road, too.
About 10 minutes later we do stop on a bridge. It's apparently the highest elevated bridge in Japan. While it's only 135 metres high - it is high up in the mountains - so it has a spectacular view... at least I assume so, as there was a really good fog blocking off the sight lines.
The fog was really thick... but still, there were dragonflies everywhere - it was beautiful, but kind of sick toi hear them crunch under your shoe as we walked... that's how many of them there were.
(For some reason... in my diary I wrote: "all we needed was an earthquake".... which I assume would have meant me falling off the mountain).
We drove up another mountain and then took a left onto another plateau. we looked around. went higher. Looked at the fog. Spectacular fog! No view, but it was great fog!
Tomohiro was catching dragonflies and pulling off one wing and keeping them in his bag. Tomohiro was about 5. He's cruel, and I figure he'll make a fine banker one day.
Then we drove down, down, down! We looked for sembei (rice crackers - man, I love those!) and then went sightseeing in Nikko. We saw a row of 44 Buddhas - and a beautiful raging river.
It was very hot now and it was only lunch time.
We drove down to the capital city of Utsunomiya-shi. They visited their daughter at university there while I passed out in the car. Honestly... there's no need for her to meet the gaijin, is there?
Then we drive home.
I relax for two minutes and then get dressed to go to Takako's concert. She squeaks the clarinet twice, but looks spectacular, so who cares. Matthew is a lucky guy.
After, she Matthew and myself go to the 4C for a couple of drinks.
And because I noticed this, I'm going to write it anyway.
Takako got smashed and was pressing her body up against me. Matthew trusts me, so I earn that trust. It does make me a bit uncomfortable because I do like Takako and I am very single... but Matthew is so much my friend that I only enjoy the pressure and never think about anything else. Why can't that girl hook me up with one of her friends? Oh yeah... she knows me.
Anyhow... Matthew drives Takako's car home to her place - flawlessly on a right-hand drive stick shift. I have no idea how the heck he does that, especially knowing that he had a couple of drinks. The guy is Batman.
I'm in bed by 12:30AM. Slightly drunk. Very tired and incredibly horny. Where's Junko or Ashley?
The phone rings, but I don't answer it.

Somewhere wondering who they fished out of the canyon,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is by Fog Hat - for obvious reasons: TAKEITEASY
PS: Kanemaru-san drove a white Cherry Vanette.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Search For Victims Continues

The search continues for victims of the quake and tsunami that rocked the north east coast of Japan over a month ago on March 11, 2011.

A total of 24,800 soldiers have begun their third body recovery operation on April 25, 2011 - and will do so for two full days by land and sea.

With over 14,300 people confirmed dead and an additional 11,900 people still missing, the task force has found an additional 38 bodies by night time of the first day.

The soldiers, along with 100 divers, 50 boats, 90 planes and helicopters will join together with the Japanese police and coast guard and some U.S. troops in this, the third such intensive military search for survivors/bodies.

The first major sweep undertaken weeks ago found 339 bodies, while the second uncovered 99 additional victims.  

This blog will get you a final tally of this third search as soon as the numbers are made available.

Andrew Joseph

Monkey Bars

The next couple of days of my life in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan are presented here:

Thursday, June 27, 1991. I only had two classes to teach today at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School). Since I have a lot of free time, I try to keep to myself and do a little studying of conversational Japanese - interacting with whomever comes by  - but mostly, it's a dull little day.
I head back to my apartment, eat a sandwich for dinner and watch a few videos of television shows from back in Toronto and then get a ride from Matthew's girlfriend Takako out to Mishima for an English conversation class.
It's a hot evening - but it's fun. I have a good time... mostly because I'm sitting next to a cute 19-year-old girl who really likes my red shorts. Although there is a seven year age difference, what scares me off from asking her out is her mother who sits on the other side of her.
I whisper to her that her mom scares me.
The young girl whispers back that her mom scares her too!
That makes her even more attractive.
Afterward, I ride out to the Big One video store and establish a membership and rent Indiana Jones III, The Last Crusade.
I watch it and then go to bed at midnight. This is early for me - but since I'm not getting any sex, there's no need for me to be awake.

Friday, June 28, 1991.
I'm up at 6:30AM thanks to a dog across the street barking. I love dogs, but I hate them when they wake me up.
I do a load of laundry and then head out to the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) for an office day.
I put together The Tatami Times newsletter for Tochigi-ken JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme teachers - of which I am one. After completing 40 copies at 36 pages each, I realize that I have messed up.
The It's A Wonderful Rife monthly column I created was the exact same one I had used the previous month. Obviously, this monthly column was what inspired this blog.
I create a new one in 30 minutes and then begin the photocopying anew. I've killed a lot of trees today - I feel so Japanese!
At lunch I ride home and check my mail. There's a letter from my friend Connie back in Toronto - with a photo. Sexy! See above. She writes that she wants to see me. Friends or not, now I want her. I am so horny. She and I would make an interesting couple... so at the office, I write back to her in the afternoon, send it off and write another Rife for next month's issue.
I go home and clean-up. Why is my place such a mess? There's no one there except me - unless... Junko! She isn't breaking in and making a mess, is she? No. That would be insane... and why would a woman who was stalking me be insane. She has good taste, however.
Junko was the 21-year-old university student who had visited Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) last week on a five-day internship to learn how to be a teacher. I just so happened to be teaching at that school - and she and I hit off fantastically well  - so much so that the term monkey sex may have been coined from someone listening to us frolic.
I know... that's just ego - but what and ego!
Anyhow... since it was only supposed to be a Monday to Friday tryst before she was to go back to school, I was more than a little surprised to discover that the beautiful Junko had followed me down to Utsonomiya-shi (Utsonomiya is the capital city of Tochigi-ken) last Friday and then to Tokyo Disneyland on Saturday.
Either had some magical power over women that made them fall instantly in love with me (Uh, yeah... right) or she loved me for my money (I'm only rich in the things that count, unfortunately) or because I'm hung like a horse (neigh to that). Or she was a little bit coo-coo bananas. Or maybe a lot.
Whatever it was, if I wasn't so hung up on Ashley I wouldn't have minded spending my life with a bananas woman into monkey sex. It has ape-eal.
But nope. My mind was not quite where my groin was. What a stupid idiot I am.

Anyhow... after cleaning up, Matthew comes by to help me mess up my place again. I don't mind - I think I like cleaning up... just don't tell my parents! We watch Indiana Jones III (my second time in two nights) and them some Steven Spielberg Amazing Stories TV episodes.
After Matthew leaves, I hit the bed at 12:30.
Oh yeah... Kanemaru-san (my boss from the OBOE) came over earlier in the evening to put up a curtain rod for me in my bedroom  - noting that one of the office ladies would pick out a nice curtain for me and then the men would be back to hang up the curtain.
Japan is so structured in its gender roles, isn't it?
Kanemaru-san tells me that Ashley and I should be friends - because he can see how upset I am all the time.
He's afraid we are fighting.
Nope. Just not boyfriend/girlfriend... which sucks... personally... I think Kanemaru-san is correct.
Oh... and the phone rang again - no one on the other end... except for the gentle breathing. Ashley? 

Somewhere looking for the missing link,
Andrew Joseph

This blog title is inspired by Coney Hatch: SWINGINGSTARS  
PS - Don't worry - stuff will be happening soon. Maybe even tomorrow when I go on a road trip with Kanemaru-san, his wife and youngest son. I have no idea where I'm going!

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

You Sexy Thing

I recently visited for the first time.

There I saw an old poll regarding sex and the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.

The results - presented below - shocked me. I had no idea I was in the minority amongst my fellow JETs... but I guess one can't ignore the fact that enough people voted - and perhaps voted honestly. Of course, this vote was conducted back in 2005-2006 - a good 12 years after I left Japan... so perhaps things changed quite a bit in the ensuing years - for the negative! Oh! Japan! Don't you love your gaijin (foreigners) any more? Perhaps a return visit by yours truly is needed to set things right!

Here's the poll - and here are the results:

Jet Poll - From December 2005 - April 2006
Since I arrived in Japan, my sex life has: 
Not Changed - 33.1%
Exploded (I'm a boy) - 23.6%
Collapsed! (I'm a girl) - 23.6%
Collapsed! (I'm a boy) - 23.4%
Exploded (I'm a girl) - 8.7%
Total votes = 769

Hmm, I guess I was doing better than all right while over there - perhaps because I shared myself with my fellow female JET workers - as well as the Japanese women.

I think part of the problem is that they only seemed to ask boys and girls (The parenthesis was included in the poll). Perhaps if they asked men and women there might have been differing results. Of course... the 'Not Changed' results could have been fantastically high to begin with. In  my case, since I had never had sex before arriving in Japan, any positive result could be considered an explosion.

By the end of my three years, I slept with 28 different women. And that's with me having two solid girlfriends for six and eight months respectively. And... I only asked one woman out.

Perhaps I ruined everything for everybody else? My bad - but so not true. I recall so many of us guys having Japanese girlfriends - Hell, Matthew & Jeff both married gorgeous Japanese women before the end of the three year mark! Of course, I am only assuming they had premarital sex.

Despite not having a plan when I arrived in Japan - or at any time through my three years there - my plan worked! Confusing? Yes... but that's what this blog is all about!

More fun and frivolity to come (no pun intended... well, maybe I did intend the pun!).

Somewhere with a grin the Cheshire Cat is envious of,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Hot Chocolate for some many obvious reasons - the name of the band, plus the lyrics! WHEREYOUFROM?
PS: The Cheshire Cat is from the novel Alice's Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll (his real name is Charles Dodgson... he was the DoDo in the story. As Charles was a stutterer... whenever he introduced himself it was as "Do-Do-Do-Dodgson"). It's my favourite book - I have five different copies - one from 1905, and took a university course examining the books. I ended up with a BA degree... which was a requirement of the JET Programme... so you could say Alice's Adventures In Wonderland helped me get to Japan and thus helped spawn this blog.

Free Bird

I'm at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakausa Junior High School) today, Wednesday June 26, 1991. I have another four English classes to team teach - and it's tiring, but at least it beats being back in Toronto having to find honest work during the recession.
Here in Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawara) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), this school is the only junior high school that has separate classes for the mentally-challenged kids. I eat lunch with them every day - it's fun.
Today I played the piano for them - Bumble Bee Boogie - in their class room.
I notice that some of the kids are playing a joke on their teacher - but I shut up and let them go about their business - because what the heck! I love a good joke, too.
Because Japanese kids serve lunch to their fellow students and teacher in their class - the same holds true here. They pile a lot of cheese onto the plate of one bot who absolutely hates cheese! The look on his face is priceless! As well, they add about 10 chopsticks - of different size - to the plate of their teacher! Riot!
I play with the kids for a bit after eating - and then it's the typical clean-up time when all of the kids clean their class room and hallways before heading out to play.
Because the teacher's have a meeting, I'm taken home early - as the meeting is all in Japanese - and despite being called a teacher, I sure as heck am not one. For one thing, I'm better paid than a veteran 20-year-teacher. Truth. Sad but true, folks. I believe one such teacher - Mr. Inoue over at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) once confided his salary to me... it was the equivalent of $26,000 a year. I made $36,000 a year as an assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme.
Back home, I ride out to my back doctor and feel quite good afterward. Back home I eat dinner and go to kyudo (Japanese archery). I haven't played much since being hit by two cars in separate incidents last autumn. Part of it has been a reluctance to participate because I'm not as good as I think I should be - even as a beginner, but also because I did bugger up my shoulder.
Kanemaru-san (Mr. Kanemaru), who is one of my bosses at the OBOE (Ohtawara Board of Education) is the one who got me involved in this sport - and I feel as though I have not only let myself down, but him as well.
Tonight, however, I shoot well . I don't know if this was a bad thing, but I placed the arrow's feather through my lips to smooth them down. I have no idea if it helped or not, bit I did shoot better. Maybe that's my good luck thing. Still, despite the good shooting, I tire easily.
Kanemaru-san has been instructing me on form... and while I do have some strength back, the whole bow and arrow thing scares the heck out of me. He tells me that my form is pretty good - and that's half the battle in kyudo.

While I figure I tire easily due to a lack of practice in using certain muscles, the Ohtawara Kyudo Club feels that I should be using a bow that requires less brute strength to pull it.
The ego in me likes having the heaviest bow in the club, but the reality of the situation is that despite being the big, bad gaijin (foreigner), I'm not as strong as I thought I was. I defer to their wishes.
They then try to give me a two-finger archery glove - but I prefer my three-finger glove as it seems to help me keep my face out of the way when I draw the string back.
I shoot well all evening, and remember all of the form techniques one must master to shoot properly.
As such, before I leave for the evening, I tell them I want to shoot at a real target (60 feet away?) in two weeks, rather than the practice one that sits eight feet in front of me. Kanemaru-san says "okay". His English is getting better, as he an I didn't have to use the Japanese to English dictionary all that much today.
I'm psyched at my progress today.
Tim Mould calls me up. He's the Kuroiso-shi (Kuroiso City) Boys High School AET. He asks me to write a letter to the new AET who will be coming to his city to teach junior high in August. What the heck? I like to write. And I seem to know what I'm doing as an AET.
I try to call Susan St. Cyr regarding the last weekend at Disneyland and about life, but she's not home. I call Mary Mueller up - she was the leader of the Tochigi-ken JET AETs - and though she is with a guy named Peter, I still have a major crush on her. I could listen to her talk for hours and hours, and thanks to her ability to carry a conversation, I frequently do listen to her talk for hours and hours.
Oh yeah... before kyudo, I went to the Iseya grocery/department store near my home and ran into some students from Ohtawara Chu Gakko. They followed me from one store to another (Mimasuya) and then back to my apartment. They followed me up the elevator and to my apartment door and then came into visist for a while.
It ticked me off - because despite me telling you readers everythging about my life, I still enjoy my privacy. So I called my other OBOE boss, Mr. Hanazaki.
He immediately called the principal of Ohtawara Chu Gakko, and then called me back to say that it won't ever happen again.

Somewhere again starting to feel like I belong in Japan,
Andrew Joseph 
Today's blog title is by Lynyrd Skynyrd - because I feel uncaged today - plus I'm licking bird feathers on arrows. ICAN'TCHANGE

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

TEPCO Map of Radiation At Dai-ichi Facility

Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO) has publicly released a diagram of its Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear facility showing radiation levels (in millisieverts per hour) at the site.
The millisievert (mSv) is a measure of the absorption of radiation by the human body.
Released on April 24, 2011, the map released shows the high levels of radiation throughout the site--including the 300 mSv from debris near the No. 3 nuclear reactor which had its outer building badly damaged after a hydrogen explosion back in March. 
In the map - image above - it denotes radiation levels at some 230 areas in the facility - with the number of millisieverts per hour denoting where it is the most dangerous to work.
"It will take more than six months to remove all the debris from the site. Data included in the survey map were taken into consideration when the timetable [for stabilizing the reactors] was compiled," states a TEPCO spokesperson.
According to TEPCO handout, radiation levels were not above 100 mSv anywhere at the plant as of April 23, 2011. But, levels of more than 10 mSv were detected in the air at more than 30 locations around the Nos. 1 to 4 reactors.
  • Debris was cleared from an area to the east of the No. 3 reactor April 21, 2011, after levels of 900 mSv per hour were detected. Later readings showed levels had fallen to 10 - 30 mSv per hour;
  • Apparently, levels from 40 - 70 mSv per hour detected in the air at some places were due to diffused radiation from the hydrogen explosions;
  • Near a concrete pump where TEPCO workers are pouring water into a pool holding spent nuclear fuel rods inside the building housing Reactor the No. 3, radiation levels were between 20 - 30 mSv per hour;
  • A debris-strewn area to the north of Reactor No. 1 reactor tested 40 mSv per hour in the air, as did an area to the west of the reactor;
  • The surface of a hose that carries radioactive water from beneath Reactor No. 2's trench to the complex's central waste treatment facility had radiation levels from 75 - 86 mSv per hour;
  • Near the waste treatment facility, readings from the hose surface were 160 mSv per hour. TEPCO said it could not explain why the level there was so high. The water inside the hose at any one time contains more than 1,000 mSv per hour of radiation. 
What the heck is a millisievert? 
The millisievert (mSv) is a measure of the absorption of radiation by the human body.
The average person is exposed to 2.4 mSv a year through a variety of sources like x-rays, cosmic rays, radon, granite, tobacco - in fact, if you lived in a high elevation place, you are receiving more millisieverts of radiation than those at sea-level - because of the thinner atmosphere which is a blocker. 
There is a rumour that the U.S. Capitol Building made up of a stone containing uranium emits more than enough radiation to shut down a nuclear power plant. I said rumour now. 
Other examples of exposure include: 
  1. Chest x-ray: .04 mSv single dose;
  2. Cosmic rays: .24 mSv per year; 
  3. Smoking 1.5 packs a day: 13 mSv per year; 
  4. Flight crew working the New York-Tokyo route: 9 mSv per year; 
  5. Living near Chernobyl when it melted down in 1986: 450 mSv cumulative over several days. 
There is a 50 percent chance of death within a month if you are exposed to a single dose of 5,000 mSv. Obviously, you double your percentage if you double the exposure: near-certain death within a month after a single dose 10,000 mSv of radiation. 
Now... what does this all mean? Well, Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Edano Yukio (surname first) did state over a month ago that the radiation levels at Dai-ichi were hitting 400 mSv per hour - which is 20 times the annual exposure for a typical nuclear-industry worker or uranium miner. 
That would be bad - but keep in mind that this is very close to the nuclear radioactive sources (within metres or less)... people within the evacuated zone were getting a constant dose that was only going to add up. 
Somewhere my cigarette is glowing, 
Andrew Joseph
The photo image directly above will give you a better idea of some of the general layout of the facility.

Calculate Distances From Japan's Troubled Nuclear Reactor

So... would you like to know where places are in Japan relative to the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear reactor in Okuma-machi (Town of Okuma) Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture)? I wanted to know, too.

Strangely enough, I couldn't find any stories telling me exactly where the facility is specifically located. As well, I lacked a way of discerning just how far away the nuclear facility is from my old hometown of Ohtawara-shi (City of Ohtawra) in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture).

I used the Wikipedia map found HERE to calculate the distance from the reactor to Ohtawara. Over on the left is a Get Directions tool... from here, pump in the following numbers:
37.421474, 141.032714
It's the location of the Dai-ichi nuclear facility.
Then under the destination location, type in the town, city or landmark you are looking for. Make sure to set the CAR or WALKING icon to get an idea of the proper distance to and fro.

As calculated by myself, Ohtawara is about: 143.4 kilometres (89.1 miles) from the nuclear facility, which is well outside the 20 kilometre (12.5 mile) evacuation zone imposed and enforced by the Japanese government (enforced as of April 22, 2011).   

... just in case any of you are curious.

Andrew Joseph


It's Tuesday, June 23, 1991.
This is going to be a great day.
I'm teaching at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School) this week. I'm an assistant English teacher (AET) on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme living in Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City), Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture), Japan.
Yesterday I volunteered to purchase a bunch of goldfish for an aquarium that was being set up for a class of special education kids. It's my way of making the kids feel good about their local gaijin (foreigner - me!), and I suppose it's a way to make myself look good in the eyes of the local Japanese. It's not that I need to make myself look good - the folks here already think I'm a nice guy - and I am... but perhaps it's more to make myself feel good about myself.
I've not been all that happy lately. I've been quite lecherous. Aside from hitting on anything in a skirt, I broke up with my girlfriend Ashley Benning of Augusta, Georgia a couple of weeks ago. To get over that, I flirted with a Japanese university student who was at Ohtawara Chu Gakko (Ohtawara Junior High School) last week who was there on a week-long internship. It was an amazing week of sexual depravity that ended with the beautiful Junko (pronounced Junn-co) falling hard for me. So much so that she stalked me - following me first to Tochigi's capital city of Utsunomiya, and then down to Tokyo Disneyland. While she was all up for dropping out of school and having my children (really), I couldn't let her do that after only knowing her for less than a week. It ended badly down in the Fantasyland section of Disneyland.
I was down there with my flaky ex-girlfriend Ashley and a couple of other AETs - and I suppose Junko was jealous. She had every right to be jealous, because my plan was to get Ashley back to have sex with - not to have her be my girlfriend. I guess I wanted to have my flake and to eat it too.
Add in a fair amount of drinking that had been going on for a few months topped with a lack of sleep, and I wasn't exactly the person I used to be when I first arrived in this country. Besides... while all of this was going on, I think I still had a major crush on Kristine South... a beautiful American woman of Japanese descent who lived 500 kilometres away from me. I was actually too afraid to tell her I liked her, as after nearly one year here, all of the women I have slept with or been out with have asked me out. I suppose I can wait until Kristine asks me out for a visit. It's only a matter of time, right?
All I could think of was myself. But... I was too full of myself to see that. Hindsight of 20 years is far clearer, however.

Early in the morning, I catch all of the goldfish I had in my own aquarium and place them in a container to take with me to Wakakusa. I take them to school, and after saying ohaiyo gozaimasu (good morning) to the principal and vice-principal (and showing them my present to the kids), I march over to the special education room to present them with my great gift.
The kid's teacher takes the bag of fish and dumps them into the aquarium.
There's no fanfare. No thank-you's. No gathering of the kids to stare at the fish. Nothing. I'm so completely surprised that all I can do is smile, bow and take my leave back to the teacher's office.
I have to teach four classes of English today. Each class is long and I'm exhausted by the end of the day. Oh well... at least I have my dinner date with Ashley to look forward to tonight.
I arrive back home at 5PM, with Ashley arriving at my door an hour later. She looks pretty nice to these horny eyes.
We head out to a local restaurant called Tsubahachi - at least that's what I think it's called. I can't read my writing in my diary!
We eat, but talk very little. There's no drinking either except for the complimentary water. I pay for dinner. We come back to my apartment. Watch an episode of Designing Woman I have on tape. And then she leaves.
There was no small talk at my place. No hug or a kiss good night. No thank-you for dinner. Nothing. She rode home back to Nishinasuno-machi (Nishinasuno Town) where she lives about 25 minutes away to the northwest.
When we were dating I always rode back with her to her place to make sure she was safe, but tonight she wanted no such help from me.
What a piece of crap day. I'm also out of booze at my place. So I go downstairs to the local liquor store located directly below my third-floor apartment and pick up a large bottle of sake (Japanese rice wine).
While watching more videos of Western television sent to me from back in Toronto, I finish the bottle. I clean up my apartment but am so drunk I think I make more of a mess. Naturally, now that I'm drunk, I figure it's time I gave my bonsai - a Japanese Maple tree - a trim. I accidentally cut off a limb that may have been growing for 70 years.
The phone rings at 10PM, but when I answer it, there's no one there.
I'm in bed by 12 midnight wondering why everything sucked today.

Somewhere a tree is falling in a forest,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is by Canada's Rush!: OPPRESSION. I think the lyrics fit.

PS: Your author seems to be having a pity party and no one showed up except himself.
PPS: Yes, that's my photo of a raindrop hitting a barrel of water containing some downed Japanese red maple leaves in it. It seems to fit the mood of today's blog.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Earthquake Warning APP

With Japan getting hit by some 5000 earthquakes a year - and its population already a little shaky after the massive 9.0 Magnitude earthquake of March 11, 2011, many citizens are getting their own high-tech earthquake warning device - the Yure Kuru app for the mobile phone.

Yure Kuru, which means 'shaking coming' was developed by RC Solution Co., a Tokyo company that specializes in providing disaster-related information services.

While it has not yet created a Godzilla-warning app, the Yure Kuru app has proven to be quite popular, with some 1.5 million subscribers--in fact, it's more than that, as the company stopped counting... though this Blog suspects they are still counting their yen. Prior to March 11, 2011, there were only 100,000 subscribers.

How does it work? Based on technology developed by Japan's Meteorological Agency and its many railway companies, when an earthquake is imminent, an alarm on the phone is triggered (The Rife blog hopes the phones are not set to vibrate) and a window on the subscribers phone pops up telling them that in approximately 10 seconds an earthquake of a certain strength will hit. Subscribers can set the level on the app themselves at what minimum magnitude of earthquake they can be warned for.

Not only does the app give subscriber's a warning of an earthquake and its strength, but it notes where the epicenter will be located.

The app's icon is symbolized by a cartoon catfish (see image above) which is - according to Japanese legends - supposed to be the cause of earthquakes. You can read all about that HERE.

At this time, I don not believe there is a Yure Kuru app available outside of Japanese - however... there may be something similar... Check THIS out as just one example. There must be more.

Somewhere this Luddite has a catfish,
Andrew Joseph
PS: It's true... I don't have a cellphone. No one calls anyway.
PPS: Ten second warning? Is that enough time to kiss your ass goodbye?
PPPS: Rather than purchase your own earthquake warning app - you could just listen for those with the app to suddenly start screaming in panic. You may have less time to react - but keep in mind... by the time the Yure Kuru subscriber manages to get their phone out of their purse or coat pocket, you probably already know there's an earthquake.
PPPPS: Of course -  this Yure Kuru app is pretty cool. It's not just to warn you that there is an earthquake directly underneath you - it's to warn you that somewhere in the country there is an earthquake about to hit. It's fair warning to make sure you check in on your loved ones. Or your family. Hey... it's not always the same thing.

Japan To Censor Communications

My good buddy Matthew just sent me a link regarding Big Brother in Japan.

The link is HERE

But, it says:

"The Japanese government says that the damage caused by earthquakes and by the nuclear accident are being magnified by irresponsible rumors, and the government must take action for the sake of the public good. The project team has begun to send letters of request to such organizations as telephone companies, internet providers, cable television stations, and others, demanding that they take adequate measures based on the guidelines in response to illegal information. The measures include erasing any information from internet sites that the authorities deem harmful to public order and morality."

Holy crap! Maybe I'll get lucky enough to have Japan - It's A Wonderful Rife censored! Actually... I see their point - I just don't agree with it.

It's possible that the information I reported on HERE, may be incorrect (it's the only story I've done that kind of bothered me... but I figured I would present it. Perhaps one day the full story will be revealed in some hideous movie-of-the-week on television, but until then... I'm sure we would all like to be presented with as much information as possible on things that might be interesting.

I'm not directly involved in Japan's government, so I can only tell you things I hear or have been reported. I'm not peddling rumours. For a nuclear reactor to end up in the state it is in at the Dai-ichi facility in Fukushima-ken... well... if there wasn't an accident - whether man-made or by nature - then what caused the nuclear reactor situation to become what it is?

Regardless of the cause - safety measures at the facility failed and the country and its population have been put at risk.

The whole thing smacks of Japan's old closed door policy. You can read up on THAT here.

Currently, the situation is under more control than it has been since March 11, 2011 - and that's a good thing.

Of course - perhaps the information on the website Matthew sent me is false, too?

Andrew Joseph

Nuclear Problem Worsened By Operator

After the 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and subsequent 10-metre (30-foot) high tsunami hit the Dai-ichi (Big One) nuclear facility in Fukushima-ken (Fukushima Prefecture) back on March 11, 2011, there is evidence to suggest that Japan's nuclear mess might have been made more dire due to operator error.
TEPCO (Tokyo Electric Power Company) which privately owns and operates the six nuclear reactors on site, has been accused of allowing pressure in one of the reactors to have risen to a level far beyond that which it was designed to withstand  - which may have caused the nuclear situation to be far worse than it should have been.
The pressure within the containment vessel housing the nuclear reactor's core was allowed to reach twice the level it was designed for. TEPCO waited 12 hours to pass before workers began venting the radioactive steam. That's 12 hours wasted. This gave the nuclear reactor time to overheat and explode.
The explosion happened one hour after the venting began, heavily damaging the reactor building itself. Both Japanese and U.S. nuclear regulators have stated that this blast initially spread highly radioactive debris outside of the plant which has led to a 20 kilometre evacuation around Dai-ichi.
Over one month later, over 85,000 people are still displaced from their homes, living in emergency shelters.
Japan has since raised the level of the nuclear disaster to the highest level - a seven - placing it on par with the Chernobyl disaster of April 26, 1986 in the former Soviet Union.
On April 22, 2011, Japan legally began enforcing the 20-kilometre evacuation zone - and advised that several other towns northeast of that zone also leave the area within the next month because of concerns of long-term exposure to radiation.
Japan's Prime Minister Kan Naoto (surname first) said on April 22 that this advisory is a precautionary suggestion, but admitted that several additional towns may be asked to evacuate in the future. The area northeastern area Kan talked about is mostly agricultural - and although most people have already left the area, some 7,000 people remain.
Kan also says that the government will build 30,000 temporary homes by the end of May 2011, with an additional 70,000 homes to follow.
The country's cabinet approved on April 22, an initial supplementary budget of US$49 billion to help with recovery efforts.
Click HERE for a site showing (as of March 25, 2011) possible radiation affects surrounding the Dai-ichi reactor.

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph


It's Monday June 24, 1991 and I'm at Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School) in my city of Ohtawara in Tochigi-ken (Tochigi Prefecture). I'm an assistant English teacher on the Japan Exchange & Teaching Programme, having arrived in Japan back in late July 1990.  
I am so freaking tired.
Not only has it been a whirlwind past few weeks involving the break-up of myself an my girlfriend Ashley Benning, but I've had a week-long fling with a Japanese university student named Junko who turned out to be a tad possessive and who stalked me down to Tokyo Disneyland this past weekend. I had to pretend to be bisexual - which turned her off. Women - have been causing me to drink more than a healthy dose or seven of alcohol, and I'm really quite stressed about the fairer sex. While I still have a smile on my face every day, the smile is strained, as I am not feeling as chipper as I did when I first arrived here almost a year ago.
I'm also not sleeping much. I did have a dream about Ashley last night, though - extra horny.
It felt real - like she wanted me back as much as I wanted her back. I could feel her breath, her lips, the wetness of my tongue on her cherry red ni-... well... you know what a sex dream is.
When I awoke at 6:30AM, I cracked my neck seven places to the right and two places to the left - and felt better for having done it.
At school, I played baseball with the students and learned from the teachers that the Special Education kids are setting up an aquarium.
I love fish. (Here in 2011, I've been killing fish for 42 years).
This is the only junior high school in Ohtawara-shi (of seven in total) that actually has a specific separate teaching arrangement for these mentally-challenged kids. The other schools - they tend to make then stay in the regular classes - which may be good for their self-esteem, but the school work is far above their capabilities.
Anyhow... for some reason I ask if I can buy these kids at Wakakusa the goldfish for their new aquarium.
The teachers say yes.
Looking back (in 2011)... I'm unsure WHY I did this - except to thank them for letting me hang out and eat lunch with them at lunch... but perhaps it would have been better if these kids got to pick out their own fish. It never entered my mind back in 1991.
After four classes, I go home - driven by Tomoura-sensei (teacher) - the head English teacher and good friend. Despite being mentally, physically and emotionally tired, I ride my bicycle out to Nakada's pet shop and buy seven goldfish - one for each kid, plus one for my own aquarium at home. I put all of the goldfish into my own aquarium until tomorrow morning when I will head back to Wakakusa.
At home, I talk with Mari Ann about my upcoming trip to stay with her a night before we are to go and get our work Visas and check out a party at the Canadian Embassy in Tokyo. I also talk with Ashley about a dinner date with her tomorrow. I am pretty excited about it!
I head out to my night school conversational class and try to teach them the concept of time - it proves to be rather difficult.
I go home and watch a few videos. The telephone rings - I pick it up, but there's no answer on the other end. But I do hear quiet breathing.

Somewhere not seeing the signs,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by: the Five Man Electrical Band, a 1970s rock group from the Canadian capital of Ottawa. SIGNS

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Third Military Search For Bodies

With some 12,000 people still missing and presumed dead after the March 11, 2011 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and 10-metre (30-foot) high tsunami that devastated the northeast coast of Japan, the Japanese government is sending in the troops.

A total of 24,800 soldiers will search for bodies by land and by sea over a two-day period beginning April 25, 2011 - looking through the rubble and searching the waters in a 20-kilometre radius in an effort to recover the bodies for bereaved families.

The soldiers, along with 100 divers, 50 boats, 90 planes and helicopters will join together with the Japanese police and coast guard and some U.S. troops in this, the third such intensive military search for survivors/bodies - as this time the waters have begun to recede further, so the recovery of bodies may be more successful.

Andrew Joseph

Beer - It's Not Just For Kids Anymore

Here's something that I found quite bizarre about Japan.

In Japan - should you be thirsty for some alcohol and the bars are all closed and so is your local liquor shop - all you need to do is find a vending machine. Yup. Pop in some coins or a bill - and presto! You have alcohol in a can or a bottle. Large or small, the vending machine has then all. Sure some machines are brand specific - only Kirin beer, or only Ashahi beer... but it's there. I once popped in some coins and got a large bottle of Spanish red wine... of course... I had no way of opening it.
The same for the beer bottles. Yes, cans are easier to open, but I was greedy and wanted the largest bottle of beer they had in the machine. When it came out, I discovered I had almost no way of opening it there on the street. That was when I discovered I had unusually strong teeth and could pry the bottle cap off with  my molars. Keep in mind - this (1990-1993) was in the days before the fabulous twist-top bottle cap.
So... with booze available through a vending machine, you might think that underage kids everywhere would be boozing it up big time. But that was not the case. I never saw an underage kid sipping anything they weren't supposed to. Which is why I found it strange to come across the following item: Kidsbeer
While this drink is alcohol-free, it still looks and tastes like beer. I guess in Japan it's never too early to start your kid off on the road to accepted drunken businessman behaviour.  
And it's popular, too... selling some 100,000 bottles a month.
Kidsbeer was until 2003, a cola-like soft drink called Guarana that was available at the Shitamachi-ya restaurant in Fukuoka-ken (Fukuoka Prefecture). Restaurant owner Asaba Yuichi (surname first), in a fit of Japanese marketing genius, changed the name to Kidsbeer and suddenly his drink became extremely popular.
Here in North America, we have government agencies that watch for stuff like this - to avoid the exploitation of children... ah, but that isn't the case in Japan. From the restaurant, Asaba had the Tomomasu Co. from Ogi-shi (City of Ogi) in Saga-ken (Saga Prefecture) take over the filling and bottling of his product and had the drink produced in brown bottles resembling beer bottles, and created labeling that looked like beer bottle labels - and to top it off, they made the drink less sweet and more foamy to make it more akin to beer. Sheer marketing genius folks. 
Kidsbeer uses the South American guarana plant as the key ingredient - and sells it for about Y380 ($3.80 Canadian/US dollars) for each 330 milliliter glass bottle.

Your kid won't get drunk, but he will identify the beer-like drink as a drink he/she will enjoy as an adult. 

Can you imagine if you were babysitting a kid in Japan. You know he likes Kidsbeer, but he won't got to sleep when you tell him, so you just give him a real beer in a sippy cup and watch the little bugger pass out asleep. Of course, knowing my luck, the little guy would stay awake and turn into a mean drunk borrowing money and trying to sleep with my girlfriend. Who could I tell? My wife?

Somewhere having a cold one with my five-year-old son,
Andrew 'Bottle Baby' Joseph

The Boys Are Back In Town

It's Sunday, June 23, 1991. I've just broken up with my girlfriend Ashley two weeks ago and I've broken up with my week-long sexual fling Junko who had stalked me to Tokyo Disneyland yesterday.
Pimpin' ain't easy.
I'm up this morning at 9:30AM. I clean my apartment trying to get rid of the smell of sex that permeates the air thanks to Junko. I do this so as not to frighten away the next woman who is sure to come along - as I have yet to ask a woman out here in Japan.
I've been here for nearly 11 months and it's been a fool's paradise, with me being the fool.
I do two loads of laundry (especially my sheets) and clean out my aquarium.
I call home to Toronto and talk to my mom and dad and get more details about my mom's trip here to Japan. As soon as I hang-up, my friend John Kutchera calls to tell me about his trips here to Japan.
These two visitors are going to severely cut into my 'dating'.
John is arriving  on July 28, staying until August 16. My mom's coming on August 12 and staying until the 30th.
My plan is to meet John in Tokyo during the Orientation of the new assistant English teachers arriving on the JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme. I'll keep him in Tokyo for a few days, take him back to Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City) where I live - and then he's on his on.
I'll be heading out to Thailand between August 7-12 - where i will actually meet my mom and hang out with her there.
John can either stay at my place while I'm in Thailand or at Barbra's - some women he knows here.
I watch a few videos sent to me from Canada until a student teacher from Wakakusa Chu Gakko (Wakakusa Junior High School - one of the seven schools I teach at in the city) comes over for a visit. I wish I knew his name, but he - like a lot of Japanese folk - says his name too quickly and only once. I feel very stupid to have them keep repeating it, so I've developed a conversational style where I never say a person's name.
He and I watch a movie I have rented: The Final Countdown, where a nuclear aircraft carrier is sent back in time to the day before Pearl Harbor is attacked by the Japanese thereby involving the US in WWII.
Do you have any idea how unnerving it is to watch a movie like this with a a Japanese person? I have to suppress the urge to giggle when I see two F-14 jets fly circles over a Mitsubishi Zero airplane. Then when they blew up the Japanese fighter, I almost yelled "All right!", but remembered my guest and swallowed my glee.
My guest left half-way through the movie, so I watched the rest of it, watched more videos and then got ready for my dinner invitation to Mr. Oyamada's house. He's a teacher over at my favourite school, Nozaki Chu Gakko (Nozaki Junior High School). I wish I could tell you that he was an English teacher - but no. He taught Science, and knows very little English. That's okay, because I know very little Japanese, so we should be okay. No... wait a minute! It's going to be very difficult!
He picks me up in his white car at 6:15PM. His place looks like a dump on the outside, but inside - it's beautiful. We have a meal of ikka (squid). There is ikka this and ikka that and cooked ikka and raw ikka and something an ikka would eat. It's fantastic, and not very icky at all. I love ikka.
Oyamada-sensei (Oyamada teacher) has a very cute 16-year-old daughter whom I make a pass at when I'm drunk. But I think she started it.
Man... I need a girlfriend or I'm going to get in trouble in this country! Thank goodness, my common sense was only partially impaired and stops me from being a complete ass!
Oyamada and I have six beers apiece and far too many glasses of o-sake (sake = Japanese rice wine). Throughout the whole evening, I have no idea what anyone said to me - and I'm sure they felt the same way about me.
I had a great time and was home by midnight thanks to the sober Mrs. Oyamada driving her very drunk husband and his very drunk and new gaijin (foreigner) buddy to my place five minutes away.
I am so drunk but I miss not having Junko arrive at my apartment 30 seconds after I do.

Somewhere, Oyamada's daughter goosed my bum,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Thin Lizzy: BACK
PS: No excuses here. I should not have hit on a 16-year-old, even if she did start it. It's why I am so glad I don't teach at the Girl's High School here in Ohtawara. It's less temptation. The girls have no problem in throwing themselves at me, which is scary.  

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Japan - News Briefs Week of April 23

  • Japan is considering banning access to the area evacuated around Fukushima-ken's Dai-ichi nuclear facility damaged during the March 11, 2011 9.0 Magnitude earthquake and 10-metre (30-foot) tsunami. At the time of the disaster, about 80,000 people lived within a 20-kilometre (12.5 mile) radius around the plant - though despite warnings, a few people have not left the area. However, a few people have been returning to check on their homes, in defiance of police.   Now, Japanese officials say they want to seal off the area to prevent entry, according to Japan's chief cabinet secretary Yukio Edano. Plans as to how to seal the area have not been released. Prime Minister Kan Naoto (surname first) will discuss the proposed closure when he travels to the region to meet with local officials on Thursday, April 21;
  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. (TEPCO), the owner and operator of the Dai-ichi nuclear facility has begun distributing applications for compensation to people forced out of the area. The company is offering about US $12,000 per person in initial compensation;
  • Too dangerous for humans? A robot will be used within the Dai-ichi nuclear facility. Visit HERE for more;
  • Japanese government is looking to raise sales tax by three per cent to help for rebuild after the earthquake and tsunami caused some $230 billion in damage. With the full rebuild expected to take five years, the government is looking for its consumers to help out financially. The expected tax hike will be the first for the country since 1997, though Japan was previously considering a raise in sales tax prior to the disasters as a means to lift itself out of crippling economic debt. "It was clear even before this disaster and the need to secure funds for reconstruction that to ensure a sustainable fiscal situation, some sort of reform of spending and revenues was necessary," states Internal Affairs Minister Katayama Yoshiro (surname first). "The debate over the fiscal situation is not something that began with this disaster."
  • Songs for Japan, a CD featuring 39 songs has hit the record stores. (What's a record?) Proceeds from the album's sale will benefit the disaster relief efforts of the Japanese Red Cross Society, record labels Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group and EMI Music said in a news release. The CD's song list features: Imagine - John Lennon; Walk On - U2; Shelter From The Storm - Bob Dylan; Around The World - Red Hot Chili Peppers; Born This Way - Lady Gaga, Irreplaceable - Beyonce; Talking To The Moon - Bruno Mars;  Firework - Katy Perry; Only Girl (In The World) - Rihanna; Like I Love You - Justin Timberlake; Miles Away - Madonna; When Love Takes Over - David Guetta; Love The Way You Lie - Eminem; Human Touch - Bruce Springsteen; Awake - Josh Groban; Better Life - Keith Urban; One Tribe - Black Eyed Peas; Sober - Pink; It's Ok - Cee Lo Green;  I Run To You - Lady Antebellum; What Do You Got? - Bon Jovi; My Hero - Foo Fighters; Man On The Moon - R.E.M.; Save Me - Nicki Minaj; By Your Side - Sade; Hold On - Michael Buble; Pray - Justin Bieber; Make You Feel My Love - Adele; If I Could Be Where You Are - Enya;  Don't Let The Sun Go Down On Me - Elton John; Waiting On The World To Change - John Mayer; Teo Torriatte (Let Us Cling Together) - Queen; Use Somebody - Kings Of Leon; Fragile - Sting; Better In Time - Leona Lewis; One In A Million - Ne-Yo; Whenever - Shakira; and Sunrise - Norah Jones.  
Files compiled by Andrew Joseph

Dream A Little Dream Of Me

Here's an addendum to this past week-ends activities.

On Friday, June 21, 1991 while staying over at Susan St. Cyr's place with my ex-girlfriend Ashley in Utsunimiya-shi (Utsonomiya City - the capital city of Tochigi Prefecture), I had a dream.

I'm sure I dream all the time - but it's pretty rare that I actually remember them at all.

In my dream I was standing in a corridor. It was raining outside. I was waiting for a Japanese girl that was supposed to meet and talk with me.

That's it. That was the whole dream. I never saw her. I have no idea who I was supposed to meet or why.

But, here's the interesting thing. The next morning while standing around Tokyo-eki (Tokyo train station), Ashley, Susan, David and I were awaiting a bus to take us to Tokyo Disneyland. My three traveling compatriots (all Americans - not that it's important) all had to find the washroom, leaving this lone Canadian with the iron kidneys holding our place in line... not that there was a line. It was just me and no one else.

And then it happened. Exactly as I dreamed.

I don't even know how she saw me. I was shielded, by a newsstand, but still looking forward towards the road.

She was walking very fast.

Still... she walked right past me without even a glance.

Then she stopped.



And walked towards me.

We exchanged pleasantries in both Japanese and English, as well as our names. And then it was over.

We said good-bye.

We smiled at each other.

That's it. It was like I just had to be there for her. That was my purpose - daring to go on a trip with my ex-girlfriend while a woman who adored me was back in my home town of Ohtawara-shi (Ohtawara City).

I had to be there for this woman who said her name too fast for me to understand. Perhaps meeting each other would save her life. Maybe it would cause her to want to travel to an English-speaking country.I don't think it was for me... it felt like the meeting was for her.

I don't know why we met - and it doesn't matter at all. I'm just glad we did.

Somewhere dreaming of dreaming,
Andrew Joseph
Today's blog title is by Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong: SMOOTH

Friday, April 22, 2011

Earthquake & Tsunami History

Did you know that Japan is hit by about 5000 earthquakes a year? In fact... small tremors are so common, that people hardly even make a big deal of it. But... the larger magnitude earthquakes - they tend to make more of an impression... especially the ones that generate a tsunami.   
The dual disaster of an earthquake and tsunami is not a new phenomenon to the 21st century - and is certainly not new to Japan. Because I love history, I thought I'd find out a bit more about some previous twin threat turmoil.

Way back on August 31, 1896, Japan was hit by an earthquake and a tsunami on the east coast, and by a typhoon (that's also known as a hurricane) along its southern coast. Earthquake, tsunami, and typhoon, oh my! Thank goodness it wasn't all in the same locale - but holy crap! Mother Nature must really have been ticked off that day.
If you take a look at the image above... it's a NY Times file story talking about that event. The report was printed on September 3, 1896... but it's about the August 31, 1896 event. News traveled slowly then. Other data notes this earthquake to be at 8.4 Magnitude, with its epicenter at 39.5N, 140.6E.. 

But this isn't even the big one of the year for Japan. A couple of months earlier on June 15, 1896, the Meiji-Sanriku earthquake - a 7.2 Magnitude shaker - generated a huge tsunami that destroyed about 9,000 homes, killing 22,066 people officially.
(See photo below on the right) Apparently the quake was centered far out in the ocean... and although the people in Japan felt the shaking, because they were so far away from the epicenter, it didn't feel like a big one.
And then came the tsunami.
Houses in the background after the June 15, 1896 tsunami.
Roughly 35 minutes after the quake, a wave measuring 38.2 metres (125 feet) high struck the Sanriku coast (the whole northeastern tip of Japan).
A second huge wave hit a few minutes later. The high level of the tsunami is blamed on a high tide occurring at that time. To me, however, the height of the wave seems a bit fantastic considering the March 11, 2011 wave was only 10 metres (30 feet) - a number that may need to be adjusted - read on. Still, a wave of that height is indeed possible.
The majority of the deaths were in Miyagi-ken and Iwate-ken, but also in Aomori-ken and Hokkaido-ken.
According to reports, local fishing boats were still out in the deep waters fishing and did not notice the tsunami generate - and were shocked when they returned home the next morning to see the devastation and death floating in the water.

Then there's September 1, 1923 at around 11:58AM when a 7.9 Magnitude earthquake shook Tokyo and Yokohama. At least 50 cities were affected by the calamity. At the time considered the worst disaster to hit Japan, the Great Kanto Earthquake was followed a few minutes later by a 12.2 metre (40-foot) high tsunami that smashed into Tokyo - with several large waves sweeping away thousands of people. And then the fires started. All told, some 140,000 people died... a number made worse by 44,000 people who sought safety near Sumida-gawa (Sumida River) in Tokyo who were burned by a pillar of fire called the 'dragon twist' - also known as the fire tornado. In this event, it was described as a 300-metre (984-foot) wide cyclone of smoke and fire. Visit HERE for a full description.

March 3, 1933, 2:31AM: An 8.1 Magnitude earthquake along the coast of Sanriku and at about 290 kilometres (180 miles) east Kamaishi-shi (Kamaishi City), Iwate-ken (Iwate Prefecture) - very close to the same locale as the June 13, 1896 Meiji-Sanriku earthquake. While the earthquake did little damage to people or buildings, the ensuing tsunami swept over the northeastern Honshu area, destroying Sanriku-shi (city of Sanriku). More than 5,000 homes and 3,068 people died from the tsunami. Especially hard hit was the coastal village of Taro (now a part of Miyako-shi) in Iwate-ken, which lost 42 per cent of its population and 98 per cent of its buildings. Taro is now protected by an enormous tsunami wall, currently 10 metres in height and over two kilometers long. The original wall was constructed in 1958 and saved Taro from destruction of the 1960 Chilean tsunami (see below). But it was not able to protect it from the March 11, 2011 earthquake-tsunami which was higher than the wall... meaning previous reports of it being a 10-metre (30-foot) high wave may need to be adjusted to the claimed evidence of 12-15 metres (39.4- to 49.2-feet) in height.

Want another example of double jeopardy the hard way? On December 21, 1946, another earthquake-tsunami twin killer saw 946 dead, 1,036 injured, 96 missing and 39,201 houses and buildings damaged.
At about 4:20AM, the 8.4 Magnitude earthquake originated about 160 kilometres (100 miles) off the coast of Wakayama-ken (Wakayama Prefecture), Japan. The area severely shaken was more than 640 kilometres (400 miles) long and 240 kilometres (150 miles) wide, and railway lines were blocked throughout Shikoku. Several villages, including Singu, were severely damaged by flame when household fires were scattered about the wooden buildings. The undersea quake set off a powerful 6.1 metre (20 foot) high tsunami that devastated the Honshu area of Japan, obliterating buildings leaving 500,000 people homeless and over 2,000 dead.

May 26, 1983: A 7.7 Magnitude earthquake on Honshu and subsequent tidal wave/tsunami killed 104 people.

July 12, 1993: Tremors of up to 7.7 Magnitude, followed by a tsunami, strike parts of Hokkaido-ken (Hokkaido Prefecture) and the holiday island of Okushiri. Upwards of 250 people are killed.

And here's one more: On May 24, 1960... the strongest recorded earthquake - 9.5 Magnitude - occurred two days earlier in the mountains of Chile - it hit the Pacific coast of Japan with tsunami waves (yes - plural) five-metres high (15 feet) - coming at Japan for hours and hours. It killed 122 Japanese people and washed away 432 houses. It wasn't even on the same continent! It's 8,000 kilometres away and took just over one day to arrive!

Files compiled by Andrew Joseph
PS: Want to know how strong some of these quakes are? Consider that the 1945 atomic bomb that exploded over Hiroshima, Japan in 1945 had the equivalent energy of a 5.7 magnitude earthquake.
PPS: It seems obvious that there were other incidences of earthquakes spawning tsunami in Japan prior to 1896... I just think this is enough information for now. I'm tired. I have to write this stuff up, you know! 

Who Can It Be Now?

Wasn't that exciting? Two whole blogs and we still haven't finished the day. The day in question being Saturday, June 22, 1991.
I have apparently convinced Junko, my sexual plaything (and me, hers) for the week, that I am not in love with her and that she need not quit university and studying to be a teacher by convincing her that besides loving her (it was lust, not love) that I also enjoyed the company of men (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) which I don't in that nudge-nudge-wink-wink way, playing on the Japanese national addiction of fear of AIDS (Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome).
I hated to do it - because it really is stupid or naive to assume that all homosexuals have AIDS. Straight men - and women can get it too... but you already know all of that. This was 1991 - and even then, I had about 10 years knowing the ins and outs of HiV and AIDS. But for 1991, it was a new sort of animal in Japan.
They know it exists, but assume it's not afflicting Japan and the Japanese. It's a gaijin (foreigner) thing. Meanwhile, there are sex tours from Japan to Bangkok, Thailand catering to the sexual depravity of men - called sex tours. Gaijin might go on these 'tours', but you can bet your bottom dollar that a lot of Japanese men have a yen for that sort of thing. Condoms? We can only hope. But not everyone, I'm sure.
Regardless of that stuff... here's what's going on.
I'm at Tokyo Disneyland. I'm there with fellow JET (Japan Exchange & Teaching) Programme assistant English teachers: Susan St. Cyr, David (I though I knew his last name once) and my ex-girlfriend Ashley Benning. An angry Junko has just left me behind a men's room in the appropriately named Fantasyland area. And it certainly was a fantasy cum nightmare for me.
Junko was hot. In looks and in "to trot". We had a very enjoyable week together - having known each other since Monday. But... she was stalking me.
We both knew going into our sexual liaison, that our trysts were going to be Monday through Friday morning at the most - as she had to go back to university on Monday, and I was going away for the weekend with my ex, Ashley.
I know I should have blown off Ashley et al for another few days of crazy sexual misadventures, but I was confused. I still had a thing for her, and was trying to get sex without having to be her boyfriend. I figured, once I had that, I could get the relationship thing back in gear.
I blew a very good thing with Junko, I thought... until she went a little crazy in love for me. I'm nice and a great catch and all that crap... but not that great a catch to warrant someone wanting to drop out of school for--especially after only five days of knowing me!
So.. Junko left in a huff.
And, right on cue, just when they aren't needed, the cavalry arrived in the form of Ashley, David and Susan. Trumpeting that they had found some Aspirin for the headache caused by the Alice (in Wonderland) Teacup ride, I gladly accepted their aid and hung around them like they were my best friends ever - they weren't - in case Junko came back all Anthony Perkins on me - that's a Psycho reference.
After sitting beside Ashley on the rest of the rides, we had fun on: It's A Small World, Pirates of the Caribbean, Thunder Mountain (my second ever roller coaster!), Haunted Mansion, and another trip down Space Mountain (my third ever roller coaster ride).
I will not ever go near Alice's TeaCups again. It nearly killed me. And then Junko nearly finished the job!
Ashley buys a pair of Minnie Mouse ears and looks really cute in them, while I buy a Captain's pirate hat. Everyone likes it - but the Japanese are all laughing at the stupid gaijin (me) for wearing it... but it's okay... I'm laughing at them for wearing clashing plaid shirts and pants - and sometimes shoes and socks!
Everyone there had a great time... but still... I was stealthily looking around for Junko... fully expecting her to jump out at me from behind a tombstone in the Haunted Mansion, or from behind a dwarf in the Swiss Alps of Small World, or from out of a keg of grog in Pirates of the Caribbean.
I looked and looked and looked. But nary a long shiny black hair of Junko did I see. There were plenty of women with shiny black hair of course - I mean, this is Japan!
Despite my paranoia regarding Junko - the whole thing about being wanted by such a beautiful woman made me horny. And here I was with Ashley having a good time, and she with me.
The gang pretty much did what I wanted to do - I was the biggest kid of the bunch, what with me being the old man there at 26 years of age. I wasn't a prick about it - they just seemed to enjoy my enthusiasm - and besides, I did ask if there was anywhere they wanted to go. Hmmm. Perhaps they were doing this to cheer me up?
After a fun day (less Junko), Ashley and I traveled home via Shinkansen (bullet train) and then by JR Rail (Japan Rail - the local line). Ashley fell asleep on the Shinkansen, and when she awoke, her neck was stiff. She asked me for a massage.
Oh, I am so In Like Flint!
I can tell she missed those! A lot. I rode back to her place and then back to my own. She gave me a quick peck on the side of my cheek, which made the rainy ride home very tolerable.
Back home, I stripped off my wet clothes and peeked around the rooms, half expecting Junko to have broken in. 
It's 10PM... and I pass out from exhaustion. And then my pal Matthew calls at 1AM. Bastard.

Somewhere, my place smells like Junko's shampoo,
Andrew Joseph
Today's title is by Men At Work: KNOCKAKNOCK 
PS: I really was expecting Junko to pop out of every dark nook and cranny. She was kind of scary in her determination to land this big Kahuna, but it was also quite flattering as well. But... is this the last we have seen of Junko? Will Andrew get Ashley? What the hell is wrong with Matthew for calling me at 1AM? And who am I going to sleep with next? Let's find out over the next few blogs.
PPS: You'll notice I haven't posted any pictures of Junko. I don't have any. We were always too busy for photography: nudge-nudge-wink-wink.
PPPS: There's another blog in 8 hours from the time this blog hits the airwaves. It's about Japan and the dual disasters of earthquakes and tsunami.